The DeanBeat: RP1 simulates putting 4,000 people together in a single metaverse plaza

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RP1 is a Metaverse startup that simulated bringing 4,000 people together on a single Metaverse seat or shard.

In Metaverse circles, that’s a pretty good technical feat, since games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone will pack 100 or 150 players into the same digital space that’s synced, for example. You can replicate these instances indefinitely, but someone in one instance cannot talk to someone in another, except through long delays. For this reason, the work of RP1, although still in the prototype stage, could prove important.

Because the Metaverse is intended to be a real-time synchronous experience, lag in interaction or latency is the enemy. Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri spoke about the Sniper and Metaverse issue at our Metaverse event in January. In a game like Fortnite, players are often grouped into shards, or individual servers, where they can interact (i.e. fight) as much as they want. But if a sniper goes to a tall building or a mountain and sees someone in the distance, they might be targeting someone on another shard, and that’s a no-go when it comes to latency.

Sean Mann and Dean Abramson, the founders of RP1, want to solve this problem by redesigning servers so that they can squeeze many more people into the same space. Companies like Improbable and others are trying to do the same thing, but it’s kind of a holy grail of the metaverse.

“When a lot of people talk about the Metaverse, they mention the lack of scalability,” Abramson said. “That’s a big hurdle to actually achieve a real Metaverse. They say it’s just not possible and we’ll have to wait for the hardware and Moore’s Law to double down several times. They say we’re a decade or maybe two away from truly achieving what everyone thinks will be this kind of future iteration of the internet that will be shared by everyone on this planet.”

As a company, RP1 believes this can be done with ultra-efficient software.

“We managed to not just max out on a single server, which was the case with the first demo,” Mann said. “You could see how we can accommodate a large number of people in one place. A server can monitor these thousands of people with full accuracy. This is really important because when it comes to gaming, there are a lot of people that don’t offer full fidelity. It’s a really difficult problem to scale with characters that have finger and hand gestures and facial expressions.”

Many visionaries have spoken about the metaverse and agreed that we’re a decade or two away, waiting for hardware to enable a large, scalable world through a 3D browser, Mann said.

Tim Sweeney to Matthew Ball and now the publication of the PWC and McKinsey reports all describe one big stubborn world. And it all starts with scalability or we’re just connecting intranets, Mann said. Accommodating many users in a single instance and connecting applications together is a difficult problem to solve.

“Current gaming engines are not designed to support uncompiled web-delivered experiences (games, social networks, etc.) at scale and quality. It will take a complete rethink of technologies to enable this vision,” said Mann.

For the past 10 years, the founders of RP1 have been working on a new paradigm to solve network server architecture in the turn-based gaming space, starting with online poker. You have a small team of less than 10 people.

They realized that the same architecture could be applied with minor modifications to solve the problems inherent in dominant gaming architectures.

The system that RP1 is building will enable creators and developers to deliver 3D spatial content in gaming, social, digital twin, and Internet of Things applications that need to be experienced in a persistent, real-time application.

“This new architecture allows gaming companies, content creators and developers to focus on what they do best and not worry about scaling, while delivering content directly to a persistent, fragment-free world that could host hundreds of millions of pieces of content, users move seamlessly in and out of various real-time applications (aka Metaverse),” said Yin-Chien Yeap, chief client architect for RP1, in an interview. “And thus circumvents the current model of precompilation and predownloading of software. All of this is possible at a fraction of the cost of cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services and Azure.”

A demo

Sean Mann (left) and Dean Abramson are the founders of RP1.

I went into a prototypical Metaverse world where RP1 demonstrated the technology. They have just completed the first phase of a demo combining 4,000 full-fidelity avatars (six degrees of freedom, IK, face, hand, and finger tracking) with 3D spatial audio in a single persistent, shardless virtual reality space of about one Square kilometers includes size. They did this in a VR app accessible via the Oculus Quest 2 (that’s how I signed up) via a browser with no upfront downloads using a six-year-old server.

Abramson said the audio solution alone is disruptive as it is a huge challenge in the gaming industry. As I walked past various non-player characters in the demo (each of them representing possible unique players), I could hear them speak through audio with unique scripted statements. It was spatial audio where I could hear them in one ear or the other as I walked past them.

I definitely felt a sense of presence thanks to the 3D audio. I could walk around and hover above the crowd, but I always heard the sound coming from a certain direction. We were going from an urban area to what looked more like a large plaza and things got really noisy as RP1 kept throwing more and more bots into the room. At one point there were thousands in the simulation with me.

Yeap also showed me around in the demo. He helped build the room with RP1 and was very impressed with the technology. He said he wants to use it to create his own applications.

“The bottleneck isn’t in server connectivity,” Yeap said.

Proximity audio is also an important part of the demo, with full spatial audio in a VR room. The technology is not limited to VR rooms as it could also be performed on desktop or mobile devices or gaming consoles. The demo used WebXR graphics on a Meta Quest 2 VR headset.

“There are tradeoffs,” Yeap said. “As we increase the fidelity of the avatars, the number of avatars decreases. It shifts the bottleneck up to the graphics line and not the network type.”

He added: “Sometimes you think that if you draw 400 avatars, the network will die because the WebRTC can’t handle that many peer-to-peer connections or voice, for example. But working with the RP1 code, I found that the bottleneck is purely graphical. The network, for the first time when working with other network engines, ran out of graphics for me before the network was full, which is amazing. And that’s why I love working on it. I think this holds tremendous promise for delivering the kind of mass participation that the metaverse is always heading towards.”

Abramson said that RP1 would likely be able to mix in about five times more audio than it mixes in the demo now. There will be more benefits once RP1 can add more machines to its demo, he said.

Of course it’s just a simulation and it’s just a demo. You could say it’s not proven until you actually have 4,000 people in a small area. But Mann and Abramson believe that day will come.

“From the server’s perspective, the bots are sending information like humans, and the bots are actually more powerful than humans because they’re talking all the time,” Abramson said.

Next Steps

Yin-Chien Yeap is Chief Client Architect at RP1.

In the second phase, many servers will be connected to accommodate 100,000 users in an area of ​​20 square kilometers. It will also be permanent and shardless, with the limiting factor being budget rather than hardware and network limitations. (The company hopes to raise money).

“We will provide different experiences to show how the future could look like through a completely new browser that offers an unlimited number of applications for social experiences and games,” said Mann. “What excites us is the idea that a user could send a link to wherever they are in a store, museum, game, workspace, or social gathering, and a friend or fan could instantly join them to share from any device ( to play or watch from mobile, AR, VR and desktop) without having to pre-download anything.”

The company has shown the demo to as many major gaming companies as possible.

“There are other architectural changes that we would need to make on the server side,” Abramson said. “We haven’t done that yet, but if you were in a stadium and surrounded by 10,000 people, we could actually give you the full audio experience of all 10,000 people, even though we’re only giving you the movements of the next thousand.”

It’s not clear what would happen if you tried to use RP1 technology for a game like Fortnite. It depends on how big the map is or how many people you want to fit in a small space.

“If everyone is shoulder to shoulder, there’s not going to be a big fight,” Abramson said. “There are limits to how many people you will see on the horizon. You can see 10 kilometers away. From a depth of about 250 meters, people are practically invisible.”

In any case, Abramson thinks you could have a lot more people in a room than you can currently fit in battle royale games. Part of the question becomes whether you want to. But I can imagine games where one large medieval army goes at another with customized Braveheart-style actions.

“Everyone would really take care of each other,” Abramson said.

The next step would be to demonstrate 100,000 people in a room, or a million. All of this is theoretical until RP1 gets more resources to show bigger and bigger demos, but it’s a big dream and this is a start.

“We hope people understand that the idea that the metaverse is 10 to 20 years away because we’re just waiting for Moore’s Law to solve the hardware problem is wrong,” Mann said. “We want people to know that’s not the case. The real world scenario is that hopefully within a year we can roll out a fully scalable system that can handle many people in a shardless architecture.”

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