Nope, i won’t be jumping on and giving my analysis of Ebbe Altberg’s first interviews and the news that Linden Lab are dumping half their products. Plenty of other people are offering their views on that, and as far as i’m concerned, you don’t need another pundit telling your their opinions. Suffice it to say, i think Altberg is far more interesting than i first imagined, and i’m very interested to see what the future might bring.
Speaking of the future, has it ever occurred to you that we’re pretty much living in it? The world we’re familiar with today is a very different place to the one many of us would have imagined it would be twenty, even ten years ago. Sadly, there are a fair few things that were the staple fare of science fiction and futurologists back in the day that still haven’t appeared on the scene as everyday items – flying cars, androids, humanoid robots and computers you can have a proper conversation with, to name a few – but there is a vast range of modern conveniences that we would never have guessed would become commonplace, which we barely give a second thought to today.
There are concepts too, with which we’ve become extremely familiar, yet would very much have been the stuff of conjecture and blue skies thinking not so long ago. Virtual 3D spaces, is such a concept: one that we sl folk take for granted, yet it’s actually a pretty complex idea. Just imagine trying to describe a virtual world to somebody with no experience of such an environment – it’s not an easy task… Like ‘Nam, you had to be there, man!
SL is more than just a concept though, it’s an immersive experience – which is precisely what appeals to me. Much as i’ve tried, i can’t work up any enthusiasm for any of those smartphone games that are so incredibly popular… Angry Flappers, or whatever it’s called, has absolutely nil attraction as far as i’m concerned. If i’m honest, there is very little in the way of two-dimensional platforms that grabs me – i’ve barely progressed beyond ‘Solitaire’, and that’s only because it’s pretty two-dimensional in the real world.
None of the iconic games of my youth drew me in – i was immune to the charms of Pacman, Frogger, Donkey Kong and Super Mario – to me there was little, if anything attractive in nudging sprites around what was essentially a moving strip of electronic paper; and i’m pretty contemptuous of their modern-day equivalents too.
Then i discovered Tomb Raider, and everything changed! Here was a world that had depth and tangibility; a world that i could explore and engage with; a world of three dimensions that created that singularly elusive, immersive quality that made all the difference.
And that’s what i find in sl: immersive, compelling, exciting, three-dimensional spaces that are simply crying out to be explored or filled with an endless variety of interesting things. It’s like the real world, but without the annoyances. SL has a breadth and a depth that is simply not accessible in rl, even though the two worlds may have sufficient resemblance to each other to encourage a belief that sl is little different – in spatial terms – to the real thing.
What is more exciting for me, is that the real world is only just really starting to appreciate the potential that 3D has to offer.
There are many who think that sl has ‘missed the boat’ – that our virtual world has had its heyday and is losing ground, when the reality is that sl is still way ahead of its time. When sl first burst onto the scene, it was groundbreaking – and it still is. Other virtual worlds have come and gone, or lapsed into the gaming sphere and virtual backwaters, but sl is still viable and vibrant. And – just maybe – the world around us is starting to stumble into a domain that sl does exceptionally well, and has made it’s own… the 3D environment.
We’re starting to realise that 3D printing could be massive; augmented reality is bringing the virtual environment into our every day lives; Oculus Rift, Kinect and Leap Motion promise what science fiction predicted years ago – the ability to truly interact with a virtual environment; and have you seen what those movie directors are doing with performance capture and virtual sets? SL is uniquely placed to provide a platform that can merge seamlessly with these technologies – there are already artists in sl creating jewellery that can be exported and 3D printed; and that’s only the tip of iceberg when it comes to the potential that 3D virtuality may have.
There’s one development in particular that i find incredibly exciting: you’re unlikely to find me wobbling all over the place in my Oculus Rift headset, and equally unlikely to catch me waggling my fingers all over the place, as i try desperately to walk in a straight line using Leap Motion, but you sure as hell are going to see me selling my virtual soul to own one of these babies! Oh yes, would i love to be Tangoed! Imagine being able to walk into a room, scan it with your phone, then import it as a mesh into sl – it’s the ultimate in vitualising the real world, with none of that tedious mucking about in Blender!
Maybe i was born with a virtual gene, or something?
You and I should ride the tracks and find ourselves just wading through
and you and I when we’re coming down we’re only getting back
And you know I feel no sorrow.
When you find that things are getting wild don’t you need days like these.
Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train