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Building your multiplayer VR experience: Other Multiplayer SDK features, travel reliability, and best practices

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For the final part of our four-part “Building Your Multiplayer VR Experience” blog and video series, we’ll discuss the Platform SDK multiplayer features in Quest by exploring our open-sourced SharedSpaces sample made in Unity and show you how to use the sample to build your own multiplayer application. If you’re interested in learning by watching or listening, check out this video on the Meta Open Source YouTube channel.

In today’s blog, we’ll go over some more features that the Multiplayer SDK offers and learn about travel reliability, best practices, takeaways and resources. If you missed how we made a simple Multiplayer VR game on top of the SharedSpaces sample, catch up on our blog post and video.

Other Multiplayer Features

Invokable Error Dialogs and Rejoin

The Platform SDK multiplayer features in Quest provide useful features that make it easy to enter multiplayer experiences and handle edge cases. For example, the SDK provides an API for invokable error dialog to let players know that they haven’t completed the tutorial required to join the group.

This can help players understand what went wrong and helps narrow down the reasons why travel to a destination may not be working as expected. For more details on how to use this API and a full list of error messages that can be shown, check out the documentation.

The SDK also provides users with an option to rejoin a group through the Rejoin dialog in case a user loses connection as shown below.

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It should be noted that this feature only displays a dialog, and you are responsible for handling the detection of the lost connection, the actual rejoining and deep linking. Also keep in mind that if everyone leaves the session while a user is trying to rejoin, it is the application’s responsibility to notify through an error message that the session is not joinable since all participants have left the session. For more details on how to use the Rejoin APIs, example use cases and best practices, check out the documentation.

Webhooks

Webhooks allow you to receive real-time HTTP notifications of changes that may be relevant to the multiplayer experiences in your app. For example, Quest could send you a notification when any of your app’s users join a new lobby or session, without you having to query for changes. To learn more about how to configure and use webhooks, check out the documentation.

Quick invites

Quick Invites is a multiplayer feature that allows you to integrate Oculus invites into your app experience without needing to show an Oculus overlay.

The Quick Invite API is available once Invite to App has been implemented and allows apps to display cross platform users.

The API provides a list of available users, direct invites and invites that have been sent. To learn more about the Quick Invite API, its prerequisites, restrictions and how to use the APIs, check out the documentation.

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Group Launch

Group Launch is a multiplayer feature that makes it easy for people to join destinations, allowing users to travel together in-app using deep link URLs.

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Group Launch allows you to create links directly to best experiences of your app and share it to your community on any platform. You can use these links to promote a new map, set up a play with the developers event or give out limited rewards.

For more information on how to use these methods, and to learn about example scenarios where Group Launch can be used, check out the documentation.

In our recent Oculus Developer Hub (ODH) update, we included new capabilities and improvements to existing features that will improve your daily development workflow. One of these is Multiplayer Testing, which allows you to test Group Launch directly from ODH on multiple devices. Multiplayer Testing works for any app that has Group Destinations registered and at least one binary uploaded to a release channel. Launch your app on one or more devices with a specific destination and lobby session ID. To learn more about Multiplayer Testing, check out the documentation.

This feature eases implementation and improves reliability of group destinations. To begin utilizing Multiplayer Testing in your workflow, check out our documentation guide.

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Next, let’s discuss some of the measures that you can take to make sure your multiplayer VR experiences are comfortable and welcoming.

Travel Reliability

Travel reliability means that your users successfully reach their intended destinations reliably and correctly. It is crucial to make sure that travel reliability is high so as to not break users’ immersion and prevent any unwanted surprises.

It’s important to only show valid destinations that the user can travel to. If a destination isn’t available to everyone, you should show an error message to the individuals who cannot go to that destination if they attempt to travel there.

Identifying where the travel fails can help in error handling and informing the user about what happened. Making sure that users travel reliably to their intended destination is very important when designing multiplayer VR apps to ensure a smooth, fair and comfortable experience. When a user is traveling, you should strive to minimize the user input required for the user to complete the travel.

Here are some common scenarios where simple changes in design decisions can potentially help improve travel reliability and make your users’ travel experience more enjoyable:

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  • When a user hasn’t completed a tutorial and is required to complete the tutorial before they can travel. In such cases, it is recommended that the developer allows them to skip the tutorial and go directly to the destination.
  • When a user is required to go through the setup for a game’s avatar before they can travel, but they haven’t completed it. The best way to avoid such situations is to give them a default avatar so that they can continue with the experience.
  • When a user is required to go through a login screen that needs them to fill in their credentials (email / password). If possible, having them continue without seeing the login screen would make this experience a lot more reliable.
  • When a user doesn’t have access to the destination for game reasons (e.g., they don’t have a high enough level, they don’t have enough cash, they haven’t unlocked the destination yet, etc.) and is instead taken to the main menu without any messaging. The best way to handle such situations is to inform the user on why they could not reach the destination that they wish to go to.
  • There can be situations where a user had the application open already when they started travel and the app did not take them to the destination. In such cases, the best thing to do is to test how the destination travel will work while the app is open and ensure it has consistency with the app not yet opened. If there are game reasons why the user cannot leave their current location or it would be disruptive to do so, it is best to provide an appropriate message to the user telling them why they cannot travel to the new destination at this time.
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Next, let’s look at some best practices to keep in mind when developing your multiplayer VR experiences.

Best practices and resources

By integrating the Platform SDK multiplayer features into your app, you make it easier for people to get together in your app, which can help drive engagement and retention. Incorporating platform multiplayer features in your multiplayer VR app can help reduce friction. Having consistency between the apps helps new players quickly understand how to group up and start playing together, without needing to learn any custom system. We recommend incorporating destinations and Group Presence first, followed by Roster, Invite to App and Invite Link. A best practice for integrating Invites is for apps to have an easy to find invite button within the app to start the invite to app flow.

It’s important to enable error dialogs and webhooks, as they can improve multiplayer reliability, help in troubleshooting and make it easier to identify what went wrong and where to improve.

One of the best resources to learn about Platform SDK multiplayer features and their associated APIs is the multiplayer features documentation. Here you’ll find all the SDK features we’ve discussed, the best ways to use them in your application, sample use cases and examples to help you get started.

The Connect 2021 session Building and Growing Multiplayer Apps for Quest reviews multiplayer features in detail and discusses how Echo VR incorporated these features in their game. It also includes a detailed walkthrough of the SharedSpaces sample.

If you’re interested in reading more about how Ready At Dawn used Oculus Platform Multiplayer Features to elevate Echo VR, check out our blog post where we met with Ready At Dawn Project Lead David Neubelt to learn more about how their incorporation of these features impacted their community’s growth.

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To learn more about the SharedSpaces sample, check out the SharedSpaces Multiplayer Showcase blog post, which discusses how to invite a friend to a match, edge cases and API references. The blog How you Can Quickly Bring People Together in VR details the underlying technologies that are used to create the SharedSpaces application.

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Be sure to check out our previous blogs in the “Building your multiplayer VR experience” series to learn more about what Platform SDK multiplayer features in Quest offers, what you can build with it and how you can use the SharedSpaces sample to help you get started:


About this series

In this series, we discuss the Platform SDK multiplayer features in Quest by exploring our open-sourced SharedSpaces sample made in Unity. This blog is the fourth of a four-part series of blogs supporting the video series “Building your multiplayer VR experience.”

To learn more about the Platform SDK multiplayer features and how the SharedSpaces sample works, check out this Connect session that discusses building and growing multiplayer apps for Quest. Try out the Unity SharedSpaces sample by visiting App Lab and running it on your own headset. To learn more about how to use Platform SDK multiplayer features in your own apps, checkout our documentation for multiplayer features.

To learn more about Meta Quest, visit our website, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, please let us know in the developer forums.

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To learn more about Meta Open Source, visit our open source site, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Updating Special Ad Audiences for housing, employment, and credit advertisers

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On June 21, 2022 we announced an important settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will change the way we deliver housing ads to people residing in the US. Specifically, we are building into our ads system a method designed to make sure the audience that ends up seeing a housing ad more closely reflects the eligible targeted audience for that ad.

As part of this agreement, we will also be sunsetting Special Ad Audiences, a tool that lets advertisers expand their audiences for ad sets related to housing. We are choosing to sunset this for employment and credit ads as well. In 2019, in addition to eliminating certain targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads, we introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. But the field of fairness in machine learning is a dynamic and evolving one, and Special Ad Audiences was an early way to address concerns. Now, our focus will move to new approaches to improve fairness, including the method previously announced.

What’s happening: We’re removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences via Ads Manager beginning on August 25, 2022.

Beginning October 12th, 2022, we will pause any remaining ad sets that contain Special Ad Audiences. These ad sets may be restarted once advertisers have removed any and all Special Ad Audiences from those ad sets. We are providing a two month window between preventing new Special Ad Audiences and pausing existing Special Ad Audiences to enable advertisers the time to adjust budgets and strategies as needed.

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For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

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Impact to Advertisers using Marketing API on September 13, 2022

For advertisers and partners using the API listed below, the blocking of new Special Ad Audience creation will present a breaking change on all versions. Beginning August 15, 2022, developers can start to implement the code changes, and will have until September 13, 2022, when the non-versioning change occurs and prior values are deprecated. Refer below to the list of impacted endpoints related to this deprecation:

For reading audience:

  • endpoint gr:get:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field operation_status

For adset creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/adsets
  • field subtype

For adset editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdCampaign
  • field subtype

For custom audience creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field subtype

For custom audience editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:CustomAudience

Please refer to the developer documentation for further details to support code implementation.

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Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

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Over the coming year, some apps with access to certain types of user data on our platforms will be required to complete the annual Data Protection Assessment. We have made a number of improvements to this process since our launch last year, when we introduced our first iteration of the assessment.

The updated Data Protection Assessment will include a new developer experience that is enhanced through streamlined communications, direct support, and clear status updates. Today, we’re sharing what you can expect from these new updates and how you can best prepare for completing this important privacy requirement if your app is within scope.

If your app is in scope for the Data Protection Assessment, and you’re an app admin, you’ll receive an email and a message in your app’s Alert Inbox when it’s time to complete the annual assessment. You and your team of experts will then have 60 calendar days to complete the assessment. We’ve built a new platform that enhances the user experience of completing the Data Protection Assessment. These updates to the platform are based on learnings over the past year from our partnership with the developer community. When completing the assessment, you can expect:

  • Streamlined communication: All communications and required actions will be through the My Apps page. You’ll be notified of pending communications requiring your response via your Alerts Inbox, email, and notifications in the My Apps page.

    Note: Other programs may still communicate with you through the App Contact Email.

  • Available support: Ability to engage with Meta teams via the Support tool to seek clarification on the questions within the Data Protection Assessment prior to submission and help with any requests for more info, or to resolve violations.

    Note: To access this feature, you will need to add the app and app admins to your Business Manager. Please refer to those links for step-by-step guides.

  • Clear status updates: Easy to understand status and timeline indicators throughout the process in the App Dashboard, App Settings, and My Apps page.
  • Straightforward reviewer follow-ups: Streamlined experience for any follow-ups from our reviewers, all via developers.facebook.com.

We’ve included a brief video that provides a walkthrough of the experience you’ll have with the Data Protection Assessment:

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The Data Protection Assessment elevates the importance of data security and helps gain the trust of the billions of people who use our products and services around the world. That’s why we are committed to providing a seamless experience for our partners as you complete this important privacy requirement.

Here is what you can do now to prepare for the assessment:

  1. Make sure you are reachable: Update your developer or business account contact email and notification settings.
  2. Review the questions in the Data Protection Assessment and engage with your teams on how best to answer these questions. You may have to enlist the help of your legal and information security points of contact to answer some parts of the assessment.
  3. Review Meta Platform Terms and our Developer Policies.

We know that when people choose to share their data, we’re able to work with the developer community to safely deliver rich and relevant experiences that create value for people and businesses. It’s a privilege we share when people grant us access to their data, and it’s imperative that we protect that data in order to maintain and build upon their trust. This is why the Data Protection Assessment focuses on data use, data sharing and data security.

Data privacy is challenging and complex, and we’re dedicated to continuously improving the processes to safeguard user privacy on our platform. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to build a safer, more sustainable platform.

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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