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Wistrel's Oculus DK2 Ramblings / Review

Discussion in 'Other games and gaming' started by Wistrel, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. Wistrel

    Wistrel Kick Ass Elf

    So... I've been mucking about with the DK2. I have to say it is a great bit of kit to be able to lend around between your friends.

    That said, having had more of a chance to spend some quality time with it (only a little even now tbh) I now have my doubts about "the return of VR". My revised opinion now is that the Rift has a place but it isn't going to be the big shiney revolution it was hyped as.

    I think everyone got excited because the tech is cool and it IS cool. But soon there is the question of hassle/encumbrance/cost and all sorts of other really fascinating questions. Obviously this is just an opinion but I do wonder if FB would have been better off staying out of it now. I think as a small thing the Rift tech would work out nicely for a little company but it isn't going to have the sort of mass market appeal FB will likely want it to have.

    That said I could be wrong, I have a hunch the investment may be simply because Zucherberg is a geek ;)

    So yeh my new feeling is it will appeal to enthusiasts who don't mind the hassle, much as linux appeals in the world of OS's for the same reason. I used to think maybe it would be like joysticks. The only people who own them are the people who care in this day and age (I don't mean gamepads). Now I think the Rift might be the next Wii. ie a lot of people will get one and then box it for the majority of the time. They will invite thelr friends round, have a few beers and enjoy trying out various games and demos on an evening. Occasionally they will have a play quietly on their own with something but mainly it will be something for occasional use with the good old LCD remaining the interface of choice.

    Strangely I almost feel like you need a "helper" when using the Rift. Definitely if it were to involve moving around physically (I punched a monitor and banged my head on a desk the first time I used a DK2. First time I used a DK1 I almost fell off my stool). Using it in small groups is actually kinda fun but I think it only works if the person wearing it is sufficiently vocal about their experience because then it can be a huge laugh. Some people just go silent though in which case the lack of shared experience raises its head as a negative. The Rift might be rather fun if you could get more than one person in VR though.

    One other thing I noticed was the feeling of being "a bit strung out" after a longish dive (to use SAO terminology ;)). This is hard to describe. My friend who owns the DK2 said it made him feel tired. I would say for me, it wasn't so much "tired" as feeling more like I'd woken up after not enough sleep. I appreciate it is too early for me to call on this one though.

    In addition to this, another unexpected side effect was neck ache! Again, this could be "newbie syndrome" but I was spending a LOT of time looking around looking up and behind me and so on. I suspect this comes down to a few things. In part it is because I was sat still in a chair (IRL I would be physically turning round) and of course the weight of the rift (which was particularly painful on my nose when looking directly up - I think my face just isn't rift compatible!). Additionally the nature of the experience is all about looking around and also we tend to look around with our mouse a lot in computer games, probably far more than in RL. I think once we have to actually move our head for this it can tire us out over time.

    Moving on from all the physical realities of the Rift there is the tech issue. Now the jury is still out on how this will eventually shape up for the final release but there are 3 main factors. The tracking, the resolution and the computer power. The tracking is easy. TBH I'd say they have pretty much nailed it. It works great. Improvements may come from extra LED's particularly at the back or a 2nd camera but largely this is in the bag.

    The resolution isn't good enough though. The DK2 is 1080p but I'd say it needs to be at least 4K, and 8k really before the pixels will start to vanish completely. The reason for this is two fold. First there is the effect of the "brick wall of pixels" thing. This isn't as bad as one might think and especially if you are in darker places (ie anything that isn't rendered as a bright sunny day) you tend to forget it is there. I have a feeling our brains have a knack for filtering out weird visual defects.

    The 2nd reason is distance. To give an example, in Dear Esther the caves feature lots of stalactites/mites. These are thin and long mostly and look great close up where you have the resolution to draw them but look across the cave and the scene quickly becomes a bit of a pixelly mess. I feel the truely great Rift experiences should be about standing and looking somewhere, potentially off into the distance. If, when surveying a city below us or some other vista, all we see is pixels drifting around between details this won't actually work out so well.

    So considering resolution, this leads into the final limiting factor which is computing power and scene quality. A lot of people are FPS (frames per second) snobs but as someone who is not, I sadly have to confirm that YOU DO NEED 60fps for a good rift experience. 60fps is, quite frankly lovely, perfect, no problems at all. Don't get me wrong, 30-60 is usable but you will see a sort of 2-frame blur effect when you move your head a lot. I guess it is vaguely comparable to interlaced TV.

    Translating this to numbers then what we are going to need is a PC capable of 60fps at a minimum 4k resolution, ideally, at all times! There is an additional problem too with VR which is that "you notice everything that is wrong". To explain what I mean by this I guess the best analogy is the uncanny valley of face recognition. Humans are awesome at faces which means the computer simulations of them hit a "repulsion" point as they get close to realistic but "not quite there". In VR I noticed a similar thing but instead of for faces it was for every graphical trick in the book.

    To give an example, when playing Dear Esther normally to me it looks great, no problems I'm totally convinced. Dump it into VR and suddenly that textured floor looks like just that, a textured floor. This is a flat surface with stuff drawn on it, it isn't "real". That rock, that rock which is actually 3d is "real" but the floor fake. And even that rock is suddenly rather low poly than I'd noticed before. In short what I'm getting at here is that for VR to really be awesome we are going to need the best graphics AND high res AND 60fps and at the moment there isn't a lot of that about. One could argue too that the headset needs to be just a fair of glasses. Personally I'd say that is an issue though. Even if you could do that tech wise, I think you need something that completely blots out normal vision for an immersive experience to happen.

    To conclude, VR IS coming back. I have no doubt about that but I think it is going to be best experienced at museums and public events for example where works/experiences have been specifically tailored for the setup. Much as, not all (or in fact, few) PC games translate to a mobile phone with touch screen controls I would say the same is going to be true of VR. It isn't just a case of "whacking a different screen on things", one needs to give thought to the whole experience and carefully consider everything from positioning, to controls and duration, or even content or how a player moves through a game world and what they look at.

    There is a world of cool stuff that is going to come out of VR and I think top of the list will be working out a way of physically walking around. In many ways it is like a drug, once you've had a little immersion you want more. After a while in VR I started to feel it was weird I was sitting down, but when I tried to stand, I felt my legs had gone to sleep and I was wobbly and scared to let go of the chair.

    I think once we can put on a headset and actually go for a walk, as well as touch things, that really will be the next big leap.

    Wistrel
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Well IMO there are three big branches of development for glasses:
    1) Total immersion, needs much more than just the glasses, free movement interactive environment and so on
    2) Monitor and TV replacement, in theory glasses can offer a much more sophisticated multimedia and work environment, while being very friendly on the eyes health
    3) Augmented/Enhanced reality, portable systems like the google glasses already offer tools that increase productivity. With a low price they might even replace classic glasses as they could adapt as the users dioptrin value changes over the years.

    I am totally convinced that in the near future monitors and TVs will become much less common and we will see more and more glasses with very different interfaces and purposes.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Wistrel

    Wistrel Kick Ass Elf

    If mine was a bit TLDR
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29801753
    This chap seems to say some of what I was saying; specifically the bit about not being able to chuck existing experiences into VR and get good results.

    Small update. I was looking more at Vireio (allows you to use the Rift with non-rift games). I think it is unlikely to be workable with Entropia at the moment since it does not yet support Crysis (or probably more broadly, CryEngine2). It will in the next release though which is due in a month at a guess. At this point it MAY be possible to construct a profile for Entropia.

    *If* it works, the next concern will be over if such a thing will constitute changes to the game; which is of course against the EULA. As to whether or not MA would, or have infrastructure in place to, notice though is an entirely different question. A third question would be, even if they did know, would they care? They may even want to know how it was done, add support, then do a press release.

    They seem to like doing press releases...

    Wistrel
     
  4. RAZER

    RAZER Custom title ... uh ...

    So, we got one of these things at the office in hope to try and show people around in their new buildings before they are actually build (I work at an architects office) and of course I had to try it on a few games. So after work I installed Steam on my computer (it is good to be the IT guy :) ) and installed a few games that were supposed to work with some 3th party driver thing, which I bought. Turns out thats crap and didnt work so I did some research and found a open source driver that was free and should work with a pretty lkargs amount of games with various results. So, I thought wich game would be very cool to play in VR and that pretty soon was Portal 2, which the driver supported very well according to their site. Install, some settings in game, turn on the Oculus and BAM VR !

    I must say it is VERY cool to play Portal with that thing and I could get used to that for sure and I am excited to see what games can do if it is supported natively and from a larger studio. Might try a few more games lateron, but for now Portal is great.
     
  5. Wistrel

    Wistrel Kick Ass Elf

    Did you use virieo Perception? I've been looking at getting that going with Entropia since the latest release supports crysis. So far no luck though. I might try it with crysis and see if that works.
     
  6. RAZER

    RAZER Custom title ... uh ...

    Yep I did use Perception and it works pretty well, with Portal2 at least. Did try Portal 1 as well, but that had a few issues (which the Perception guys said it would have). Have Farcry 3 sitting at the computer at the office too, so might try that too.
     
  7. RAZER

    RAZER Custom title ... uh ...

    Took the Rift home this weekend to test something out, had a lot of lag at the office cause by just 30 pfs and it seems I don't have that at home, so I guess we need a better graphics card at the office.

    Also found out I do get sick after about 15 minutes of playing Portal2 on that thing
     
  8. Wistrel

    Wistrel Kick Ass Elf

    I think this dev makes a fair point...

     
  9. Tass

    Tass Administrator

    Have you ever tried a Vive? For me it actually feels like 1 generation ahead of Oculus.
     
  10. Wistrel

    Wistrel Kick Ass Elf

    Yes but not really tried a CV1 (which is needed to make a fair compare). But sure yes in terms of tracking and interface I think Vive got ahead (at a significant hardware cost increase I might add)
     

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