Making virtual worlds

Creating virtual worlds with an embodied, 1st person point of view

Linden Labs invited us to be early creators for Sansar, the social virtual reality platform. To test their creation tools, we built Monkey Temple amid lush rainforests, a space inspired by Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia and South American Mayan ruins.

A screenshot from within VR in a space on Sansar, of a virtual avatar walking through an overgrown ancient structure set in a lush tropical forest

Importing world elements we crafted into Sansar, and assembling them within VR sort of like building an intricate LEGO project, felt like a stark departure from the more conventional way of building things. And it was empowering to control big objects with precision using a 1st person pov instead of the classic icometric top-down view.

A screenshot from inside VR showing how we built the Monkey Temple space

Drawing inspiration from the historical legacy of ancient civilizations, we integrated three social games into the Monkey Temple ruins, featuring the throwing of stone monkey heads—a nod to the origins of modern-day ball games like basketball.

Alt copy

We paid a lot of attention to the light within this world. Sansar has a pretty advanced lighting engine. But it took effort to get the right overall ambiance of this world, tweaking both the global illumination settings as well as placing a whole range of smaller, invisible light sources throughout to fill in corners and get the dramatic effect we were looking for.

A group of people in their avatars hanging out in VR, in the ancient Money Temple space

We hosted a vibrant launch event to celebrate our exploration in Sansar, inviting over 30 creators and users to play games in the Monkey Temple and explore the immersive environment firsthand.