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Too long to read!

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I did not know where to post it so I decided to bother you with it ;-)


Virtual Universe:

From day zero till now the computer enviromnent has become more and more like real life, more graphically complex and detailed, examples are games and internet pages.

On the other hand, the computer usage has been moving from solo experience toward web based, multiuser aplications and games, and this is quite visible nowadays.

If this trend continues, there will come a day when there will be little difference between what we will see inside and outside our computers, and because of this, there has developed a thought in my mind for several years now, it has grown in size and detail, until it reached to a point that I decided that I must share it with others, and maybe someone will find these ideas useful.

In near future peaple will live two lifes, one is their normal lifes, and one is inside their computers. The latter has two flavors, one is solo inside their computer when it is not connected to internet and it will be used mainly for education or entertainment. The other flavor is "Virtual Universe" or VU. A global and integrated world inside the computers around the real world. ALl the computers that are connected to internet will be a part of it as they control their domain.

This world can replace the current internet pages, as these pages have replaced the old text based ones. Each web site will be a virtual structure or area inside this world, and when someone wants to wisit that site, he can move around the VU until he reaches the site or he can teleport there directly.

When you enter a site you can look around and talk directly with other people visiting that site, you can look out of windows towart the nearby sites and call out for your friends in those sites to come near you so that you show them something interesting...

For instance if there is a site dedicated to gambling and another one in front it is a place where some company has placed his new products to be examined by probable customers. let`s say thet you have read about this place in a virtual magazine, and become interested to examine the products.

You go there and examine them for a while, and choose one of them and pay for it and come out, knowing that an instance of it will be posted to your real home imediately. as you exit the site, your eyes catch your friend gambling with some pals in the other site. you enter that site and stand behind your friend for a while to watch his gambling.

After a while you decide to join them and ask their permission to join their game, pay the fee to the site manager and seat beside your friend, ready for action. Maybe there is a TV covering the entire of the front wall, showing some comercials, and lots of slot machines and tables scattered around the rooms...

This was just an appetizer to show you of the thoughts moving around my mind, there are lots of possibilities and opportunities to this world, and I will write some more examples in the end, but for now, I want to go into some techincal details to show that these are not just day dreaming and are quite possible in the near future!


Landscape Generators:

When I started thinking about these ideas there was no talk about DOOM3 and real time calculation of lights and shadows, I always thought that if this could be achieved, and if the calculation time after designing the levels of games where removed, then we could write engines that generated the terrains around the players as the need arised and kept them in memory while they were needed, then removed them when there was no more need for them. then we could have huge worlds with relatively small data.

Then I started reading about fractals and their formulas, and also I read about OOP programs and object hierarchy and structure, I saw the connction and a solution came to my mind.

We can have an object oriented landscape generator that builds the landscape like a tree of an object oriented aplication`s object hierarchy.

In OOP programs , (or windows), there is an object called Desktop that fills the entire screen, in other word it owns the entire screen, or we can say the entire screen is it`s domain.

On the other hand, it owns several smaller objects that own small areas of screen inside Desktop, and they may own some smaller objects isnide their domain and so on...

When the screen is drawn, the program tells Desktop to redraw itself and it draws the entire screen then it orders the smaller objects that it owns to redraw themselves. They redraw themselves and maybe they order their owned objects to do so and so on...

Thus with one order, all the screen is drawn in full detail.

There is a similar process in some types of fractal images. For instance in plasma cloads, there is a lanscape generator that devides the screen to smaller parts and orders a similar landscape generator to work on each part, and those generators will do the same until the area is so small that it could not be divided any more, then they will paint that area by a color that is calculated and ordered to them.

These Plasma Cloads have some random parameters so each cload will be different from the other cloads if their random seed are different.

These two metods (Object hierarchy and fractals) can be combined to make landscape generators that can generate a whole planet with endless detail in the real time as the need arises!

You can look around yourself and see a vast landscape around you, but if you look closely at a tree trunc you can see the cracks on the skin and if you use a microscope you can watch individual cells of the skin.

On the other hand as there are some random parameters at work, in this landscape all the apple trees are similar but none of them are exactly the same! And as they are generated in the real time you can see the leaves move in the breeze.

Let`s start from the begining, with the lanscape generator that can draw an entire planet, this is equal to Desktop in object oriented programs. it draws the entire planet but will only fill it with water for instance.

But it owns several smaller landscape generators that are dedicated to generating continents inside that planet, those themselves will divide their domains and place some smaller landscape generator to manage those parts, like mountain generators and vally generators and forests, jungles, lakes, rivers and so on ...

All these landscape parts can be generated with technics similar to plasma cloads, maybe with some tweaks to make them more lifelike.

There can be special landcape generators that can generate individual objects around landscape, and they could be called object generators, examples are tree generators and rock generators and so on...

All these generators, from the whole planet to smallest object on the planet are made by the same technic, and all have a random seed that makes them unique, and determines the final shape of them, any time a generator uses asmaller generator inside it`s domain, it will generate a new seed depending on it`s own seed and some other parameters and will give it to the new generator, and this will be repeated for other generators to the smallest details.

So any time a particular planet generator is given a particular seed, it will generate a planet exactly like the previous times. something like this can be seen in the game Worms from Team17.

There are also some specialized landscape generators that generate their domain with different technics, like castle generators, spaceship generators, table generators, human body genertors and so on ...

These objects are less formulated and more predesigned but they can also have some randomized and changable parameters that makes them unique, like hair style, clothing...

Also surfaces of these objects can be landscape generators by themselves, for instance the skin of a tree trunc is a landscape generator that is specialized to make tree skins with cracks and so on... (more on surfaces later)

Plasma cloads have a good charactristic that is quite useful for our purpose, and I have written a program to test it and was delighted at the results. When a part of a landscape is generated by a generator using plasma technic, if a designer takes a key point of that domain and pulls it up or down all the surrounding landscape will follow the lead, so there will not be any disjointed areas if someone wants to tweak any area. You want a crack? ok design a special generator to make cracks on the surface in it`s domain.

This great charactristic will help designer a lot, for instance any landscape generator has a seed to be generated automatically, but it can have a list of user made changes to it`s structure including the seed itself, I mean the designer can change the seed until he likes the generated result, then tweak some parts to finish the job.

This charactristic will help the designers in other ways as well, for instance if the engine gives the designers the ability to add sub-landscape generators to other generators, i.e. add a river to a mountain or add a hut on a hill, the engine can pull the key points to a place that the added object fits perfectly to surrounding landscape, that means if a designer adds a hut to a landscape the surrounding landscape will change shape in a way that the hut will fit perfectly inside it, but the surrounding landscape will keep the realistic fractal surface intact!

This means designer can develope different landscape generators, then start the design by giving the global lanscape generator (like planet generator) diferent seeds until they like the resulted planet, then start adding, removing or tweaking the continents, then start work on the individual continents if they want, and then on the individual landscape parts, and even on individual objects in that landscape, and they can stop anytime and have a complete planet ready to be used!

And the resulting planet will have relatively a very small size in kilobytes because the whole planet is made of a single seed and some tweaks.

Save games will be small too, they will be the original seed and tweaks and also the changes made in the run time.

And if a designer wants to design an entire level like current games, he can do so, then places this level inside a special generator and places this generator in the middle of the automatically generated planet and very little is added to the size of that level in kilobytes but in the game a whole planet is added around that level!


To be continued if you want...

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Hmm, think about the billions of people who do not even have access to a computer. The idea of "virtual reality" is kind of lame in my opinion. I'm not impressed much by it. I'm like.. "so what, in ten years this will look unrealistic" not that I don't consider that what we'll see in 10 will get old in another 10. Take any one segment of technological development. They can all be interesting. The constant change, with a latest "1337" stage bastardizes the whole thing, and it has more to do with the need to sell new products than with the usefulness of each stage at any time. In any case one can be impressed with what unusual and extraordinary things can be done within each stage, but not by the normal capabilities... only exceeding them, within their own posibilities, is exceptional.

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You know this is the end result of one of those long nights of being wide awake and nothing on have to do! This is just a mild thought compared to others that come in my head! ;-)

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Hey Sphagne, I bet your avatar would have some interesting things to say about this subject ehehehe.

Yeah, anyways, I don't think that a real 3D environment will ever totally replace everything else on the internet. There are too many types of information which are more efficiently represented in other formats: text, audio, files for specific applications, 2D graphics. Of course you could argue for technologies to represent these things in their natural formats within the greater 3D simulation -- sort of like in that Michael Douglas movie where he goes into the VR program and pulls real files out of a virtual file cabinet and can read them right there -- pretty far fetched as a practical system IMO, but certainly possible.

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I meant just that! Here I will write a scene in this VR planet when I found that in my old text files. ;-)

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Here is a little fiction a wrote about two years ago, please don`t read it!

In a few years from now, when you sit in front of your computer, you are given the option to enter normal OS (Windows?) or you can select the VR environment.

In VR mode, you can select between different worlds. As there is a primary world and later some new world can be added to the system, so you can select between them to log in.

OK. you select the default world and you are prompted to enter your user id and password. After that you start from where you have logged out the last time, maybe in the middle of an online game or maybe in the main system in your hotel room...

If it is the first time that you are logging in the system, you are prompted to select for yourself a body, appearance, gender, voice..., and you are given a room inside a hotel in a virtual city in the VR world, some credits to be able to pay fees or to but items, and if you have purchased some games with this VR OS, you are given some written instructions to be able to find the game arenas or to be able to start that games in any way possible.

You can use this system in single player mode, alone, but that is not the ultimate purpose of this system, and I focus on the online aspect of it. So you are now logged in a server and now, you are inside your room in a hotel in the city that is managed by that server, so you can look around and see the furniture that belongs to you. You have a bed that hides in the wall, a desk also hidden, a wrist computer always ready, that works as watch, visiphone, alarm, helpmate, and aslo gets commands to manage your existance in this world. You see a mirror and wash basin and so on...

You can exit from your room and enter a corridor in 65th floor of the hotel and at the end of that corridor enter a teleporter box to go to the lobby floor. There you will certainly see some people chatting or resting, and some of them are real users and some are computer driven.

You chat for some time and in the end, someone offers to help you to join the hotel club, and leads the way. After looking at your credit account by your wrist computer, you follow him/her to the teleporter box.

As you turn one corner, suddenly someone jumps in your way and pushes you aside and starts to run away. In that moment, two cops appear from inside a door and one of them aims a gun and shoots the man in the leg and you see him drop to the floor and the cops disarm him and carry him to a teleporter box, and disappear there.

After looking at TBox for some time you ask your companion about the scene that just happened, and he answers that they were playing an internal game. Then he describes the internal games as the ones that use the default resources that the system supplies, so they can take place inside the system environment and are not forced to become isolated inside a building, or take place in another world or era.

"Could I interfer with their game if I wanted?"
"No, you could only block his way, but he could push you away quite easily and continued his escape. None of you could make any damage on the other in any way!"

You continue your way to stand before the club door. You can see inside the club through the windows that covers the entire wall by your right, and you see several people walking, gambling, or playing free card games.

Your companion enters a small room by your left and you follow him. Inside the room, he tells you to put your hand and wrist computer inside a hole on the wall in front of you. After that the big screen on that wall is turned on and you see the instructions that lead to your membership in the hotel club...

You thank your companion and approach the club door. Some colored lights blink in your face and you hear some beeps. After that the door opens to let you in.

You stroll in and walk to this table and that corner and look around until you hear someone shout in the corridor that "The Vampires" and "Butcher Kids" are starting to fight a CTF game in Arena-13.

Almost at once the club is emptied as the crowd pours out of the club to hurry to that arena. They are sure going to watch an awesome bloodfest, because these two teams are currently the best in CTF.

You look at the remaining crowd. Most of them look like the personnel and waiters. You bet they are all computer driven. But a table is still full of dedicated gamblers and also you
see someone standing in front of the window and seemingly appreciating the outside landscape.

You stand behind him and look through the window to see the city buildings and the crowded roads. A few flying vehicles are roaming in the sky, and lots of brightly lit advertising notes are seen littering the space in front of the buildings.

You read a few of the nearest ones, because as you know, the graphic engine simplifies the far objects to be able to show more details on the nearer ones, so you can not read the far
away advertisements and the building at the end of the road are just a few cubes in different shapes stacking together.

You can read these notes:
"Snooker, Pool, 8-Ball. Play with the champions!"
"Bet on the outcome of the next match. Win 10000 credits!"
"Want to build your own website? Contact our engineers!"
"Come and see our web site, you will not be disappointed!"
Under this note you see a shapely babe talking to a man, then she leads him to a door and returns to her post.

You turn around and see the man lighting his pipe to smoke. Intrigued, you ask him the reason. He answers that as he is a dedicated pipe smoker in the real world, this action
soothes him here. He can almost taste the flavor. After that, he laughs and adds that it has also some prestige to be seen smoking a pipe.

He looks at his watch, and informs you that he must hurry to his work, and asks you if you want to see him at his work?

"What? You work here?"
"Yeah, I manage a (User-run Club) which is generally called (Uncle Max`s Lighthouse). By the way, my name is Uncle Max"
"How de do, I call myself Bo Ring"

You shake hands with him as he laughs at your name, after that he leads you to a taxi station in a terrace on the second floor and orders a taxi to carry you to the beach.

You land near a towering lighthouse and exit the aircab. As you look at the structure, he informs you that here in this club they buy the solutions of the problems in the adventure games and sell them to the silly adventurers.

"Building and upkeeping this lighthouse was very expensive, so you must understand that we must make good profit to be able to continue our work. Come in, take a look"

You were invited inside Uncle Max`s Lighthouse and you follow him into the building. The old structure is a little out of place in the super modern environment.

Inside the building, you see a man sitting behind a large wodden desk, reading some notes, but he stops reading as he hears the creak of the door, and looks at you.

You look around and see that the furniture are right from 19th century and fit perfectly together, but there is a rope hanging from a hole in the ceiling that looks a bit odd in this place.

Uncle max greets the man and introduces him to you"
"Hi, Rob, here is my new friend, Bo.
Rob Crusoe, my assistant, and best friend."

You shake hands with Rob and uncle Max asks him if there is any news.

"I just found a way to bypass that nasty guard in the (Haunted Mansion). I was reading it right now and it looks like it works."

"Great, Who found the solution."
"Some one called, Miss Chief, she left here a few minute ago. I told her, She will get paid after we check the solution."

"OK. Call Fred to check it right now."
"Right.... Hell, he is not in the system!"

"Damn. Try his home, Just find him now."
He looks at you and tells you that Fred is their agent and currently (Haunted Mansion) is in his charge.

He leads you to the rope and climbs them to reach the next floor, you follow him and see a room like an ancient library.

There is another rope hanging from the ceiling right in the middle of the library.
He seats on a chair behind a table and asks you to do the same.

After that, You ask him: "Hey Max, There is something that puzzles me. How can you benefit by making so much VIRTUAL credit? You spend them inside the system?"

"No. All the money exchanges are tracked down and stored inside a central server, along with our character information, and histories, so they are perfectly safe. At leat till now... Thus, the users with registered profession, like me, can go to the central bank and rechange some virtual credits to real money!"

"So this is your only job?"
"Currently yes. I kept my real job till a few months ago, but I resigned then, and now I work, fulltime here."

"Wow! what a life. Just one other question. Can you tell me how you use your body so good? I mean that you can light your pipe and in the same moment, look around and talk to me, or you have a much better control on your movement than me. How do you do it?

"That is easy. Buy VR cascette, gloves, and pedals, and practice with them."
"Wont that be too expensive?"
"If you make a living inside a VR world, like me, you shall do as me. In the long run you will see the benefits."

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It'd be a helluva lot easier to get a VR encoder/translator installed in your brain, along with a datajack. Then skip the whole VR headset/gloves/pedals and just stick a fiber-optic jack in a little hole in your head.

Hey, the real world is already turning Cyberpunk. Nothing that says this won't happen.

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