Why less is more when it comes to creating VR worlds

I am going to tackle this post from two viewpoints of the user and from a world designer standpoint so first of all, I’m going to cover it from a user’s perspective. I will also be discussing why less is more even when it comes to just solely using AltSpace kits and choosing an appropriate template for your event.

When we first start on AltSpace and go on our world-building ventures, we are usually shocked to learn that we get told early that our world templates have to be <20MB, and we can only have 5 photos in our world. WTF right? Well, that’s not strictly true, and these are considered more so guidelines.

The truth about the world diagnostics panel

I have seen worlds that are 300MB+ in size, and they still run okay because care and effort were put into designing a very detailed world and performed well, even on a standalone headset. That being said, I have also seen tiny worlds that absolutely crash your headset. For example, you can have a world with 20 photos around. Just realise that it will take a while to load in at times and that the experience may not be smooth all the time. Often at times, I create a world that is 50MB in size, and I can happily operate around that size.

The diagnostic limits in the world editor panel are under-estimated because they want all users to have a smooth experience, so they restrict world size so that even people on low-end PC’s can access most worlds and events. However, the reality is that PC’s usually don’t have issues getting into heavy worlds anyway, and overall there are too many other variables to consider that ultimately determines if a world will load smoothly or not.

We also need to understand that headsets are just not there yet.

VR headsets aren’t just there yet

Although there may be on-market high-performance VR headsets capable of HD quality worlds, the median headset of choice is the Oculus Quest 2 device right now, which is the case because of the entry cost into VR for new users. Accepting that the quality and capabilities of VR will improve and AltSpace will allow higher quality worlds, we need to accept that technology isn’t quite there yet.

Quicker loading and main event requirements

20MB~’s is the max limit of world size to be eligible for main events. You can also get away with another 20MB of kit items making a total world size of 40MB possible. However this world would be considered walking on a red line with performance.

Although you will have

However, as a general rule, you don’t want to force people to download a large world particularly if they aren’t using a tethered headset. This is because there are headset limitations that may be improved in the AltSpace 2020 Unity update. This will improve performance and make more complex and larger worlds possible.

There are also additional reasons why you want to aim for your world to be as light weight as possible in download size.

  • There are glitches where worlds fail to load at all this means that the person would have to restart their headset and re-download the world again to get in. Sometimes worlds with lots of real-time lighting and textures can take a few extra minutes to load in. Some people mistakenly think their headset has crashed when really they are still loading in.
  • There are users on the network who access AltSpace over 4G or cell service by tethering their mobile. These users are usually restricted by download speed or capped at a data limit with these kinds of connections. It makes sense to have these world template sizes smaller so they can enjoy AltSpace.

Unsuspecting AltSpaceVR Updates

Particularly with the recent progression towards using Unity 2020 for AltSpaceVR worlds, there are always updates flooding AltSpace. On average, every year, it is required to update to a new Unity version. With the migration to Unity 2020, things like colour saturation improvements, lighting improvements, and audio and rendering options change. These changes often require a complete build-and-upload to become compatible.

The downside to these updates is that for more complicated worlds, things like custom shaders can break from Unity versions to another, and this can increase the workload required to bring worlds up to speed. This isn’t a call saying not to make impressive beautiful worlds, just be mindful that you may need to come back and tweak things once a year.

VR is still in its early stages

Virtual reality is still a very new technology that is starting out. Hence, no doubt, as new hardware becomes available to lower-end consumers over time, more and more quality worlds will be supported. Additionally, 20MB for the main event template size limit will increase no doubt over time, and that these barriers and limitations will improve as the consumer end technology develops further.

Published By: AussieGuy92
Published: June 30, 2021

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