VRChat Prepares for the Oculus Quest by Redesigning Its Homes and Social Hub

In a recent blogpost, VRChat announced some changes to its platform to accommodate the expected influx of new users when the Oculus Quest begins shipping next week:

In preparation for our launch on the Oculus Quest next week, we’ve created a new VRChat Home and VRChat Hub for both our PC and Quest users! Both of the worlds are cross-platform, and will allow Quest and PC users to interact and chat with each other.

The new VRChat Home includes portals to popular destinations, as well as a new avatar selector next to a mirror. The redesigned social hub brings back the familiar campfire, which many people remember from the early days of VRChat:

The Hub has received quite a makeover. We’ve found that users tend to prefer smaller (but not too small) instances to chat with their friends, with areas that naturally lean into permitting groups to separate out and have conversations. A darker evening lighting scheme tends to be more favorable and provides an “after-hours” feel…The campfire provides a comfortable, natural area to gather up.

The New VRChat Hub

You should see these changes the next time you log in to VRChat.

I predict that VRChat will experience a second boom in use after the Oculus Quest begins to ship to consumers on May 21st. VRChat is one of only three social VR apps to be available for the Quest at launch date, along with Bigscreen and Rec Room.

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The Great Pug in VRChat, the Most Popular Pub in Social VR, Hits the 10 Million Visit Mark

Not all social VR spaces are struggling to attract users. Some have been surprisingly successful, and here is a good example. Bryan Bortz (a.k.a. OwlBoy) has just announced that the virtual pub he created in VRChat, The Great Pug, has now received 10 million visits!

The Great Pug just rolled over to 10 Million visits according to the VRChat API. Thanks to everyone who has visited, made friends, and supported The Pug over the years. Thank you to everyone who has helped me learn and improve during this journey.

The Great Pug

According to Bryan’s Patreon page:

The Great Pug is the most popular hangout spot in the metaverse. It’s a pub where people meet, hang out, chat, perform, show off, and role play. The Great Pug is dynamic with regular updates and improvements. It plays host to large annual parties on St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween. Along with other parties throughout the year. Custom decorations are put up for each event and taken down shortly after. Musical performances happen regularly in select instances. 

My focus with The Great Pug is the social space it provides. I want it to be a place you visit for the other people you find there.

I hope to have OwlBoy as a guest on an upcoming episode of the Metaverse Newscast. I’m sure he has many wonderful stories to tell as the keeper of the most visited pub in the metaverse! Congratulations on reaching this milestone!

VRChat Is the Victim of DDoS Attacks

In a recent message posted to Medium, VRChat has revealed that it has been the target of DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks by hackers.

Actually, VRChat and other social VR platforms have always been the targets of hacker attacks. But the last two weeks have been exceptional:

For approximately 2 weeks, VRChat’s real-time networking partner has been experiencing intermittent DDoS attacks. These attacks seem to have been specifically targeted against VRChat, and have been timed to coincide with our historical daily and weekly concurrent user peaks. If you were visiting VRChat this weekend, you may have experienced a room “lagging” to the point where all other users in the room froze, followed by disconnection and reloading to Home. That behavior indicates an attack.

This is another example of the growing pains VRChat has experienced since its livestream-fueled surge in concurrent users early last year. With increased popularity come the attendant risk from hackers who will try to bring the service down, just for fun. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a fact of life for any online service.

VRChat Announces the Quest Creator Program

I admit it: I’m a gadget freak. When the first Amazon Kindle was announced in Canada, I bought one. When the first Apple iPad was launched, I bought one. And when the Oculus Quest is finally officially released, I will be buying one.

I predict that the Oculus Quest will be phenomenally popular, and help to finally usher in the long-awaited consumer VR market everyone has been forecasting for years (and getting wrong). I also predict that any social VR platform that supports the Oculus Quest will get a boost as well. So far, for the top 12 most popular social VR platforms, it looks like this:

Will There Be a Version for the Oculus Quest?

YesNo? (Status Uncertain or Rumoured)
– Bigscreen
– Rec Room
– Somnium Space
– VRChat
– vTime XR
– Sansar
– TheWaveVR
– AltspaceVR
– Facebook Spaces*
– High Fidelity
– Oculus Home*
– Oculus Rooms*
– Sinespace

*Obviously, there’s going to be something from Facebook/Oculus, but whether it will be a rebranding or extension of Facebook Spaces, Oculus Home, or Oculus Rooms, or something completely different, no one knows. And Facebook is keeping that a closely guarded secret for now.

While both High Fidelity and Sinespace have said that they will be supporting the Oculus Quest, I have as yet heard no official announcement from either of them. The same goes for AltspaceVR.

Today, VRChat launched their Quest Creator Program. And for the first time, we get some clear indications of what features will and won’t be allowed for VRChat worlds and avatars intended for Quest users.

It will be a dual-publishing model: publish once for PC users (i.e. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality headsets), and publish a second time for Quest standalone headset users. If a creator publishes only for the Quest, their world(s) will only be visitable by users in the Quest. If the creator publishes only for the PC, Quest users will be unable to visit. Here’s a Venn diagram for those of you who like Venn diagrams:

Worlds published for both PC and Quest will have a cross-platform icon (the central symbol in the image above) in the VRChat Worlds Atlas. Users from both platforms can meet in cross-platform worlds. Quest-only worlds won’t show up for PC users, and vice versa. PC-only avatars will not display to Quest users (a default avatar will display instead).

Here’s some information from a newly-published guide to VRChat Quest Content Optimization:

While building worlds, you should try to keep polygon count low. You want to leave room for the user’s avatars as well. We recommend that you budget approximately 50,000 triangles for your world in total.

The same general rules apply for avatars that apply for worlds. Keep in mind that you may have 10 or more users in the same room, so you’ll want to budget your triangle usage pretty heavily. We recommend that you aim for 5,000 triangles for your avatar.

This will be a challenge for avatar authors that prefer to import characters from various platforms rather than create an avatar themselves. Decimation down to this level can be destructive, and you may need to look into techniques like retopologizing geometry to keep your polygon count low.

Quest worlds cannot use custom shaders or post-processing, and regular shaders and audio sources will be limited. Quest avatars also cannot make use of features such as dynamic bones, cloth, cameras, lights, and audio sources. Particles and shaders will be limited.

We can expect that similar restrictions will be in place for other social VR platforms for them to work on the reduced processing power and memory of the standalone Oculus Quest headset.

Oh, and in an interesting twist, Quest developers will soon be able to use the Oculus Go as a sort of testbed for their work. However, this is only an interim measure to allow for testing, and VRChat has no plans to actually release a version of VRChat for the Oculus Go:

Exciting times ahead!!