The dreaded M-word, the metaverse, is one of the hottest subjects in technology right now. Additionally, we are aware that the estimated time frame for this dream is between 5 and 15 years in the future. Before we can construct the “next generation of the Internet,” there are a lot of technological and social issues that need to be resolved. One of these issues is networking, or how to get everyone on the planet to share a 3D virtual area. A startup called RP1 argues that this issue has already been resolved, and that we don’t need to wait another ten years for it to be resolved.
Let’s envision the scenario from Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One novel, which many have referred to as one potential metaverse evolution, since RP1 obviously draws its name from that book. The Oasis is where the whole world’s population resides in Ready Player One. In the entirely digital environment known as The Oasis, users can engage in one-on-one or many-on-many interactions with others. However, this is not feasible in the present virtual worlds because the networking designs cannot support it.
RP1 clearly takes the name from Ready Player One, so let’s imagine the scenario of the novel by Ernest Cline, which many people describe as one possible evolution of the metaverse. In Ready Player One, all the population of the world is inside the Oasis. The Oasis is a fully digital world where everyone can meet and interact with everyone else, in one vs one or many vs many experiences. In the current virtual worlds, though, this is not possible because the networking architectures are not able to support that.
VRChat supports up to 40 (80 if you go through invites) people in the same room. Engage around 50. Virbela up to 500. Horizon World around 20. When I say in the same room, I mean in the same “instance of the world”. That is, if you have created an event in VRChat, you can have 4000 attendees, but they will be split among 100 clone instances of your event, with every one of them having 40 people inside. The 40 people in the same instance can see, interact, and speak with each other. But they can not see the people in the other instances, which live as if they were in a parallel universe. This is, of course, a problem, because we want virtual worlds that can have city-scale, but this is hard if you can see a maximum of 50 people at a time.