Second Life ends Rift support, CtrlAltStudio steps up

Here I am, about to travel the hypergrid while wearing my VR headset. Or, more like, here I am about to trip...

Here I am, about to travel the hypergrid while wearing my VR headset. Or, more like, here I am about to trip…

Last week, Linden Lab said that it was no longer working on its Oculus Rift viewer for Second Life, dashing OpenSim user hopes that eventually their viewer would be open sourced and be a usable virtual reality access option for their grids.

However, CtrlAltStudio’s David Rowe says that he is updating his viewer to work with the consumer version of the Oculus Rift, with an alpha version already available for download.

CtrlAltStudio CV1 viewer alpha release

Last fall, Rowe said that he was suspending work on his viewer because there was no need for it since Linden Lab was working on its own version.

That has now changed.

“We can’t say at this point when or even if we may release another Project Viewer for experimenting with the Oculus Rift in SL,” said a Linden Lab representative in a forum post last week.

David Rowe“It’s been an unfortunate turn of events, indeed,” Rowe told Hypergrid Business.

The update he is working on now is based on the old Firestorm 4.6.9 code base, he said, but will support the latest Oculus runtime and the consumer version of the headset. Previously, the viewer supported the the developer kit version.

He is not currently integrating it with more recent viewers, or trying to make optimizations for frame rates.

“I won’t be returning to CtrlAltStudio Viewer work per se,” he added.

One of the most difficult problems with creating a virtual reality viewer for OpenSim, and for Second Life, is that the frame rate is neither high enough nor consistent enough for virtual reality. If the image of the virtual environment suddenly starts updating more slowly, it’s only a minor inconvenience for desktop users, but could cause motion sickness for those visiting with virtual reality headsets.

Solving this problem requires major structural work on the server software used to run the worlds. It’s not something that can be fixed just in a viewer.

“Due to some inherent limitations with SL, it may well not be possible to achieve the performance needed for a good VR experience,” the Linden representative said. “In fact, this is one reason why we’re creating Project Sansar a new, separate platform optimized for VR.”

Other issues involved in creating a virtual reality viewer include replacing the menus and mouse-and-keyboard interactivity with more appropriate input methods, such as look-to-activate, gestures, and voice commands.

In addition, the Oculus Rift retails for $600 — with most people also having to spend at least $1,000 to get a computer powerful enough to run it. Many users aren’t willing to spend that much, especially on first-generation technology.

OpenSim on an Android phone via the CtrlAltStudio viewer.

OpenSim on an Android phone via the CtrlAltStudio viewer.

The CtrlAltStudio viewer doesn’t run on mobile-based headsets such as Samsung’s Gear VR or Google Cardboard. However, there is a work-around to use it on Cardboard-compatible devices in combination with a computer using tools such as RiftCat or TrinusVR.

Some users also report that they have been able to get VorpX to work, as well.

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

8 Responses

  1.' Sugar Paolino says:

    Thanks for the article Maria. The Island Oasis viewer also supports Oculus Rift and we are currently building exciting regions to enhance the Oculus Rift experience.

  2.' Nick Zwart says:

    Great news, hope the developers of Firestorm will take this to the latest version….

  3.' Carlos Loff says:

    Does anyone knows if Singularity supports it ? For terraforming and building purposes Singularity has many advantages compared to Firestorm, just to point our 2 of them, I can zoom out the viewer with ALT and work from far dragging stuff across several regions and it allows Hollow holes to go up to 99%

  4.' Stony Lionheart says:

    A friend uses vorpX with Firestorm viewer for cv2 Oculus and said it is better than CAS and she is very happy with the experience.

  5.' Burstup says:

    While it’s a good thing that David adapted the CtrlAltStudio viewer to run on the Oculus Rift consumver version, it’s hardly a replacement for Linden Lab’s Project Oculus viewer in SL. The LL viewer had a decent user interface – you could chat and do everything else in VR, wearing the headset. The CtrlAltStudio viewer does not have any UI in VR. I applaud David for doint this. And I think that Linden Lab deserves to be shamed for what they have done. They advertised the VR capability of SL for three years via their website and the destination guide – and now they pulled the plug, so they can hype Sansar instead. Project Oculus Viewer v3.7 worked very well with the Rift DK2. It would have worked well with the CV as well, if Linden Lab would have taken its development seriously. But they let us all down. Shame on you, Linden Lab!

  6.' LordNine says:

    An improved version of CtrlAltStudio Viewer is out: , which adds some functionality to the viewer. Also, check out the comments after the blog post for more information on settings.