vr

My last post about Oculus, my first about Sansar

Well it was fun being part of the re-hype of Virtual Reality but being a Mac user i must accept that at least with regards to Oculus it’s not going anywhere for quite some time.

I first grabbed an Oculus back in 2013 with the hope that soon i would be exploring virtual worlds as if i was actually there and the DK1 made it seem all the more possible. 

The first attempts by Linden Lab to connect Oculus to Second Life were poor but showed promise. Kickstarter Demos such as Technolust made me back them and other Oculus projects with excitement. But then the DK2 came out and while many users were expressing how much of an improvement it was, i was not so impressed. Sure the screen resolution was better but it just didn’t work out the box like the DK1 did and hinted at a decrease in support for OS X and Linux which ultimately lead to Oculus finally stating “Our development for OS X and Linux has been paused in order to focus on delivering a high quality consumer-level VR experience at launch across hardware, software, and content on Windows. We want to get back to development for OS X and Linux but we don’t have a timeline.”

What does this mean for projects hoping to create cross platform VR services like High Fidelity and Sansar? They can ether wait three or four years and hope oculus dos well enough consider it financially viable to support multi platforms, or perhaps they can start looking at other HMDs .

While i continue to read fascinating studies about how Oculus was being used for social experiments, research and projects that help people the main focus has turned to gaming and media consumption. While the Oculus Brand of VR initially retreads old consumer ground for an increasingly niche group of well off PC gamers, i find myself no longer interested in it.  Perhaps it’s time to look towards the augmented reality camp for an experience that will push VR beyond playing games and watching movies.

Yeh I’m annoyed that Oculus dropped support for the Mac, so i’ve written a prediction of how it will pan out for Oculus. Yes this is me cursing Oculus.

1. Oculus is delayed past 1st quarter of 2016.

2. Oculus comes out at a higher price than most expected

3. Oculus sells are poor.

4. Oculus decides after all it’s not financially viable to add support for the mac or Linux as it struggles with a niche of high income gamers.

5. Eveyone forgets Oculus.

Meanwhile i’m still fully entrenched in Virtual Worlds and have a lot still to explore and give in that area. Sure there will be no Oculus in my foreseeable future but there is still a lot happening off the back of it’s hype. 

 

My Hope for Sansar.

I’ve still yet to see anything of the new project from Linden Lab. Maybe it will try and add HMD support or maybe it will simply be a platform as such that future technology can much easily be added to rather than badly retrofitted to. There are small companies out there on kickstarter building fascinating amazing technologies that would fit right in on a virtual worlds. I hope Sansar will be the kind of place that will welcome those companies in and flourish. 

As for how current Second Life Users will adjust? Sometimes i feel this could be the end of Second Life, other times i doubt Sansar will grow quickly enough to establish itself Like Second Life did. What will having Sansar alongside Second life be like? Perhaps logging into the Beta Grid will give an idea? 

What if Sansar does not appeal to us old VR peoples? what if Sansar attracts mainly new people? Linden Labs Patterns managed to make a nice community of users who had never heard of Second Life, that was until Linden Lab killed it, so maybe Sansar will attract a new crowd leaving us to continue with Second Life until we all die out. Happy thought.

The 10th Beltaine Wickerman on Escapades Island

The Wickerman at Beltaine is the oldest tradition I’m involved with in Second Life. Each year friends old and new parade up the mountain side to light and burn the great wickerman. We first did this for fun with a small group of new friends, little did we know 10 years later we’d still be doing it in Virtual Space.

It’s a simple experience that new friends look upon with wonder while old friends look forward to with glee. While i spend most of it making sure everything falls apart in order i do enjoy logging out and heading to the SLfeed to check out what snapshots were posted capturing the different views of the same event.

Here are a selection of images taken by friends from yesterdays event.

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“See to your left and then to your right.

we all share this moment this night.

Honour those who have joined us this past year, and remember those who are no longer standing amongst us here.

Watch the Wickerman burn, and let your heart rejoice at springs return.

Beltaine blessings to each and everyone, and hear us cry…

BELTAINE, BELTAINE, BELTAINE!!!”

polys

Things that some Second Life content creators do that are naughty

When creating in Second Life i always try to balance what i want to achieve with the limitations i set myself on the Second Life platform. Because there are not limitations, you could create something that rivals stuff on a PS4, but that would only nuke performance on the Second Life Platform. The ability to set limitations for your creations is hard to do if you are unaware of how stuff works under the SL hood, and sometimes i see creators building in ways that they think is prim saving but in fact could be making performance worst.

 

RenderVolumeLOD

A few years ago Linden Lab started being more aggressive on the Level Of Detail settings. RenderVolumeLOD debug setting decides how far away from an object you should be before it starts to lower detail of an object. It’s default setting is a measly 1.2. There are two naughty things some creators do with RenderVolumeLOD. The first is that some have their RenderVolumeLOD set to 4.0 or above and build optimised creations at this setting not realising that any new person coming into Second Life will not see their creations as intended. The second is some creators purposely create stuff with REALLY low LOD import settings to save land impact then expect people to up their RenderVolumeLOD debug settings to see their creations properly. This sacrifice of performance for land impact gain is a creators biggest sin.

lod

Sculpties

Some people like Sculpts but i personally hate them with a passion. They lie about their massive resource eating, they look ugly, take for ever to load and spend most of their time as giant blobs. To me their is NO excuse for any more sculpts to be made EVER. If you have the skills to make a sculpt, then you have the skills to make a mesh instead. Ok so there are ‘some’ instances where sculpts rule, such as region surrounding landscapes but most cases creators use them because they register as a single prim. They do in fact use a lot more resources than 1 prim, it’s just not telling you that because its on the old inaccurate prim calculation system. Its another case of sacrificing performance for land impact gain.

sculpts

Dont trust a Sculpt, they lie!

 

Mesh of a Gazzilion polygons

One of the reasons Materials Mapping was so welcomed was because creators had got to a stage where they were packing more detail onto a mesh than ever before. Every wrinkle on a piece of clothing, every marble relief on a wall carefully crafted by 1000’s of polygons. The gaming industry has known for decades the trick of using material mapping to give fake 3D details to mesh models and so it was very exciting to finally get the feature in Second Life. Unfortunately many users do not see the benefits because their computers don’t switch advanced lighting on. What is worst is that some creators flat out ignore the reasoning behind material mapping and still import huge detailed mesh at terrifying poly counts. I bought a demo shirt earlier this year and while i admired the great detail of the wrinkles in the clothe i was shocked to find it was over 200 land impact and pushed my Avatar Render Cost (ARC) so far into the red that i felt like a collapsing star. In fact thats how i would describe wearing extreme poly mesh. Walk around with a regions worth of land impact attached to your avatar then you are practically a Black Hole sucking the resources from fellow SL residents causing everything to slow down and in some cases cause people to crash on lower spec systems. Its a case of sacrificing performance for detail.

hipolycount

Easy to get carried away in blender making a model look super smooth, but we ain’t playing a pixar movie.

 

Packed Regions

If there is one thing I’m guilty of its packing to much into a region. A full region has 15,000 land impact allowance and this has not changed in for ever. The problem here is that for the high cost of setting up then renting the server you’d be forgiven for wanting to cram as much in as possible. It’s not like you can just whip up another region at a cost of approximately USD$5500 for the first year just to spread the content when your first region performance starts to degrade (cost based on UK resident). So i find myself filling up my one region with items that do a lot of scripted physical things and this can bring performance down especially if the objects are constantly chattering, and by that i mean sending packets of info about position, colour, what they detect etc.  Its a case of sacrificing performance for getting your monies worth.

escapades

Managing a region is often a case of what can i improve and what can i remove.

 

It can appear there is no limitations to what we can create in Second Life, but lag and low frame rates show there are limitations and creators need to know and understand the limitations in order to create content suitable for the platform. (i must also add that I’m not an expert so if you do know more than me about whats going on under the SL hood feel free to correct me in the comments :-P).

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Fantasy Faire: Escorts of the Lesser Sidhe

wellThe roleplaying at Fantasy Faire continues and all seems at peace in Poppetsborough now that the four Wells of Knowledge are flowing again. The dark tears that appeared last week have all sealed up thanks to the wonderful giving spirit of those who joined the Mouse Guardians.

Dogstar_avatarToday though a special traveller is visiting the Poppetsborough town at 12pm SLT. Dogstar of the Lesser Sidhe is an ancient mysterious fellow belonging to a wise race of fae that once served the first gods. Now tasked with watching over a small island he rarely gets time to visit other realms.

But a visitor os such importance as Dogstar needs help and protection as he arrives in Fantasy Faire and travels across the rams to Poppetsborough. That is why the Mouse Guardians have been tasked with guiding Dogstar when he arrives and protecting him from what perils might threaten his visit. The more Mice Guardians that gather the safer the mystical Lesser Sidhe will be!

The Guardians will gather at 12pm slt at the train station and await further instruction.

vr

Watching the VR Hype pass me by

A lot of people appear to have followed me on twitter based on my #VR interests which started with oculus and has encompassed anything remotely #VR related. I get messages that such and such has added me to their ‘PEOPLE OF VR’ list or ‘VRgeeks’ list. But what am i in the larger scheme of the new VR Hype?

I keep asking myself ‘am i over rating myself as a VR User?’. Some VR Enthusiasts do not even recognise Second Life as a VR platform. They are of course wrong. The gaming community can not just waltz in with their Immersive presence technology and claim VR to just mean their new sense of presence in a game.

I decided to make a list of the things that support my interest in VR and things that seem to prevent me from being a full VR Hype Geek.

Things that support my VR interest.

• I own the Oculus DK1 & DK2.

• I have backed kickstarters for both ProVR and Sixsense STEM body tracking.

• I have a leap motion VR hand tracker.

• I’m on the Alpha Test for High Fidelity’s VR world platform.

• I’ve been a user of the virtual world platform of Second Life for almost 10 years.

I’ve been part of a VR community since before the Oculus came along and reminded everyone.  I can see how the extra immersion of a head mounted display (HMD) would expand the types of interactions and experiences I’m already sharing with friends around the globe in Second Life. Who wouldn’t want stand in a place they had built themselves and invite their friends to hang out with in the extra sense of presence HMD’s and motion trackers give?

Things that detract from my VR interest.

• Im a mac user.

• I’m an iPhone user

• Im a Second Life User

• i’m not a gamer

• Im not a game developer.

Sadly I’ve found myself with a completely incompatible set up to really be into the new VR Hype. Second Life as pointed out is over 10 years old and struggles to keep up to speed on the Mac platform. But even Oculus seems to be sluggish on Mac as they seem to put more effort into making Oculus mainstream with Samsung Gear VR which i can’t use because i have iPhone. On top of this I’m not really a gamer. The demos are nice little distractions trying to showcase to mainstream how VR can be useful, but there is a million virtual world users out there who already understand the importance of virtual realities and use it every day for a multitude of reasons that benefit them and their friends.

What if all the regular people who would find virtual reality useful are already using virtual reality? great for Linden labs new thing?