....If you want to get the crowds to come around, you've gotta have glorious Technicolor, breathtaking Cinemascope and stereophonic sound. -- "Stereophonic Sound", from Silk StockingsHamlet has written about Philip Rosedale's High Fidelity project in NWN. It will involve, at least in part, a "next-generation virtual reality system" and may be based on voxel-based rendering (a voxel is a 3D pixel).
I hope it happens. The Second Life client has the new CHUI user interface changes (which enough people don't like that I've seen posts about turning off client upgrades so that they can avoid it), but the mesh deformer sits, completed, awaiting release. Normal/specular mapping are, Nalates Urriah reports, somehow both "arriv[ing] soon" and "still a ways off", sort of like Schrödinger's Cat. It makes me wonder how much effort is actually being put into improving Second Life (vide "Linden Lab Leaving Second Life Behind, Announces 'Patterns'" and "Linden Lab Strikes Again").
That said, any system ossifies with time. People don't like changes that break existing items that they spend L$ on, even if they are beneficial as a whole. (How many now-useless shoes with invisiprims do you have?)
I fear that serious improvements in virtual worlds will come from places other than Linden Lab, and outside of Second Life. I hope that either I'm wrong, or that High Fidelity will let us do what we do in Second Life, only more efficiently and more beautifully, so that we can continue to have, to borrow a phrase, an engine fit for our proceeding.