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Monday, April 09, 2018

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Taylor

I don't disagree with your point about cutting-edge graphics not being a requirement for game popularity but the implication that Unreal Engine 4 is limited or dated is nuts. It's arguably the most powerful engine out there (also 4 years old rather than 6):

https://youtu.be/cAxn-koJti8

Pulsar

There is a group called "Drivers of SL". Every week they release a special HUD, that turns your driving along Second Life roads into an adventure (often it involves boating and sometimes flying or trains). There is a story and NPC bots that interact when you come closer. The HUD guides you and tells you when to turn using a recorded voice, text, and icons. There are nice prizes that you get along the road (usually good vehicles), and many other fun things. Easter drive saw a 1966 Ford Bronco with working suspensions, for example, and you had to hit eggs, while avoiding chickens. Another time the HUD simulated a car crash, hospital, etc.

It's awesome for SL but... of course it's not like dedicated games and "Gosh-Darned Millenial" is right about the graphics and I'd also add the physic, not to mention sim crossings, but also the vast amount of unoptimized user-made content (Penny Patton is so right about that). SL graphics, avatars and items have been improved quite a lot since 2003. When you are in SL for a while, you may think "wow this sim looks amazing!" or "wow that avatar!"; then you play a modern game and you go back to SL after a while and it doesn't look so great. And perhaps, if it wasn't for sim crossing issues, SL would be plenty of people cruising around. The "Blake Sea" area is a bit popular, instead sometimes if feels a little sorrowful when you wander along mainland roads, where it's not a popular shop / club / hangout area.

Still... when that HUD makes you travel for hours, Second Life feels so large, a world. Sometimes you meet new people along the road (or at least that happened to me, someone even joined). And you think of all these things that you are seeing around you, different landscapes, volcanoes, bridges and complex roads, gas stations, towns, and more and more, while you travel for hours. You think all this was created and built by people like you... for years. And when you travel, maybe sharing the experience with other people and friends, you have an huge freedom and amount of possibilities.

Dedicated games can excel at something, but only sandbox multiplayer games can come a bit closer to this. Gameplay can come before graphics, and Second Life can be used for anything, besides games. Apart servers and "Viewers", SL is all the creativity freedom and its users and communities who created and made it, interacting, sharing their dreams, and building all over the grid for 15 years.

Pulsar

So I agree with "make it clear to gamers that everything they're seeing on the screen is created by actual users, people like them"

Susan

I once asked my millennial gamer son why he wasn't interested in SL. He said it's because in SL he's just him but in his games he can be something special. Master Chief, a war lord, a mage, the leader of an army ... When I replied that you can be anything in SL he laughed and said, "you can dress up as anything in SL but you can't BE anything in SL."

He didn't even mention graphics or animation. Some of the games he plays are much better visually and some are much worse. It's about escapism, of course, but with more purpose. He says he feels like he can achieve something in his games that no one can take away. Note he watched me build and lose several businesses in SL.

Perhaps the next generation is more interested in a structured experience that offers a more guaranteed payoff in escapism. There is nothing wrong with that. It really depends on your perspective. For some, creation isn't everything. They don't care whether or not the world is user created. Many millennials may never be interested in an open user created world, it just doesn't offer enough of an escape for them. Not engrossing enough for them.

Ready Player One showed them the ultimate virtual world which was user created but also had purpose. I went with my son. He loved it. If the Oasis existed he'd be in there today. I would have loved to see more of Oasis, the social aspects, how someone could quietly exist there and just be someone else. That wouldn't be enough for him.

djeh

low quality content, it's not even age related, this looks so bad like how can I unsee this, omg LOL

misty

What others have said. It's not about the graphics, it's about pre-existing imagination so they don't have to imagine it themselves. Something the mille's just aren't used to doing for themselves when it comes to imagination. They are a generation hyper focused on earning the best grades and having every minute of their life pre-set for them from one activity to another. They weren't taught to imagine the impossible. It was done for them.

Really, what Susan said. Sure they can *be* anything they want in SL but only what they can create and they lack imagination to create (and money).

The one's SL and other VW's should be going after is Gen X. They are the one's with the drive for money and have the imagination as well as a strong tech ability to continue the creation of a self created world.

Virtuallycranky

"you can dress up as anything in SL but you can't BE anything in SL."

This comment stood out for me, and I had to give it some thought. In Elder Scrolls Online, to be called "Emperor" and wear that garb and colors, you have go through a months-long campaign with three-way castle sieges and territory fights. THEN you can call yourself Emperor, and there are not many who can.

In World of Warcraft, you can only get certain armour after spending hours and hours in raids; what you wear is an announcement of your achievements and skill, not something you bought. And other games have PVP 'leaderboards' that reflect a person's ranking among peers - you can BE the top mage.

I guess he feels in SL you can don robes, stand on a terraformed mound and call yourself "King of the Hill", but without a surrounding context and shared structure you can't BE the King, you're just playing dress-up. It's an interesting concept based on a common shared reality with internal rules, like a game of soccer as opposed to a group of people all kicking their own balls around and all claiming they're the top player.

Jack Reacher

Just to be a bit of a naysayer. I tried SL a bit, but for me the graphics were too much. I could not get adjusted to them... and they gave me an headache. (seasoned gamer here, ff7 veteran). I think as graphics improve we become more spoiled, and unless a game really captures us, 2010+ graphics are important.

Jane

@Susan -- could you ask your son: what about role-playing communities in SL? There, you can dress up AS whatever you want, and BE whatever you want, in real-time situations, with real people, in spontaneous, unscripted, unprogramed contexts, which is, to my eyes, kind of even cooler than games which have a fixed objective ;))

Pussycat Catnap

The thing about using Minecraft as a counter point is that it actually has BETTER proportions / anatomy to it's figures than the ones in the sample video.

Not everyone is an expert in telling you the proper proportions for representing a human figure - but nearly anyone can spot it when it's wrong. Unless you've conditioned yourself to ignore it. SL users have an amazingly bad grasp of anatomy. Flaws players of any other online game would notice immediately and vocally rage about - SL users adjust their avatars to replicate... short limbs, tiny hands, tiny feet, tiny heads, bad 'saddlybags', unnatural thigh gap (not just that it's there - which occurs in RL, but the angles it presents when people do it in SL), misshapen bosom (jutting out at an angle when it's not shaped in a way that would allow such), near-Neanderthal brows (particularly common on female avatars that use the system head), and so many more issues...

The figures in that video have small hands and short limbs. The eyes, as noted, are "lifeless" - but this is actually "gaze" - what they are looking at doesn't match the action or show emotion. Seeing human gaze is something every human being and dog understands by the toddler stage. Watch babies... notice how much they study the faces and expressions of others. Dogs do this too (no other animal can follow human gaze and expression - it's why your cat might often seem to ignore you. It actually just doesn't know your gaze).

All of these issues repeat quite often in SL screenshots as well. Not just a machinima thing.

People untrained in the reasons for why SL looks "off" will just say 'bad graphics' but it's much more specific than that. And the video we've been referring to, far from showing off SL, presents many of it's flaws.

Huckleberry Hax

Yes, clearly the high-end gamers get better graphics. But is it as easy to create machinima in these environments as it is in SL? I don't mean the technical issue of just capturing video, but is there the same degree of camera control? Is there the same control over lighting that we have in SL? Is there the same diversity of animations and clothing and environments to use? Is there the possibility to create any of these things yourself? Is there the possibility to stitch together something completely unique? SL might not look as photo-realistic as high-end games do, but is photo-realism something we always demand from animated films (if so, why do techniques such as stop-frame animation continue to appeal?).

I get that Gosh-Darned Millenial is making a valid point about the graphical appeal of SL as an experience (not as a film-making medium), but I think the point needs also to be made that our graphical environment also comes with a HUGE degree of freedom and control built-in.

Pussycat Catnap

@jane: Everytime I visit RP communities in SL all I find is 3 people in the 'local version of' a tavern / inn / cafe that are IMing each other so it seems like they're AFK to me.

I did do some RP years ago when the Avatar Movie was the big thing in SL, but it seems like RP in general is a lot less active now. Not even sure that's a sim cost issue. In fact higher priced sims might help this by consolidating down competition... Like... you can find hundreds of empty RP sims... if there were just 3, those 3 would be full (but probably none of them would cater to my interests... still it would be active for SOMEBODY).

Adeon Writer

VR Chat's graphics are worse. It's not about graphics. It's about what you can do.

Adeon Writer

Ok, I have more to say:

SL's models are user-determined. Anyone could upload triple-AAA quality models and animations into SL, and it would look just as good as any modern game, right? The problem is, SL content creators are not pros, and that's why it doesn't look as good, right?

No.

If you hired an expert game artist to make SL content, it still wouldn't look good, for the following reasons:

1.) The avatar skeleton is pre-defined and you can only make animations for that specific skeleton. Modern games use a skeleton with many more bones, to make it look much more natural.

2.) SL's shaders are bad. You can take the best model in the world, but it will look very bad with SL's shaders. At one point, SL had top level shaders ("Global Illumination" is what the feature was called) but they pulled it out and never put it back. It would have looked wonderful today now that we have normalmaps, but sadly we never got to have both at the same time. So we're back to flat shading.

If Linden improved these two things, 1.) Let us have custom skeleton models and 2.) Give us custom shaders, then yes, if you hired an expert game art designer, you SL could look just like a AAA game. These really are the only two things holding SL back graphically.

-Adeon

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