Second Life VR Door Closed?

We know the Lindens are as excited about VR as we are. We know they are building that support into Sansar. That means the tech is in-house. Second Life is a huge repository of content that can be used with VR. VR is a luscious opportunity to draw new users into SL. I think they cannot pass up another attempt at VR.

Oculus Rift and Real Scale Test area

Oculus Rift and Real Scale Test area

However, I can see where they might pass up SL VR and just point people to Project Sansar. Or they might wait for development on the Sansar side to complete. Then with Sansar as an example of what the Lab can do tech-wise, provide some limited VR support for SL.

Limited support may be a scenario where Oculus is for use with Sansar and Cardboard is for use with Second Life. You can probably think of other scenarios that work with the limits of SL.

VR support in general is going to run into some problems. I think we are seeing it now. VR games are being sold at discount. Why? The free market does not generally discount anything that is selling well and in demand. VR sales are questionable. Few are bragging about how they are selling VR product. Are these more cracks in the VR hype? Probably.

One fact seldom talked about is the space users need to use VR as it is imagined now. There is a cost for RL space. A home or apartment has a cost that every user has to bear. People typically calculate the cost of a square foot of living space.

In my part of California a ranch style home with yard tends toward a onetime of cost about US$300±/sq ft., usually more. Figure a 30 year life and that is $10/sq ft/yr. I’ll skip adding in taxes and maintenance but, those are significant and growing costs. An apartment is $36/sq ft/yr. For the current desktop type computer we need a 4 by 5 area to sit in and set the computer. The needed 20 sq ft costs $200-$720 a month. (Yes, I know this various by geographic location. But, you’ll get the idea.)

A VR setup ideally requires a room. A 10×10 empty room just for VR use is probably not that outrageous an idea. That is 100 sq ft. Or $1,000-$3,600 per month. I think that will drive people toward desktop seated use of VR. That could mean driving, flying, and other things we do while seated in RL will be the preferred home VR experience.

I tend to walk and fly when I am in SL. Thinking about it, I spend more time on my feet in SL than I do flying. But, not always walking somewhere. Dancing and standing around talking are a significant part of that on-my-feet time. So, SL is not likely to remain the premier VR app for most VR users. The experience is not going to fit well into even a room. But, VR user curiosity will certainly bring new people to SL, at least for a time and some will stay.

All things considered, my belief is we haven’t heard the end of VR for SL or gotten a good handle on VR acceptance and use.

I probably should point out that coming from the Myst-world of Uru Live I experienced the developer, Cyan Worlds, stating very emphatically when closing Uru, the second time, that it would never, never, never reopen. It was done, done, done. Thank you now go away. Today, when the login server is working, the developer has it online as a free to play game and the servers are paid for by player donations, which I never thought would last. But, fan pressure and persistence brought Uru Live back and has kept it online.

So, I see VR for SL as something that will happen because users want it. There is no question in my mind. The only questions are whether Linden Lab will provide the VR or users/third-party-devs will figure out how to implement VR for SL. And when…

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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