Lessons from the Past and Building the Future
How can we help the next attempt at the Metaverse to be more successful? This article will present the idea that our attempts to directly build the large general-purpose virtual environments (“to build the Metaverse”) are, in itself, what have prevented a successful Metaverse from happening.
The Andromeda Blog warns us that virtual reality is doomed to repeat the failures of the past unless we recognize what those failures are, and start thinking in a new direction. They remind us that a popular definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In the context of virtual reality, they’re right. We need to do something different than what has already been tried and failed.
What do people think is different this time around? “We have new technology!” “This time, we’re going to make virtual reality a platform!” “People are starting to take this seriously!” Those things are all important contributors, but are they at the heart of the problem? Only when we are able to recognize what we’re doing wrong are we able to figure out what needs to be different.
In previous articles, we’ve identified two easily overlooked but very substantial user needs which were neglected in previous implementations. First, there was a failure to maintain novelty (as the initial novelty decayed, large virtual worlds became boring). Second, there was a lack of utility (there was little real-world value which people obtained in virtual reality). A successful Metaverse has to continue to entertain its users. If and when that fails, it has to provide real-world value if it hopes to retain them.
What if there is another problem, more fundamental, that is baked right into the design? Read More…
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 VirtualReality.io, 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).
VirtualReality.io 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…
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
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…
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…
The image above represents the most obvious model for selling all types of real-world products in a virtual environment. Sad, isn’t it? We’ve taken the worst features of the real world and combined them with the worst features of virtual reality. If we’re selling video games in this manner, then we’ve failed to realize the potential of virtual reality.
So how about ReadWrite’s old question above, “are virtual shopping malls making a comeback?” I can only hope not. At least, not in this form.
So is this how we are going to be selling games in virtual reality? The virtual arcade? This is the second most obvious conceptual model. Perhaps you go to an arcade, look around the arcade machines, see one you might like, and use its interface to explore the game. If you like what you see, you purchase the title. This is only slightly more clever than the virtual shopping mall experience — it fits into a gaming theme. Functionally, it could work, but it really isn’t a, “Wow. This is a virtual reality experience!” Read More…
What kind of metrics can we use to measure the success of a Metaverse?
We could measure the users. How many are there? How happy are they? How engaged? How long they stay? How much content they are consuming and creating? Something like like deviantART might measure and compare their success in these terms.
In my previous post, “Discussing Second Life: It is (and it isn’t)“, I talked about the difficulty in making general statements about Second Life. Everyone is all over the map. Second Life is a failure. Second Life is a success. Second Life is still alive, but it can’t survive.
Conventional wisdom is that Second Life is a failure. But that all depends on how you measure success. Did Second Life take over the world? No. When it hit critical mass, was it able to capitalize on it? No. Is the business a going concern? Yes! They’re still in business, and they’re still bringing in new users, even if there is still an 80% churn rate in their new subscriber retention numbers. A publicly traded company that answers to shareholders might find that situation intolerable. For a private company, that might just be okay. Read More…
- Augmented reality
- Data Collection
- Intellectual Property
- Science Fiction
- Second Life
- Virtual home