On Saturday, October 3rd, the Oculus Rift supporting CtrlAltStudio viewer updated on Windows to version 188.8.131.52397.
The release sees the viewer reach parity with the Oculus SDK 0.6. However, it is not at this point being regarded as a “formal” release, as David Rowe, the viewer’s developer, notes that it requires additional user testing.
David lists the other changes of note with the release as being:
The viewer works in both direct and extended Rift display modes
If using extended mode you no longer need to drag the viewer onto the Rift’s screen before toggling into Riftlook view
If you switch between direct and extended Rift display modes, you’ll need to restart the Oculus Configuration Utility and the Oculus VR Runtime Service.
Advanced Lighting Model no longer needs to be enabled in order for Riftlook to work
The hardware cursor used in previous versions has been replaced with a basic cross hair software cursor. It may not look pretty but it should still work as before
There’s a new “Mirror Rift display to desktop” option in Preferences > Graphics > Display Output
The scale of the UI depth Display Output option has been altered to work with the updated Rift rendering
A “Mirror Rift display to desktop” Display Output option has been added
The following Display Output options, which are no longer available in the Rift SDK,have been removed from the viewer: Timewarp, Timewarp waits, V sync, and Pixel overdrive
If you install over the top of a previous version you’ll probably want to press the “Reset” button for the “UI depth” Display Output option.
As always, for a full list of changes and updates, please refer to the release notes.
David also goes on to note:
I can achieve a pretty smooth 75 FPS experience on the Rift if the scene’s not too complex, though only if I have my main monitor set to 120Hz. If I set it to 60Hz I only get a somewhat juddery 65 FPS on the Rift. I haven’t looked into this yet and am keen to hear how other people get on. Note: You can use Ctrl+Shift+1 to display a statistics window in Riftlook.
The release doesn’t see the viewer updates to a more recent Firestorm code base than 4.6.9, and there is no corresponding Mac release at this time.
Taking a peek today at the Lab’s press page on the web, I saw that Geek Dad has an article by Derrick Schneider in which he discusses the Lab’s in-development “Project Sansar” virtual experiences platform with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg.
The article, Project Sansar: Giving Virtual Reality a Second Life, doesn’t give out much that is new about “Sansar” for those who have been following whatever news has been made available, but it does tend to further clarify a few things, while re-stating others.
For me, the more interesting part of the discussion revolves around the concept of the “creator”.
Within Second Life, and while it can have a fairly broad generic application, the term is most readily identified with the role of the model-maker; those people who actually create models and objects, whether in mesh or prims.
However, in broader terms, anyone who creates a region or a parcel, be it for their own use or to be shared with others, is equally a “creator”, even if they purchase the items they use either in-world or through the Marketplace.
For “Sansar”, it appears the Lab is using “creator” in this latter context, rather than identifying a specific group of skilled model makers. That is, people who can bring together models and content into a single experience and present it for use by their intended audience.
Obviously, those who build the models are an important subset of this creative group; hence why the Lab has engaged with modellers and “content partners” (itself an interesting term)” during the current closed alpha for “Sansar”. But the model makers aren’t perhaps the central focus of the Lab’s endeavours in building Sansar as some may have taken the term “creators” to mean.
This leads us, by way of a discussion about instancing experiences, to matters of revenue generation, which I also found to be of speculative interest. In an almost throwaway comment, Schneider demonstrates just how different “Sansar” will be from Second Life, and offers a glimpse of some intriguing new possibilities for revenue generation which may not have been readily considered thus far, once the platform’s audience and use grows:
If you make a great experience in Sansar … you can resell that experience… which you really can’t do today in Second Life.
Picture, for example, a group such as MadPea Games, able to create and licence / sell entire game / hunt experiences to clients in the physical world, completely packaged and ready to go, branded for their client. but with full credit to MadPea Games. That the experience is actually running on the “Sansar” servers operated by the Lab is neither here nor there as far as the client is concerned, so long as they can use whatever mechanism they’ve chosen to engage their desired audience in the experience.
Equally, this also raises some potential questions around content, licensing and permissions, particularly given the earlier statements around those building an experience not necessarily being those would actually build all the models, etc., within that experience. For example, how do you cater for the model maker who doesn’t want their creations to be re-packaged and sold on to or licensed out to third parties? Or how do you ensure that models and content remain “affordable” to the majority whilst allowing the maker to generate sufficient revenue to make it worth their while in allowing they models to be “sold on”?
Again, it will be interesting to see how questions like this are addressed – or if they are even an actual concern as “Sansar” becomes more accessible.
Discoverability is also again touched upon, with Schneider nicely encompassing the approach being taken with “Sansar”:
Imagine going to a web page that goes in-depth on a given topic — Mayan temples, say — and then says, “here’s a VR experience that gives you another view” in the same way you might see an embedded video today. There will also be ways to find other experiences once you’re inside the ecosystem.
Alongside of this there are the by now familiar references to the likes of WordPress and YouTube, which initially appeared back in June and July. These comments have, to me, tended to confirm my own view (held since I first started reading what was being said about the platform in places such as the 2015 VWBPE conference) that Sansar, conceptually at least, is somewhat analogous to the idea of a platform as a service (PaaS) providing a “white label” environment to potential users. I’ve been promising for a while to expand on this, and rather than sidetrack things here, I really will make an effort to re-organise my thoughts on this and other speculations I have about “Sansar” and get them in print in this blog, hopefully within the next week.
Overall, while (again) not revealing anything that is really startlingly new, the Geek Dad article does make for interesting reading, simply because it does perhaps clarify certain things at least a little bit, and because of the possible questions which might yet be applied to the platform as more is revealed.