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Since we have more people into VR than ever, I thought it'd be worth having a general VR thread for sharing news / tech updates relating to VR holistically. Here's something cool I saw this morning, "walk around" VR video.. nice! The catch? 3gb per FRAME. Sheesh.
Does anyone know where i can try the HTC Vive near me? It's a big investment before i know if it's worth it. I live near Bournemouth and the New Forest and the nearest place i can find is in Reading in PC World where there'll be queues no doubt. Don't mind paying if anyone knows of a local arcade offering gametime on the Vive.
Guys, thought we might like a platform-agnostic thread for personal VR awakenings. The thread for breaking your VR cherry, if you will. Mods, please move this to the HTC thread if you want to keep it all in one place etc. Anyway, I just got back from a 20-minute HTC Vive session at Scan Computers in Bolton. First ever VR experience of any kind, so thought I’d share a few thoughts. Apologies for the epically long post, but may be of interest to fellow VR virgins… Background: I am utterly obsessed with the coming of new VR, and have been wanting something like this for 40 years of gaming, and 25 years of Star Trek TNG. I have a PSVR ordered, and I can’t wait for October 3rd. I cannot afford PCVR and the required gaming rig, and I don’t have room-scale space anyway. So my expectations for this chance to enter the virtual world, on such a revered piece of kit, where sky high… The location: The set-up in Scan was really good. A 5m diagonal between the lighthouses. A nice clear, quiet space, the guy running it was very good, and went through everything with me. There was hardly anybody there, so there wasn’t a crowd watching me flail about and gurn like a bell-end. The tech: The Vive Pre was comfortable, even with my rimless specs on. It did get a bit sweaty in there, but that could just be me. It was light enough that I soon forgot I was wearing it. And tight enough to stay put when I moved about and whipped my head around – but no red marks etc. The only thing that I was very aware of was the screen door effect. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the SDE was visible to some extent or other the whole time. More so in the all-white set-up area. I started to forget it after a while, and it was more obvious on paler objects and colours. But to some greater or lesser extent it was visible through all the demos. I would hope this is the current worst case scenario, and other tethered consumer headsets are at least this good. It's nowhere near a deal breaker, and I expect you eventually stop seeing it altogether. The Vive controllers are incredibly comfortable and instantly intuitive. The trigger action is solid and the thumb-pad navigation worked well. The pure 1:1 spatial accuracy and speed that they are tracked with is HUGELY impressive. Your brain knows exactly where they are at all times and intuits exactly how they will react to turning, pitching, tilting. I know this is an area of strength for Vive and lighthouse, but it’s just so RIGHT, that I think anything else would be a big step back. Of course, not every game/experience needs hand controllers, or standing, or room scale. The FOV was very good, and I wasn’t aware at any point that my view was bounded or constrained. I would hope this is the same for other headsets too. Cable management is however a real issue. I was moving and turning a lot, and the guy was moving around like a ballet dancer (so says my GF) to keep me from getting tied-up – nonetheless I still managed to get it wrapped round my legs a few times (which I could instantly feel) and had to unspool – an occasional immersion breaker. The headset was running off a 980Ti and 16GB RAM. I can’t imagine any of the demos put this card under any duress. The demos: I had a total of 20-minutes of demos of Space Pirate Trainer, Job Simulator, Tilt Brush and The Blu. The experience: Their was absolutely no adjustment period. It was immediately in focus. One second I was stood in Bolton, the next I was in an infinite white space, with grid markers on the floor etc, and an utter sense of having been relocated. I was there. I knew at the conscious level that I hadn’t moved. But looking around was instantly natural. Aside from the absence of a body when I looked down. That was a bit of a shock. I wouldn’t call it presence at this point, but it was certainly a convincing ‘trick’. Then demo guy offered me the controllers – or rather their identical digital recreations floated towards me and I reached out to take them and took them perfectly naturally. Weird. Space Pirate Training was loaded up and it was also instantly intuitive. You stand on a platform, high above a night-time city. You hold a translucent shield up with your left hand, and shoot laser death with the gun in your right as waves of hovering alien robots swarm towards you. Within seconds, you are ducking, dodging, blocking fire with the shield, firing over it, around it, gangsta style etc. The shooting was accurate and fun. The graphics were fine for what they did, but didn’t blow me away. It was all about the dynamics of moving and firing – while avoiding the chaperone blue grid that would warn me occasionally to wind it in a bit! Most impressive was before the action started, I turned around to see a life-size space ship sat on the landing platform about 50 feet away. My jaw dropped. Above and behind it was the rest of the space station. Think being stood by the Falcon on the Bespin landing platform… Job Simulator was next. The graphics are deliberately colourful and blocky, but this was all about physical interaction with objects in the world. And what a lot there are. It was great fun and again showed how well the tracking worked. I was juggling with coffee mugs, photocopying stuff, lobbing paper aeroplanes across the cubicles. Everything reacted physically just as you would expect it to. Not much gameplay in the traditional sense (at least not for my demo), but as a tech showcase of the potential of the controllers, it was the best of the set. At one point the demo guy told me to walk through a floating object in front of me, and I had to force myself to do it. My brain was expecting me to bang into it. Tilt Brush is impressive, but it isn’t for me. It looks lovely. The tools are intuitive up to a point, but I don’t have any artistic skill whatsoever. But it did give a convincing rendition of painting with light in the physical space, and it offered another bit of micro-presence, as you can spawn a waist-high marble plinth into the world and create an objet d’art on top of it. Walking around the plinth was VERY convincing – it was a solid object right in front of me, although it never looked photo-real. Definitely a CG object, and one through the filter of SDE. The Blu lasted only about two minutes - but it was a great two minutes. The sunken ship you spawn on is very impressive, a small sense of vertigo at the drop over the rail, and a great draw distance all around. Fish swim, rays glide past, and then the titular blue whale rumbles towards you. This is all about the sense of scale. And while I never felt an emotional connection with the beast, be that wonder or fear, I did feel its huge presence in the water in front of me – filling my field of view. Graphically again though, it still felt quite gamey. Though I’m not sure what I was expecting. My VR legs were fine too. It was only 20 minutes, but I had absolutely no discomfort – of course these were gentle, slow paced, natural-movement experiences and I didn’t expect any motion issues. The verdict: Overall the 20-minute experience went by in a heartbeat and has left me wanting for more. I’m not sure I ever felt true presence, but I was most certainly transported into a series of digital worlds and able to play in them in a convincingly physical manner. I would have loved to try out some kind of photogrammetry demo, like the Vesper Peak mountain one they showed at GDC (see below): I feel that that would give me more immediate ‘visual’ presence than in what are all clearly CG, gamified worlds. However, the levels of physical interaction made possible by the Vive’s lovely controllers and tracking added a huge degree of simply ‘being there’. Of course, these were just demos, and I can easily see the novelty of each of them (with the exception perhaps of Tilt Brush for people with an artistic bent) wearing off very quickly. The true proof (and long-term interest) for me will be whether actual games add enough immersion to warrant the investment and comparative inconvenience (really want to try a cockpit game like Eve or DriveClub VR), and how it will work as a device for virtual tourism and 360 video consumption. TFLDR version: The Vive and its controllers are (bar the surprisingly visible SDE) fantastic. Overall the demo experiences were fascinating, fun, impressive, and (only slightly) anticlimactic. But it was hugely promising, and I'm still excited to be on the VR train. Roll on October. Hopefully, tech limitations aside, the PSVR experience can match that of the Vive.