1001. Altspace VR & Second Life – same, same but different

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A flat selfie doesn't convey the idea of Altspace VR.
Remember when Second Life was new? Clumsy avatars, lousy graphics, bad jokes and nothing to do but to hang out together? First experience in Altspace VR is very much like that, but this time in virtual reality.

Despite its current limitations, Altspace has real potential. A player entering Altspace for the first time will most likely feel stunned by immersion and feel the fervour and curiosity that crossing the borders of being alone at home and being "physically" together in the same, almost intimate space brings.

Altspace VR is a new virtual environment for hanging out together, "social VR" as they call it. You can enter it also 2D, on a computer screen, but the point is to grab a VR headset and dive into the 3D world. We entered Altspace together with my Samsung Gear VR using friend. All went smooth even with his low-end set, except that he had to put his phone to cool down in the fridge every now and then :)

My take on Altspace VR is a mixed bag. On the plus side, you move your real physical body (at least hands up to your shoulders) in order to make things happen – contrary to Second Life or any MMORPG mouse-clicking. Naturally that does intensify the woodoo. On the minus side, you can't create objects or environments but you have to act in a ready-made decor setting.

I find the lack of creating things yourself a major handicap. Still, in addition to walking and talking around, you can keep yourself busy with things like playing air hockey or painting together. But no building, texturing, scripting possibilities... Currently it is a far cry from any practical use for teachers or learners in vocational education.

It remains to be seen how the hype will help Altspace hit mainstream and how the environment will evolve. As great as Second Life is, the fad faded away and it's next to forgotten. I hope Linden Lab is still working on Project Sansar that might give Second Life a new chance.

More limited than Tilt Brush but nice to paint together with your friend.
Altspace VR on yhteisöllinen virtuaalitodellisuuden ympäristö. Kytket virtuaalilasit, avaat Altspacen ja tapaat virtuaalitodellisuudessa toisia.

Altspace VR:ssä on parisenkymmentä erilaista valmista tilaa (pieni saari, keskiaikainen taverna ym). Omaan tilaan pääsyn voi rajoittaa ystäviin tai sen voi pitää avoimena kaikille. Altspace on maksuton, mutta veikkaan ainakin yksityistilaominaisuuden muuttuvan pian maksulliseksi, jotta yritys saa kassavirtaa.

Altspacessa voi pelata ilmakiekkoa toisten kanssa varsin todentuntuisesti, tai voit maalata 3D-kuvia yhdessä. Enimmäkseen ympäristö on kuitenkin lähinnä kulissi, jonka tarkoitus on tehdä touhuilusta luontevaa.

Perusidea vastaa alkuaikojen Second Lifea, mutta nyt toteutus on VR-pohjainen. Pari avatarvaihtoehtoa, kömpelöä liikkumista, virtuaalitelevisio josta voi katsella yhdessä Youtube-videoita. Ollaan vielä kaukana Second Lifen kaltaisesta luovasta ympäristöstä, jossa käyttäjät voivat rakentaa, teksturoida, skriptata ja luoda koko maailman itse.

Will it be possible in Altspace to create and use instruments and houses by users like here in SL?

Esko Lius


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