SteamVR: A Chat About What Worked And What Didn’t

Alec and Graham have both had a go on SteamVR, aka the HTC Vive (as described here and here). Yes, aren’t they glorious, beautiful, shining examples of humanity? You can touch them if you like. No, not there. And not for that long. What are you.. ew, no, no, get off.

Actually, just stand over there and avert your eyes while they have a big old natter about what worked best, what might go wrong in practice, where this might all lead to, whether this is basically MAGIC, Valve vs Oculus and whether the hell we should let children use this thing.

Graham: Alec! Alec! Alec! We’ve both used Valve’s Vive, which mean we can finally have insufferable conversations about the transformative, unrelatable experience we’ve had that none of our other friends will tolerate us talking about.

Tell me, which of the magical demos you played made you feel most like a giddy child?

Alec: The painting one stays with the most, I think. The moment when I stepped to one side and these flat squiggles I’d drawn suddenly became these floating, three-dimensional shapes was, well, as much as it pains me to say it, magical. It was like some 80s cartoon movie where a kid’s drawings come to life. Although I guess these only hung there like neon balloon animals rather than became elves or something. But most of all, it’s because I was doing something in this alternate world, rather than just oohing and aahing at sights. I do regret just drawing squiggles though. I had the opportunity to draw a massive, 3D willy and I didn’t think to do it.

(Which says quite something about how mesmering this stuff is – the instinctive urge to draw cocks just wasn’t there, because my brain was in a place of pure wonder).

What about you?

Graham: I did draw a massive, 3D willy. But I knew the Valve employee was watching and so I disguised it by continuing to wave my arm afterwards, as if innocently squiggling. Then I drew a giant face. It was quite something.

I’m torn as to which was my favourite. The whale in BluVR blew me away; it was the first demo I saw and I was euphoric. It’s maybe the Google Earth demo I’m most keen to return to, however. It placed me as a giant standing above a 3D modelled landscape of an American city, and a spectacular mountain range, but I want to visit more exotic locations from that same perspective, stoop to see the detail down on street level, and spy sunsets between the skyscrapers. I want to squat atop the world and see the Arctic stretch out before me.

That said, Job Simulator seemed like it had the most potential to expand into a traditional, ‘full’ game experience – it was funny like the Portal 2 vignette, but where Valve’s own was entirely linear, there seemed space for experimentation in Job Simulator. Did the seemingly limited nature of the other demos worry you at all, or is the gimmick good enough that you don’t care?

Alec: Yeah, I’m a little worried. Nothing lasted more than five minutes, you didn’t get a chance to catch your breath or push at the limits. I mean, early experiences with the Oculus Rift had me similarly believing in magic, but now that I’ve played huge sections of ‘proper’ games with a Rift I basically don’t want to use it anymore. What’s gained in Gosh Wow is lost in ease of play and er, not having headaches. But even aside from the discomfort issue, it’s pure practicality – playing whilst blind, plus the gigantic bloody hassle of setting it all up, incompatibility issues, etc. It remains to be seen quite how versatile the Steam controller is, and more importantly whether people can find a vein of games which successfully balance reduced controls with massively heightened Gosh Wow and walking support.

Equally I don’t want to inject cynicism where it need not be, but let’s not pretend we’re experts because we spent 20 minutes being shown carefully-controlled demos.

Graham: Agreed. I think it’s worth reiterating at every opportunity that the Vive doesn’t seem particularly well suited to traditional game experiences. If the Rift is a device for games with cockpits, then the Vive is a device for cockpits and games set in 15’x15′ rooms. It doesn’t seem likely that you’ll be using it to play the next Elder Scrolls game, for example.

That said, I’m inclined to think it’s convincing enough and straightforward enough to control that a lot of smart people are going to try to be making things designed specifically for it. One developer I spoke to mentioned there being around twenty prototypes for different methods of moving distances larger than the physical space you’re within, and Valve mentioned working on other things, including multiplayer. It seems likely we’ll get a bunch of interesting things set in 15’x15′ rooms, just as smart people once found ways of making use of the Nintendo DS’s second screen.

I suppose I feel similarly about the Rift, too. However, do you think the Vive – with its motion controllers, walkabout abilities, and 2015 release date – makes the Vive the current VR frontrunner?

Alec:
Yeah, right now – of the stuff I’ve tried – there’s no contest. And as you say, we’ve barely scratched the surface. I mean, most of the most interesting Oculus stuff happened post-release and from unexpected places too.

Actually, I think an Elder Scrolls game could be ideally suited to it – fireballs from one hand, sword in the other, head craning skywards to track a dragon, that sort of thing. But they’ll need to master this idea of making the room bigger than it is, somehow leading you to walk in lazy circles but believing yourself to be walking ever-onwards.

But man, I’m dying to know what Oculus are up to right now. Has this blind-sided them, or just beaten them to the walkabout punch? The VR arms race has started properly now, and also – hopefully – reached enough of a watermark that whoever buys a Vive isn’t thinking oh shit, I should have waited for the next thing three months later.

I think it says much that the Valve thing was worked on as much by game designers as it was techies. Oculus was, in its initial conception, primarily the latter, right? For Valve, the focus has surely been as much on make it usable, get the feedback loops right and all that, as it was make it wonderful.

OK, thought experiment. Another friend who tried SteamVR jokingly said to me that, this time next year, we’ll at home, drinking in Santorini, rather than going to some cold British pub. Do you think that’s just wild exaggeration? I mean, I didn’t try the Google Earth one, but also you seem a little more mind-blown than I overall.

Graham: It’s, at the very least, exaggeration in terms of the timeline. Right now, I’m convinced that virtual reality has the potential to seep out beyond the confines of games and bedrooms and – to use Silicon Valley’s word – disrupt broader culture. Do I think it’ll definitely happen? No. Do I think it’ll happen in twelve months? Not a chance. Do I think it needs to happen for VR to be considered a success? Not at all. I think people too often compare everything to mobile phones, but VR can be a success while selling considerably fewer pieces of hardware than Apple.

But yeah, I think there’s a chance it could seep out, because I can imagine myself using it to tour real world places. I didn’t get to use it, but one of Valve’s demos had you walking around Valve’s offices which they’d recorded with a 3D camera. I’d use that if it was the Louvre or the roof of a building in Manhattan, doubly so if a friend could be there with me. I’d use it to watch sporting events from time to time, assuming camera tech existed that made that possible and worthwhile in real-time. I think, as I’ve written before, that kids ought to be using it to learn about the world and the solar system and many other things.

Alec: Yeah, I mean the Santorini thing – I don’t need it to be photo-real, absolutely believable Santorini, but if it can muster enough of I’m In A Wonderful Place And I Can Just Look Around And Coo/Laugh At Stuff With A Friend, I’m so on-board. Space exploration stuff is going to be magical too; idly spinning planets around suns, tracking comets across galaxies, fast-forwarding to the heat-death of the universe…

The education possibilities are enormous, but then again people probably said that about TV and I sincerely doubt too many kids are watching Stargazing Live even though it’s got handsome Dr Cox on it. This is the other thing to be aware of in any futurology – VR will become commonplace and boring. I already get that with my Rift to some extent. Yes, yes, very nice, very big, very 3D can only be said so many times, surely?

Graham: If only we lived in times as enlightened as the late 1940s, and the BBC gripped VR with both hands and poured funding into making sure there was cultural works of humanising value being made for it.

But yeah, it’ll become ordinary very quickly. It all depends on people’s ability to make compelling, lasting experiences for it. I think for me – yeah, caveat: after only thirty-five minutes use – that seems somewhat inevitable, though. It’s good enough that it just works, both as a visual and interactive tool, and at that point it would seem absurd that people couldn’t find something worthwhile to do with it. It’s just a question of whether that’s entertainment, in which case it’ll be very much a sometimes experience in light of the way it cuts you off from the outside world, or whether it finds other uses that allow it to knit itself more into the social fabric of life.

Which is why you shouldn’t count Facebook and Oculus out, yet. As much as being able to walk around and smoothly pick things up is a wonderful thing for its potential as a gaming device, Facebook have, well, Facebook and its 1.2 billion monthly users. Maybe we’ll end up putting on the Vive once a fortnight for a spot of Half-Life 3, but you’ll be using the Rift once a day to sit in a room with your distant relative for half an hour and catch up on your day.

Alec: *Shudder*. Though Facebook might have the numbers, it doesn’t have this clearly-identified purpose for VR As yet. People who game are already down with using technology to go to amazing places, people who Facebook just want to moan and cheer – it’s a huge conceptual leap in the way that a PC gamer > Vive isn’t.

I wonder about quality of life benefits, potentially. Clearly, going out into the world with this stuck to your face – presuming someone came up with a system to let you see around you too – is monstrous, but I spend my working day watching some grey houses slowly rot in the cold British air. If I can stick a headset on and do my typing with images of galaxies or palm trees around me I’d probably feel a bit less bleak, y’know? Changing life’s desktop wallpaper, as it were. I don’t have any fear that my consciousness would disappear into some non-existent world, but just of changing up my surroundings for kicks.

What about the whole base station/room size aspect? Does that concern you at all? I do worry that this was created by Americans with massive offices and massive lounges.

Graham: It does. They suggested to me that the minimum practical space was 4’x6′, but the only room in my house where I have that floor space already free is in my living room. My PC is upstairs in my study, which is barely 7′ across and full of furniture. Now, maybe in-home streaming makes that less of a problem, and probably I’ll haul my computer downstairs or throw out all my clothes to make room, but neither option is very practical or suited to everyone. I guess I can always revert to using it as a chairbound experience for certain games, but this alone seems like it’ll limit its world-changing potential.

I am prone to using YouTube videos and music and sound effects to make my work environment more varied, but I admit I find the idea of using the VR for the same equal parts appealing and dystopic. Obviously this is all a bit science fiction and holodeck comparisons abound, but the alienation inherent in strapping something over your eyes coupled with the likely first wave of experiences, makes it all a tad… Terrifying. As a parent, are you excited to share worlds of wonder with your kid, or worried that Peppa Pig is going to be streamed directly to her brain?


Alec: Right now, I’m more comfortable with little Connie playing iPad games than I am her sitting in front of television (within reason, of course). It seems to me that the more interaction your device is encouraging, the less pernicious it is for a young mind than a primarily passive one. If VR has her running about waving hands in the air, I’m not hugely worried. (Her mum will feel differently, I’m sure, and so should she!)

Speaking parentally, the world has already changed so much from when we were kids that resisting what’s clearly on the horizon is futile. I’ll make sure she does plenty of reading and outdoor stuff, but I guess the rules of human existence have already been rewritten anyway. And, without our generation’s pre-conceptions about what tech’s for and how to use, just imagine what today’s two year olds will be up to with this stuff in 15 years’ time.

But there is real sadness that, in just a few years, she’s clearly going to want to use stuff like this far more than she’ll want to do traditional kiddie stuff. That yeah, she may want to strap on a headset at the dinner table instead of talking to us. I don’t know what to think. Futureshock.

In conclusion, future generations will definitely agree that Valve are directly responsible for destroying childhood and I think we should bring about the class action lawsuit right now.

The HTC Vive is due to go on sale in the tail-end of this year, in theory.

49 Comments

  1. Cloudhead says:

    Did you guys not get The Gallery: Six Elements in your demo loop? link to youtube.com The demo’s were rotated to keep the press engaged. link to thegallerygame.com Please feel free to get in touch and we’ll arrange a private demo for RPS!

    :)

  2. MrUnimport says:

    I’m a little confused by all this talk about the Rift and Vive as if I might want one of each. If you put down the controllers, a Vive becomes a Rift, and doubtless there will be third-party hand tracking solutions for the Rift, or even first-party.

    • darkhog says:

      There already is Sixense-based one. You just put on special gloves and voila!

  3. slerbal says:

    Alec I share your shudder at the mention of Facebook. I made the decision eighteen months ago to cut it out of my life and things have only got better since. It is one reason why I am interested in the Vive and completely disinterested in the Rift, though I am definitely concerned by the space requirements – if they want it to reach a European audience they had best thing compact :)

  4. racccoon says:

    Once there out , they will flop just like 3d t.v.’s, half moon t.v.s & plasma’s, that’s probably why the company’s that invested billions into this will realise what a waste of money but a great tax loss this crap is.
    oh if you do become dedicated to the cause, Please make adhead appointments to your local optometrist’s for eye damage, twitching, eye diversion i.e. clarence the cross lion, & blurring vision, etc plus for icing on the cake, you’ll also want to take a trip to a physio for your neck as out! & you’ll slowly but dumbly have realised it was a fad and a flop and one pain in arse waste of money and your sight.

    • subedii says:

      Possibly. There’s plenty of chance it could fail and even cause damage.

      However, the rhetoric you’re posting now has been played out for literally every major and interesting innovation since time immemorial. Unlike you I’m afraid I can’t say I can accurately predict the future, so I’m willing to wait and see what happens.

      That said, why the clear castigation and baiting? It doesn’t convince anyone in either direction and (no offense) makes you sound like a twerp.

      It’s a pattern I see a lot, it’s almost like the intent is to appear “too smart for everyone else” should the predicted outcomes come to pass. Or maybe you’re seeking to rile someone and get an angry response? I am genuinely curious.

      • ZXDunny says:

        It sounds like the teachers in my primary school when the Young techy teacher brought in a ZX81 for us little kids to play around on (it was brand new tech back then). They all had major complaints that the screen disruption during loading the programs/games would cause epileptic seizures and blindness.

        I don’t give this guy any more credibility than I did those old luddites back then :)

        D.

      • dorobo says:

        But the real thing outside the window is so much better even if it’s not some shinny huge thing floating about right?

    • misterT0AST says:

      you seem to know much more about this technology than anyone who ever tested it or even worked on it, kudos for your medical knowledge, your market predictions and your overall skill as a diviner.

      Your spelling isn’t great, but with all those qualities, I guess you can’t be perfect.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        lol
        OK I may have spat some tea out when I read that

    • P.Funk says:

      I don’t understand this statement about “traditional gaming experiences”. I don’t see why first person games of just about any kind can’t be useful with this technology. Sure they’ll have to tailor the games somewhat to it but thats no different than tailoring a game to be usable by a new type of controller.

      I feel like the statement should really read “won’t be useful for traditional interpretations of gaming experiences”, as in how we’ve come to expect things to work. As someone who uses the TrackIR with Arma I feel like I perceive the concept very differently to someone who plays Battlefield and is used to the 90 FOV with twitch mouse spinning in circles style of gameplay.

      For RTS games? Yea, won’t be much good. But for anything in which you’re meant to be seeing the world through the avatar’s eyeballs I don’t see why this won’t have a viable application.

      • Reapy says:

        About 3 years ago I finally tried facetracknoIR (weaker version of track IR with a web cam) and a flight sim. It was a real WOW moment for me. OH, this is how you play these games, duh! Why would you ever go back, how could you?

        Putting the latest oculous on was the same WOW moment for what cockpit games could be, though not quite at the same level. There is so much potential for immersion in the device, though I don’t know that it would offer any advantage gameplay wise.

        I was thinking how in VR you will have to actually twist around and look behind you vs just rotating your head 20 degrees with a track IR, and your monitor might be bigger for the small sky pixel hunting you need to do in some flight games. Still, I guess in VR you can displace your position and look behind the tailwing better, hrmmm.

        Still, the immersion of feeling like you are sitting in that plane, or space fighter, or whatever, really, it’ll be incredible.

        I was pumpped for VR the moment it got linked up here from quakecon, and having worn one briefly I’m even more excited. Not quite sure the killer software is here, but man, the potential really is.

        If you have ever liked a game for transporting you and immersing you in another world, I can’t see how you couldn’t be excited for VR.

        • subedii says:

          Yeah I have friends who are into ArmA and they really love their TrackIR stuff.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Just to pick up on the RTS point, there are some games out that use the top-down “god view” and it is actually very compelling in VR, affording as it does the sensation of hovering over the battlefield and being able to swoop in and see your units up close.

        As stated though, VR is becoming more than just “established genres but wearing a headset”. The software is the next big area ripe for breakthroughs

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          Ground control and World in Conflict would probably work perfectly fine with VR. At least it would be a lot less twitching about with the camera to get a sense of what’s going on.
          Perhaps Rift Neck will be the next big gaming related repetitive strain injury.

          • remon says:

            R.U.S.E. would be perfect, especially with one of those devices Valve has made.

      • EricTboneJackson says:

        Your comments strongly suggest you’ve never actually used VR.

        First of all, RTS-style games will be f’ing amazing in VR. Both Oculus and Valve include scale diorama games among their demos (there’s a picture from one in the article above) and they are often the most talked about demos. They look/feel amazing in VR. RTS, god games, sim city-style games, etc. are going to be huge. Blazerush (a top down racer) is one of the top rated titles on share.oculus right now, and probably my favorite VR title.

        One advantage of these games is comfort. Note that every title on share.oculus has a comfort rating. That’s a measure of how likely the game is to make you physically sick. The hardest ones to do comfortably are the ones you thought would be easiest: first person games.

        It’s nothing at all like Track IR, even on a 3D screen. A high FOV HMD trivially induces vection, where the signal to your eyes gets incorporated into the brain’s reckoning of motion, at a level below perception and beyond concious control. Your brain also uses accelerometers (the vestibular system) to determine motion. If these systems disagree, it induces sickness. You might think you’re immune because you never get motion sick IRL (I did, so did almost everybody I’ve demoed VR to), but VR sickness is a whole other animal. It affects almost everybody, and it’s the single greatest unsolved problem for VR right now.

        The only way to avoid this sickness is to avoid vection, so you can’t let the player walk around or turn with a controller (John Carmack called controller yaw “VR poison”). That’s why both Oculus and Valve demo their devices with people standing, free to walk around a tracking volume, with no other player locomotion allowed. If you allow the player to move/turn with a controller, independent of what their head is doing, it makes people very sick, very quickly.

        This greatly limits what you can do in a game. Large worlds/maps that you can freely run around in, like the vast majority of traditional games, are out. Half-Life 2, Valve’s only released game that supports VR, is an infamous vomit coaster. It includes sickness two ways: (2) controller induced motion/turning and (2) loading screens which freeze the camera; if this happens while you’re head is moving, you get the eye/vestibular mismatch and your stomach lurches.

        Valve doesn’t demo anything like that for Vive. You have a 15×15 space you can walk around in, and that’s it. That’s why Alec said, for games like Elderscrolls, “they’ll need to master this idea of making the room bigger than it is, somehow leading you to walk in lazy circles but believing yourself to be walking ever-onwards”. Unfortunately you need a much larger volume than 15×15 for that to work effectively.

        So for now, you’re confined to a very small space and designers need to figure out how to make the game work within the space. So “traditional games” where you have completely freedom of locomotion are, in the short term, pretty much out.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Good post. The only thing I would say is that not all yaw is bad – at least as far as I have found its really only QUICK games, fast moving games, that induce motion sickness. If a game is fairly slow moving, yaw does not cause me to feel ill at all. Something like the Technolust demo is absolutely fine, I can mouselook away to my heart’s content – but Half Life 2 is exactly as you say – “VR poison”. With that I will mouselook away to my… stomach’s contents. Oh ha. Haha. Yes.

      • Continuity says:

        I think your point of error comes at “tailor games somewhat”, no, we’re talking complete and utter redesign from the ground up essentially making a totally different game. Traditional FPS just does not work well with VR and possibly never will.
        I’m saying that as someone who has and uses both Track-IR and the Rift, they are completely different devices.

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      phuzz says:

      I think the difference in this case is that with 3D TVs and curved screens etc. it’s generally only been a few journalists who’ve got all excited with them, whereas pretty much everyone who’s had a go on my Rift has gone away impressed.
      If I had to make a prediction, I’d say VR is going to end up somewhere between gaming PC’s and dedicated flight joysticks in terms of popularity. Most people in the world don’t have a PC specifically for gaming on (I’d say if it’s got a discreet graphics card would be the dividing line), but it’s still a pretty big segment of people. Flight sticks on the other hand are pretty niche, but there’s still enough demand to support several companies selling them.
      I think VR will end up somewhere between the two in popularity.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        A large factor will be if Morpheus makes good. If PS4 owners suddenly have access to VR, it will drive a whole load of demand.

        I think at this stage you cannot predict how big it is going to be for one huge reason: Not enough people have actually tried VR. As Graham alluded to above, when people experience it, they ‘get it’. The sensations of amazement hit them and all the preconceptions and reservations tend to evaporate. Once at least one decent consumer model hits the shops, once people get to try it in their friends or families living rooms, there will be a second wave of demand as VR essentially goes viral.

        • DrManhatten says:

          But they both are also right that this sensation lasts only for a short time and then you’ll get bored. So it might as well end up exactly like the Wii (and WiiMote) initial strong response and then it phases out extremely quickly and it covers dusts and everyone things why on earth did I buy this piece of crap.

          • Jannn says:

            Except displays and sensors are getting better. Wii is very rudimentary. It was new, but didn’t add so much. VR is new to, but can add much more. What the Wii added, is still being used by the way. So I think it never stopped evolving, and VR will be a big step. Sure, the initial devices will be frowned upon later, but they are needed to go forward.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Not to sound like a broken record, but it comes down to software. I’ve had my DK2 for 8 months, and pretty much never stopped using it – but that’s because I found out that Prepar3D works with it and spend all my time simming in VR. Many other people got lost in Assetto Corsa or Elite Dangerous. What I am saying is, people who found the right experience to keep returning to did not get bored with the rift – if anything it becomes very hard to go back to a normal monitor.

            However, for those who did not find an experience that pulled them in, the lack of released games, beyond say Alien Isolation (which was a bit shonky) and a steady drip of questionable quality demos, meant they stopped using their headsets. Its not the hardware, its the software that keeps people coming back.

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      Thirith says:

      I get people doubting that this round of VR will succeed. I get people not being interested in it.

      What I don’t think I’ll ever get is the crowd that seems to be spitefully eager to see this fail in the worst possible way so they can feel all smug and superior.

      • Continuity says:

        The root of that is envy, they can’t afford it or can’t justify buying it so they hate everyone who has and want to take them down.
        There is probably some lack of vision in there too, I remember vividly arguing with my IT friends at the pub that the soon to be released “iPad” would be revolutionary and would rapidly change the consumer computing landscape, but they could only see it as a comicly large iPhone with no phone capability and insisted it would fall on its face… I think we all know how that turned out.

    • ssh83 says:

      Post-It note was invented out of a failed attempt to make stronger glue. The first anti-biotic was discovered out of a failed bacteria cultivation.

      VR is already finding success in many different fields, and as companies like Oculus and Valve continue to improve the tech (not just cash-in on gimmick), VR will only get better.

      Secondly, when gaming first got 3D, most designers just didn’t know how to use it efficiently. Sure, it was a no-brainer for FPS, but not for other game types. VR will be even more challenging for game designers to adapt to them. So the struggle of VR gaming is not just the hardware or technology (as most of your analogous examples), but also the design and technique.

      Lastly, even if the current VR is financial failure, the things that Valve and Occulus teams learned will remain. Maybe 30 years later, when another VR push happens, they will be able to build on top of this generation’s advances. So even at worse case scenario, the current VR push is already a success in science and engineering.

      It’s easy to be a naysayer and doomsinger. It’s much harder to be constructive, since that requires accurate and in-depth comprehension of the subject.

  5. Stepout says:

    Have Valve said that the 15×15 room space is absolutely necessary? My computer room is 8 x 8 and a 3rd of that is the computer desk. My living room is probably big enough, but again, furniture. If it is necessary then I guess I’m an Oculus fanboy by default.

    • Person of Interest says:

      According to htcvr.com, 15’x15′ is the upper limit of trackable space. I don’t see an official minimum space mentioned, but Polygon’s hands-on article quotes a Valve developer who has successfully “created experiences in as little space as two yoga mats.”

      It seems self-evident that there is no technical minimum space to operate the headset. Perhaps developers will be free to make games (excuse me, “experiences”) with their choice of minimum/recommended floor space, or even seated/standing/prone/pretzel positioning requirements (Push Me, Pull You: Vive Edition would involve a lot of crawling, I imagine). At least until developers standardize on such fundamental problems as: how to comfortably walk in the virtual world while remaining stationary in meatspace?

      • Asurmen says:

        In the previous article Valve said there’s no upper limit. You can just chain them together and track something the size of a warehouse.

  6. quarpec says:

    fuuuuuck, gaming is going the entirely wrong way

    just like movies, except there’s no TV equivalent to pick up the slack

    • moocow says:

      Gaming is going in countless different ways. There is a stupendously vast proliferation of indie and smaller studio games, still massive tedious AAA games, smaller studios supporting themselves with crowd funding, mobile games from the manipulative to the beautiful, free to play to play to win.

      There’s digital distribution with tiny barriers to entry, and a proliferation of almost free tools for anyone to start developing games. Add to this a few companies and developers gambling on a completely new way of experiencing the world via VR or AR or something else.

      Some might be good, some is obviously bad, but nothing about gaming is going in a unified direction. Something you are not interested in succeeding does not hold back something you might love. There’s no opportunity cost for “gaming” as a whole, no fixed pie that VR development is going to steal something from you.

      Quite how it can be going in the wrong way I have no clue.

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      phuzz says:

      Which way do you think gaming should be moving in? (If such a diverse industry can be said to be moving in just one direction).

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      Coretex says:

      Out of Curiosity; what would you consider to be entirely the right way?

  7. Reapy says:

    I waited in line 4 hours to try the latest oculous rift version past the DK2 at PAX east this year. I had not tried any VR before, and really, it was incredible and worth the wait just to see it. I was worried about motion sickness as I typically puke buckets in cars and half life 2 made me feel like a recoverying drug addict as I had to collapse and close my eyes for 15 – 20 minutes after playing for an hour… but I was just fine in it, not a hair of a problem.

    I was later able to try eve valykrye on the DK2 and I did feel a twinge there, but the latest one was really buttery smooth.

    They had you walking around a maybe 4 foot by 4 foot square with no controller for the demo.

    I think my biggest impression from it was you were IN the game. It didn’t feel like you were actually THERE, more like your perspective was from INSIDE the game, if that makes sense. The graphics sitll looked like my monitor, except I was sitting inside my monitor rather than outside of it.

    What this gave was an incredible sense of scale. It made everybody more real. When you glide past a typical FPS soldier, he still looks like one, except now his head is right at your shoulder height and they really feel RIGHT THERE.

    Some of the issues I think they have to work with will be clipping. Nothing destroys a game’s immersion right now more than clipping, and in VR when you can change your position, it will feel really wierd when I gesture to bash my head through a wall, either my perspective will not shift, or I will clip through it and break the immersion.

    I really didn’t want it for traditional games though. I love the discovery of enviroments, that first time you walk around an MMO, GTA 5, Skyrim, farcry, whatever, and take in all that terrain, the effect will be incredibly strong with VR.

    I can see a bigger resurgence of adventure games. My first immediat thought was how engaging it would be to have to find a piece of paper taped underneath a chair in the game, you would have to get down on your hands and knees and slide under the thing and look up. Pixel hunting would never be more fun.

    The thought of what a game like amnesia would be like in VR scares the living crap out of me.

    They also showed that finally, finally, we could maybe do a table top wargame or tactics game with miniature people.

    A total war game, or even a history documentry, where you are standing in a viking or roman shield wall as they advance to take a castle.

    The biggest thing will be networked chat. I see what facebook sees. If you ever chat with people in a 3d space you can see how body langauge is a factor, people will walk up and get in your avatar’s face to show aggresion, stand near their friends, turn to look at people who are talking. Already you have body language translating over, in a shared VR space this will be stronger.

    If you think of the difference between how you talked to someone in EQ vs WOW for the first person vs 3rd person, you would notice the stronger body language in EQ because the nature of first person causes you to spin and look at people, or have to look up or down at a dwarf.

    VR would be rediculous, when someone gets in your face, it would be in your face and start triggering all those ‘in my personal space’ triggers, because that demo certainly did that for me a few times.

    Just, the joy of bringin all of our worlds to another level is really quite something. I think VR will be like PC’s in the 80’s, if you get someone on it and they understand it, its amazing, if they don’t know what it is, they will casually dismiss it.

    I’ll tell you everybody I know (anecdotal, I know) that strapped into VR instantly wanted to be a day 1 purchaser. I really look forward to the immersion it’ll bring to exploring game worlds.

    • Dachannien says:

      Alec and Graham should let you write the reviews from now on.

      • HidingCat says:

        I tried DK1 and was instantly sold, nevermind the roughness of the concept (oh the grainy low-res screen). Can’t wait for one of these to appear soon!

  8. darkhog says:

    There is one very real possibility of damage Vive could cause. You’re walking around playing some Vive walking simulator, then you step on skateboard left by your kid that isn’t at all in the game. I don’t have to explain what happens next now, do I?

    I’ll probably stick with Oculus-like tech for now, until we can achieve Matrix-like VR (or if you fancy anime NerveGear-like), where your real body sleeps when you’re playing game.

    • MrUnimport says:

      As far as I know Vive should work pretty well as a seated experience as well.

  9. Jannn says:

    I want this in double full HD so I can lay down while watching movies, without having to stick the TV to the ceiling. I have physical problems, that’s why. So do patients in hospitals. I would definitely rent one of these to ease time there. Marketable idwa?

    • Jannn says:

      Where ‘idwa’ should be ‘idea’, of course. (seems my problems aren’t limited to physical ones ;))

      Or in planes or trains

      • Wurzel says:

        I think there’s already a ‘cinema’ app for the oculus that tries to recreate the experience of watching the media you provide it in a cinema. I don’t have a link but apparently it’s very effective.

  10. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Bestest thing about VR – The death of cutscenes. Everything would have to be (unskippable) in-engine and real time like Half-Life. Of course if any AAA dev start making games for VR they will find new obnoxious ways to make sure we watch their expensive one-time set pieces exploding. And I’m sure there will be massive strides in QTE tech. ;)
    And tutorials about walking, touching stuff and looking around for 20 minutes before we get to do anything else.

    That was got more ranty than I intended but good riddance to cutscenes and stealing my precious interaction. ^^

    • MrUnimport says:

      HL2-style cutscenes have the potential to be just as irritating. There is nothing wrong with cutscenes and everything wrong with bad cutscenes.

    • HidingCat says:

      I like a good cutscene. It’s a way to tell a story.

  11. RandomAcronym says:

    I just got why Valve is so into VR!
    They love all head accessories, not just hats.

  12. Kempston Wiggler says:

    The first person to make a headcrab plushie that fits over the top of your head wearing a SteamVR is going to make millions.

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