Wednesday, 10 October 2007

The realism problem in Second Life

This light house shows the realism problem of Second Life. At first I was struck by how realistic it looked compared to most of the other features of Second Life. Designers often go for the ultra-modern of whimsical because they can’t really make the real in Second Life yet. Looking at this light house you see why: reality demands an almost infinite supply of data storage. Reality seems unaware of how computationally impossible it is, using many billions of TBs to make a rock or flower. Second Life’s reality is built around a strict economy of PRIMS and rezzing time. This light house is impossible in reality, because each of the white and red bands weathering patterns are exactly alike. Weathering patterns in RL are all very random and like fingerprints no two are the same. Reality seems to like no two things being the same. We live in a Universe that seems to be governed by laws and patterns and yet somehow an amazing diversity of randomness and uniqueness has emerged.

Second Life is evolving patterns of uniqueness I have identified. People over time develop their AV until they reach a point where no two AVs look the same. People get pretty independent about their AVs and most long term players I know look unique. Only a few could I spot without their names above their heads but when you get to know people they look unique. Also if you look at the map of Second Life on SLURL you will notice that viewed from above no 2 pieces of the mass sprawl of structures look the same from above.

So unique is the evolving ground of Second Life that through my voyage I feel I am learning to identify where things are and where I am over the land I have travelled. That is only possible because the land is evolving in a unique way that my brain can identify, knowing it must be here because of it.

So will time solve the problem and create a universe full of unique features governed by general laws that is the right mixture of order and chaos for the human man to understand?
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