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Friday, July 15, 2016

Apps and Virtual Reality: The Future of "Second Life"

When you think of a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, you probably think of "World of Warcraft" or "Elder Scrolls Online." What you may not automatically think of, though, is "Second Life." This is not a game per say, but more like a virtual world. Users can interact with other players and build houses or even whole towns in a 3-D space by using open source tools. With just under 1 million users, this game is one of the most popular in the MMO space, so here's a deeper look into this online world:

Community
What makes "Second Life" unique compared to other MMOs is that there isn’t a game component. There aren’t quests to finish or enemies to kill. Instead it is all about building a virtual life and interacting with those around you. In this online community, you can find like-minded people and interact with them in a different way than a purely text-based forum can provide.
Mobile
As of yet, there isn't a first-party way for users to log into "Second Life" through a mobile app made by Linden Lab. However, because so much of the technology behind the game is open source, independent developers have created apps that give you varying levels of access to the world. Here are just a few:
·         Lumiya: This is one of the largest of the third-party apps for accessing "Second Life." Originally, the app was designed to run on devices in the generation of the Galaxy S3. However, it is still available in the Google Play Store and is still supported on newer Android phones like the Galaxy S6. And, because the hardware has gotten considerably better, the performance of the app is even smoother. Priced at just under $3.00, it puts it in reach if you want basic functionality, such as chatting with friends and managing inventory.
·         Mobile Grid Client: This app is another Android-based app that gives you many of the same features as Lumiya. Mobile Grid Client strives to be extremely lightweight by keeping data consumption rates low. Whereas Lumiya gives you a 3-D representation of your character, Mobile Grid uses a top-down map that lets you see yourself relative to your surroundings and other players without being data intensive. The trade off with Mobile Grid Client is cost, though. After a 14-day free trial, you can unlock a standard or pro version for L$250 or L$450 per month, respectively. These are priced using "Second Life’s" internal currency, which roughly translates to between $1-2 per month depending on the exchange rates.
·         Pocket Metaverse: If you are a "Second Life" user on iPhone, then Pocket Metaverse is the place to go. This is another top-down style app rather than one that simulates the actual look of the game. Pocket Metaverse has designed its interface to be as close to the iPhone's design as possible, which makes it easy for you to understand how each tool works.
Future

With VR technology becoming more popular and affordable, there may be a resurgence in "Second Life." Because so much of the appeal of "Second Life" came from the world building and community rather than fighting, this is a perfect place for VR. With VR technology, "Second Life" could truly become a place where communities interact with each other.

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