The Weimar Reupblic may well be a place people would like to immerse themselves in virtual reality, but it’s not really the sort of place you’d expect to see new fangled gadgets such as the Oculus Rift being demonstrated. However that’s exactly what’s happening in a small corner of Jo Yardley’s 1920’s Berlin sim.
I stumbled across this and many other destinations because I was taking a look at the Exceptional with Oculus Rift section of The Second Life Destination Guide. However my exploration was somewhat nerfed due to the fact that I don’t own an Oculus Rift. However don’t let that put you off, it’s still interesting to explore these locations.
However the important aspect of visiting 1920’s Berlin is that it raises the scale issue, this is undoubtedly an issue for Oculus Rift usage and a handy notecard in the area makes this point :
Welcome to the Oculus Rift and Real Scale Test area.
In this little corner of Second Life you can explore a street, a bar and a house that have all been build to a real world scale. A lot of places in Second Life have been build to different ideas of scale, often just guesses or estimations based on how large some of the avatars are. By using a realistic scale, things feel more natural. We use the scale of the “prim”, the building blocks of Second Life, translating real world scale straight into Second Life Centimeters.
When using the Oculus Rift, realism and realistic scale becomes very important. You will be seeing Second Life trough the eyes of your avatar, while normally you would see the virtual world trough a camera view high above the head of your avatar. This makes visiting a lot of places in SL a strange experience as doors and ceilings appear to be made for giants.
This Test area allows you to see what the use of realistic scale looks and feels like without having to change your avatar or your avatar’s clothes so you can visit the actual 1920s Berlin sim. If you would like to visit an entire city build to this scale and with immersion as one of its main goals, please change into some of the (free) 1920s clothes and get on the train behind the little station.
The scale issue is something I’ve seen raised plenty of times and is one of the main reasons that people feel that worlds and games should be built from the ground up with Oculus Rift usage in mind, rather than trying to retro fit Oculus Rift usage. However the dynamic nature of Second Life does allow people to build with Oculus Rift in mind, but it will also mean many parts of Second Life not being optimised, which may make for a frustrating experience.
However 1920’s Berlin may well be a very informative destination, but it’s far from being the only destination on the Linden Lab list. I decided that my next destination would be somewhere more haunting.
Dark Dharma haunted mansion is a photogenic as well as Oculus Rift ready destination. In many ways I’m going further back in time with this one, the building apparently dates from the Victorian age! Hey this is what makes virtual reality not that real at all. I could imagine myself getting fully immersed here, looking through windows, around corners, holding my breath in case I awake something dark and mysterious. Imagining how this would look via the Oculus Rift is of course the cheap solution!
My final destination of Hesperia Of Templemore isn’t horror related, indeed it’s billed as a live music venue but it has an ambience that can be most definitely be appreciated with the naked eye.
Live music isn’t really the sort of use case that one would immediately think of in terms of Oculus Rift usage and yet, in many ways, it makes a lot of sense to be able to distort the senses and immerse yourself in a crowd like situation to enjoy music, it should also assist the issue of people not being comfortable typing on a keyboard whilst wearing the Oculus Rift!
The Oculus Rift is a visual experience and this destination does deliver a visual experience, so it’s not that much of a stretch for it to be included.
Obviously the real proof of the pudding here would be for someone to visit them with an Oculus Rift, I mean it is a very large missing ingredient of my exploration here. However part of the immersive experience is using your imagination and for now, that’s a good step for many of us to follow.
There are plenty of other attractive looking destinations in the Oculus Rift section of the Second Life destination guide and it’s good to see Linden Lab making good use of the destination guide to promote their virtual world.