Archive | Science Fiction RSS for this section

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…

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

euclidean

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…

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

Shadowrun

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…