#143: Cymatic Bruce on building community with AltSpaceVR, & experiments in gesture input, VR locomotion, & multi-player web content in VR

cymatic-bruceCymatic Bruce Wooden talks about the latest developments in the AltSpaceVR social application now that they’ve opened it up to a public beta. One of the things that Bruce mentioned is that people often think about social media when they hear about social VR, and he suggests that perhaps a more descriptive term would be “Community VR.”

As AltSpaceVR prepares for the consumer launch of the virtual reality HMDs, building communities is going to be one of their places where they’re focusing their attention. They’re also going to be continuing to add features and functionality to push the envelop on different virtual interactions within virtual environments.

AltSpaceVR has been implementing more expressive gesture controls by using the Leap Motion and Kinect, and they’re starting to implement the Perception Neuron suits as well. I’ve personally noticed that there can be a power differential with more social capital going to those who have access to more technology because it enables them to be more expressive and command the conversation more. Bruce says that his observation is that having more expressive gestures seems to improve the experience for everyone involved, but that the power differential is something to watch and look out for. He suggests that perhaps in the future that special guest speakers will come to the AltSpaceVR headquarters and get geared up with all of the latest technologies,

One of the other innovations that AltSpaceVR has been pioneering has been their teleportation locomotion technique. This is a very elegant solution for people who are susceptible to motion sickness caused by VR locomotion. But yet Bruce warns that there are downsides and new social norms developing because it is weird and awkward to be in a group conversation and then just phase out and disappear without a trace.

Bruce talks about the evolution of the user flow, and how they initially hid the action bar based up 2D design standards, but it was difficult for people to find the controls and so they exposed it. They’ve also been optimizing the sound design in order to find the right levels that are comfortable and have the right amount of decay.

Bruce also talks about the choice to go with robots instead of more human-like characters. They experimented with avatars that were really photorealistic to being more abstract, and they felt more emotionally connected to the abstract avatars. There was some creepy dead eyes and unexpressive faces when using the more photorealistic avatars.

There was also a recent internal 48-hour hackathon using their Web SDK that allows you to bring interactive, 3D web content into virtual reality via JavaScript and three.js. They developed a Dungeons & Dragons tabletop application, hand puppets and tone garden. They also brought in some external developers who created a multi-player Floppy Bird clone called Floppy Dragon where others can try to crash the dragon. They’ll also be searching for other developers to come on to make some multi-player experiences with their Web SDK.

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