What is Spatial Computing & How to Use It In Multiplayer Games

Jun 10, 2024

The gaming world is evolving and standing at the forefront of this evolution is the paradigm of "mixed reality", powered by new ways to interact with technology including Apple's Spacial Computing / Vision OS, and META's Horizon OS. With products like Apple Vision Pro, Meta Quest line of devices, and even XREAL's Air devices breaking onto the scene, we're witnessing an unprecedented merger of the physical and virtual worlds.

In this digital age, what attracts avid gamers and curious novices alike is the sense of immersion. With mixed reality, this immersion is set to soar to unparalleled heights, providing an experience that’s as real as it gets.

But for such experiences to triumph, one aspect remains non-negotiable: real-time interactions.

And for real time interactions to be authored or for multiplayer games, that means tackling the biggest bottleneck to the experience – latency introduced by the network itself.

What is Mixed Reality

If we're to understand the impact and potential of mixed reality, we must first dive into its mechanics. Mixed Reality (MR), often considered a subset of extended reality (XR), is a blend of physical and digital worlds, merging real and computer-generated elements. It's an advanced form of immersive technology that overlays, or "mixes," virtual objects onto the real world. This means users can see and interact with their physical surroundings while simultaneously interacting with a digital environment.

The Apple Vision Pro, Meta Quest 3, and XREAL's Air are carving out the path for this future, offering gamers a glimpse into a world where they aren't just participants but co-creators of their narratives.

How Does It Differ From AR and VR?

  • Virtual Reality (VR): VR immerses users in a completely computer-generated environment. When using VR, users are disconnected from the real world, as they wear headsets that present a fully digital realm to them. Examples include the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

  • Augmented Reality (AR): AR overlays digital content onto the real world, but the digital objects aren't anchored and don't interact in a contextual manner with the real environment. Smartphone games like "Pokémon Go" or apps that place furniture in your room are examples of AR.

  • Mixed Reality (MR): MR takes AR a step further. Not only does it overlay digital content onto the real world, but it also anchors virtual objects to real ones and allows for interaction between the two. This makes MR a more immersive and interactive experience than traditional AR.

The Imperative of Real-Time Interactions

At the heart of a truly immersive mixed reality experience is the importance of real-time interactions. Why? Because, in a game that integrates the physical world, every action has immediate and palpable consequences. The rock you 'virtually' throw might interact with a 'real' window. The game not only has to process these complex dynamics but must also do so almost instantaneously. Lag is no longer just an inconvenience; it breaks the illusion.

When we add multiplayer scenarios into the mix, the importance of real-time interactions becomes even more pronounced. Consider a game where multiple players are engaging with both the virtual and physical realms simultaneously. The game now has the daunting task of understanding and coordinating these interactions in a constantly changing environment.

Proximity is Power: Deploying Game Servers Close to Users

For mixed reality to truly shine, the technical backend has to be robust, fast, and efficient. Central to achieving this is the deployment of game servers closest to the users. When the server is in close proximity, latency drops significantly, allowing for smoother and more lifelike interactions.

Imagine a multiplayer mixed-reality game where players, spread across different locations, have to coordinate their movements in real time. The time taken for the game to process and 'author' these actions becomes critical. By deploying servers nearer to players, game developers can ensure that the interactions between the player and the game are swift and seamless, even in a dynamic environment that the game doesn't fully control.

The Future Beckons

With mixed reality taking the gaming world by storm, the demand for real-time interactions will only intensify. As developers and technologists, we must rise to this challenge. The Apple Vision Pro, Meta Quest 3, and XREAL's Air are just the beginning. But to truly unlock their potential, we must place an uncompromising emphasis on reducing latency, enhancing server proximity, and ensuring that every interaction is as real and immediate as the world around us.

The journey ahead is promising, with endless possibilities. It's a future where games aren't just played but lived and where the boundaries between the virtual and real blur into one exhilarating experience.

But to deliver on this promise – developer must solve latency. To do so, the biggest improvement is by deploying servers nearest users. Only automated orchestration & the ability to leverage the world’s most distributed multi-cloud network can do so.

Fortunately, Edgegap is here to help.

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