Oculus Rift + Sixense Hydra – stepping into VR

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I now have a spiffy new Oculus Rift Dev Kit, as well as a Sixense Hydra – the plan being to step into  the brave new world of VR game development!

However, for now I will merely be experiencing what other talented folks have already managed to put out. For now, here are my initial thoughts:

Setup: Cables make complete sense. The only problem is that I’m a moron and spent far too long not realising there was a power button on the break-out box.

Cables. Cables everywhere. With headphone, rift and Hydra it becomes a bit messy.

Configuration: got confusing real fast. There’s no obvious step-by-step guide, so some of it was trial and error. Tried with ‘A’ cups first, but found they were basically on my eye-balls and extending the screen seemed illogical. Went to ‘C’ cups and found it was clearer and also not hugging my pupils.

Long sighted. I am just a little. Basically anything closer than 6″ is a blur. Not a single problem with C cups.

-First test: Tuscany. It came with the SDK and so was the easiest to get going. This was before putting in C cups and getting my ‘rift legs’ so it was less impressive than I had hoped, yet glimpses of greatness abounded – seeing the fire and the fountain were both ‘wow’ moments I did not expect. A bit motion sick with this, but again, perhaps down to not being used to it.

‘Screen door effect’. There and obvious with Tuscany especially. In better experiences it seems to go away somewhat. I can imagine it’s something a better screen can fix.

‘Resolution’. Along with the screen-door it is the biggest problem currently. Again, in better experiences it becomes much less of an issue.

HL2 VR. Getting right into it I went for the recommendation I heard most about. The hydra took a little time to figure out as I was running the hydra software and confusing it. After a while I figured it out. Some of it: Wow. Stunning. As good as I’ve heard. Being close to people or having things move by and following them is great. However, things in the distance turn to pixels. Not a big problem, but noticeable. Clearly VR specific games can avoid these sorts of pitfalls, however for now HL2 is still impressive. Some of it made me motion sick a little as well: going up stairs is horrible, and drops are uncomfortable. Basically any quick, abrupt or jerky motion is a big no-no. Hydra, picking things up and rotating them? Wow. It’s so weird to be impressed by something like this, but there it is, it’s there in front of you and you can spin it in the air. You control rotation of the object, which is impressive, with control over position at a certain distance from you. This would be better if you could change it’s distance by pushing the controller away or pulling towards, but sadly not implemented, however the control with the Hydra is very cool. Very, very cool. I look forward to testing guns! Weirdly, the best part was being in the transporter and the parts spin around you, something about the perspective and the motion really sold the experience of… well… standing there. Roof top running? Also great. However the pacing, while perfect for an FPS with keyboard and mouse, is simply too fast for Rift. I want to experience and feel a location, rather than be harried on to the next one and get motion sick from having to look around or quickly turn with the controller.

-‘Drift’: For some reason my vision and also my hydra started to drift out of place. I noticed it more on loading levels or changing location, so maybe errors enter here. I understand you can click the right ‘start’ button to recenter the Hydra, so may give that a go.

Rift Coaster– Is it just me or is there geometry missing? Ah well. Works nicely and definitely gives the impression of speed and movement. I expected to feel more sick than I did. Short and sweet.

Infinite 3D scans – Wow, this is impressive. ‘3D Scan Girl01’ (catchy) ran well, and being able to go up to a COMPLETELY realistic ‘person’… very cool. Resolution is sort of obvious here, yet only because we experience being next to real people all the time 🙂 The ‘Heaven’ one with more than one model started to chug a little at highest settings, so I might turn that down a bit.

Titans of Space. Wow. Hands down the best so far. The SCALE of the thing I did not expect to be so fantastic, but with the music it’s a truly beautiful experience. This is the one I will be showing people. I was genuinely intimidated by the Sun’s size. Looking around to other planets, or up at the vast expanses of stars… this beyond the others previous has sold me on the promise of VR. The body presence with your hands placed on your legs is almost perfect – and is a BIG help to keeping you ‘inside’ it all. By this point I am getting much less sickness, and am able to go through the entire experience pretty much without issue.

Blue Marble – Very similar to Titans, and a lovely ‘pod’/helmet combo helps sell it. Not quite as good as Titans, and much shorter, but still nice. Some ‘judder’ on passing objects is annoying.

That’s it so far! I will continue with the demos I have downloaded so far and will attempt to get more attuned to HL2 and at least get to the guns part 🙂

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