Friday was the second DadenU day, when each of us gets to whatever we want, as long as its within the broad range of tech and activities that Daden is involved with. My initial aim was to go in and try out some "Social VR" worlds. The plan was scuppered when a certain TV programme put in a last minute plea to borrow our DK2 headset, so all I could do was sign up, read about them, and try and get them to work with DK1 (fail). Hopefully I'll get a chance to try them out for real later in the week, in which case I'll post more, but for now here's a quick intro to SocialVR.
Most of the hype and demo around VR have been about solo experiences, whether it's playing FPS or space combat games, explorations like Google Expeditions, documentary films or cyber-sex. With a heritage in Virtual Worlds such as AlphaWorld, There.com and Second Life we've always been far more interested in 3D environments as social spaces, as well as learning spaces of course. The "socialVR" label has been applied to those VR environments which focus on having relatively large (~4 - 20) numbers of people in the same virtual space, all interacting with each others, but not confined to playing a single game or carrying out a single undertaking. Second Life with VR if you like.
Needless to say both Linden Lab and Philip Rosedale (founder of Second Life) are both active in the SocialVR space, the former with Project Sansar, and Philip Rosedale with High Fidelity. But there are also some new kids on the block. The two I've looked at so far are JanusVR and AltSpaceVR.
That authoring looks very interesting and follows an HTML syntax to create "FireBoxRooms", specifying assets and then placing them in the room - with 16 room templates available to get you started. All the standard 3D asset types are available, including 3D objects, 2D images and video, sounds, particles, shaders, skyboxes, NPC avatars etc. Can't wait to have a play.
Whilst the cartoon style is not likely to win any business converts yet (and more sober avatars may be available), it certainly looks like an interesting socialVR playground.
The other things I really like about AltSpaceVR is their Dungeons and Dragons in VR. Using, I assume, the THREE.js 3D widget functionality, they have created a social VR space for D&D players to gather around the table and play out a D&D Fantasy Role-Playing session. It may seem odd that people would want to do that rather than putting themselves into an immersive 3D fantasy world, but tabeltop and board games are having a resurgence, and the idea of playing them in VR or virtual worlds is something I've been toying with since the early days of SL (although for me it's more likely to be Taveller, an SPI hex war classic or a proper miniatures game than D&D). So if that's the sort of thing you can do with AltSpaceVR then it might be time to junk the Unity/Oculus prototype I was working on and start work on an AltSpaceVR/Oculus version instead!
So, only a quick look, and informed by reading not doing, but hopefully I can bring you updated on what each is like to use and code for in the coming weeks.