At Connect 4 earlier this month, Oculus announced a major overhaul of their VR hub space, Oculus Home—the virtual bedrock where players find themselves when they aren’t inside of a VR game or app. The new space promises to eventually connect players together directly, but at the initial launch coming in December, players won’t be able to visit each other in real-time.

Oculus says that the overhaul of Home—which will offer a fully customizable and interactive Home base that’s interconnected with other player’s Homes—is their first step toward something like the ‘metaverse’ (essentially a spatial virtual reality internet). The company says every person’s Home will be fully persistent, meaning that even small changes are preserved automatically and indefinitely, and anyone who enters the space will see the same thing, as if it was a real place.

At launch though, the new Oculus Home will only support asynchronous social connectivity, Oculus’ Head of Rift, Nate Mitchell, told me at Connect. That means that, while a friend can come to my Home to see and interact with it, and I can go to their Home to do the same, the two of us can’t be in the same Home at the same time to talk and interact with each other in real-time.

Image courtesy Oculus

Proper real-time social connectivity will come later down the road, Mitchell says. With the beta launch of the new Home coming in December, I would guess that real-time social connectivity won’t come until some time in 2018. Once it arrives though, exactly how many users will be able to join a single home together, is presently unknown. The current Oculus Parties system on desktop (which provides global voice chat across Oculus apps) allows a total of four players at once, so we’d hope at least that many simultaneous users would be supported in the new Home.

'Oculus Dash' is a Total Rift Interface Overhaul That Lets You Use Desktop PC Apps in VR

The Oculus Home overhaul is planned to arrive as a beta in December as part of the ‘Rift Core 2.0’ update which will include the new ‘Dash’ experience, a replacement for the Oculus Universal Menu, which will allow users to access their library of VR content from anywhere, as well as use desktop PC apps from within virtual reality.

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  • Wednaud Ronelus

    We are about to enter the “Metaverse” analogous to “Ready Player One.” I guest the “Rainbows End” is near. Welcome to the “Brave New World.”

    Dr. Kosmos

  • impurekind

    I hope this is as cool as it promises to be. I don’t necessarily want more unless it’s all going to be better too. If they give me twenty extra things but a couple of them are just garbage, I’d kinda rather have ten things with no garbage. Do you get me!

  • Hivemind9000

    Having built a mass scale virtual world, I’m skeptical about their upside-down approach. You normally build out your networking topology, multiplayer physics and object access controls first – then build the world/objects and UI on top of it.

    Retrofitting realtime multiplayer interplay after you’ve implemented your UI, physics interactions etc is a crazy way to do it. When they do introduce multiplayer it will likely end up being either really basic/simple (e.g. seeing ghosts but no shared interactions – like No Mans Sky’s retrofitted multiplayer) or have a number of compromises around interactions with the objects in the space.

    This is not the Metaverse you were looking for. You can go about your business. Move along!

    • WyrdestGeek

      You’re probably right.

      And, in any case, it’s not really a metaverse until it’s a lot larger than a room, and until it’s truly universal, or very close to universal.

      This will only be a room, and it will only be for Oculus headsets– and it isn’t clear if it’ll be for all Oculus headsets or just higher end ones.

      Having said all that– it still seems kinda cool.

      I think the takeaway should be: people need to chill out throwing around the “metaverse” word. It seems clear the ‘verse will continue to be an elusive goal for some time.

      And who knows– by the time we actually have the capability for a robust, open, cross-platform metaverse type thing, will we still want it? By that time, the whole idea might seem rather quaint compared to whatever sensory-bending augmented-hybrid reality engine thingie we’ve got then.

      • Hivemind9000

        True. The trouble with the Metaverse is that everyone will want to be entertained differently, so I guess a hub-type system with a home base (like Oculus Home) where you can team up and launch off into different tailored experiences/games would be cool.

        It would be great if Oculus could do something like Big Screen – people are still ghosts in a way, but you can chat and be entertained together. Some level of shared interactivity within the space (like in Rec Room) would of course be even cooler.

    • Dave

      Thats idealistic and a lot like Waterfall…, I don’t think Oculus know what the wants and needs are for a “metaverse” so impossible to spec out. If for example Cloud Imperium Games took your approach they would have binned the network code several times during Star Citizen’s development and not had anything to show for it – instead they are making strategic decisions along the way based on the growth of the game.

      If you disagree with all that consider the commerical pressure – the excutives pushing for a new “Home” thats long overdue so it would be difficult to wait another 12 months especially with HTC Driftwood soon to be released.