What i want from #VR Software phase

Zuckerberg announced at Connect3 that the next phase of VR is software. 

I am interested in seeing what developers come up with although i found Oculus demos of legless avatars sharing spaces together not all that inspiring. You will have to forgive me for not finding it exciting and new. You are welcome to dismiss my virtual worldisms due to me being a user of a flat screen based Virtual World, but i to am enthusiastic about what immersive VR will do. I’m just aware that some of what is being touted as ‘break throughs’ are actually simply old virtual world paradigms but with goggles on, and i find that rather boring. Just yesterday i read a techcrunch article headline ‘Facebook invents “Virtual Reality Emoji” gestures’ , the function for which seemed no different from the animated gestures i’ve been using in Second Life for 10 years to help convey emotion to others in virtual space.

There were some concepts i was enthusiastic about, for example Oculus Rooms. Your personal VR space from which to receive guests, choose games and other VR media to experience. I mainly liked this demo as it hinted the start of moving away from the 2D menu UI, although menus still did appear to select other experiences.

pebble2

 

A 2D UI of buttons and lists is a good way to navigate currently in Second Life because your experience is viewing a display, but in an immersive VR virtual world i’d like to hope that we’ll move away from lists and overlays. I’d like to imagine a day when going into VR is similar to going into your own thoughts. I’d like spaces , experiences or places to be things i can pick up in my own personal space, stored on a shelf like a collection of old toys or ornaments. My favourite games represented by something specific to that game, such as a statue or a hat, maybe wearing the hat takes me to the game. Or a place created and shared with friends, represented by a simple rock, but that rock brings to mind the memories of experiences I’ve already had there with friends. This is the kind of stuff i want to see being explored, that stuff excites me about VR because that for me its the next step.

Democratising #VR will need democratised 3D Content

I watched two things yesterday that caused me to think about the democratisation of VR. The First Was a video of Ebbe Altbergs DIY VR talk at Collision Conference, the other was Lab Chat 3 in Second Life.

In Lab Chat they discussed an upcoming feature addition codenamed Project Bento. This project will allow Second Life content creators to ‘access more options in the creation of Second Life avatars‘. That’s my misleadingly simplified explanation of the feature, because rigging 3d models for Second Life is actually stupidly complicated.

Lab Chat was interesting because of how a lot of questions seemed to be wishes for features to allow users easier creation of things. The Labs answers were either flat out ‘NO’ or confusion about what the user was talking about.

The equal playing field of content creation that Second Life started with has vanished. Where we once all built with cubes inside the Second Life platform itself, is now a domain of Pro Creators and User creators. The Pro builds the content using years of experience with 3D Modeling software, while the User arranges the content in manner that is also considered creative.

This is what Second Life evolved into and what will be carried across to Project Sansar if the DIY VR video was anything to go by. Ebbe specifically talks about democratising a medium, showing how photos went from being something only professionals knew how to do, to where everyone now can hold up a phone, click a button to take amazing quality images, and then share them in an instant with everyone they know. Project Sansar hopes to democratise VR experience by taking VR experience creation away from Game Developers and giving users the ability to build their own VR spaces with simplistic ease.

PSansar

Even if Linden Lab succeed in making the usability of Sansar easier than Second Life with the addition of immersive VR, there is still the issue of content creation. Because that big divide i see in Second Life where users don’t even know where to begin to make 3D Content may also come across to Project Sansar.

It’s an issue that probably needs addressing by the 3D Content industry rather than Linden Lab or High Fidelity. There needs to be easier ways for users to build 3D Content without spending years to gain the knowledge.

This is already being explored in some areas. Adobe bought out Mixamo rebranding it into FUSE. The Software is like an avatar/Game Character customisation tool that you can export models for anything that will accept the formats. I’ve used it to quickly create static characters for Second Life Experiences (FantasyFaire & THE WELL).

The most interesting for me is 3D Scanning. The idea being that you can use your smartphone to 3D scan any real object into a Digital 3d Model and then import it to what ever software supports it. I can see myself sculpting models out of clay or building stuff with my Nephew out of Lego then scanning them into the metaverse.

Box of Dinos- #3DST40
by Bart
on Sketchfab

 

Perhaps it’s only matter of time before the next iPhone or Samsung Brick has a built in 3D Scanner bringing with it democratised 3D Content that can be used in these upcoming VR Worlds. Only then will VR be truly democratised.

High Fidelity: I shouldn’t have signed up :-p #VR #SL

So i’ve been an Alpha for High Fidelity over a year now and really i’m one of the last people they should have accepted.

I’m a content creator in that other virtual world Second Life and I’m able to bring my creativity to life there because of the great tools Second Life has to offer. It’s a little presumptuous to think that those same tools would be copied in other virtual worlds and in the case of High Fidelity it’s as alien as it could be.

Of course HyFy is deep in Alpha development, and while i’ve been unable to create the sorts of things i have in Second Life (almost nothing at all in fact) i’ve kept my mind open for what may lay ahead. In many ways the content is not important to HyFys future, it’s the services that can be built on it and drive content creation. What you can do there now is the bare bones of an experience such as choose an avatar, set up a space and import FBX files. This might seem underwhelming for hardcore Second Life Users but its a coders paradise.

744ac85bf5_627x499

I have my own HyFy domain called Never Space. Though its hardly ever up and just has an asteroid with a park bench on it. I’ve since tried to upload more stuff but I’m still having trouble with FBX file formats.

 

90fd0b2edf_473x499

Im most interested in making avatars in High Fidelity. Ever since seeing Faceshifts ability to transfer the nuances of your expressions to you avatar i’ve wanted to do that. But making an avatar hasn’t been as simple as i expected what with FBX file format troubles and licensing of software. I did manage to create this Lokibot avatar which floated about in the air. It’s since been deleted from the HyFy inventory :-p

 

How i am seeing it, HyFy is a platform for the next Google to come along and create a service that offers something for VR users.

How the HyFy Alpha looks now i’m confident won’t remain so for long. I feel maybe, especially in my little VR bubble that people expect it to be a virtual world you build from the inside, but I’m starting to think i should come at this alpha from a UNITY/UNREAL developer viewpoint. With HyFy being pretty open with scripting and hosting, it would only take one dexterous developer to create a plugin to import an entire OculusVR demo from Unity3D. Perhaps it is from that dev crowd HyFy should be attracting interest from, rather than me who just uses tools already available to create content.

I’ll keep poking at it because eventually someone will make the tools that will unlock my imagination… or allow me to order pizza :-P.