Is VR The Future Of Gaming?

Once a week most weeks, the RPS hivemind gathers to discuss An Issue. Sometimes it’s controversial news, sometimes it’s a particular game, sometimes it’s favourite things and least favourite things, sometimes a perennial talking point. This week, in the wake of the Oculus Connect conference and all its many reveals about the Facebook-owned side of virtual reality, we’re talking VR. We’re a few years into what some say is gaming’s next big leap, but it’s still all sweaty plastic faceboxes and a great uncertainty as to whether headspinning and handwaving can sustain their merriment across the course of what we snootily call Proper Games.

Are the Oculus Rift, the Valve Vive, the GearVR and the rest of ’em really the future of games? We definitely sort the matter out once and for all below. Definitely.

Alec: Are any of you absolutely certain that you are not a pair of eyeballs in a jar with a VR headset strapped to it, a GeForce Titan XXXXX Ultro Look At My Genitals rendering a simulacrum of reality so convincing that you really do believe you are a games journalist writing into a shared Google Document?

Adam: I rewatched The Lawnmower Man a couple of weeks ago and there’s absolutely no reason that I would have done that unless I were living inside some kind of virtual hellscape created by the most awful man in the universe. So, no, I’m not at all certain that I’m a real body in the real world. I hope I’ve got a brain strapped to those eyeballs though because I don’t trust the GeForce to keep things going when the next driver update comes around.

Alec: You rewatched it? Then the most awful man in the universe has just been outed.

Adam: Well, the first time I watched it I was a wee thing and I was interested to see how terrible it is! It is terrible. And it wasn’t my choice – it happened to be on a screen and I was in the vicinity and, well, I couldn’t help but watch the whole sorry thing.

All of those old virtual realities have that CyberSpace thing going on, where there’s a distinct architectural and aesthetic quality to VR – it’s very definitely a different place to anything that exists outside it. And now that the Oculus Rift and the rest are actually things that we can use, I’m slightly confused that, apparently, virtual reality is just another way of looking at things that I’m already familiar with. And even more surprised that that’s exactly what I want from virtual reality – I want to watch films using a headset or play Euro Truck Simulator 2, rather than play some “KILLER APP” designed to create its own cyberspace reality. Which is to say, if my real life is actually virtual. That’s fine. I don’t even get motion sickness.

Alec: As you might have surmised, we are gathered here today to discuss whether VR gaming is The Future or not. Alice couldn’t be with us today but sent this message via satellite link to kick things off:

Alice: Hello, chums! I cannot chat right now, but let me throw this out there: I think the current VR craze is still a passing fad, because we haven’t seen compelling enough reasons to buy and wear sweaty cybergoggles – which don’t work properly with my eyes anyway and mess up my cool hair. Please respond in several thousand words of debate more informed than this opinion I’ve casually tossed off.

Adam: Sweaty cybergoggles are indeed sweaty. I’ve only used the Rift but, damn, does it get hot in there. And I think this goes to the heart of my doubts about VR. I think there’s plenty of software already, plenty of existing things that can utilise this current model of helmet-controller comfortably, but I’m not sure I’d want to use the hardware all that often. It is heavy, it isn’t all that comfortable for me – but more importantly it’s isolating. Even when I’m playing a game on my own, I don’t like to feel completely cut off from the rest of the world.

Graham: I have used the DK1, DK2, the Crystal Cove, the Gear VR, whatever the most recent Rift is, the Vive, and I read Neuromancer for the first time earlier this month. I’m ready to connect the nanotrodes to my limbic and deck into the sprawl – or whatever. But – but – I’ve never heard a criticism of virtual reality that I disagreed with. It is sweaty in there. It is isolating. It is a novelty.

It’s just that the novelty is enough for me. VR is particularly good at scale, and with that and the added immersive aspects, it’s also unusually good at conveying a certain feeling of awe that I don’t get from normal screens. I’m not a well-read enough man to know whether this is sublimity as traditionally described, but I’ve gazed into the eyeballs of whales and across San Franciscan cityscapes and upon unfathomably large and distant stars and on each occasion I’ve been made to feel quiet and small and as if I’ve gleaned some greater appreciation for the grandness of life and all things. VR makes me sentimental like flying in planes makes me sentimental.

So I don’t care that it’s a novelty or that I’ll only use it a couple of times a year and mostly to play a trucking sim; fuck it, I’ll spend a few hundred quid to feel like that sometimes.

Alec: If you like that whale so much, why don’t you marry it?

Adam: When I think whales, I think Metal Gear. That’s the way it is now.

I don’t disagree with anything you say, Graham, despite having all kinds of doubts. The first time I used a Rift it was one of the best entertainment experiences (what a phrase, eh?) I can remember. I had a huge grin and completely lost my usual journalist poker face and just kept laughing in amazement. Having one at home would feel a bit like having a little theme park tucked in a drawer.

Earlier this year, I saw a virtual reality station, with Rift and Sony’s thing if I remember rightly, set up in a public place with an audience that weren’t the usual games expo crowd. There were people popping it on to have a go aged 8-80 and just about everyone who did try it was absolutely giddy with excitement afterwards. Anecdotal, I know, but it flies in the face of the idea that VR is something that only the nerdiest of the nerds will have any interest in. It might not be Wii Sports big but it does have an instant appeal. Again, the isolating factor might make it slightly less of a living room staple than it might otherwise be.

Alec: I don’t disagree with anything you say, Adam, (ooh, callback!), but I would say there’s a big difference between all the people who gormed excitedly at 3D tellies when Panasonic or whoever put one in the middle of shopping centre and those who actually went out and bought one. Yeah, most people will find VR very, very exciting as a thing to play with, but won’t be bothered with the practical realities of it unless they’re super-dorks like us.

For gaming I put ‘em somewhere near flight sticks in terms of appeal – those who have ‘em swear by ‘em – though I think they will be much more popular than that presuming they’re affordable, as they have more universal, cross-genre application.

There is no way in hell I’m not buying one, or several over the years, because I love tech and I love making games pretty and immersive, but my girlfriend, for instance, is never, ever going to sit and wear on these things for more than five minutes, unless they really do manage to make them into a pair of sunglasses.

What I do think might be a little different is the mobile variant for video-watching, the GearVR and the various cheaper ones. People do want to isolate themselves from the world when they’re on the train and surrounded by sweaty, noisy people and their horrible stinky sandwiches, though there are obvious massive downsides to that, and they also want to distract themselves from their teidum. Watching something on a five inch screen is shit. Not having time to go to the cinema is shit. Watching a cinema screen on the bus makes sense, just so long as there’s a way to know where you are. There’s a big social impasse to be overcome of course, but people used to say that about using a mobile phone in public, y’know?

Graham: Remember when people said that cities would be designed to accommodate the Segway? I think the same would need to happen to buses and trains for VR to take off in those contexts, and I think that’s about as likely as Georgian Bath being rebuilt to suit the Segway. I’m a relatively happy-go-lucky chap, and I wouldn’t trust strangers not to rob me/take photos of me/draw things on me if I was watching The Matrix Revolutions on a train with my GearVR.

Adam: PLANES. I just had an image of all the passengers on a plane plugged into helmets to watch films in VR. It swiftly became sinister because the crew were clearly panicking due to some crisis while all of these people were unaware, merrily laughing at a giant rom-com being beamed onto their eyeballs.

Alec: I’ve said this before, but what VR needs urgently – even before smallness, lightness, resolution etc – is some way of seeing the outside world as well as the made-up one. A picture-in-picture thing or a toggle or something, but it’s vital, both for practicality sake and so you don’t feel so totally vulnerable.

A GearVR kinda thing is what I can imagine using more regularly than a Vive though. I feel tired just thinking about setup and cables and base stations and syncing and distances and space, but whacking on some wireless goggles in bed which show simple games and movies from my phone sounds easy and something I’d do in preference to a half hour on the ipad. Dressing myself up in all this wearable stuff and dancing around to play Dishonored 4: The Outsider’s ReVRenge doesn’t sound entirely like a thing I would bother to do often, however.

Adam: I always mention Euro Truck Simulator because it’s my VR dream and I absolutely adore the idea (and reality) of VR for flight sims, but first-person “in body” games are a problem for me. By “in body” I mean not “in cockpit” – games that have me controlling my own body’s movement rather than it being stationary within a vehicle or seat. The illusion of being the avatar in first-person shooters, or even walking simulator type things, is broken for me by VR – in the very limited experience I’ve had. Concentrating on movement of the body using a controller while having independent movement above the neck is horribly uncomfortable and just made me feel confused and unhappy. It’s something that might get better with experience, I guess. Any thoughts?

Graham: Yeah, I’d agree with all of that. In some respects, first-person are both the best and worst kind of VR game. Best when you’re a person in a cockpit, worst when you’re a person with legs. There are moments when it’s great in the latter – little signs when playing retrofitted Minecraft or Half-Life 2 of how it might work – but as soon as you need to jump up a mountainside or over a crate, it’s deeply awkward and jarring.

Counter-intuitively, I think even strategy games and third-person platformers, in which your VR-camera hovers external to the characters you’re ordering around, work better. And in a way, work better than their flat screen equivalents, since a wonky camera is still one of the biggest problems with many of those games. I’d play a Shadow of the Colossus VR game, for example, which was still third-person but where you could lean and tilt and cock your head around the colossus you were climbing.

I think the HTC Vive has solutions for some of these first-person problems, because you can physically walk around VR spaces with your actual legs, but only at room scale. Valve say they have solutions for travelling longer distances, but I struggle to imagine them being anything other than similarly awkward.

Alec: I suspect we may have to go through an irritating VHS/Betamax war while we wait for one VR tech to become the most prevalent too. Will games which support Vive base stations support whatever Oculus does with full-body movement? Will Valve’s wands work in stuff made for Oculus Touch? It’s faintly nightmarish to think about leaving games behind because they don’t support the headset you’ve got. I don’t want platform wars all over again, and genpop certainly isn’t going to get involved much until there’s one clear winner.

Graham: Valve have pretty much outright said they’re against exclusivity and SteamVR will support the Rift as much as it supports the Vive. The whole reason they got into the race is because they didn’t like, or feared, what Facebook might do.

Who knows how closed Oculus will be with their systems, but I suspect that if they go down that route, it might encourage them to attempt what Apple do, and provide a service which is consequently more polished as a result of being more tightly controlled. That might not be a bad thing for genpop, at least.

Alec:What people say and what people do are two different things. And what developers want to do and what they get given funding or support for are two different things too. I’m really not predicting universal, cross-headset plug’n’play for a long, long time.

Adam: In genre-specific trends, there’s already a big horror VR surge, which is interesting to me because I am a silly person who enjoys nothing more than frightening myself half to death. I have absolutely no interest in VR horror though because it seems TOO horrible. Perhaps it’s because I find the goggles I’ve used a little claustrophobic or perhaps it’s because I’m a coward, but I can’t imagine enjoying something like Capcom’s Kitchen demo. It just sounds extremely unpleasant in a way that seems designed to create a spectacle of the person playing – which is in itself a horror game trend – more than anything else.

I can imagine all kinds of clever uses for VR in specific genres, often related to HUD info. In horror, SOMA’s a recent example of a game that might happily benefit from some VR tomfoolery, but that’s mostly thanks to its sci-fi setting and playful teasing about the player’s identity rather than because monsters jump in your face and go boo. Like the 3d movie thing, where something as to get lobbed directly out of the screen in almost every 3d film, VR can encourage bad habits on the cinematography and design side. And, yes, that it might encourage a few bad habits doesn’t mean I want to burn the whole thing down, but I do worry about the possible negative influence of new tech on design. I’m a worrier.

Alec: I think I just want a mod that lets me fly around my MGSV base in VR (including the animal conservation platform, of course), and I’ll do that forever and never need anything else.

So, we’re all happily going to become early adopters, then? We’re not going to wait and see how this shakes out?

Adam: If I didn’t write about games for a living, I’d wait it out. I’d do the thing where I wait for one person I know to get one and then burn out on it while visiting and then wait ‘til a) I know which of the various bits of kit I want and b) it’s cheaper. As it is, I’m really interested to use VR at home and with various games, and to work out exactly what I think about it all. I won’t know for sure until I’ve spent more time playing.

Graham: I will be an early adopter. I will buy a Vive as soon as one becomes available to me. I’m not expecting all games to become VR games or to be using it every day, but I think it’ll be an interesting peripheral alongside my already occasional use of steering wheels and flight sticks. That plus the novelty intrigue is enough for me – especially, as Adam says, as a write-about-games-for-a-livinger.

Alec: I’m very excited about it, but I need to see how bad my tax bill is first. I’m secretly hoping it gets delayed to even later next year. And yeah, we’re extremely privileged in that we can justify the purchase to ourselves by writing about the things we do with it – which only leaves me more concerned that this is only the realm of a cheerfully nerdy minority, to be honest.

No-one’s buying into the idea that this will become a wholesale replacement for how we play games, though? To me it already seems – conceptually – akin to playing a console rather than a PC, or a mobile for a change from the keyboard, rather than something that will wipe out everything else.

Graham: Yeah. I don’t think it’s any more likely to put a bullet to how we currently play games than videogames are likely to stop people watching films. Or to follow on from Adam’s theme-park-in-a-drawer line, any more than it is to stop people going on actual rollercoasters. It’s a neat addition, alternative, and occasional enhancement, and that’s fine.

Adam: I’m going to download a Kindle app for a VR headset and read a book on it. It’ll be just like reading a book in the real world but the print will be massive and I’ll have to move my head from side to side to read a line. Can’t wait.

Alice: Hullo again, I’m back. I have no idea what you all decided, but I will obviously buy a pair of cybergoggles anyway for the Motoko Kusanagi aesthetic.

85 Comments

  1. Freud says:

    As someone who has been into PC gaming for a very long time, I’ve seen lots of next things come and go. The only thing that stuck is graphics cards that can do 3D. It’s 2015 and there isn’t much difference from 2000, except higher resolutions and better textures, animation and so on.

    I do think VR will have an enthusiast following but gaming in 10 years will still feature keyboards, mice and monitors for the vast majority.

    • MisterFurious says:

      Yep. VR was supposed to be ‘The Future!!!’ 15 years ago and it didn’t happen just like 3D movies never stay around because hardly anyone likes wearing stupid glasses and getting headaches when they watch a movie for very long, hardly anyone wants a TV strapped to their head when they play a game.

      • Asurmen says:

        VR was 20 years ago and didn’t have the technology to support it. The reason 3D never took off is that it doesn’t add much. VR does.

        Apples and oranges.

      • waltC says:

        I really wish that people would get their stereoscopic notions separate from their notions about “3d”…(dad-blamed marketers!) All “3d”, whether it is stereoscopic or polygonal based is 100% 2D. Doesn’t matter whether you wear glasses or goggles–the third dimension–the z axis, is not really there, it is always simulated.

        We talk about “2d” when we mean flat, static images that can be viewed from one side only; that would be a photograph or a 2d game. Say that it’s a game that features a tree in a scene. In a 2d game there is only one side to the tree and it faces us no matter where we move in the scene. But in a polygonal “3d” game we can walk around the tree in a full 360-degree circle and see the tree from all sides. But both mediums of display are entirely 2d in which the z-axis (depth) in the scene is simulated; in a “2d” game z is only partially simulated, but in a “3d” game z is fully simulated. VR headsets are 100% 2d displays, just like TVs & RGB monitors, in which the z-axis (depth) is simulated (either with polygons or partially or stereoscopically…or even both.) The only place where “3d” is *real* is in real-life(TM), of course…no simulated depth axis there…;)

        VR was a big idea in the 90’s when nobody could see past giant CRT monitors–could you imagine a 100″ CRT?…;) Putting on a pair of goggles seemed like a nifty idea to help cut down the size of the display enormously. Then came 1″ deep 100″ LCDs…and suddenly being trapped in a pair of claustrophobia-inducing goggles for hours on end seemed much less appealing, and for many other reasons, besides…;) VR will be the “technology that never was”–even more of a limited short-range fad than stereoscopic gaming turned out to be. (IMO, of course.)

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      There are still a ton of 2D games being made, and rightfully so. It’s true that 90% of games will be wholly inappropriate for VR. However. VR is almost certainly going to be a very big deal. Technology progress is hugely meaningful, reducing lag and increasing resolution.

      I can’t wait to play a space sim in VR. And there’s going to be a lot of completely new games made for the medium, as developers figure out (as Adam points out) that first-person-walking-around games really don’t work without extra gear.

    • Reapy says:

      I don’t think anybody is claiming VR is going to replace your computer as a staple input device. I imagine for gaming it will be much like steering wheels and flight sticks, those aren’t going anywhere, and are staples for certain types of games.

      To compare the VR now to the price and performance of VR 15 years is just not a valid comparison. Get in and drive a race car, fly a plane, or hop in elite, jump in a mech, and you will immediately see the possibilities of immersion vs a regular monitor such that it’ll be hard to go back.

      When you take the headset off your room shrinks down and looks a little plainer, because the rest of the time you were sitting in the middle of your video game rather than standing outside looking in.

      Multiplayer social environments, or even just hang outs, will get a pretty large boost in VR, you really will feel like the person is sitting there. When the tech for scanning in the real world catches up, a skype call will end up being a VR call.

      It’s a huge step in connecting people that are a world apart even more so than we can now with video/voice connections.

      I don’t understand why people don’t see the building blocks for what is being developed here, it’s not going to ‘change everything’ but is the foundation for a lot of quite wonderful things, and yeah, we’ll be looking back at these devices like they are 1980’s cell phones in terms of their size in a few years i’m sure.

      A huge part of gaming to me has always been the ability to create virtual spaces for us to escape into for a little while, to tell a story, to get lost in, to goof around in and laugh, to be someone else or learn about something else for a little while.

      VR offers a brand new perspective into that, the dragon will actually be the size of a barn, the mystical floating castle will actually be 100 feet above your head, the giant spider will actually drop on your head (I fear the day I see skyrim spiders or shelob in VR) and countless other things.

      Avatar in iMAX was my first 3d movie experience. I was blown away, but I also knew it would never take on at home with the requirements needed for it, and I saw it had to be crafted for it from the start instead of tacked on.

      There IS something special to 3d content, there really is, there just wasn’t a good way to deliver it. Well, with things like google cardboard, gear vr, oculous etc there IS a way to deliver it without too much of a hassle.

      Eh, they called me a nerd and geek playing games on the PC in the 80’s, and I said, ‘you don’t know what you are missing’. They’ll call me a nerd and a geek in the 2010’s when I’m strapped into VR and I’ll tell them ‘you don’t know what you are missing’ once again.

      • lukibus says:

        Possibly you were missing the imagination to see what they already did?

      • Zhiroc says:

        If VR social environments end up looking like Second Life, I pass. For that matter, if they force me to us my real appearance, I pass too. No way would I ever give out identifying information in forums like that.

  2. flibbidy says:

    I haven’t tried any of them, and the games that are being pushed look straight up bad..

    but i’m already completely sold and have been since i was a kid. Will buy a [probably] vive as soon as possible too. I overspecced my new pc this summer in anticipation.

    Happy to waste hundreds of pounds i shouldn’t spend on a novelty gimmick for a few exciting “experiences” and to give my friends and family the opportunity to try it out too.

  3. Mr Coot says:

    Still not excited. :/ Won’t be interested til it is the size and weight of Google Glass. Then maybe for novelty value. Life is too short to wear something on my head that looks like scuba gear from the 60s.

    • Asurmen says:

      Then surely life is too short to waste of gaming and you should probably take up a different hobby? I fail to see how VR is anymore of a ‘waste’ than any other gaming activity.

      • Ur-Quan says:

        Yeah if you don’t like the latest fad in gaming you better quit immediately. Great logic!
        Almost all the genres I like have almost nothing to gain from VR so this new trend doesn’t interest me at all.

      • Premium User Badge

        yhancik says:

        I would say it’s a matter of content? The technology is between cool and clunky, but I still haven’t found anything that’s worth of my time on the Rift. In other words, between a more than average VR game/demo (because a lot of them feel like tech demos, really) and all the cool PC games piling up on my Steam/Humble/Itch.io, I know where I want to spend my time.

        • Asurmen says:

          There being relevant content is obviously important for uptake, I just take umbrage at the strange argument that VR gaming is somehow worth less of someone’s time than gaming without. Whether I’m playing Elite with an Oculus or without I’m still playing the same damn game.

          • Premium User Badge

            yhancik says:

            Yes, you’re right. If the content is equal, it’s whatever is in front of your eyes ;)

            (I must admit that in the few test I’ve run with the Rift, I ended up preferring the visual and physical comfort of the screen, even if there was a more immersive feel with the Rift… so the question of comfort is an important one – at least for the time being)

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      And yet, people happily wear actual scuba gear.

  4. Jaffa says:

    Aah! Please don’t embed twitch streams, they autoplay and scare people.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      I would like to add that they’re particularly awful when hiding in one of several tabs of lovely RPS articles which were recently middle-clicked on the main page. Not only that, but the hunt begins anew when a “reply” button is clicked, and it will begin yet again (albeit with a vague idea of where the prey lies) after sending an opinion on its way.

    • slerbal says:

      Agreed, I find the autoplaying Twitch bloody annoying so have added all of Twitch to my adblocker lists as frankly there is nothing there for me anyway.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      Autoplay should be banned from the internet, really.

      (enabling click-to-play for Flash on my browser made my internet life better)

    • Premium User Badge

      steves says:

      Yeah. This.

      Also, hiding the noisy embed after scrolling half the (very long) page is not cool.

      Having the ‘content’ consist of nothing but really annoying muzak and “Stream begins at 10:00am” is the real winner though…what were you thinking?

    • DrollRemark says:

      I only came into this comment section to complain about the Twitch video.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Yep – this isn’t cool guys… Particularly irritating when one has many, many tabs open, and hasn’t checked the volume level for hours in a sleeping house because why would browsing make a noise?

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Oh dear oh dear! Look what happens when I’m not around. Twitch streams are frustrating in that they SAY they won’t autoplay, then totally do. I don’t know which one of those hooligans put it in, but I’ve removed it.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        I had bookmarked this article for a later read, and I returned to a pleasantly quiet page. Cheers!

  5. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    I still think it’ll be a niche product, although I haven’t tried it yet. Most of the games I play have no need/use for it, and I haven’t seen a compelling reason to get one.

    I do keep checking up on it though, and like that there are others out there testing things out. There does seem to have been quite a lot of progress in terms of visual fidelity and tackling the motion-sickness problem, so maybe any other issues can be solved as well.

  6. Xzi says:

    “It’s just that the novelty is enough for me. VR is particularly good at scale, and with that and the added immersive aspects, it’s also unusually good at conveying a certain feeling of awe that I don’t get from normal screens.”

    This is my opinion also. Even if it’s only useful for watching 3D/IMAX format movies, VR is worth the price of admission for me. I would very much like to recapture the feeling of watching Guardians of the Galaxy, Dredd, and others in theaters.

    In regard to gaming, support for VR will grow. The money is there. Whether it keeps growing or not depends entirely on how many VR headsets get sold and whether VR support creates a measurable uptick in sales for those games. Again, I’m happy with VR headsets just as a large screen, so getting to play things like Elite: Dangerous in VR is icing on the cake.

  7. Jenks says:

    Of course it is, unless you define future as the very near future.

    Anyone who thinks people are going to be hunched over a keyboard looking at a monitor to game 100 years from now are idiots who can’t see beyond their own life experiences.

    If you use the argument that VR isn’t the future of gaming because the first iteration of goggles are too hot on your face, you would been the guy in 1973 saying video games have no future because the controllers give your hands calluses.

    • Xzi says:

      Indeed. The same could be said of headphones/headsets getting too hot, but the pair I have has a couple of passive heatsinks on it and they work wonders. Wouldn’t be hard to add similar heatsinks on to a VR headset.

    • 2lab says:

      If you think people will be playing games 100 years from now….

      • GHudston says:

        Of course they will. People have been playing games in one form or another for as long as there have been people.

  8. Jaffa says:

    I wonder how much of VR usage will actually be games. Aside from 3d modelling and other professional applications, the adult entertainment industry might spearhead the adoption of new tech once more.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      I have seen this put forward in a few places, and the porn industry does tend to be an early adopter, but how much could it add, really? I suppose in essence it would allow you to do your own ‘camera direction’ by moving around, which might give a more convincing sense of being a voyeur who is present during the act, but in the absence of some kind of dildonics tech to make you feel personally involved, I’m not sure it would be worth it really… Also, the unawareness of whether someone else has wandered into the room might take on extra relevance here.

      • DanMan says:

        Probably more in the realm of virtual sex (just like games) than live action recording (like movies). Greetings from the Uncanny Valley.

        I don’t see how VR will have a big impact on movies in general anyway. You’d probably need to heavily post-edit it, if not generate the whole world in 3D. How else would you get rid of the (camera) crew in the picture?

  9. Zenicetus says:

    As an avid flight simmer I suppose I’ll buy one when it’s cheap enough and it doesn’t look like I’m viewing through a screen door. I’m already set up with all the no-look HOTAS controls for that application.

    I do think they need to get closer to a Google Glass format with optional immersive screening, to gain much wide acceptance outside of gaming and specialist fields.

    Even in a flight sim, I suspect I’ll only use it for fairly short periods. Like takeoff and landing in a civilian sim, or just for the dogfights in combat sim, taking it off for returning to base and debriefing. Unless it’s something as wearable as Google Glass, I just can’t imagine staying inside that box for more than about 30 minutes at a time, no matter how gee-whiz the experience.

    P.S. PLEASE KILL THE AUTO-PLAYING TWITCH EMBED. AUTO-PLAY ON WEB SITES IS EVIL. THANK YOU.

  10. rcguitarist says:

    My big thing for wanting a Vive, other than the immersiveness it provides is a non-boring way of getting exercise. I want to get one of those all-direction treadmills that hook up as the directional inputs in first person games. I love working out, but find it so boring. This would give me the motivation to run the equivalent of a 5k every day if I was firing up the latest battlefield or call of duty to do it. Can you imagine if there were VR/treadmill only servers. Only the truly athletic would survive in those.

    • trjp says:

      Go outside – there’s allsorts of things to engage with out there as you walk/run or – god forbid – engage in a team sport.

      Wanting a video game to make a treadmill interesting is really quite sad ;0

      • Hypocee says:

        It rains and snows and some of us don’t have the luxury of organising our lives around a schedule that suits a dozen strangers. Sorry you find that sad enough to type it on the network that allows us to communicate from our homes in our free time ;0

  11. Premium User Badge

    yhancik says:

    Future or not, let’s take this opportunity to pay tribute to the genius of Ivan Sutherland link to youtube.com – one of those too little known names of the history of computing

  12. slerbal says:

    Personally I’m very meh. I could be convinced, but it certainly won’t be by Facebook. Valve have a chance though, so we will see. Of course I have my doubts about their space requirements meshing with the realities of room sizes in the UK or anywhere else in Europe…

    AR stuff is more interesting, but I’m still not holding my breath for that.

  13. Wulfram says:

    VR and AR are the future of gaming. Just not the near future.

    In the near future, VR will likely be a niche thing that not all that many people have in their homes. But it’s good enough now that it’s not just going to stop even after the upcoming fad wears itself out, and thus it’ll steadily get better.

  14. plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

    ’90s me would slap you all for even having this discussion

  15. Stellar Duck says:

    Auto playing Twitch stream? Really?

    Surely there is an option to not do that? Finding a non moving video in this long page while thinking it was one of the adds that did it was highly frustrating. Please avoid doing that if possible. In the mean time I’ll go and somehow block Twitch. It’s not for me in any event.

  16. KevinLew says:

    I can see AR becoming popular once it gets better, because it doesn’t have the problems with motion-sickness and you also don’t need vision-blocking goggles on your face so you can’t see where you’re going.

    The VR thing, however, is going to stay a niche for a long time until the goggles become as thin as reading glasses. Part of the problem is that the entry price to even start using it. You don’t just need a pretty good PC to use it, but you have to spend hundreds of dollars on the goggles. Also, if watching livestreams are so popular now, how is that going to be done with VR goggles?

    • Asurmen says:

      Anything that costs several hundred dollars as an optional add on will stay niche, AR or VR.

      • Premium User Badge

        yhancik says:

        AR is actually much cheaper because it works really well with any device with a camera and a screen link to youtube.com

        • Asurmen says:

          That’s not really how AR is going because it doesn’t become part of your vision. Your reality isn’t really augmented. Stuff like the HoloLens is which as a specific piece of head gear will cost plenty.

          • Premium User Badge

            yhancik says:

            Well god knows where AR is going. I know where it is now, though, and it’s hard to ignore that the AR I’m talking about works with the device almost everyone has in their pocket now.

  17. Thornback says:

    Every time VR stuff is in focus I just grumble in annoyance, purely because it doesn’t work for me at all. My eyes don’t put both images together even in real life, so this is all kinds of pointless to me.

    Then I just start thinking about what it must be like to see in 3D and get all wistful, then look off longingly into the sunset by a beach. Then someone shoots an album cover…

    Goddamn depth perceivers dunno how good y’all got it.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Really, it is very similar to perception with one eye. Though I would assume some of my brain/eyes automatic mental cues come from having the experience with 3d for it to try and guess if I am playing 2d/closing one eye.

      I could see solutions for VR with the immersion, but not the 3d being an option in the future too.

    • Hypocee says:

      Please know that I’m trying and failing not to sound like a sales pitch in presenting this information. I’m aware of the drawbacks and obstacles in VR/AR/HMDs, have no desire to recruit anyone to enthusiasm, and though I’m obviously most interested in the approach I’ve bought into, I don’t feel animosity toward the others.

      VR HMDs may still be relevant to you and Quixadahl down the page. Convergent vision support is necessary for VR to not look cheesy and flat to folks who have it, but in my perception at least its main payload is head-tracking and surrounding.

      Smooth, six-axis head tracking provides most distance cues we use in real life and a large fraction of the immersion of full body tracking. Using head-tracking with flat or 3D monitors as windows into 3D worlds or bases for 3D workspaces has been demonstrated by later TrackIRs, Johnny Chung Lee’s Wiimote hacks and ZSpace among others. HMDs offer that, without the constriction of the monitor’s edges.

      Most interestingly, it turns out Leo Laporte of TechTV/TWIT/others may be a good test case for you. He has divergent eyes and generally can’t see 3D, but was still impressed by the comfort and immersion of CastAR because it provided him the same cues he uses in daily life. (I believe at the time of that interview his Oculus experience would have been a 3-axis-only unit, so not fair to compare.) Jake Rodkin of Idle Thumbs has convergent vision but noted a similar point in their remarks – how much it can add to be able to slightly but precisely and subconsciously move your viewpoint.

      If one of your eyes is so immobile that it literally doesn’t point inside the headset’s FOV, yeah, that’d be like half-blinding yourself and a crappy experience. But otherwise, I feel the convergent 3D of a VR set is actually a sideshow to good parallax cues in every direction.

  18. SaintAn says:

    If they can make it affordable it will be the future, but if they can’t it won’t. Most people aren’t going to pay more than a game console or a decent computer’s worth just for VR.

  19. trjp says:

    VR is not the future of gaming – or much anything else – at least not VR as we see it now, no clunky headsets and clumsy tracking systems.

    There’s so much to be learned and so much development of the hardware required but I’m genuinely mystified what the people making the headsets think they’re going to do with them.

    Sim players aren’t going to buy enough to justify their work – Joe Public isn’t going to either and there’s no sign of any standards which means work will be duplicated.

    Most people talk of a killer app – but I think we need a sequence of killer apps, things which draw people in and push development of the hardware/UI but it’s entirely possible it’s one massive dead-end and will remain so for some time yet.

  20. Person of Interest says:

    writing into a shared Google Document

    I always wondered how Castle RPS prepared this particular flavor of sausage.

    • TRS-80 says:

      Me too, it always seemed too well-written for IRC or similar group chat. Now it all makes sense.

  21. Dread Quixadhal says:

    For me, there’s zero value to the current crop of VR technologies. They all depend on 3D vision tricks, which don’t work for me, as I have a lazy eye.

    Once we have direct neural implants that bypass the eyes entirely, perhaps it will be a thing. :)

  22. Frank says:

    I held out on buying nice headphones and a mic for 30 years and have yet to cave and buy a controller. At this rate, I’ll buy a VR device in a few lifetimes.

  23. metric day says:

    Boy, all of this discussion sounds incredibly out of date ALREADY. I guess VR is chugging along real quick-like, then.

  24. Wings says:

    I want my direct to brain audio visual link! That’s the future.

  25. Hypocee says:

    Guys. Guys. Seriously, guys. CastAR is the thing several of you in this piece alone repeatedly wish someone would make. It’s light, plausibly aimed at slightly more than a pair of LCD shutter glasses. It’s responsive, with naturally 144Hz projection engines bottlenecked by the state of HDMI tech to 120Hz. It drinks straight HDMI and USB. You can see the world through and around it, and people can see your eyes, unless you choose to put the blindfold part on.

    Assuming, of course, that the full-AR/VR waveguide clipons aren’t one of the feature cuts they’re prespinning between the lines in the wake of the exchange of money for ownership that should not be confused for an acquisition (though at least it’s to a hardware startup VC firm rather than a datamining concern).

    The CastAR team has stated consistently from the beginning that gaming is the only sane first market for their tech. I would love so much for my favourite gaming site, rather than tech sites, to take a look at the HMD for which I hold the most hope. But even if it’s not worthwhile to cover the CastAR, at least be aware that it and its ilk exist.

    Also the Avegant Glyph has many of the same advantages.

  26. goettel says:

    Both my Rift and the DK2 are boxed up right now, not because I wasn’t blown away by some of the experiences they offered, but because of the huge reset of available content caused by the near simultaneous release of the 0.7 Rift SDK and Windows 10.

    0.7 means no more extended mode, which in turn means most demos and games won’t work with it anymore. But I won’t complain about that, extended mode was an absolute pain and I’m glad it’s gone for good.

    Windows 10 means another layer of current troubles getting VR stuff to run, for now.

    So for me, VR has become a waiting game. Or rather, waiting on games and other content to catch up. The lack of announcements of VR support for big titles is a concern. I’m not alone in thinking gaming isn’t going to be the focus of VR – Oculus/Facebook certainly do.

    Is VR *the* future of gaming? Obviously not. But experiences like Titans of Space, boxplorer – to me, exploring Mandelbox fractals in VR is enough to spent a good chunk of cash – and various little experiences like being chased in VR, looking over your shoulder while ‘running’ (press and hold W, while waiting for my STEM controllers), seeing NPC characters follow you with their eyes, then turning around and knowing they’re still looking at you -sorta- and of course any cockpit games make VR essential to have, and I’ll continue throwing my wallet at it, but I’ll be aiming more carefully to try to avoid vaporware and devs that don’t make good on their promises (we’ve had too many of those already).

    Too tired to read back before submitting, crummy text is crummy.

  27. mukuste says:

    Forget about VR horror; have any of you seen Summer Lessons? That (along with its assorted YouTube comments) is genuinely creepy.

  28. frogmanalien says:

    It seems like a really expensive solution to a problem I’m not convinced of – I’ve found immersion in books, TV and games without having to put hardware on my head.

    There’s a load of technical hurdles, a boat load of design challenges and a load of social challenges – all of these, in time, will be overcome as most of the comments and this article has noted- the question is will something else beat it to the punch? Goggles/glasses to me seem like an improbable solution – I know people who won’t wear their glasses that they NEED to see things – why would we embrace clunkier headsets for entertainment?

    I also don’t want to be stung by multiple players trying their ideas out – these are expensive first gen toys to say the least. With that all said, I love tech, and get excited about things like CastAR and some of the fun demos – so if everyone could go out and buy the first gen models for me so people put the effort into building great second gen models I might be more motivated to get into please?

  29. Ufofighter says:

    I’m the perfect target for VR: driving/flying simulator fan with embarrashing amount of money spent in peripherals. But I’m not buying it.

    Basically I see the first VR sets as an attempt to cash the hype of a few players (tech geeks) offering some gimmick features, 3 hour length games and very very little more. Thanks but I will pass for now.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      ..that’s basically 1:1 the story of the ’90s attempt at VR.

  30. grimdanfango says:

    Is VR The Future Of Gaming?

    No, traditional gaming will of course continue and be just as relevant as ever.

    VR will be friggin’ awesome though… for the applications it’s good at.
    I highly doubt I’ll play racing simulators without VR again, since having tried it.

    Is VR The Future Of Cockpit-Based Gaming?
    Yes

  31. geldonyetich says:

    It seems likely that this is more of a divergence of gaming depending on what you’re interested in.

    If you like graphics-powerful 3D games then VR is the logical next step.

    If not, then VR really has no point. You’ll stick to your 2D display games for lack of impetuous to do otherwise.

    For many of us, it will be a mix. Feel like doing a 3D game? Don ye goggles. Otherwise, game on regardless.

  32. neoncat says:

    Interesting how several forms of “isolation” – from environment, from other people, from incidental interruptions – were mentioned.

    Clearly, it’s not VR but AR that is the future!

    Also, walking around with goggles strapped to your eyes is possibly the worstest idea evar. As soon as the Vive becomes available, YouTube will discover the sheer delight of people being tripped or otherwise tormented while playing games. :D

    • Asurmen says:

      People keep mentioning this walking around idea. Why would anyone be walking around?

  33. Premium User Badge

    zigguratvertigo says:

    When I keep my guitar in its case, I don’t practice. When I sit it on a stand next to my chair, I play all the time. That extra step of effort makes all the difference. I don’t think VR is going to succeed.

    • minkiii says:

      This, 100%. The current VR set-up looks way too fiddly. I am waiting for the (hopefully) inevitable development which should allow any android/ smartphone to be used as a second PC monitor, and so with those nifty cardboard mobile VR glasses you could use any mobile as as a VR. Surely the phone’s camera could be used in some head-tracking too… Sadly there seems to be a missing link in this method thus far. Shame really because this lo-fi approach feels so graspable… and convenient… and easy.. and cheap…

  34. Zhiroc says:

    I’m prone to motion sickness with a number of a games, so I have a suspicion that this might happen with VR too. Plus, no way would I dish out more than $50-75 for the interface.

    I remember when people were accidentally throwing their Wii controllers through their TVs–so, what’s keeping them from tripping over their furniture and pets?

  35. Sin Vega says:

    Still not interested in twatglasses. I’m quite happy playing with my brick, which does everything a game needs, AND it enlivens a dull floor.

  36. OmNomNom says:

    Yes

  37. RegisteredUser says:

    No.