Whilst I was on holiday an excellent article on High Fidelity appeared in MIT Technology Review : The Quest to Put More Reality in Virtual Reality. Ok first of all let’s get a couple of questionable parts of the article out of the way. Tom Simonite seems to talk of Second Life in the past sense, which will rub many a Second Life user up the wrong way as Second Life is still going pretty strong, despite reports to the contrary. Then there’s this claim :
Some of what his company is creating is much the same as Second Life. You download some software and then enter a virtual space where you can steer your avatar around and build stuff. This time, though, building is much easier, the lag mostly eliminated, and the graphics more impressive.
Anyone who has had a peek at High Fidelity will know that the building is not much easier and nor are the graphics more impressive at this stage in the development of the platform. High Fidelity is making some bloody impressive strides right now but it’s still very much an Alpha product.
Then there’s the stock photograph of Philip Rosedale that is used, we need a new modern Philip photo, I’ve seen that one umpteen times! However the above aside, it’s an excellent article that captures so very well the fantastic enthusiasm Philip Rosedale has for virtual worlds. Admittedly I’m an unashamed Philip Rosedale fanboi, despite not always agreeing with him, but the man has a long held dream and it’s one that captivates me. Whereas some may think of Philip Rosedale; “Dreamer, you’re nothing but a dreamer, well can you put your hands in your head, oh no!” the answer to that is that with the right peripherals, in High Fidelity you can put your virtual hands in your virtual head, oh yes!
The article explains how High Fidelity is taking a very different approach from Second Life in some areas and this is where I believe that High Fidelity is most definitely on the right track :
High Fidelity’s business model is less developed. Most of its software and platform will be open source, so anyone can use it or set up a virtual world using its technology. High Fidelity plans to make money by charging people to include their worlds in a kind of directory for the metaverse, similar to the domain name system for the Web.
I’ve said this before, more than once, but where I feel Second Life failed to adopt mass appeal is because it’s Second Life. Mass appeal may well come for a Linden Lab product running Linden Lab created technology, but I’m not convinced that mass appeal will come for any virtual world being a one stop shop. In terms of Second Life I’ve said that it needed to reach the stage where people weren’t thinking they were visiting Second Life, they were thinking of playing an elf on a platform running Second Life technology, or going to a concert, running Second Life technology. The technology being a discussion area for techie types and the experience itself being something people enjoy for the experience itself.