Stephanie Condon wrote Second Life™ Lessons: What Linden Lab is doing differently with its new VR platform for ZDNet’s Between the Lines, a sort of technology meets society section of the site.
Stephanie points out that Second Life (SL) was thought to be the tech revolution to take over the web, way back in 2006-2007 when an Internet in 3D was imagined. But… it didn’t happen. SL has remained profitable. It just didn’t catch on as people expected.
With Virtual Reality (VR) we have the same types of predictions. A company called Digi-Capital predicts that in just 4 more years (2020) VR will be a US$30 billion a year business.
Stephanie has the idea that Linden Lab has learned what works for people immersing their selves in a virtual world (VW). She quotes Linden Lab’s (LL) CEO, Ebbe Altberg’s words, “…a lot of things that really constrained how successful Second Life could be. It could’ve been much more successful.”
One problem with any VW becoming popular is a lack of content. I suppose the idea is like, if the world had only one tree and you came and saw it… you would quickly be ready to move on to something else. So, the Lab is building and enlisting others to build content for Sansar. But, the under lying idea is to make Sansar a simple easy way for anyone to build 3D virtual content. The more people building, the more content there will be.
Stephanie points out that VR content is currently being built in complex systems like the UNREAL gaming engine, or Cry or Unity or whatever. Not the everyday person’s tool. Her next Ebbe quote gives those of us following Sansar a bit of spin on what we have previously heard and likely think, “Creators won’t need to worry about figuring out how to host and distribute their creations [or] host their own servers. Instead, they’ll be able to simply publish their creations to our cloud, where they can be easily discovered and accessed by their audiences.”
If you have ever hosted your own VW in OpenSim using your personal computer or a leased host you are well aware of the learning curve involved. What Ebbe is describing is somewhat like what we see in SL. We can lease a server, call it a simulator or region… however you think of it, and build our whatever.
The same idea is being designed into Sansar as a solution for a problem facing those wanting to build VR experiences. So, it is easy to say the Lab has learned the whole hosting and server setup thing is something of an obstacle and has to be moved out of the way, made easy.
Access – This is a big problem in SL. How do people find out about places in SL? In general, they don’t. You can’t Google for places in Second Life. Well, you can search on the phrase ‘places in “second life”’ and get results. But, the typical searcher is looking for places without knowing about SL. They don’t know to use that phrase.
Search for ‘virtual world combat games’. SL isn’t listed in the first 3 pages of results. A paid ad pops up. But, no one is going to find a listing for NoR or Sin City in Google without specifically knowing those names.
This is being done differently in Project Sansar. The idea is Sansar VR-VW’s will show up in Google/Yahoo searches. And it is in this section of Stephanie’s article that Ebbe clearly points out that Sansar WILL run on a desktop without a requirement for VR gear. But, for full immersion one will need VR gear.
Scalability – Ebbe is quoted pointing out SL was built ‘ad hoc’. Meaning people solved problems encountered rather than planned for. This is where the Lab was learning.
With Sansar the overall SL system is considered and a better “property system” designed so that less than fully optimized user created content can be rendered at 90 frames per second (FPS). The system will allow an unlimited number of concurrent users to experience the content. That eliminates the 7-80 concurrent user cap we see in SL, which is mostly about 40 concurrent users these days.
Another page follows, link below.