Author Topic: Oculus Rift  (Read 1130 times)

Spectere

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Oculus Rift
« on: July 27, 2017, 01:52:06 PM »
Alright, I played around with the Oculus a loooooooot yesterday and...yikes. Pretty much got everything set up after dinner at around 7PM and stopped playing at 3:15AM. Whoops.

Getting it set up was a bit of a pain in the ass, not due to any fault of Oculus. The Rift plugs into your video card using HDMI. My TV also plugs in via HDMI. Modern graphics cards tend to have one HDMI port, one DVI port, and about 15 billion DisplayPort connectors. Ugh. Fortunately, I still have an HDMI->DisplayPort cable handy. It only supports HDMI 1.3, so it maxes out at 1080p at 60hz (I have a 4K TV), but it's good enough to see stuff until I get an adapter that's up to the task (already ordered it, should be here on Saturday).

First of all, I bought this sucker mostly to enjoy sit-down experiences. That's...starting to change. During the setup process I had to create a bit of an clear space. It's not a huge deal to move my recliner, so I pulled it back, defined the guardian area (basically, if you get too close to that barrier, it gives you a visual warning), and was thrust into a demo and tutorial.

The feeling you get when you first jump into a virtual world like that is kind of indescribable. I found myself constantly aware that I was in a simulation, what with the goggles strapped to my face, the controllers in my hand, and the cables running down, but it's surprisingly easy to forget about that. Movement is so smooth and responsive that it actually feels like you're there (which can cause problems--stay tuned for more). It's that sort of strange state where if you think about it you know that you're in a game, but the level of immersion that you experience makes it easy to get lost in that experience.

So anyway, after looking around for a bit, I followed an on-screen prompt and pressed down on something in front of me. A few moments later, the thing that I was working on woke up. It was a little robot! Surprised to see me, they darted away, colliding with objects as they tried to hide. After a few seconds and a few friendly waves, they came back and handed me a disk. Without thinking, I reached out and took it. It felt so natural that it took me a second to realize that I was using a controller to do it.

Aside from the on-screen prompts directing you to make certain actions, as well as the adorable little robot's patient nudgings, the demo is basically a small toybox. The robot gives you a series of those disks, which you feed into a "3D printer," which then creates the objects. You get to see a bunch of virtual butterflies fluttering around (who will land on your hand if you extend your index finger!  Eeeee!!!!!), fiddle with little noisemakers, play around with a Nerf-like gun, shoot off little rockets, and mess with gravity (not directly--random objects around you float, but you can reach out and play around with them while that's happening).

Playing with the rockets led to another epiphany. First of all, they're the only object in the demo that requires you to use both hands to properly play with them. You have to hold them with one hand and pull a string at the base with the other. You pull the cord, release it, it starts sparking, then launches when you let it go, bouncing off of the walls as it flies around the room. First of all, when that thing comes toward you, the natural instinct to dodge is hard to shake. The second time, I ducked to the side, reached out, and caught the rocket, and it bloody worked. I aimed it in a safe direction and released it again, and it continued until it ran out of juice. The rockets going rogue also made me realize just how well the Oculus headphones work. I don't think I've ever used a system that did positional audio so well. For as small as they are, they sure pack quite a punch, too.

The not-Nerf gun shooting was fun and intuitive. You basically pick it up, targets spawn, and you shoot them. I found out later that if you put the disk into the printer again you get a second gun. Gonna have to try that later. :o They showed some pretty nice attention to detail, as well. Shooting an object straight-on will cause the darts to stick to them (suction cups, ahoy!), and you can lean over and pick up the darts. Apparently tossing the dart or putting it onto an object will also cause it to stick, but I haven't tried that yet.

So that pretty much covers First Contact (as it's called). Fun, endearing, and very memorable. Hell of an introduction to VR, that's for sure!

Next, I did the the Oculus Dreamdeck demo. It's basically a series of scenes and animations. Less interactive than First Contact, but I suspect that it predates the Touch controller and was intended more to introduce the HMD itself. Most of it is pretty awesome to look at, but they have one part that involves a motherfucking T-rex. Like, that not-so-little guy roars in your face, looks you over, apparently realizes that you aren't worth their time, and just walks over you. Absolutely fucking incredible.

After that, I moved onto some more stuff and quickly managed to make myself feel nauseous. I decided that playing Mission: ISS was a good idea. That's a zero-gravity simulation that allows you to take a tour of the International Space Station and play a few related minigames. You move around by either using thrusters or, more realistically, by pulling yourself along the walls. I, uh...can definitely see how VR accidents happen. The second I started moving through the virtual world my body involuntarily started to compensate. Good thing I started off nice and slow. Within about five minute I started feeling a bit ill, though the feeling slowly started to subside as I got used to it. I ended up taking a short break after I was finished, just to give my inner ear a chance to recover. Walking around in The Real World(TM) actually felt strange for a minute after that experience, but I recovered pretty quickly.

After that, I got SteamVR set up and tried to play Subnautica. HAHAHA, yeah, I don't recommend it. The framerate on that game is way too spastic for comfort and even when it is running smoothly, the movement feels a mite jerky. The health meter is also way down in the lower left of the screen, forcing you to have to look there, and certainly not by turning your head. Not comfortable. I would have also like it if head tracking and body rotation were separate, or if the option were given to enable that. That seems to be a big problem with VR FPS in general, at least the two that I've played (Subnautica and Minecraft)--turning your head causes you to start moving in that direction, and neither of those titles had the option to track head movements independently. For me, VR FPS is a sit-down experience, and it really bites that turning my head while walking in a particular direction causes my character to veer off on a tangent. It just doesn't feel right at all. Hopefully other titles (and future titles) provide an option to control that.

Minecraft was kind of cute. They have two modes--living room mode and immersive. Immersive drops you in the game world, giving you a full VR experience. Your inventory floats around where your left hand is, so unless you raise that you'll pretty much have an open view of the world. Living room mode puts you in a virtual Minecraft living room, with the game itself playing on a TV. I got a good chuckle out of that when I first saw it. The Oculus Touch controls are kind of awkward, but I imagine one would get used to them in time. Fortunately, the C++/Windows 10 edition of Minecraft is used, so framerates stay silky smooth throughout the entire experience.

I do have one other SteamVR FPS title that I haven't tried--the new Serious Sam beta. Might have to give that a go. I meant to play some Project CARS and Elite Dangerous last night, but I never got around to either of those. Hopefully I get around to them today.

I ended up finishing off the night with Crytek's Back to Dinosaur Island demos. They were designed with the DK2 and a much earlier version of the Rift SDK in mind, so I needed to use LibOVRWrapper so that it would work. The first demo was awesome. Visually stunning, as one would expect from Crytek, and there was a fair amount to look at, including (yet another) T-rex. This one clearly wants you for dinner, but they can't quite get to you. There's no major movement in this demo--all you can really do is look around and gawk at stuff, but damn does it look nice.

Lastly, I did Back to Dinosaur Island, Part 2. That one has an interactive bit where you have to ascend a cliff face using rope ascenders while simultaneously annoying a bunch of big, flying dinos. It looks great, as expected, but it's a bit of a chore to play. Since this is another pre-CV1 and pre-Touch title, you move your body up to the next ascender and use the triggers on a gamepad to grab the next one. I couldn't find a comfortable position, either standing or sitting, where I could easily lean my body one way or another to control it and the grip functionality was finicky at best. All too often I'd find myself having to find the perfect position so that my character would actually grab the proper ascender. I'm not sure if it's an issue with LibOVRWrapper, an oddity with the old Rift SDK, the amount of unnatural movement I had to do to play the game, the perspective, or what, but something about it felt very, very wrong. It was easily the most uncomfortable thing I've played all night. 10/10 will vomit again (I didn't actually vomit).

All in all, I'm really glad I bought it. I can definitely see a lot of potential in the technology, and by this point in time a surprising amount of that has actually been realized. The Touch controllers in particular are very good, and I'm hoping to see more games that fully utilize them come out soon (SteamVR games that use the Vive's controllers would fit the bill as well, so long as they'll work with a fairly minimal amount of space. I'm trying to figure out a way to dedicate more space to my VR setup in the future. I'd love to be able to be able to play some larger-scale titles in the future.

The main two things that I believe can be improved are the HMD screen resolution and the fact that the headset is wired. I've gotten used to gaming at 1440p and 2160p as of late, so moving to something that's both 1080p and close to your eyes. What's worse is that it's a PenTile OLED screen, so the subpixel resolution is worse than a true RGB panel with the same effective resolution. That being said, it's understandable why it is the way it is. If they put a 4K display in there, a single HDMI connection wouldn't be able to drive it past 60hz, and the system requirements would be a bit outrageous (I'd say you'd need at least a 980Ti or 1080 for most VR titles at that resolution and refresh rate). DisplayPort 1.4 was brand new right as the Rift was coming to market, so that wasn't an option, either. And really, when you're moving around it's hard to see the aliasing. When you're standing still and looking around, though, it's pretty obvious.

Wireless is going to be tough, since latency is going to have to be insanely low for it to work. The HTC Vive is getting wireless options now, but from what I can tell in pictures it's kind of a bulky solution. I'd rather deal with wires than bulk.

So, yeah...I kinda like it!
"Fuck 2020, and Fuck FedEx."  -Bobbias

Bobbias

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Re: Oculus Rift
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2017, 05:37:45 AM »
Thats awesome. Just imagine 10 years from now... Proper full body tracking with a wireless headset, etc. Assuming vr doesnt shoot itself in the foot and die out before it can realize the full potential.
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Spectere

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Re: Oculus Rift
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2017, 09:43:04 AM »
Oh yeah, I'm definitely hyped for the future of VR.

I don't think it's going to shoot itself in the foot so much. The thing that I wonder is whether or not it's going to be able to escape from its little niche. There are a lot of aspects to it that are prohibitive for many--the amount of space and setup that even sit-down setups can require, the viability of room-scale for most residences (though the success of the Wii with casual audiences does indicate that some people are willing to create a wide-open space for a unique entertainment experience), and the PC hardware requirements.

I think the last point is going to be the big sticking point, and the reason why PSVR has a much better shot than the Rift and the Vive, especially when it reaches feature parity. I don't think the Rift and Vive are going anywhere (well, if Zenimax continues being a bunch of litigious shitheads, Oculus/Facebook might have some headaches), but I suspect they're going to be higher end, more innovative, and comparatively niche.
"Fuck 2020, and Fuck FedEx."  -Bobbias