Bigscreen Beta received a “Big” update that introduced new environments which support up to 12 people in one space. The new release also includes major performance improvements, which should free up valuable CPU cycles and enable a much smoother experience.
It’s hard to classify what kind of software Bigscreen Beta is. It allows you to access your desktop applications and games on a virtual screen in VR in a multi-user environment. You can use it as a shared working environment for remote workers, or you can have a virtual LAN party if you want to game with friends. The platform also allows you to share your desktop screen with others, which allows you to watch movies and shows.
We’ve played with Bigscreen Beta several times in the last two years, and we’ve enjoyed our time with the platform. However, we’ve always thought of the four-person-per-room limit as a big drawback.
Darshan Shankar, the founder of Bigscreen, said that the four-person limit was a technical limitation, not an arbitrary one. Previous iterations of Bigscreen Beta demanded significant computational power from the CPU. The developer said that for every user who connects to a room, the host computer would incur a 5-15% increase in CPU load. In the new update, the developer reduced the per-user CPU load to 0%. Shankar did not explain what his company did to achieve these gains. He said it was “magic.”
The new version of Bigscreen Beta is also easier on the GPU. For the latest update, Shankar’s team rebuilt most of the environments and their elements with a lower poly count to reduce the number of draw calls to render each scene. The developer also reduced the number of transparencies to reduce the GPU load.
Along with the performance improvements, the new version of Bigscreen Beta also introduces “big rooms,” which support up to 12 people at once. Bigscreen converted the theater environment into a big room so you can share videos with a larger audience. The company also introduced the “Big Balcony,” which is a larger version of the original Bigscreen Beta environment, and “Big Campfire,” which is a larger version of the original campfire environment, but with a giant amphitheater screen for movies.
In the four-person environments, everyone can share their screen for others to see. In the 12-person environments, only the host has access to the shared screen.
Bigscreen Beta remains a free application that you can download from Steam or the Oculus Store (opens in new tab).