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Future of the metaverse, and all that


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4 hours ago, Luna Bliss said:

Where might these full scenes be able to be uploaded in the beginning...does anybody know?  I mean, should I get set up at Unity or something?

Gamesfromscratch has been covering the USD format:

Activision's USD project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QZCT6y2iXc

NVIDIA Omniverse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCBCqrxeikY

AMD's Hydra for Blender: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJkapaKuKv0

Edited by Mr Amore
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10 hours ago, Luna Bliss said:

Wow this is very exciting...being able to upload an entire scene all at once.

That's what COLLADA is for although I've never heard of it actually being used that way.

Edit: COLLADA has been around since 2004. It's owned and maintained by the Khronos group (who also maintains OpenGL and Vulkan) and is even an ISO standard. Yet it has never caught on. It makes me wonder if there is any reason why USD will fare better.

Edited by ChinRey
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2 hours ago, ChinRey said:

COLLADA

Huh, collada even has kinematic stuff. I'm not much of an expert, but just glancing at the two, they look fairly similar except that USD has "layers" which are intended to make big-team collaborations easier.

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I can't say I understand all this, but did read a bit from the posts ChinRey and Mr Amore made.  Thanks!

I'd just like to be able to upload, say, a quarter- region (or larger design) somewhere in one fell swoop that was fully constructed in Blender.  A complex environment with various terrain heights, plants, waterfalls, streams...all together in a design, textured and assembled as it was created in Blender.

I dislike creating parts of things in Blender, but enjoy creating the whole picture...like a painting.

Edited by Luna Bliss
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The Washington Post has some Metaverse coverage today. It's mostly about Tim Sweeney talking about Epic. Epic is making lots of noise about an "open metaverse", because they are annoyed with Apple trying to take a 30% cut of their revenue. But Fortnite takes a much bigger cut from creators.

Someone commented on the Post article:

Quote

The metaverse does exist exactly as it's been described in this article... Second Life. http://www.secondlife.com

 

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A must-read for LL management: So you want to compete with Roblox.

This is the best article in some time on the business problems SL faces. Some excepts:

Minimum Requirements to not Fail Right Away

You should consider the following as mere table stakes:

  • High quality multiplayer support for user creations out of the box. (SL has that.)
  • High performance servers with excellent reliability. (SL needs more server side performance.)
  • Powerful, user friendly, and joyful creation tools. (Hmm.)

The Cloud Cost Trap

Why doing everything on AWS costs too much and hurts you competitively.

Tools are Hard

It is not easy to make good tools. And not just for the normal software engineering reasons – ie, you'll inevitably become too familiar with them and become unable to see their flaws, you'll forget to dogfood them and build them around speculative users rather than actual things creators want, etc. No, tools are hard because they take time. Not just time to build, refine, debug, and test, but time for creators to learn, adopt, and build them into their lives and workflow. This is much harder than a typical user acquisition problem for a simple game or CRUD app, it's more like inventing a new instrument and expecting musicians to start writing and recording music for it.

The Real Problems

The big three problems you're facing are:

  • Chicken-or-the-egg deadlocks
  • Platform dynamics
  • Ownership and trust

Chicken-or-the-egg deadlocks

  • You need players
  • Players won't show up without content, so you need creators
  • Creators won't show up until you have players

Content creators value audience size above nearly everything else, closely tied with fat stacks of cash money. It doesn't matter how easy it is for creators on your platform to make mind-blowing experiences if you don't also have an audience eagerly waiting to play them. (SL's flat user count is not good enough.)

Platform dynamics

For the purpose of this article I use "platform" to mean a digital ecosystem whose owner gets other people ("creators") to build stuff for players to enjoy, and the owner makes money off of this activity somehow. (SL is in reasonably good shape on this front.)

Ownership and Trust

Platforms tend to follow a certain kind of life cycle, and there's no better primer than Dan Cook's Game of Platform Power. In it he outlines how platforms transition through "Growth" and "Engage" phases where they are friendly and generous to the creators who produce value on their ecosystems, before maturing into the "Extract" phase where they leverage their size and power to lock-in users and capture as much creator-produced value for themselves as possible. Once upon a time, platforms said things like "Don't be Evil" and "users will never be required to use a Facebook account to use an Oculus" and we've seen what that's worth. (We see SL slowly moving into the "Extract" phase. SL isn't a giant monopoly and can't get away with that.)

Good Luck, You'll Need It

Look, I know this all sounds a bit crazy, but you're the one who decided to compete with Roblox. I'm just here to make you fully aware of the magnitude of the problem, coming up with an exact business model that threads that needle and adapts it to your specific situation is your job. The entire venture is crazy to start with, and my point is simply that the riskiest thing to do is play it safe.

If you do something wild and ambitious and off the wall you might still fail but at least you'll have stood a chance. Even better, you'll greatly increase the odds you'll discover a weird new opportunity along the way and pivot away from "competing" with Roblox, accomplishing something much better instead. (SL is already past that point. This is a huge edge.)

Now, all this is encouraging. The take-away from this is that nobody is positioned better than Second Life to compete against Roblox and build the Metaverse. It's going to be all uphill for new startups. Despite that, SL is blowing its opportunity.

They've called out SL's three big problems:

  • Too hard.
  • Too slow.
  • Not enough users.

Read the article in full if you have any interest in the business aspects of all this.

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40 minutes ago, animats said:

it's more like inventing a new instrument and expecting musicians to start writing and recording music for it.

That's funny because that is exactly what would happen. New instrument? New music!  win-win

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The Verge tries to make some sense of the metaverse hype.

Didn’t we have a whole metaverse hype cycle around Second Life in the ‘00s? What’s different now?

It’s true: plenty of new “metaverse” phenomena aren’t really novel. People were becoming digital land barons and selling virtual items in Second Life nearly two decades ago. Schools and businesses have opened satellite campuses in that world and others. Social 3D spaces like CyberTown long predate Second Life. Even before that, early virtual worlds popped up in the 1970s with text-based multiuser dungeons or MUDs. Many older worlds also inspired the kinds of utopian predictions we see around the metaverse today.

‘Fortnite’ isn’t the first virtual world to inspire utopian predictions

One reason we might be experiencing the hype cycle again is that graphics technology and internet connectivity has significantly advanced since, say, Second Life’s 2003 launch. Many video games operate under a “live service” model where the developers constantly update a game to encourage players to return, creating a more convincing illusion of a living, breathing, ever-changing world. Non-metaverse games like League of Legends or Overwatch make significant changes to gameplay years after release, treating the experience more like a virtual space than a static game. From there, a leap to in-game concerts and fashion shows doesn’t seem that far.

At the same time, virtual and augmented reality have gotten closer to consumer application, even if VR remains niche and AR nascent. One estimate suggests Facebook has sold around 8 million Oculus Quest 2 headsets, and several dozen VR games have made over $1 million in sales. Those are tiny numbers compared to phone and console sales, but huge compared to the practically nonexistent home VR market 10 years ago. Apple is reportedly working on VR / AR headsets, and Chinese company Nreal has successfully shipped full-fledged consumer AR sunglasses at a comparatively low price.

Pop culture is obsessed with cinematic universes, so why not have a virtual one?

Another possible reason is that modern pop culture is built on sprawling and highly intertextual media franchises owned by a few companies that promote their huge intellectual property catalogs as shared universes. That enthusiasm has translated into dreams of — as Verge editor Liz Lopatto describes it — “an online haven where superhero IP owned by different companies can finally kiss.” (This is the entire premise of Ready Player One.)

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On 10/1/2021 at 7:44 PM, animats said:

A must-read for LL management: So you want to compete with Roblox.

This is the best article in some time on the business problems SL faces. Some excepts:

Minimum Requirements to not Fail Right Away

You should consider the following as mere table stakes:

  • High quality multiplayer support for user creations out of the box. (SL has that.)
  • High performance servers with excellent reliability. (SL needs more server side performance.)
  • Powerful, user friendly, and joyful creation tools. (Hmm.)

The Cloud Cost Trap

Why doing everything on AWS costs too much and hurts you competitively.

Tools are Hard

It is not easy to make good tools. And not just for the normal software engineering reasons – ie, you'll inevitably become too familiar with them and become unable to see their flaws, you'll forget to dogfood them and build them around speculative users rather than actual things creators want, etc. No, tools are hard because they take time. Not just time to build, refine, debug, and test, but time for creators to learn, adopt, and build them into their lives and workflow. This is much harder than a typical user acquisition problem for a simple game or CRUD app, it's more like inventing a new instrument and expecting musicians to start writing and recording music for it.

The Real Problems

The big three problems you're facing are:

  • Chicken-or-the-egg deadlocks
  • Platform dynamics
  • Ownership and trust

Chicken-or-the-egg deadlocks

  • You need players
  • Players won't show up without content, so you need creators
  • Creators won't show up until you have players

Content creators value audience size above nearly everything else, closely tied with fat stacks of cash money. It doesn't matter how easy it is for creators on your platform to make mind-blowing experiences if you don't also have an audience eagerly waiting to play them. (SL's flat user count is not good enough.)

Platform dynamics

For the purpose of this article I use "platform" to mean a digital ecosystem whose owner gets other people ("creators") to build stuff for players to enjoy, and the owner makes money off of this activity somehow. (SL is in reasonably good shape on this front.)

Ownership and Trust

Platforms tend to follow a certain kind of life cycle, and there's no better primer than Dan Cook's Game of Platform Power. In it he outlines how platforms transition through "Growth" and "Engage" phases where they are friendly and generous to the creators who produce value on their ecosystems, before maturing into the "Extract" phase where they leverage their size and power to lock-in users and capture as much creator-produced value for themselves as possible. Once upon a time, platforms said things like "Don't be Evil" and "users will never be required to use a Facebook account to use an Oculus" and we've seen what that's worth. (We see SL slowly moving into the "Extract" phase. SL isn't a giant monopoly and can't get away with that.)

Good Luck, You'll Need It

Look, I know this all sounds a bit crazy, but you're the one who decided to compete with Roblox. I'm just here to make you fully aware of the magnitude of the problem, coming up with an exact business model that threads that needle and adapts it to your specific situation is your job. The entire venture is crazy to start with, and my point is simply that the riskiest thing to do is play it safe.

If you do something wild and ambitious and off the wall you might still fail but at least you'll have stood a chance. Even better, you'll greatly increase the odds you'll discover a weird new opportunity along the way and pivot away from "competing" with Roblox, accomplishing something much better instead. (SL is already past that point. This is a huge edge.)

Now, all this is encouraging. The take-away from this is that nobody is positioned better than Second Life to compete against Roblox and build the Metaverse. It's going to be all uphill for new startups. Despite that, SL is blowing its opportunity.

They've called out SL's three big problems:

  • Too hard.
  • Too slow.
  • Not enough users.

Read the article in full if you have any interest in the business aspects of all this.

HI animats,

First off, thanks for all your really well informed posts on this subject. It's something that's really close to my heart both here and as part of my RL day job, and I always walk away from your posts having learned something 😀

The only difference in perspective I have with this excerpt is the reliance on in-house platform specific tools and IP protection mechanisms.

In my view it's only a matter of time before we have open interoperability standards across the industry which will allow creators to create, distribute and profit from their work seamlessly across multiple platforms (nothing new really for SL creators to do their work external to SL as it is)

It'll also help consumers because they won't have to support multiple discrete presences across multiple platforms, as an example a single shirt or outfit will be bought once and then duplicated seamlessly and at zero cost across multiple platforms.

There are certain interoperability standards and asset classes emerging as we speak, I won't mention them here though because I don't want to be called out (maybe completely fairly ) for indulging too much in some sort of buzzword hyperbole.

I can see however that this sort of approach and potential tools have been discussed extensively in this thread already - so I'm probably not saying anything new. 😀

Anyway, this sort of approach is nothing new obviously in any sort of engineering or creative process. My RL product backlog would be going nowhere fast if the team didn't spend most their time on Stackoverflow and leveraging third party APIs.

In my short time in SL I can see that it definitely has some great USPs which could make it a great success in the coming few years. My view is that it should "stick to the knitting" as we used to say back in the day, which isn't building content creation tools or IP protection standards from scratch.

I genuinely feel SL has a really bright future if it offloads the responsibility for building tools and ownership/trust mechanisms (things which we're not great at any more) but concentrated on the platform dynamics (things which SL is still great at) by virtue of being being a leader in openness to interoperability standards (embryonic as they are).

Anyway, in a bit of a rush, so sorry but probably haven't articulated very clearly.

Thanks again.

Edited by SynesthetiQ
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3 hours ago, animats said:

Exercise biking in the Metaverse.

Now that would work well in Second Life. Hook up an exercise bike to a viewer and pedal through SL.

SL has a major advantage here - it's big enough to be worth bicycling. And you can bicycle with your friends.

Why not indeed and surprised was never tried here (unless I missed it) - from Inara Pey 8 years ago https://modemworld.me/2013/10/03/keeping-in-shape-in-inworldz/

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The inventor of VRML has a new article: Metaverses, the Third Wave. He has this to say about Second Life:

"VRML ultimately fizzled out by the late 1990’s. It was too early in terms of commercial adoption. It was also a matter of too much too soon, as the world was still coming to grips with the basics of the Web. However, our work inspired others, most notably Philip Rosedale, who left Internet video pioneer Real Networks to create Second Life, arguably the first-ever fully working Metaverse system: a 3D-rendered virtual universe on the Internet. Not open; not at billions-scale; but a good start. Most of the tech of this time ultimately crashed and burned, but Second Life survives to this day with a thriving community."

His summary of the current situation:

"It’s more than tech herd mentality; we are getting substantive signals that it may finally be Metaverse time."

  • "The suits are circling. In the wake of Facebook’s new positioning as a Metaverse company, execs at a multitude of tech and media outfits have put it front and center of their strategy, or are at least saying they have a Metaverse strategy. ...""
  • "The pundits are pontificating. A new class of self-appointed “experts” are jockeying for position as thought leaders. ..."
  • "The kids are creating. Most significantly, the creator class in an ascendant economy is making all kinds of Metaverse stuff: interactive 3D content in Fortnite, Roblox and VRChat, NFTs on myriad platforms, and open and decentralized worlds in Decentraland, to name a few. This is important, because otherwise the two previous points could just as well suggest a hype bubble."

I agree with that last. The hype to code ratio is very high in this space. Which is why I keep trying to push SL to move forward, rather than hopping on some other vaporware project. SL has the metaverse working; it's just too slow and glitchy to go mainstream.

 

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I have been wondering for forever what happened to Facebook Horizon.

Now I see it's been rebranded to Horizon Worlds, and I can't wait to get in there and see legless avatars flying around   :) 😉

 

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29 minutes ago, Luna Bliss said:

I have been wondering for forever what happened to Facebook Horizon.

Now I see it's been rebranded to Horizon Worlds, and I can't wait to get in there and see legless avatars flying around   :) 😉

 

Can't believe Zuck can't afford to add legs to his toons.

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17 minutes ago, Kimmi Zehetbauer said:

Can't believe Zuck can't afford to add legs to his toons.

I suppose it says a lot about me that I'm more concerned about those ridiculous "low poly" trees. :P

 

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11. Dating and Romantic Content
Roblox is a safe space for meeting online friends, chatting, and collaborating on creative projects, but we prohibit content that seeks or portrays romantic relationships, including:
* Animations of kissing, hand holding, or other romantic gestures in a romantic context
* Experiences that depict romantic events, including weddings, dates, and honeymoons

Take that, people that say Roblox is gonna be "the metaverse".

Roblox Community Standards – Roblox Support

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58 minutes ago, Ardy Lay said:

Dating and Romantic Content

Their average user age is 13.

However, Roblox has adult users. More, in fact, than SL does. I have no idea how they sort that out.

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8 hours ago, animats said:

However, Roblox has adult users. More, in fact, than SL does.

So do broadcast and cable TV but I don't want to live 'there'.

I have a particular type of bias;  Among the things I do for money is running Earth stations for CATV systems and the CATV "head ends", which is the stuff between the receivers and the distribution network.  There is a lot of equipment involved and I have to look at the results to ensure the equipment is working properly.  20 years of that exposure is what drove me away from watching TV on my own time.  Yesterday I got a bit of bad news:  "We need you to keep the CATV systems going for at least five more years."

If that is any measure, the metaverse architects and engineers have about 5 years to catch-up to TV, during which TV subscriber counts are likely to continue downward as people lose interest or seek their desired content elsewhere.

Edit to add that management reports show that we lose almost as many subscribers to death as to them moving away from our coverage area.  Top loss appears to be "saving money", which, could be anything from giving up on TV to getting what they want elsewhere.  Some of the content providers provide one-time bounties to CATV affiliates for referring subscribers to the content provider's direct streaming service.  They also heavily advertise their direct streaming services over their affiliate channels.  It's a mean business and it just keeps getting meaner.  We also provide Internet access via fiber to homes and business, so, we should survive.

Imagine if other virtual worlds advertised their existences, pitching themselves as a money-savers, in Second Life?  Oh wait, they already do.

Imagine if Linden Lab tried that?  BANNED!

Edited by Ardy Lay
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9 hours ago, animats said:

However, Roblox has adult users. More, in fact, than SL does. I have no idea how they sort that out.

I'm not at all surprised. The two most noticeable advantages SL has over Roblox are A rated content and fancier graphics and the importance of both those factors for the average vw user/potential vw user is grossly overrated.

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5 hours ago, ChinRey said:

The two most noticeable advantages SL has over Roblox are A rated content and fancier graphics

Roblox is caching up to SL on fancier graphics.

skinned_meshes_blog_1920x1080.jpg

Roblox, current generation graphics.

Here's their user interface for avatar developers.

Their triangle limits are 10,000 tris per mesh part, and 50,000 tris per avatar. For special events, they may be allowing performers to have more. Note the detailed avatar on stage in the lower right above.

Roblox just had their developer conference. Their road map to the metaverse is now clearer.

Edited by animats
Add Roblox dev conference.
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I appreciate their ban on 'romantic content', it's the right move for a child centric game.

Fortnite is often described as a multiverse and I can't see why, unless I'm missing something it's just a battle royale game with the occasional concert. FFIV is closer to being a metaverse with their ERP escorting scene.

When Roblox's current generation have matured, there probably will be an 'adult zone' to accommodate them.

Around the same time we'll see a combination of erotic trends, like wireless headsets, haptic wearables, Internet toys, ASMR and virtual escorting taken to a new level.

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