I’ve been hearing disturbing rumors (which I will shamelessly repeat as I hear them) about how Project Sansar’s handling their need to work with an Oculus Rift VR goggle set.
Some background for those of us who have been monogamous Second Lifers – there are other virtual worlds out there:
Brian Shuster, a former Second Life staffer, established Utherverse to compete with Second Life. Utherverse’s leading product is “Red Light Center,” a virtual world whose economy and (intrusive) government center on the marketing and intensive concentration on sex. Prostitution isn’t just tolerated, a fair bit of RLC’s superstructure turns on it – they train and certify “Working Girls” and “Working Guys” (“hookers” and “gigolos” being a little too politically incorrect, I guess). RLC has a monopoly on scripting avatar sex. Only “VIP” members’ avatars may have sex – the same sex acts, anywhere in that virtual world -in Red Light Center. The least expensive VIP membership costs US$20/month.
Utherverse does not yet have the entire, global physical landscapes and seascapes we have in Second Life and other SL viewer-compatible OpenSim grids such as Inworldz. They’ve been promising that sort of thing to their premium (US$20-$50/month) members for years, and a demo exists for VIP members to play in, but it’s been that long since I left Utherverse as anything but a Basic (free) member, so I don’t know whether they still intend to implement this globally, keep it as a perk for the paying trade, or… view the Oculus Rift venture as a way to get out of that sticky business and still make more money.
The basic Utherverse experience everyone gets is a series of what we in SL would call “skyboxes” connected by teleport links – period. No geography, no landscape except what you can call up from a prim library, purchase from other players, or make yourself (building there’s a little easier than here, and getting your own private skyboxes to make over to suit yourself is essentially tier-less and incredibly easy and cheap).
Utherverse/Red Light Center is the other virtual world operator that is working to make an Oculus Rift-tailored universe. The rumors I’m hearing is that Project Sansar in Second Life plans to create a new Second Life essentially like the basic Utherverse experience I just described. No geography, no “outside world,” just a bunch of skybox-like places connected by teleport links Now, whether this all-skybox world would be less expensive than Second Life land, I do not know.
I don’t fear change. However, I don’t want Second Life to turn into Utherverse. I think that’s a legitimate concern. Other former Utherverse players in Second Life share it.
Now is a better time than later for a conversation between Second Life and its members about that.
My fellow Southern Christian Existentialist Flannery O’Connor said “Everything that rises must converge.” We ought to let Linden Labs know that not all things that converge rise. Converging with Utherverse may be technically sweet to get the VR interface workable and easy, but it’s also troubling to some of us.