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Second Life Creator Linden Lab Says Virtual Worlds and Virtual Reality Belong Together

Second Life Creator Linden Lab Says Virtual Worlds and Virtual Reality Belong Together Re code


A VR version of Second Life was already in the works well before Oculus became a household name. I demoed the latest version recently and got a first-person, up-close look at a room full of carefully crafted items that I could inspect more closely than I would have been able to in the normal PC experience.

“One creator went into her virtual world in Oculus for the first time and was crying,” Altberg said. “It’s very powerful stuff.”

Linden is not the only one trying to anticipate what a virtual world will look like in virtual reality. Linden’s own founder, Philip Rosedale — who stepped down as CEO in 2010 and left the company’s board last year — is working on an ambitious new made-for-VR world called High Fidelity.

Rosedale demoed an early prototype of High Fidelity at this year’s Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference, calling it “a sensory experience” (seriously, we’re not using the word game here).

“When I go into a crowded street, I expect there to be people,” Rosedale said at SVVR. “And when I look at those people, I expect them to make eye contact with me.”

To that end, his complex demo incorporated a Prio VR motion capture suit, the RazerHydra controllers made by Sixense, and a camera running facial detection software made by Apple-owned 3-D sensor company PrimeSense. The graphics were unpolished and the demo was beset by glitches, but Rosedale acknowledged that High Fidelity “is obviously not ready for prime time yet.”

“I talk to Philip a lot,” Altberg said. “But he’s got a long way to go. … We’ve talked about whether we [would incorporate facial tracking] for Second Life or the next generation. The thing is, no one has a camera like that. Right now, Philip is creating a demo that a handful of users on the planet could take advantage of.”

The same could be said, of course, of Second Life in Oculus. A consumer version of the headset has yet to be announced.

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I'm weary of immersive virtual worlds. They take our time away from the real world.

Then again, it might be a fun way to relive the parts of my youth I enjoyed.

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