Oculus CTO John Carmack has been working on a VR scripting environment called—simply enough—VrScript. After getting a glimpse of the environment at Oculus Connect, Tony Parisi had some thoughts to share.

Guest article by Sophia Dominguez

Sophia-DominguezSophia is the founder of AllThingsVR, a curated newsletter that brings you the week’s best virtual reality news, innovators and content. Currently, she is the Entrepreneur in Residence at Rothenberg Ventures, a firm focused on investing in frontier technology startups and runs the River program. She also traveled the world with Google Glass to document how people perceived and experienced it as a new technology.

VrScript is a fast VR prototyping environment for Samsung’s Gear VR developed by Oculus CTO John Carmack. Carmack said of the current state of VR development, “building native projects is a lot more burdensome than it needs to be”, which is one motivation behind creating VrScript. The idea is to use it to develop simple VR applications, similar to “web page content” and allow you to “remote develop” for the Samsung Gear VR.

Tony Parisi

Carmack demoed VrScript for the first time at Oculus’ ‘Connect’ developer conference in September (watch the presentation here). During the presentation, I was fortunate enough to sit next to Tony Parisi, creator of VRML and WebGL expert, and now the VP of Platform Technology at WEVR, who had a lot of follow up thoughts about the new environment. Parisi’s work with VRML and related projects means he’s spent a lot of time thinking about the challenges that VrScript aims to solve; I was happy to catch up with him after the talk and hear his thoughts.

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VrScript is a Great Idea

Parisi said VRScript is a “great idea because Oculus is pushing casual use of VR. It’s even better that this is coming from John Carmack, who has been writing complex game engines for years, but as the CTO of Oculus he is working on making VR development accessible to the average developer, not just expert game programmers.”

The fact that John Carmack is promoting casual mobile VR applications shows Oculus’ forward thinking approach to mobile VR beyond gaming. If VrScript is as easy to use as Carmack makes it out to be, then Oculus is opening the doors for all kinds of non-game developers, to create simple VR applications and get more people involved in the VR ecosystem.

Scheme Might Not Be the Best Foundation

Parisi said “I’m a big fan of Scheme, it’s one of my favorite programming languages. However, the syntax is based on a language called LISP, which was a very early language used for artificial intelligence programming; LISP has many fans in research circles and in the world of computer science, but as a practical language, it’s never achieved widespread success. I am dubious that it’s going to achieve widespread success as a VR language. Carmack did mention that someone could make a JavaScript layer that would talk to his runtime environment. Which sounds promising.”

It will be a huge win for mobile VR if VrScript supports more popular and modern languages, making it usable by many more developers.

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Will It Be Open to Non-oculus Platforms?

The question burning on everyone’s mind is if Carmack/Oculus will move beyond having VrScript work on the Gear VR and offer support for other platforms. Parisi notes that “many developers are going to want to build for multiple VR platforms” and the environment could see muc more widespread adoption if Oculus opens up VrScript to these other platforms.

VrScript’s Hyperlinking Model is the Right Path to the Metaverse

This belief resonates with one of Parisi’s recent blog posts where he voices, The Metaverse is Too Big for An App Store. Over the years Tony has been vocal about bringing the web and VR together, especially the idea that we can immediately access VR content without a download, by simply clicking a hyperlink.

“Why can’t we just click a link, or type a URL, and instantly enter virtual reality? Why download and install apps? There’s so much friction this way. As long as that paradigm rules the day, we won’t have mass-market VR.” Apparently Carmack thinks similarly, as VrScipt supports spontaneous, web-like access to and between VrScript experiences. If Carmack leads the way in breaking from the crippling app model, we’re one step closer to a connected metaverse.

During his live coding session, Carmack said that he’d be releasing VrScript in the coming days or weeks. In the meantime, you can get more of Tony’s insights on virtual reality on his blog.

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  • Don Gateley

    This! The walls have to come down. For GearVR there is SideloadVR that bypasses the Oculus store but it is still a walled garden with access to only their content catalog.

  • Caleb

    Does Tony Parisi work for WEVR? He doesn’t appear to be listed on their website.