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Thread: First Person Shooters are the bane of VR

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    First Person Shooters are the bane of VR

    Paging @Ptah.

    First person shooters have brought us a handful of games that were worth playing. Some of them have been fantastic. I'm not going to say Half-Life was bad. It was awesome. Same for Bioshock--even Bioshock 2. Dishonored was good, as were a few of the Thief games as long as you didn't play long enough for them to start sucking.

    Fallout 3, however, was only interesting for it's fidelity to the appearance of the Fallout games. Like most Bethesda games, taken on face value rather than its implied virtues, it sucked.

    It's possible that the Bioshock and Half-life games would have been better as third person experiences--but the Portal games would not have been. Mirror's Edge wouldn't have been great if it had been third person either--though it would have been much better if it hadn't been any stripe of shooter--the addition of gunplay, especially the relentlessly mediocre gunplay they tacked on, broke Faith with the core concept.

    Looking around the VR game landscape, I'm seeing a disappointing addiction to shooters--worse, because of the concerns with VR-sickness, they are mostly wave shooters rather than exploratory ones. There are some stellar examples of the genre there, but as with most things, most of them are crap. Further, because of the nature of the genre, once you have a good wave shooter in your library, you really don't have need for more. There just isn't enough in them to justify having dozens of the things the way you would with many other genres.

    VR needs to branch out and explore. I'd love to see more platformers, more 3rd person action and exploration games. The addition of being able to control your camera and have immersive depth would make the GTA games rock again. It would transform traversal/exploration games.

    I am perhaps most disappointed in the offering from Fireproof Games. They've made stunningly beautiful and engaging puzzle games--both of which suffered in part from control issues stemming from a pursuit of greater immersion that the Vive or Oculus Touch controllers would have obliterated. They would go from fantastic to mindgasmic in the transition to VR, but instead, they made some jetpack game and The Room series chugs along on mobile and PC screens.

    I'd love to see more games that challenge mechanical thinking. Things that involve the manipulation and assembly of objects. Granted, there are some haptic feedback limitations--just try anything that purports to simulate fencing and you'll see the issue. But while I wouldn't expect to learn how to "feel" out something in say, a simulated mill or lathe, there's still a hell of a lot you can learn by sight and simulating manipulation of dials. And a hell of a lot of interesting and fun things that could be done now that we have a real 3d space to manipulate objects in.

    There's so much more that should be done than a million and one ways to make Space Invaders, and most of what I'm seeing being done are either that--or worse.
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    know nothing pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    Part of the problem is that manipulating small details isn't easy to track for all the VR systems currently available. From what I've read Vive is the only one that does it reasonably well, and it's still got a ways to go. I think it's the sensor technology that's really going to change that. There are 3D time of flight sensors on the market right now that can capture a depth map at 300 fps+ at a low resolution like 320x240. I think we're on the verge of having something like a kinect sensor that could accurately track finger movement, maybe with special gloves or something. The vive sensor currently works the opposite way, the base stations sweep the room with an IR beam and the sensors measure the time it takes for the beam to hit them and calculate orientation like that. Eventually I think we'll get to the point where no special sensors need to be worn and the cameras will make your living room into an accurate 3D scanner. Then marketers will literally be able to walk around in our homes and collect data on us.

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    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    First person games are, with incredibly rare exception, categorical and utter shit. A bane, a besmirchment upon gaming, VR or otherwise.
    VR is half-assed, presently.

    So, VR FPS games are -- in principle , a priori -- a giant steaming pile of shit dropping out of half an ass. For which I have absolutely no fucks.

    FP games can fuck right off. I am willfully ignorant of them, in general.
    VR is ... inadequate. I'll be dead before it ever gets where it ought to be, to the point I'd care about it. If it ever gets there. So, I'm willfully ignorant of VR, too.
    All this, mere noise to the signal.

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    malarkey oxyjen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Paging @Ptah.

    First person shooters have brought us a handful of games that were worth playing. Some of them have been fantastic. I'm not going to say Half-Life was bad. It was awesome. Same for Bioshock--even Bioshock 2. Dishonored was good, as were a few of the Thief games as long as you didn't play long enough for them to start sucking.

    Fallout 3, however, was only interesting for it's fidelity to the appearance of the Fallout games. Like most Bethesda games, taken on face value rather than its implied virtues, it sucked.

    It's possible that the Bioshock and Half-life games would have been better as third person experiences--but the Portal games would not have been. Mirror's Edge wouldn't have been great if it had been third person either--though it would have been much better if it hadn't been any stripe of shooter--the addition of gunplay, especially the relentlessly mediocre gunplay they tacked on, broke Faith with the core concept.

    Looking around the VR game landscape, I'm seeing a disappointing addiction to shooters--worse, because of the concerns with VR-sickness, they are mostly wave shooters rather than exploratory ones. There are some stellar examples of the genre there, but as with most things, most of them are crap. Further, because of the nature of the genre, once you have a good wave shooter in your library, you really don't have need for more. There just isn't enough in them to justify having dozens of the things the way you would with many other genres.

    VR needs to branch out and explore. I'd love to see more platformers, more 3rd person action and exploration games. The addition of being able to control your camera and have immersive depth would make the GTA games rock again. It would transform traversal/exploration games.

    I am perhaps most disappointed in the offering from Fireproof Games. They've made stunningly beautiful and engaging puzzle games--both of which suffered in part from control issues stemming from a pursuit of greater immersion that the Vive or Oculus Touch controllers would have obliterated. They would go from fantastic to mindgasmic in the transition to VR, but instead, they made some jetpack game and The Room series chugs along on mobile and PC screens.

    I'd love to see more games that challenge mechanical thinking. Things that involve the manipulation and assembly of objects. Granted, there are some haptic feedback limitations--just try anything that purports to simulate fencing and you'll see the issue. But while I wouldn't expect to learn how to "feel" out something in say, a simulated mill or lathe, there's still a hell of a lot you can learn by sight and simulating manipulation of dials. And a hell of a lot of interesting and fun things that could be done now that we have a real 3d space to manipulate objects in.

    There's so much more that should be done than a million and one ways to make Space Invaders, and most of what I'm seeing being done are either that--or worse.
    Have you found any non-shooter games that you really like? I am in the middle of trying to expand our VR game collection with the ongoing steam sale, and my husband is fine with shooter games but it's not my thing at all.

    I can see why they have appeal though. The main draw to the VR landscape IMO is a) the immersive quality, and b) increased levels of interactivity inside the game. As pensive said, the technology of being able to interact with the environment is so unbelievably crude that it's limited to gross motor skills. I have some puzzle/exploration games and they are heavy on the cool graphics but light on the level of ability to manipulate things inside the game. At least with shooters you can duck, dodge, and do things tghat you can't do with your own body in a 2D game--this is the novelty that is supposed to make it cool. Doesn't do anything for me personally.

    I used to dabble in WoW because I had friends who played. A game like that where you have quests, can explore, but could also feature some of the level of interactivity found in VR (throwing to cast spells, wielding swords, ducking) would be badass.

    VR sickness is definitely a real thing though. I'm a bit hesitant to try out any automobile based games for that reason (GTA would be risky??), plus currently you need to shell out a few hundred bucks just for the wheel for one. Recently got a brand spankin new graphics card and one of the VR games involved being still and driving a train through a landscape. It's not terribly bad, but I have a limit before I start feeling off. My spouse is more prone to motion sickness and he threw up from EVe Valkyrie.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oxyjen View Post
    Have you found any non-shooter games that you really like? I am in the middle of trying to expand our VR game collection with the ongoing steam sale, and my husband is fine with shooter games but it's not my thing at all.

    I can see why they have appeal though. The main draw to the VR landscape IMO is a) the immersive quality, and b) increased levels of interactivity inside the game. As pensive said, the technology of being able to interact with the environment is so unbelievably crude that it's limited to gross motor skills. I have some puzzle/exploration games and they are heavy on the cool graphics but light on the level of ability to manipulate things inside the game. At least with shooters you can duck, dodge, and do things tghat you can't do with your own body in a 2D game--this is the novelty that is supposed to make it cool. Doesn't do anything for me personally.

    I used to dabble in WoW because I had friends who played. A game like that where you have quests, can explore, but could also feature some of the level of interactivity found in VR (throwing to cast spells, wielding swords, ducking) would be badass.

    VR sickness is definitely a real thing though. I'm a bit hesitant to try out any automobile based games for that reason (GTA would be risky??), plus currently you need to shell out a few hundred bucks just for the wheel for one. Recently got a brand spankin new graphics card and one of the VR games involved being still and driving a train through a landscape. It's not terribly bad, but I have a limit before I start feeling off. My spouse is more prone to motion sickness and he threw up from EVe Valkyrie.
    I hear you on all of this--but unfortunately, what I have is more a list of things that would work than things that exist. But in the present VR expectations, they're gonna have a hard time coming to be.

    tl;dr: still hunting but I've enjoyed Batman VR--but it's short and the primary replay value is only for people who like poking around the mythology and trying to solve Riddler puzzles for it. Wait for a sale. I got it free. Will update if/when I find cool shit.

    tl;dr2: make sure your IPD is set right to limit VR sickness--and I hear meclizine helps with the part having the right IPD does not until you get your VR legs.




    The lack of fine manipulation shouldn't be a holdback, but because of what people have been sold on with hand controllers--the immersiveness of squeezing the grip to pick things up and the like, I think people are turned off to the idea that they still have a combination mouse and gamepad in their hands. Given how much can be done with just a two button mouse, poking and dragging, I find the demand that all interactions be as lifelike and immersive as the environment to be an artificial and deleterious limitation in thinking.

    The FPS experience has warped people away from being satisfied with simple mousey interfaces to the point that it's hard to find other things, and when you do--even I have a few moments of, "Yeah... but is the interface gonna be awful?"

    I enjoyed Batman VR. It's a well done if short story that cements the truth that Rocksteady is tired of doing Batman games. The interactions are very limited but slick, and they reveal the other serious limitation beyond fine manipulation limits.

    Having limits on fine manipulation is one of the things humans have gotten really really good at overcoming with tools. We don't have the necessary fine manipulation to do precision machining, but managed to accomplish it for a long time by putting decent fine manipulation at dial controls that stepped down our gross bodily movements until people could make things by hand to fine tolerances. We also make jigs to help with that--I've spent many days of my life drilling holes with a hand drill at precise locations in shaped sheet metal with all the precision of control of VR, because I also used a system of clamps to hold the workpiece, and a jig that limited and informed where to put the hole. The fine manipulaiton I had to learn was how to stabilize the hand drill against my body so I could drive it straight and not break the bit. First day, I went through six bits. After a month, I could do two 12 hour shifts and wear a fresh bit out before it broke.

    VR doesn't require that level of learning. It provides the necessary jiggery. All the user has to do is provide the button press and general movement. What it doesn't provide is the convincing and valuable tactile feedback that comes from having your movement limited by other physical objects. It can limit where you can move with responses in game, but it can't limit your actual movement the way a table can. Vibration isn't the same as Newton's third law.

    This means that some things, like moving the focus of a Batsignal in the Batcave (let's not get into how utterly stupid it would be to aim a beam of light to throw your sigil on the moon from your secret lair would be) by moving two levers, controllable simultaneously, feels just a little off because your hand isn't actually restricted to the limits of movement of the controls on screen--and yet you are able to move the beam around the cave within it's limitations with satisfying precision, both of location and velocity.

    The lack of that sort of physicality does hamper immersion. But it isn't necessary for excellent outcomes.

    I'm fiddling with a game I picked up on a Steam sale that is tragically not in VR because it would be helped immensely by being in VR. Car Mechanic Simulator 2015. Using just a mouse, you select bits to remove, and either they are simple pulled out in front of you, or you get a row of highlighted clips or screws to hold a mouse click on and have the unfasteners undo themselves. That could totally be done in VR and it would be more effective because the game's biggest interface bug-a-boo has to do with moving around the car and engine compartment. It's janky and you don't always move the way you want. Once you've entered the mode you need to be in to move around the engine to "work" the only way out is the escape key. VR would make so much of this needless, while still allowing the level of accuracy entailed by required you to put the car on a lifter and solve problems from both above and below the car.

    It isn't in VR though. Sorry.

    I also tried out Hitman GO in VR, because back when I'd first looked at it, it screamed (for all it's many many faults) that it would be awesome in VR. It's a 3d board game using little miniatures in dioramas. It's basically minis in a sequence of detailed dollhouses. The sets look like cut-a-way dollhouse dioramas. It should be awesome in VR because it's a turn based puzzle game with lots of things to engage visually. It was interesting enough to look at in 2d, that even though I returned the game for being "meh", I was willing to give it another go because in VR, that immersiveness and ability to really look at and appreciate the dioramas seemed a huge selling point--and the opportunity to play something that wasn't a FPS and worked.

    They messed up. The dioramas are staged just outside the play area. This means that even though you know there is a backside, you can still never see the back side. Just as you couldn't rotate the stage in 2d, you aren't permitted to move around the stage in VR.

    Idiocy.

    To make matters worse, you can't even get up close to scrutinize things and enjoy the meticulous fine details, whatever they might be.

    This is the other bane I'm seeing in VR. Even when making something that isn't just another shooter, they're screwing it up by limiting the thing VR unboxes for us in dumb ways like that.

    I know of three or four third person games. I'll be getting one or two of the cheaper ones soon, and will let you know if I think they're worthy experiences. I can say that Lucky's Tale is... Ok. I'm not completely satisfied with how they did it, but as a first generation platformer, I think it does prove out the feasability, and highlights some of the challenges future makers of such games will face. The biggest one I see with Lucky's Tale is that because of the height of skybox and such, they manage to make it feel claustrophobic. It definitely captures the feel of say, Crash Bandicoot Plus, where the plus is actually being a 3d environment, but it still retains the feeling of being squeezed in a linear canyon. That part is going to need some work to overcome.

    One game that from the reviews failed to overcome it, is Theseus. The biggest flaw I'm seeing feedback from in Theseus is the ease with which you will get an out of bounds warning on your view point. Given you are prowling around third person through caves, having your camera-head intersect with a cave wall is inevitable, and shouldn't result in being unable to see the action or a warning about your head position. It should just alter your perspective on what is playing out--the models of these worlds are already only painted on the inside and transparent on the outside--something anyone who's ever played a Bethesda RPG knows from all the times we've fallen through the floor.

    That said, I understand not wanting people to be able to get a preview of your entire level just by standing up taking a step to the left--I'm sympathetic, but not that sympathetic. Use some fog of war for crying out loud. Or limit your render range to character sight. It's been done. It's doable. And it's far more useful than turning the screen blank and telling my my head is in the wrong place, when it isn't my head that's in the wrong place at all.

    I'm also eyeballing Star Trek Bridge Crew because 50% off is attractive and it has a reputation for being peopled with people who want the experience of being on the bridge in the Star Trek universe. Will update with my experiences when they happen--but if you like Star Trek, it might fit the bill.



    On the issue of VR sickness--it's one of the reasons I think the development community should be looking more toward the old days of animating boardgames ala Sid Meier's entire claim to fame. Right now there are few that are latching onto the collectible card game plus animated spell effects angle. That could work well, but the only one I've played so far I didn't care for. Fortunately, it was free.

    The biggest cause of VR sickness for me was incorrect IPD distance. If you're sharing a headset, I hope you're adjusting the IPD, or both you and your husband have identical IPD's. I've found that being off by as little as a couple mm is the difference between being a little wobbly here and there (controllable by invoking the chaperone grid--which amuses the hell out me because I'm virtually holding a virtual wall to stabilize myself in reality) and having a headache for hours after playing.

    Basically, the biggest cause of VR sickness I see is the emphasis on roomscale and standing experiences. These are also audience limiting moves because it rules out a lot of people who aren't fully able-bodied. If your game involves a lot of crouching and ducking, I'm out. My knees don't like that. It's also the wet blanket on my dad being involved, even though he's champing at the bit to get his own rig--but what he needs are seated experiences.

    Just shifting a lot of non VR but 3d accelerated games to being presentable in VR with the same controls, seated at a keyboard and mouse, or with a gamepad, would work for a lot of people. A lot of people would be thrilled to simply have an autostereoscopic gaming experience to play the games they already play. But as it currently stands, I haven't even found a giant screen simulator to play 2d games on that I would recommend yet.


    Another time I'll rant and rave about the art programs.


    One thing I quasi-recommend is free: Hulu. Hulu has a VR app, and they offer a slew of 360 video shorts that they've apparently produced, for free. The first one I tried wasn't quite done right and had a lot of points, especially in the beginning, where I had to close one eye to prevent what I knew would be a splitting headache--but the parts that weren't insufferable were pretty groovy. It's a NASCAR ride-a-long--not that I'm into NASCAR, but the part where you're riding along next to a couple racecars feels a lot like longboarding at high speed.

    The drone 3d following a kayaker in Iceland was beautiful and makes me need to go to Iceland even more.

    The boxing videos were pretty impressive too. Not ringside: turnbuckle. Best view in the house. All under 5 minutes though, so more a preview of potentials.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

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    Member Squishy's Avatar
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    Somewhat off topic, but I don't really get how VR is a thing right now. You have long-ass thick cables connected to your head that twist around depending on what you're doing. All your interactions are limited by some type of controller with a motion sensor. From what I hear the resolutions aren't very good. And some people say it makes using a keyboard difficult. Not to mention you can't really move around your room much or risk running into furniture or a wall, lol. Plus it's expensive.

    I don't get it. If done right, it could be very cool, but it seems pretty shit right now.

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    malarkey oxyjen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squishy View Post
    Somewhat off topic, but I don't really get how VR is a thing right now. You have long-ass thick cables connected to your head that twist around depending on what you're doing. All your interactions are limited by some type of controller with a motion sensor. From what I hear the resolutions aren't very good. And some people say it makes using a keyboard difficult. Not to mention you can't really move around your room much or risk running into furniture or a wall, lol. Plus it's expensive.

    I don't get it. If done right, it could be very cool, but it seems pretty shit right now.
    The Oculus right now is probably like this cell phone


    It's still cool nonetheless. But I don't game much so I might be easy to please.
    @Hephaestus thanks for the suggestions. And maybe I will see about the about the IPD distance. I did find that sitting rather than standing during those game parts helped a lot, if anyone else has the sickness issues. I will definitely have to check out the Hulu videos--my husband spent 100 bucks on the steam sale the other night, so any recommendations I give that cost $$ are tabled until now. Though he noted my affinity for "escape room" inspired type games, so picked up a couple of those (purchased The Gallery Episode 1 and 2, and a few others in that genre). I do love a good video--the "henry" short that came with oculus was incredible. I cannot wait for the days when we will be able to sit inside the movie we are watching--the potential for horror movies where you have to look for the killer behind you. It's crazy to think about. /long derail

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squishy View Post
    Somewhat off topic, but I don't really get how VR is a thing right now. You have long-ass thick cables connected to your head that twist around depending on what you're doing. All your interactions are limited by some type of controller with a motion sensor. From what I hear the resolutions aren't very good. And some people say it makes using a keyboard difficult. Not to mention you can't really move around your room much or risk running into furniture or a wall, lol. Plus it's expensive.

    I don't get it. If done right, it could be very cool, but it seems pretty shit right now.
    You've been partly misinformed. A lot of your experience is going to depend on your hosting rig though. I'm running an i5 2550K I bought back in '12, and a 980Ti I bought last year, with 16GB of RAM. I'm just lucky I bought a mobo near the cutting edge when I built this box in '12 so it has a couple USB 3.0 headers to work with. I've had very few issues with display quality.

    Your interactions in any game are already limited and both the Vive and the Oculus have hand controllers that cover everything a gamepad does, minus the d-pad, which is rarely used. Remember that the original NES saw an enormous install base of happy users with less computational power than a cell-phone from a decade ago, and an even more limited set of inputs: d-pad, two buttons, and two system buttons that were sometimes overloaded for inventory management.

    VR has all it needs to make great games, the designers just aren't there yet.

    The cables are modestly inconvenient, but that's still just a design issue. I can play Robo Recall, a fairly intense wave shooter experience, involving lots of moving around the playfield, full rotation of my viewing angle, and never risk getting tangled in my cable because it was designed to allow the player to not have to move if they didn't want to. Basically, if you don't have trouble getting tangled in your keyboard cable, a well designed VR program shouldn't get you tangled in the headset cable either.

    As for the resolutions: I am a 4k gamer, and I find the graphical resolutions in these games to be perfectly fine. Anyone complaining about the resolutions in these games is, to my perspective, a whiner--like those people who think artsy, non-real graphical design is a bad thing and that Good Graphics == Photorealism. If that's the viewpoint you're starting from, then yeah, VR is going to disappoint.

    This isn't to say the hardware isn't without some pretty damning limitations. Fresnel lens flare is a thing, and it can be very obnoxious with bright objects in a dark environment. Additionally, getting and keeping them clean and clear of skin oil smudges is a Sisyphean task--and I know a thing or two about Sisyphean endeavors! The heat of the display and necessity of making a closed environment to block outside light means VR is presently a lousy summer sport anywhere that gets hot, humid or, <deity> help you: both.

    It's also not a peripheral you can leave plugged in. Even when not in use it will cause a noticeable drop in system performance--though thankfully the sensors do not. That said, the sensors are a non-trivial security concern. In the case of the Oculus, my research shows they're low-grade webcams modified to focused on capturing IR beams from the sensors on the headseat and Touch controllers. The meta-data is mangled but a savvy tech user can edit them so they are readable as blocky bad greyscale images, but they are still there and if your machine is compromised, you might be too--which is why I love doing VR naked. Because if you are spying on me, you deserve to see my flaccid junk flopping around as I shoot robots.

    The Vive produced depth maps, which could be used to produce images as well--obviously--but would be less usable in a court of law as I don't think the resolution is sufficient for facial recognition. Still, I'm a little concerned about living in an environment bathed in a laser bath, though my inner ten year old thinks that's cool as fuck.

    In short, you're being given the infomercial version of how hard it is to use a can opener, but there are... issues.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

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    Yeah...but they could have done it so much better.

    They could have implemented some kind of Tesla Coil to power the device, while still making it wireless and cheap. They don't even need expensive lithium ion batteries. It would just cost a little more to put in a wireless transceiver for transmitting tracking data and video.

    They could have implemented an open and curved screen that utilizes a parallax barrier, opening up the viewing to a full 120 degrees, getting rid of those stupid lenses. You've already pointed out how annoying the lenses are. Parallax barriers are perfect for a 3d device that goes on your face. If they were going to take VR seriously, they'd go this route.

    Full body tracking would be nice too. Though it looks like the Vive has that or at least some kind of capability for it. So kudos to them for that.

    And some kind of 360 degree treadmill seems almost necessary for full immersion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squishy View Post
    Yeah...but they could have done it so much better.

    They could have implemented some kind of Tesla Coil to power the device, while still making it wireless and cheap. They don't even need expensive lithium ion batteries. It would just cost a little more to put in a wireless transceiver for transmitting tracking data and video.

    They could have implemented an open and curved screen that utilizes a parallax barrier, opening up the viewing to a full 120 degrees, getting rid of those stupid lenses. You've already pointed out how annoying the lenses are. Parallax barriers are perfect for a 3d device that goes on your face. If they were going to take VR seriously, they'd go this route.

    Full body tracking would be nice too. Though it looks like the Vive has that or at least some kind of capability for it. So kudos to them for that.

    And some kind of 360 degree treadmill seems almost necessary for full immersion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Squishy View Post
    Yeah...but they could have done it so much better.

    They could have implemented some kind of Tesla Coil to power the device, while still making it wireless and cheap. They don't even need expensive lithium ion batteries. It would just cost a little more to put in a wireless transceiver for transmitting tracking data and video.

    They could have implemented an open and curved screen that utilizes a parallax barrier, opening up the viewing to a full 120 degrees, getting rid of those stupid lenses. You've already pointed out how annoying the lenses are. Parallax barriers are perfect for a 3d device that goes on your face. If they were going to take VR seriously, they'd go this route.

    Full body tracking would be nice too. Though it looks like the Vive has that or at least some kind of capability for it. So kudos to them for that.

    And some kind of 360 degree treadmill seems almost necessary for full immersion.
    I have doubts on your tesla coil idea. I'm not familiar with them other than their existence in radio broadcasting, but I find it difficult to believe we'd still be using Lithium batteries if a tesla coil would work.

    The bandwidth of HDMI 2.0 is up to 18GB/s. The fastest wifi I can find with a simple google search is up to 7.4Gb/s, but that's way way more than a typical user has. I wouldn't expect a typical wi-fi router to be more than 300MB/s--those 7.4GB/s routers will run near $400. The price of present VR is pushing the limits of consumer wallet patience as it is, and the current gen was kicked off by a promise to be able to bring decent VR at an affordable price. The minimal hardware necessary means sticking with wired to start.

    I'm with you on the curved screen, but I'm not sure what you mean by "open". You absolutely need the screen to be enclosed for VR. AR is where your open headsets come into play, and I'll address that in a moment.

    Parallax barriers are neat, and they work for the 3DS quite nicely, however, when putting something on your face, you have to consider focal distance. I suspect that somewhere between cost and focal length, parallax barriers fall out of consideration, and fresnel lenses enter the fray as a cheap way to gather and focus light. That said, I think I would have gone with two screens, and isolating eyecups like on a binocular microscope. I think that solution would have resulted in something easier to get the IPD issues right because they would be intuitive to get centered on your eyes. I suspect I'm overlooking something significant though.

    The other issue with parallax barriers is they are a lot more complicated to adjust the sweet spot in. Granted, I think the 3DS proves it's doable, and being mounted directly to the face takes out the question of viewing angle, but given how much of a literal headache getting the IPD right can be, I suspect parallax barriers, having more degrees of freedom in their adjustments, would be the greater nightmare. IPD is something people can physically measure with a mirror and a ruler. Ideal angle and location of pixels and slits--not an end user adjustment. Yeah, there's the visual calibration model of focusing an image, but that's what I tried first in setting my IPD and it didn't get out of the headache zone. Physically measuring and setting based on that measurement did.

    Long term, I expect we'll see lightfield displays instead. Lightfields recreate the way we actually see light, and allow us to naturally pick our focal points. I have a lightfield camera, the other end of things, and it takes pictures that I can refocus ala Blade Runner. It's pretty neat to be able to focus after the picture is taken. A lightfield display would get rid of one of the big causes of VR sickness, which is the subconscious cognitive dissonance from being able to see at any depth while focusing at the same depth. Some people's brains find that more disturbing than others. But there's only so much bleeding edge tech you can push before cost gets prohibitive again.

    Both systems have the possibility of full body tracking, and both to some degree would entail wearing a special suit covered with IR sensors. Both systems are using a web of data points. The Vive bounced beams of sensors to get the pingback, and on the Rift the net broadcasts IR light and the camera sensors track the movement of the nets of light. But full body tracking is completely needless for VR to work and have credibility. I will acknowledge though, that while tracking head and hands seems sufficient for pretty much anything modern games do, it sometimes leads to amusing misunderstandings when attempting to represent a person's body.

    As an example, a couple games I have have items "holstered" at my waist. There's a bit of guesswork based on my height (calibration data is key) and I fall well enough within torso length norms that so far these virtual belts haven't ended up anywhere weird. But, I have noticed that looking down and leaning forward is registered as looking down and moving forward--the belt moves forward to stay directly below the headset. Granted I've been exploiting this intuitively since before I noticed it by leaning to dodge incoming fire. Similarly, turning my head left or right will usually rotate the belt, and in the case of the VR Batman game, gave me an unexpected taste of what actors prior to the second Nolan Batman movie faced when playing the caped crusader.

    Most of the Batman costumes didn't let them turn their head. In the VR Batman game, you are given a couple opportunities to see yourself as Batman in a mirror--and it's ultimately relevant to the plot--but if you try to look left or right, the entire Batman body in the mirror rotates.

    A simple pendant could resolve that, but not this year.

    There are 360 degree treadmills, and almost no programs support them--which is maybe a third of the issue with them. Every new piece of hardware means more programming load because once such things become common, people are going to expect you to fully support them. As a soft example--the PS3 controllers introduced accelerometers to the system. PS3 controllers have the ability to work a bit like Wii-motes. As a consequence, Sony mandated that any game for their platform needed to do something using that tech. Most of the time it was tucked away in a corner of the program that no one would ever notice--like adjusting the scroll speed of credits, or moving something around on a loading screen. Not everything needs a treadmill, but the moment you make that standard equipment, everything will be expected to use it.

    But that's small potatoes compared to the cost. The Virtuix Omni costs more than I paid for my Rift. It manages to get around the additional programming load by using the same pathways as the game controller and appears to use sensors you attach to your shoes--but it's probably coming into production way to late and with the prohibitive cost, it's going to have a hard time uh... hitting the ground running on several accounts.

    1. Shoes. Inside. Gross.

    2. Noise.

    3. This is the big one: most games are switching to teleporting for moving around because of the higher likelihood of VR sickness from gliding around. This means that it's core function isn't even supported via game controller.

    4. Price. In the US it runs $699 plus tax. Hopefully free shipping. That's a lot of money to add on.

    5. Increased sweating. It's a bit of a running joke (haha) that one of the greatest superpowers that separate video game protagonists from real people is their ability to run infinitely. That's a subtle but serious selling point. If people literally had to walk across Skyrim? The gaming loop would be spending an hour or two walking to the dungeon, camp and save, then the next day, entering and exploring the dungeon, possibly camping and saving while in the dungeon if it's a big one. Day three, hike back out to sell shit and turn in any relevant quests.

    Yes, it would be realistic. Yes, weirdos like me would probably love it to pieces. But: that's not gonna sell units. A huge part of games is the ability to run everywhere and even with that people bitch and moan about travel time. Add in real life fatigue and you might well kill the platform--and I say this as someone who really wants to like that idea, but I acknowledge my body probably wouldn't put up with it. It already groans about the level of physicality I force it into for the current VR.

    There's a lot of people out there that game who have nontrivial physical limitations. The more you require a person to be able-bodied to game, the more people you shut out. One of the big things that keeps my dad out of the game is the present emphasis on standing and whole room experiences. He needs it to be seated experiences all the time. Between vertigo and diabetic neuropathy, he has a hard enough time walking around in meatspace. I accompany him on shopping trips because he can get dizzy and disoriented just trying to buy groceries. He's shut out of most VR experiences, even though he's part of the enthusiast base they should be marketing to.

    For these reasons, I'm not a fan of the treadmill idea as standard equipment. Personally, I think people just need to spend some time skating, cause that gliding can be awesome if you're accustomed to it.


    If you dislike how VR is being done now, you're really gonna hate where it's headed--I certainly do. Both Vive and Rift are working on the same dumbass idea for a wireless headset. They're looking to make it a completely self-contained unit. It's asinine, but I get the motive: it allows them to lock people into their respective stores. But it means no longer leveraging the power of a gaming desktop which means a reduction of visual quality. Not the way I would have gone. I would have looked at ways to maximize leveraging wifi bandwidth. More on unit processing, but still distributed workload.

    Instead, they're racing to make head mounted consoles.


    For AR--wow, they're really messing that shit up. I would have gone with a VR headset with stereoscopic cameras on the front. Similar visual processing problems, but I think it would be easier to manage, and work at least as well. Instead they're projecting overlays onto a plastic shield. My conception comes from playing with the camera ability of the 3DS.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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