Oculus Rift? Oculus MIFFED more like!

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So shiny! So beautiful! But this picture shows a development model, NOT the commercial version, which is different. 

Something I really enjoy is new technology.  I get completely swept up in the hype and count down the days until the release of the latest must-have gadget, and in recent years the one item that particularly appealed to me above all other was the OCULUS RIFT, especially when I heard it would be able to use it in SECOND LIFE. I could hardly dare imagine the possibilities, and  when it started to get coverage through esteemed SLebrities like Draxtor Despres and Jo Yardley, to name but a few, well, I practically expired from the excitement.  They shared how this amazing piece of virtual hardware could bring our metaverse to life and I was sold.
In fact, reading the articles published all over the internet  about this amazing piece of tech would have led you to believe it was the next logical step for Second Life to take, and this was further suggested when an official viewer with Oculus Rift support was released. Torley Linden even made a video showing you how you could use it in-world, and that was it.  I got my PC upgraded ( an Oculus  needs a serious amount of power) and even read ‘Ready Player One‘ in eager ‘preparation’ for what was to come.  (Excellent book by the way, it’s going to be a Spielberg movie and you simply must read it!)

As soon as the development stage was through and the commercial release date  was released Jez and I ordered it*. This was way back in 2015, with an expected shipment date of March 2016. Then, unfortunately, we got an email to say it was delayed until June, but hey it didn’t matter! I was so excited that I knew I could cope with the wait, and I had plenty to do in Second Life to keep me occupied!  Also, that would give me a chance to save up the serious moolah that it would cost, but I knew it would be worth it. In fact, I put it to the back of my mind until  this week when the email arrived to say the Oculus Rift was on its way. HUZZAH! ( *Full disclosure here: After talking it through I decided to go halfsies with Jez so we could share the goodness because he’s far more of a gamer than I am and would be able to use it for more things than me. My interest was purely Second Life related.)

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THIS is what I received this week. So shiny! So beautiful! So doesn’t work with Second Life! GAHHHHH

Unboxing the thing was like opening the ark of the covenant. It’s beautifully packaged and you definitely get your money’s  worth, and it was with some serious excitement and trepidation that got ready for the next step in my virtual life.  I downloaded the official viewer. I re-watched Torley’s video in preparation and took a deep breath…and it failed.

Numerous other attempts were made with no joy. Panicked I looked online for an alternative, and this is where the whole sorry saga started to unravel. First of all, the official viewer with Oculus Rift capabilities hasn’t been updated since 2014. There is an alternative third-party viewer which I downloaded to try, the CtrlAltStudio viewer, but this one hasn’t been updated since 2015, so of course it didn’t work.

Was I going mad?! (Well, you guys know me, so let’s say madder than usual) There’s an Oculus Rift on the pigging Second Life homepage for all to see, so what gives?
And here lies the issue: those pesky Lindens have done it again. (They can be pretty lax when it comes to updating the basics, have you ever noticed that?)  What I didn’t realise was that yes, Second Life will work with an Oculus Rift using that viewer, BUT only if it is the DEVELOPMENT MODEL. My commercially released treasure is more powerful, and NONE of the viewers have been updated to support it. To say that this sucks balls is an understatement.

Granted, it’s an absolute #firstworldproblem and I am sure I will enjoy using the Oculus on occasion for other things BUT my main reason for purchase was so I could use it in-world. I don’t ‘play’ any other games or subscribe to any other virtual experiences EXCEPT SL, and I truly believed that seeing as it was advertised on the bloody homepage they would have kept up with the development of the viewer. As it stands it’s about seven versions behind.

I expect that Linden Lab will make Project Sansar VR ready, which is fine, but that’s at least 6 months away and as I understand it many of the objects I own in Second Life won’t translate across into the new viewer, which means I’ll be effectively starting from scratch. Anyway, I want to be able to explore my current virtual life in full virtual reality glory, not my next one!

To say I’m fed up is an understatement. I have tried out the Rift with some of the games and experiences that are available and it is absolutely outstanding (which makes this crap situation even worse!)  Had I been able to use it in-world, well, I don’t think I would have wanted to take it off and come back to reality at all. (Perhaps that’s a good thing? No, no it isn’t-this whole thing stinks!) My beloved has had some serious late nights since we took delivery of the Rift and I’m £250 richer. But I feel really sad that I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy my Second Life in glorious virtual reality.  Unfortunately, it would appear that ship has sailed and it seems that Linden Lab had no intention of Second Life being on it and more fool them. Think of the possibilities people!  (Actually don’t, it makes it worse.)

Lindens, get your bloody act together!! Having an Oculus Rift on your front page suggests you can use the current version  in-world and you absolutely cannot.  It’s not fair to lead people to believe that Oculus will work, you need to put a disclaimer on there too. Had I known any of this I wouldn’t have put any money aside for a new unit at all.  I would possibly have looked into getting a second-hand development model but even if I had I would have known that no matter how good the experience with the commercial release it could have been even better, and therein lies the rub. You need to keep up with the times guys, you make a hefty profit courtesy of us avatars, and an updated viewer was surely not too much to ask? I’m so disappointed.

Kitty Goes 3D!!!

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A couple of years ago, for my birthday, my beloved invested in a really snazzy monitor for me.  Boasting a glorious widescreen it was (and still is) a thing of beauty.

To be honest guys I don’t know the first thing about tech, but I do appreciate a good gadget when I see one. It was, and still is a great gift and shows how completely in tune me and my fella are with each other; he recognised that my Second Life was important to me and bought me something to enhance my enjoyment of it even further. 

If that’s not true love then I don’t know what is, and and  I adore my big monitor, I really do.

But in all the time I’ve had it I’ve only used it to within a fraction of its potential.  Why? Because it has 3d capabilities, and was purchased under the sadly misguided impression that surely one day Linden Lab would introduce a 3D viewer.

Thing is I don’t play any games as such.  Second Life is the only virtual reality that I occupy my time with so I was counting on the lab to get their arses in gear and release a 3D viewer. And of course it never happened.  You really do have to question the priorities of our overlords sometimes..

So even though I use my beautiful monitor on a daily basis, the accompanying glasses have been carefully secreted away in their packaging with all hope fading that a 3D viewer would ever appear.

I’m pretty sure they would have stayed hidden away in their box had I not thrown a proper virtual hissy fit  on Sunday. Second Life was being a pig and not loading for me, so  I decided to have a nosey on the wiki page and see what  other viewers were out there. (I don’t bother with alternate viewers as a rule; I have dabbled, but the standard release viewer has always been more than enough for my needs. ) I was being sassy and thinking that if the official viewer wasn’t playing ball, then perhaps an alternate held the key to my getting back in the world. (Like that’s ever worked before, right?)

So I loaded the page and began scanning the contents.  I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, and then these magical words leapt out at me: The CtrlAltStudio Viewer has been set up to try out and share a number of ideas, the first being stereoscopic 3D display.

I squealed.  Jez came running, and we both rubbed our eyes at what we saw; a 3D viewer release. OMFG! Could it be?!!  Could it even work on my monitor? We checked the specs. Yes, in theory it would. But I didn’t dare get my hopes up, what if it didn’t work once installed?  It took a while.  There were various issues with my machine and my 3D glasses had been out of action for so long that they didn’t have any charge. Also, my graphics card was way past its prime and I was having enough trouble logging in anyway without the extra stress that a 3d viewer would surely impart.

Fortunately for me, beloved had a winning card up his sleeve. Most women on their Fortieth birthdays would, I’m sure, be happy with a bouquet of flowers, some fine wines,  Belgian chocolates and perhaps a piece of statement jewellery.  I on the other hand am clearly not like most ladies and asked for the one thing that I knew would make my life rather more smashing than it already is.. brand, spanking new graphics card!  Jez  allowed the birthday fairies to deliver and install my card early and it was with some apprehension that we loaded the 3D viewer..

And there it was.  Second Life in 3D. I’m not exaggerating but my eyes were moist!

I panned around my virtual abode and I was seriously overcome with emotion.  THIS was the one experience I’d been desperate to have in my virtual life.  I wanted to really feel the dimensions of the space around me, and live just a little more in my virtual guise.  By the power of 3D (not Greyskull) I finally could.

Not only that but the objects around me were suddenly more  dazzling to me than ever before.   I felt I could reach out and grab the Schadenfreude Chibi cats I had arranged neatly in a row. The pages from the Lark Imaginarium Librarium were floating in the sky desperate for me to reach out and take them. The cup of coffee on my desk was steaming and inviting me to take more than my usual virtual sip.

This was no longer my Second Life, it had suddenly become something much more real, and all through the magic that is 3D.

You know, I actually think that it’s fate that I should discover this viewer now.  The introduction of mesh has been fully embraced by the grid, and now more  items are being made that are materials ready.  It all adds to the virtual experience, and  my stereoscopic enhancement was taking it to another level.  Walking around my home (and you know how much I treasure my virtual space) I really was blown away.   But just as it got  good, it got even better. Just for devilment I decided to try to rez at The Arcade. Things have quietened down now after all, so I figured I would stand a good chance of getting in and it struck me that the environment would be ripe for in-depth exploration of the 3D kind.

Oh I wasn’t wrong.  The experience was nothing short of sensational. Walking down the pier to The Arcade entrance  I was captivated by the benches and lamps that I passed. They were within touching distance, and they were real! It was uncanny. As for the concessions stand? I could practically reach out and grab the pretzel and really hold it in my hand.  If only I could take a bite!  Walking into the venue was another experience entirely.  Suddenly every Gacha stood out like never before as I passed, each one just begging me to reach out, touch and play them. Panning up to look at the roof for the first time was an experience I’ll never forget; here I was in a virtual world yet it suddenly, totally felt like I was gazing out into the sky watching the clouds pass by.

It’s been a few days since I enjoyed my initial 3D experiences. I’ve had no issues at all with the 3D, although for some reason my movement using my Space Navigator is completely awry when using the CtrlAltStudio viewer (if I switch to the normal viewer it’s fine).  No matter; for the sake of enjoying this experience I can certainly live with having to navigate my Second Life the old-fashioned way.  

Today I’ve visited The Seasons Story in 3Dmode and I can tell you it was absolutely dazzling. It seems to me that well-curated shopping events are even more enhanced when viewed this way. Not only that, but so is interacting with other avatars. I was very nearly whipped by the tail of a she-devil as she walked past me earlier; I actually flinched at my desk as she walked past expecting a hefty clout from her appendage! It’s true to say that this 3D interface has taken my immersion in-world to an even greater level.  I really, really hope that this viewer is cultivated and supported by fellow avatars keen to experience their virtual lives in 3D. If you have the equipment please consider trying it out and I promise you won’t be disappointed. I am so excited by it, as you can probably tell!

As I finish this piece I want to send a huge thank you out to Strachan Ofarrel who has brought this viewer to the grid.

Strachan, your work has truly made a difference to how I’ll be experiencing Second Life from now on, and you’ve finally enabled me to enjoy a birthday present that I received (almost two years to the day )and had sadly resigned myself to never using!

I really do think it was fate that finally intervened and helped me find my way to the downloads page and discover your viewer, and I wish you every success with it.

Oh, and a final note dear reader, you know the Lab are working on an Oculus Rift compatible viewer?

You’ll already find one on Strachan’s page…jus’ sayin’!

CLICK HERE to visit CtrlAltStudio

Oculus Rift dismisses SL as ‘The Underbelly’?! (Avatar Blogger Crossfit Challenge (Entry 9 of 30))

Gotta love Draxtor for bringing focus to an article about Oculus Rift that’s served a substantial diss to Second Life.

If you don’t know what Oculus Rift is, it’s a high field of view (FOV), low-latency, consumer-priced virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD) unit that is currently in development, and Linden Labs have confirmed that they’re in possession of a developers kit and are investigating ways that this will enhance the Second Life experience. (Read more about the device on the wiki-page from where I unashamedly lifted this paragraph!)

This piece of tech is going to be immense when it launches for all kinds of gaming and virtual environments, least of all Second Life, so any interviews with the creators are always met with interest and enthusiasm.

This particular interview however has been met with a substantial amount of dismay from Second Life residents for the way our metaverse is so swiftly dismissed using the same old sweeping statements that we’ve heard so many times before, get ready because you know the kind I mean. “The Underbelly of the internet” is how it’s referred to by Nate Mitchell, a co-founder FFS! For someone behind such a forward-thinking creation as Oculus Rift this statement is alarmingly backwards, and ignorant. 

Draxtor has requested that we post comments in support of our virtual world, which I have done  but it’s so disappointing and narrow minded to continue to view Second Life in the way it’s mentioned in this article.  I am VERY disappoint.

In fact it’s lazy, and borderline offensive offensive for the thousands of avatars who use Second Life for educational, social and recreational purposes. Draxtor’s work alone proves how irresponsible and plain silly Nate’s view is. 

Of course many of these individuals will be future patrons of the device.  I myself have been determined to get one to use in Second Life since I heard  the project announced. I know it won’t be cheap but I want one so badly.  I’m not the only person who will be purchasing an Oculus Rift either, something I think the creators need to bear in mind.

Second Lifers have lots of cash to spend as we prove on a regular basis; we should be courted as potential customers rather than looked down upon as perverts of the worst kind. 

Read the article and post comments HERE.