Your weekly briefing on the metaverse // 26 September 2022
I adore Rings of Power on Prime. It hits all the right notes, and it’s absolutely stunning. She-Hulk is less good, but it’s good fluff TV.
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A shardless metaverse
EXCLUSIVE: RP1 plans to demo a shardless platform where it claims that 100,000 users can connect in a land area of 20km², playing multiple activities in the same experience while devs keep all the revenue.
- After showing an experience where 4,000 people can play together, RP1 plans to take a step beyond and demo a way for a hundred thousand people to play in the same experience. I was shown the former, using bots that randomised interactions to simulate the area. I accessed with the Quest 2, though it is also accessible via the web and mobile phones — it ran smoothly, and was very impressive. Now RP1 wants to go a step beyond, and claims that it can shove 100,000 people into the mix.
- Why is this important? For the macro-metaverse to grow, the fundamental infrastructure of spatial computing needs to cope with thousands (and potentially millions) of people engaging together. Most metaverse platforms cannot cope with thousands of players, or even hundreds. Games like Fortnite need multiple ‘shards’ to run multiple instances of a game, but not all players of Fortnite are in the same world of experience. Worse, the games are so technical that the server load to track scripted interactions is massive. The problem only scales further when it may include 6DoF or hand tracking in VR, rather than just a simple jump button. The macro-metaverse needs not only power, but also a fundamental reworking of the online experience so it can include games, shopping, visiting museums, and many others. If that happens, the true economic opportunities of the metaverse (as outlined in Matthew Ball’s book) will open up.
- What has RP1 done? The long and short of it is that the company claims it has done some magic with netcode so that it can handle the server load much better. What this means is that smaller servers can simulate multiple player actions and interactions at the same time, while including activities like chess, racing, and shopping. Instead of limiting experiences to 100 players, or restricting how they can play, the RP1 version is much wider in scope and potential. It also uses fewer servers as well, which makes it easier to scale.
- “Currently you need tens of millions of dollars to build and deploy a game,” said Sean Mann, CEO of RP1. “Once you finish building the game, it takes you years to scale and you will need tens of thousands of servers to handle millions of users. With RP1 you focus on the front-end game programmed into RP1 and instantly you are able to scale to millions literally using one or two servers. This new paradigm will allow any individual to build games and experiences as easy as websites. Everything from full programming to low and no code, the system should be as easy as deploying TikTok videos.”
- When will we see the demo? Currently, RP1 is demoing the 4,000-player experience with companies and key individuals, with a roadmap to go wider in 2023. These demos use bots in each instance, which simulate the players performing random actions, and show the pressure on GPUs. The demo worked smoothly, and I was surprised at how easy it was to hop in and wander around. The same goes with short-term showcases; 100,000 bots will be used to show how a minimal number of servers are required. Once live, the team will work with collaborative developers to roll out experiences using the platform. Additionally, RP1 will take no revenue from developers, and developers will own their own data.
- What are the caveats? While the technology clearly works, I want to see it tested live in the market. Granted, getting 100,000 people online might be tricky, and requires a huge leap of faith from a sizable partner (or anyone who wishes to hop in). I can imagine a concert where 100,000 fans watch the same musician, with a nearby carnival where people can play mini-games. But it is one I want to see in 2023, if possible. Additionally, as it is a web-based experience, it does not have the fidelity of premier gaming titles — but it does have more frictionless ease of access, which has huge benefits for many companies. It needs to be tested.
- The infrastructure of the metaverse is an important question that companies like LAMINA1 and Hadean are addressing. If RP1’s demo works as described above, it’s a major leap toward the macroeconomic endgame we are building towards.
What do you think of RP1’s plans? Join the discussion and meet like-minded professionals on the Immersive Wire Discord.
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- ARuVR announced that it is the first Crown Commercial Service approved supplier of XR solutions.
- Auxuman, a new no-code metaverse platform, announced auxWorld.
- Bolton Film Festival is hosting a VR and 360-degree content Q&A.
- EGX London happened over the weekend, and it was a lot of fun! Some highlights:
- Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom was incredible. You can pop your cigarette out and light it up during a conversation, and the world was incredibly interactive. I never watched the show, but the Quest 2 experience was incredibly well done. Well worth a go.
- Space Salvage lets people go through space and drift around, with a special focus on reducing motion sickness. Looks cute, and the demo is out now.
- Everslaught Invasion is a fast-paced co-op game where players slay monsters in waves. The fast speed induced the meathook effect, and technical glitches held it back. Still, at nine months of development, it’s worth keeping an eye on as it iterates further.
- Ones I had not had a go with due to lack of time, but were on display, were Broken Sword, Guardians, We are One, Squingle, and Blinnk and the Vacuum of Space. I wish to try them all out sometime, as they all look fantastic.
- Fast Travel Games revealed Ghost Signal: AcStellaris Game for Quest 2.
- GLEAC is the world’s first utility NFT that offers five hours of time with some top-grade experts.
- What’s most interesting is that it can become a monetisable model, while acting as a stamp of validity. The approach may work well for other projects in the future.
- Hadean secured $30m in funding to expand its metaverse infrastructure technology, and is backed by Epic Games.
- Immerse UK is hosting the Immersive Technology Conference in the UK, happening between 28 – 29 September.
- Mesmerise announced the opening of its first US office, located in Santa Monica.
- Niantic announced the launch of Lightship VPS for web.
- NVIDIA announced some updates that expand the Omniverse into, effectively, a metaverse-as-a-service.
- Pico unveiled the Pico 4.
- A key competitor to Meta, Pico is going all-in with good hardware and a lower price point. The headset is also looking into exclusives, such as Just Dance VR. The company has also set up a $12m fund for developers, which is always great to see.
- The headset will NOT be sold in the US, focusing instead on Asia and Europe. Perhaps it’s so the company can build a reputation away from Meta’s US-based area, but that’s only speculation on my end. In any case, I am excited to see Pico keep growing as a key competitor in VR hardware and software.
- Raindance Immersive unveiled its programme for its next event.
- Spot raised $5.5m in funding, to be a metaverse competitor to Slack and Teams.
- XRHealth demonstrated that VR therapy may serve as an effective adjunct to anaesthesia for surgical procedures.
- Zeno Group launched Z3, a dedicated global think tank comprised of web3 and communications specialists.
Looking for assistance
Want to receive help from readers of the Immersive Wire? Send an email with ‘looking for assistance’ in the subject line to tom (at) immersivewire (dot) com.
- A Gray Space is looking for immersive experts to help shape a creative web-based VR experience focused on the home of Scottish writer Alasdair Gray (Lanark and Poor Things). This is a pro bono project. Visit A Gray Space to find out more and get in touch.
Jerod Venema, CEO and Co-Founder of LiveSwitch
What is your background?
I went to university at North Carolina State University, and completed degrees in both Computer and Electrical Engineering. I founded LiveSwitch (previously Frozen Mountain) in 2008 with my brother Anton. We started out with a plan to improve online collaboration through the use of web-based push notifications (this is before collaboration in a browser was common).
We launched WebSync, our first commercial offering that did text-based streaming (chat, stock tickers, etc), in 2009. While selling WebSync, I was traveling a lot, and the timing was right around when iPads were launched into the market. At the same time, my son (who was about 3 years old) had taken a liking to coloring books, specifically on an iPad, and I wanted to be able to do that with him. To that end, we created IceLink, an audio/video streaming SDK, and just as we took it to market, WebRTC was announced!
Thankfully, Anton had chosen many of the same standards as the WebRTC working group, and we were able to adapt our SDK to align, launching the first ever native SDK for WebRTC on Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS.
From there we scaled up to take on live streaming at a much bigger scale, culminating in recent events through COVID and beyond, providing the core infrastructure and live streaming capabilities that power the WWE virtual Thunderdome, Adobe Connect, telehealth solutions deployed in Ukraine, remote assistance for NASA and many metaverse experiences.
What are you working on, and what’s a key learning that you’ve had from it?
We are working on bringing interactivity to the masses! How many times have you had a live stream ruined because you got a notification from Twitter, or wished you could interact with someone who was giving you a one-way webinar or lecture? Those are the tools of the past! No more scheduled Zoom calls and boring brady-bunch meetings. Let’s bring interactivity to the masses! We are pushing hard both on large scale solutions and solutions that eliminate the disjointed nature of meetings, and instead embed communication directly into the user workflow at the exact moment it is needed.
If you had to give one piece of advice, what would you give?
Simplify. There are so many things you can get distracted by, or that you think you “must” do. That is often not true. Critically evaluate your day and find out what you can eliminate.
Also, we’ve all learned a lot about how we interact with each other over the last few years. We have literally had someone email us to tell us we saved their life by combating their depression and giving them an experience to look forward to every week. I think more than anything else, this stands out: I’m proud of how much we have helped build human connection through the use of technology.
If you want to learn more about our work, check us out here.
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Editor, Immersive Wire
Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.