A new streaming technology, Hyperplane, allows traditional games to be broadcast in 3D to virtual arenas, where VR users can watch traditional matches play out around them in 3D, as if they were really there.
Hyperplane was founded by an ex-Oculus and an ex-Google employee, with Y Combinator providing funding as part of its latest W21 batch.
The technology is a proprietary 3D live streaming pipeline, which includes a custom file format, a player and recording software. The developers compared it to a 2D livestream running through OBS, but for 3D broadcasts. This allows VR users to watch a game in its native virtual environment from multiple angles. It is similar to watching a football match at an arena, but with video games and in VR. A couple years ago Vreal raised big money for a similar idea that was tied to tethered PC VR headsets and a handful of games before the startup ran out of cash in 2019. Hyperplane is banking on the idea that now the timing is right, with the growing popularity of standalone VR systems like Oculus Quest, for live-streaming technology that can show any 3D game on any Internet-connected device.
— Hyperplane (@hyperplanelive) February 26, 2021
Hyperplane is designed for livestreams, however you can check out this pre-recorded demo of a Super Smash Bros Melee match as an example of what the technology can do. The demo can be opened in any VR headset using WebXR, allowing you to spectate the game from within VR as if you’re actually in the environment. Do remember it’s an early look at the tech – rendering is incomplete and so characters appear as ghostly silhouettes and there wasn’t any sound when we tried it.
Being broadcast in 3D allows you to move around the action and view everything from different angles. This is in stark contrast to many other 2D livestreams in VR, such as NBA matches in Oculus Venues, which are broadcast onto a large screen in a virtual environment.
It’s still a work in progress, as pictured in the screenshot above, but it does give a sense of where it’s headed. Eventually, you can imagine how multiple people could all watch a live esports match in 3D using VR, with multiple viewing angles and full effects and textures from the game.
For now, support will be limited to traditional, non-VR games. However, Hyperplane told UploadVR that there are plans to eventually support VR games as well, citing Ironlights and Swords of Gurrah as the type of VR game that would work well with the 3D viewing environment.
The focus is on hosting Super Smash Bros tournaments for now, with intent to support other fighting games and MOBAs later in the year. It’s currently in closed alpha and the developers say there’s another 2 months worth of development before any public release.