Wow, so much detail! Uuhhh, wup woops! ...just my face in his butt
September 7, 2013 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Combining 3D scans of real life models in ultra high detail with the Oculus Rift and the Razer Hydra for movement controls to make one of the most realistic and spooky experiences in Virtual Reality [NSFW Artistic nudity] Welcome to the future.

Another quick video to demonstrate a standard for sharing 3D full-body scans online with Unity for clients. Different viewing modes, single screen or VR stereo 'Rift' mode (TAB button to switch) Plus a whole host of controls for switching sky lighting, spinning skies, spinning models, activating models hide / unhide and some sneaky animations in there a custom built skin shader is on the way to mimic SSS combined with iBL. [SIMILARLY NSFW]
posted by Blasdelb (67 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

I really think this is going to happen. This is the first time I've actually been optimistic about this sort of thing. I remember that show on discovery channel, Beyond 2000, where they showed that virtual reality game with the pterodactyl chasing two players around a floating chessboard type environment. That cheesy junk disappointed me so bad. But this...and John Carmack is on board? Holy smokes. This could actually happen. omg omg omg
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 10:37 AM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

might as well get it out of the way now.

Porn is about to get super freaking weird.
posted by The Whelk at 10:37 AM on September 7, 2013 [31 favorites]

Charging in to an enemy army on mount and blade or what ever medieval combat sim comes out. arrows flying past your head and slamming in to your shield. slamming your warhorse in to a line of archers. IN VIRTUAL REALITY!!!!
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 10:38 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

On the other hand, youtube videos of people bouncing off of their dressers instead of those archers will be hilarious.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:42 AM on September 7, 2013 [11 favorites]

A friend has been trying to convince me to get an Oculus Rift and I keep telling him I won't, but it keeps making such a compelling case for itself.

Games aside, imagine a machinima you can walk around in.
posted by postcommunism at 10:50 AM on September 7, 2013

I have a friend who bought the Oculus Rift devkit, and it's pretty amazing putting it on for the first time. Unfortunately, the devkit doesn't have some of the features that the consumer release will have (positional tracking, really high-resolution screens, etc.) so I got some motion sickness playing around in it. I'm optimistic that this stuff is going to be gangbusters.

The Rift and Hydra are one thing, and there's also stuff like the Virtuix which is a treadmill/motion tracking software with Kinect. You could plop down a couple thousand dollars and get this stuff in your bedroom.
posted by cyberscythe at 10:52 AM on September 7, 2013

Sony is supposedly working on an Oculus type headset for the PS4.

It is really just a tablet mounted in front of your head. The secret is in the software, displaying an image for each eye and adjusting it as your head moves.

I remember early demonstrations of VR tracking (with the 3D perspective but not the 3D display).
posted by eye of newt at 10:54 AM on September 7, 2013

This is stuff is all very exciting to me. I've always wanted this kind of thing!

Sony's getting in on the action too it seems:
posted by meta87 at 10:54 AM on September 7, 2013

Oh man he stands on a stool in real life to see the top of someone's head in the scene and it totally works.
posted by postcommunism at 10:54 AM on September 7, 2013 [11 favorites]

We have an Oculus Rift in the office, and while it's very impressive, there's not really that much point getting it if you aren't a developer. Next year will bring 1080p res (currently 720p) plus probably a smaller and lighter headset, along with easier configuration tools and far more playable games.

It's a very exciting time; I think we're about to see a decade of extremely rapid improvement in consumer VR tech, much as we've seen and benefitted from with smartphones.
posted by adrianhon at 10:55 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here is my prediction when it comes to this technology: The Occulus Rift developer kit used in the first link only has 640x480 pixels per eye. The consumer version should have 960x1080, since it probably will be based on a 1920x1080 panel. Companies such as LG has already shown of suitable 2560x1440, and surely 4K 3840x2160 panels are not far off - prototypes will most likely be shown next year. A 4K based panel would mean "2xHDTV" resolution per eye, in other words 4 megapixels per eye.

So, pretty soon it might just be the uncanny valley which keeps people from spending all their time in virtual reality. (But, on a more serious note, gear like this can be useful in so many situations, the possibilities in just cognitive therapy are quite stunning.)
posted by Baron Humbert von Gikkingen at 11:02 AM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

A total war game or something similar where you are on the field commanding instead of having a birds eye view. You could race up and down the lines rallying and getting stuck in where necessary. i am so excited and i want this to be real and happen ;_;
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:31 AM on September 7, 2013

virtual internet sports team.

frantically trying to reload your weapon but failing because you're shaking from all the adrenaline because this virtual environment is so dang real.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:32 AM on September 7, 2013

This demo is pretty awesome too.
posted by Brent Parker at 11:48 AM on September 7, 2013

Oh man he stands on a stool in real life to see the top of someone's head

Because in a virtual reality it's not possible to, I don't know, make yourself bigger or translate your position along the Y-axis without IRL physical movement?
posted by localroger at 11:56 AM on September 7, 2013

CCP Games, the makers of Eve Online, did a demo for oculus rift called EveVR and recently announced that they are making it a full game set to release in 2014. Now if only someone would come out with and Xwing vs. Tiefigher game for this thing I could die happy.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:58 AM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Forget about the teledildonics applications (talk about a reason to advance haptic rigs)! Just think about an Nmap scan...
posted by Samizdata at 12:04 PM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

localroger: "Because in a virtual reality it's not possible to, I don't know, make yourself bigger or translate your position along the Y-axis without IRL physical movement?"

Perfectly possible, but I think a lot of the power of the Rift comes from the fact that, with a few pretty lightweight accessories, real-world movement translates to in-world movement. That's half the battle with convincing simulation. The fact that when he got up on a stool it changed his perspective is an incredible commentary on the miniaturisation and accuracy of commercially available motion tracking technology and gyroscopics.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:04 PM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh come on - that nudity wasn't artistic at all.
posted by sneebler at 12:05 PM on September 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

There's also War Thunder which is already out.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:07 PM on September 7, 2013

IL-2 Stumovik on the rift
posted by daHIFI at 12:18 PM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh come on - that nudity wasn't artistic at all.
It was kind of sweet that he seemed to not want to walk around to the front of the model. Either he was thinking "man, this seems creepy as balls" or "my mum is gonna kill me"
posted by fullerine at 12:21 PM on September 7, 2013 [10 favorites]

I was waiting, during a close up, for the model to squint and yell "BOO!". Of course then I would have to do my laundry a day early.
posted by TDavis at 1:08 PM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Hey, hey, HEY! You missed it! You all missed it! KITTENS IN 3-D! On his shelf! It looks like a bright pink box!

[goes off to search online]

Oh, it's just a book. For a moment, I thought this fellow chose to look at life-like 3D people instead of 3D kittens.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:08 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Porn is about to get super freaking weird.

Dem nacelles....
posted by fatbird at 1:16 PM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, it's just a book.

Browse Inside Kittens in 3-D, the link says.

I personally don't wish to browse the inside of kittens, certainly not in 3D.
posted by mykescipark at 1:18 PM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

This demo has a problematically high creep factor.
posted by sevensixfive at 1:21 PM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

> I was waiting, during a close up, for the model to squint and yell "BOO!"

If VR headsets take off, screamers are going to get much worse than a .gif pretending to be a .jpg.
posted by postcommunism at 1:27 PM on September 7, 2013

Well, I do have a Rift and a Hydra, so I just did the 319MB download and tried it. It is indeed impressive.

Everybody is a little oiled up, but that's probably just to help show off the environmental illumination. The lighting works really well. It's striking how bright outdoor illumination, versus dim indoor, seems to accentuate the impact of the models' nudity. That's probably cultural.

Some of the meshes are a little wonky, such as the chest and neck hair of the guy at the far left, but that's to be expected. It's quite good as-is, but there's a reason everyone is wearing their hair up.

The scale is perfect. The blond woman is indeed very tall. Standing, I'm exactly the same height as the guy at the back right. The brunette woman is slightly shorter than me. They all feel very present. It's quite something to sit in my desk chair and roll around in this scene with all 3D parameters responding correctly.

The reason I have a Rift and a Hydra is that I'm a graphics researcher. Based on my knowledge of the existing literature, this demonstration is just a first step toward what's already possible right now. The models are only textured with environmental illumination, and adding a subsurface scattering term will enhance the visual realism of their flesh dramatically. The specular mapping isn't quite right either, and the eyes don't catch light like they should. The shadow mapping is a little raw, and if they could take advantage of precomputed radiance transfer parameters then the environmental illumination would be flawless.

The next step everyone wants to see, of course, is video. That's possible for textured meshes, but really getting the re-illumination right will be tougher. I'm inclined to believe that these models had to hold still for a time while sampling took place. Repeating the capture at 60Hz will require an advance in hardware.
posted by rlk at 1:32 PM on September 7, 2013 [12 favorites]

Oh, of course "a custom built skin shader is on the way to mimic SSS...". That'll be subsurface scattering.
posted by rlk at 1:34 PM on September 7, 2013

Either he was thinking "man, this seems creepy as balls" or "my mum is gonna kill me"

More like "YouTube will nuke my account from orbit if I show boobs."
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:40 PM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm surprised that the female models being topless, wearing thongs and high heels (especially while their male counterparts were dressed much more neutrally) hasn't gotten more talk in this thread. That made the video feel … super-weird.
posted by glhaynes at 2:05 PM on September 7, 2013 [10 favorites]

It's really interesting to me that he mentioned one possibility would be "a movie". It's interesting because that's something I spent a fair amount of time thinking about back in the mid-90s.

Basically, it's the antithesis of open world gaming.

As much as I crave simulation and open world freedom and complexity, I nevertheless am fairly strongly in the "if the average end-user were competent enough as a storyteller acting upon their volition within the magic circle of a virtual world, we'd never have needed professional storytellers to create and tell stories in the first place and real people's lives would be a hell of a lot more interesting than they actually are".

We'll always be interested in ludic environments and interfaces, but the advent of the immersive 3D virtual environment created an opportunity for an entirely new kind of strongly authored, scripted kind of narrative experience, a wholly deterministic immersive world, just like short stories or novels or television episodes or films, but one in which the individual members of the audience have exactly one freedom they've not had before — the freedom of perspective and divergent interest.

So imagine a carefully structured narrative where numerous interconnected events happen simultaneously, with various intersections of different storylines and character experiences, and the individual audience member is free to move within the virtual world of the narrative as he sees fit ... but subject to two constraints, one of which is fairly obvious: no teleporting. The audience member's perspective can move only as fast as characters can move, either on their own or via a conveyance. So you can stick with a particular character, walking along with him or traveling in a vehicle with him, but you can't move entirely on your own faster than a character can run.

This creates one level of scarcity — you can't avoid or ameliorate difficult decisions about where to direct your attention merely by instantaneous or extremely rapid travel.

The second constraint follows from the first: the narrative cannot be repeated. You're stuck with the choices you make as you go along, you can't exhaustively repeat in order to experience every possible event of interest.

This is technically impossible to completely enforce, of course. Technically proficient users will easily circumvent this.

But my conception of how this would work the best, would be in a long-form, serialized narrative like serialized television shows, where each episode is released at regular intervals, available to everyone within a limited period of time and then entirely unavailable after expiration. And no replayability during the release period. Again, technically proficient users would be able to circumvent this (or merely by going and watching a friend's copy with them, or pretending to be more than one person, etc), but my hope would be that for most such users, there would be pleasure in not doing this, in experiencing the story as it was intended.

At the beginning there would be various starting points available, or perhaps only one but then characters and individual stories spatially diverge (but many will intersect with the others later, of course).

My thought about this, my hope, was that there would be a secondary fan culture experience of the story as a whole — audience members would discuss with each other what they saw, what they found interesting, both in person (as within a family or among friends or whatever) and on the internet.

This would be pretty challenging for a writer, but I think it's within the realm of the possible. The writer would have to think about their stories differently than they're accustomed to. This would probably mostly be in real time, although all the various narrative could be written such that they all have a discontinuous jump at certain points (like when everyone is sleeping). Alternatively, every audience member within a certain perimeter in the story world would be forced to make some defined jump forward, such as when all the characters within that perimeter are doing nothing interesting (or sleeping). You might want to somehow get across town where someone else you're interested in might be staying up all night getting drunk, but this way you'll just have to live with your decision to be where you were at that point in time.

To take a step back into the abstract, the conception of this, my purpose with this is to leverage what is uniquely possible with a 3D virtual world viewpoint, while also entirely retaining a deterministic scripted narrative. It's an attempt to have the best of both worlds: the audience is able to make choices, to have an unprecedented freedom to experience the narrative in numerous ways of their own choosing, while preserving the authorial narrative integrity. (Unless an audience member makes a really bad choice of what to witness. But maybe that risk is part of what makes it interesting.)

I was pretty excited about this back in 1994 — it was, of course, Doom and Quake that got me thinking along these lines. I talked to a lot of people about it and, in fact, I corresponded with John Romero about it. Yeah, I know, I was twenty years younger then and naive. His response sort of clued me in to his personality — he was most interested in telling me about how cool the Daikatana was going to be. I should have written John Carmack. But I choose Romero because he was supposed to be the more of the visionary, storyteller person of the bunch.

Anyway, I think this has been possible for many years now — if the writing is strong enough, the obvious and clunky models and lighting and such of 1997 wouldn't have been insurmountable, because ultimately the larger part of immersion is how compelling the narrative really is, not the technology.

That said, clearly we're rapidly approaching a technological inflection point where the verisimilitude of a virtual world, including the interface to it with VR gear, basically cries out for the realisation of this kind of storytelling experience. It seems to me that this guy in this video, with his Oculus Rift and these extraordinary models, was very close to this particular eureka moment right during his making of this video.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:07 PM on September 7, 2013 [9 favorites]

The Whelk: "Porn is about to get super freaking weird."

So, ummm, this is an advertisement for the Oculus Rift (NSFW)
posted by Blasdelb at 2:08 PM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Virtual reality was such a big deal in the 1990s, everybody was super excited about it... but the tech just wasn't there yet and people kind of lost interest. I've wondered if there had been any interesting developments since VR stopped making headlines, and it's nice to see that the techies didn't give up on it. This is amazing work.

It reminds me of visiting Madame Tussaud's in London. Whatever experience you've had with wax figures, it doesn't compare. (I've been to the MT is LA, and it doesn't compare.) They had figures that looked absolutely 100 percent real. Like, you could stand with your face 3 inches from Picasso or Nelson Mandela, and they looked just like living, breathing human beings who had somehow been frozen in place. The effect was eerie as hell. I have some tourist shots that make people's jaws drop. "Oh, here's me with Pope John Paul. Nice dude."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:11 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can't walk or run around without a gamepad or mouse, which limits the "reality" aspect of this to your hands, jumping, and vehicles. This is cool and everything, but let's not get too crazy yet.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:24 PM on September 7, 2013

you can't avoid or ameliorate difficult decisions about where to direct your attention merely by instantaneous or extremely rapid travel. [...] the narrative cannot be repeated. You're stuck with the choices you make as you go along, you can't exhaustively repeat in order to experience every possible event of interest.
I really like the idea of following one character around, but I really don't like restricting motion in the way you describe.

Anytime I've seen things somewhat close to this (one-time viewing, not being able to jump around the narrative, very specific requirements for performance) that aren't due to technical limitations it's been more about narcissism, and has actually poisoned the work of art because it actively resists reinterpretation outside of the creator's narrow terms.
posted by smidgen at 2:33 PM on September 7, 2013

it's been more about narcissism

Yeah, designing a VR experience that mimics the limitations of IRL seems about as desireable as designing a word processor that mimics the limitations of a typewriter. "No Teleporting" lasted in Second Life for what, about two weeks?
posted by localroger at 2:40 PM on September 7, 2013

Just to be more clear, I think the restriction implicit in the arrow of time through the narrative is enough to keep the artist's integrity.

Films do jump cuts all the time, people re-watch films paying attention to different aspects of a scene all the time as well. If someone is so invested in your work that they decide to live the life of every character in it, then that's a good thing and they should be able to do it. Letting them only experience one aspect of the narrative directly is kind of an interesting art project, but mostly a dick move.
posted by smidgen at 2:41 PM on September 7, 2013

I don't know about you guys but a Freespace sequel with Oculus Rift is my dream. EVE-VR seems like the closest bet so far.
posted by gucci mane at 2:51 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

The discussion of narrative reminds me of the play stagings people sometimes do in old warehouses or wherever, and the audience sort of wanders through the narrative instead of sits and watches it (complete with simultaneous events in unobservable areas). I can definitely see that possibility.

It also makes me think of Strange Days, and GoPro cameras, and living other peoples memories. Living in the future is weird.
posted by selfnoise at 2:52 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh man, I forgot about GoPro. 3d GoPro/Google glass plus this would be... exhilarating.
posted by smidgen at 2:58 PM on September 7, 2013

"'No Teleporting' lasted in Second Life for what, about two weeks?"

That's apples to oranges. Second Life isn't a story, it's just a different environment for people to do what people do.

"'s been more about narcissism, and has actually poisoned the work of art because it actively resists reinterpretation outside of the creator's narrow terms."


"Letting them only experience one aspect of the narrative directly is kind of an interesting art project, but mostly a dick move."

I get that you and localroger balk at the idea of this kind of restriction, but the claim that such a restriction is narcissistic and dickish of the writer seems to me to be a truly bizarre claim. And of course what I'm proposing is an art project in the same sense that a novel or a play or a film is an art project. It's not a game. (I'm not saying that it's not possible for something to be both. But this isn't such a thing.)

Art is defined by its limitations, it exists only by virtue of those limitations. An artist decides which constraints within which she wants to work; the audience collaborates with the artist in how they explore those constraints and reach beyond them, outside the frame, in various ways to create a perspective that for them creates something coherent and comprehensible. Specifically, with a prose narrative we do a lot of the mental work, filling in the cracks and implicitly imposing a kind of temporal verisimilitude in retrospect.

My coupling of the spatial continuity of a perspective with the arrow of time has a specific and considered purpose of both enforcing an immersive constraint (because instantaneous, unlimited distance travel is extraordinarily unreal) and creating a constraint that encourages the audience to have a secondary channel of narrative experience — that of a social, collaborative audience experience where people can tell each other stories about the parts of the narrative not available to them inside the primary structure. If two characters have a life changing, traumatic interaction with each other and then immediately part ways, each audience member will have to choice which character to follow primarily, and which character to follow secondarily within one's immediate social environment and/or the wider fan culture.

When we experience conventional narratives, such as many of us are experiencing these final episodes of Breaking Bad, we are often very interested in sharing thoughts and personal experiences of the narrative even when it's the same exact narrative for every person. And that's because within the authorial/audience interaction, these individual narrative experiences are not actually identical. When we discuss Walter White's reaction to Jesse's freak-out with each other, we're collecting perspectives on the narrative that both broadens and deepens it. This would be true in this 3D free-perspective narrative as I've conceived it, except much, much more so.

Again, the underlying aesthetic here is to constrain individual and collective narratives very tightly with regard to what authors are especially talented and capable at doing — creating compelling scenes and character arcs and overall thematic integrity — while offering a corresponding freedom of experience for each audience member. The arrow of time and the restriction against instantaneous travel ensure that audience members are more likely to be continuously present long enough to experience interactions and events in ways that have dramatic interest — teleporting would make it very, very easy to never experience anything with any continuity. And from the other direction, the enforcement of that arrow of time and the prohibition of replayability mean that an effectively omniscient viewpoint is unavailable to an audience member — this matters for the same reasons that conventional narratives suffer when there's an excess of detail. Human beings aren't omniscient, we're extremely limited in this sense and that's one of the reasons why we have the power of imagination to the degree to which we do.

We think we want to know what's going inside everyone else's heads, but in reality that would be unpleasant and extremely disorienting. It would be very hard to maintain a private perspective of experience if we effectively shared a collective, universal consciousness. A lot of pleasure is found in what we don't know, and what we can't really know.

And, finally, as I wrote earlier with the Breaking Bad example, people eagerly create collaborative super-narratives of collected secondhand perspectives even when we all share the same authorial presentation. When it's possible for different people to experience a relatively large number of distinct primary viewings, then the motivation to create a collaboratively larger structure of exchanged primary experience will be very strong. In doing this, people will do what people do best as an audience, which is to imaginatively fill in the details in a way that draws upon a person's own life and unique perspectives.

In any case, people who aren't me will want to make different artistic choices — if such entertainment formats come into existence, there's no doubt that writers will experiment with freedom of both time and space in ways that I eschew. And some of them will, of course, be successful in doing this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:37 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

That really is cool but he failed to address what I was most interested in. The "kittens in 3D" thing on the shelf behind him.

I belive Kittens are the killer app here. More kittens please.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:13 PM on September 7, 2013

gucci mane, Star Citizen by Roberts Space Industries has announced that they will have Oculus Rift support out of the box. So, two space sim games!
posted by Punkey at 4:18 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

And Ivan, I think that the most interesting possibility of what you've described would be through basically making it play like The Walking Dead: you can play through multiple times, but you can't save and go back in each playthrough. That way, you could have multiple "viewings" of the same story that all tell different stories. It'd allow for the more directly personal experience and the divergent takes on the same story still, but then it would allow the really dedicated to go back and experience the entire story from a different perspective.

Of course, the real challenge would be making the game and having to deal with avoiding subjecting players to hours of characters planning, preparing, or simply making dinner and eating.
posted by Punkey at 4:25 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is awesome, but I just can't get over the provocation that we're looking at a bunch of frozen nearly-naked people. I think the guy plays it cleverly for laughs, never quite talking directly about it. But what is it with graphics researchers and naked people? See also: Lenna. (Maybe in this demo it's as simple as cloth being harder to model than skin.)
posted by Nelson at 4:41 PM on September 7, 2013

Ivan, I don't fundamentally object to the idea of a VR story tying you down; I've been known to tell the occasional story myself and I understand the usefulness. My problem is when you have VR tech demoed and the VERY FIRST THING that anyone mentions is "hey, you can pin this down to act just like the real world."

That is the very LAST thing you would want to do with VR that actually works. I go back to the OP and again, why did the guy have to (IRL dangerously) stand on a stool to see the top of a tall person's head in VR? All right it's unnatural to just displace yourself up 50 centimeters but why not make yourself 50 centimeters taller? Then you're still interacting with the environment but now you're the tall person. If you can't do shit like that what is the point of the V in VR?

I see this kind of thing as a persistent failure of imagination. It is very, very hard to imagine how the social, political, and economic structures we take for granted would express themselves in a world where there is total freedom of movement. William Gibson took one of the first stabs at that, and I've had my own shot. But to say we're going to make VR observe the same limits as IRL is the cheap and easy way out of that question.
posted by localroger at 4:48 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I will be buying the shit out of this once it's in commercial release and debugged reasonably well.

I'll also fund any Kickstarter to update Thief 2 to work with it.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:59 PM on September 7, 2013

I like imagining the abstract applications. Audio visualizationa you can swim through? Virtual lairs with all your documents and mp3s an video clips. Virtual sandboxes where you can do mechanical engineering and play with gears and models ad such. Crazy weird pseudoscience brain reprogramming stuff. Google earth.
posted by ian1977 at 5:21 PM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

For whatever reason I can only think of that DS9 episode where someone hires Quark to make a holosuite program of Kira and he spends the whole episode trying to surreptitiously scan her.

That's what will become of all this.

and a really great CoD 28 until all the little kids have a Rift device and ruin everything with their teabagging and profanity screaming.
posted by M Edward at 5:24 PM on September 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

4K HDTV 3D Minecraft. Hell, yes.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:58 PM on September 7, 2013

I'm surprised that the female models being topless, wearing thongs and high heels (especially while their male counterparts were dressed much more neutrally) hasn't gotten more talk in this thread. That made the video feel … super-weird

To be fair, the males do not have what might be called "average" male body types. Unless GI Joe is average to you.
posted by Halogenhat at 6:50 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

glhaynes: "topless, wearing thongs and high heels"

Halogenhat: "To be fair (...) "average" male body types"

Let's not go over that one again.

The demo blew me away. The textures seemed so real...
posted by tigrrrlily at 7:16 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'd definitely rather see a more representative set of humanity used for the models for all the usual reasons, including because that's what I'd rather see more of the eventual stories/games for this breakthrough thing based around than the continued incredible over-representation of GI Joe / Barbie-shaped people in video games.

But there's certainly precedent for studies of human bodies to be based on the most "ideal" (*shudder*) exemplars, and I can at least understand the logic of that. So I'd have been prepared to give the video far more of a pass if the women were just similarly "perfect" (*shudder*) in proportion to the men but then the video maker has additionally put them in far more sexualized underwear. And shoes! I mean, why have most of them covering their breasts — just throw some twirly pasties on their nipples. And, hey, body glitter would've made a cool texturing demo.

In a field as rife with sexism as video games, I just couldn't see the cool technology being shown here in the light of the silly awkward cringiness of the video.
posted by glhaynes at 7:28 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

selfnoise alluded to this, but Sleep No More was probably one of the best theatrical experiences of my life, in large part because you could choose to wander through the performance, stick to a location and let the actors move in and out of your space, or -- if you were very athletic -- follow a single actor/character as he or she moved through the space and story. During the three hours of the performance, you first wander through the multiple floors of darkly lit, fabulously dense 30s-style sets, everything from hotel lobbies to office closets to entire forests, as various scenes loosely based on Macbeth surge and eddy around you along with all the other masked audience members. But because the Macbeth story (or some fractured, silent, dance-based version of it) is playing out for all the characters simultaneously, they cycle through it a couple times before the climactic finish, though you can only really tell that if you stay in one spot for over an hour, or recur to that spot, or -- as we did -- finally decide you want to follow Macbeth throughout his narrative. Which let me tell you, is damn hard -- the actor is super-athletic and knows his way around, dashing from one scene to the next through pitch-dark halls and staircases at a literal run, somehow changing along the way, and we few following definitely lost him around corners and in crowds a few times. But the end result was really amazing, first getting narrative in bits and pieces as if edited by a mad genius or simply wandering through a busy hotel, then getting it sequentially, though only around this one character, who even if he is ostensibly at the heart of the story, misses out on a lot of it (eg, the damn spot). I don't know if, with the advent of proper VR, that is the future of narrative, but -- even apart from shocks like being an invisible viewer inches from a naked performer who suddenly turns, makes eye contact (through your mask), grabs your hand, and runs it over her recently-shaved head -- the way you do and don't live the story, immersively, directably, but uncontrollably, was something deeply new (to me). I look forward to more stuff like that when the VR economics means it's not just entertainment for the wealthy.
posted by chortly at 8:21 PM on September 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

the VERY FIRST THING that anyone mentions is "hey, you can pin this down to act just like the real world."

How can unreal environments be convincing without first grounding them in a physics engine that is indistinguishable from reality? Building that engine should be the first priority of VR, because any fantastical environment must consider what rules it is breaking. A thing can't be said to be an alternative if it has no reference point on which to pivot. And if you think about it, an Alternate Earth that is 99% similar to ours would be SHOCKING in its differences. LOTR is one such example. From a user perspective, modifying the physics or "nature of being" (eg your character is* a housefly that sees in compound vision) beyond a certain degree would be disorienting and counterproductive for most purposes.**

*John Malkovich?

**Regardless, stories can be elevating even when told via the confines of our corporeal world. I wouldn't mind a stint on the Pequod--taking my turn in the eagles nest to search the seas, scrambling up the ropes to lash errant sails, or manning an oar for a perilous chase. If it were all interposed appropriately with narration, and perhaps time-dilation between major (and some minor) events, it would succeed in firmly contextualizing the user within the story she already knows.
posted by troll at 11:19 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

So, ummm, this is an advertisement for the Oculus Rift (NSFW)
posted by Blasdelb at 2:08 PM on September 7

For the record, no, it isn't, at least not in any official capacity. It's a fan-made edit of this (nsfw) music video.
posted by bizwank at 11:40 PM on September 7, 2013

Only question I have with the Rift is how do you control the game you're playing ? You can't see your keyboard.
posted by Pendragon at 12:55 AM on September 8, 2013

gucci mane: "I don't know about you guys but a Freespace sequel with Oculus Rift is my dream. EVE-VR seems like the closest bet so far."

We're likely to see Rift support for X Rebirth not too long after release.

It's really tempting to just give in and purchase one of the Rift dev kits, but so far I've managed to convince myself that the huge jump in resolution in the retail version will be worth the wait.
posted by vanar sena at 1:24 AM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

As selfnoise and chortly point out, Ivan Fyodorovich's suggestion of a non-interactive massive 3D narrative is basically Punchdrunk's forte, with their works such as Faust, Masque of the Red Death, Sleep No More, and The Drowned Man all taking place in very large physical venues. During these plays, you're exposed to interweaving, overlapping stories over the course of a few hours, set within a highly atmospheric environment — lights, props, sounds, music, etc, all made just so — and it's impossible to follow the entire story because there's just too much going on. And by making the audience wear masks, you don't get pulled out of the fiction too much.

When I went to Masque of the Red Death a few years ago, I was awestruck by the scale of it, and came out thinking that I'd just stepped into a real-life point and click adventure. Of course, I had not — there was no interactivity, certainly not on the level of influencing the story, at least. That left me a little disappointed, although unjustifiably so, since it's not as if they pretended it was interactive in the first place.

The thing is, there are interaction and personalised encounters in these plays. Actors will frequently choose a member of the audience and pull them into a room to make them do an eye chart or read their palm or whatever — it happened to my girlfriend pretty much as soon as she walked in to The Drowned Man. Yet these encounters are necessarily scarce; there aren't enough actors to ensure that everyone gets one, and even then you'd need to track the 'state' of the audience (doesn't have to be with tech, you could just use badges or something).

Let's bring it back to the Oculus. I think Punchdrunk's shows will serve as a great benchmark to measure the quality of immersive artistic storytelling experiences in VR, not just in terms of sensory fidelity (Oculus can't manage the image, let alone touch or smell; but maybe sound?) but also narrative quality. And it's clear that many of the things that Punchdrunk struggle with, i.e. interactivity, are far more easily addressed in a wide range of ways with VR.

(Sidenote: I recall wandering around Masque of the Red Death and seeing an actual queue outside the door of a particularly cool-looking personalised encounter, like we were in Disneyland (which I guess we sort of were). This is not what anyone really wants).

(Sidenote 2: You don't go to Punchdrunk plays for the dialogue; in fact, the actors rarely speak out aloud, and most of the really impressive set pieces involve dance. I expect there are many reasons for this, including the more dreamlike feeling of their performances, along with logistical issues like actors having difficulties projecting in spaces that aren't really designed for speech. Plus it feels like it might slow things down. VR would not have the same problems).

chortly: I look forward to more stuff like that when the VR economics means it's not just entertainment for the wealthy.

I don't know exactly what you mean by that; do you mean that Punchdrunk plays are expensive and VR equivalents might be less so, or that VR itself is expensive? An Oculus Rift dev kit only costs $300, which is significantly cheaper than the PS4 or XBox One; and everything they've been saying points to the consumer version costing the same or less. I bumped into Palmer Luckey (founder of Oculus) at a conference a few months ago and he suggested that they should just give it away on contract, like mobile phones.

Yes, you do need to hook it up to a PC, which is not cheap — but it's not ridiculously expensive. I expect that in 2015/2016, when the Oculus 3 comes out with a 1440p display, you'll be able to hook it up to a fast smartphone or 'Steam Box' PC or whatever.

Baron Humbert: Another thing that Luckey mentioned is that we will probably get to 4K displays by piggybacking off smartphone displays, just like you say. He sees 16K as the target resolution for 'reality' which would require going it alone — although he thought that unit volumes of merely a few million would be enough to pay for R&D and production costs. We will see. It's strange to think we might be there in a decade.
posted by adrianhon at 3:33 AM on September 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thanks so much sewlfnoise, chortly, and adrianhon for your discussions of Punchdrunk's productions. They sound amazingly and intensely interesting to me — which they would, given that I was interested/motivated to think about this paradigm on my own. I think there are tremendous possibilities in this.

With regard to media and aesthetics, I tend to think in terms of how a particular medium's strengths and weaknesses translates into the kinds of narratives/experiences that are most (or least) appropriate for that medium. In particular, I'm interested in how a particular medium is uniquely suited to a kind of narrative/experience that can't be realized elsewhere. So, for example, I feel pretty strongly about serialized television as opposed to episodic television: there's many options for episodic, short-form (one-hour) narratives, but only television makes possible a twenty-hour or more visual narrative. In some sense, television is wasting its potential with the episodic format. Of course, practically, there are audience investment limitations, and the audience for widely different kinds of television programs is much larger than for only serialized fictional narrative. But, from an artistic perspective, I'm most excited about what I think television does best, what it's uniquely suited to do.

I think it wasn't clear to some people that what I described in my comment was not in any sense ludic, I'm not talking about anything created as or marketed as or experienced as a game. That's not to say that games can't have narratives and that they can't be art; and there's a continuum here. But we don't think of movies as "games" and we don't think of Tetris as a narrative, so there's regions where these things don't overlap and what I'm interested in is something that's pretty firmly outside the ludic context and firmly inside the artistic narrative context.

The description of Punchdrunk's productions really makes clear what's possible and why it would be deeply interesting to many people. We are already very immersed in our fictional narratives, whether they be prose or staged drama or filmed/videographed. The last has (rightly, I think, in contradiction to André Bazin) evolved to be closer to prose, with its unrealistic characteristics and unlike a strictly realistic visual narrative à la Dogme 95. The Punchdrunk productions and what I envision of a simulated 3D production are much closer to realism but allow the unique opportunity for an immersive but freedom-of-movement-and-attention experience.

That, I think, is the unique capability of a simulated 3D immersive narrative — the live stagings are possible but extremely difficult and have practical limitations, as described by adrianhon, that a simulated environment would not.

And I'm intensely interested in this from the creative side — that is to say, I find the prospect daunting but in a very attractive way, that of learning how to write close to real-time, simultaneous narratives that both connect and overlap into an overriding narrative while also having individual interest and integrity. If anyone here, or reading this in the future, ever has an interest or involvement in such a production, I've love to hear from you/them. :)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:26 AM on September 8, 2013

We're likely to see Rift support for X Rebirth yt not too long after release.

Nice! I had forgotten that the X series is getting a new addition. I hope the upcoming star citizen also has rift support. Man with all these space sims coming up maybe Lucasarts/Disney will jump on the bandwagon and give us the xwing game we've all been waiting for.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:43 AM on September 8, 2013

This is pretty amazing stuff: previews, hints, echoes of things to come. I just can't wait for Virtual Reality to become Real Reality.

I want to see that google guy trek down into the Grand Canyon again, feel the pack straps digging into my shoulders, my legs quivering, cramping, sweat in my eyes. And the RPGs. Ah, me. Let me know when I get to hear those faceless enemy combatants gargle when I slit their throats. I want to see the blood spurting, smell it on my hands, feel its sticky warmth...I want to be able to lick it off my fingers....I promise not to click on the porn sites.
posted by mule98J at 10:18 AM on September 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Ah sorry Punkey, I missed your comment regarding Star Citizen. That's awesome that they will have rift support at release.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:00 PM on September 8, 2013

Tell me what stock to buy. Take my money!
posted by phaedon at 4:06 PM on September 8, 2013

I love how his voice got wobbly when he got so excited while describing the potential of this kind of stuff that it overwhelmed him.

I was the same way about computers in the late 70s and the internet in the early 90s. I'm that way about Kepler's planet hunting these days, I think (and so disappointed it's broken).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:24 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

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