Friday, December 17, 2021

Reader Submission: Moving About the Metaverse

By DrFran Babcock


Greetings, everyone. Since I left Second Life for Philip Rosedale’s VR-inspired High Fidelity, I have not been around Second Life much. Sadly, High Fidelity, as a 3-D virtual world, died a little over two years ago. If you ask Philip Rosedale, co-creator of both Second Life and the subsequent High Fidelity, why this happened, he attributes much of it to the slow adoption of virtual reality hardware and some other reasons that have to do with how people choose to interact.

I love virtual worlds. I have never left virtual worlds since I left full-time Second Life in 2014, moving to the aforementioned High Fidelity. Since then, I have spent most of my time in Vircadia (the open-source world based on High Fidelity’s architecture), Sansar: The virtual world created by Linden Lab as the successor to Second Life; and even Horizon Worlds—Meta’s foray into virtual worlds.

What I plan to do, in writing a sporadic column for the Newser, is to share some news and tidbits from the rest of the Metaverse. It’s important to understand that my view of the Metaverse is colored much by the work of Tony Parisi and Avi-Bar Zeev. Thus, many worlds and One Metaverse.

Last, I want to thank Bixyl Shuftan and Gemma Cleanslate for nudging me back to writing again. I am in Second Life, but only for brief periods of time.


It is sad to report that Sansar is on life support. At the time of this writing, all of the employees have been furloughed, and many have gone on to other jobs. They are still open, and are still filled with the most beautiful worlds bar none. The remaining community of about 50 avatars are fiercely loyal, and continue to function as if things are without problems.

I would recommend that you go in there, and look around, because I fear that it might evaporate. Sansar was sold to Wookey Technologies a while ago, and at that point, all communication with the owners ceased. There were no more Product Update meetings, and each time the Umbra License (a tool that helps the graphics to run better)  was not repurchased it took a while for it to be repurchased. I believe, at this writing, that the license has lapsed.

It would be a tragedy if Sansar was lost, because I still believe it’s the best looking virtual world. It has drawbacks, chief among them that you cannot build collaboratively, but how many people know you can have 20 worlds completely free?


I was lucky (?) to score a closed Beta invite to Meta’s Horizon Worlds. I have no love for Facebook, but I was curious to see what they had to offer. I will discuss the positives and the negatives here:


Building, while rudimentary, is easy, and you can do some creative and different things.

You can build in collaboration. It’s very cool to make your avatar huge, and look down on your build, manipulating objects as if they were a diorama.

The scripting language, proprietary, is visual. This means that hopeless coders like me can manage to script some life into the worlds I build. This is a big plus, in my opinion.

At present, the developers were accessible and willing to answer questions. Since they have opened Horizon Worlds to all USA and Canada adults, it seems to have change.


Well, it’s Facebook/Meta, so they want our data.

The avatars have a lot of variety, but I want legs. Come on, Meta.

Children are running rampant in Horizon Worlds. I attended a scripting question and answer meeting, and children kept disrupting the meeting with profanities and racial slurs. The lone developer was unable to manage the number of trolls, and the session was ruined for me. If Meta wants their world to succeed, they will have to deal with this. I think it’s a problem of children “borrowing” their parents’ Quest 2s.

I will leave it at that, and promise more to come.


This is the world where I spend most of my time. It is most definitely not for everyone, because it is not easy to download, easy to use, nor easy to create.

Vircadia is developed by a small, dedicated, committed, and productive group of content creators and residents. There is one event every night except Tuesday, and the folks in their Discord server are helpful, and not fatigued by answering the same questions over and over.

Currently, we are working on a live-action play based very loosely on A Christmas Carol, but with a dark satirical bent, and a focus on virtual worlds. It will take place on Tuesday, December 28, at 2PM Pacific Time.


I also attend other virtual worlds, and I am glad to talk about what I do, but I would love to hear from you. If this is content you want, let me know and I will continue to share what I see as I move about the Metaverse.
DrFran Babcock