Thursday, May 29, 2014

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Palmer Luckey on the Future of Second Life & Other Virtual Worlds in Oculus Rift & VR in General

Oculus Rift Palmer Luckey Second Life

I just had a short exchange with Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey on the future of Second Life and other virtual worlds in VR, following up on his comments at SVVR. Did he have anything to add about Second Life's specific role in Oculus Rift's future?

"I think that virtual worlds are going to play a big role in the future of Oculus and VR on the whole," Palmer Luckey says, "but it remains to be seen how big of a part of that future Second Lift will be."

What's Second Life most need to transition to the Oculus/VR age, and be relevant in it? Palmer's reply was pretty interesting, when you think about it:

"I don't think anyone will know for sure until VR has more time to mature," he tells me. "Lots of poorly understood problems right now." If I'm reading that right, we'll need much more time using and developing for VR, before we'll be ready to build a virtual world that ideally works with that new platform.

As for Second Life viewers developed to run with Oculus Rift right now: "There are some cool third party viewers," Palmer says, "but the initial official release from Linden left a lot to be desired. I hear they just put out a new update, but I have only tried the old ones."

As I noted last week, he lasted used Second Life for a Bitcoin purchase: "I was buying Bitcoins, not selling them (I don't sell my BTC holdings), and it was the last time I used it extensively," he clarifies. As he told All Things D last year: "It’s very difficult to get into. There’s a steep learning curve. The last time I went into Second Life was to buy Bitcoins from a crazy guy who was selling them below market value, but you had to go into Second Life to meet with him."

Which is also pretty interesting, when you think about it: The guy who's done so much to drive the idea of the metaverse forward is irked by the difficulty of using the closest thing we have to a metaverse.

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Ciaran Laval

The bitcoin part is pretty worrisome for many reasons.

Adeon Writer keeps pointing out that it's better not to shoe horn existing platforms into Oculus Rift and that it's better to build with Oculus in mind.

Whereas I disagree slightly with Adeon regarding this due to the dynamic nature of Second Life, I'll have to concede that Palmer Luckey seems to be making a similar point in this exchange.

The reason I disagree with this view is that I believe it's possible to build in Second Life with Oculus in mind but it would probably not be such a good experience in areas of Second Life that aren't optimised for the technology, which would dilute the experience somewhat.

melponeme_k

I'm not surprised that everyone is badmouthing Second Life.

Why? Because it is a mega success elephant in the room. It stamped what VR is now and in the future.

The reason why the deluded Palmer, Rosedale et. al. want to downgrade it, is because it stands in the way of their own work. I suppose they are hoping they never have to contend with Linden Lab as company gaining power in the industry or forestall a buyout of it by a more powerful entity.

There is more to this story.

Facts remain the only successful VR with clout is Second Life.

scott

Second Life isn't a "mega success" by any standard. It's been out for how long? Over 10 years now, and the community is just as small as it was 5-7 years ago. They've had all this time to build it up into something significant and have achieved almost nothing.

The IDEA of Second Life is novel, but the execution is embarrassingly laughable in every measure. It's essentially a sloppy, cumbersome MMO that's built for a niche audience within a niche audience.

Someone will come along and do the social VR MMO right in a way that will leave SL in the annals of computer gaming history as a footnote.

Eddi Haskell

Remember the children's tale about the Emperor's New Clothes? Everyone was afraid to tell the Emperor he was naked until a child pointed to him and yelled out that he was. Please -- I am not calling Palmer a child-- but he is pointing out the obvious! Second Life has not grown since it is so incredibly difficult to use! My estimate is that over 90% of potential users never come back since they cannot figure out how to use it! No WONDER it has not grown! And thank you Palmer for pointing the obvious out! Maybe SOMEONE at Linden Lab or Firestorm will figure this out and come up with a way for users to enter Second Life without having to take classes to do this!!!

Account Deleted

@ scott

Millions of users with a marketplace exchange of over 600 million dollars a year might be a niche in the eyes of some. but if you look at some great niche companies it really is a sweet spot to be in.

Examples Autodesk & DeviantArt they never went fully mainstream and they remain true success in their own right.

Apples and Oranges are different but together they make a sweet punch to enjoy on a thirsty day

Account Deleted

@ Eddi.. That's a great point and difference was years ago was a huge mentor program that helped all new residents learn to use the viewer.

Bad viewer is one aspect the lack of Mentorship is the true failure.

It would take 3 to 6 months to restore the program. it should be made a priority to be restarted. in meantime all nw residents should be sent to private mentor programs like ones in Celadon and NCI with other programs as well.

Those in those private programs should be the first ones brought in as official mentors or make these private programs the official programs.

A.J.

Eddi is right.

Mentors are a good idea, but RL friends are even better. A friend showed me the ropes of SL and I brought several friend in too. That was years ago.

Now it's just too complicated. I have one RL friend who I would love to bring into SL, but I don't have the energy to start from scratch. I don't want to teach on a viewer I never use. I don't want to teach the complexities of fitting clothing, body parts, inventory management, with twelve alphas and a hud for everything.

Guni Greenstein

I agree that removing the mentor program help cause the current growth problem. But we need to look one step deeper: What actually caused the removal of the mentor program? I dare to argue, that the waiving of the 10$ signup fee for basic accounts was the real cause, as it lead to all integration channels to get overloaded with people who were only casually interested in maybe checking SL out. This flood of signups with very little commitment overloaded both the mentor program as well as the SL community in general. Talking to a new arrival would just have a far lower chance of making you a new friend or customer to stay in SL than before. In most cases you'd talk to someone who didn't even know what he/she signed up for.

Iggy

Toward the end of The Hype Era, I served for a few months as a Linden Mentor (I got the boot for skipping mandatory meetings).

Guni's suggestion about the effect of free signups makes sense. I met a great number of new residents who really had no idea about what SL was. They'd found out somehow and logged in.

I really enjoyed mentoring, but I experienced The Little Dutch Boy problem. I'd help one person and four would slip by, with their hair on backward and without trousers. Many would ask right away "wheres teh sex" (no apostrophe or question mark) and I'd say "type 'sex' in the search box and have fun."

I doubt too many of them got laid. So bringing back the $10 signup fee might mean more retention and better-looking noob sex-fiends.

Riesstu

@ Scott

A footnote? Hardly. Pioneers and trailblazers rarely end up as mere footnotes.

As for SL's problems, the same ones would be encountered by any virtual world, even with the current advances in computer technology: latency and lag, avatar customization, content creation and in-world building, and the user interface.

Such things can only be improved and/or simplified to a point. New sign-ups would either give up or learn how it all works, just as they currently do with SL.

The heart of the issue is do millions of people *want* virtual worlds? So far, the answer seems to be no. Perhaps in a generation or two when society has changed sufficiently (i.e. when the more resistant generations have departed), or when MMORPG-quality worlds become available, but until that happens VR in general will have to be content with being a niche interest.

melponeme_k

@Riesstu

"The heart of the issue is do millions of people *want* virtual worlds? So far, the answer seems to be no. Perhaps in a generation or two when society has changed sufficiently"

Lucky, Rosedale etc are already aware of this. Did you pay attention to what Lucky said? That a horrible real life will, in essence, force people into an alternate VR.

That means they want to take advantage of globalization as it throws out large sections of the population. This desperate populace will turn to the modern day workhouses....Lucky's VRs...which will pay a poverty stricken workforce in game money. Real services, real life will be for the elite...the rest of us will be prisoners of Lucky's Children of the Corn VR world.

Adeon Writer

I love a Second Life. I've poured over seven years into it now. I also love Oculus and was a first-day backers ornate Rift. My dreams of the Metaverse are, I think, very close to Luckey's.

I want Second Life to be the Rift's killer app just as much as any other SL fanatic. But it just wasn't made for VR. It would take a focus change on Linden Lab to risk it big and focus on dedicated VR support. Not just a custom viewer, but server features as well, like reviving the puppeteer project so live avatar mo-cap can be transmitted to other avatars. We also need the GUI canned and remade from search for the Rift, made for hand-tracking motion controls, because keyboards and mice are not the future of VR.

If we are going to use the Rift in Second Life, you need to be able to live in it. There can't be things that require taking off the HMD to work out, like building or text chatting. Everything needs to be redesigned. Server side avatar motion needs rework. The first person dynamic avatar rendering work needs way more work.

It's going to take way more than HMD headtracking support, and I am not sure how dedicated Linden Lab is to doing this well.

I want it to happen, but everyone who is building their game with Oculus in mind from the start has a huge advantage. This is one thing residents can't do on their own. We can't make the perfect Oculus Third Party SL viewer. Ctrl Alt Studio has done wonderful things, but they are limited to client mods. We NEED server support for the ideal features. And that will take LL's dedication to quality.

I don't know if Linden Lab is willing to go all in on this.

Metacam Oh

Riesstu said:
"The heart of the issue is do millions of people *want* virtual worlds? So far, the answer seems to be no. "

I think Minecraft would have something to say about that...

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