Second Life VR Door Closed?

Reality Check

There are somethings we know that may give us a clue as to what is going to happen with VR and SL.

It is the Lab’s standard operating procedure to start new projects and not announce them until they are CERTAIN that they can complete them. With the Oculus project it was already out there when this team took over.

My avatar has Oculus Rift before I do!

My avatar has Oculus Rift before I do!

At the end of 2014 the previous Lindens knew they had a viewer that worked and was at a near acceptable level of quality. But, by 2016 the Oculus had changed and the technical hardware demand had grown. That change had probably gone mostly unnoticed by the Lindens working on SL. I can’t know that but, it looks that way to me. When they went to work on the Oculus to get it updated and add support for CV1 I suspect then they started to realize there were problems.

In the normal course of events there would be no public project. They would have no one, like me and others, nagging for an Oculus viewer update. I would imagine it was a bit embarrassing to have a viewer taking a year plus to update. And if not embarrassing then probably some annoyance. Whatever, I hate nagging and think most people do.

So, was there some face saving pressure to get an update out? Probably. But, we’ll likely never know if there was or where it came from.

Once the update was out the level of blow back was likely unexpected. I mean, who bitches about an experimental anything that doesn’t work well? We know they usually won’t. We don’t bitch about the iterations and backtracking in Project Bento. We know everyone is in a learning process to figure out how to make the project work. We have had set backs and a couple of versions performed worse than previous versions. But, we knew the learning was moving the project forward. So, it was a matter of reporting problems and pointing to degradation or problems in performance.

But, that previous Oculus viewer set the stage for expectations that went outside the normal development cycle. It may be that we’re also dealing with a different set of complaining people that are simply unaware of how any development works.

The recent update didn’t meet expectations and that failure to meet expectations generated user dissatisfaction and anger. But, venting in on the Lindens was a mistake. Oz stepped up and took the heat off his staff, protecting them and the company reputation. He pulled the viewer. The announcement was clear and typical corporate fluff. There will be some whining by users but, it will quickly die down with a minimum of bad press.

Are Oz and the Lab really never going to release a new version? We can’t know. That is the purpose of the wording in the announcement. They now have any development of VR support out of the public eye. In a way it could move back into the normal protected development cycle the Lab prefers. Ask if it did and we will get the standard answer, we don’t talk about fight club…

But, we can surmise what is going to happen… or more accurately… probably will happen.

More pages… links below.

6 thoughts on “Second Life VR Door Closed?

  1. IMHO any virtual world with unconstrained or minimally constrained user generated content will have great difficulty supporting VR. Just too much stuff that would never pass muster in a controlled commercially environment lagging the system.
    Imagine walking into a shop and being confronted with someone’s blimp-size mesh head! Disorienting enough in 2D.
    Of course, you never know, the internet as a whole and the LL network specifically could, some day, become MUCH faster; in which case anything is possible. 🙂

    • I think it’s important to be clear, here;

      The issue is not that SL allows users to create whatever content they imagine. The problem is not users being disoriented on the off chance they see someone with an oversized head.

      The issue is that LL not only fails to encourage the optimization of content uploaded to the grid, but actively discourages such optimization through a myriad of issues with SL and the content creation tools. This is why SL has such poor framerates, and why a person who is aware of these issues can take steps to drastically increase their framerates in their own personal corners of the grid with only a small amount of effort.

      In a world where the Lindens were smarter about content creation we’d see just as much creative freedom, but also be enjoying much better performance and a much easier transition towards VR headset integration.

      If people want to criticize LL, that should be the focus of their criticism.

      • Using the idea of ‘encourage’ and ‘discourage’ can imply planned and/or deliberate action. In the case of the Lab what we now see as inadequate ‘encouragement’ appears to have been a part of the learning curve. As SL has developed creative freedom and the novice creator support were more important than content optimization. In hindsight that may have been a mistake.

        Recent efforts have been toward pushing residents to optimize. Land Impact was a significant step. Now Avatar Complexity. So, they are moving in the right direction.

        In Sansar we will see how the Lab has learned its lessons.

  2. I could not say what LL does or does not want to do with VR at this point (as far as Second Life is concerned) but as much as first-party support would be very much appreciated I don’t think it is absolutely necessary to deliver a true VR experience to users of the current hardware/runtime/SDK, etc. and I don’t think it has to be limited to just one type of HMD either.

    Third parties have been creating viewers since the dawn of time and the invention of hyperbole. What’s stopping someone other than LL from creating a viewer that is VR capable? Hurdles? Yes! Not just how well it will handle the technical (and community) demands of performance but it will have to comply with all of the legal stuff we don’t care about as users that will allow it to be used with LL and Oculus Home (or whatever other platform will be necessary – I’m looking at you, Steam VR!) So it would be a challenging undertaking… seems to not have stopped others from being able to pull off some amazing stuff. I recall using the Singularity viewer to check out SL in anaglyphic 3D. It’s a visual concept that a third party was able to release years before anyone got a DK1. Despite what the complaints on the community forum were about, if you used the viewer you know that the head tracking worked…

    My point is that even if LL leaves us all in the dust with SL-VR it wouldn’t be a tragedy. It would only be a tragedy to find that no one cared enough about it to make a third-party solution that at least made a go of it.

  3. Linden Lab is not “the hand that feeds us”, it’s a company and we are their customers. Linden Lab, the company, advertised Second Life’s VR capability for years. They set up a VR section in their destination guide. Linden Lab’s customers trusted the company on their promises to make Second Life work with the Oculus Rift. Some of them invested money in equipment based on that promise. You write “Users were ripping on the Lab for putting out a project quality viewer not ready for prime time” – but you are mistaken here. The viewer was not just unpolished or “not ready for prime time”, it was a huge step back from version 3.7 which worked. 4.1 did not work at all, even for users with 3 years of experience in making VR applications work.

  4. Pingback: Infinite VR Corridor – Really!?! | Nalates' Things & StuffNalates’ Things & Stuff

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