The battle for the Virtual Internet, Unity vs Unreal Engine
ASA BAILEY / DIRECTOR & VFX SUPERVISOR
“The battle for the virtual internet has begun.” Asa Bailey, Founder On-set Facilities.
Are the game engines the new Internet?
It’s like a digital primordial soup: the way that Unreal and Unity developers are busy building their own parts of the new virtual landscape, mostly as games. Some are only small levels while some others becoming the biggest and most popular multi-platform games ever cue Fortnight, but all are somehow independent of each other and for users to jump from one developers virtual world to another, seems to be eluding me. (Side note. I’m fully in bed with UE, so if you are easily offended by geeky jibes at other engines, go push pixels).
Unlike the web I don’t see a way of connecting one developers creation to another (if I am wrong please enlighten me below). Hyperlinks are the jump points between web pages they enabled the web to become a vast network of Lilly-pad like stop points where users can jump from one page to another at the click of a mouse, or as the web went mobile, one touch.
Then there are the URL systems, General Top Level Domains, of which there are now far too many, but the domain name system enabled web developers to create their own corners of the web. Is there an equivalent to the URL system that can connect all the virtual worlds published using Unreal, what about the other engine, Unity?
But if virtual game engines are the new internet of the future, won’t that mean that they are all owned by someone – like Epic Games or the other guys, Unity whatever?
Yes. But so what? You think the first internet is not owned? Don’t kid yourself. Internet 1.0 is owned by the infrastructure providers, your hosting company, your domain name registrar, hell even WordPress or that other plug-in or the WIX site you built. The Internet is not free.
Game Developers, film directors and Netflix will build the Virtual Internet.
Why do I say this? Because normal folk need a damn good reason to don some sort of helmet and jump from the physical world to the mettaverse. There’s currently only a few things that will pull them over to start with, games, films, Breaking Bad and of course sex.
Plus, I know who I’d like to be in charge of the next internet, a bunch of gamer geeks and story tellers who made the lives of billions of better by providing them with hours of entertainment. Sounds like the right place for good things to start to me.
Imagine if you could jump from a virtual high-street, into a virtual store, order a new product and then jump back into your favourite game, or even jump to some virtual social hang out. The use cases for a connected virtual internet are insane and I am sure it will born the next Amazon, Google or Facebook. Things go viral now, imagine how things would spread if the connection between virtual worlds was even better. Please someone show me this is happening.
So how would we make this happen, how do we connect up all the virtual worlds running on the game engines. First we need to think about platforms, is a virtual world only published on a PC or is it available on multiple platforms and how will we publish the availability, and to where.
There’s no cross platform DNS servers watching over the virtual web turning URL’s into IP addresses. We’d need to build a common publishing platform, oh wait, what like the Unreal Market Place or Steam, where data could then be harvested by some sort of centennial service like the DNS.
Then we need a call sign, a URL in web terms. This would call the level onto your platform, it may take a while, but did you try loading web pages on CompuServe? No, well I did and it was rubbish and took ages but we still did it.
Then we could open a portal in UE or Unity, maybe see a quick preview of where the portal led and then jump in. While the full experience loads onto our device developers could give a simple game to play in the meantime, heck they could sell ads. Oh they will.
You’re in your virtual world, you downloaded off the marketplace or steam, you want to go someplace else but you don’t know where. You pop open a portal and jump to Google VR Search. In Google VR (please let it be someone else) you then search for another location to jump to.
I know you can open a WEB BROWSER in VR, but thats just lame. You want to be in VR all the time, not interacting with some 2D Jacob Nielsen UI. We want to live in VR, jump, search, watch, play, buy, socialise, love, feel all in VR.
I won’t drag this on, I know you have a billion things pulling at your attention, so I’ll sign of from this future walk, by saying that if you do know of some interesting developments, ways in which interconnectivity between VR/AR worlds are talking place, please email me and let me know.
Here’s an ironic hyper link.