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The Road To VR

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the more-real-than-real dept.

Displays 61

An anonymous reader writes "Stack Overflow co-founder Jeff Atwood has posted about how much progress we've made toward commercially viable virtual reality gaming — and how far we have to go. The Oculus Rift headset is technologically brilliant compared to anything we'd have before, but Atwood says there are still a number of problems to solve. Quoting: 'It's a big commitment to strap a giant, heavy device on your face with 3+ cables to your PC. You don't just casually fire up a VR experience. ... Demos are great, but there aren't many games in the Steam Store that support VR today, and the ones that do support VR can feel like artificially tacked on novelty experiences. I did try Surgeon Simulator 2013 which was satisfyingly hilarious. ... VR is a surprisingly anti-social hobby, even by gamer standards, which are, uh low. Let me tell you, nothing is quite as boring as watching another person sit down, strap on a headset, and have an extended VR "experience". I'm stifling a yawn just thinking about it. ... Wearing a good VR headset makes you suddenly realize how many other systems you need to add to the mix to get a truly great VR experience: headphones and awesome positional audio, some way of tracking your hand positions, perhaps an omnidirectional treadmill, and as we see with the Crystal Cove prototype, an external Kinect style camera to track your head position at absolute minimum.' Atwood also links to Michael Abrash's VR blog, which is satisfyingly technical for those interested in the hardware and software problems of VR."

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1995 called (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46260713)

They want their I-glasses! back.

Re:written (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46260781)

"Toilet Overflow co-founder J.Q.Public has posted about how much progress we've made toward commercially viable virtual sex gaming — and how far we have to go. Tripping the Rift headset is technologically brilliant compared to anything we'd have before, but Public says there are still a number of problems to solve. Quoting: 'It's a big commitment to strap a giant, heavy squid on your face with 3+ cables to your erogenous zones. You don't just casually fire up a VR experience. ... Whores are great, but there aren't any in the Steam Store that support USB or Firewire today, and the ones that do support Apple can feel like artificially tacked on novelty experiences. I did try Prostate Simulator 2013 which was satisfyingly hilarious. ... VR is a surprisingly anti-social hobby, even by playa standards, which are, uh low. Let me tell you, nothing is quite as boring as watching another person sit down, strap on a dildo, and give an extended VR "experience". I'm stifling a yawn just thinking about it. ... Wearing a good Vibrating Squidset makes you suddenly realize how many other systems you need to add to the mix to get a truly great sexperience: headphones and awesome positional furniture, some way of tracking your hand positions, perhaps an omnidirectional treadmill, and as we see with the Crystal groove prototype, an external Kinect style camera to track your head position at absolute minimum.' Public also links to Hugh Hefners's VR blog, which is satisfyingly technical for those interested in the hardware and software problems of VR"

Re:1995 called (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46260939)

My most desired VR simulation: an inner city where the blacks speak proper English, none of them aspire to be trashy street thugs, and most of them value education on par with the average Asian immigrants.

You do know that when blacks riot, they don't specially target whites like you might think. They specially target Asians and particularly Asian businessowners. Why would that be? They're a specialy protected status downtrodden minority too right? Even more of a minority than blacks! So why? Because Asian immigrants come to an area barely knowing a word of English, live under the same conditions as the predominantly black population and within a generation or two they are successful businessowners and important parts of the community.

It really puts the lie to this "I can't help it so don't blame me!" victim mentality so common among American blacks. This cannot be allowed of course. You can't blatantly contradict the party line without reprisal! If history shows anything it shows that most people would rather shoot the messenger than make needed changes to their precious worldview, just ask Galileo. Meanwhile it cant be argued against because of those pesky facts. So it must be torn down.

When this gets modded down too, believe me I will understand.

Define virtual reality (4, Insightful)

satuon (1822492) | about 7 months ago | (#46260735)

What would you consider virtual reality? A direct neural interface that simulates all senses like in the Matrix, or just putting some headset that shows a high-res screen before each eye, plus headphones?

Re:Define virtual reality (4, Informative)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 7 months ago | (#46261007)

Don't be intentionally obtuse. In the middle. Real enough to be called reality but virtual enough that it is not direct nerve stimulation. The stuff like lawnmower man that has been promised for 20 years. Everyone knows the definition.

I would be quite happy with 3d video and audio, and head tracking, and all the other crap superfluous. Quite happy without the social side, as I don't expect people to watch me. Treadmill would get very tiring unless you really want to run towards and away from zombies or machine gunners for hours. Wii sports is tiring enough and you don't actually go anywhere, so extrapolate.

Vr is basically here when 1080 hits, but it's not the vr everyone is looking for. I would bet the full, true vr will make a big splash like laser tag and die quickly, with a long tail.

If the 1080 oculus hits, it will be just good enough to capture marketshare, if they just stop promising the next generation for a while. Few will buy into an obsolete technology, so announce it is mature and has developer backing, or it will not arrive until it is overly mature.

I remember mall demos with 30 people in headsets throwing dodgeball or something, and it was decent then. Put it on today's internet and today's processors, and you just need a compelling environment. Call of duty VR is just laser tag without walking, and flight sim VR is just what every sim player ever wanted. And it will be good enough.

Skyrim in true VR would be awesome, but tiring with all the walking and fighting. Nearly unplayable. Any FPS would be too taxing. Sneakers might work. Any unrealistic game like super monkey ball is unfit for true VR. You need entire New genres for true VR, like maybe travelogues. Controlling sim city or DotA might be super awesome in true VR, with swipe gestures. But I don't see the market in the current core gamer population.

The half VR available in 2 years will be good enough for a generation, or they are making a risky bet.

Re:Define virtual reality (1)

satuon (1822492) | about 7 months ago | (#46261497)

What we define as VR determines how close we are to it. The lower you set the bar for what you'll accept to be VR, the more achievable it becomes, and the closer we are to it.

In fact, if you showed an ordinary PC with a high-res monitor and a mouse to someone from the 50s, they might have declared it VR already.

Re:Define virtual reality (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 7 months ago | (#46262899)

hell take an xbox one, and a 60" led flat screen, back to 1995.

they would declare it VR, Just the resolution alone would astound us back then. forget about motion tracking and voice controls, it would be star trek.

in 1998 I donned a VR headset of the time and walked on a tread mill. it was fun though a bit disorienting since the screens weren't lined up for my prescription properly.

Re:Define virtual reality (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 7 months ago | (#46263691)

in 1998 I donned a VR headset of the time and walked on a tread mill. it was fun though a bit disorienting since the screens weren't lined up for my prescription properly.

Dactyl Nightmare? :)

Re:Define virtual reality (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 months ago | (#46262379)

Everyone knows the definition.

I disagree. Everyone has their own version of the definition.

Re:Define virtual reality (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#46262421)

Skyrim in true VR would be awesome, but tiring with all the walking and fighting.

I could see it working, if the gesture for moving forward is to lean forward slightly, and for moving backwards is to lean backwards slightly. Much less effort.

Re:Define virtual reality (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about 7 months ago | (#46263127)

Skyrim in true VR would be awesome

Yeah... and I am anxious and terrified at the same time to discover what playing Left 4 Dead in VR will do to my psyche...

Re:Define virtual reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46263869)

Sorry but VR will grow rapidly with FPS and MMORPG. Sure, it might become like the wii where everything tries to rape the wiimote but that's to be expected. Personally I won't be satisfied until I can slay a dragon by moving around whether I hop or roll, jump, and slice with my hands. You can wear an exoskeleton that can augment the feels, and lots of feels on that omnidirectional treadmill. It would be expensive but people spend 50k on a pool that they use once a year maybe but a proper VR simulator would probably cost similar but the gain would be far greater for those that want that immersion. Like I said, immersion are for FPS and RPG players mostly. There may be those that want to be immersed in sports too but I'm not sure how into games they are.

Re:Define virtual reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46264817)

Like I said, immersion are for FPS and RPG players mostly. There may be those that want to be immersed in sports too but I'm not sure how into games they are.

Considering the capabilities of Oculus Rift I would say that the games it excels at are games where you are sitting down. While one can discuss if it is a sport or not I think that racing games will work extremely well with the rift. Especially with a steering wheel controller and pedals. Together with a force feedback chair immersion would probably be as good as it gets.
Mech battle games like Hawken would probably also work quite well since you are supposed to see everything from inside the cockpit and not run around with your actual legs.

Re:Define virtual reality (2)

jeti (105266) | about 7 months ago | (#46262833)

If you listen to Michael Abrash, you will hear him talk a lot about presence, a sense of being there that works even on a subconcious level. If you can't bring yourself to step over a virtual ledge, you have working VR.

What VR Could, Should, and Almost Certainly Will Be within Two Years [youtube.com]

Look at that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46260775)

So twenty years after the first big wave of VR hype, we're barely able to project realistic pictures, but 3D printing will get us Star Trek replicators soon??

In the early 90s we all read the hype (2, Interesting)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about 7 months ago | (#46260777)

The articles were filled with very optimistic visions of a VR future that was "coming soon"

I worked for Disney Imagineering R&D at the time, so money was available to buy some stuff and play with it

We bought the "state of the art" system, and hooked it up..it was not super impressive

When we showed it to the President of WDI, he said "don't show this to anybody else, it makes us look bad"

Years, and many millions of dollars later, we managed to create our own VR headmount display and opened "Imagineering VR Lab" at Epcot

It was better, but still nowhere near lived up to the hype

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (5, Insightful)

Alejux (2800513) | about 7 months ago | (#46261073)

And your point is? Are you saying that because it didn't become a success in the 90's it is a failed concept?

The card I have in my computer now, is many times more powerful than an $250k Silicon Graphics Onyx that you had back then. The displays you had back then were crap and had very low resolution. The latency you had in tracking was nauseating and full of errors. Not to mention the huge weight of the "helmet".

Compare that to:

- 1920x1080 resolution OLED with low persistency

- Low latency 1:1 positional tracking

- ~20ms motion to photon latency

- High end PC GPU's capable of rendering realistic graphics at real time >60fps

- ~200 grams of weight and comfortable as the average ski goggles

- $300 price tag

It is so tiresome hearing people who never tried the Rift say it's hype and a gimmick based on 20 year old attempts at the technology.

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46262691)

It is so tiresome hearing people who never tried the Rift say it's hype and a gimmick based on 20 year old attempts at the technology.

You know what's tiresome? Waiting for the Rift to freaking release. It was demoed nearly two years ago and most people still can't get one (a dev version doesn't count). Years of news and demos and no sign of a release date... that's recognized by most as "hype" and "gimmick".

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 7 months ago | (#46263383)

I know, it's incredibly frustrating that a company is actually taking their time to develop something properly* so it doesn't flop on release! It makes me angry! ANGRRYYYY!!

*You know, like most people on Slashdot say they wish every company would? VR is something you have to do carefully or it'll end up being declared "another Virtual Boy", and that would kill it fast.

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46266823)

It's a good thing that they're taking their time to get it right.

It's also perfectly reasonable for people who keep hearing about it in the news (or worse, keep hearing about it being a demonstration that VR is finally here!!!11!) to be annoyed at the hype.

You would agree that "It is so tiresome hearing people who never tried my prototype flying car say it's hype and a gimmick based on 20 year old attempts at the technology," sounds stupid. Well, continually hearing about the Occulus Rift that isn't finished or commercially available feels the same way to people.

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 7 months ago | (#46263709)

Think of it as them letting us skip the first three generations of buggy crap that usually comes out before the first 'good' model. They got enough funding that they don't have to rush to market, and they're taking time to really get it right.

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46266873)

Sounds great. But you must admit that continually hearing news about a "product" that does not even have a tentative release date is hype.

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46266069)

*blaaaaaaaaaaaaarggghhhhhhhhhhhh*
Sorry, when I saw you throw up, I couldnt help myself and threw up as well.

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (1)

Smauler (915644) | about 7 months ago | (#46263357)

Back in the 90's, I had single digit internet quake pings, with an ISDN, hooked up to a CRT (so actual single digit pings). Now I have about 3 times that latency just between me and my monitor.

Perhaps we should start looking into using CRT technology for VR glasses to reduce the pings further ;)

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (1)

djrobxx (1095215) | about 7 months ago | (#46266853)

They just need to stop treating LCD displays as if they were CRT displays. See NVidia G-Sync

http://www.geforce.com/hardwar... [geforce.com]

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (1)

Smauler (915644) | about 7 months ago | (#46287865)

No... that doesn't help latency. All current _monitors_ have latency, some of up to 100ms. Mine is ok, but not great, about 30ms. Old CRTs are basically 0. It doesn't matter what the video card does, it can't get rid of that latency.

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 7 months ago | (#46263701)

It's the same people who say "we had electric cars 100 years ago so the Tesla Model S is neither new nor innovative."

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (2)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 7 months ago | (#46261425)

The articles were filled with very optimistic visions of a VR future that was "coming soon"

I worked for Disney Imagineering R&D at the time, so money was available to buy some stuff and play with it

We bought the "state of the art" system, and hooked it up..it was not super impressive

When we showed it to the President of WDI, he said "don't show this to anybody else, it makes us look bad"

Years, and many millions of dollars later, we managed to create our own VR headmount display and opened "Imagineering VR Lab" at Epcot

It was better, but still nowhere near lived up to the hype

The obvious course of action is to liquidate and disband Occulus. Remember folks, VR didnt work in the 1990's. We are wasting precious time, money and resources trying to make it work in the 21st century, with all of the advances in display tech, miniature MEMS sensors and all the advances in computing hardware and software that we have had since then, it obviously can never ever work. It failed in the 90's guys, lets close up shop and forget about the dream of immersive VR.

amiright?

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46268963)

So that's why 3d is such a rousing success after multiple failures in the past and becoming less and less adopted by the day... makes sense now! New hypothesis: all fads that were ever discarded will be readopted since we are in the future now... discuss!

Re:In the early 90s we all read the hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46261753)

You have to be joking. DisneyQuest was amazing in 2000. Did the Chicago one twice and the Florida one once. Plenty of fun VR games. Even one (Ride the comix?) that was slightly multiplayer. You could see each other and what you were doing. This was during a time when 56k dial up was normal and everyone still had giant CRTs. Consoles couldn't dream of being multiplayer and online gaming was rarely done with a ping below 120. For the time that technology was amazing. People forget how low-resolution everything was back then.

Why do you need an external camera to track head m (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46260809)

Put an accelerometer in the headset. Problem solved.

Re:Why do you need an external camera to track hea (2)

Junta (36770) | about 7 months ago | (#46260853)

They have accelerators in the headset. It doesn't do much good when at times the head can move at constant velocity. For sensing gravity and rotational movement, it works well, but translation movement is impossible to do reliably with accelerators lacking any sort of frame of reference.

Re:Why do you need an external camera to track hea (3, Informative)

darkshot117 (1288328) | about 7 months ago | (#46260959)

Exactly, I believe Oculus's crystal cove prototype from this year's CES used a combination of accelerometers and the tracking camera to keep the accelerometers synchronized with their true position. In the final version they said the camera probably won't even be necessary anymore, but just this prototype version still requires it.

Re:Why do you need an external camera to track hea (1)

Junta (36770) | about 7 months ago | (#46261011)

Even if it did need to have something like IR cameras to observe IR leds in the headset (or vice-versa, as the Wii did), I don't think it would be too bad.

Re:Why do you need an external camera to track hea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46260965)

Then throw in a gyroscope.

Re:Why do you need an external camera to track hea (1)

Junta (36770) | about 7 months ago | (#46260993)

They have gyroscopic in there already. That's how they can do yaw and such. Still does nothing to help you with linear movement.

Re:Why do you need an external camera to track hea (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 7 months ago | (#46261833)

They have accelerators in the headset. It doesn't do much good when at times the head can move at constant velocity. For sensing gravity and rotational movement, it works well, but translation movement is impossible to do reliably with accelerators lacking any sort of frame of reference.

I agree... Also, the system should track eye movement as well. And what about body suits? Animation companies have been using body suits to track human movement for a while now. Why use an external camera when you can just slip into clothing with sensors in it.

Re:Why do you need an external camera to track hea (3, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | about 7 months ago | (#46261597)

Relying entirely on accelerometers and gyroscopes works for a very brief amount of time, before suffering from massive drift.

What Oculus is doing is relying on the onboard tracker for low-latency real-time data, and using the external camera to correct for drift.

Perhaps not so far off... (5, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | about 7 months ago | (#46260973)

It's a big commitment to strap a giant, heavy device on your face with 3+ cables to your PC

Granted, but then again, a lot of particular prominent, even more special purpose successes require a pretty big commitment. Rock band did well and no one is going to claim it's trivial to whip out the guitars and drumset. Granted their success did not endure, but primarily because the experience lacked sufficient variety, it did show people were committed to go through some hoops. Similarly, *really* sitting down to enjoy a feature length movie requires some commitment (doing so without commitment is possible, but much less enjoyable.

there aren't many games in the Steam Store that support VR today

And there weren't many games that supported accelerated 3D graphics when 3dfx voodoo came out. Being too discouraged by that leads to a chicken and egg situation. It's probably also off putting that the set of available titles are at best adaptations of existing games or very basic things. The reason being that the quality games take longer and as such are still in progress (Star Citizen is one I'm really looking forward to). Crystal Cove demonstrates they will have capabilities the dev kits aren't even equipped to help publishers prepare for yet. Oculus is doing the only thing that might have a chance, building up a lot of excitement and coming in at an approachable price point to try to break the chicken and egg situation.

Having your eyes so close to the screens means the display is effectively very low resolution.

This is one area that has me pretty worried and waiting (that and the availability of good positional sensing). I'm really hoping they will be able to use at least a 2560x1440 OLED display (thanks to the mobile resolution pissing contest, Samsung looks ready to announce a shipping product with 2560x1440 at 5.2", 560 ppi seems very promising to construct a display out of, even if magnified).

VR is a surprisingly anti-social hobby, even by gamer standards

Very, very rarely is gaming remotely entertaining to mere observers. A lot of very popular things are *always* equally anti-social (texting, reading books, listening to music on headphones, pretty much doing *anything* on a smartphone or even tablet, laptop, or computer).

Notice how quickly we get into geez-this-is-a-lot-of-equipment territory.

The same can be true of racing or flying games, but that doesn't stop the vast majority of people making do with simpler controls. Just because you *can* take things very far at a very high price, doesn't mean you have to. The external tracking of the head is going to be baked into the headset cost (and not that expensive, as Kinect has shown) Headphones are straightforward as is positional audio in the headphone situation. Beyond eyewear and headphones, things get optional pretty fast. Wiimote-grade tracking for hands I certainly see as a big value add, but things start falling off real fast beyond that (the treadmill I'm skeptical would do anything to pull me that much more in as I think it would still feel very very off, but would wear me out greatly).

Re:Perhaps not so far off... (1)

deek (22697) | about 7 months ago | (#46263331)

Very, very rarely is gaming remotely entertaining to mere observers.

Not as rare as you think. Game tournaments can attract a good number of spectators.

Plus, gaming is not necessarily that anti-social. Makes me wonder if the author has any experience with multiplayer games. Surely when VR becomes mainstram, it will have a multiplayer capability.

Yes, it could be argued that most multiplayer gamers aren't very social, or act anti-social. Griefing is an issue. Makes me wonder what they'll do in the context of shared VR, although griefers generally aren't too creative. I'm guessing "floating penises".

Jumpstart VR with VR Cafes... (2)

erfunath (962996) | about 7 months ago | (#46261017)

...or something like that. Even if VR isn't quite up to spec yet, this would be a great way to get people in front of the Oculus &c. that aren't willing to shell out cash on pre-release hardware and software. That's how a lot of my friends and I got into games when we were kids - we'd go try them out at LAN cafes in town. With an investment into all of the stuff the article mentions - the omni-directional treadmill, the advanced sound system, and the headset of course - you could probably set up an hourly rate that makes the investment back pretty quickly just out of curious people.

Then when it gets really good - higher resolution, or maybe even Caprica level - upgrade to that and you'll be busy forever.

Re:Jumpstart VR with VR Cafes... (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 7 months ago | (#46261281)

I think that your idea sounds like one of the more practical and potentially successful ones I have heard.

It can even be added to places already existing, so the concept of a dedicated 'VR cafe' would not be the only route, thus lowering risks that come from an experimental/new business idea.

Of course there's VR movies as well. (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 7 months ago | (#46261305)

I missed out on seeing Avatar in 3D in one of those IMAX theaters. (With the screen that covers your peripheral version.) I didn't bother to watch it on cable since apparently the part that made it impressive is in that environment it's like you're in the movie. With these VR glasses it seems there's now finally a setup that can display that movie(and other) properly.

Re:Of course there's VR movies as well. (1)

thygate (1590197) | about 7 months ago | (#46261863)

VR != 3D movies

Re:Of course there's VR movies as well. (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 7 months ago | (#46262245)

I realize that but it would be incredible to watch a "movie" where you're in the middle of the scene. (Kind what I hear they were trying to achieve with Avatar with 3d glasses and IMAX.) I mean could you imagine how much better the experience of pretty much any movie (especially horror) if you felt like you were right in the middle?

Re:Of course there's VR movies as well. (1)

erfunath (962996) | about 7 months ago | (#46262645)

Agreed. What they really need is the ability to pause a scene for a short period of time - or advance when you're ready - and allow the viewer to travel around the room, look at the details, choose different vantage points as the story progresses. Add details, like articles in newspapers on tables and stuff in drawers. That's what makes all the best RPGs what they are. Tell a story by adding immersion. I'd pay good money for that.

If this is a simulation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46261563)

I do hope they have redundant power system and 2N for computing units.

My rift experience (2)

thygate (1590197) | about 7 months ago | (#46261613)

I got my rift a few weeks ago, and haven't had too much time to play with it yet, but these are my findings. The experience is truly quite new and incomparable to any non-stereo 3D tech, it is much more immersive, yet also very intense! Many game genres, like flightsims, space-fighters, etc, will no longer be relaxing, or even enjoyable the way they are on 2D screens, simply because it is now almost a real simulator. You will get sick, and you will need hours/days/months of training to be able to cope with the new level of realism. The stereo 3D images, combined with head-tracking, are now feeding much more info to your brain than just a visual scene, it's telling your brain you should be feeling G-forces (that the inner ear obviously doesn't register), and it can give you a very bad disembodied feeling when you don't see your arms or body when looking down. With the current oculus rift dev kit, you also still feel like you're looking at the world through a gas mask or hazmat suit or the likes, resolution is quite low, and you clearly see pixels. Even though it doesn't weigh too much, you will feel its weight on your cheekbones after a while too. I had no problem with the cables. For playing existing games, without native rift support, there are currently two "drivers" (read directx wrappers), that double render the scene in stereo and map and distort it for viewing on the rift, and also adjust the view transform in accordance with the head-tracking. (Vorpx (commercial), and Vireio (free oss)). Of course this doesn't work well for all games and genres, but it is very nice to be able to check out your favorite games this way. The most disturbing and nauseating things are the silliest things, like when the games loads and the scene freezes, or a cut-scene comes up with limited camera freedom, a HUD that requires you to refocus on a different plane, etc.. Of course it does have advantages too, like you can now turn off the guidance-lines in racing games that tell you when to brake etc, because now you'll FEEL you can't possibly take that turn at those speeds. First-person games are a lot more immersive than third-person games, which feel a bit weird when controlling a single character and viewing it from behind. Half-Life 2 (with buggy native support) did give the best experience for me so far, when Alyx first appears, it really feels like she is standing right in front of you. Quite amazing indeed. Overall you really feel like you're in the HL world, only thing killing it atm is the low resolution. Anyway, imho, VR-tech should be around, but it will always exist side-by-side with watching a traditional screen, it will not replace it, at least not in its current state.

How does rift compare to a good novel? (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 7 months ago | (#46261927)

From: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03... [nytimes.com]
"The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that âoeruns on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.â Fiction â" with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions â" offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other peopleâ(TM)s thoughts and feelings. The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real-life social encounters."

Also: http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/you... [oedb.org]

I'm not saying choose one or the other. I'm just asking, overall, at its best, and perhaps after the novelty has worn off, how does the level of engagement compare between immerse VR and a good "page turner" novel? Which do you feel better about afterwards?

Re:How does rift compare to a good novel? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46264613)

The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life;

ORLY? I don't know about you but for me there is a significant difference between reading about masturbating and actually doing it. That emeritus professor of cognitive wanking should do a bit more actual wanking, he might learn something about the real world.

The VR has got to the stage where people actually get nervous about stepping off virtual ledges. Reading about it ain't the same.

the difference (1)

SeanBlader (1354199) | about 7 months ago | (#46270093)

In one case you're in another person's head in another person's world. In the other case you're in another person's world, but still in your own head and in control of your own actions. I promise being in your head and making your own decisions is better.

Re:the difference (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 7 months ago | (#46272423)

That's a great distinction; thank you. I'll need to think about that.

Re:My rift experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46266437)

With the current oculus rift dev kit, you also still feel like you're looking at the world through a gas mask or hazmat suit or the likes

Well there we go. The first killer app of the Rift.
STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl: The gas mask version

The devices make it obvious this isn't VR (1)

Aristos Mazer (181252) | about 7 months ago | (#46262301)

The summary talks about all the devices that you need to complete virtual reality. The fact that you need all those devices should make it clear: this isn't virtual reality, nor even a step toward it. It is immersive gaming, but until you are directly raising/lowering voltage on neurons, you aren't creating a virtual reality. You're just shaping this reality to create an optical illusion. Virtual reality means truly constructing a brand new reality for the mind to perceive, from the direction of gravity to the sensation of having eaten a satisfying meal or having additional (or fewer) arms and legs.

biggest drawback (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46262397)

Until they solve the motion sickness issue, there will be no VR. Everyone I know who tried Oculus Rift has had horrendous motion sickness, even those who never are bothered by it any other time.

Re:biggest drawback (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | about 7 months ago | (#46263947)

What about games where the player is stationary? Like sitting in a base shooting down aliens come at you from all directions. I admit that it's a much more limited subset of gaming than most people are looking for, but I am curious to know if such a game would alleviate the nausea problem.

I am one of those people who can't read while riding in a car, I get nauseous, so I am very pessimistic about my ability to enjoy a VR headset.

Re:biggest drawback (1)

grumbel (592662) | about 7 months ago | (#46269987)

The Crystal Cove prototype as well as Valves prototype have solved motion sickness for most part, as they have lower latency then the DevKit and track position, instead of just head rotation. If you play something ultra fast like Quake3 in them, you might still get motion sick, as the motion in that game and many others is far from realistic, but if you have a slower game that is build for VR you shouldn't have much of an issue.

On the path towards full immersion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46264619)

Here's an interesting take on the latest VR craze, Cyberith Virtualizer + Oculus Rift + Wii Mote for Skyrim. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7n5kRRHDpw

At least it will get more gamers out of their seats and add a little cardio to go along with their dragon slaying.

VR (1)

ledow (319597) | about 7 months ago | (#46265345)

I have set my lower threshold for VR:

When I can go to a paintball place and play "CS". Take a fake gun, run over a real terrain that I can see in the virtual world, and my "shots" register as if they were real and take players out of the game once they are "dead" in-game.

Once we get to that level of head-tracking, arm-tracking, freedom-of-movement (i.e. running around in an arena / studio / forest and having the VR know exactly where we are and overlay the virtual world accordingly, thus allowing me to only camp on some high perch if I can physically get there myself), virtual-overlay-over-real-world, and convincing colour/resolution/graphics then I'll consider it proper VR.

Fact is, we were decades off that years ago and we're still decades off it now. Back in the Quake days, I was saying that someone really needs to set up a cyber-cafe type place, with the equivalent of a paintball "arena" inside it (make it bland, or green-screen, or filled with tracking dots, just make it cheap and let the VR fill in the gaps), and - back then - one of those huge stupid VR headsets on your head so you look like the kids from Knightmare running around. Hell, even for Quake-era graphics we'd still struggle to make it convincing even today (even if you mapped perfectly the arena into the virtual world).

The problems of VR are not simple computing problems. It's much more about ergonomics, persistence-of-vision, instantaneous feedback, movement through 3D space, miniaturisation and precise tracking than anything to do with the software you actually run.

And, of course, some obvious things:

- a flat 2D surface in front of your eyes is *not* like a 3D world when your eye tracks (no matter how close it gets). It does not "curve" the same way. So now you need a tiny, bright, hi-res, portable, low-power FLEXIBLE display too which doesn't distort the image too much. Oh, two of them.

- You cannot place g-forces on the user that they aren't creating themselves (so lots of fancy flight sims are nice, but you still need to be in a seat that moves you about)

- Being moved upside-down can only really be replicated by being moved ALMOST all the way upside-down. It's hard to cheat, in a local gravity field, without interfering with the internals of people's ears. (Maybe when we get to space? But then who wants VR when you're in space?!).

- When you solve all these problems, there's still not much call for it except for gaming. You're again limited to what the human body can do whereas before you were, well, able to do whatever the software let you. Imagine Minecraft VR... it'd be the most boring day out in the world (and I actually quite like Minecraft). I can remember back in the 80's, towns in the UK would commission VR walkthroughs of new shopping centres etc. and use the old VR headsets to show people. Last time I saw one? The 80's. How old is something like VRML? Netscape 2.0 (remember the days of places giving you "3D flythroughs" of their new buildings?).

It's not that we couldn't do this before, it's that we gave up because it wasn't commercially viable for a long time because nobody was buying it. I don't doubt we can make it more viable, but whether it'll be mainstream? That's a seriously long way into the future. I've yet to see a Google Glass user, let alone an Oculus Rift user. Anyone remember the Nintendo VR attempt - Virtual Boy? No? Probably a reason for that?

I'm quite happy that Valve are buying into the Oculus Rift and pushing it forward as it's undoubtedly the closest to a consumer VR tech that we have. But we're a long way off it being anything more than a Wiimote-like gimmick.

Re:VR (1)

Wildclaw (15718) | about 7 months ago | (#46267895)

a flat 2D surface in front of your eyes is *not* like a 3D world when your eye tracks (no matter how close it gets). It does not "curve" the same way. So now you need a tiny, bright, hi-res, portable, low-power FLEXIBLE display too which doesn't distort the image too much. Oh, two of them.

Or you could just use lenses combined with a shader that corrects for the lens distortion.

Exciting, but long way to go... (1)

cowtamer (311087) | about 7 months ago | (#46265373)

I think Rift is in the right direction -- I've played with a few HMDs and many VR systems, and although the resolution of the Rift is extremely poor, the comfort is better than almost any HMD that I've tried.

The State of the Art in VR is not HMDs but systems like the CAVE [wikipedia.org] (check out the C6 [iastate.edu] at Iowa State) where the user is in a room with head tracking and a 3D input device, and each wall (including the floor, ceiling, and the wall you entered through in the case of the C6) is a 16 megapixel rear-projected 3D display updated in real-time. The experience is very much like being in the alpha version of the Holodeck (the walls disappear for the head-tracked user wearing the 3D glasses, and any object can be walked around).

The problem with these systems, of course, is that they take up real physical space and have been prohibitively expensive for the last 2 decades. To get something equivalent to the human eye, you need close to 100 Megapixels (updated at >60Hz) with a 180 degree field of view (to avoid feeling like you're seeing the world through welding goggles). The CAVE gives you this experience, at a great price. The real problem is that it is used almost exclusively for demonstrations to visiting dignitaries and funding agencies at the places fortunate enough to have them. The genius of the Rift is that it will have a huge developer and user base (at least compared to current VR systems). What is created by this developer and user base will feed into State of the Art VR research (which has, unfortunately, stagnated horribly for at least a decade) and lead to the creation of something cool. (I'm hoping for a 100 Megapixel equivalent eye tracked VR helmet with vergence and accommodation compensation -- or true real-time digital holography -- or light field displays).

[Incidentally, 3DTV could have been the basis of home based VR systems if the game console companies had had the vision to add head tracking and embrace it for what it is -- a very affordable VR display. For those of you who have never tried it -- the experience of head tracked 3D is VERY different than just 3D. But the 3D hate is too strong -- primarily driven by people who don't see 3D, are too sensitive to the effects of current display tech, or those who have had the misfortune of having experienced badly calibrated 3D]

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