Oculus, Facebook and the Oasis

Like many people, I am disappointed with the Facebook acquisition of Oculus. I think I would have deleted my account a while back if it weren’t such a useful means of organising events and sport fixtures. I felt a strong connection to Oculus, a feeling that stemmed from backing the Kickstarter drive. I felt like I was helping the fledgling company get off the ground. In hindsight this was pretty (very) naive.

Notch’s blog resonates strongly.

And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition. – Notch

As an aside, the Oculus founders sold some of their stake to VCs in late 2013 for $75 million. I should have been equally disappointed at that deal, had I known about it. It would be one thing if the Oculus founders had benefited massively from the sale to Facebook, but it was probably just the VCs that made out like bandits.

This recent video sheds some light on the motivations for the acquisition. Facebook can certainly bring their expertise to bear on the “one million user MMO” problem.

The idea of creating a global virtual environment enabled by the social graph of Facebook is compelling. The novel “Ready Player One” and its concept of the “Oasis” is often spoken of as the goal for pervasive VR. Facebook would surely have some role in enabling such a creation.

It leaves me wondering how best I could get ready for a future “Oasis”-like product. What skills would be necessary? I guess that a product from Facebook would not use either of the two most common current VR-enabled engines, Unity or UE4. I think it would be more likely to use a new engine developed in-house by Carmack and Abrash. The focus of the new engine would have to be very high framerates, very low latency and zero tolerance for visual artifacts.

It is interesting to note how closely some of the ideas of the Oasis resemble the original plans for Quake. Quake was sketched out as a kind of multiplayer RPG, with persistent worlds hosted on permanent servers and a system of interconnects that would allow players to teleport from server to server dynamically. Once id realised the scale of the task, they pared back the multiplayer side of things and created the king of FPSs.

I think there is a big future in the virtual environment content creation industry. Everyone is going to want their own unique home in the Oasis. How do we create this content? I guess just hit Blender, Max or Maya as usual and wait for a tool chain.

During (and after) my time at UWA there was an effort to replicate the UWA campus in Second Life. At the time I thought this wasn’t very interesting. Perhaps they were just far ahead of the game.

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