Hills and Valleys

pexels-photo-733871.jpegThe hills in life are the high points and the valleys are the low points. This is also true in a virtual world.

Will We Ever Achieve The Reality of Virtual Reality?

There are day when I feel like Sansar is in a valley. I even think it is a very deep valley with little hope of climbing the slope to get to the crest of a nearby hill. Perhaps the hill is further away than I realize.

Sansar defines which hills they will climb. They recently updated their viewer and called it the Fashion Release. That could be a significant hill to climb as it creates a place where creators and Linden Lab will generate revenue through consumer markets.

Sansar is betting on the larger audience of visual consumers to build their user base. They are not showing favor to the technical creators. They have chosen content creators who are digital artists and they have chosen the visual impact of VR to sustain them. The content creators will now have a significant revenue stream from the Sansar Store. And, by extension, Sansar will begin to earn money. When Linden Lab will reach their break-even point is no ones guess. Right now, I am sure that “break-even” and ultimately profitability is the holy grail of VR.

And, where does that leave the technicians? Am I just a technocrat who has been blunted by what could never be done in Second Life? Am I overly concerned that Linden Lab will never truly achieve the technical expectations that I feel are vital to achieving the “Reality” half of Virtual Reality? Am I overly concerned that Linden Lab has a very limited interest in anything other than the visual?

Physics in VR

Here are just a few of the ingredients missing from Sansar:

  • Avatar Velocity – It is argued to be too slow, and others say it is too fast. The issue right now is that every avatar walks at the same ground speed.
  • Stepping Height – How high a step can an avatar navigate.
  • Slope Navigation – It is very different to walk up a slope in real life than it is in VR, and Sansar has not got it right yet.
  • Walking Animation – Humans walk with different strides and it is not simply dependent on our leg length. Bio-mechanics and emotional motivation are factors that determine what our walking stride looks like to the observer, and what it feels like to us. If there are no observers watching us, we would not need avatars. We could just have a viewer to look in on the scenes created by artists. But what the observers see is everyone walking at the same gate, and as mentioned about at the same speed.
  • Gravity Control – We will never feel the complete experience of walking on the moon or floating in outer space if we are unable to control gravity. We need control over gravity or some might call it buoyancy to properly simulate swimming under water which is currently impossible to simulate with any degree of believability.
  • Avatar Collision Boxes – How our avatars collide with other avatars and objects is very inaccurate. We cannot walk through a physical doorway in Sansar that is quite common in real life because our avatar collision mesh is wider than our avatar. I believe this is to prevent us from becoming disoriented while using a VR headset. And we respect each others personal space in our real lives differently that we avoid near collisions with doors, walls, and other obstacles. perhaps Sansar needs to employ two different collision boxes. One for avatar collisions and one for object that the avatar will collide with. The male avatar can however walk through a door opening that has a header low enough to slice through his head. This could be uncomfortable in RL so we would avoid it. So, if the collision box is wider that our avatar, why is it not also taller than the male avatar? In fact, the male and female avatar collision box is exactly the same size. This is an obvious oversight by the developers of Sansar.