Creating Wayports (Part 2)

December 4, 2020
Developer Diary

If you haven't read Part 1, click here to do so!

Our rationale at that point was that we simply refused to accept the notion that this was the way forward. So we looked at the world of virtual reality and saw that there were different attempts at creating remote-presence tools, but nothing was exactly what we needed. There were simple websites with passive experiences, and interactive applications requiring a lot of hardware resources. We could not find anything in the middle.

We wanted something that even an old computer could run sufficiently well, so that the user could access a truly virtual experience, but one that is not revolving around marketing. Instead, we needed an experience based around communication and collaboration tools. We could not find it. So we decided to create it.

When we were discussing designs, we considered a number of approaches, among them replicating existing cities, creating new virtual environments, and even a themed old-time design of a quaint architectural style. Our solution was to optimize for performance, while taking the best of the urban approaches we love.

The main inspiration was Washington Square Park, in New York City. We loved the way that the plaza design converges at the middle, providing a place to engage with others and gaze at the surrounding buildings. It is facilitating dialogue as much as preparing you to decide where to go next.

With this in mind, we got to work on our own way of doing this. We figured that we could start at the top of a tower, which would allow people a bird's eye-view of the different buildings, and then give them a quick way to reach their destination.

Since the goal of a virtual environment (and its tools) is to not replicate reality, but to augment on its possibilities, we needed a novel method to allow people to switch around spaces and buildings. For this, our team thought about ways to travel that did not necessarily involve a user interface (UI) selection, as that is often confusing for new users. We came up with the concept of a wayport.

A wayport is a ground device used to teleport to locations in our virtual world. The first wayport we placed was at the top of our tower (the Waytower), so that users can descend to ground level by stepping into it.

There is a very exciting concept about these teletransportation devices, and that is their configurability. In the coming months, we want to take this concept to a whole new level with new features associated to having your own teletransportation device in your own private room, and this is why the name of the application is Wayports.

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Stay tuned for more on that! And welcome to the new virtuality!