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Competitors with Different Goals: Valve versus Oculus

The recently announced HTC Vive looks to be a strong technology competitor against the highly anticipated consumer release from Oculus in the PC space. While Oculus has long-ago stated that they are working to deliver their consumer VR headset at a lower margin, possibly even at cost, HTC/Valve has announced their entry of a premium VR experience.

A Different Focus

What is overlooked by many is that while these two companies compete in VR hardware and software, their focus couldn’t be any more different. Read More…

Travelling Between Unrelated Virtual Worlds

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.

How do you navigate between unrelated virtual worlds?

Back in August 2013 when I first envisioned how I wanted a different model of the Metaverse to work, one of the fundamental questions I had was in how to glue everything together. Instead of building one large Metaverse and splitting it into pieces, as has been done before, I looked at a different solution. How do we start with a bunch of unrelated pieces of software and combine them together to form a larger Metaverse?

Images: VRChat, JanusVR, Anarchy Arcade, Minecraft

Image Sources: VRChat, JanusVR, Anarchy Arcade, Minecraft (house by PoPlioP)

Our universe starts with completely different and unconnected virtual environments, games, and virtual worlds. There are different authors, languages, graphics libraries, and more. If you wanted to create a way for players (avatars) to actually move between them, how could it be done? How would you move from JanusVR to Minecraft? How do you walk from Minecraft into VRChat? Read More…

Discussing Second Life: It is (and it isn’t)

Second Life Avatar Banner

Source: Second Life, “What is an Avatar?”

Second Life is a topic that is going to come up again and again, because it provides so many excellent concrete examples for a discussion on Metaverse design. Before it comes up for the first time, there is a thorny issue that we need to get out of the way.

In most cases, when I use Second Life as an example, I talk about the vanilla experience for an average user. One problem I’ve found in making observations about Second Life is that Second Life can actually be fairly tough to make general statements about it. For every general observation, there is likely to be one or more specific counter-examples. I don’t deny that these counter-examples exist, but I don’t believe that they fit the profile of the everyday experience. Read More…

The sci-fi Metaverse is bad (and you need to leave it behind)


Source: Larry Elmore’s Shadowrun artwork via the Monkey in the Cage podcast

Wikipedia defines Metaverse as “a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet.” The concept was not defined by computer scientists as much as it was brought to life by science fiction writers. They envisioned a singular persistent and logically consistent world like our own which only exists inside of a computer.

I believe that the Metaverse is coming. But when it comes to actually implementing a Metaverse, why do so many people believe that the science fiction version of the Metaverse should be our blueprint? Let’s take a look at the world of sci-fi for a bit.

From a writer’s perspective, it makes a great deal of sense to have a virtual world that is analogous to our own. It is easy to write compelling stories for an alternate world that is just like ours, but with the one major difference of it being virtual. “If it can happen in the real world, then I can have it happen in virtual reality.” However, there have been no hard design or implementation problems (scaling up to a large number of users, for example) which have been solved by these writers. These authors, to be fair, have mixed in some really great ideas, and they’ve done a good job of illustrating what a Metaverse can be.

Beyond the general idea, there isn’t much consistency between science fiction writers about many of the underlying rules of a Metaverse. How do people pay to use the Metaverse? One writer might say that citizens pay money to subscribe to a virtual reality or communications service. However, another writer might say that the connection is free, but transportation from one in-world zone to another costs money. Read More…