Facebook Reality Labs Funds OpenXR Support for Godot
Facebook has joined Valve and Microsoft in recommending that Game Engines use the OpenXR standard.
Facebook has begun recommending that game engines support Oculus Quest headsets via the OpenXR standard instead of its proprietary software development kit (SDK).
Most of the virtual reality games at the moment are developed using the Unity or Unreal game engines. This year, Unreal also added support for OpenXR and Unity is also planning to incorporate OpenXR standard by next year.
Early last week, Facebook added a latency-reducing option known as Phase Sync to its Unity and Unreal integrations. However, this feature will not be available to the other engines via the Oculus SDK.
According to Facebook, the Phase Sync option will be the “default VR Timing Management method” for its OpenXR implementation. Following its rollout of formal OpenXR support, Facebook is now encouraging native developers to switch over and test this new feature.
This will be the first Oculus feature which is available on OpenXR while not being native SDK. In a Twitter post to Virtual Desktop developer Guy Godin, a Facebook engineer referred to OpenXR as “the future” and that we are likely to see further Open-XR only features.
Valve had made a similar announcement in June his year and Microsoft made a similar announcement in October. The major 3D engines Unreal and Unity also have OpenXR support. The new official version of the Unreal Engine 5 will only offer OpenXR as the VR and AR interface.
On the other hand, Facebook began accepting OpenXR submissions to the Oculus Store in July this year. Now it appears intent on making the standard the default. For the time being, there isn’t any news on plans to deprecate its current Oculus SDK.
OpenXR refers to the open standard for VR and AR. The standard was developed by the Khronos Group, the nonprofit industry consortium that also manages OpenGL. The Khronos working group includes some of the leading tech players such as Facebook, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Sony, AMD, Valve and HTC.
The OpenXR standard integrates VR and AR development across many platforms and devices. The open standard helps XR developers to implement their apps a lot faster and increase their reach. OpenXR is expected to benefit the whole industry and end users.
While the OpenXR standard API aims for cross-platform compatibility for virtual reality and augmented reality apps, the programming interface doesn’t rule out a store policy with exclusive apps.
Facebook has been officially supporting the Oculus platform OpenXR since last summer and developers for its platform have been able to work with a prototype implementation since last spring.
With OpenXR now becoming the standard for Oculus, the new Oculus Quest rendering function “Phase Sync” is only available for Facebook’s OpenXR implementation. Developers still working with the native Oculus SDK are now encouraged to switch to OpenXR.
Facebook is Also Supporting the 3D Engine Godot
The Godot Engine refers to an open-source development environment for games and 3D applications. The engine has been supporting Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for different platforms for the past two years.
Facebook has now invested in the expansion of the VR functions within the Godot Engine. The tech giant is investing an unknown amount from the Facebook Reality Labs into the Godot project. Godot will also leverage OpenXR in the future.
The funding will go into “first-class support for VR technologies” via the cross-platform OpenXR connection as well as towards an extended input-action system for VR, volcano rendering as well as for the optimizations on mobile devices.
The infusion of Facebook cash has also enabled the project to create a full-time position for the programmer Bastiaan Olij who contributed to the original VR implementation for the project. The implementation is set to begin in February 2021. For additional details, check out the Godot blog.
The Facebook investment in Godot is a strategic one as the company could be looking to build an open alternative to Unity and Unreal over the long term.
Back in 2015 when Unity dominated VR and AR development, Mark Zuckerberg had expressed an interest in acquiring the platform. The proposed deal was leaked via an email but it never materialized.