Continuity in virtual spaces


I was reading Au’s NWN short post on vehicle communities at and it occurred to me that I really miss the concept of “neighborhood” in SL. More generally, SL/Opensim/etc started with a single, non-sharded, contiguous world and through the addition teleporting, rapid flight, and disconnected “islands” have ended up with a functionally very fragmented pile of much smaller spaces - in general, your parcel’s location on the SL grid is darned close to irrelevant. SL lost something in that shift, I think - info hubs are hangouts but no longer places that most everyone goes through on occasion. The “bustling hubs of activity” are loosely defined more by social commonality than any spatial metaphor and there is no drive to connect with neighbors since everyone arrives by TP anyway. Long ago in SL, there was real economic value in having land near a hub… then a road… then protected spaces… now the value seems mainly in having your own region.

On the other hand, I think there is something really attractive about The Street (Snowcrash), The River (Otherland), and even unavoidable covering of distance (any number of MMOs, actual or fictional) that require time, effort, or money to traverse. Growth of interrelated spaces happens naturally. You can see what is nearby and you care about where you are in the world.

On the third hand, it is really convenient to TP from place to place to shop, visit, or sightsee… to step through a portal to a completely different world with different rules of physics or access/privacy/visibility… or even just to assert real ownership of your own chunk of the metaverse. The opensim hypergrid has some aspects of this still, even now that the 4096 bug is fixed, because you might need or want to make several stops along your path to get from one place to another.

So, I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this, but I’d be interested to hear what others think - is continuity important or not at all? It it worth using architectural or economic effects to encourage it? Should we dispense with the whole notion of a euclidian world? Or maybe it is something that might arise from and be enforced from social contract?


Agrees , sl is full of empty sim’s full of empty cities because once you add content and people , it stops working. I always felt like sl was geared towards keeping people from finding each other because once you let that happen the flaws become evident.
I would love hf if it allowed use to have a real density of assets and people. Elsewhere on the forum how to get from place to place was discussed. It might be quite nice to have to travel. But if the environment is rich,busy and low lag, that would be a plus rather than a minus.


I think that with no prim limits, and the ability to host an apartment or a room on different assignment clients within a larger city, it should be possible to have high density living. The question is whether or not people will choose the potential for contact and interaction over the attraction of being king in their own domain. In SL there is too much space really, which is amazing given the cost of it. I think people want to create their own spaces, or at least furnish and decorate them, and be the boss.


I think that the main issue with voxel/prim limit is that they are all send to the client and are rendered on that client. Thus applying the need to restrict things like draw distance, low poly builds, small textures and voxel/prim limits.

For a virtual world to be able to display unlimited prims and lot of avatars instantly (maybe even on low end pc’s) is probably something like this needed:’s-non-polygon-3d-gets-more-unlimited


Telehubs or the concept of forcing people to congregate in order to do anything in SL failed because it was hated by the residents who just needed to get somewhere fast. And the land around tele hubs was bought for advertising and commerce as a way of making money. When you have a restriction, people will find a way to eliminate it or game it to make money. The concept of making people do anything “for their own good or the good of the grid” does not take into account the basic human trait to take advantage of it.

A lot of people only log into SL to work, to interact with their friends, answer a few IMs, chat in their groups. Standing around talking to strangers? Not so much.


I love the thought of a continuous, virtual world. I even like to travel via car in SL, even when it’s a pain when you drift away into the void at the next sim border. I think this is also a cause why nobody likes to travel in SL.
Anyway; that’s why I think there are no big community’s in SL;

The land is to expensive; when you want to make a community, you need more than just a house. You need streets, parks, and other attractions to make the community appealing. In SL, you have to pay 80 $ a year just to own a small 512qm plot. If you want streets, etc, you have to pay much more.

No interaction between the people of the community; to feel like a community, you need emotions. Take the recent public viewings of the world cup as example. A nearly missed goal and you heard the whole crowd sigh. In SL, you can’t do that. Having voice on without speaking is a no-go and if more people are speaking, you can’t understand a thing. You just can’t express emotions right in SL.

Now to your questions: Yes, I really like continuity, for me it makes a virtual world immerse. But I think it is created by the community and should not be enforced. Give them the right tools and they will create the most awesomeness things you have ever seen.

Just my 50 cents.


I have to reply to this. People are saying that there are no communities in Second Life. However I disagree. There are many communities in Second Life. Like real life communities they build up over time and fluctuate with the ebb and flow of people.

Second Life Communities

As the creator of London in Second Life (active since 2006), I can safely say that many people consider themselves part of tihs community. The self-considered ‘members’ number as many as a reasonable sized town holds (from 20,000 to 200,000 population). In fact we were recently approached by a film company that has followed couples’ online relationships that started and centred around London in 2007 and over time have grown into a real-world relationship.

I agree with Konstantin that land is expensive, and attractions are needed - just like with any community. There are other factors that come to bear also (too many to tackle here). Overall ‘community’ is simply a sense of belonging. Second Life has a ‘community’ regardless of the landspace. People come and go as they do with regular towns. The only difference is that people don’t work there as part of a community activity (such as offices etc).

However, the limited level of expression in Second Life, although advanced for it’s time, has now past it’s ‘sell by date’. I have a feeling there’s more than a bit of irony in that statement - as many rumours of attempted acquisition bids amounted to nothing. Second Life is moving aside for more powerful entities such as HF (and also SL2 - though the huge ‘lock in’ already gives me shivers down my spine).

Real Life Community

I have also met many people in real life where the relationship has blossomed from my online community and spilt out into real life. I intend to meet more like-minded individuals. I love the idea that an online community isn’t restricted by geographical distance and am excitedly looking forward to the day when I can expand and bring forward the ‘London’ community into High Fidelity.

High Fidelity Community

High Fidelity represents the next level of virtual world usage and potential. Already its opening up to another marginalised userbase - the deaf. Lip reading, signing, body language - tick these three for HF. More ‘community’.

HF already has more features than any other world and is more advanced in development at this point in time. The business model is aligned with growth, cloud and open sourcing. The financial model appears to be aligned with ‘pay per use’, now used by Microsoft, Adobe and other tech giants.

The only part I don’t fully understand is where the company makes its exclusive revenues from in this distributed model. To me it’s important that a strong company will back a strong product with a strong financial model. Financial stability creates a sustainable company which leads to customer satisfaction and recommendation. There has to be some ‘lock in’ for the company, either from patents, private knowledge or other means in order for it to be financially stable.

This is of course for very selfish reasons. When I need back up or support, I need to know the company will be there for me.


Second Life was ‘Chapter One’ and this is ‘Chapter Two’. Let’s see where the ride takes us?

This ‘is’ the virtual world evolution taking place and I thank Philip and his team for allowing myself and every one of us to be part of that process.

Thank you for being bothered to read this, Debs


@Judas I guess my proposal would be to have a hub world (“The Strip?”) with dense builds, enforced travel time, and high-value real estate, hopefully with some economic disincentive to use the space for ads and other blight. Maybe something with micropayments - you get paid to view ads? anyway - people could build directly there (if they had the means to) or could leave portals to their own worlds (like entering a building).

@Vivienne I’d hope that HiFi allows for lots of different models, but also offers a space of its own with policies that encourages a vibrant multiverse - after all, it will probably be the first thing a new user sees… it ought to be a place that people want to return to.

@MarcelEdward I think that one of the points of voxels is that it naturally supports a scalable LOD as well as potentially making a better tradeoff between number of objects and complexity of objects. I’m getting a little off topic here, but an interesting question is what would it take to be able to see realistic renders of extremely large to scale spaces: think Manhattan from NY harbor, or while we’re dreaming, like walking on the inside of a ringworld:

@Merri you might be right - I just think that the concept of a 3D virtual world loses something essential (and valuable!) when there is no longer any point to thinking of it as a space.

@Konstantin well, there certainly are communities in SL - some are even very large. The original (though, IMHO, quite wrong) post was that there weren’t communities based on vehicle use, e.g. as compared to the “communities” of people who share shopping tips.

@DebsRegent absolutely! I think SL’s technical limitations have made large communities difficult in various ways (max 40-100 per sim, group chat, etc), but they’ve thrived in spite of the roadblocks. I think the HiFi business model (please correct me if I’m wrong) is to take a slice of monetary transactions (especially in the case of a marketplace), charge something for global names (identities and/or places), and maybe run one or more worlds (presumably charging for voxel area and number of voxels placed in the octtree, etc).


I would love to see the strip developed beautifully utilizing the power of all the assignment clients to see what Hf is capable of. But this is not a priority :wink:


I kinda feel that the convenience of teleportation is one of the perks of a virtual world.

However, if you wanted to ‘encourage’ travel, then you could what the OASIS in Ready Player One did, which is make TPs cost money. Travel also had costs, such as fuel, but it was implied to be cheaper.


A tree is a complex object, one tree has got 1000th’s of leaves and every tree is unique.
Today there techniques which would enable to make a 3d scan of a tree so in theorie if would be possible to create a 3d map of a ring world.

When using high poly models with hi rez textures then the size would be a number expressed in GB.

In the current approach al those textures would have send to the client and rendered there. It is impossible to send all that data in once or even to render all that data at once.
You can actually see the effect when traveling through SL. When traveling to fast you will just see a grey partial loaded world.

But it in the end all you see is in fact just an image. An image with an resolution of 800x600 would give a view in DVD quality. In fact your graphics just does that. Maybe at a bit higher resolution.

So when the server would just sends the images and not the meshes and textures then you could travel through a ring world at high frame rate without lag.

I my view a technology which does that, which renders the images efficiently on the server side would be mayor breakthrough.

Voxel data would still be send, for you would wanna interact (like picking up a flower) or collide with a tree.


Lots of large open worlds just add fog to hide the edges of the rendered world. There’s another technique, though that would seem to lend itself to use by voxel/octree systems especially well: at distance, it is difficult to tell the difference between a flat rendering and a real 3d rendered image. To first order of approximation, it would seem plausible to ask whatever voxel server seemed to make sense based on LOD to send you a (possibly prerendered) image from approximately the right perspective for an entire branch of the octtree. Of course, shadows and lighting can make things difficult…


Sorry to be reviving an old topic, but this has become very relevant to some recent developments in related technologies, namely, Augmented Reality (AR). Some might assume VR and AR to be two different things, with completely different Use Cases and User needs. I used to think this myself, but have changed my view, having now worked on my own PhD research project in a related field for almost a year, and reading some recent articles covering the latest thinking on AR developments.

I was compelled to think of HiFi, the continuity question, and how this could considerably accelerate the technology of AR. I would say if at all possible, continuity should be a number one aim of development, because if it is done right (In a practical, open way), the power of it becomes immense. The AR topic of interest is the AR PointCloud. This is still in concept form, but essentially means an open source point cloud describing the entire real world. It has become apparent that this is the key to being able to share virtual objects relative to the real world in a way that multiple folk using AR in the same physical space can see them identically, superimposed on the real world. For instance, if everyone was using AR, why bother putting real physical works of art on your house wall, if everyone can identically see virtual versions of it that you put there instead. AR goggles are really just see-through VR goggles, so the kit is almost the same. The virtual environment technology is identical, with the only caveat being that for AR, you need continuity. From my research, I am confident to say HiFi is right now, the most advanced virtual environment in existence, and it is open sourced, and distributed, so by ensuring that continuity is implemented, it is uniquely poised to pounce on the implementation of the AR PointCloud. Those still wishing a pure VR virtual only experience (I suspect most current HiFi users at present), could still enjoy isolated or shareable private spaces as experienced in the current offering. Continuous options should include a special case layer hosting the AR point cloud. Even better if some configuration management mechanisms exist for protecting AR PointCloud data from tampering by unauthorised parties.

My own project comprises research into an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Or “Drone”) internet anywhere real time first and second person view control scheme, which incidentally automatically generates AR PointCloud data as a by-product, although lately I am thinking AR Point Cloud generation and maintenance could actually turn out to be the main application of the product.

For anyone wishing to read further on the AR PointCloud, See:


P.S. My project could do with some backing, to convert my part time working upon it (1/3) whilst full time funding it (2/3) towards 100% full time working on it, thus accelerating the project to yield a product. If you know any potential backers and/or collaborative contacts who might be interested in becoming involved, please do contact me (Mention HiFi) here: :

AR Applications for HiFi
AR Applications for HiFi