That thing you want? It sucks
June 17, 2015 11:53 AM   Subscribe

It's E3! As various tech companies demo, talk up and otherwise flog their entries in the great VR headset race, John Walker of RPS suggests they may be wasting their money.
posted by selfnoise (158 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
And he's probably right. Remember the number of people complaining about Wiimotes flying through TVs and people whacking each other? Imagine trying that but now you can't see anything around you.

There are going to be a lot of trips from VR to the ER.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:00 PM on June 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


All VR rigs fails the one test the tech guys can't seem to pass

"Do you look like an absolute chode while wearing it?"
posted by The Whelk at 12:00 PM on June 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


Yep. It's something I'd love to try, but no way am I gonna wear a giant headset while gaming.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:02 PM on June 17, 2015


I can imagine it being better enough for things like driving- or flying-centered games to actually take off there in a limited, lazy way. For general gaming though, or the fancier standing up/moving around use cases, no way.
posted by Skorgu at 12:05 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've been playing Elite:Dangerous with the Oculus DK2 and flightstick/throttle for a while and its amazing. Incredibly good simulator experience, VR is useful and not gimmicky, etc.

But thats like the people who buy the racing seat and steering wheel and pedals to play Forza. Sure, it's super awesome, but its very much a niche experience.

I can say that it can be a really great experience. Whether it can go mainstream is another question entirely.
posted by thefoxgod at 12:05 PM on June 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Whatever else people say about them, this is where Apple has always excelled. They're good at making great-looking products in a way that other companies bizarrely aren't. Like how everybody thought the Google Glass looked impossibly dorky. You'd think that Google, or any of these companies, could have spent some of their bazillions of dollars on hiring designers to make their tech look good, but they never seem to really try except Apple.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:05 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Maybe I am an outlier, having already bought a 500 dollar HOTAS set up, and a head tracker for previous iterations of my flight simming rig. But, the Rift is right up my alley.

The VR demoed so far is going to be an amazing step up in immersion.

"Do you look like an absolute chode while wearing it?"

I don't really care what I look like. My wife forbade me from dating years ago.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:06 PM on June 17, 2015 [33 favorites]


Heh, I was thinking about posting this. Last I heard, the Oculus was going to have PC spec requirements that something like 10% of computer owners have?

Also I say this with all sincerity: that SegaVR headset pictured in the article is a goddamn work of art.
posted by griphus at 12:07 PM on June 17, 2015


I couldn't be less excited about home VR if it came with an angry bear. 3D glasses are bad enough, but full-immersion VR goggles? NOPE.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:08 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


otoh, HOLOLENS
posted by boo_radley at 12:09 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Like how everybody thought the Google Glass looked impossibly dorky.

The Apple Watch has had me thinking about the idea of Apple Glasses (or whatever they would call it). If you could offload most of the computing requirements to the phone in your pocket you could make a pair of Apple glasses that looked like glasses.

I've been waiting for VR or AR to take off. It's like QR codes though. Better in theory than practice.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:09 PM on June 17, 2015


Have they engineered motion sickness out of it yet? Is that even a possibility? I kind of feel like if I can't ride be on a boat, there's no way VR is ever going to be in the cards for me.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:16 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


People like TV like TV, they like game controllers like game controllers, and they like ...

... the feel of the leather handle of the buggy whip. An automobile doesn't offer the same experience as owning a good horse.

...

But seriously, I think it'll be a small flop, not a huge one. That is, until the price comes down. Because right now, the price is such that a typical household that wants to own one of these headsets will own ONE of these headsets.

Make it cheap enough for a family to buy two headsets and you can play a VR Mario Kart with your buddy on the same couch. That's when you can start making all the monies.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:16 PM on June 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Last I heard, the Oculus was going to have PC spec requirements that something like 10% of computer owners have?

In one of their interviews, Oculus stated that the cost of the Rift and a PC to use it should be in the 1500 dollar range. Speculating at the cost of the Rift at ~500 dollars, that puts the PC at ~1000 dollars. What sort of performance you get at that point is an open question, but a 1k PC is fairly modest in a world where a top of the line video card runs 700 dollars.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:17 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Its not like you're gonna wear these in public. With the death of split-screen gaming, there's a very large percentage of gaming thats happening on individual monitors/PCorConsole anyway. So at most your family or roommate sees you (who already knows you're a dork). Very different than AR like HoloLens or (not-AR-but-similar) Glass.

The multiplayer aspect of gaming moved from local to online a while ago, so you're usually not in the same room with anyone you're gaming with anyway. Local multiplayer is a dying thing, except for WiiU (which is not going to be having any VR anyway, and is targeted at a completely different market).

Especially since most of these are PC-targeted. Very few people sit around their PC with others to game, even less than they do with XB1 or PS4.
posted by thefoxgod at 12:17 PM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm going to say something unpopular:

3D is not as bad as everybody seems to consider it, mostly because a lot of people didn't give it a fair shot. Now, this is not really the consumer's fault, because 3D was kind of confusing.

Was it active-shutter 3D that gives you higher spatial resolution but is more likely to be headache inducing, requiring $100 glasses, and generally being a pain in the ass?

Was it passive 3D that used el cheapo polarized 3D glasses (same as in the theater) but was reasonably comfortable?

Did the 3DTV implement it well? Was it significantly more expensive than a regular TV? Did the GAME implement it well? Was it a game that benefited from 3D at all? When played in 3D, is there a resolution hit or a framerate hit or loss of visual fidelity rendering it pointless? Did the consumer do a lot of research to figure all this out?

Most of the time, no, not really. But, you know, I gave it a fair try. And, you know what? I enjoyed it. I got an LG 3DTV with passive 3D for $550 some years ago, and it actually is quite fun with the 3D enabled. Games worth playing in 3D on the PS3 included Assassin's Creed III, Wipeout HD, Uncharted 3 (properly setup, allowed two people to play split-screen while each only seeing "their screen"), Super Stardust. But most people haven't gotten all the necessary pieces together and researched thoroughly, so 3D was, for most people, a gimmick that they didn't try, or performed poorly when they did try. Or 3D implementation doesn't work well for everybody; my girlfriend finds first-person perspective nausea-inducing and 3D is similar for her - and that's not just in games, but at movies, too.

So, yeah, I'm annoyed he started the article with a false argument. But to argue that the games won't be there literally before release is as asinine as pre-judging the latest Apple product before it's even been released, which, strangely, still doesn't seem to embarrass people.

And for the record, major new films ARE STILL BEING RELEASED IN 3D and bringing in huge ticket revenues.

Look, it could fail or be a huge success. But I don't need more "this new thing sucks" arguments, because I can still get those from older people complaining about the music kids listen to. I already have to come to terms with the fact that rock is now "dad music"

I'm not 30 yet! At least allow me to pretend that I'm still a young person. Even if I find twitter pointless.
posted by Strudel at 12:20 PM on June 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Gaming. Pfft.

This is gonna be about porn. Occulus and force feedback gloves, and we'll lose two thirds of the workforce within months.
posted by Mooski at 12:20 PM on June 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


Things like this are the best argument I've seen for VR not being just a tech nerd thing. Being able to create fully immersive environments seems (to me) like it has more potential for social, educational and artistic experiences than gaming per se--but even then, the technology is probably still more of a barrier than a facilitator. You could create those environments to run on a standard mid-tier PC, and that'd almost certainly be a lot easier and more accessible than requiring specialized tech.

I may be working on an affectionately pessimistic related post.
posted by byanyothername at 12:21 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Have they engineered motion sickness out of it yet?

Increasing the resolution and refresh rate of the display helps, of course, but there are other tricks that can make VR more immersive, like a virtual nose at the bottom of your visual field.
posted by Rangi at 12:22 PM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I pledge to keep tossing money at projects until I can have my immersive reality fantasy lands and ignore the outside world.
posted by Theta States at 12:23 PM on June 17, 2015


...that puts the PC at ~1000 dollars. What sort of performance you get at that point is an open question, but a 1k PC is fairly modest in a world where a top of the line video card runs 700 dollars.

Yeah a $1000 gaming rig is not an obscene figure. Looks like the specs were an official communique:

NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
8GB+ RAM
Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
2x USB 3.0 ports

It's been a v. long time since I've known model numbers on processors and gfx cards so if anyone has any insight that'd be great.
posted by griphus at 12:24 PM on June 17, 2015


FWIW, we're not even at the "Apple ][" phase of personal VR. Form factors that look incredibly clumsy now will look completely different in a decade, and as a result a lot of this stuff will look pretty dumb until it doesn't.

I think it's it's safe to say that the next generation will find today's idea of human/computer interaction to be pretty quaint.
posted by ArmandoAkimbo at 12:24 PM on June 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


In one of their interviews, Oculus stated that the cost of the Rift and a PC to use it should be in the 1500 dollar range.

More recently, they announced that the minimum video card would be a GTX980 - that is, Nvidia's third-best, after their ridiculous Titan line and the upspecced GTX980Ti. I have a ripsnorting fast computer, but I'll have to be prepared to buy a new video card if I want to go into VR.

That said, I think RPS is seriously off-base here, for once. The old complaints about VR - janky tracking, screen door, latency, resolution - are all rapidly declining in severity now that we finally (barely) have computers fast enough to push those pixels and graphics stacks capable of controlling frame delay. The comparison to Kinect is especially bizarre: Kinect had crappy tracking, demanded a huge amount of floorspace, and as used by the vast majority of developers only supported the largest, most exaggerated movements on a single 2D plane. It was literally a home version of a gimmick I saw in a children's museum ten years before. Compare to the new generation of VR headsets: they complement familiar input devices, can be used sitting or standing, and are designed to be intuitive and transparent, unlike Kinect, which in my experience invariably involved a bizarre and disorienting process of attempting to put body parts in such a configuration as to be properly in frame, staring, rather than moving naturally.
posted by fifthrider at 12:26 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


There's definitely a subset of people that will absolutely love Oculus/Morpheus/Vive/StarbreezeVR, but the key question is just big that subset will be.

If you already have a TrackIR, full VR is the natural next step. If you don't already have a HOTAS and TrackIR and a Star Citizen hangar full of ships, I'm not sure you're going to go all in on VR.
posted by kmz at 12:26 PM on June 17, 2015


3D is not as bad as everybody seems to consider it, mostly because a lot of people didn't give it a fair shot. Now, this is not really the consumer's fault, because 3D was kind of confusing.

I actually liked 3D in movie theaters for the movies that were specifically made for it. It does seem like people hate on it a lot.

Have they engineered motion sickness out of it yet?

I was listening to some VR people(Palmer Luckey, some Sony VR people) talk to Jeff Gerstmann on yesterday's Giant Bomb E3 audio feed, and it sounded like developers of the software needed to be extremely mindful of this, so it's not just a hardware fix; the game needs to be adjusted to allow for comfortable play.
posted by selfnoise at 12:27 PM on June 17, 2015


I'm actually sort of surprised RPS ran this as an op-ed rather than a point/counterpoint. Maybe the person who had to write the "VR Is Going To Be Bigger Than Jesus" article got sick or something.
posted by griphus at 12:27 PM on June 17, 2015


Whatever else people say about them, this is where Apple has always excelled. They're good at making great-looking products in a way that other companies bizarrely aren't. Like how everybody thought the Google Glass looked impossibly dorky. You'd think that Google, or any of these companies, could have spent some of their bazillions of dollars on hiring designers to make their tech look good, but they never seem to really try except Apple.

To be fair to Google, Glass was still at the "let's try out some shit and see if works" stage when the big shots decided to tell the world. If they had waited until it was ready for actual people to buy, it probably would have looked much better.

Apple doesn't show off new stuff until it's pretty much in it's final form. I'm sure there were iterations of Apple Watch that were just as dorky and stupid looking as Glass. The difference is Tim Cook didn't decide to bring one of those iterations on stage at WWDC and try to show it off as something Apple would sell some day once it was done.
posted by sideshow at 12:28 PM on June 17, 2015


I mean, I agree that in the near-to-medium term this isn't going to sell like the Nintendo Wii did. It's definitely targeted at more, er, committed gamers. Which makes sense when developing a new tech -- its like the Tesla approach to electric cars (start with crazy expensive model, then slightly less expensive one, etc).

Right now it's aimed at the same kind of people who buy those $300+ graphics cards, gaming PCs, etc. Its a niche audience, but one that many companies have been targeting for years, so it seems like a viable niche to me.

With that they can continue to develop/refine the tech. And maybe in 5-10 years it will be in a very different place where you start seeing more mass adoption. I think right now they just need to nail the "gamer" experience, then they can go from there.

And based on the DK2 I have (which is not nearly as good as the consumer Oculus will be) it's pretty cool if you're willing to commit to a setup.
posted by thefoxgod at 12:28 PM on June 17, 2015


I'm not much of a gamer. I just want to drill some eye holes in the headsets and walk around in them. #stylin
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:30 PM on June 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


VR and AR systems can enable new types of games that aren't possible with current display systems. This was also true of the jump from 2D to 3D rendering and something that was not true of 3D monitors and TVs. The real question is if those games will materialize. The writer of the editorial is sure that they will not. I'm not so sure.

Big markets for this technology will surely be porn and 3D content creation. Researchers are going to eat the stuff up too. With the technology around it getting consistently cheaper and smaller, I think it's here to stay, although maybe not fully mainstream for a while.
posted by demiurge at 12:31 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


All I know is that Firewatch looks rad as hell.
posted by saladin at 12:35 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


The success or failure of VR/AR really won't be in gaming, but I imagine it will be based on the use of it in medicine, porn, the military, architecture, a variety of sciences, education, and the rest. I think RPS may be a bit myopic here too since they are primarily (if not solely) focused on PCs. A PS4 with Morpheus may be much lower in price than a PC with Oculus or Morpheus or whatever. Same with HoloLens and the XBox or other Windows appliances.

VR really is growing and I think it's really hard to say how far it will go, especially as it refines, and especially if you focus it solely on PC gaming.
posted by tittergrrl at 12:35 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: Medicine, Porn, the Military, Architecture, A Variety of Sciences, Education, and the Rest.
posted by griphus at 12:38 PM on June 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


Ah yes, Hololens*


*uses no actual holography.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:39 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Nobody's going to pay $400 plus a 2 year commitment for a smartphone, and besides, everybody loves physical keyboards, not touchscreens".

And then people actually tried the iPhone.

Once you actually TRY VR, you come away with a different opinion. But I'm biased...after I tried some of the new headsets, I managed to get myself a job working on one of the major ones.

It may not be mass-market this year, but it's coming to the market in the next 12 months. I think there are enough hardcore gamers out there willing to get more into the game to get the market off the ground.

There are many other applications, including sports viewing and movies, that I believe the gaming market is actually the small part of the opportunity.
posted by Jinsai at 12:40 PM on June 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


I think these technologies force a center of interest on you. That's limiting.
posted by Trochanter at 12:51 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


From what I've read, it does seem like almost everyone who has demoed one of the current VR headsets is impressed with the hardware. We're just waiting for the software to back it up.

The Minecraft HoloLens demo in the Microsoft E3 press conference looked pretty damn cool, though that's more augmented reality than VR. But yeah, it's a press conference so we'll have to see what holds up and what doesn't when all this stuff ships.
posted by ODiV at 12:51 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am still rating any potential VR experience on a scale from 'one' to 'Jesus wept!'
posted by FatherDagon at 12:52 PM on June 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


If you doubt this, consider the Kinect. £130 at launch, with Microsoft spending half a billion dollars on advertising, and… where is it now? ...Sure, if you got one, you played that one dance game on it on 360, but then what?

This is so true. Ours has been sitting in my son's closet since last summer.
posted by chococat at 12:54 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


VR and AR systems can enable new types of games that aren't possible with current display systems. This was also true of the jump from 2D to 3D rendering and something that was not true of 3D monitors and TVs. The real question is if those games will materialize. The writer of the editorial is sure that they will not. I'm not so sure.
posted by mariofs at 12:55 PM on June 17, 2015


There are many other applications, including sports viewing and movies, that I believe the gaming market is actually the small part of the opportunity.

Oh, I agree that the technology has some really interesting technical applications. Just like Kinect. But recreational? Fuhgeddaboudit. If the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise and fall again of 3D should have taught us anything, it's that people are not interested in sitting down in our living rooms and strapping wacky glasses to our faces for media consumption.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:57 PM on June 17, 2015


I think it's it's safe to say that the next generation will find today's idea of human/computer interaction to be pretty quaint.

Hello, computer?

Anyhow, yeah, we may get real VR someday, but this is baby step #1. You couldn't fit a 20GB NOMAD in your pocket, but a few people bought them, and then we got the iPod. This thing makes you look like a giant dork and requires a higher-than-grandma-grade PC to drive it; someday we'll get the "real" version that looks like sex and runs on a Raspberry Pi.

consider the Kinect

Yeah, actually I got a Kinect on sale, with a gift card, and mostly used it as a voice-control for Netflix. Haven't used it since we got a Roku.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:57 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


like a virtual nose at the bottom of your visual field

So they've cut off your nose to sprite your face?
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:58 PM on June 17, 2015 [26 favorites]


If VR is anything like my last gaming rig purchase...I'm going to buy it and then end up only using it for Hearthstone.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:59 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ah yes, Hololens*

*uses no actual holography.



"And the oculus rift didn't tear a portal into a demented hellscape of eyeball demons. phhhht."
posted by boo_radley at 1:00 PM on June 17, 2015 [17 favorites]


I think there are enough hardcore gamers out there willing to get more into the game to get the market off the ground.

These are definitely the people who will buy it to start. I am one of these people. People like me spend money on our computers these days as somewhat of a weird, expensive hobby that I can't really explain anymore.

I recently upgraded to a GTX 980. I had no particular reason to, I previously had a GTX 680, but I was not able to run GTA V at max settings. That was the only excuse I needed to upgrade. The act of upgrading itself is, to me, somewhat fun what with all the research and maximizing involved with choosing the right model.

I think people in my situation are all that is needed to sell the rift, at least initially. Its the same group of people who will buy a GTX 980 (when its new) in the first place. I dont think nVidia would keep producing such models if it werent profitable for them.
posted by warbucks at 1:02 PM on June 17, 2015


I think that the main problem with VR is that people go into it with the idea that it's going to be something like Star Trek: The Next Generation's holodeck, just as people get the idea that a 3D printer is basically a replicator--I mean, they may know at the top level of consciousness that they won't be able to feel things with their Oculus Rifts or make edible stuff (with some exceptions), but below that they want to believe that it will do more than it can now.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:03 PM on June 17, 2015


It's been a v. long time since I've known model numbers on processors and gfx cards so if anyone has any insight that'd be great.


Those are basically one or two steps below the best you can build without going for liquid cooling.

In cycling terms, it would be mechanical Ultegra or Record.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:03 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


The old complaints about VR - janky tracking, screen door, latency

Even when these are resolved there's a really huge issue, actually fun games available. There will be amazing demos, you'll have your friends over to stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower parachute off into a F1 race car and it'll be just amazing. Three or four demos and most folks will get back to games on a console that have good "game play" and are fun.

There will be a dearth of actual fun games for a few reasons, the added media development is just magnitudes larger, instead of a level an immersive world needs to be built. And NO ONE knows what makes a fun 3D game at this point. Then when one inspired game dev house catches a good idea, every other game for years will be basically a clone with poor and derivative visuals (ok not every, just 85-95% :-)
posted by sammyo at 1:03 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


But I want one.
posted by sammyo at 1:04 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don't worry guys, VR won't go away again this time like it did in the 90s.

It does not absolutely suck this time, like it did back then.

Hand held computers sucked in the 90s too. And remember, they never came back. Let alone stayed.

Sent from my iPhone
posted by OwlBoy at 1:04 PM on June 17, 2015


First of a few comments.

I really like VR. I think it's going to have a massive longterm impact in how we interact with the world and are entertained.

Currently it's sort of a clusterfuck though.

Hardware wise, we're solid. CV1, Vive and even Morpheus are really good devices. Tracking is sub mm, <5ms latency.

Controls are also looking nice. Lighthouse rules, Sixense will be nice if they can ship, and the oculus trackers are going to be good, albeit late. Move for Vive is okay, but it's better than nothing.

The issue is the games. Other than driving games, nobody's made stuff that doesn't cause fairly serious simulation sickness.

This is not everyone, but the majority of folks out there can't play Elite Dangerous, DCS (ignoring the shit framerate), or Il2, Let alone any FPS's.

Simulation sickness is not a minor problem, but a really serious obstacle. What it means is that you can't just slap a VR veneer on your game. You can't just "Make an FPS VR". If you do, you get Alien Isolation, and most folks can't even walk around without getting sick.

Sure, Simulation Sickness goes away with time as you become acclimitized, but "Work through the nausea" is one of the worst marketing pitches of all time.

What it means is that we need to reinvent our toolbox. We can't just port games to VR, we're going to have to reimagine the experiences themselves to the new platforms. You can't just worry about the visual aspects, but you need a deeper understanding of the neurology behind how we perceive and interpret the world.

It's all pretty fucking cool. So I disagree with the RPS statements that it's a dead end. I will agree with the statement if we don't start to see some serious budgets behind these titles, and stop releasing these 5 minute theme park samples.

**Caveat - I spent all morning fucking with VR camera, head/neck blending for characters and getting the stupid PS move to track and work on the PC for a sideproject.
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:05 PM on June 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


Great insight. 90% of it has enough truthiness to it that I'll agree. VR will not be the future of gaming in short order.

Now lets talk about where VR will have some success. VR will be used to check store layouts remotely and fine tune marketing and sales placement to help maximize dollar extraction from consumers. Why?

There are 5000 walmarts and they all have different layouts. Target has 3000ish, and then there are tend of thousands of supermarkets, drugstores, and so on.

Every retailer and manufacturer has to win your eyes in 20 seconds. That means every store needs to be understood, and that means testing to see how best to help you find a product.

Most think that this optimization is just to compete with the efficiency of Amazon. But, in the back end, browsing through Amazon is targeted and limits the impulse purchase. Plus, once folks eventually figure out the problems with auto-delivery - online sales will slow down their growth, and online will need to figure out how to improve their impulse purchase plan.

Make no mistake, VR has a place, and it is either optimization of an actual store layout, or to give your online shopping a browsing component.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:07 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Personally I can't wait to get one of these. I hate going to movie theaters and this will enable me to watch movies on a massive virtual screen at home. I'm not even talking about 3d movies. I'm excited about simply projecting a huge screen out into virtual space while I kick back on the sofa.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:08 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pikmin (or any game where you spend a lot of time fighting the camera) would be a great case for VR, though I don't know if it's the Myst that sold a thousand CD-ROM drives.

I've heard some people argue that the real use-case for VR is development. What's writing code look like when your monitor is infinitely big?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:11 PM on June 17, 2015


I couldn't be less excited about home VR if it came with an angry bear.

I'm not interested in home VR, but I am all for domesticated house-bears.
posted by combinatorial explosion at 1:12 PM on June 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


VR seems inevitable as graphics cards get more powerful and high-res screens get cheaper and lighter. It's funny that it's probably smartphone technology that is starting to make this feasible.

But the question is whether it will catch on this time. And as far as that goes, I think Walker's analysis pretty good, even though he makes a few bad comparisons. Nobody tried 3D TV and came away as impressed as most people seem to be who have tried the Occulus. And changing regular 3D games to Occulus games is not at all like the hack job of retrofitting 3D onto a movie shot mostly for 2D.

But he's right that there isn't going to be an install base that could support full-scale AAA games designed specifically for VR during this console cycle and probably the next one. But I think the jury's still out on whether a game needs to be designed primarily for VR to make the VR experience sufficiently superior.
posted by straight at 1:12 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sure, Simulation Sickness goes away with time as you become acclimitized, but "Work through the nausea" is one of the worst marketing pitches of all time.

Wait til VR Dark Souls comes around, promising to give you an actual case of severe PTSD
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:13 PM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I work for a game company that is dipping its toes into VR, and we're definitely considering how much motion sickness people experience with everything we've tried so far. For example running anything at lower than 60FPS means immediate disorientation, so it's been quite the adventure to optimize both graphics and code.

This is for sure a stepping stone to that awesome future science fiction writers paint for us. We're not going to get something cheap and beautiful and fully functional all at once, seemingly springing out of nothing. It's going to be rocky, but if you want to have a smoother interface with our technology as much as I do I'd imagine this would be at least somewhat exciting.
posted by erratic meatsack at 1:14 PM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I work for a game company that is dipping its toes into VR, and we're definitely considering how much motion sickness people experience with everything we've tried so far. For example running anything at lower than 60FPS means immediate disorientation, so it's been quite the adventure to optimize both graphics and code.


90 if you're not morpheus or gearvr.

And not ~90. 90, solid, stereo rendering. Fucking insane.

Once Nvidia gets their act together and releases Gameworks VR/VR SLI it'll help.
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:17 PM on June 17, 2015


With the PC games I play, at least for the foreseeable future, a VR system would create a disaster of Three Stooges proportions on my desk within the first 10 minutes. Drinks spilled, mistyped key commands, wrapped up in cables, most of my squadmates in game killed, etc.

For example, this is the default keyboard layout for ArmA 2. The setup for ArmA 3 is similar, but you also have to add to that all the additional keybinds for the additions of multiple stances your character can assume, a 6 button mouse, a HOTAS joystick with a separate throttle control with its own assortment of keys, and finally all the keys needed for some of the more essential mods and addons that handle the complexities of a dozen kinds of military radios and advanced medical systems.

The 3D/VR stuff still has a long way to go (for both the hardware and game developers) until its practical for complex control systems. Even CCP brought this up last night during their Valkyrie presentation, concerning how they really had to rethink control surfaces and leave out all but the most necessary things.

For me, it would be a far better use of my money to buy a couple extra monitors, a beefier graphics card that handles screen-spanning well, and a TrackIR setup, giving me both total use of my peripheral vision in-game and IRL.

My situation is an extreme one, though. I'm sure it will be fine for consoles and PC games that require less keybinds, but I can't stress enough how experience enhancing the relatively cheap head tracking hardware is for PC gaming.
posted by chambers at 1:19 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


All I can think about is Hiro Protagonist from Snow Crash and his "rig":
He lived in a cargo container, sparsely furnished. He didn't need decorations, just an uplink to get to Second Life the Intarwebz of the early 90's as thought of by people with no real idea about what the internet really was going to be.

IF virtual reality happens, this is the grim dark future we are looking at. Not cool games or nifty applications to extend our use of technology. We're going to end up living in micro-apartments with a bed/couch and hooking ourselves up to the net to escape the shit world we inhabit.

Actually, I wonder...
Yep, Second Life has adopted the Oculus Rift as their preferred VR headset.

Welcome to the future, I guess.
Mind you, I got to see the demo of the Oculus at NAB this year, and it really is quite incredible and immersive. But it's going to get really dicey in the future, given consumer market trends (think of the weird ass curved TV's they are trying to foist out now).
posted by daq at 1:22 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


IF virtual reality happens, this is the grim dark future we are looking at. Not cool games or nifty applications to extend our use of technology. We're going to end up living in micro-apartments with a bed/couch and hooking ourselves up to the net to escape the shit world we inhabit.

the future, you say
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:24 PM on June 17, 2015 [26 favorites]


daq, that makes me think of a Black Mirror episode.

Personally I think we're going to run out of food and water way before we reach a people-plugging-into-alt-realities scenario.
posted by erratic meatsack at 1:26 PM on June 17, 2015


I bought a google cardboard like...cardboard box thing with lenses that you slip your phone into.
There are more and more VR demos and shorts that you can download and use.

Some of the film short ones are pretty amazing and beautiful. Running around with big dinos is fun and there are a couple of horror ones that are downright freaky. People at my office had a lot of fun with a couple of coaster demos. It's funny to see how people automatically reach out for things, like a starting lever (you just focus on it to make it move) and flailing their arms around.

I can really see (and feel) the potential just from this crude cardboard box thing , plastics lens and a magnet. I'm looking forward to whatever plays out in consumer world.

Oh and sitting all comfy in my bed and watching a movie that plays in an app which makes you feel like you're sitting in an actual theatre is pretty neat.
posted by Jalliah at 1:26 PM on June 17, 2015


Simulation sickness is not a minor problem, but a really serious obstacle.

Agreed, but I'm not sure what the big mystery is, as far as solving this problem.

When playing around with my friend's VR unit, we were able to virtually eliminate motion sickness merely by having the other person watch the screen and incline the chair appropriately. Are people not looking into putting servos in chairs to do this automatically? Or doesn't this work for other people, for some reason?
posted by Dreadnought at 1:28 PM on June 17, 2015


The demos where you fly through the air are the best. There's this one where you can just swoop around some sort of 3d map rendering of cities and other places around the world. Put some music on and it's so relaxing. Yep I'm just going to fly around Chicago for a bit. Enough of that, fly up into the stratosphere, see the globe and another place and fly right done.

Made me feel like a super hero world explorer.
posted by Jalliah at 1:31 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I tried the oculus rift which was certainly impressive, but it showed me that a VR headset is unlike reality in that the field of view relative to the eyeballs is too small. It's like it was designed by only people who wear glasses (I wear glasses) and find it ok to have to swivel your neck to just glance at something.
posted by polymodus at 1:33 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I tried a rift for ten minutes and was motion sick for five hours. So I'm ... unlikely to repeat that.
posted by ead at 1:34 PM on June 17, 2015


Metafilter: work through the nausea.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:34 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, decent peripheral vision is super important for immersion. I think that's what the whole curved TV phenomenon is trying to do, but they have a ways to go before it makes sense for the average person.
posted by erratic meatsack at 1:36 PM on June 17, 2015


I think the killer app for an Oculus/XBox type setup will actually be a a virtual movie theater---literally. As in you select the row you sit in, what color the virtual upholstery is, how many NPC are are occupying the other seats, whether or not virtual ushers periodically walk by and tell you to get you feet off the seat in front you. And you and your buddies across the country can sit in this theater and throw popcorn at a movie you are all watching together (in 2d, natch!).
posted by sourwookie at 1:38 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really feel like the games that will most benefit from VR will also need a Leap Motion to let you, say, perform a Hadouken by making the hand motion in question, or fiddle with an inscrutable steampunk contraption in a Myst-clone.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:38 PM on June 17, 2015


I tried the oculus rift which was certainly impressive, but it showed me that a VR headset is unlike reality in that the field of view relative to the eyeballs is too small. It's like it was designed by only people who wear glasses (I wear glasses) and find it ok to have to swivel your neck to just glance at something.

Speaking of swiveling. I learned that if I'm watching/experiencing any sort of horror based short or game that I needed to be in a swivel chair because, OMG when something happens behind you and there are little clown doll things that disappear and reappear involved and you don't know where they are that your going to whip your head around trying to find the freaky things and that if your sitting in a regular chair you can pull a neck muscle.
posted by Jalliah at 1:39 PM on June 17, 2015


I think he's right that VR will be almost completely useless for a wide range of popular games (FPS; RPGs, particularly PvP) that are both multiplayer and require fast-twitch reflexes for optimal performance. But it would lend itself well to other kinds of games (someone upthread mentioned simulators) and could pave the way for entirely new gaming experiences that are designed with the strengths/limitations of the rig in mind. Will it be a must-have for every type of gamer? Definitely not. Will it be the second coming of the Power Glove? Maybe not.

Also, package it with Dramamine.
posted by echocollate at 1:48 PM on June 17, 2015


My work involves virtual reality and simulation, and simulator sickness affects people to very different degrees. Some people cannot even play FPS games on a normal monitor. Most people are fine with head-mounted displays (HMDs) as long as the image in the screen matches up with how they move their body. You can relate this to car sickness. In car sickness, people often feel worse if they are in the back seat, or if they are reading. This is because they feel the movement with their sense of proprioception from the inner ear (we have more than five senses, it's true), but they don't detect any movement with their visual system. This disconnect causes the dizziness and nausea related to car sickness. In simulator sickness, it's the converse. You see the movement very well, but you don't feel it.

There are two major issues in VR that break this connection:
1. Latency. If you move your head and the world doesn't move in front of your eyes immediately, you will feel bad. The definition of immediately varies per-person. With modern systems, this has been solved at a purely technical level. Carmack has been stressing this fact to developers of applications for the Rift. If your software introduces extra latency, people will hate it.
2. Travel. You can move your head and body around using the Rift to look around, but you are stuck in a location near your chair. If you start jetting around the environment by using a joystick, your brain expects to feel movement, but doesn't.

Some people are just naturally less affected by simulator sickness, like car sickness. In my experience with a non-HMD based driving simulator, about 10-15% of people get motion sick within 30 minutes. A HMD makes things worse, since you have more of your field of view taken up by the virtual space.
posted by demiurge at 1:50 PM on June 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


So having to swivel your head around, and perhaps your whole body around, just to look around in-game is better why? IMMERSION!

I look forward to the far-future RPGs which will accurately reproduce the physical sensations of walking a hundred miles through a forest while fighting rats and wolves. IMMERSION!

Seriously, once a week I drive to the home of a childhood friend, and we munch chips and play video games all night, just like we did when we were kids. To clarify, we sit comfortably on couches and look at each other while playing video games. Anything that interferes with the sitting-comfortably-on-couches-and-looking-at-each-other part? No sale.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:02 PM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I haven't had the chance to try any of the VR setups yet, but it's games like Alone that stand out to me as providing truly NEW experiences that can't be duplicated without it. I have no doubts that we're going to see people push the limits even more to do some amazing things.

Or how about Pinball Arcade in VR? Coupled with a pinball controller that duplicates the size and position with real flipper buttons, it's going to be as close as you can get without a real machine. Even one of the digital pinball machines won't produce the same feeling.
posted by evilangela at 2:12 PM on June 17, 2015


They don’t want to sit at the right angle, wear the special pair of glasses, and then sit transfixed at the screen lest their eyes wander to the clock and the effect be lost. People just want to watch TV.

3DTV kinda sucked at the outset. In particular, the polarized version of 3d TV is significantly dimmer than the 2d version, making it a so-so experience for most FPS games. But even just the concept was kind of stupid for both movies and TV to have 3d limited to a rectangle floating in front of you.

However, VR is entirely different. Just because they both involve depth perception, doesn't mean the technologies are in *any way* comparable. Think: dollhouse vs house-tour.

That said, VR games have similar issues to ultra HD-FPS movies. A lot of tricks of the trade rely on using 2d to simulate 3d effects (e.g. fog or rain layers). In VR, this becomes super obvious and distracting. So to make a AAA VR game, you really can't take a lot of shortcuts that you used to take.

I'm most worried about the motion sickness aspect. All other things being equal, being *inside* the game is what will make this sell. But people are realizing that when you are not completely disassociated (looking at a replay on a screen) from or connected to (inside the game controlling everything with low latency) the experience, running at 80mph and turning a corner abruptly is... kind of sickening.

What I think will happen is that games will start to pull back and become more human-scale, and the controls will change to lessen the disassociation, which in turn will make them more effective than the projected 3d we now have -- and not just because you can look around you. Games like Uncharted will benefit greatly from this. Games like Halo or Destiny are going to have to figure out a way to gradually introduce the player to the enhanced movement of the character.
posted by smidgen at 2:13 PM on June 17, 2015


In my day we played video games uphill both ways in the snow AND WE LIKED IT.
posted by erratic meatsack at 2:14 PM on June 17, 2015


TFA frames VR gaming peripherals as solely a visual effect. That's part of it, but there's more to it than that. I see it more as an enhancement of the control interface. (And that's a big part of the reason I think the comparison with 3D TVs is invalid.)

It's really hard to move a mouse quickly and precisely enough to simulate, say, glancing sideways down a corridor as you run past it, or repeatedly over your shoulder as you pick a lock. Headsets make that (almost) as natural as doing it in real life.

Conventional control schemes also force games to switch into secondary interface modes when the user does something that would be difficult to implement in the usual first-person mode—say, manipulating an in-game iPad, or entering a crafting interface. This context-switching can often disrupt immersion. (It's similar in many ways to, say, a load screen between space-travel mode and planetary-exploration mode in a space game.) This first generation of VR hardware doesn't solve this problem in every case—but it's a step toward addressing it.

Say you're crouched next to a low wall (in a game), and you want to peek over it without exposing yourself from cover any more than necessary. Modern games generally just allow you to switch between prone, crouched, and standing—you can't just move from "crouched" to "crouched, but two inches closer to standing".

Peripherals such as gloves and body-position sensors, once they're perfected, will solve that. Plus, it's gotta be more immersive to peek over the wall by feeling the weight and position of your limbs shift, and feeling your own muscles contract, instead of just tapping LeftCtrl or whatever. Sure, the first gen is likely to be clumsy, but that's how the first generation of anything is.

Similar things can be said about leaning around corners, jumping (are you hopping over a pothole or leaping over a chasm? most games treat them the same), and even running or walking at different speeds. Current games simulate a really small range of the physical movement that the human body is capable of.

Wouldn't it be way more satisfying to sneak past guards by actually moving your body to minimize your profile (running in a crouch; putting your back against the trunks of trees), and cautiously peeking your head out of cover, instead of just holding down a "sneak" button?

For that matter: if you really look at most game environments, they're much larger (in relation to the player's collision box) than comparable real-world environments. Otherwise, using a standard WASD control scheme (and collision logic that represents the player as a rigid, vertical cylinder), it's realllly easy to get hung up on the level geometry. Level designers have to put all that extra space in the game to make it navigable. This isn't always a bad thing, but it does have other effects on the game experience.

Not everything that makes a game more realistic necessarily makes it more fun, but all of this does open up more possibilities for developers to explore. We'll have to experiment with different mechanics and game designs to figure out what works with VR. But I suspect—I hope—we'll find that it lends itself to a whole range of new, emergent gameplay, some of which we might not even be able to imagine yet.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:15 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


But you can virtually sit on a virtual couch across from your virtual friend while you virtually play split-screen Goldeneye on a virtual CRT and argue whether virtual screen peeking is virtual cheating or not.
posted by ckape at 2:16 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Some people are just naturally less affected by simulator sickness, like car sickness. In my experience with a non-HMD based driving simulator, about 10-15% of people get motion sick within 30 minutes.

In your experience, are people who are prone to motion sickness (of the card and boat variety) also prone to simulator sickness?
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:19 PM on June 17, 2015


Music visualization and music videos in VR are going to be amazing. Imagine a 3D environment you walk around in and everything around you is responding to the music? Deer leap on the 1s, frogs on the 2s. The whole sky, fireworks. Also you're stoned.

For real, though, it's going to be incredible.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:20 PM on June 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


In your experience, are people who are prone to motion sickness (of the card and boat variety) also prone to simulator sickness?

Yes. I'm not sure of the exact degree, but there is a definite correlation.
posted by demiurge at 2:28 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


So having to swivel your head around, and perhaps your whole body around, just to look around in-game is better why? IMMERSION!

One thing: The FOV in VR is not there yet IMO, but will improve, just like the resolution will.

But anyone who has played an FPS in recent memory can tell you that this is a nonsense complaint. Most people aren't top level players who can flip the mouse around at will -- and one of the things about projected 3d FPS is that the FOV sucks, even worse than VR.

Not having a really good idea of what's around you is a classic problem with 3d projected FPS. Having to swivel using the mouse/stick and then swivel *back* to the exact same location to continue on... *really sucks*. VR will be *clearly* superior IMO.

I look forward to the far-future RPGs which will accurately reproduce the physical sensations of walking a hundred miles through a forest while fighting rats and wolves. IMMERSION!

Yes, I look forward to the far-future color talkies where we have to watch the protagonists brush their teeth and poop during their week-long road trip.

Anything that interferes with the sitting-comfortably-on-couches-and-looking-at-each-other part? No sale.

For FP games, this is not an issue, because VR is actually much better -- you each get your own view into the world instead of hacky split-screen modes. For other kinds of games, there's no reason to use VR. And stuff that is more doll-house/board-game like will benefit more from AR than VR.

And, of course, the "headset" will gradually turn into "swim goggles" as the technology improves.
posted by smidgen at 2:28 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


potato planet, those examples sound amazing, and I have fond memories of exactly that type of immersion when playing X-Men as a child, but what adult has the space in our homes to jump and hide and walk around in? I have a desk, a bed, two shelves, some guitars, jars on the floor, a bag of corn chips, a record player and a trash can in my room, one of 5 rooms in a shared loft space. The living room is equally cluttered with furnishings. I guess I'm all grown up but I can't imagine it, really. Where are you leaning and jumping?
posted by kittensofthenight at 2:29 PM on June 17, 2015


With regard to games, what's the problem being solved with VR?

Because, from a video game perspective, the problems that most gamers have are things like "This is more of the same shooter crap we've seen with slightly better resolution," and "This story wouldn't captivate a five year old."

I think the Total Biscuity obsession with resolution and FoV and such are actual interests/issues for a tiny slice of gamers. I think creating truly captivating, innovative gameplay and figuring out how to do narratives right are much bigger, more pressing issues for the video game industry.

I get that there's a cool/shiny/nostalgic tug these rigs give us, but I don't think that's enough to overcome the problems I've described. When I feel a game isn't immersive enough, it's never been that it's not close enough to my eyes, it's that the writing is stilted and childish, or that the gameplay feels like stale and overdone.
posted by turntraitor at 2:34 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


The first big market for these things -- if you'll allow a slightly eccentric use of the word "big" -- is definitely going to be hard core simulationists. I'm a flight simulator junkie, and I already have hundreds of dollars invested in improving the simulation experience: throttle quadrant, yoke, rudder pedals, radio console, head tracker, etc. The one thing I absolutely would not give up if I could only keep one bit of kit would be my TrackIR; it's a difference akin to putting an SSD in a computer in terms of revolutionary quality.

I wouldn't flinch at spending several hundred dollars on an ungainly VR headset -- and boy, do I feel like an entitled first-word jagoff saying that, but there it is -- if it came with solid support in a modern flight simulator. Looking like a choad? I already wear this device at the PC, a headset isn't much worse.

Now, simulationists aren't a huge market, but they're dedicated, tend to be willing to invest $$$ in their hobbies, and will latch on hard to something like this which will improve the experience. That, alone, will probably keep things turning over for a while while the technology improves to the point that it makes sense for other markets.
posted by jammer at 2:42 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not like the video game industry is a giant monolith capable of only doing one thing at a time, though. Clearly "immersion" is something VR is capable of approaching right, though the content may lack "depth" for now.
posted by erratic meatsack at 2:43 PM on June 17, 2015


I think the downside to these will be: You are in your home (not in a demo studio), your eyes/ears are covered and you are encouraged to move around... as in playing a video game. Dodge enemies, jump, flinch, get really excited etc. I could EASILY see people getting hurt this way, especially goofball kids/adolescents/college students.

I play Bloodborne and am routinely shifting around and lunging in my chair with no VR. Plus, you could break the thing.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:45 PM on June 17, 2015


Because, from a video game perspective, the problems that most gamers have are things like "This is more of the same shooter crap we've seen with slightly better resolution," and "This story wouldn't captivate a five year old."

GIven how they sell, I think this isn't actually a problem. You don't get bored of playing chess or basketball because of a lack of story depth. Sometimes it really is about competing, learning skills and pushing aesthetic limits just for the sake of it.

But then I'm more in the Ebert camp -- I don't think you can write complicated narratives for games that work both for the game and the narrative. Any kind of narrative in an action game will necessarily have to demote the game play (cut scenes, rails) or be somewhat simple, yet subversive (shadow of the colossus) -- the idea that you can write a great story for a game has not really been borne out. The best, deepest, games have only the barest story -- and you provide the rest.
posted by smidgen at 2:50 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


the VR Input Panel at SVVR 2015 with people from sony, valve, sixense and noitom (+Doc-Ok!) was pretty interesting.

for AR i wonder if there's much overlap between google glass and magic leap (huh, neal stephenson is their chief futurist ;) and i guess what apple's entry into the space might be?

oh and check out their 360 VR camera rig they made with gopro! (soon to be on youtube...)

IF virtual reality happens, this is the grim dark future we are looking at. Not cool games or nifty applications to extend our use of technology. We're going to end up living in micro-apartments with a bed/couch and hooking ourselves up to the net to escape the shit world we inhabit.

Why 'Ready Player One' Might be VR's First Killer App[*] :P
posted by kliuless at 2:56 PM on June 17, 2015


> this is a nonsense complaint. Most people aren't top level players who can flip the mouse around at will

"Flip the mouse around at will"? Perhaps there are people who stare at the mouse fixedly and try to move it with their minds... but yes, I think most people CAN flip the mouse around at will, actually. But more to the point, mouse and joystick adjustments can be accomplished with minute movements while you sit comfortably. VR, by contrast, seems to require that you act like a mime doing "walking against the wind", which might be fun for a ten-minute tech demo, but not for the hours at a time that people spend playing games. It seems fantastically unlikely that it's going to be at all relaxing or comfortable.

>Yes, I look forward to the far-future color talkies where we have to watch the protagonists brush their teeth and poop during their week-long road trip.

Um. Color and sound are clear improvements over the absence of color and sound. Conversely, "walking against the wind" is not, IMO, a clear improvement over sitting comfortably on the couch. I'm not sure how the pooping came into this so I think I'm gonna leave that alone...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:11 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
8GB+ RAM
Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
2x USB 3.0 ports


This is exactly what you'd buy if you had a decent but not excessive amount of cash and wanted a really powerful computer that gave you the best possible performance per dollar. Add an SSD (solid state drive) for windows and it's an excellent rig.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:12 PM on June 17, 2015


The fledgling "walking simulator" genre—stuff like Dear Esther, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Gone Home, and even the somewhat more interactive The Stanley Parable—would be a perfect marriage with VR.

Those games are already all about (and, in some cases, astonishingly good at) a palpable sense of immersion. They're games about exploring exquisitely crafted environments full of poignant little details that tell a story (albeit sometimes an impressionistic one). Dear Esther was more of an interactive movie than a game, in the best possible sense. (Even its length—about two hours—made the experience more like a feature film than a game.) It would have been amazing in VR.

Of course, that's a pretty niche genre that (so far) has been limited to indie studios. But it's another case where VR would actually contribute a lot to the game experience.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:14 PM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


The hardware requirements are a little steep, yes, but today's $500 video card will cost $300 after a year or two and just keep getting cheaper from there and the card that occupies the current $500 price point will keep getting faster and more powerful.

The device itself just needs to cost less than three decent monitors and I'll be sold. It will be hard for game developers to really get VR to do everything it can do but there are a some small things that it will make much better right away. Anything where your character is in a cockpit will work great without much work. I currently play a lot of Mechwarrior Online and a VR headset would be really useful there. Just being able to glace out the side of my 'mech's cockpit would be a huge advantage. I'm also a big fan of racing games so I'd use it there too.

3rd person games (like the Assassin's Creed franchise) should work well by letting you pivot the camera by moving your head and FPS games should be fine if they confine the VR movement to the character's head.

I'd also use it as a giant monitor to watch movies. Speaking of giant monitors, I could see using this for work. I already have two 23" monitors and I'd like to add a 3rd but something like this could basically give me as many as I want. All it would depend on is how far I feel like moving my head.

It's not going to be a huge, instant hit or the hot new piece of hardware but it will still be pretty cool at first. Then the hardware will get cheaper, the graphics power needed to run it will get cheaper, it will get better, developers will start to figure out new and better ways to use it, and it will slowly start to get adopted.

I don't think I'm ever going to use a VR headset to stand up and move around while playing a game but using it as a 1:1 control over my character's head or even just as a giant monitor would be awesome.
posted by VTX at 3:16 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where are you leaning and jumping?

Push the coffee table aside. Or a basement rec room. I have the room for it. Lots of people have treadmills at home; you'd need a comparable amount of space to flail motion-tracked limbs around in. (And it's probably a more fun way to get exercise!)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:16 PM on June 17, 2015


To clarify, we sit comfortably on couches and look at each other while playing video games. Anything that interferes with the sitting-comfortably-on-couches-and-looking-at-each-other part? No sale.

I can't even imagine the conversation I'd have with my wife that would end up with me getting one of these.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:19 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Flip the mouse around at will"? Perhaps there are people who stare at the mouse fixedly and try to move it with their minds... but yes, I think most people CAN flip the mouse around at will, actually

tee hee That won't happen until we get brain-plugs :-)

Anyway, I don't think this is true in the context of video games. You can *point* fairly easily -- but using the mouse to rotate your view and quickly rotate back is not easy to do for the average person. I'm talking about something very specific. Avid players adjust their mouse sensitivity for a reason.

VR, by contrast, seems to require that you act like a mime doing "walking against the wind"

I dont think a VR headset implies that you would not have shorthand for moving around the world, but I think it would definitely improve how you look around the world. I share your skepticism about the full standing experience. I don't think people will want to stand blindfolded in front of their glass coffee table.
posted by smidgen at 3:27 PM on June 17, 2015


If I can clear enough space in a bedsit or studio or 1DK for a yoga mat, I can clear enough space to stumble around in a headset playing FFVII - VR, which will be coming out Spring 2037.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:39 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Music visualization and music videos in VR are going to be amazing. Imagine a 3D environment you walk around in and everything around you is responding to the music? Deer leap on the 1s, frogs on the 2s. The whole sky, fireworks. Also you're stoned."

Yeah, what makes me really excited about these is the art potential. You could do such amazing stuff with an immersive, subjective screen that would go far beyond FPS.

And really, I'd bet on games like Myst or Super Mario 64 to really get casual folks into the experience. I mean, it'd be hella sweet to run a VR mech and rain hellfire down, but VR is pretty much made for immersive exploration.

"But then I'm more in the Ebert camp -- I don't think you can write complicated narratives for games that work both for the game and the narrative. Any kind of narrative in an action game will necessarily have to demote the game play (cut scenes, rails) or be somewhat simple, yet subversive (shadow of the colossus) -- the idea that you can write a great story for a game has not really been borne out. The best, deepest, games have only the barest story -- and you provide the rest."

Silent Hill 2 has a fantastically rich story and while (IIRC) it does have cutscenes, the actual gameplay informs the narrative quite a bit too.
posted by klangklangston at 3:45 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Will VR flop? I dunno, maybe. The author doesn't know either. Every year the tech gets better and we get closer and that's super exciting and gets people energized but until the moment a new idea gets through all of the obstacles standing in its way and stands as an unqualified success there's always money in articles playing cynical Nostradamus about it, that's for sure. And why not? Every moment people are still working on overcoming the hurdles the cynical predictions still hold, it's an easy bet.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:54 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't doubt that VR is an amazing way to experience 3d graphics. But the central thing that people are trying to do when they play video games IS NOT experience 3d graphics. The central thing they are trying to do is relax and enjoy leisure time. Cool 3d graphics are great, but they're not primary. If VR is not really comfortable and relaxing, I don't think it will matter how cool it looks.

I mean, you could develop technology that would enable you to eat dinner while standing up and constantly turning from side to side. It'd be new, and it might be based on some cool technology that a lot of smart people worked really hard to figure out. But it would be unlikely to represent an improved experience over just sitting in a chair and eating your dinner.

See also: 3d on the 3DS.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:55 PM on June 17, 2015


Just to remind everybody about how controllers work: they don't usually replicate the feeling or motion properly - even when they are something like the Kinect or Wiimote. For this reason, I still look like a fool even if I score a lot of points. In addition, I totally trounced my wife in wii boxing where she was using legitimate punches and uppercuts while I stood there and flailed my hands like the wings of baby bird trying to get their mother's attention at feeding time.

My elite hacks for those kinda games are hilarious to watch, but not even remotely funny when you can win against someone with coordination that knows what they are doing.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:57 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


3D televisions flopped, sure. But 3D movies are still alive and kicking, very much so. People watching TV in their own homes don't necessarily want An Immersive Experience!, they just wanna watch TV. VR feels the same way to me - I don't doubt that most people will not rush out to buy VR stuff for their own home, and if they just play some videogames they'll just play some videogames -- but the first person to put together a working VR arcade, where people can come in and pay a few bucks an hour to tool around in a VR game of their choice without having had to personally go buy and learn all the hardware, that person is going to make a killing.

Then when porn gets on the VR bandwagon, that's when suddenly people will be interested in having one for their own home rather than just going out for it when they want that experience.
posted by mstokes650 at 4:29 PM on June 17, 2015


By the way, there was a Mobile VR Jam this year for the Oculus with a lot of really cool games submitted. You can check out the winners here.
posted by erratic meatsack at 4:58 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


As of today and on my budget, it's a lot more fun to laugh at VR than take it seriously, since youtube videos and snarky internet comments are free.

The technology might get better, but as of today, it feels like PDAs in the 90s. It might be a great or useful experience for a few people today, but I don't see it being a breakout sensation like smartphones. That might come in a few generations.

I don't really buy the "you can still get great experiences on regular screens" argument, as you can slippery slope it down to books and shadow puppetry. I think the goggles might not be the right move, though. While it'd be expensive for the home, I'm wondering if VR caves might be a better form factor. Instead of plugging in a pair of cheap goggles to your game machine or PC with limited computer resources and a pair of so-so headphones, you go to an arcade/theater style place where you walk into cave hooked up to high-end computers, proper projectors, and a well-calibrated surround sound system.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:07 PM on June 17, 2015


If VR is PDAs then the Matrix (or rather, a fully immersive virtual environment that outputs to and takes inputs directly from your brain) is smartphones.
posted by VTX at 5:19 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


holodeck or gtfo
posted by echocollate at 5:25 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was actually excited as hell for the Rift2 before I heard Facebook bought it up. I already have TrackIR, which has made some flying games playable (I'm looking at you, Rise of Flight), but I was hoping that a VR setup would get me an even better experience. I was previously hoping to pick up a third 24" monitor and get enough GPU power to run 5760x3600 pixel games. VR would be probably be cheaper by comparison. I have tended to wait a bit before adopting new, state-of-the-art game tech (picked up a Novint Falcon off ebay. It still works, even if it ruins my aim with all the 'haptic' feedback.)

Since Rift2.0 got acquired, I realize that I am going to wait even longer to see whether this thing becomes just a fad or takes off. In the meantime, the TrackIR has proven useful for enabling some of the VR features.
posted by Busithoth at 5:41 PM on June 17, 2015


Coincidentally, one of my students is vaguely related to Palmer Luckey, and he was sent a version 1 dev kit, which is sitting in my classroom right now. They LOVE using it, and today we did a flight sim called Airdrift. We've done VRFaceball, Chicken Walk and Ocean Rift. Titans of Space is really amazing and educational. Their favorite, though, is Minecrift; that's tomorrow.

So yeah, I wouldn't sit at home and play world of warcraft on it, probably, but there are some great uses for the tech. I'm imagining exploring the pyramids in sixth grade, or the california missions in fourth grade.

In conclusion, VR is a land of contrasts.
posted by Huck500 at 6:25 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does this generation of the tech track your eyeballs?
posted by Trochanter at 6:26 PM on June 17, 2015


Huck500, one of my ex-coworkers is actually working at a neat VR startup that focuses on educational use - stuff like archaeology from what I've seen. Once this technology is cheap enough for school budgets, the sky is the limit in terms of uses we can find.
posted by erratic meatsack at 6:28 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


That article makes a lot of sense and is probably dead on accurate. But I'm willing to pretend that VR is a thing if we can finally kill off 3D movies. Let's make a deal, entertainment industry...
posted by Kevin Street at 6:32 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


When we look back at this thread years from now, I wonder which one of these comments will seem the most like the 2015 version of
"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."
posted by joedan at 7:31 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


For me and some other people, the thing that came out of E3 that overshadowed everything else is that we now live in a world, a much better world, where this is going to be made. And VR headset compatibility for this (well, there's still 2.5 years to scheduled release) would be...
posted by Wordshore at 7:46 PM on June 17, 2015


I mean, you could develop technology that would enable you to eat dinner while standing up and constantly turning from side to side. It'd be new, and it might be based on some cool technology that a lot of smart people worked really hard to figure out. But it would be unlikely to represent an improved experience over just sitting in a chair and eating your dinner.

Yeah, this technology has existed for a while and based on the early results I'm inclined to agree with you.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 7:54 PM on June 17, 2015


Huck500, one of my ex-coworkers is actually working at a neat VR startup that focuses on educational use - stuff like archaeology from what I've seen. Once this technology is cheap enough for school budgets, the sky is the limit in terms of uses we can find.

Agreed. AR, especially, seems like a really natural fit for museums and art galleries.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:17 PM on June 17, 2015


But it would be unlikely to represent an improved experience over just sitting in a chair and eating your dinner.

Meanwhile, in Denmark...
posted by Wordshore at 8:34 PM on June 17, 2015


Asking your consumer to get on a treadmill blindfolded as a business proposition is pretty bold! You have to admit, they do have moxie!
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:53 PM on June 17, 2015


I've been playing Elite:Dangerous with the Oculus DK2 and flightstick/throttle for a while and its amazing. Incredibly good simulator experience, VR is useful and not gimmicky, etc.

Word. As someone who's gaming these days seems to largely revolve around sims of various kinds, particularly flight sims, a VR headset is very much on mt wishlist.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:03 PM on June 17, 2015


I like how this thread's pretty evenly divided between "no one will want this ever" and "I want this right now".
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 9:22 PM on June 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


On the question of motion sickness, that's definitely going to be an issue for some, but I know an not insubstantial number of people that already have issues with bog standard FPS, such as needing to lie down in a darkened room for a while after playing one to stop the world spinning and alleviate migraines.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:49 PM on June 17, 2015


If your senses (especially vision) detect motion that doesn't match the motion you inner ear detects, then you can get motion sickness.

Motion sickness cannot occur if someone doesn't have the inner ear motion detection (such as due to injury).

There are different theories about this. Wikipedia says that the body thinks that this disconnect is a sign of food poisoning and responds accordingly. I've also read the theory that the inner ear nerves connect very close to where nerves from the stomach connect, and so when the brain detects a disconnect, it can misrepresent the inner ear signals as coming from the stomach, again, indicating food poisoning.

The point is, if they can really, really accurately match what your eye sees to the movement that your inner ear detects, there won't be motion sickness.

The problem is to get this accuracy. I know that this is where Oculus has spent most of their effort. Time will tell if they got it right for those people most sensitive.
posted by eye of newt at 10:11 PM on June 17, 2015


Final comment I promise. As someone who spent 4-5 years and close to 100k words thinking and writing a PhD thesis about the involvement of the body in the experience of playing videogames (I have the robe and silly floopy hat in my wardrobe as we speak) I would argue to expertise plays a role. E.g. as someone who has been playing FPSs and flight sims since they were 8-9 years old when I play, say IL2, and I have a Zero on my tail trying to shoot down my sluggish Wildcat arse those pixels on screen that represent tracer rounds spraying past my shoulder _feel_ like they are actually coming from behind me and are spraying past my shoulder.

Neuroplasticity is thing, and the human perceptual system is also inherently synesthetic (look at a surface. Does it look smooth or rough, soft or hard?) Experienced gamers can experience two dimensional images as three dimensional spaces. I argued (well enough to be awarded a PhD) that it is precisely this gap between objective reality and subjective perceptual experience that makes playing videogames such a compelling experience for many people. Our perceptual system spends a lot of it's time filling in gaps, for instance the blind spot in our retinas, and in the case of gaming the proprioceptive system can be activated by visual stimuli, even though the player is basically sitting still. Doesn't work for everyone obviously, but it clearly is the case for enough people to sell eleventy million copies of Man Shooter version 3000000000.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 10:19 PM on June 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


My take on this is slightly different and much more optimistic. I agree that fundamentally this generation of VR gear is making a huge mistake by making its big selling point "you can move your head and look around". This is true, it works, and it doesn't even lag that much. But it does lag, even if its lag from the game your playing, or whatever, it's enough latency that your vestibular system is not happy with it. On top of that, this article is correct in that it isn't super fun having to moving your head around to actually get shit done.

I don't think this will really slow down adoption of 3D stereo headsets, however. I've spent the last 20 years orienting myself in virtual space through a variety of different input methods. Give me WASD and a mouse and I can look where I want in virtual space nearly as naturally as a combination of moving my body, head, and eyes allows in the real world. From this perspective, these headsets provide a relatively cheap 3D display that covers most of your field of view. I think the truly revolutionary part of the display is that it makes the view egocentric.

I think we'll see really nice systems converging on an approach that reflects the best of both worlds (so to speak). They will still rely on the standard virtual orientation tools (two sticks for consoles, WASD + Mouse, etc), while head movements will be incorporated, ironically to reduce motion sickness by accommodating slight adjustments of head position as well allowing the occasional look one way or another. Your body goes to so much effort to keep your head stable, why mess with that unless you have to?
posted by ethansr at 10:30 PM on June 17, 2015


Final final comment - somewhat perversely I want an Occulus or whatever simply because my attempts at landing WW2 era planes on WW2 era aircraft carriers would be even more hilariously catastrophic. Luckily in IL2 carrier battle groups seem to carry quite a lot of spare undercarriage assemblies.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 10:31 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think anything could ever make me interested in gaming. I have a wii and the only thing I ever play on it is "that dance game."

But if VR could provide some sort of compelling, new (not novel, but instantly-essential) experience, I'd most likely get one.

Like, say the next thing after selfie sticks is 3D cameras, and you need a headset to properly consume the resulting 3D photos/videos. I wouldn't want to miss out on that.

And how amazing would it be to subscribe to an immersive sports broadcast service where you get to decide where to look.
posted by mantecol at 10:34 PM on June 17, 2015


Why focus on Kinect-like input where the user actually has to gesticulate? Beside some specialized environment, maybe in a modernized arcade setting like the one described by mccarty.tim, this is too unpractical and accident-prone to ever scale to a wide audience. Most people would not even be fit enough to make Counter Strike style games interesting if they had to actually perform the desired moves, instead of using the keyboard to pilot an unfatigable and athletic avatar.

Current medical research is improving regarding both contactless reading of neural activity and stimulation. It would be more logical to progress toward a fully virtual experience, where the user lays comfortably in their bed while fighting rats in their head.

For the first generation of VR headsets, it may be more realistic to sidestep the whole "moving around" issue and focus on either static games (virtual surgery, card games tournament, ...) or simulation involving a cockpit (dogfighting, racing, mechwarrior...). Strategy games or SimCity like games may also be improved, providing a "god view". Who knows, anyway like 3D printing or self-driving cars, this may be a real game-changer.
posted by dragondollar at 10:35 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mincome + VR + legal weed + porn = pacification of the poor.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:37 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Word. As someone who's gaming these days seems to largely revolve around sims of various kinds, particularly flight sims, a VR headset is very much on mt wishlist.

And as someone who's into exploration/puzzle games like Myst, Talos Principle, or the forthcoming The Witness -- me too, me too, me too.
posted by rifflesby at 10:40 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


It almost seems too obvious, but I think that the biggest wins for this generation of VR will be games where the player's "body" is relatively static and the environment is a highly rationalized workspace that is surveyable within a comfortable head movement. Flight simulators, EuroTruck, Eve, seem like obvious candidates. The comments in this thread seem to bear this out, but we'll see.
posted by ethansr at 10:59 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


ethansr, I'm thinking that Surgeon Simulator will find it's true greatness in a VR context.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 11:21 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't it be way more satisfying to sneak past guards by actually moving your body to minimize your profile (running in a crouch; putting your back against the trunks of trees), and cautiously peeking your head out of cover, instead of just holding down a "sneak" button?

Fuck no. If I'd wanted to LARP, I'd be running through the forest pretending to be a night elf already.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:52 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Homies, I'm just saying, I'm the creator of a Kickstarter campaign that successfully funded for 70k to create a feature-length VR music video (like Fantasia / Pink Floyd's "The Wall" meets TRON / Blade Runner) and we're basically creaming ourselves over some of the mind-bending effects we're able to pull off that could not possibly have been delivered in a living room before. I'm planning to be as pioneering as possible in the field of VR music flying-through-space lightshows, because they're FUCKING AWESOME entertainment.

I almost don't even care about the gaming part, but as an experience, new and jaw-dropping avenues of artistic expression open up; there's SO MUCH cool stuff happening already! Flying! Rollercoasters! Adventure games! Sony's stuff is gonna RULE! As long as we get a strong niche market with high-quality headsets (roughly equivalent to flightsticks) before the next big push, it's a huge improvement over what we had to work with before, fully immersive VR worlds are a few hundred bucks away! Those of us making content for VR HMDs are pretty psyched right now, however it ends up playing out.
posted by jake at 12:01 AM on June 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I'm a little bit looking forward to VR gaming, but what I'm really hoping for is for the demoscene to get in on the act.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:08 AM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah exactly. I am demoscene representitive #52713 and I am here to help. There are others of my kind here.

Also I'm not gonna lie,
I have a fascination with the state of the art in VR porn, because it does different things to you psychologically than watching it on a TV screen because you're pretty much there and can look down, etc, and I'm curious as to how that will play out in studies and therapeutic situations. Or long-distance relationships between dork-ass nerds!

So here's my assessment: Right now it's just a bunch of Bulgarian devs making quick cash-in Unity blowjob demos where the eyeballs clip through the skull; some ultra-creepy 3D photographic body scans (I call it the Un-scan-ny valley, you really get up in their personal space, and you can almost feel them breathing on you, staring through lifeless eyes); a bunch of gross lolicon hentai OBVIOUSLY; and panoramic fisheye 360-degree Actual Porn videos, which are no fun because you have no "jump" button or sniper scope.

BUT IT EXISTS and it's going to reach critical mass, and then we have an industry and I can make my music videos forever.
posted by jake at 12:15 AM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


YAAASSSS.

Here's jake's Kickstarter. Sorry if you were keeping it secret (, homie, ) but the vid gave me chills. Had to share.

THATS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:19 AM on June 18, 2015


Here's jake's Kickstarter.

Gives off a bit of an interactive movie vibe tbh.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:21 AM on June 18, 2015


Nah it's cool. That's a super early demo, though, and will be redesigned substantially -- we're hiring artists and doing gorgeous concepts, redesigning the characters to look more mature, and I'm in the studio sketching the music using some pretty hilariously pretentious synthesis methods. It's gonna be a blast.

Also check out Vanguard V (vanguardv.com) -- it's made by my buddy Justin who is sort of one of the kingpins of the VR hobbyist scene, and I've been doing his musical score in exchange for his visual effects help on NUREN -- gamedev barter YEAHH!! Vanguard is kind of like Starfox meets Geometry Wars, a bunch of spaceships come at you and you look where you want to fire, like in an Apache helicopter, it's totally incredible. Get the demo, fools!
posted by jake at 12:36 AM on June 18, 2015


My partner bought the Oculus Rift dev kit mk.2 last year, and using it has slowly brought me around to the concept of VR.

The thing that really made me start taking it seriously wasn't any of the games, which all seem to be kind of flaky, experimental things, but instead finding some practical applications for the headset as a viewer.

I most use it for the Virtual Desktop app, which does the simple task of displaying the contents of your real monitor screen in VR, in a size and shape of your choosing. It's very simple, but the effect is profound; viewing images using your webbrowser as if they were a poster on a wall, or watching a movie on a gigantic curved screen, it has an impact that's not obvious until you've tried it. Viewing an image on your phone's screen gives you exactly the same raw information as seeing the same image in real life proportions, but somehow your perceptual memory of the two is very different.

Do you remember the Milkdrop music visualiser for Winamp? Can you imagine how different it feels when you stretch the screen to a 360 degree bubble around you? Psychedelic is too mild a word...
posted by Eleven at 4:02 AM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, of course virt is on mefi.

If VR is PDAs then the Matrix (or rather, a fully immersive virtual environment that outputs to and takes inputs directly from your brain) is smartphones.

I don't think it has to get that far. But if it gets down to something as small and inobtrusive as say, headphones, i think it'll take off. We're in the clunky suitcase laptop stages of this still after a couple false starts. You don't just go straight from the mac portable to the macbook air.

When mefi was brand new you couldn't buy a laptop that wasn't used and outdated for under $1000. Hell, the cheapest one i found was $1200. On sale. And those ones had crappy screens, and serious compromises. Now you can go down to office max and buy a completely decent laptop for $199. It's not super totally awesome, but it has solid state storage and good battery life.

Not as the Default Way Of Doing Things, but as a popular product a lot of people use i think this is going to be a thing in a few years.

It's not some corny gimmick like 3d tv's, it's just not entirely there yet. It's sort of like when game consoles(and earlier, PC games) transitioned from mostly 2d to 3d. There was a lot on clunkiness and jankiness in between. Stupid input devices, kludgy crap.

I definitely wouldn't write this off as something that's going to completely disappear in a couple years.

Does this generation of the tech track your eyeballs?

It's my understanding that microsoft is(why is so hard to find a non-shit source on that? it's in their presentation though). Others are on that too.

Everyone else seems to have that on their list for Version Two.

Do you remember the Milkdrop music visualiser for Winamp? Can you imagine how different it feels when you stretch the screen to a 360 degree bubble around you? Psychedelic is too mild a word...

WHAT

WHAT. OH MY GOD. WHAT.

I was just marveling at the fact that my 290x can finally run that at stupid resolutions with all the settings cranked all the way up. I think i have to call up some friends and try something out now...
posted by emptythought at 4:07 AM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hehee!

If you do try Milkdrop, turn off Virtual Desktop's fullscreen option, as it stops old apps from working otherwise (Or just wait for the next version of Virtual Desktop, which will have a "Direct-to-Rift" mode that will fix the issue entirely)

Have fun in the virtual funk-o-tron!
posted by Eleven at 4:19 AM on June 18, 2015


The time of the peripheral is gone. It just is. When's the last time anyone bought a printer that you couldn't put on the house wifi? Everything needs to be networked. Cables are no longer a good answer to any computing question.

People outside of the ever-shrinking "hard core gamer" market hate desktops - consoles and laptops and tablets dwarf the desktop market.

VR goggles aren't going to be "a thing" until it can interact wirelessly with a consumer grade laptop or high-spec smartphone, or better yet, dedicated console. I mean, you can't even see the damn keyboard, so why have one? (And no, not everyone orders their keyboard with blank keycaps, for a reason.) It doesn't even have to be proprietary, run it off of a VR-tuned Linux or Android distro.

VR is cool and all, but isn't going to be much of a thing until some assumptions on how it will slot into the current computing landscape are upended. Otherwise it will be Facebook Glass - an oddball, ill fitting tech championed by a tech giant who had no clue what it was doing or why.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:37 AM on June 18, 2015


VR goggles aren't going to be "a thing" until it can interact wirelessly with a consumer grade laptop or high-spec smartphone

Gear VR

Another 1st gen, somewhat clunky thing that doesn't quite have enough power to do anything... But we're already getting there.

For what it's worth, i agree with the cable thing. I already commented on the size/clunkiness thing, but cables are stupid too.

Hololens is also firmly on the "fuck keyboards and controllers" train.
posted by emptythought at 4:44 AM on June 18, 2015


Fun with VR (turn the sound on).
posted by JDHarper at 6:10 AM on June 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just want to talk about yarn guy.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:35 AM on June 18, 2015


I saw the pictures of the Oculus rig, and then last night I watched as a Google Street View car drove past my daughter's softball game. (Yes, of course I waved. Duh?)

Now I am dreaming of a refresh of the Street View imagery at vastly higher-resolution, so that it will be like visiting in person when displayed on one of these rigs. It would be ideal for checking out the street where I grew up, exploring far-off places, or -- speaking as a person who always gets lost the first time I go to a new place , even with GPS -- trying to figure out how to get somewhere.

(Also, yes: great for stalkers, burglars-with-forethought, and door-to-door solicitors who want to find all the houses in a neighborhood with old paint/siding/windows but without a "No Solicitors" sign. *sigh*)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:56 AM on June 18, 2015


One thing I think about (and obviously this is way in the future SF stuff rather than "next year") is sort of combining in my head the success of game-streaming/periscope/etc with the VR and you end up with a livestreaming youtube version of Strange Days where we're all living each other's lives vicariously.
posted by selfnoise at 7:32 AM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


My dream project is to make walk through models of various archeological sites and ruins. The potential for time travel experiences is what I'm looking forward to both for education and entertainment. I do think there is potential for archeological research as well, especially regarding structures and landscape use. Marry it with some of the geo-imaging type tech and you've got a potential way for people to experience the landscape as it was. I would be surprised if new theories and insights didn't emerge from this by virtue of having a different perceptual view of collected data.

This sort of potential is one of the things that is driving me as I'm learning to code. Web development is only a stepping stone to things that I would really like to work on.
posted by Jalliah at 8:41 AM on June 18, 2015


most use it for the Virtual Desktop app, which does the simple task of displaying the contents of your real monitor screen in VR, in a size and shape of your choosing.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm the kind of person that looks away from a screen ever 20-30 minutes. Sometimes this is involuntary, other times it's to think about something on the screen, and sometimes it's just to have my eyes focus on something else. For me, VR sounds fun, but I'm not sure I'd make the jump to computing completely on VR as it would make it harder to look away.
posted by FJT at 8:42 AM on June 18, 2015


My dream project is to make walk through models of various archeological sites and ruins.

Archaeologists use LiDAR to find lost cities in Honduras: "About two years ago, we helped a team of archaeologists and filmmakers to visualize a very large high-resolution aerial LiDAR scan of a chunk of dense Honduran rain forest in the CAVE... it has to be seen using a holographic display."

VR goggles aren't going to be "a thing" until it can interact wirelessly with a consumer grade laptop or high-spec smartphone...

oh and also re: visiting museums and exploring far-off places, at the google i/o event they showed how to use 'cardboard' for expeditions (school 'field trips'; the magic school bus! ;)

One thing I think about (and obviously this is way in the future SF stuff rather than "next year") is sort of combining in my head the success of game-streaming/periscope/etc with the VR and you end up with a livestreaming youtube version of Strange Days where we're all living each other's lives vicariously.

nexus :P strange days indeed!
posted by kliuless at 9:56 AM on June 18, 2015


My kids are using the rift with an app called Neos: The Universe as we speak, and it basically demonstrates scale from the microscopic world all the way up to the observable universe. You use the up and down arrows to move through in a column of objects (like dinosaurs, buildings, planets) that scale bigger or smaller as you go up and down. It's pretty amazing.

Here's an image, but keep in mind the scale looks wrong without the 3d because stuff is off in the distance.
posted by Huck500 at 11:10 AM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


The central thing they are trying to do is relax and enjoy leisure time. Cool 3d graphics are great, but they're not primary. If VR is not really comfortable and relaxing, I don't think it will matter how cool it looks.

If you think Call of Duty (one of the most popular 3d video games on any platform, ever) is "relaxing", you are sadly deceived. When I buy the first commercial version of one of these (Vive or Oculus, depending), the first thing I want to do is find a game like Mirrors Edge where you are jumping from rooftop to rooftop. I don't want to "relax" -- how incredibly dull... :-)
posted by smidgen at 12:25 PM on June 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


"My dream project is to make walk through models of various archeological sites and ruins. The potential for time travel experiences is what I'm looking forward to both for education and entertainment..."

This could definitely be a thing in the near future. The walking might not be realistic at first (since you can't walk around in real life), but just the chance to move around in imaginary environments with a mouse or trackball or whatever could be quite stimulating for a variety of fields. There's archaeology like you said (Imagine recreating something like ancient Babylon!) and also architecture, and even plain old art where people create environments that never existed and invite others to wander about in them. It could be like a game, where certain events or songs are triggered when you reach specific points.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:55 PM on June 18, 2015


OK, after watching Jeff Gerstmann super enthused on VR and Hololens and listening to the GB East crew describe the almost religious experiences they had with VR, I'm ready to believe.
posted by kmz at 11:21 AM on June 19, 2015


Experienced gamers can experience two dimensional images as three dimensional spaces.

I remember reading a while back (it was probably an FPP here on the blue) about how kids who play with Lego have better spatial reasoning skills when they're older. I played with Lego a lot when I was younger, I like playing video games now and I'm usually pretty good at them, and I totally experience them in three dimensions.

So I wonder if there is a link between people who play with Lego as children and people who like playing video games as adults. Or if the people who played with Lego as children tend to be better at video games as a result.
posted by VTX at 2:36 PM on June 19, 2015


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