Valve’s Vive VR Prototype Is Better Than The Oculus Rift’s

I’ve used the Oculus Rift DK1, HD and DK2 for hours and hours and enjoyed my time with each of them immensely, but on each occasion, I’d feel some sense of relief upon taking the headset off. Relief that my head could cool down, relief my eyes could relax, relief that I hadn’t thrown up.

When my twenty minutes with Valve and HTC’s Vive came to an end, I felt no relief. Instead, I only felt disappointed that I couldn’t continue exploring the 3D painting demo or playing with the specially-designed Portal 2 vignette.

The Setup

My session began with being led into a small room at GDC, around 12 by 15 foot, and being introduced to Jeep Barnett, a programmer at Valve. He pointed out two 6″x6″ boxes stood atop bookcases in opposite corners of the room. These are the laser-tracking devices that watch your movements throughout the room, and are one of the ways the Vive is different from the rival Facebook Oculus Rift headset. While the Rift places a small camera on top of your monitor in order to track your head position while you sit in an office chair, the Vive hopes to track you as you walk around your room.

To begin with, I sat down in a chair in the center of the room while I was wired up. The Vive is due out before the end of the year, but the version at GDC is still a prototype and while the headset is relatively light, it’s attacked to heavy external cables. To compensate, I hooked a belt around my waist to hold those external wires so my neck didn’t have to carry the load.

With the headset fitted, the first thing is that it’s a little sharper than the DK2, at least to my eye. It’s not perfect by any stretch, and if I studied the image in front of my face I could see pixels and jaggies and so on, but the following twenty minutes would be my first experience in VR where I would forget that there was a screen a couple of inches away from my eyes.

Next up, Barnett handed me Valve’s prototype VR motion controllers. Since I had the headset on already, these floated up from the floor in front of me as Barnett picked them up, and I reached out to pluck them out of virtual space. They look a tad like Razer Hydra controllers but with elements of the Steam Controller merged in: instead of thumbsticks, under your thumbs sit two haptic touchpads, there’s a trigger on top for your index finger, and another set of buttons pressed by squeezing your palms. Most of the demos I played used the index triggers.

Then Barnett put some headphones on me, asked me to stand up and he took away the chair. I was now standing inside a demo room at a busy conference, but completely immersed in a virtual world.

The motion tracking, the space

My first image when hearing of the Vive and its movement tracking earlier in the week was of walking into walls, stubbing my toe in my small office room, and knocking breakables off shelves. Valve have thought of the same.

To begin with, that virtual world was a white space with hexagonal tiles rising up front the floor around me. As I edged towards them, taking small tentative space out of fear of tripping, they shrunk down into the ground. I crouched down and touched the floor and the real world floor was just a little closer than the floor I could see. I stood up again, dipped my head, turned, straightened, looked up. At each point the headtracking seemed perfect. I was there.

The world around me transitioned to a plainer white space, but this one had images along the walls of different in-development VR games. Barnett directed my attention to the outline of a blue square on the ground, which marked out a safe space for movement, and then asked me to move towards its edge. As I did so, a wall of transparent grid squares faded in. Barnett described these as the ‘chaperone’, designed to stop you breaking all your stuff. The size of the space is something you calibrate yourself when first setting up the Vive and you can mark obstacles on the floor area to make sure you avoid outcropping furniture.

When I asked Barnett, he said that the minimum practical space for using the machine was around the size of two yoga mats, roughly six foot by four foot. He also said that the system can be made to work with very large spaces and that it can track multiple people moving through it at the same time. Valve are working on multiplayer prototypes, and hope to have more to show later in the year.

Settled in, Barnett told me to turn to my right and activate a screen. I turned right, took two steps forward, reached out with my right hand and squeezed the right-trigger on the controller to press an on-screen button. I can’t communicate how strange this experience is – pressing a button on a screen which is actually being projected on a screen but using my real arm – and that’s partly because any effort to do so betrays how simultaneously ordinary it feels. Within a few moments, you just forget about the weirdness.

Then the real demos began.

The demos

I was stood on the bridge of a sunken galley ship, debris scattered around its deck, penning me towards its bow. Small fish floated around in front of me, which I could chase away with my controller. “This is a good demo for showing scale in VR,” said Barnett. It’s called TheBlu. I walked around, looking this way or that, wondering if I could clamber over the fallen mast and wondering how longer-distance walking like that would work with the motion trackers. I opened my mouth to speak, “How far into the boat can I–“, then caught something in the corner of my eye.

I turned around to look out from the ship and there was a whale, almost close enough to touch, swooping by. It stopped and I stepped to the left to align myself with its eye, larger than my head. I stared into it and became aware again of my physical presence in the real world: I was smiling. A big, open-mouthed, toothy grin had spread uncontrollably across my face as I made eye contact with such an amazing creature, and I felt giddy as it swam on, its fin and tail swooping past my face.

It’s not often that I feel moments of euphoria while playing videogames, and I’m skeptical of this feeling myself. I half wonder if VR brings its own version of the phenomena of crying on airplanes, that the total effect of the headset, the immersion, the sense of being alone in a strange and public space, is that normally level-headed people come over all moony. Whatever the case, in that moment I’d have bought one if it had been for sale.

That was demo one.

Demo two was The Job Simulator, which cast me as a chef in a colourful, cartoon world, directed by a screen to make a particular meal by combining the items in a pot. While the first demonstration was purely passive, here I was picking up ingredients, opening and reaching into fridges, and the preparation ended by popping the food onto a plate, dinging a bell, and watching it being carted off. After successfully following the recipe, I was offered the chance to perform another or to pootle around with other objects in the kitchen. I turned around, zapped a steak knife in a microwave, and sent that off as my second serving.

The cartooniness of this world is why Valve’s use of the word “presence” is so important. I’d normally think of virtual reality as operating on a scale, as the name suggests, of reality. The better the system, the more real it seems. But that’s not quite accurate when you’re operating in a cartoonish world of low-poly vegetables and floating plates. I didn’t mistake the world of any of those demos for something real and that wasn’t their goal, but I always felt present in the setting no matter whether I was cooking or pootling around with an ogre’s spare mechanical parts.

That was the third demo. Set inside a small, rickety, fantasy-style room, with a cave beyond a wooden railing, I was talked at by an enormous ogre who was trying to fix something. He walked away and I spent a few minutes opening cupboards and tinkering with devices, the strangest of which were a pair of glasses with wobbling green plasma for lenses. I held those virtual goggles up to my eyes and looked through them, acutely aware of the chain of perception-bending at work.

Eventually the ogre returned, finished his repairs, and the room I was in began to ascend. It was an elevator and it emerged atop a mountain, my view suddenly unconstrained. I picked something up and threw it over the ledge, watching it sail out of view. In my memory, this feels no less real than times when I’ve rolled stones down mountains in real life.

Next up was a three-dimensional painting tool called Tilt Brush, which began with a flower springing to life from the floor, one brush stroke at a time. I was then given the tools to do that myself, my right-controller a brush, my left-controller a colour wheel and menu. I painted lines of light and snow through the air, and then a happy, smiley face in oils. “Is that John?”, Barnett asked. “He did have red hair at one point,” I said.

I could have used this all day, making nothing much of value but simply delighting in the precision of it. The motion controllers in my hands were as much prototypes as the headset itself, but I had no problem drawing John’s irises in place. It’s also strange how quickly they transformed in my mind from their actual physical shape to the glowing menu projections they existed as in the world. I was instantly accustomed to turning my hand this way or that to use the colour picker on the front and the brush picker on the back.

That was maybe the theme of the whole session: VR has come along far enough in just a couple of years that much of it is now instinctive. It’s remarkable how quickly the whole situation normalised in my head; how quickly I stopped thinking of the virtual objects I was picking up as any different from real ones, and how immediately I stopped worrying about bumping into unseen walls.

The Portal 2 demo

But the fifth and final demo was the first time the giddy smile returned to my face since that initial encounter with the whale. This was Valve’s own creation, and a vignette set in the Portal 2 universe. I didn’t go sailing around on jump pads or paint slick surfaces, and I question how that might have felt given the limits on player movement speed for anyone who wants to avoid vomiting on their head-mounted display. But instead, I was cast as a robot repairman, trying to fix a malfunctioning Atlas. It was gloriously funny, but there were two moments in particular that were sublime.

Here's a photo of the Steam Link, because I wasn't given any images of the VR demos.

The first was opening a drawer to be presented with a miniature world full of stickmen and desks in the style of Portal 2’s cute, funny marketing. It was cute, it was funny, and it sold the sense of scale you get from virtual reality much like that initial presentation. I leaned in, getting a closer look at tiny figures typing at tiny computers. When I closed the drawer and one of the little figures crawled out and tumbled down to the floor, I couldn’t resist crouching down again and trying to help him back up. The second moment was when working with Atlas, in which you grab a lever on the side of his face and pull, causing the internal machinery of his head to spool out on as if on a floating rack, all the parts inside spinning and clicking and popping away.

Everyone has experienced a moment with videogames where they were impressed with technology before, whether it was a tongue-floored corridor or a staggering ragdoll trying to remain upright, but virtual reality seems to have the power to go further than those mere gaudy thrills. At least in me, it inspires feelings of wonder at the same time. It’s more than a flashier version of something you’ve seen before; it’s more like seeing moving pictures for the first time and ducking when a train rushes towards the screen. Or, in my case, jutting backwards when GladOS’s head shot towards where I was standing.

The caveats

I’ve come over all moony again, but I’m willing to look silly in order to have a record of the genuine elation I felt after using the Vive. Whether it comes across in reading this or not, my desire when using the device was mainly to yell HOLY SHIT, call every friend and family I have and tell them to try it, and then to start indiscriminately hugging people. There will inevitably be better VR headsets in years to come that will make this one look deficient, and there will be limitations to this headset that will only be apparent after hours, weeks and months of use, but it would seem a shame to temper that feeling even out of entirely sensible cynicism.

In other words, there are fewer caveats than ever that need to be appended to the consistently joyful write-ups of various VR headsets.

That all said, it’s obviously worth stating that, despite my current preference, it’s still too early to say that the Vive is the winner of The Virtual Reality Wars. What’s now clear is that the fight is coming. While Valve and HTC are sprinting to beat the Oculus to market, that doesn’t mean Facebook’s eventual consumer device won’t ultimately be better. Whatever the case, users will be rewarded with machines made cheaper through competition – and a better chance at an open VR development platform.

Finally, for the sceptical and technical: no, I don’t know what its field of view or framerate was; no, I can’t tell you how much it will cost; and no, I have no idea if anything will be released for it with depth or lasting value beyond mere novelty.

And yeah, I don’t have a room in my house that can fit two yoga mats side by side either. Right now, I don’t care. I’ll push my couch out the way. Or, as one Valve employee put it, “Who really uses their dining table anyway?”.

Sponsored links by Taboola

More from the web

From this site


  1. thristhart says:

    This was really well written! I very much want to get my hands on a dev kit and start tinkering.

  2. egg-zoo-bear-ant will e 91 says:

    This has been a good evening.

    I feel this article puts a dampender on some of the worries about novelty and the need for great software, though as he admits in the end they still lurk. But would developers to port tv and monitor games to it? It seems like they need a different design, from the start. My only worry is it could be too good, and if games don’t play fair about fitting into a decent real life, then it will destroy me. I’ll forgive the typos because this feels hot off the press!

  3. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    It’s interesting that the first applications which popped into my head for this technology were not based in decades-old genres, but in the relatively new category we call “walking simulators” for lack of a more accurate term. Specifically, I wondered how something like Gone Home would work with Vive. If you could pick up and wave everything in the Gone Home house around using your actual hands, and everything reacted realistically to everything else…

    Maybe there’s something to this whole VR thing after all.

    • zproc says:

      Yes what i’ve been thinking too. I don’t care about FPS’es and VR doesnt’ seem to fit them. But explore strange worlds while feeling being there? Yes, yes, yes.

    • P.Funk says:

      My first thought was actually “Holy shit, flight simulators are going to be fucking insane”.

      Of course Arma, the ultimate shooty-walking simulator should be equally impressive. All that leaning and ducking… oh man. I’ll get fit just going on 2 hour patrols with my mates.

      • Monchberter says:

        “I hope you brought spare kneecaps, soldier?”

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Can confirm flight sims are incredible in VR. I’ve been usingvPrepar3d almost exclusively in the DK2, and having IRL flying lessons. The VR experience is incredibly true to l u fe, its basically training.

        Nothing better than buying a new aircraft addon and REALLY “gettting in it”

      • Synesthesia says:

        Yes, i’m super stoked for this too. Having a hotas and/or a wheel never seeemed better. All cockpit games are going to be fucking insane indeed. Asetto corsa, elite, il-2, dcs, arma… i have butterflies in my belly.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I am hoping that the Vive will have a greater effective FOV than the DK2. For driving games I find the Dk2 actually kills speed sensation because there is not enough peripheral. There is no such problem in flight sims for some reason, and of course in something like ETS2 its not about speeding (unless you are That Guy). Racing games come across as oddly anodyne though.

          DCS World and Prepar3D have been the consistent mind blowers for me, once I figured out how to set NVidia DSR and get some serious supersmapling to smooth out the jaggyness of the DK2 display.

          • P.Funk says:

            My experience with driving sims is that anyone who thinks speed sensation is important to driving well is missing the point. You want to feel like the game is moving as slow as possible and putting your fov narrow to a realistic point makes the corner look like its coming at you slower and so its easier to drive it.

            Sensation of speed to me is sim racing’s version of mouse DPI. Its an idea that holds no water.

    • Little_Crow says:

      I doubt it’s a technology I’ll invest in any time soon, but good to see more companies coming out with really promising prototypes. My concern would be that games have to be specifically developed for each VR platform rather than to an open standard, though.

      I can totally see how brilliant this will be where your avatars body is in a fixed position – Flight Sims, racers, Giant Mech games etc. But for an FPS I can’t imagine how ‘natural’ it would feel.
      The movement tracking of Valves offering works when simulating a room when you have a similar amount of empty space available, and it sounds like the demo was created with exactly this in mind. But for big open environments like most FPS’ and ‘walking simulators’, VR doesn’t feel like a good fit right now.

      My guess is that it’d be like how you’d usually control a tank in a game – move your head for where your head/gun are pointing, and controller for your actual body movement, but that is weirdly disconnected for something that’s aiming to improve immersion.
      I don’t really think that we’ve advanced the technology past the ‘running on the spot while Craig Charles shouts at you of ‘CyberZone’ – Oh, except for the injuries you’d sustain from the spine crushingly heavy VR headsets of the 90’s.

      • Sven Viking says:

        > “My guess is that it’d be like how you’d usually control a tank in a game – move your head for where your head/gun are pointing, and controller for your actual body movement, but that is weirdly disconnected for something that’s aiming to improve immersion.”

        In a VR FPS with Valve’s controllers, you’d just point and shoot as if the controller was a real gun.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        VR actually works very well for slow paced meandering, though the sensation is of floating rather. Standing up makes a huge difference, and to be honest actually taking a step in VR is one of the most mindblowing things you can do with the DK2. Its such a shame the cable is so short because the effect is astounding. This is what Valve’s headset will allow in spades.

        FPS with M+K or joypad do suck balls, but again being able to use your body to turn will make a massive difference to the nausea due to the disconnect between movement and visual perception. Most Unity demos for the DK2 already feature “look steering”, where you go where you are peering. Its actually enormously irritating and makes you crave for the normal mouse-points-you-body-direction of regular FPS. Some programmers have successfully experimented with setting up a dual reticle system where one shows body direction, and the other is controlled by the head – much as in Arma. Its actually very intuitive.

        If you think you would not enjoy VR but have not tried it, I would highly recommend giving it a go. Most people who try it go “I had no idea it was like that”, because until you have a go there is honestly nothing you can compare it to.

      • Contrafibularity says:

        There’s already an open source standard that all the major VR headset producers have subscribed to (OSVR).

        And before you dismiss all VR gaming that doesn’t take place in a cockpit or driver’s seat, have a look at this demo and make sure to watch it through to the end:
        link to

        This is going to open up amazing new gameplay, because it’s a switch from 2D input to actual 3D input. And instead of being acutely aware that you’re flailing your arms around to make something happen inside your TV like all the motion controllers did, in VR your mind will trick you and your avatar’s arms/whatever will start to feel like a natural extension of your brain. It’s really quite something, and it has to be experienced to be believed.

    • n0m0n says:

      I was thinking Telltale might have a really good thing going for them if VR takes off. Their games have some of my favorite aesthetics of recent times, and if they’d manage to just make the presence feel right, I’d love to explore some of their virtually rendered worlds and mysteries through a device such as this.

      First Person Adventures similar to the Myst games seem a lot more suitable than fast paced shooters.

  4. manitoo says:

    “I walked around, looking this way or that, wondering if I could clamber over the fallen mast and wondering how longer-distance walking like that would work with the motion trackers. I opened my mouth to speak, “How far into the boat can I–“, then caught something in the corner of my eye.”

    But really, how does movement work when the virtual space is bigger than your (IRL) room?

    • flexm says:

      Obviously it would depend on the application in question and how they chose to use the inputsystem.
      It could be shitty and use the touchpad to simulate “analogue stick standard fps-walking”.
      Or it could be better and do things like If you’re on skis in VR then the controllers might be ski-poles and you push your way forward, etc.

      • death_au says:

        Forget “walking simulators”, soon we’ll have “motorized wheelchair simulators”!

    • ersetzen says:

      I feel like a mech game would work amazingly well. Use controllers to move around maybe with some pulling of levers pushing of buttons in the vr while in the mech but always with the option to get out and actually move around for a couple meters around it, for repairs or collecting of resources or opening doors…

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Mech games so far for the DK2 are pretty good, but you can become bored surprisingly quickly. That may be due to the fact they are unfinished demos, but I must admit I had little urge to really clamber back into the mech suits I have tried.

    • arnsholt says:

      There are some interesting possibilities. It needs a bigger space than a living room (IIRC), but one thing I know is possible is for the simulation to subtly steer you away from the walls. That is, even though you think you’re walking in a straight line, the engine can fiddle with the view so that in meatspace you’re walking in a curved line while you’re walking in a straight line in the virtual space.

      • sonofsanta says:

        Moving in one direction while your brain thinks you’re going in another sounds like a textbook recipe for motion sickness. Especially in tiny British living rooms, where you’d be all but spinning on the spot.

      • Razumen says:

        That’s going to cause major issues with motion sickness; your eyes will tell you you’re walking straight, but your inner ear and brain is going to be going “ah hell naww!” the entire time.

        I don’t think Valve’s implementation is really designed to have you walking around entire levels, but rather give you a modicum of space for interacting with your immediate virtual environment in a dynamic and positional manner. Actually walking around levels will, sadly, still be relegated to a thumb-stick or something similar for now.

  5. Elethio says:

    I recently had play with the Oculus DK2 with Elite, my reaction to that was somewhat similar, just being able to get into a dog fight and track the enemy by turning your head, to catch yourself turning the flight stick in game and forget that your looking at virtual hand just for a moment because your real hand is doing the same action.
    I totally get where your coming from, the grin stayed on my face for hours.

    And then when I took off the helmet, there was that relief, there is just a little too much eyestrain with the Oculus right now, but I immediately started discussing with my friend (the owner of the dev kit) what else was need:
    Higher res screens, (its really good, and usable but writing can blurry and there are jagged edges).
    Gloves to fully track hand movements.
    And better motion sensors, that track you through the room not just the chair.

    I’m so glad to hear that the Vive has already addressed some of these things, I really hope they can make proper gloves to use with this too.

    My hope is that one day Gearbox make Homeworld 3, and we get to play it with VR, directing fleets with a wave of the hand, or a voice command, while walking through a holographic strategic display.
    link to

    • Stupoider says:

      This game called Flagship sounds a bit like what you want. But I haven’t heard anything about it, and it might just be a proof of concept kind of game, I don’t know.

      • snowgim says:

        It was a kickstarter, but it didn’t make it’s goal. Such a shame. Apparently they’re still working on it, and may do another crowdfunding campaign at some point.
        My wallet is ready.

    • kendoka15 says:

      You say you had eyestrain, but did your friend configure your IPD? (Interpupillary distance)
      I’ve seen many people say they had eyestrain when the RIft owner just didn’t bother setting it up correctly

      • Elethio says:

        Yes could be, when I mentioned this he did say something about adjusting the lenses.

  6. Synesthesia says:

    I’m beggining to get hyped is it okay if i get super hyped now

  7. Sven Viking says:

    No mention of Crescent Bay?

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Well, the headline is “Valve’s Vive VR Prototype Is Better Than The Oculus Rift’s”, so, kinda.

      • Sven Viking says:

        Technically that could be referring to one of the earlier Rift prototypes he mentions having used in the body of the article. I don’t guess that’s the case, it just seemed strange to have that bold headline and then only make comparisons between Vive and old Rift dev kits.

        • Contrafibularity says:

          What’s there to mention? Everything about CV1 is pure speculation, and OR won’t even say what the screen in the CB prototype was.

    • Please_click_RPS_ads says:

      IKR. Another paid article.

  8. Grayman says:

    I enjoyed reading about your great time!

  9. Stardog says:

    So, it’s “better” than the Oculus Rift’s prototype, but you “don’t know what its field of view or framerate was”.

    Well, I’m glad it “felt” better to you. Here’s hoping it “feels” better to the rest of us too, I guess.

    I’m glad journalism has moved on from having to report facts and have actual knowledge about things.

    • Stupoider says:

      Seemed to me that the Portal 2 demo was working more magic than the VR itself, from what I read.

    • Sivart13 says:

      On the contrary, I think the “feel” of things is actually the ONLY important factor.

      Pixel count, refresh rate, head tracking resolution, et cetera et cetera are all just factors in the VR experience.

      It may well be that Valve’s HMD is better, or the same, or worse. But software and other engineering aspects also have a role to play, and the final proof only lies in whether people like using the device.

    • P.Funk says:

      I’m sorry, at what point did RPS ever resemble Tom’s Hardware?

    • Asurmen says:

      Since when was journalism ever completely about facts? Also you appear to have read but not understood that disclaimer at the end.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Yea, where are the FACTS, man? I don’t need these subjective opinions, telling me what the experience of the device is like, having a so called ‘journalist’ paint a wonderful picture with prose to help me understand how it might compare to other devices, or what using it would be like for me as a human person. What possible conclusion am I expected to draw from a review? I need FACTS, spec sheets, and other meaningless objective data that I could get from anywhere, including the last RPS post on this topic, because I AM ROBOT.

      Jeez, the state of journalism these days.

    • golem09 says:

      Except trying out this early tech VR is ONLY about the feeling, nothing else. It doesn’t matter how they achieve it, the question is whether or not they are delivering nausealess VR that gives you a feeling of presence.

      That is like only wanting spreadsheets for a speaker comparison.

    • resilien7 says:

      This type of feature story is clearly about the qualitative experience, not about benchmarks and technical specs. And considering that nausea/motion sickness is one of the main drawbacks of VR goggles right now, and the immersive experience is the main selling point, this story is actually a lot more helpful to consumers than focusing on framerate or field of view, which anyone can look up in a press release when it’s announced (though anyone making a purchase based on which device has a higher framerate or field of view is a fool).

  10. goon buggy says:

    Isnt it supposed to be the RE vive?

    • death_au says:

      This has been bugging me, too. It’s interesting, I googled “HTC Vive” and near the bottom of the page is the link to the official site with the title “HTC RE Vive”. The heading on the website looks like it should be “GTC RE Vive”. But then scrolling down the website to “HTC’s VR Vision” it reads “HTC’s Vive headset, powered by SteamVR”. So what exactly is the “RE” for?

      • fylth says:

        From what I can tell, the RE is a line of hardware by HTC, the Vive being one member of that line. There’s also a RE Camera and probably some others too

        • Premium User Badge

          Harlander says:

          “Recamera”? Not sure that really works. They should have called it the “Gard” or possibly “Connoitre”

      • ThTa says:

        I watched the livestream where they announced this, and they never say the RE part out loud. They also announced a fitness band which has the same branding (HTC RE Grip) is also simply referred to as the HTC Grip.

        So, put simply, the RE part is kind of a logo, not a word. (And something that distinguishes their phone division from other standalone hardware.)

        Though confusingly, HTC previously released a product (a GoPro competitor) simply called the HTC RE.

  11. P.Funk says:

    “What’s now clear is that the fight is coming.”

    Can we get a fan made Game of Thrones style trailer for the inevitable conflict ‘twixt the two great families of the VR realm, pl0x?

    • iainl says:

      If someone does, I hope they remember that Morpheus is getting a lot of comments about being more comfortable than either of its competition.

  12. hollowroom says:

    I only have one thumb. Will I still be able to use this?

  13. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Is there anyone here for whom “a yoga mat” is a useful measurement of area?

    • Don Reba says:

      Had to check Amazon. I guess they mean something like 1.5×1.5 meters.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      I’d assume so, some of leave the sofa occasionally.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        All right, all right, settle down.

        I didn’t know I’d affront the hardcore yoga contingent here. ;)

        • ButteringSundays says:

          Ha, I don’t yoga, but I must admit I have a hard time imagining that someone doesn’t really know the size of a yoga mat :)

          It’s even featured in GTA V!

          • TheTingler says:

            I’ve never seen anyone do yoga, don’t know anyone who does it, and never played GTA5, for reasons that I hope are obvious for RPS readers.

            I exercise like a normal person.

          • ButteringSundays says:


            Ah, ‘normal person’. What’s one of those then, someone like you?

          • Elethio says:

            Every morning… up down up down up down

            Then the other eyelid.

        • SomeDuder says:

          Yoga is apparently a thing that people do now, after reading about it on Twitter or Facebook. Middle-class scum homes even come with yoga mats pre-installed.

          • ButteringSundays says:

            Wow, I mean I’m no ‘fan’ of the middle class, but man, that’s quite a bee in your bonnet!

            Yoga/Pilates is a great accompaniment to resistance and cardio. If you’re gonna exercise (which frankly I don’t) then it’s a good thing to add to the mix. And it’s by no means new, even if you have only just started engaging with other humans via social media.

          • airmikee says:

            “Now”? You mean since as early as between 2500 and 5000 years ago, depending on which version of its beginning you choose to believe?

            Always funny when people discover something for the first time and can’t understand why other people don’t share their surprise and shock. :)

    • Bishop149 says:

      Yes, I do believe Valve just took the prize for “Most middle-class unit of area measurement”.

    • khomotso says:

      Not so much a unit of surface area as a signalling of the fights you might get into at home. ‘Are you done with your yoga yet? Because …’

    • RagingLion says:

      Yeah, not me either.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    I don’t know if I missed it in the article, but how does this thingy connect to the things it has to connect to (video, power etc.)? Is it wireless? If not, how do you avoid strangling yourself in the cables and whatnot?

    • Asurmen says:

      It’s in the article. Mentions heavy wires with a belt to support their weight rather than your neck doing that.

  15. mf says:

    Interesting. Will have to wait and if it gets better before consumer release.
    Also, I find it disturbing that the heavy cables that come with the set are in _attack_ pattern. Perhaps attached?

  16. Monkeh says:

    I’m afraid these ‘games’ will get boring really quickly, so what I’d really like to know is how it plays with regular games. It’s nice reading such a positive preview, but seeing as I believe the novelty of playing ‘minigames’ like this will wear off after a few days, I guess I’ll have to wait for other hands-on previews where f.e. actual Portal 2 gets played with the thing (which I can see being more of a chore than it is fun and exciting).

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Well these ‘games’ are tech demo’s, so probably aren’t intended to keep you occupied for several hundred hours.

      But I guess what you’re asking is how would it work when playing games that weren’t designed with it in mind? Not great I guess, like using a Fight Stick to play Portal 2 would also be an inferior experience.

      I’m personally much more keen to see this direction, utilising the tech for what its good at, rather than trying to make it conform with a keyboard+mouse metaphor for games that probably don’t need it or particularly benefit from it anyway.

      • Monkeh says:

        Yeah, I have to agree on rather seeing games developed specifically with VR in mind, but seeing as those will probably be some time off, I’ll probably be mostly checking out older games when I get one of these. And obviously I don’t expect these games to play better than with a mouse and keyboard, but I do want to know if the experience is different in a fun way or not so much (which using a Flight Stick to play FPS games obviously isn’t).

    • Cinek says:

      VR sets got one huge advantage in gaming – field of view and spatial orientation. As far as the second one can be somewhat debatable – some people get totally confused by having that “detached from the body” feeling, the first one really makes a huge difference in any sort of competitive gaming.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Over on the Oculus forums it seems to have been the case that you either find ‘your’ game / sim or end up losing interest, your only choices being the often technically temperamental short form demos. Folks who got lost in Elite, Assetto Corsa or sims etc stuck with it, to the point where going back to a normal monitor just no longer felt the same.

      • resilien7 says:

        I can’t imagine a more intuitive input/output combo for spatial orientation. It’s much easier to mentally map out a space by turning your head and look around than by using a mouse or keyboard to rotate your field of view. It’s also much easier to shoot/aim this way, for obvious reasons.

        The real disadvantage in my experience is how uncomfortable they are after just 10-15 minutes of us. I’ve only tried the Oculus DK2, so hopefully the Vive is much better in this regard, which the author seems to be implying here.

        With the Rift, the head tracking has a noticeable delay, so if you move your head around too quickly, it can induce motion sickness. Moving your avatar by means besides direct physical movement also has this effect, so that also limits its usefulness for fast-paced FPS-type games which will undoubtedly require you to move via joystick or keyboard unless you have some sort of VR treadmill or a warehouse-sized gaming room.

    • Elethio says:

      I expect that most “regular” games will have little to no benefit from using VR, but the thing is, VR is the catalyst for paradigm shift in games (sorry for that term – couldn’t think of another). right now we have a few FPS’s, simulators and tech demo’s that are making use of VR, but this is the tip of the iceburg, the really exciting stuff hasn’t arrived yet, in deed we have no idea what this exciting stuff is yet, but its coming, I guarantee you.

      If you need further convincing, think about this… would Starcraft 2 exist if no-one invented the mouse?

      • Razumen says:

        I dunno, discounting positional tracking and even looking around, a more immersive and all encompassing 3D view would benefit pretty much every game.

  17. bstard says:

    [url=]Better than Life[/url]. Finally I hope my dream to play as Lord of Smeg can come true.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Would it be possible to get an interview with Technical Illusions, the folks behind CastAR?
    With all this info about Vive, Oculus and Hololens recently, it would be interesting to see how these guys are progressing as well.

  19. Cinek says:

    So… TL;DR – WHY exactly is it better than Oculus?

    Cause I quickly skimmed through the text and don’t see any clear explanation for why is it suppose to be better. Anyone can enlighten me?

    • ButteringSundays says:

      The experience of using it? Maybe you read a different article.

    • slerbal says:

      Seriously? You can’t be bothered to actually read the article beyond skimming it and then complain that you didn’t learn anything? Read harder :D

    • El_Emmental says:

      This is a subjective impression of a short prototype preview, RPS isn’t a hardware website (the few articles are made by external writers).

      Also, catchy headline.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Probably because the name Facebook isn’t attached to it

    • Elethio says:

      Because it has better motion sensing (when they do something about the lead) and less eyestrain (possibly).

      But the jury is still out, I’ve tried the Oculus and enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t buy it yet.
      There is a reason that development hasn’t finished on the rift, and I rather hope that Steam don’t consider Vive ready for commercial use either.

      The may be minor things like comfort, motion tracking, annoying leads, that still need addressing, but the primary hurdle is the resolution, 1280×800 may sound adequate, but the problem is that your eyes are very close to the screen and focusing mainly on a small area with much of the display in your peripheral vision, and this mean jagged edges and hard to read text.

      In fact this is something missing from the article imo, a caveat to say that development hasn’t finished, and possibly a road map too to show what else still needs doing for each.

  20. Stevostin says:

    “Or, as one Valve employee put it, “Who really uses their dining table anyway?”.”

    Oh, here’s a quote begging to backfire in the hand of technophobics.

    That being said, it’s always been obvious that VR was going to ask its own room anyway. Well, unless you stick to Hololens, but it’s clear already that’s this is a different device for a different use. We’ll likely have to use both.

    Still one question though: how much does the Vive crop the vision ? The first Occulus certainly put a big black frame arount its reality. Immersion killer for me.

  21. mon0 says:

    After a long time of lurking, I finally caved and registered an account just to say that reading this put a big, stupid grin on my face and sent my mind spinning into maybe-possibly-plans of building my own little “holodeck” room.

    Great journalism and incredible tech. Really great.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      If you build it, you will come.
      I like to misquote Kevin Costner in dirty ways.

  22. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Really glad you had such a good experience. VR communities have been languishing in the Trough of Disillusionment for some time. This brings back some of the excitement and hope which VR deserves.

    • Josh W says:

      So true, I don’t really care if it’s better than the Occulus, just the fact that it is comparable, and likely to be based on open software is wonderful. Proper competition takes the “oh god, facebook” factor away and makes it possible to think about cool VR stuff properly again.

  23. slerbal says:

    I am definitely a potential buyer of the Vive.

    I am very interested in seeing how this develops, not least because competition should really push innovation in the field. I’m also pleased that there will be a non-Facebook alternative. Whatever their intent I just don’t want Facebook in my life and I don’t have any reason to trust their intentions, so it is great to have an alternative option to the Rift.

    I am concerned about how the various VR systems will handle moving around, but that is a solvable problem, I’m sure. I also have concerns about how this will be usable to people with limited mobility, but again I am cautiously confident they will address this.

  24. sapien82 says:

    It sounds amazing , I cant wait to get one when they are released , I have big enough room in my man cave !

    this would be the ultimate edition , I’d just need my real life fiance’ to bring me real life food otherwise I’d never come out of the virtual world and goto work

  25. ButteringSundays says:

    I’ve been waiting for Oculus to get a move on and actually release a product, but it;s looking like this will better meet my needs – price will be important though of course!

    Frankly I bet Oculus are kicking themselves, they’ve taken FAR too long to bring the product to market, especially since they now have the financial might of Zuckerberg behind them, I’m surprised it’s taken someone so long to beat them to the punch.

    And frankly I’d rather be using a device tied to a DRM system than a personal data harvesting platform.

  26. SomeDuder says:

    VR is definitely a fun gimmick, but I just can’t imagine myself running around in a first-person environment – I sit down playing games. I don’t wanna walk around at 11 in the evening, fuck that shit, WASD all the way.

    Now, as another peripheral, like a joystick or a gamepad? Sure! Coupled with a wheel or HoTaS setup, that might be great stuff. But first-person stuff might actually be the type of game that’s least suited to actual VR, ironically enough.

    • Sven Viking says:

      You could still sit and play an FPS in VR, moving with the control stick and pointing the controller to aim. However, the more you make use of artificial locomotion, the more likely you are to experience sim sickness if you don’t happen to be resistant to it. Standing and turning your body in meatspace, but using the control stick for movement, would be more manageable for most people.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      I think that it’s important to remember that this could be adding a new or different experience, not attempting to replace one you already have. I say this because I feel the same as you, but would still love the odd game that I could physically move around in (I’m not completely adverse to using my body). I don’t think anyone is expecting it to replace a keyboard or to be used with every game you play. Just like your HOTAS.

  27. jovel says:

    For some time I’ve been trying to figure out how Valve ever could replicate (or top) that sense of wonder that at least I felt watching the tech demo from hl2 (with the ragdolls and the mattress-physics and what not). This is obv what they are going for with hl3??

  28. Premium User Badge

    Qazinsky says:

    Well, the main thing to take away from this article is that if Graham ever switches careers to work in a restaurant, never order the Chef’s Choice!

  29. Toupee says:

    I’m so excited I have tears!

  30. Chaz says:

    When I asked Barnett, he said that the minimum practical space for using the machine was around the size of two yoga mats, roughly six foot by four foot.

    If I move my coffee table out of the way I might just have that space.

    What they really need is an adapter that plugs into your spinal cord to provide direct mental control and pseudo physical feedback. Playing Doom on “Hurt me plenty” would have a whole new meaning.

  31. Thanati says:

    Are you comparing the valve one to DK2? Because if so, it’s bound to be better. How does it compare to crescent bay? That should be a better comparison in my opinion.

  32. frightlever says:

    mumble… mumble… padded cell…. mumble…

  33. vorador says:

    It’s hard not to be excited about VR nowadays. Between this year and the next, it’s gonna be huge.

  34. Wytefang says:

    The biggest issues with this whole “VR is here, yeah man!” movement of sorts are the following:

    1. Huge, clunky, goofy-looking headsets – make them super tiny and sleek, then people might get more interested
    2. Make sure that a majority of people won’t get motion-sickness from these (difficult and probably a somewhat unreasonable demand but it’s going to be a factor)
    3. There needs to be more than just one killer app/game to get people to buy-in to these devices – right now all we’re ever being shown are dinky little tech demos
    4. Other than point #3 above, which is a biggie, this is the biggest problem: COST. The masses and even many hardcore gamers, who buy a lot of unnecessary gaming junk, won’t want to blow even $150 on this thing. Get the price down to maybe $100 or less, and it’ll be a real thing.

    Until those issues are fixed, these types of article and these types of devices themselves, are fairly pointless and fluffy. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    • DrManhatten says:

      There is only one killer app and we all know it but no one wants to say it out loud.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      My guess is the first generation of these things are going to be the equivalent of an expensive flight stick or other fancy control setup, with about the same market. Some of the tech for a second generation, which will be cheaper, smaller and generally better, is starting to appear…

    • Elethio says:

      The headsets are not that bad, once your wearing them you forget their there.

      I agree they would look a little stupid in public, but lets face it the first wave of buyers are all going to be setting them up in their mothers basement anyway.

    • resilien7 says:

      Who cares what they look like? No one’s trying to look cool to other people while they’re in VR. Comfort and immersiveness (can we finally add that word to the dictionary?) should be the primary focus.

      And of course there are no market-ready games out for devices that aren’t even ready for consumer use yet.

      And there are plenty of people who drop $1000 on a TV or monitor. What makes you think people wouldn’t spend more than $150 on a VR headset that delivers a far more immersive experience than a hi-def 3D TV?

  35. DrManhatten says:

    Not suprised to be honest. Occula Rifr made two mistakes

    1.) They sold to Facebook
    2.) They hired John Carmack. Everything he was involved in the last 5 years basically turned into failure.

    • Elethio says:

      Wow that’s kind of mean, did he cancel a game you were waiting for?

    • Razumen says:

      Ha, Rage sold 2.3 million copies, it was hardly a failure. The engine beneath it is also really good, but it was hamstrung by console limitations (thus the low res textures.)

      Carmack is a technical genius, he’s accomplished more in his life than most people ever will-hell he even started his own areospace company. Oculus is extremely luck to have him.

  36. edwardh says:

    “Who really uses their dining table anyway?”

    People who occasionally have women over that they just met (*gasp*).

    Also – I have to say that I hate Valve with all my heart. Their games distribution platform is a steaming pile of crap and we all know about HL3.
    So whatever they’ll do with this Vive… it may be great technologically but I somehow doubt that it’ll be open, will have good customer support (more likely they’ll have NO way of getting in touch with them and just throw hundreds of articles at you how it’s all YOUR fault) and in fact – chances are good that it’ll never be released at all.

  37. MordeaniisChaos says:

    Comparing it to DK2 is a bit meaningless considering what we know about the latest Rift prototype… Does the article touch on that? If it isn’t actually comaparing the two prototypes that should be compared, this is sort of a useless comparison IMO… The Vive sounds AWESOME and clearly has some advantages over crescent bay or whatever, but not nearly as many as it has over DK2.
    Either way, really excited to see another major player to make things interesting in the VR space. Here’s to hoping DX12 has some VR hooks so you don’t need device specific stuff for every game in the early years.