On Virtual Reality, Minecraft, and the OASIS
I semi-recently read Ready Player One, an amazing book by Ernest Cline. The setting is post-energy-crisis America, when the world economy has ground to a halt, government has no power, and people just want to escape from it all. Fortunately, brilliant inventor James Halliday has come to save the day with the OASIS: a virtual-reality universe where you are placed above the laws of physics.
The plot of the book is amazing - Halliday writes his will as an epic chase across the OASIS, and people and corporations alike will get their hands dirty to obtain the prize - but the subject of this post isn't about the awesome book. It's about the OASIS, and how close it is to existing right now.
I got my start as a Java programmer with Minecraft modding, and while I haven't really touched the project in quite a long time (I'm coming back to Ender Mechanics, I promise!), Minecraft is still a very fun game for me to play and watch being played.
After reading RP1, there were a few things I immediately noticed:
- Minecraft was originally created by Notch. When its popularity soared, Notch created a company called Mojang AB to handle Minecraft.
- The OASIS was originally created by James Halliday. When its popularity soared, Halliday created a company called Gregarious Simulation Systems to handle the OASIS.
- Minecraft is a 3D sandbox game where players can create an infinite number of worlds, interact with millions of other players, mine, craft, build, do whatever - there is no real plot to the game - for no cost after buying the game.
- The OASIS is a 3D sandbox simulation where players can create an infinite number of worlds, interact with millions of other players, mine, craft, build, do whatever - there is no plot to the simulation - for no cost after buying the game.
Sound pretty similar, right? The primary difference between Minecraft and the OASIS is the control system. While Minecraft is still limited to your standard keyboard and mouse, technology in RP1 has allowed the creation of haptic gear. This consists of gloves linked to your computer that provide force-feedback, and a set of goggles that let you see through the eyes of your character.
A set of goggles that let you see through the eyes of your character? Isn't that an Oculus Rift?
Why, yes it is. There's even a Minecraft mod that supports the use of Oculus Rift in the game.
The point I'm trying to make is that the OASIS, and simulated worlds in general, are getting very close to reality. Take Minecraft, up the texture resolution, add Oculus Rift, and you're already almost there. I can't wait until haptic gloves are invented, and you can bet that I'll be one of the first OASIS players to join.