Rather than focusing on what the metaverse means in a way that predicts the future, the Metaverse Standards Forum is designed to focus on the building blocks of what developers need today. Other people (like me) may argue about the nomenclature.
What virtual worlds need
When designing virtual worlds – and especially those that are meant to interact with the real ones – it is inevitable to deal with huge amounts of data. Every object or character in a video game consists of geometric data (that is, the shape of the object), textures, physical properties such as weight and mass, behavior, animations, sounds, and much more.
Khronos hopes that MSF standards will make much of that data as easily interoperable as, say, a JPEG is today. JPEGs are known to be so easily transferable and so widely supported that no amount of cryptography can stop anyone from right-clicking and saving one. In comparison, 3D objects often don’t even know which side is up. Move an object from one game engine to another and – if you can import it at all – it could break.
This is where a Khronos project, GLTF, wants to help. Originally released in 2015, this open standard competes with other 3D formats such as OBJ and FBX files. Allegorically, you can think of OBJ as a bit like old BMP files: they are technically images, but the format is extremely limited, inefficient and clunky. Meanwhile, FBX is a bit like PSDs. They are more powerful, but it is a proprietary format owned by a single company.
In this painfully tense metaphor, GLTF is said to be a bit like the JPEG of the 3D world. Or at least Khronos hopes it will. Part of what made the JPEG format so crucial is that it was an open standard that was lightweight and useful enough to be used widely. GLTF could become just as popular, or it could just become another item in the long list of file types that you can import into Blender, but never use.
But the need for interoperable standards will always exist, if only as a control over proprietary technology. “If there’s a big lag between the technology that becomes available and the standard that makes it publicly available,” explains Trevette, “there’s a danger that proprietary technologies will be baked into the infrastructure of the metaverse, and I don’t think that’s the case. really wants everyone.”
“But if there is no standard available, you have no choice.”
Selling the boring stuff
If it’s hard to wrap your head around the idea of developing standards for a virtual world that may never exist, don’t worry. You are not alone. Despite Khronos calling it the Metaverse Standards Forum – which, as Khronos cautions to point out, helps start up but won’t work in the future – MSF isn’t too concerned with defining what the metaverse means. Or even whether the term is still used at all.
And that texture, ‘metaverse’, may be replaced. I guess that doesn’t really matter. You know, it could go the ‘information superhighway’ way. We don’t use that texturing much anymore,” says Trevette. Indeed, although no one uses the word “cyberspace” anymore, we still use the internet that once described it.
But the idea of a virtual fantasy world, however impractical or even undesirable, is more exciting than having people sit down and explain the importance of interoperable, non-proprietary data exchange formats. And in the meantime, a wide range of exciting technology, from virtual film productions to photogrammetry to augmented reality, is changing how we interact with the Internet.
Will that manifest as Ready Player One? Or will it just be a collection of disparate industries doing a lot of really cool stuff, but not necessarily merging into a unique fantasy world? Hard to say. Well, maybe not that hard. But whatever the future may be, someone has to build it.
This post What exactly does the Metaverse Standards Forum create?
was original published at “https://www.wired.com/story/metaverse-standards-forum-explained/”