Now, Linden Labs is bringing out Sansar, which promises to "allows you to create, share, and monetize your own social VR experiences".
(Sansar VR world)
Several weeks ago, I headed to the Linden Lab offices in San Francisco to get a demo and hear about the ways Sansar is taking a new approach.
When I arrived, Altberg brought me to a room with an Oculus Rift and Sansar fired up on a computer. The first virtual space we entered was a breezy outdoor basketball court in a sunny beach location. The visuals were crisp, and off to the side, music was coming from a boom box. There were also some virtual basketballs lying on the court, and I was pleased to find that I could bounce and throw them using my touch controllers.
When Altberg headed down the hall to settle into his own Rift, a pudgy devil mascot with his voice coming from it suddenly spawned next to me. The first thing I noticed was that his character’s lips moved in the way I’d expect them to if he were speaking in real life. Sansar uses a facial animation technology that syncs an avatar’s lip movement with the user’s actual speech in real time, something I had not seen in other social VR platforms and which added realism.
We spent a few minutes tossing the basketballs and wandering the space. Within moments, I felt immersed in the experience, like I was actually hanging out with someone at a basketball court.
“This whole thing was created by one of my team—a guy who’s not a 3D modeler or programmer,” Altberg tells me. I later learned that Sansar’s VP of Product, Bjorn Laurin, created the entire space with his six-year-old son in a single afternoon simply by dropping assets from the Sansar store into the scene.
And this—at the core—is the focus of Sansar: making it as easy as possible for anyone who wants to design, build, publish, share, and experience a virtual world.
Science fiction writers have been fascinated by the idea of virtual worlds; arguably, the first science fictional example is portal from Vernor Vinge's 1981 story True Names.
Virtual world aficionados will also want to check the references for cyberspace, by William Gibson, the virtual matrix from The Judas Mandala (1982) by Damien Broderick, the virtual reality video game from The Age of The Pussyfoot (1966) by Frederik Pohl and the Saga simulation from Arthur C. Clarke's 1956 novel The City and the Stars.