What is this obsession with linking endless worlds. This is not how I experience the real world. Of course I know in my head that the real world is like this, but I do not really experience it this way. If I am in one town and I wish to visit the next, unless I have some obsession with experiencing the countryside between them, I get some form of transport. And this transport cuts me off somehow from the environment around me. But I do not mind, because my objective is not the space between my social events, but the events themselves. If teleports existed in RL would not the majority of people use them?
The only real use for contiguous worlds is in games that require large uninterrupted play areas. An intensely social metaverse does not require that I am able to travel for hours on end to meet my friends or my partner. Even if I wished to explore some natural virtual external environment I am sure that an island of no more than four SL sims connected would be ample for me and friends to wander through without the need to just walk endlessly seeing the same repeating trees grass and rocks into infinity.
Sure, there is a nice feeling of being able to see a mountain in the distance and imagine you can go visit. But how many times do you virtually wish to repeat that journey? In the real world, we live mostly in small spaces, we create small spaces like the little animals we are. Surly the only use for virtual worlds, beyond games playing, is social interaction, and by far the majority of the most beautiful sensual experiences you can have socially take place in the smallest of spaces. And if you truly wished to experience wandering endlessly in a beautiful environment then try the real world, it beats the hell out of any virtual world you will ever find.
Now having said that, I am quite clear in my mind that the virtual is far more interesting than the real. But not because it can be huge and endless, that is just some tech challenge that the big virtual players want to beat at the moment. But because it allows me to connect with thousands of other people who I would otherwise, because of time, distance and social barriers, never meet.
Even if I were rich enough to build the vast virtual city I have always dreamed of building in some virtual world, I would most likely consider breaking it down into smaller virtual chunks.
I learned very early in my virtual building career that the vast majority of people have no desire at all to travel even shortest distances to their desired destinations. And the first thing you have to install in any good virtual environment is a good teleport system.
There are many highly popular games, such as the GTA franchise, Skyrim, and Minecraft, which are contiguous simulated worlds. But John thinks their appeal is limited:
I was a huge admirer of the Witcher 3 game, it truly did have some beautiful landscapes to explore, but did I explore them? No way, why would I do that, they are in the end virtual imitations of the real world and as beautiful as they are, and as great a technical and artistic achievement they are, they can only ever be a sad imitation of the real world. And I would feel rather stupid wandering in them admiring them when I know in my heart that it would be far better to save my pennies and go visit such places in reality. So I very soon made use of the games essential teleport system between adventures.
Time is an important factor here. In the real world we have to find ways of getting to our destinations faster so we have more time to spend with those we intend to meet. This is even more important in virtual worlds where most people only have a few hours a week to invest. What use is it to them to have to spend ages traveling to their destinations. In a user-created metaverse, where each environment is created by individuals with totally different ideas on how that meteverse should look and feel, what would be the point in being able to walk from one “experience" to another. There would be no feeling of a continuous world anyway, just a load of separate experiences stitched together that you pass through. So why bother with the huge tech challenges involved in linking these worlds.
As I said at the start, this is something that only game developers of huge battle scenarios are concerned with. The rest of us already have the kind of world we want, we just wish it functioned better
JohnC's argument reminds me of something Philip Rosedale said, early on in Second Life's development, when introducing point-to-point teleportation. Up until then (roughly 2004), users had to teleport to "telehubs" and fly/walk/run/ride a vehicle for a minute or two to reach their final destination. But, Philip argued, point-to-point travel was truer to the real world: When we travel long distances in the real world, he argued, we don't really experience the actual travel, but instead have an experience of spending hours in the tight confines of a plane, train, etc.
This is all true, though the introduction of point-to-point teleportation also eroded a sense of community cohesion -- much the same way cars and freeways did to the real world in the 20th century.