With Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement to rebrand Facebook as Meta, the world is being introduced to the concept of the metaverse that the new branding will lead the company towards. While there is little concern about the benefits and quality of life that a metaverse could create, some are skeptical that setting out to build a metaverse is not the best way for it to become a reality.
John Carmack, consulting CTO for Facebook’s Oculus arm, has been a proponent for creating a metaverse for quite some time. He held an hour-long keynote which ended up being primarily about the metaverse and Facebook’s aspirations. He doesn’t doubt that a metaverse is possible. “I just don’t believe that one player—one company—winds up making all the right decisions for this.” he said regarding how a metaverse would struggle with only one platform or ruling party.
The Metaverse Dream Has Some Creative Minds Stuck in the Clouds
Carmack says that setting out to create a metaverse can be “a honeypot trap for ‘architecture astronauts,” or the programmers and designers who “want to only look at things from the very highest levels,” he said. He worries that the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the architecture would be ignored and ultimately lead to thousands of hours spent to simply not be able to achieve what was set out for.
Elaborating on these wishful software engineers, Carmack said they “want to talk in high abstract terms about how we’ll have generic objects that can contain other objects that can have references to these and entitlements to that, and we can pass control from one to the other.”
A high-level approach to creating anything like this makes Carmack “just want to tear [his] hair out, because that’s just so not the things that are actually important when you’re building something.” But since Meta has made the decision, Carmack is expecting them to deliver. “I’ll be really disappointed if I’m sitting here next year in front of a video crew and a camera in physical reality doing this talk,” he said. “I want to be walking around the halls or walking around the stage as my avatar in front of thousands of people, getting the feed across multiple platforms.”
What Meta’s Metaverse Would Look Like
During his recent Facebook Connect, Mark Zuckerburg showed him talking to an avatar himself that uses a 3D model in a cartoonish style, similar to the avatars found as far back as the Xbox 360. This also gave Carmack some pause, questioning whether the metaverse should only be in 3D to recreate everything in the natural world.
“Maybe the metaverse is just lots of screens, and… maybe there is a screen-focused world where everything that people do with photography and videography just has this amazing place in a virtual world.” Carmack said. “Everybody can do magical things with video today, whereas not everybody can do that many magical things with 3D modeling and 3D art.”
Carmack also questioned the idea that everything in the metaverse should be built around 3D models and recreations of physical objects, since that risks throwing out the trillions of dollars of assets and software that have been designed for flat screens. “Maybe the metaverse is just lots of screens, and… maybe there is a screen-focused world where everything that people do with photography and videography just has this amazing place in a virtual world.” he said. “Everybody can do magical things with video today, whereas not everybody can do that many magical things with 3D modeling and 3D art.”