Second Life, 2015 A.D. Part 2

Saturday, November 8, 2008 Saturday, November 08, 2008

Part one of this series introduced the idea of following a day in the life of an avatar of the future. What might we see? So far, the avatar has gone full immersion 3D mode and is about to head off to an event.

As is today, we must teleport to the event location. You strike a key to change the your hand from “Physical” mode, where it can interact with virtual objects, to “HUD” mode, where it interacts with various popup HUDs clinging to the sides of your view. Touching the event calendar HUD brings up a concise list of scheduled activities, including tonight’s event. Touching the event itself brings up the teleport interface.

The teleport interface is quite different from today. A medium-sized 3D representation of the TP destination appears floating in front of you. It looks a bit like a floating chessboard with some structures and fuzzy edges, but you realize that it is actually a live display, as tiny avatars (not simply green dots) are moving about. You can even just barely hear the music and sounds coming from that location if you hold your virtual head close to the teleport interface.

This particular location does not seem to have a specific landing point, so you grab the chessboard-like teleport interface and spin it slowly around until you spy an empty spot appropriate for your arrival. You touch that spot and the teleport commences. And completes instantly.

It’s a typical party, with only 200 or so avatars present, far less than the 15,000 supported by the sim. No one actually gets 15,000 avatars on a sim, because that’s a theoretical limit, achievable only if there are no other objects and all avatars are stripped naked. The other reason you never see 15,000 avatars is that it is simply too hard to organize an event that might attract that many. Nevertheless, you recall attending a concert with 9,500 others last month by a very popular artist. It was laggy, of course.

The sim is brilliantly engineered and is astonishingly beautiful. You don’t really notice, because so many sims are like this these days. You could easily do this yourself on your own sim by purchasing one of the many self-building kits. They look simple, as they first rez as the classic standard plywood box. But when you touch them, they use mathematical algorithms to automatically generate a unique build that fits your property. You recall watching your neighbor try one – they had to re-run it seven times before it produced a build they liked. Sure, it’s a very easy way to make good use of the 1,000,000 prims permitted on each sim, and you make a note to shop for one another day.

You wade into the crowd and dance with the others, but you’re wondering if you really know anyone here. A turn of your head swims the display around the area, and you quickly notice your friends because their titles are highlighted. You deftly navigate through the crowd to get closer to them. Being nearby is very important, because it will be much easier to hear them.

Like any event in the past year, there is a lot of voice. The big migration to voice from chat happened when voice masking was finally introduced. It lets you specify how your voice is to be heard, and there are many who use it to filter their real voice to appear as a different gender. The latest craze is South African accents, which you can buy as a plug-in for your voice-mask. Hardly anyone uses text chat any more, except those logging in from quiet places, but their text is automatically voice masked for others, too.

You’re not into voice mask filtering very much, other than using the automatic language translation. Last week you finally found a useable Portuguese plug-in, and now your voice can be heard and understood by those Brazilians you’ve been hanging with. Of course, you can now understand them a lot better as well. 

The translation has become extremely important, because there are so many new avatars from third world countries now. It took them a while to discover virtual reality, but they latched on to the concept very quickly. It lets them finally escape their real world, which is often far worse off than the real world of more elderly avatars. The best part for them is their ability to make full time real-world living from virtual reality. Affluent users of the past ten years thought that there wasn’t much money to be made, but the new third world users find that a little money for westerners is in fact a lot of money for poorer areas of the real world. Most of the content is now produced by Africans, Pakistanis and smaller places in South Asia.

Finally, you reach your friends and the party can truly begin.

To be continued in Part 3.


Anonymous said...

Definitely an interesting read, but I severely doubt there will BE a Second Life in 2015. The "Metaverse" will be in full swing by then, and Second Life will have long since fallen from memory. Why? Well, two reasons.

1) Linden Lab doesn't care about the users of Second Life.

2) Far more versatile and dynamic virtual world platforms will have been released (many of them are in development as I write this), basically stealing what is left of Second Life's thunder.

I've had my share of fun building, scripting, and exploring in Second Life. But I won't shed any tears when Linden Lab finally closes up shop. The Metaverse will live on, but it won't be handled by the Lindens, and that is just fine with me.

Anonymous said...

i seriously doubt the higher development of virtual worlds should be duplication

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