Archive | April 2014

Today’s Glimpse into the Virtual Home

Earlier, I wrote about the concept of the Virtual Home as the center of your activities in virtual reality. It is personal space, lounge, hangout, and launching pad. There are a number of ways to handle the user interface for the Virtual Home.

We’re going to quickly look at, cover the concept for the Rift Navigator, and go back and pick up a great Virtual Home that I missed called Anarchy Arcade. After that, the conversation will switch gears to highlight a fundamental problem inside the Virtual Home (and virtual reality as a whole).

Screenshot from

Screenshot from is a no-nonsense launching pad for VR software. It doesn’t do a lot. It doesn’t have the personal space, lounge, or hangout. What it does do, though, it does correctly. They’ve got the launching pad covered for the novice user.

The user selects an application from a catalog of third party software and it installs it onto their system. When the user selects the installed program, the interface quickly moves out of the way, but returns when the application terminates. There is no need to remove a head-mounted display. At a basic level, a Virtual Home needs to behave similarly. Read More…

Why consumer technologies succeed and fail

SOURCE: Mike Rowe "Death of a Video Game"

Image Source: Mike Rowe “Death of a Video Game” on Flickr

I collect full-sized arcade games. Most of my games are from the 1980s, but occasionally I’ll find something newer that I like and I’ll add it to the collection. Arguably, arcade games are a decent enough example of how forces conspire in us to choose when a consumer technology succeeds and when it fails. Of the many possible reasons, we’re going two focus on two: novelty and utility.

In the picture above, this arcade game had lost both its novelty and its utility. In the end, the only novelty it had left was to burn, and the only utility it had left to have its picture taken as part of a photo collection. The remaining pile of ashes had no significant novelty or utility to offer us.

The Dimension of Novelty

YouTube: 1983 Atari Starwars Arcade Highscore Run

YouTube: 1983 Atari Star Wars Arcade Highscore Run

If you played arcade games in the 1980s, you’re going to relate very quickly to this example.

Why was this Star Wars game so popular? It had amazing high resolution three dimensional color vector graphics. It had digitized speech from the actual characters. It was based on events in the real Star Wars movie! So it had two cool new technologies from the period, and it was still very uncommon to see an arcade game with a movie tie-in. This game had novelty written all over it, and that was a good thing. It pulled you in and got you to play it. Read More…

A Review of Player Resource Control Strategies

Image source: Team Fortress 2 - Mann vs Machine

Image source: Team Fortress 2 – Mann vs Machine

Despite a previous article in which I explored how to represent a very large number of avatars in a single shared environment, I don’t believe that a single shared world isn’t going to be a mainstream approach. There are some good reasons why a large singular world should exist as one of several different solutions. But that’s a topic for another time.

When your virtual world is faced with a large number of simultaneous users, you’re going to need to find a way to keep the load under control. This article is a (non-exhaustive) review of known techniques which may be used individually or in combination.

We’ll be looking at denial, sharding, time dilation, feature reduction, and location distribution.

Denial: Hard Limit of the Number of Simultaneous Players

“Server is full.” The classic method of handling resource limitations. Read More…

The Future of Vehicular Safety Communications Systems

This article is going to stray a little off-topic. Before the end, I’m going to bring it back to the topic of augmented reality and virtual reality. I hope you find it interesting.

As mentioned in my previous article, I’m taking some graduate level computer security courses as part of my continuing education. Right now, I’m taking a quick break from my project which investigates security vulnerabilities in next generation vehicular safety systems. These systems, under development today, have been given the green light by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If things go as plan, your vehicle will send and receive reports on position, speed, heading (and more) to surrounding vehicles. The road may transmit information to you such as posted warning signs (curve ahead), weather conditions, or upcoming road hazards. Read More…

A small break

You may have seen my interest security issues in articles like The Metaverse and the Virtual HomeRepresenting unknown avatars in high traffic public spaces, and especially Griefing and the Metaverse. This isn’t by chance.

In addition to my day-to-day job, I am taking some graduate level computer security courses as part of my continuing education. I’ve been able to explore how these general computer security concepts apply to the Metaverse in interesting ways.

The academic year is finally coming to an end, and I need to buckle down and get some assignments turned in. I’ll be taking a week or two off to wrap those things up, and then I’ll be back to writing more articles.

I’m trying to decide if I want to talk more about the Virtual Home, or a proposal for the structure of a modern Metaverse. If I talk about a modern Metaverse, I’d probably want to lay some more groundwork first. Thoughts?

On another note, I received an old book in the mail today. $7.22 shipped. As always, I embed no referral code, and I claim no relationship to the book, author, publisher, or seller (other than having purchased the book).

Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality

Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality

I’ve only had time to skim over it today. It has fourteen different articles written by academics in the 1990s. So far, it looks pretty good. It has some good sections (communications theory, applications, immersiveness), and a few dated topics (location-based VR entertainment, cyberpunk culture).

My copy is lightly annotated by its previous owner and, actually, that’s something that I appreciate because they’ve picked out some of the good bits for me. If you can pick this one up cheap, it is probably worth adding to your library.

That’s all for today. See you again shortly.

The Metaverse and the Virtual Home

If this is your first time visiting Metaversing, please read:

This blog is about going beyond the science fiction descriptions of the Metaverse and actually fleshing out some of the concepts, designs, and details that are useful in bringing it to life. The ideas described here are not to be interpreted as the exclusive way for the Metaverse to be designed. We’re here to put a stake in the ground. We hope to start the conversation (where it doesn’t already exist) and to move the conversation forward.

"The Basement" from Ready Player One, recreated in Second Life, via New World Notes Blog

“The Basement” from Ready Player One, recreated in Second Life. Image Source: New World Notes Blog

I’m convinced that the Virtual Home is at the center of the user experience in the Metaverse. There is so much ground to cover, more than will fit in a single post. How do I convey a universe?

My design sensibility tells me that we’re going to have to iterate this over time in order to figure out what exactly this space needs to be. My gut tells me that we’re going to need quite a bit of competition to make those iterations happen.

The Virtual Home is born out of four concepts: the Launch Pad, the Personal Space, the Utility Space, and the Trusted Space. We’ll talk about each of these, and then we’ll talk about three different ways that this set of concepts play out. Read More…

An old source for new inspiration

Amazon search: "virtual reality" in Books

Amazon search: “virtual reality” in Books

Perhaps you’re surrounded by virtual reality enthusiasts. If so, you’re one of the lucky ones. For many of us, there are very few people that we can hold conversations with on the subject of virtual reality, yet alone the Metaverse. It is hard to find inspiration in a vacuum.

If you find yourself looking for ideas, you might consider the wealth of old books that are out there. They’re mostly from the 1990s. Sure, they’re a bit dated, but that isn’t all bad. You may be able to look at old ideas with a fresh perspective. Some of the old ideas have gone unreviewed, and are waiting for easy solutions and new applications. Read More…

Representing unknown avatars in high traffic public spaces

Maciej Kuciara: Cyberpunk 2077 trailer concept art

Maciej Kuciara: Cyberpunk 2077 trailer concept art

“The Street.” That’s what Snow Crash calls it. The Street is a shared virtual environment that grew to be used by over a hundred million users. The author eases us into how avatars might interact in the Metaverse by describing a simple problem: how to reach the front door of a famous establishment.

If these avatars were real people in a real street, Hiro wouldn’t be able to reach the entrance. It’s way too crowded. But the computer system that operates the Street has better things to do than to monitor every single one of the millions of people there, trying to prevent them from running into each other. It doesn’t bother trying to solve this incredibly difficult problem. On the Street, avatars just walk right through each other.

You might remember that in a previous article, Griefing and the Metaverse, we touched on some of the issues involved when avatars collide. In an even earlier article, The sci-fi Metaverse is bad, we realized that the science fiction Metaverse is actually an unrealistic blueprint for what an actual Metaverse should be like.

When Snow Crash describes a high traffic public place, I think that they got it more right than wrong. When practical considerations need to come first, the Metaverse does not need to be a faithful simulation of reality. We could stop here and implement a public space with Snow Crash’s description of the Street, but there are additional practical considerations to deal with. Read More…

Griefing and the Metaverse

Know Your Meme: Pool's Closed (Habbo Hotel)

Know Your Meme: Pool’s Closed

If you’ve been following some of the posts here on Metaversing, you may have noticed a slant towards planning and design issues. This isn’t by accident. Many issues seem innocent or almost trivial, but need to be carefully considered before jumping into an implementation. A well thought-out design can save countless hours of trouble down the road in the systems development life cycle.

Today, I have an easy prediction: the Metaverse is going to be the stuff of legends for hackers, griefers, trolls, vigilantes, security researchers, and spy agencies. If you’re already familiar with the scene at the top of this article, then you know what we’re looking at: an in-world denial of service attack. Do you see it? Is it the guy in the pool with the antlers on his head? No? To explain, let’s go back to design. Read More…

How attached are we to the open world and Euclidean space?


Math with Bad Drawings, “A Fight with Euclid”

In an earlier post, “The sci-fi Metaverse is bad (and you need to leave it behind)“, we talked about some of the notions we inherited from science fiction which shape our thoughts on how the Metaverse should exist. One such item is the open world concept. Another notion is of a single large contiguous (Euclidean) three dimensional space. These are romantic notions of the Metaverse, but do we really need them?

Second Life is an interesting example of both an open world and a contiguous Euclidean space. (This is the classical view of the Metaverse.) Land is a virtual resource in Second Life which is sold to players; it must be purchased in order to be used.

In Second Life, location can be important. The size to which your land can grow can be important. Sure, your avatar can teleport to almost anywhere on the map, but if you are so inclined, your can probably fly there as well. In 2011, almost 80% of the company’s revenue was from land fees. With revenue based on the constraints of real estate, Euclidean space makes a great deal of sense here. It is baked into the design, and with reason. Read More…