I’ve ranted a lot in the past about how I don’t see a future in VR. Fortunately, some developers have not listened. We now have a host of new Virtual Worlds coming out, all based on Full Immersion Virtual Reality technology.
This new generation of Virtual Worlds is much more than Second Life has been so far. It’s not just a creative outlet in its own microcosm. Some of them have latched on to what Mark Zuckerberg said when Facebook bought Oculus Rift, and turned their virtual experience into a new way of social interactions.
AltspaceVR is one of the first new worlds to roll out. It is a cross-platform immersive experience with a lot of similarities to Second Life, but also a lot of differences. It’s a communication platform, based on social interactions. You can have Altspace on your phone and text or call your friends and with a single button press, you and your friends could be in a completely virtual environment, with your HTC Vive or Oculus headset on, navigating using motion controls.
Second Life developers Linden Lab has their own virtual reality space in the works, Project Sansar. As with Second Life, it will be mostly (if not entirely) built by the users, making it more of a platform than a pre-packaged world. Taking experience from being the world leading virtual world providers, they are integrating what has been seen as the good parts of Second Life into it. Linden Lab has stated that Project Sansar will be more accessible than Second Life, with many points of entry and have compared it to platforms like WordPress, where users manage their own space and Linden Lab provide the tools.
At the moment of writing, Project Sansar is looking for digital artists of all kinds to try out a beta version this summer, with a full release scheduled late 2016.
If you have a beefy computer and don’t want to wait for Project Sansar, there’s High Fidelity. High Fidelity is a virtual creative space with Full Immersion Virtual Reality integration. It’s been described as the new way to make websites. If Project Sansar is WordPress, then High Fidelity would be the self-deployed version of WordPress, where you create your own server and connect to your own URL (yes, the same type of URL as you put in your browser) and invite others to join. It requires a lot from your computer though, for example a massive 8Gb of RAM as a minimum requirement.
High Fidelity is available right now, if your computer can handle it.
Has this changed my views on the validity of Virtual Reality? Not really, for a number of reasons.
Although I do see how this new generation of virtual worlds are really cool, I’m not sure how popular they will become or how long they will be around. With such high hardware requirements, it will be very pricey in the first few years and that will keep a lot of users away. They also seem to point a lot to them being a new form of social media, but I can’t see people sticking headsets and gloves on to do what essentially would be a tweet.
With that said, as soon as I can, I will get the equipment to check all of these out. And again, I do hope that you all prove me wrong. As much as I don’t believe in the future of VR, I also hope that it will work.
What are you most excited for in this new generation of virtual reality? Let us know in the comments.
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