In his talk at GDC, Raph Koster from Playable Worlds talks about how avatars are a major tech challenge in the metaverse. He also discusses how he believes that the current generation of VR headsets is not going to be able to handle this challenge.
What are virtual worlds and how do they work? Raph Koster of Playable Worlds has a few ideas, and he’s sharing them in a new blog series. The first covers the technical challenges of creating MMOs and the “metaverse,” with Koster emphasizing the need of going back into the history of game creation for answers to why things are done the way they are – and why seemingly apparent things haven’t been done yet.
Koster deconstructs how data and graphics are sent between servers and clients, as well as whatever translation engine decodes the format. Formatting, like decentralization and decentralization, is a significant stumbling block for MMOs.
“One of the most popular metaverse daydreams is for a player to be able to transport their avatar from one realm to another. But, which avatar format should I use? A Nintendo Mii, a Facebook profile image, an EVE Online avatar, and a Final Fantasy XIV character all have distinct appearances. They’re not the same. In many respects, Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft are comparable games, yet their equipment slots, customization options, and other features are vastly different. These games are unable to load each other’s characters because they disagree on what constitutes a character. Despite what you see on screen in Ready Player One, moving avatars across worlds is one of the most difficult metaverse issues, and we are nowhere near a solution. There have been previous efforts to create standard metaverse formats. I’ve attended meetings where a group of businesses attempted to come up with a framework for the idea of “an avatar.” Those sessions, no joke, degenerated into squabbles in less than five minutes.”
As complicated as things are, Koster claims that it’s “really the easiest component of the whole equation,” but we’ll have to wait another week to find out why.