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    I really don’t understand these things. A few of the online conferences during the pandemic had 3D things and they were vastly less efficient than a simple menu to navigate. I really liked GatherTown, but it explicitly gave a 2D top-down (8-bit Zelda-like) experience, which let me see a lot more of the environment than an immersive environment. The great thing about virtual environments is that they’re not limited to the constraints of real space.

    Jef Raskin wrote that games are, by design, bad UIs. The simplest UI for an interactive game is a button that you press and then win. The point of a game interface is to hide that from you and make you do things that are more difficult to accomplish your task. Any time someone designs a UI that looks like a game, there’s a good chance that I’m in for a bad experience (even with GatherTown, I’ve managed to get lost in the environment and not be able to find the room I’m supposed to go to, which wouldn’t happen with a simple hyperlinked list of meeting rooms).

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      I have to agree (not having used this interfaces tho!) IF people go to conferences, is trying to find the next room really what they want to replicate? Same with “3d offices” where avatars sit in meetings. Why would anyone want to replicate this experience?

      In a few years we will see the “metaverse” (and other 3d envs) as the culmination of the low-interest rate twenty-teens exuberance. Along with fintech and NFTs.

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        In a few years we will see the “metaverse” (and other 3d envs) as the culmination of the low-interest rate twenty-teens exuberance. Along with fintech and NFTs.

        People have been playing MMORPGs and games like Minecraft for decades. World of Warcraft has been hugely popular and folks met lifelong friends and partners there. I think the ship has sailed on the 3d env part. NFTs and Fintech are not related to the post, but if you’re trying to be a cynical tech snarker, be my guest, that’s certainly not going away on the internet.

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          I agree on games, I love games myself (but I don’t play MMORPGs). That’s daved_chisnall’s point too, game 3d works in games well, but games != work for the most part. 3D in games is not going away.

          I think Meta would be more successful marketing 3d to Facebook - where people hang out after work (unlike our cynical set, people love Facebook! it’s where their friends are) but instead they needed to show “growth potential” and highlighted a dystopian 3d workplace. And the press dutifully reported it as “the future of work”. Just like they reported NFTs to be “the future of finance”.

          I am not cynical by nature but it is obvious at lot of the mainstream press has been hijacked by people who are very very good at marketing bullshit.

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            I think Meta would be more successful marketing 3d to Facebook - where people hang out after work (unlike our cynical set, people love Facebook! it’s where their friends are) but instead they needed to show “growth potential” and highlighted a dystopian 3d workplace. And the press dutifully reported it as “the future of work”. Just like they reported NFTs to be “the future of finance”.

            But this has nothing to do with Meta. This is Mozilla Hubs, a 3D room project designed to run in the browser. Mozilla started on the project before Facebook rebranded to Meta. The project is FOSS and unlike Meta’s product or VRChat, is completely usable in the browser, and works well without a VR headset, even on your smartphone!

            I hate to ask, but did you go to the posted link? I really don’t see how criticisms of corporate marketing are relevant here unless you’re more interested in trying to make a point than read the link. From what I’ve seen most uses of Hubs has been for classroom experiences or social experiences, vanishingly little for work related ones.

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              I was replying about the use of 3d in conferences and work in general and the difference between work and games. I agree discussing marketing is not on topic!

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        Have you played something like Half Life Alyx? During one of my playthroughs, one of those spidery headcrabs of yore came swooping by. Instantly and as if through sheer instinct, I grabbed it mid flight and held it hanging by one of its legs. It looked seriously annoyed by the whole affair.

        Swinging it around as if imitating the rotor blades of a helicopter worked just fine (albeit not with the desired woosh-woosh sound). Putting the crab inside of a bucket, and putting the bucket upside down on the ground had the crab-bucket crawl away. Experiences like that ‘sold’ VR as HCI for me. Nowhere in the process did I think of a ‘press G to grab’ or ‘F to pay respects’ like setup - “I” was the input, the ‘living data’ the interface.

        One of the many demos I held here for poor unsuspecting chums, was via Valve ‘the lab’. It has this one part with a little robot dog running around being adorable. You could throw objects and it would scurry after them, return and placing them at your feet. Anyhow, for a lark someone kneeled down and tried to pet it. It rolled over and got some belly scratches. The person subsequently removed the HMD and snuck away for a crying session. Former dog owner.

        Another chumette took a deep sea dive via ‘The deep’, where the schene of a sea floor slumbering whale skeleton transitioned into a starry underwater sky of glowing jellyfish. The person froze and shook in horror. Trypophobia apparently, who knew.

        My point is that the right mix of these things can strike at something unguarded and primal; possibly also tap into cognition that sees deeper patterns in ongoing computing for inferences previously unheard of. What Hubs is doing here has the potential of doing none of that. Excel fame ‘The Hall of Tortured Souls’ meets VRML.

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          For conferences i agree that an accessible top-down 2d design might be the way to go. But for groups of people just hanging around, expressing themselves, the extra degrees of freedom afforded by 3D VR spaces are invaluable. There is a reason people flock to VRChat: body language.

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            yeah it’s fun to shoot the shit with people you know in VR. the ability to see in 3D or grab virtual objects didn’t wow me, but seeing someone talk and gesture in VRChat (and being able to do the same) blew my mind.

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              I think this is especially true for groups of people who have become familiar with each other’s physical presence in other venues, be it work in an office, meet-ups, or past conferences. Hard to scale any experience to large groups but not every technology has to scale to large groups to be a tool worthy of our use.

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              Jef Raskin wrote that games are, by design, bad UIs. The simplest UI for an interactive game is a button that you press and then win.

              I wonder what he would think of things like Cookie Clicker…

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                Or Progress Quest! http://progressquest.com/

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                The great thing about virtual environments is that they’re not limited to the constraints of real space.

                We just have different constraints instead. When I’m in a shared space working on things, I can often walk over and start chatting with a friend. Some of my favorite experiences playing games or working on projects with friends has been the ability to just casually start a conversation. Yeah sometimes it meant that the project went nowhere and we went to beers, but that was a valuable, enjoyable experience. When I’m in a VC, there’s no such thing. I’m either broadcasting to the entire room or I’m not talking. Breakout rooms or sub-channels or whatever you want to call them just aren’t the same, you can’t form organic connection that way. On the other hand I have fond memories of chatting with a random person (eventual friend) at a personal hackathon about LaTeX even though most of the rest of the group had never used LaTeX for much at all.

                even with GatherTown, I’ve managed to get lost in the environment and not be able to find the room I’m supposed to go to, which wouldn’t happen with a simple hyperlinked list of meeting rooms

                Folks in XR/Metaverse/3D spaces talk about offering “cues” in rooms/scenes to help folks congregate, so this is a known pain point. Humans spend their whole lives in physical spaces and humans have been creating physical spaces for almost our entire history, so we know how this works very well. In metaverse, not so much. Also, this depends on the context. If efficiency is the goal, then sure, there’s no point getting lost. And perhaps when you’re working with someone for a large employer where your only point of union is that you are paid by the same large employer then sure, you want to get your work done and go home to your family/friends, so you just want to get into a meeting room and get done with it. But if encouraging serendipity of community is the goal, then getting lost in the environment is probably a bit more of a feature than a bug.

                Some of this I suspect is a personality thing. Some people treat digital spaces as specific places where they want to get things done; they want to make some progress on some code they’ve written, get their finances in order, watch the video they’re searching for. Others perhaps want to simply “roam” digitally. These folks are going to be the ones roaming around in MMORPGs or Minecraft worlds.

                Personally, working in the fully remote era of COVID has become quite alienating. In the past I met friends even partners through coworkers at work. Now, we see each other as talking heads or sources of audio, exchange some links, and get done with it. And having had a bout of COVID, I realize there are times when I want to be with friends of mine but travel is just not feasible. Chats and VCs are just not the same.

                I might be in the minority though. And yeah if you’re the “My life is rich enough with just my close friends and family” type, then virtual socializing probably will never be for you.

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                  Some of my favorite experiences playing games or working on projects with friends has been the ability to just casually start a conversation

                  GatherTown, which I mentioned above, does this very well. As your avatar approaches someone, you hear their audio. As you get closer, you see their video. You can transition from this into a full video conferencing mode, or just have their video feed above.

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                    Yup I’ve used GatherTown and I’m a fan! I did find the 2D-ness of the thing a bit disorienting, but for work conference events I really enjoy it. I attended a pandemic birthday party in GatherTown and I enjoyed it quite a bit also.