Bryan Carter has been using virtual worlds for education since 1997, and he talks about the lessons learned from his Virtual Harlem project to immerse students into the literature and music from the 1920s. He talks about some of the resistance that he received from his peers in Africana studies, and how his students are already immersed in technology and that using virtual worlds is a way to create more engaging and potent learning experiences.

Bryan-CarterHarlem in the 1920s was improvisational and edgy, and Bryan is attempting to recreate this feeling with his virtual recreation. It was one of the first extended recreated environments for African Americans and so it attracted role playing, entertainment, live performances, lectures, poetry slams, and DJ performances, and businesses, educators and a range of different classes being taught within Virtual Harlem.

He talks about diversifying his presence from Second Life to OpenSim as well as some of his future plans with Unity and experiencing Virtual Harlem within fully immersive virtual reality with the Oculus Rift.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro. African American literature of 20th Century and Digital Humanities. Virtual Harlem as existed by 1920s jazz age. Wanted students to experience some of the literature from the 1990
  • 1:05 – Started into VR in 1997. Some of the Silicon Graphics and CAVE technology used back then
  • 2:04 – Used Quake for lower-cost multi-player networking, then VRML, and then eventually Second Life
  • 2:54 – Virtual Harlem is focused on African American Life and culture. Attracted role playing, entertainment, live performances, lectures, poetry slams, and DJ performances, and businesses, educators and classes being taught. Then other platforms opened. Linden Labs briefly eliminated non-profit pricing, which
  • 4:05 – Educational lessons from Virtual Harlem. Have a short-term, medium-term, and long-term plan. How to teach in these environments. Other African American scholars have more of a wait-and-see mindset, and there’s a resistance towards things that new and technological, and to games and virtual worlds. Engagement and success will help convince others of it’s worth.
  • 6:27 – Bringing diversity to Second Life. Field of Africana studies came from activist roots, and some question why work with something that’s not real when there’s so much other “real” problems happening. Some don’t see relevance of virtual worlds. Perceived as a distraction, hobby or a toy.
  • 7:23 – Create an educational period piece and collaborating with businesses. Cities have diversity from education, commerce, entertainment and other media as well. OpenSim, Second Life and Unity.
  • 8:23 – Immersing people into the music of the time. Jazz was edgy and improvisational. Immerse them within the environment.
  • 9:23 – Be prepared for your technology to fail. There are different levels of Internet connectivity. You don’t have control over the entire ecosystem. Tech failures can frustrate students.
  • 10:32 – Change in discount pricing in Second Life. Migrating towards open source OpenSim version of Virtual Harlem. Funding is more difficult, but the community is in Second Life. Hopes to have a presence in a number of different diverse places.
  • 11:42 – Future of the metaverse. Working with Virtual World Web company, and they’re creating Curio. WebGL is also a possibility. Open communication channels up between these worlds.
  • 13:28 – Using fully immersive VR within Virtual Harlem.
  • 14:37 – Future of education with immersive technologies. Many new tools in this new toolkit, and they all need to work more seamlessly together and connect to these disparate worlds.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Aaron Walsh talks about his journey into virtual reality, and how Jaron Lanier and the Lawnmower Man eventually led him to starting the Immersive Education Initiative. He taught the first college course that took place within a virtual world back in 1995, and has been exploring how to use immersive technologies within an educational context ever since.

Walsh_Aaron_AvatarHe held the first Immersive Education Summit in 2006, and at this year’s Immersion 2014 they’ve expanded beyond education to include business and entertainment speakers as well. They offer a number of different iED certifications and resources to help show how immersive technologies could be used across the human experience.

In this interview, Aaron talks a bit about some of the strengths of immersive education, some principles of what to do and not to do when designing an immersive educational experience as well as how to cultivate serendipity and surprise to keep students engaged and excited to participate.

I was able to conduct 21 interviews at Immersion 2014, and I’ll be releasing these over the next three weeks here on the Voices of VR podcast. Here’s a preview of some of the upcoming topics:

  • Aaron Walsh – Best practices for Immersive Education
  • Richard Gilbert – Psychological connections to virtual world avatars
  • Melissa Carrillo – Smithsonian’s approach to sharing cultural heritage through virtual worlds
  • Morris May – The movement of Hollywood special effects into VR
  • Saadia Khan – Power of Avatars in Educational Virtual Worlds
  • Ross Mead – Body language for virtual avatars
  • Jackie Morie – History of VR & USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies
  • Bryan Carter – Immersing Learners in Harlem, NY during the 1920s Renaissance/Jazz Age
  • John Dionisio – Wearable Computing and the Reversal of Virtual Reality
  • Isabel Meyer – Smithsonian’s digital asset management & future of public domain access to digital artifacts
  • Kieran Nolan – Using virtual worlds for education
  • Mike Arevalo – VR Typing Trainer – Game Jam winner for Educational VR Hackathon
  • Daniel Green – Using Minecraft & other immersive software for education
  • Jane Crayton – Fully Immersive Dome Entertainment
  • Ryan Pulliam – VR for marketing
  • Ivan Blaustein – Orange County VR Meetup
  • Inarra Saarinen – Ballet Pixelle virtual world dance company
  • Philip Lunn – Nurulize’s approach to new forms of immersive entertainment in VR
  • Michael Licht – Immersive Journalism
  • Ka Chun Yu – “Full Dome” Video Virtual Reality (VR) Theaters: Exploiting Extreme Fields of View for The Benefit of Students
  • Terry Beaubois – Architecture in VR & Preparing for the Golden Age of Immersion

More details about the interview with Aaron are down below.

Reddit discussion here.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Immersive Education Initiative. Learned how to program, and students were interested in the game developer in classroom. Wanted to create virtual worlds and virtual scenes. Wanted to share experiences from Boston with his family in Colorado. In 1989, saw Jaron Lanier speak about VR at the Institute of Contemporary Art. He was a showed a working VR system where he was a lobster. Realized that VR could be the mechanism for sharing experiences with his family. Wrote down all of the software and hardware that he needed to learn in order to build a VR system. Succeeded in building an actual VR prototype system. Saw Lawnmower Man, and realized that experiencing information is much more powerful than reading and started him on the path towards immersive education. Got involved with VRML standards committee. Around 1995-1997, got tired of coming onto campus for teaching. Pitched to his dean to teach a class in a virtual world, and go permission to start the first immersive education class in a virtual world at Boston College. The first Immersive Educational Summit started in 2006.
  • 8:36 – Strengths of Immersive Education. Lots of different technologies. Virtual Worlds, VR, AR, immersive learning games. Depends on technology and what you’re trying to teach. Have the ability to visit places either in a group context or individually in an immersive environment where there is a lot higher level of engagement and participation. Much better than lecturing
  • 11:35 – Moving away from the broadcast lecturing model of learning, and more towards self-driven interactive learning. Put best of self into an immersive experience, and that could be more effective than the authentic version. Recorded an authentic presentation the first year, and second year he played back a pre-recorded version of the lectures. There’s a psychological barrier about what’s really authentic and what’s a real experience.
  • 14:39 – Most powerful immersive educational experiences. Charlie was a war veteran who experienced a lot of trauma and had doubts about participating in a virtual world classroom environment. Charlie was fully mobile and was more engaged than in the physical place. No physical indications of severe damage. Only needed his voice. He would have been lost in the traditional educational system.
  • 16:55 – Design principles of what to do and not to do. Don’t make a classroom or physical location. Pick a comfortable environment where everyone is happy to be there. Reconsider the setting of your education. Be comfortable to navigate and talk within a virtual world. Takes time and experience. Immersive Educational Initiative has a number of different certifications. Don’t just stand there. Keep moving around the virtual world. Learn to walk backwards and lead students through journeys.
  • 19:39 – Other locations for teaching? No standard ones. Important thing is to change locations for every class. Use rolling environments to build excitement and anticipation, and they want to come and be there. Explore them and share your favorites. Let them choose.
  • 21:38 – Every class is a field trip. How to cultivate serendipity and surprise? Happens naturally in synthetic environments if there are objects to interact with. You can make your gatherings open and public as well. You can script and let them happen. Construct environments specific to the lessons like space travel. Virtual watershed and entire ecosystem.
  • 23:29 – Initiative is a non-profit collaboration to show business, teachers, educators, entertainers — and a public training initiative that includes anyone who is interested in investigating how to immersive technologies could be used across the human experience. Broader range of target demographics, and starting to have more specific summit gatherings designed for academics for research and teaching techniques, arts and culture to preserve culture and convey culture, business and entertainment. There’s a lot of free resources.
  • 25:48 – Immersive education tools moving into the mainstream. When the dotcom bubble burst, then a lot the VR initiatives evaporated. Thought that around 98-99 that it was going to happen. Development has continued. Kickstarter help re-catalyzed the excitement from the 90s. Technology, computers, graphics techniques make graphics much better as well as a mobile technology and broadband network infrastructure that delivers the data. It didn’t disappear, it just went underground. Same visions and concepts, and the technology caught up.
  • 29:30 – New tools for game development and comparing the new to the old. Technology happens in generations and is a continuum. Their time will come and go. Traditional VR will be less and less, and then new consumer round will come around. Eventually the current VR tech will be phased out by the next generation of tech — most likely involving neural implants.
  • 31:46 – Potential of VR is all about human connection. Shorten the distance between people you care about and people you’re about to meet. Technologies will help us connect deeper and in ways that you can’t do today.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Kevin-Williams2Kevin Williams has recently published a book on The Out-of-Home Immersive Entertainment Frontier: Expanding Interactive Boundaries in Leisure Facilities.

In this extensive interview, Kevin gives a comprehensive overview of the Digital Out-of-Home Entertainment (DOE) sector and what VR developers can learn from amusement parks and what type of opportunities there are to provide immersive experiences to large groups of people.

Kevin also provides a lot of insight into the history of how AR and VR developed out of military simulations and applied into what he sees are three different types of immersive entertainment experiences: Ones that are designed for audiences and shared group experiences, individual experiences, and finally educational applications and experiences.

Here’s the Venn diagram that’s discussed at the end of the show that maps out the DOE landscape.

Venn-6-Operating-Digital-Out-of-Home-Entertainment

It’s a rich interview filled with a lot of unique and interesting insights, and a more detailed listing can shown down below.

If you have any questions for Kevin, then feel free to reach out to him at: kwp@thestingerreport.com

Reddit discussion here.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro KWP Consultancy that focuses on Digital Out-of-Home Entertainment. Founding chairman of DNA Association. Co-author of The Out-of-Home Immersive Entertainment Frontier: Expanding Interactive Boundaries in Leisure Facilities
  • 1:00 – Comprehensive overview of Digital Out-of-Home Entertainment. Held first conference in 2011. Created an association. Tired of explaining the market to others, and got a lot of industry leaders to participate. What it has to offer.
  • 2:55 – How Digital Out-of-Home Entertainment is relevant to VR. Arcade golden age from 80s-90s, but then became placid and compliant. Public and audience moved on. From 90s onward would visit out-of-home entertainment facilities. Arcade companies. Crossover for VR. Where VR first hit consumers with Virtuality and Alternative Worlds was the arcade machine. VR continued in simulation and military applications, but had floundered up until Palmer Luckey came along with Oculus VR. It’ll be a second dawn for VR and DOE
  • 6:31 – DOE used to be a bridge from research to the mainstream. Mobile, PC, and fully immersive room as 3 tiers of VR. Future of VR arcades and location-based entertainment. VR is in it’s 4th phase. 1st Ivan Sutherland in 1968. 2nd VPL took NASA tech and created disposable tech. 3rd Virtuality and ended with Virtual Boy. 4th was Oculus VR and resurgence of consumer VR. Used to be beating swords into plowshares — taking military tech and making it available to consumers. It’s been a bit of a reversal of roles with VR coming from mobile technology. Focused on immersive entertainment with DOE and DNA.
  • 10:53 – History of military’s involvement with VR. Translating military technology and make it available to consumers. Simulations were huge in 70s and 80s for defense purposes. Couldn’t build as many tanks as needed, and so train people via simulation. Flight and commercial jet training simulations in VR. Do 80% of training before doing it for real. Simulation industry is real and VR is used by military, law enforcement, railroads, transportation, etc. Was able to try out $2-4 million VR flight simulators. VR came to it’s fruition with simulation. Detailed simulation needed for the apache simulator, and so it required a head-mounted display and move beyond the CAVE screen projection. Apache Helicopter tech lead to AR and VR.
  • 16:51 – Head-tracking. Difficult to nail down from 1968-1990 for how VR was used in the military. Synthetic visual worlds being represented to military pilots. Now create immersive synthetic environments that are believable, immersive and entertaining.
  • 18:07 – History of VR from 1968 to 1990. Big VR developments happening within the military. Military simulators have had a lot of money from US, UK and Israel defense agencies.
  • 19:13 – Car simulation. VR and simulation are viable. There’s no difference between VR and simulation. Speed boat and professional racing drivers learn the tracks through simulation. Professional simulators are made available for consumers.
  • 21:21 – Connection between amusement parks and innovations for digital out-of-home entertainment. Large audiences looking for immersive entertainment experiences. Star Tours was one of the first immersive experiences for amusement parks. Theme parks look for the next big high, and immersive entertainment provides that. Disney Quest built in 1998, and is still open today. It’s the longest-running VR entertainment experience. Aladdin magic carpet ride and Ride the Comix, a comic book sword fighting application. Had hundreds of thousands of people experience VR. Spent over $90 million dollars to develop it. Consumer is cost-effective and immersive, and throw as much possible money as possible to make compelling immersive experiences that encourage repeat visits.
  • 25:12 Use of mobile and tablet tech at Amusement Parks and future of VR/AR HMDs in public spaces at Amusement Parks. Augmented Reality devices are personal, but DOE wants to control the device and provide special devices that are more unique. Three tiers of Amusement Park experiences: 1.) Pay price and experience the theme park attractions in meat space. 2.) Do augmented reality experiences while at the park. 3.) Participate remotely with others via virtual reality.
  • 28:24 – Museums and Libraries and Edutainment applications with AR/VR – Facilities using AR viewing stations and show additional info. If the weather is bad, then show best view. Boosting the experience. AR tablets that superimpose additional info about objects in a museum. At a gallery, tablets will show specific aspects of pieces of art. Taking military situational awareness simulation technology and recontextualizing it for consumers. Education will be a huge part of AR and VR. In the leisure sector, there’s the gamification of exercise
  • 32:36 – Developers could create their own AR experiences at amusement parks. Big corporations are doing this. MagiQuest at Pigeon Forge, TN combination of VR, AR and immersive technology where people role-play being a magician. Doesn’t get a lot attention from the media.
  • 34:53 – Augmenting Laser Tag – Laser Tag is military technology for combat simulations. Laser tag has gone through different waves of popularity. Seeing next-gen laser tag with digital natives who are used to mobile phones and console gaming. Using AR HMDs within laser tag environments as well as digital projection mapping within the environments.
  • 38:08 – 4DX theater opened within US. Porting experiences to incorporate 4DX theater. Cinemas started at amusement parks. Then Lumière brothers thought to project film projecting into walls. But films emerged from amusement parks. Passive film experiences and increasing the immersive experience with physical effects. Drive towards interactivity and 7D films by Triotech where audience can interact and compete with each other. Dark Ride experiences where you shoot at the screen. Transition from passive to interactive narratives. DOE likes to deal with audiences because of economies of scale. Immersive Dome experiences
  • 43:26 – Opportunities for independent VR developers to port content into DOE experiences. Looking for new opportunities to apply their skills
  • 44:45 – Marketing applications of immersive technologies. Promotional and marketing impacts of DOE. Initially thought they’d take over billboards with digital billboards, but realized that they need to create interactive narrative to draw people in. AR bus shelter done by Pepsi. Marketing industry wants to draw people into experiences to build brands. Creating a VR fashion events and virtual fashion show. Dreamworks Teach your own Dragon and using VR experiences to promote movie, and Game of Thrones using VR to promote the show.
  • 49:20 – ImmersiON announces strategic fusion with VRelia. TDVision has done a lot of military simulations. Decided to take on VR HMDs, and used for simulation and training sector. Dedicated system that’s off-the-shelf system for training, simulation, research and development, but also be able to be used in ruggedized and placed into public spaces for the Digital Out-Of-Home Entertainment sector, and have access to the latest technologies.
  • 51:35 – Going towards the Holodeck. NASA and JPL using autonomous astronaut machines. JPL demonstrations using CAVEs to recreate another world. Content source for augmented reality, and used for VR content. Sony Project Morpheus had Mars Rover data. Simulation has been a huge part of space exploration. For every hour of moonwalk, there was 8 hours of simulation. Quad drones using data for virtual tourism. GoPros on submarines, space ships and perhaps even on the Mars rover.
  • 55:45 Venn Diagram that maps out the landscape of Digital Out-Of-Home Entertainment. Amusement and pay-for play sector, theme park sector, retail and hospitality sector, and edutainment & leisure sector. They overlap, but there are two digital gambling and video games are different and self-contained industries.
  • 59:50 – Potential of VR. Experiential technology using forced feedback to make it feel like you’re on Mars or microscopic entity or another person. Three levels of immersive entertainment. Three types of immersive entertainment experiences: Audiences and shared group experiences. Individual experiences. Educational applications and experiences.
  • 1:02:30 – Contact Kevin via kwp@thestingerreport.com

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Sam Watts is a producer at Tammeka Games, and they’re producing a futuristic arcade racing game called Radial-G that’s built for VR but also playable on a 2D screen. They’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign that is about 1/3 of the way complete and about 1/5th of the way towards raising their £50,000 goal.

sam-wattsRadial-G has received a lot of positive buzz from the VR community and has the potential to catch momentum towards their goal, and Sam Watts talks about their current strategy of moving beyond the VR gaming community and trying to appeal to 2D gamers as well. He talks about some of the challenges of countering the VR stigma, and talks about how there doesn’t seem to be any advantage or disadvantage of playing in VR vs. on a 2D screen.

They have implemented a lot of unique VR game play elements of being able to around to see the upcoming turns on the 3D, tubular track. And Sam talks about some of their plans for experimenting with other game play elements that the DK2′s positional tracking would introduce.

Radial-G is set in a sci-fi, cyberpunk environment and has some extremely fast-moving game play that most VR gamers would expect would give them simulator sickness, but most are surprised to find that it’s extremely comfortable. Sam talks about all of the design elements and decisions that they’ve made in order to reduce sim sickness including setting it in a sci-fi, fantasy world helps tell the brain it’s not real. Placing the perspective within cockpit with a consistent frame of reference, but also having a track in front of you that you can focus on. They deliberately do slow acceleration and deceleration with graphical tricks to minimize inertial changes. There are a lot of objects off in the distance that help with orientation including a hexagonal dome surrounding the environment, and there’s no obvious up or down or solid ground plane. For multiplayer, they’re trying to decided to keep a phasing through other vehicles or implement a collision-model which could cause simulator sickness.

Sam talks about a lot of the game play and level design features that they’ll be adding, including multi-player, elimination modes, weapons, and time attack, and potentially third person perspectives. There is a global leaderboard where there are currently two other people, Koshinator & Terminator001, who have tied the level designer’s best time of 1:22. The level is different every time, and so it’ll be interesting to see if anyone can top that time.

He talks about his team’s workflow and previous experience in virtual reality simulator development, and how that helped prepare them to create this VR experience. He was surprised to see that there weren’t any major blockers and their previous experience in the 3D gaming pipeline proved to translate over very well, and very pleased that others seem to really be enjoying the VR experience that they’ve created.

Finally, he talks about some of the games that are similar to Radial-G including F-Zero and Wipeout. He talks about their Kickstarter strategy moving forward, and is excited to potentially be a part of the resurgence of VR as it moves into the mainstream. He’d like to see Radial-G be a part of the VR generation’s set of games that are available both for the Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus. If you enjoyed their demo, then be sure to support their Radial-G Kickstarter and help spread the word.

Reddit discussion here.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro – Game producer at Tammeka Games, producing Radial-G, which is a futuristic arcade racing game primarily for VR but playable on a 2D screen. Running a Kickstarter to make it a fully-fledged VR game
  • 0:56 – Techniques to prevent motion sickness. Have serious VR background and have a lot of experience reducing simulator sickness. In a sci-fi fantasy world helps tell the brain it’s not real. You’re in the cockpit. You can focus on the track in front of you. Slow acceleration and deceleration helps. Having objects off in the distance. There’s no obvious up or down. There’s no solid ground plane, and will see how that works on other tracks.
  • 3:50 – Pipe serve as horizon line and role of objects at the distance. Hexagon dome around the world also helps that as well. Less than 10 out of 1000 had issues.
  • 4:54 – Framerate optimization. Optimized models and have 4K models. 60fps at 1080p. Seen people reach 175fps. Have a highly-optimized world.
  • 5:50 – Level design of a 3D track. Will have other tubes. In-play testing and lots of experience. Progression of learning and tradeoffs that were introduced for getting the fastest time.
  • 7:46 – Level designer’s top time is 1:22. Integrating the leaderboard. It’s different every time, and can’t have a perfect racing line.
  • 9:50 – Replayability. Single-player right now, but expanded to multi-player. Still working on it. Talk to tools providers at Unity, and there were some new tools for streamlining and optimizing multiplayer code and looking into that. Have other people on the track. Phasing through vs. adding collisions. Sony Street Luge implemented collisions, but reverted back to phasing due to simulator sickness implications.
  • 12:00 – VR gameplay of looking ahead. Other VR elements to implement. Turn head to left or right to see other cars. They try to overtake at the sides. Flesh out more options and choices to implement. Time attack. Elimination. Racing. Weapons.
  • 13:44 – Positional tracking implementation ideas with DK2. Opens up some new gameplay opportunities, but need to try it out first
  • 15:05 – Leaning vs. using the controller and buttons. See people lean anyway, and they do that more in the VR headset. Could be great for some players, but bad for others. But don’t want to encourage rapid physical body movements that may cause injury.
  • 16:43 – Third person perspective. Working to find right height and angle. Some like it. Others don’t. Issues with clipping with tunnels. Implications for immersion, but needs additional processing power to handle correctly.
  • 17:58 – VR team at Tammeka Games. A straightforward pipeline from concept to 3D to code. Design, Draw pictures. Implement in 3D. Code it. Promote it. Have a lot of experience with both AAA games, but also a lot professional VR experience. Every does game play and feedback.
  • 19:08 – Twenty years of VR simulator experience. More expensive hardware with high stability and quality of image requirements with high resolutions, multi-channel displays and being G-locked over the network.
  • 20:14 – Strong team. 1/5 way through the Kickstarting fundraising goal. Large gamer community who tune out once they see that it’s VR. Once they see VR support, they think it only supports VR. Use 2D shots for promotional work. Targeting non-VR gamers.
  • 21:43 – Other video games that have 3D tracks. F-Zero. And fill the gap after Wipeout. Other similar games. But fairly unique approach.
  • 23:06 – Expand with VR community, but need to go beyond VR. What to do to help out. Spread the word that it works without VR. No advantage or disadvantage whether you’re using VR or not.
  • 25:03 – How long been working on this demo. Off and on since January. 45-50 man days of effort put into it.
  • 25:18 – Timeline and targets. Mid-Sept. and late November for the full game with lots of new options. With updates with each following month.
  • 26:15 – Timing to do Kickstarter around the DK2 release. DK2 will end up being a default gaming system for a while.
  • 27:15 – Surprises about VR development. That it was easier than expected. No huge blockers. And others really enjoy the end product.
  • 28:15 – Potential for VR. What we make of it. It’s still got a stigma around it and seen s as nerdy tech for boys. But say all genders appreciate it. It’ll go through an awkward phase of being accepted by the mass market. Price point matters. Still not atheistically pleasing for others to see box strapped to your face that has room for improvement. We’re closer to the cyber reality world of meeting with 4D metaverse space with full immersion that are beautifully rendered and highly realistic, believable and immersive.
  • 29:58 – Very excited about VR’s potential. Support the Kickstarter. Excited to be hopefully there with the emergence into the mainstream VR generation. Shuhei Yoshida from Sony played the game and was very impressed. Waiting to see at the moment. Will know after August 2nd what they can and cannot do.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Karl Krantz is one of the co-founders of the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Meet-up and conference, and he’s been strategically moving towards a full-time career within virtual reality for over 15 years. It started for him with exploring imaginal virtual worlds through Dungeons and Dragons, and he’s been trying to manifest those worlds through the medium of VR ever since.

karl-almost-smile-269x200He talks about the collaborative nature of this new consumer VR movement as a part of the current Internet culture, and sees that as a key component as to why VR is being more successful now than in the previous VR hype peak in the early 90s. The technology wasn’t also there, but the culture of openly sharing knowledge has been a key to the momentum that VR is seeing — starting with the collaborative funding of the Oculus Rift.

He talks about the differences between Old VR and New VR, and how the consumer VR movement has a different quality of energy and vitality that seems to be lacking in the legacy VR populations. SVVR is definitely more focused on cultivating and supporting this new, consumer VR movement while incorporating the wisdom and lessons from “Old VR.”

Karl then discusses some the lessons that the VR community can learn from Second Life, including how we treat identity and governance in virtual worlds. He also is optimistic about High Fidelity’s approach and questions whether or not Second Life will have to restart from scratch. Again, this interview was conducted a few days before Second Life announced that they were indeed starting from scratch and rebuilding they system from the ground up to have a stronger foundation for integrating with a lot of the innovations of this consumer VR revolution.

Finally, he talks about what he sees as an exciting next couple of decades as VR develops. He sees VR as being potentially more important than the written language, and allowing people to do nearly anything and be any one. There are good and bad manifestations of VR, but that in the end it’ll prove to be less abstract than the written language and eventually be no higher level than VR and that it be the “Final Platform” as Michael Abrash called it.

Reddit discussion here.

TOPICS
0:00 – Intro. Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Meet-up and conference. SVVR created a year ago b/c consumer VR was a thing, and wanted to cultivate community to share learnings. Want to foster an diverse ecosystem
1:13 – Strong of collaboration this time around to foster a movement. Tech wasn’t there the first time around. People were competitive before and didn’t share their learnings. There’s an Internet sharing culture, and collaborative nature of crowd-sourcing.
2:43 – Passion of VR. Intrinsically motivation
3:18 – Strategic decisions to be involved in VR. First got involved into virtual worlds via Dungeons and Dragons. Entranced with potential of virtual worlds. Got into sci-fi and cyberpunk, and Jaron Lanier was a big influence as well. Got involved in telepresence professionally. User of Second Life. Always planned to get back into VR. Was going to join the local VR meet-up in Silicon Valley, and was shocked that he needed to create it with Cymatic Bruce
6:36 – Stealth start-ups that are in attendance. Ones that they know of like Sixense Entertainment. Jaunt was in attendance for a long time, and couldn’t talk about what they were doing for a long time.
8:12 – How many people at each event. 100 people. Decide to do bigger monthly events? Or stay small.
8:45 – Balance of new people and experienced people at user groups. Hard to get too technical in that environment. Start conversations. Quickly explain what they’re doing and talk more tech details offline. Get to try it out.
10:25 – What SVVRCon meant and what was accomplished. Perfect size and energy was amazing. Great sense of community and enthusiastic vibe. Can they scale that to a full conference? Yes. The more diversity, the better.
11:51 – Split between Old VR and New VR. SVVRCon is the essence of New VR and the consumer space. Future focus on consumer and New VR energy. Lots to learn from legacy VR pioneers. It’s not affordable and accessible. VR is now affordable, and that’s a success milestone. R&D demos can be interesting, but not as relevant if people can’t take it home. Take VR home and hack it. Different worldview between old and new VR. SVVR is skewed towards New VR
15:18 – Consumer VR. Second Life is kind of bridge between old and new VR. Spent a lot of time in Second Life. It’s a magical place. Open metaverse that’s more open than a game. Lots of garbage content, but also a lot of beautiful creations. Thriving economy. Second Life was always designed with VR in mind. They’ve pioneered so many things. What do people do in Second Life? They do what they’ll do in VR. Hang out in night clubs. Build a house. Have a boat. They’re in the best advantage of VR. There a ton of communities. Requires some fundamental changes to make the jump to VR. Can’t do that in an incremental way. Second Life may need to restart
19:21 – High Fidelity and open protocol approach. Provide services around an open protocol. Allows to have speciality companies like Mixamo for avatar creation.
20:25 – Why Second Lifers need to be involved with VR now more than over. Privacy. Identity and Governance. Cut to the core of the framework of a society. Agree with High Fidelity’s direction. Choose to reveal your identity when you want. As an owner of a space you can choose whether you want anonymous or authenticated. Early days of Second Life, they talked about being a citizen of a new world. Need a say in governance, and if you don’t have a say, then you’re not going to have a say. Need representation and governance to feel welcomed. Successful ones will have a say.
23:52 – Next steps for getting involved with VR. VR launchpad to switch between VR demos without getting out of VR. Intrigued with how do you find and sample VR experiences and virtual world locations. Hard to find and navigate these VR locations.
25:25 – Kite & Lightning’s portal into one reality into another reality. Taste test environments to feel what’s it like to be inside of it.
26:45 – Potential for VR. VR will be a serious step in the development of mankind. More important than the written language. Less abstract than written language and a new medium. No higher level than VR. Can do anything and be anyone. Good and Bad. It’ll be interesting next couple decades
28:20 – As significant as the Gutenberg Press to contain and share human experiences. VR encapsulates all experiences. VR as the final platform.
29:10 – Include neural implants as the final platform. Direct put images into your optic nerve with a screen.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Scott Phillips was making 3D scans of people at the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference and part of his toll was to listen to his pitch about his shoe-based, locomotion idea called the the VR Walker.

scott-phillipsI decided to record the pitch in this interview, and it turned out to be one of the most interesting surprises of the conference that ranged from VR locomotion, early inspirations from one of the first famous VR experiences, and ended up at occult applications of the VR walker for psychological explorations into the human condition.

The VR Walker was still in an early iteration phase that doesn’t quite have a working prototype just yet. But Scott shared his vision of what could be a shoe-based design that would allow locomotion within VR without actually moving in real life. Eventually, he sees that this idea could evolve to the point where it could be integrated into wearable shoes, but it’s an ambitious project that is definitely thinking outside of the box when it comes to VR locomotion.

vrwalkerScott shared his early inspirations from the famous Dactyl Nightmare VR experience but also his insights into tapping into the creative potential of your unconscious mind through the work of surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and through esoteric traditions like the Tarot and Kabbalah.

This is when I decided to dive into the occult Rabbit Hole since I’ve published nearly 150 interviews through my Esoteric Voices podcast, and am working on a VR experience that will eventually be able to create customized archetypal experiences based upon someone’s astrological theory of their personality, but also how that changes and evolves over time.

Scott’s big insight for me is that there is something mysterious and magical about the power of our unconscious mind, and the process of shuffling a Tarot deck is a way to connect your unconscious mind to the symbols. His theory is that the process of walking is an unconscious act, and that through walking within VR that we may be able to tap into our unconscious creative potential or eventually be able to take unconscious body language cues or use occult traditions to be able to do inner self-exploration to learn more about ourselves and our human condition.

It’s a radical and interesting idea, and something that made me give another look at the power of physical locomotion within VR and how that could give us more of a sense of presence, but also have other esoteric and occult applications that we don’t yet understand or really even fully know how to tap into.

Reddit discussion here.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Shoe-based VR locomotion device. Move in VR, but not in real life. Sensor at the center of gravity. Looks at orientation of shoe modules, and change the direction of the VR walker wheels. Intended to be able to ship with a game console
  • 2:12 – How it’s powered and operated with motors. Doesn’t require a lot energy, but the prototype is powered
  • 2:52 – Do you have a working prototype? Not yet, and working towards that.
  • 3:16 – Putting wheels on the feet and simplicity of the design. Part of the wearable computing trend, eventually be like normal shoes.
  • 4:00 – External cameras that are needed. Need to sense center of gravity relative to ground plane and the orientation of the shoe modules.
  • 4:47 – Dactyl Nightmare was the inspiration for this. First experiences in 1994, and was blown away. But he was upset that he couldn’t walk around.
  • 6:43 – Been tracking VR since Dactyl Nightmare and had a number of iteration of VR walker ideas since then.
  • 8:05 – Could be a part of a remote android control system
  • 8:48 – First heard about Oculus Rift was Eureka, and that it’s finally been done.
  • 9:32 – Fan of surrealist Salvador Dalí and rendering your unconscious in artist medium. Wants to become the Salvador Dalí of VR in that he wants to be a part of a community of people who are building tools to empower people’s creativity and communicate their inner essence
  • 10:40 – Jung and Freud on the unconscious and subconscious playing out in VR. VR the occult and Kaballah, and the Tarot and a symbolic map of the human condition, and VR has an interesting role to play for humans understanding themselves on an esoteric level.
  • 11:52 – Esoteric applications of VR as a tool for self-exploration and providing customized archetypal experiences to people based upon esoteric traditions like archetypal astrology.
  • 13:05 – The act of shuffling Tarot cards connects your unconscious to the deck, and you have the potential with VR to achieve something similar because your unconscious mind controls acts like walking. VR Walker is a tool to integrate your unconscious mind into VR.
  • 14:14 – Walking motion is an unconscious act. Shuffling a card deck connects our unconscious mind to a deck, and things like the VR Walker would connect your unconscious to a VR experience from an occult perspective. Thinks that one of the most interesting applications of VR would be to have an experience that teaches you about yourself.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Max Geiger works at Wemo Lab, which is a content studio in LA that exploring gaming and simulation in VR, but also exploring panoramic VR capture and the software to make that happen. Wemo Lab is located in LA, and they have a number of award-winning special effects artists on staff for creating who are helping create various VR experiences.

max-geigerThey’re focused on bringing emotional investment into VR, and Max talks about the spectrum of cinematic VR storytelling ranging from computer-generated to captured material, as well as differing levels of interactivity within each of those. He says that we’re still inventing the language of VR, and that the most surprising applications and interactions for VR haven’t been discovered yet.

Max could neither confirm nor deny that they were collaborating with any specific directors, but being so near to Hollywood it would not be surprising if they were getting interest from the film industry. He also talked about how close-up magic, immersive theater experiences and haunted houses have lessons to teach VR in terms of how to direct and misdirect attention.

Finally, he talks about he doesn’t like to do too much speculation about VR either in the short or long-term because of Amara’s Law, which states that “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” While there’s a lot of VR hype train overestimation in the short-term, we tend to underestimating the long-term impacts because so many of the changes are so unpredictable.

Reddit discussion here.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro. Wemo Lab content studio in LA. Showing an immersive ocean simulator called Blue.
  • 0:35 – The Blue was an open platform to contribute fish to various environments.
  • 1:48 – Exploring gaming and simulation in VR, but also exploring panoramic VR capture.
  • 2:15 – Interested in writing software to make it easier for other people to make captured
  • 2:36 – Using off-the-shelf solutions at the moment, and investigating other proprietary solutions as well.
  • 2:52 – Looking at 360Heroes rig with Go Pros, Wemo Lab’s Dennis Blakey is a pioneer of stereoscopic video who created a rig with 84 cameras.
  • 3:50 – Presence is the real selling point of VR, and so Frontrow VR can help provide that sense of presence. Getting fooled by close-up magic within VR.
  • 4:50 – Tradeoff vs recreating it in 3D to be more efficient vs video capture. It’s getting easier to store and manipulate large quantities of data.
  • 5:57 – When would it be better to recreate vs. when would you need to create? You know how much a camera will bias things, and an editor can weave a story out of individual moments. Interested to see what Peter Watkins would do with VR, who used documentary format to explore fictional stories. Explores film create a world and expectation and biases the viewer towards certain things. The map of a film is the territory of the subject
  • 7:50 – Different interactions within VR and approaches to storytelling. 6-7 different levels of experiences spectrum between completely computer-generated vs. filmed and captured experiences. And adding interactivity to captured experiences. Still inventing the language. The most surprising applications and interactions for VR haven’t been discovered yet.
  • 9:00 – Getting interest from Hollywood directors at Wemo Lab? Neither confirm or deny working with any Hollywood directors.
  • 9:40 – What is Wemo Lab trying to do in VR? World Emotion is the goal. Bringing emotional investment to VR experiences. Combine emotions with physical interactions in VR.
  • 10:30 – Directing attention in VR experiences. Look at first-person games and how they direct attention, but also look at other arts of directing attention like how magicians will direct and misdirect attention. Breaking down the fourth wall in theater has lessons to teach us as well.
  • 11:54 – Sleep No More immersive theater experience is a high-brow, but there’s also a haunted house or a dark ride and there’s lessons to be learned from them all.
  • 12:38 – 3D audio. Not a lot of great solutions at the moment, but there’s a renaissance in that realm not. Binaural audio is a capture technique, and 3D positional audio is the post-production and mixing process involved.
  • 13:12 – Ultimate potential for VR – Tries not to do too much speculation, and refers to Amara’s Law of “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” Hype train overestimation in the short-term , but underestimating the long-term impacts.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Bernhard Drax is a machinima filmmaker who has been documenting the art, education, and creative expression in Second Life for that past seven years. He’s got a web series called World Makers that connects virtual world avatars with the people behind them. He’s better know in Second Life as Draxtor Despres, and has quite a rich and well-produced repository of documentary footage from Second Life that is well-worth looking into.

Bernhard-DraxThere’s a lot of misconceptions and general negative media bias aimed towards Second Life since there was a lot of media hype and grand expectations of what Second Life would be able to provide. Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg told me that Second Life reached a PR peak in 2006-2008, and Drax sees that there’s still a lot of screenshots and misconceptions about the world’s biggest virtual world environment since that time.

Drax has taken it upon himself to try to counter this negative media narrative by documenting the creativity that inspires him from Second Life, as well as running a weekly Metaverse podcast called “the drax files radio hour [with Jo Yardly]“

He provides a number of insights into for people express their identity in Second Life and has a lot of concerns for what a Facebook metaverse would look like in terms of data mining or limiting people’s expressions of identity. Facebook has a lot of strict rules about connecting your online identity with your actual identity and if these practices carry over into virtual worlds, then Drax is afraid of unnecessary limitations on people’s agency over their identity and how they creatively express themselves through their avatar.

Finally, he talks about how he sees Linden Lab as being perfectly positioned to be a leader within the VR space since they have so much experience in running a virtual world, dealing with people, and maintaining a stable economy. This interview was conducted at SVVRCon before it was revealed that Linden Lab announced that they are indeed rebuilding Second Life from the ground up.

Reddit discussion here.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Documents art and education in Second Life in his World Makers machinima documentary series. Lots of misconceptions about Second Life. Second Life resident POV is that people have been waiting for VR. When you have a connection to culture and community, then you don’t need a VR HMD to feel immersed. Who are you in VR? You have power of identity and your own life. If you’re good at business, then you can make a living at it.
  • 2:03 – What is drawing you into the Second Life community? Friend wanted to start a virtual band in Second Life, and happened to read Snow Crash at the same time. Did first story about group of retired public servants replicating their lives in a virtual world. World Makers is a newer series to connect the people behind the avatar with what they’re doing in Second Life. Second Life has the democratization of tools, and the VR metaverse of the future needs to have that component. Has concerns about a Facebook dominated metaverse like data mining and limited expression of your identity. Want to see an open and creative metaverse
  • 4:20 – What does Second Life have to teach the VR community about identity? Person plays a 10-year old version of herself. Doing child play and teasing adults as a form of role playing. She can freely create her own avatar, which is a composite of her former self. Others in virtual world may see more richness than how they categorize us in real life. Has trouble with communicating in real life due to possible autism. Can have more confidence expressing herself in Second Life. If Facebook mandates forces us to look like we really look like and bans us, then that’d be a very limited range of expression. You need agency over identity in an open metaverse.
  • 6:52 – Having an anonymous identity in Second Life. Others have alts to test an experience, their business, or a game quest. Don’t have a connection to alt avatars, it’s like talking through a puppet. Have alts for filming. Stage and re-enact a scene for his series. Haven’t explored different genders. Have a character called Fluffy, and sometimes go in as Fluffy. Has a certain amount of celebrity fame in Second Life because people see him come online. Sometimes wish that he could be anonymous in Second Life, and can empathize with celebrities. Feels obsessively connected to his audience, and likes to say good bye to everyone.
  • 10:11 – How do you see VR crossing over with Second Life. Feels that Linden Lab is perfectly positioned for a VR resurgence because they have knowledge of running a huge world running on 40k servers and millions of dollars in transactions per day. They are able to deal with a diverse population. Linden Lab has a lot of expertise in running a virtual world. It is built on old code, and has lag. Who know’s what they’re making (this was before it was announced that Second Life is building a second virtual world from scratch). Wants to help counter balance the media narrative. VR might be a media backlash similar to what happened to Second Life in 2007.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Aaron Lemke of Unello Design talks about the relaxing VR experiences that he created in order to create a counterpoint to the flood of horror games that were released on Oculus Share. He talks about his first VR experiences that he created including Eden River, Waking Man, Fire Breather and Lunadroid 237.

aaron-lemkeHe talks about updating Eden River to a full-fledged game, and asking for feedback on Reddit and the Oculus development forums. He’ll be adding a endless mode, options to have more interaction and less interaction, and a more intuitive interaction of leaning to steer that will be possible with positional tracking with the DK2.

Aaron is a musician, and he talks about how music is at the core of all that he does in VR. He found VR to be a really great outlet for his ambient music.

Finally, he talks about some of the medical applications for VR including distraction therapy for pain modulation, and well as for other types of physical therapy for stroke victims. He also sees that one of the big open problems is implementing more sophisticated audio reflections and realistic binaural audio in 3D spaces.

Reddit discussion here.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro. Started as a musician. How he started into VR. Didn’t know how to program. Bought a Rift.
  • 1:05 – First VR experiences that he created. Firebreather. Use microphone to measure how much fire comes out of your mouth. Waking Man kind of like a meditation game that would echo the microphone. Started Luna Droid, and then made Eden River and went back to finish Luna Droid.
  • 2:26 – Relaxing intention. Played a lot of horror games, and they’re very terrifying. Wanted to make a counter point to horror games. Easier to stand out in the VR market
  • 3:40 – Transforming Eden River from a demo into a full-fledged conference. Went to Valve’s Dev Days conference to get onto Steam. Get feedback from Reddit community about what they want from Eden River. Wanted an endless mode. Some people wanted more interactivity, and others wanted no interactivity. Doing both. Fly with animals. Graphics update.
  • 6:00 – Motion sickness. Heard from a lot of people that it doesn’t make people sick. Acceleration and slowing down. Looking around without low persistence can cause sickness
  • 7:10 – New DK2 controls allow you to lean to steer, which is more intuitive.
  • 8:02 – What’s next? Eden River HD will be on Steam once he gets his DK2. Opera Nova will be like a Fantasia for VR
  • 9:02 – Everything he does is driven by music. Always made ambient music, and didn’t have an outlet for his music. Music is at the core at all of his games. Doing a musical for VR
  • 10:18 – Going to change all aspects of media and design. Will change architecture, and no longer use toothpicks for models to show clients. Get feedback from client and design it in realtime, and get internal design happening before building the building. Games and education will be huge, and education will be like recess. Getting more interested in medical applications of VR. Showed a doctor, and wanted to use VR for therapy. Physical therapy. Take movement from people who have had a stroke and amplify their movements in VR. Pain modulation with distraction therapy.
  • 13:58 – Audio is really important. Need to model reflections of audio. Virtual haircut and binaural audio can give you a lot of presence and depth, and accurate audio will be key in the future.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

olivierJTOlivierJT talks about his musical maze VR experience called Synthesis Universe. He’s been working on the game for over three years now, and the VR portion for over two years. He’s collaborating with a musician, and talks about the sound design considerations of integrating the music to give clues about navigating the maze.

OlivierJT is from France, and talks about his experience with the VR community there, and his involvement with various VR community events including Cymatic Bruce’s livestream chats & then gatherings afterwards in Minecrift or VR Chat. He also mentions a couple of the Riftmax Theater events including Karaoke night and Gunter’s Virtually Incorrect show.

OlivierJT-SUHe also talks about how 85% of his work and reading material is in English, but that he had started to loose a lot of his English-speaking skills because he wasn’t using them. But since participating in the VR chats, he’s noticed that his English-speaking skills have started to flow a lot easier and better.

Finally, OlivierJT talks about how he’s investing all that he has within VR development, and that it’s a one-way ticket for him. He’s looking forward to more games, educational experiences and virtual tourism, and intends on continuing his involvement within the various VR community events even though a lot of them are in the middle of the night for him.

Reddit discussion here.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro. Come from France to meet the VR community.
  • 0:28 – What is the VR scene look like in France right now? A lot of academic VR people, but not as many VR game developers
  • 1:04 – Getting involved with VR Chats. Bruce’s stream and has an accessible community, and then go into VR Chat or Minecrift, which is how he met a lot of the VR community. Riftmax Karaoke night, and Gunter’s Virtually Incorrect show with other guests from around the world. Time schedules are in the middle of the night in France
  • 1:51 – How VR community has impacted your English-speaking skills. His flow is a lot better now thanks to VR Chat.
  • 3:33 – First heard about Oculus from a gamer sites. Create animation and games for a long time. Living in 3D.
  • 4:08 – Getting into virtual reality development. Know the entire pipeline from modeling to integrating into a game engine. Integrated with UDK.
  • 4:56 – What were you trying to create with Synthesis Universe? Inside a very musical project, and wanted to release it with CV1. Expanded it to adapt to the CV1 release schedule.
  • 6:02 – What do you want people to get out of it? Keep it simple. The game is about getting the work done. It’s a maze game, and you’ll get lost. It’s really about music. You have goals to achieve.
  • 6:48 – What type of considerations do you have with the sound design? It’s a musical sequence, and everything has musical tunes. When you’re in the maze, then the music will help you find your way to stay on your path.
  • 7:34 – Potential of VR? It’s a one-way ticket for him. Putting everything he has into VR. Interesting in the gaming part, but also education and tourism. VR community led him to be at SVVRCon.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio