Wednesday, April 17, 2013

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Watch This Video to See Why Linden Lab Should Spend Millions Getting Second Life to Run Well on the Oculus Rift

Chances are you've already seen this now-viral video of a 90 year old woman fully freaking out from the joy of experiencing a virtual recreation of Tuscany through the Oculus Rift headset, and I really hope everyone at Linden Lab has seen it too, because... well, just watch:

We were just talking about whether Second Life can become the killer app for the Oculus Rift, but this video makes it far more clear what the opportunity is: A means of bringing the virtual world experience to everyone, easily, without them necessarily having to learn how to use a complex user interface to get the basic experience. Not to mention an experience that seems to be far more profound and immersive than just seeing the world on a flat, single screen. With the Rift, all that's required is the ability to move your head. But like I said, here's the key challenge:

To be a true killer app, Linden Lab would need to spend millions making sure Second Life was optimized to work with Rift, and even packaged together with it somehow as a consumer product.

The creators of the Oculus Rift themselves have said that a world like Second Life is very much a use case for their technology. All that's needed is enough money to elevate this from tech for hardcore geeks and gamers to a consumer-ready, off-the-shelf product that people like grandma here can use. (With maybe just a little help from her family, or other caregiver.) Because I hope you're thinking what I'm thinking:

Oculus Rift Second Life

Only a few months ago, I wrote about Fran, an 85 year old woman who plays Second Life, and reports it helped her gain significant recovery from her Parkinson's Disease. But to make what she experienced accessible to millions more like her and beyond, Second Life will need to get away from being a PC-only experience, and move toward technology like the Rift. (Not to mention gesture-based tech folks like Philip Rosedale are working on now.) Fran's story helped restore a lot of my faith in Second Life. The Oculus Rift is helping restore my hope that Second Life might still become a mass market product. All that remains is the company that owns it to commit. But will they?

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Iggy

The Rift appears to be amazing, and I got to see this video after a student sent it my way (we'd just read Ready Player One).

I cannot say that the once-planned Linden Lab Rig or the Rift or Google Glass would bring in the masses to SL. For SL to grow again, it will need to attract a wider user-base as well as keeping its creatives who have invested so much time, money, and love into the platform. I'll let the more technically minded creatives argue here about what the Rift might need to work well with SL's keyboard, mouse, and voice-based inputs.

Yet all VR rigs and augmented-Web devices like Glass all will have to overcome some cultural aversions about geekiness and "get a life!" first. Maybe they will overcome those obstacles to mass adoption: I would have never guessed that millions would walk around like the undead, mesmerized by phones in their palms.

Get that sort of synergy with a VR peripheral, and anything could happen but one thing would certainly occur: a few companies would make a LOT of money.

Argo Nurmi

I think what SL really needs is a way to get back into coolness. That means getting people excited again. Maybe it was accidental, but LL did it back in the day with this clunky SL platform, but as Hamlet says, there are things around that could make SL exciting again. Right now SL has the spiritual power of a near-derelict rust belt factory. LL needs its own reawakening and reinvention and maybe we see the way right here.

Zarkinfrood Miami

I would love to see LL step up on this. They have the money to make (a version 2.0)Second Life a viable product for the masses. They have the experience with virtual worlds. My concern for Linden Labs is that some of the policies they've enacted in the past have created a Second Life "brain drain" that might extend to any new products that they make. I'm not just talking about raising the prices on educators sims. With the changes in third policy viewer development policy April of last year, they've cut off some of the open-source passionate OpenSimulator developers that brought a lot of innovation to the viewers in the past.
I think their best bet is to let Second Life die a quiet death, and roll out a new engine - with more and better ways of accessing all the information on the internet, a more robust permissions system, in-world mesh and texture creation, and better response time to AR and bug reports. Oh, and while they're at it, bring the marketplace in-world. You don't create a virtual world only to make people spend time out of it to easily find the things they want. Just my L$2.

Orca Flotta

I think stuff like the Oculus is totally un-SL-ish. Okay, it makes the virtual world appear even more 3D, a nice gimmicky bonus. But that's it. LL should better invest those millions in more and better servers and more employees. Most of us would be perfectly happy if the core of SL, the SL world, would run smoother, more stable and robust. As long as I'm crashing or at least hanging in limbo for like 20 seconds at each sim-crossing, as long as Hamlet needs 10 minutes to render a sim on his gaming-grade laptop, as long as people crash left and right at a live concert, as long as we sufer chat lag, as long as our inventories take forever to load we don't have any use for gimmicky add-ons.
Once all that shit is sorted I may be thinking about splurging out on a Oculus Rift.

Orca Flotta

About LL's strategy ... what strategy?

They have driven off the brainiac few and simultaneously failed to drag in the braindead masses. In their deperate activism to get SL out of the niche, yes, they have definately lost the niche but never got to reach the consumer's market.
SL is neither fish nor flesh right now and burns out slowly in the eternal limbo of inbetweenness.

Masami Kuramoto

Hamlet wrote:

The Oculus Rift is helping restore my hope that Second Life might still become a mass market product. All that remains is the company that owns it to commit. But will they?

It doesn't matter, and here's why:

Unlike the mesh deformer and the materials project, the Oculus Rift does not require any modifications on the server side of Second Life. The SL viewer is open source, which means that anyone can make it ready for Oculus Rift. We don't need Linden Lab's permission, and we certainly don't need to wait for them. Just launch another fundraiser and then hire someone like Qarl to get the job done.

Wolf Baginski

So far, Linden Labs have done almost nothing on even the most basic of "game controller" technologies. We see individual Lindens trying stuff, and there is a huge list of fine details for joystick settings (almost debug level), but I've never found a joystick a useful control method in SL. We've had a decade of development in gaming, controllers and camera position and such, and Linden Labs has barely noticed.

I am not going to hold my breath waiting for Linden Labs to adopt a new UI paradigm. I had better joystick control with a ZX Spectrum, a quarter century ago.

Connie Arida

Well, you would need to have a machine powerful enough to draw 2 images at a decent frame rate to get immersive stereo. From what I see round the place many can't seem to get it to run in a single screen at a decent frame rate. Maybe in a couple of years when 600 series nvidea cards become common.
While it would be possible to map common UI elements like movement to a gesture controller like Leap Motion, It would necessitate "puppeteering" "inworld" hands to type IM's into an inworld keyboard/HUD if you preferred not to use voice.
In my opinion, Linden Labs would be better off spending limited dollars developing a viewer in Android Tablets and Phablets that makes good use of higher spec CPU's now in use rather than trying to make another minecraft with no "moneytisation" that I can see. They may even make money selling it like lumiya.
My 2L's

Adeon Writer

While not necessary, proper Oculus Rift support for Second Life would highly benefit from server side modifications. Specifically those involved with avatar motion.

Jeanne Anne Decosta

i wouldnt expect LL to be an innovator anymore .. to them SL is just a cash cow they wont spend one cent more than they have to on .. they laid off 1/3 of their staff a few yrs ago & dont offer decent tech support leta lone go for developing anything new .. they cant or wont even make sim crossings smooth for sailboats .. how can you realistically expect them to spend millions on something when the whole idea is for those millions to go into corporate fatcats pockets ??

Arcadia Codesmith

You can plan and project all you like, but until you spread your wings and leap from the nest, you'll never soar.

Kaylee

Hi Wolf Baginski,

Saw your comment about joysticks. I have been using a Logitech Rumblepad 2 for some weeks now to drive vehicles and even to walk around. It works extremely well and makes driving in SL great fun. You can customise the swivel sticks and buttons to do whatever keyboard function you need, so a whole range of actions become really easy. And it's not hugely expensive.

Cheers,

Kaylee

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