Jump to content
The Dark Mod Forums


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by woah

  1. woah

    Wacken World Wide

    If you've got a VR headset and like electronic music, check out The Wave and, at times, VRChat. Various art exhibitions are being held in VR this year, e.g. through The Museum Of Other Realities https://store.steampowered.com/app/613900/Museum_of_Other_Realities/ https://twitter.com/museumor For future sporting events and such, Google has figured out how to stream lightfield videos over a 300Mbps connection. Essentially lightfield video gives you a volume (e.g. 70cm^3) in which you can move around your head and the image is rendered correctly from every position and orientation (e.g. even mirrors work). Once headsets have variable focus I could see there being a huge market for this https://uploadvr.com/google-lightfield-camera-compression/ Of course nothing is quite like actually being present but this is really the next best thing and, for some people, it's probably good enough.
  2. Good talk on how to solve VR's last major visual issue
  3. the psychology of US investors in the current market
  4. I'll be happy to get on just 100 Mbps fiber optic in the next few weeks. This will be up from an average of 50kB/s through verizon wireless with a data cap. Been trying to get them to install this for 4 years.
  5. I doubt we'll see very many games at this fidelity for a while but it's nonetheless quite exciting. Especially for developers, assuming it's really that easy. Also, no cut up to $1 million is really cool for a fully open source top of the line game engine. However what I found comical was how we're being shown these incredible graphics but in terms of interactions we're still stuck at "Press X To Interact"
  6. My review: The game is quite amazing in terms of production quality, atmosphere, immersion and the mechanics that they have implemented. It's hard to convey without actually experiencing it but I've never felt so "in" a virtual world before--I've played plenty of VR games but none of them have done anything close to this. The best way I can describe it is "dense". The graphics are often near photorealistic and nearly everything is intricately detailed. The audio is like nothing I've experienced before--almost every sound is accurately mapped spatially and feels so "correct". The environments are fleshed out to an absurd degree, so if you're the type of gamer that likes to spend a lot of time exploring and getting immersed in an environment, this game is a dream come true. You can pick up and prod just about anything, the physics are more well behaved than anything I've seen before, and the hand/finger mapping is so good that it makes you want to reach out and "feel" things--the way the haptics respond and the way your virtual hand conforms to the surfaces kind of compels you to do this (and parts of the environment will respond, e.g. the Xen fauna is a delight to interact with). It's an extraordinary work of art. In a recent interview Valve said that they had tried to do this in the past but what would happen on the desktop is that, with the exception of a small minority, gamers would just speed right past everything and never look back. That meant many hours of developer time just being wasted so it couldn't be justified. However with VR they realized people were spending a lot of time interacting with environments at a higher resolution and this actually persisted over time (they originally assumed it would subside with the VR spectacle). After playing the game this makes total sense and has me pretty excited about the future of gaming. If developers can justify adding more depth to their games and the medium itself motivates players to actually experience that depth, that is only a good thing. The mechanics, interactions, and AI they have implemented are done very well. Everything feels very rewarding to use and interact with--it's all polished to an absurd degree. Especially the gravity gloves, they are a joy to use. The combat is less about scale and more about small encounters. Every shot you take feels consequential. It was already clear to me that e.g. aiming a gun in real life is much harder than on a desktop, but what they've tried to do is take advantage of this to add intensity to the experience for what would otherwise have seemed banal (so e.g. an encounter with a few headcrabs becomes a big deal). The AI itself is actually more reminiscent of the HL1 AI (e.g. the grunt AI) and this is a good thing. This failed on some accounts to due to the teleportation focus and some design decisions that followed from that--which brings us to the downsides. Where the game leaves much to be desired is in the variety of mechanics implemented, the forms of locomotion, and the teleport focus. Much of what they've done *is* impressive, but only for a teleport game. The game supports smooth locomotion (and the actual movement is not a bad implementation at all), but it's clearly a game designed around the constraints of teleportation. The interactions, the AI, the combat, the types of locomotion are all within the confines of what is viable with teleportation. E.g.: There is no melee combat in the game whatsoever--perhaps one of the most obvious affordances of VR--because any compelling melee combat requires movement (being able to quickly dodge and advance on the enemy). The AI is much less difficult than it should be because teleport gamers can't strafe and back step, which means the AI moves slowly, does not overwhelm you, and gives you plenty of time to take aim at it. To make things more difficult for smooth locomotion players, on the higher difficulties they just increased enemy hit points (combine can take like 6+ shots to the head on the highest difficulty), but I still didn't find it difficult because--as a smooth locomotion player--I can just strafe to cover and carefully take shots at enemies that give you plenty of time to aim. You can't climb, swim, jump, run, drive vehicles, or do anything that doesn't map well to teleportation. There is a sort of "teleport mantle"--which works--but it's still underwhelming. Given the nature of this game--that tons of new VR gamers are going to be jumping straight into this with no prior VR experience--it does make sense to design the game this way. However if they make Half-Life 3 VR ( see Anderson's link if you want to be spoiled), they can't do it like this because the majority of regular VR users get used to smooth movement in short order and then never look back. Rather, they need to take full advantage of what are now "standard" forms of comfortable smooth movement and then port back to teleport for this minority that can't adapt. E.g.: adding near field interactions and melee combat with AIs (thankfully it seems likely for HL3VR if you've spoiled the ending of HLA). They need to increase AI difficulty and tension not through hit points but rather through their ability to take cover and maneuver about quickly (VR is actually much better suited to low TTK due to the higher difficulty of aiming--makes each shot feel more rewarding and consequential). They need to incorporate the common forms of locomotion we enjoy in flat gaming--climbing, swimming, platforming, vehicles--and then expand on them in ways that take advantage of VR input (for example, geometry and physics based climbing mechanics with motion controllers). If, after they've implemented these things, the teleport counterparts are lame or clunky then that's unfortunate for that minority that can't adapt, but it is much better than leaving so much of what makes gaming compelling off of the table. Overall the game is an undeniably incredible experience. I can't imagine what it would be like to experience this as your first VR game--it would probably be akin to that magic feeling that HL1 and HL2 gave me as a kid. The game deserves its praise. However, for a VR gamer that's seen a lot of cool VR mechanics from indie developers and that is not locomotively gimped, it's quite limited mechanically and I don't think this approach will work for their next VR Half-Life game. HLA needs to serve as the introductory experience--a beautiful work of art at that--but what comes next should retain this production quality but show the value proposition of VR mechanically.
  7. That's certainly not what I am personally seeing among the VR users I've interacted with and it's not what I'm reading from those familiar with the actual usage numbers. E.g. Palmer himself (the vr poster boy) wrote an article on this very issue where he points to large scale real world market testing that demonstrates very poor retention outside of the hardcore users (of course you're not going to hear this first hand from Valve, Facebook, Sony, etc etc directly because that would not instill confidence in the medium they've invested so heavily in). The Steam Hardware survey shows that after 4 years there are only about 1.3 million connected VR headsets on Steam (and that's just connected, it doesn't mean they're being used), despite many more headsets actually having been sold. The total number of concurrent VR users across all games that are actually using their headsets on Steam is roughly only 10k (up from ~5k in 2017), which is something that a single game in the top 50 on Steam is easily capable of. You have for instance Pavlov VR which is essentially the CS:GO counterpart to VR (the gameplay, the behavior of the weapons, the game modes, literally people have ported all of the maps) but it typically gets 500 to 1K users. Anecdotally I basically see the same thing: probably about 80% of the people I've gotten into VR (with cheap Rifts off of eBay) and those I've met online hardly use their headsets anymore despite the content improving year after year--they would rather just play flat games. There is definitely a hardcore kind of user that sticks around but they are far from the majority. I predict you're going to see a boost from HLA but the same general result. During the honeymoon phase many people will claim that they can't possibly go back to flat games (you hear this over and over again) but a few months to a year later most will. As the collective experience improves, less and less will drop off. In the early days of VR that's something I actually thought myself--that people would be willing to tolerate it for what VR adds to the experience, but what I've come to learn is that there's a big difference between something being just being "tolerable" and actually wanting to use it every day when you have much more comfortable/less clunky and "good enough" alternatives (the alternative in this case being flat gaming). E.g. I can tolerate an annoying glare from a nearby window on a high quality desktop monitor, but if we assume that glare is for whatever reason unavoidable, eventually I'd almost certainly tire of it and even opt for a much worse monitor that doesn't suffer from such a glare. VR has tons of issues like this that are constantly nagging you--there are not just glares but distortion, large parts of the scene that are out of focus, clarity problems etc etc (many of the things I listed above), and it takes a certain kind of user to actually put up with them at this point. I actually see the opposite effect with respect to casuals: the more casual the user, the less likely they are to put up with all of this. It's hard enough to just get them to point of gaining their "VR legs" (resilience to sim sickness). It's similar to how in the early days of the smartphone you had a small market of individuals interested in e.g. PalmPilots and while the average person might genuinely think it was cool device, they wouldn't actually use it due to the collective problems resulting from immature hardware and software. It was appropriate for a certain kind of user but the more casual consumer needed a user experience that was improved on basically all fronts.
  8. Not too long ago an all-in-one VR console (processing, battery, headset, and controllers) could be had for $400, Facebook's Oculus Quest (which can also connect to a PC). On the PC end, the Samsung Odyssey was going for $250 to $300 a few months ago. There are lower end WMR headsets that go for $150. Right now all prices are inflated due to Corona virus related supply issues. The problem I see is that even if they literally gave the best VR systems on the market away for free very few people would use them much past the honeymoon phase for the reasons I noted above, i.e. "free isn't cheap enough". The hardware still has a ton of issues and addressing them is going to take a lot of costly investment and time. Now, I do think you're correct in that mass market appeal requires low prices and a steady stream of high budget content, but I don't think that's the bottleneck at this point and there are viable markets that can be tapped prior to mass market appeal. Most new technologies and mediums are initially very expensive and only gradually come to mass market as they are refined in the high end (both software and hardware). There are plenty of people that will pay a lot of money for a good experience but I don't think VR is offering that for most people. A few years ago Gabe Newell said something like "you make something good first, and only then worry about major cost reduction" and I think that makes a lot of sense. When they see that VR users only play for short periods because the headset makes them uncomfortable, that they do not play frequently because they are too physically exhausted at the end of the day, that long term there are retention issues, etc etc, that must tell them that the quality of the experience isn't there yet.
  9. So it's been about 4 years since VR's consumer launch and with Valve finally showing 4 HL:Alyx gameplay videos today (one, two, three, and four), I figured it would be a good time to share my current thoughts about the state of VR. I like VR quite a bit myself (it's largely the only thing I play) but I also think it's an immature technology. The hardware, software, and mechanics are very early. Just anecdotally, the userbase appears to be separated into two groups: a core group of enthusiasts that are pretty regular, and a larger more casual and high turnover (low retention) group whose usage follows exponential decay. Overall it reminds me of the early phase of other major technologies/new mediums (e.g. smartphones) but with abnormal degree of hardware subsidization (abnormal for this stage of the tech) and an "improper" amount of hype. VR is also abnormal in the sense that due to the intense spectacle it typically has an extended (between a month and a year) "honeymoon phase", but this phase doesn't seem to be representative of a stable/regular user over the long term. Benefits of gen 1 VR - These are the good aspects of the current technology, but basically all of them have significant downsides as well (noted below). Immersion - This is the obvious one and what most (unfortunately) only focus on--I mean the pure spectacle of VR. It simply gives you a better sense of being "in" the virtual world and amplifies the intensity of many aspects of the experience. For example, combat intensity (Onward), horror (Walking Dead: S&S), heights and speed (Windlands 2 and Jet Island), social connection (VRChat or really anything else with multiplayer), etc etc. Each hardware iteration improves this (e.g. Vive/Rift -> Index is very nice) and playing a flat game after using VR for a while is kind of like "watching yourself" play a game in that it feels "disconnected". As an example, I have a friend that lives approximately two hours away and I would typically visit him in person several times a year. However a couple of months ago we both realized that we hadn't actually seen each other in person in almost 4 years, and yet it "felt like" we'd been seeing each other all along. I can only attribute that to the social connection afforded by VR--it's not like we weren't playing games together before that. Perceptual enhancements - Similar to immersion but with respect to things that allow one to engage with the virtual world in useful or consequential ways specific to VR. For example, a head-mapped visual perspective allowing one to look around independently, the ability to better ascertain the depth of things with stereoscopic vision, a correct perspective from which hand interactions are viable/intuitive, proper head-relative 3d audio, and so on. E.g. I find it much more rewarding and natural to communicate with nearby teammates in VR FPSs because the experience is as if they're right there in the same room as me. Interaction and new mechanics - 6 DOF inputs for both your head and hands allows one to interact with the virtual world in some interesting ways. Over time I've personally come to find that this is the most interesting aspect of VR and appreciate today's (rather limited) VR visuals more for how they provide the correct perspective for this kind of interaction rather than for the pure spectacle. A basic example of this is the well tuned firearm interaction model of Onward which can be extremely rewarding to use and changes up the dynamics of first person shooters dramatically. More complex examples would be the physics based melee combat, climbing, and general interaction models of Blade & Sorcery and Boneworks. Rather than relying on simple QTEs and a small set of mapped inputs that play out largely the same way every time they are triggered, VR opens up the possibility of accomodating an enormous number of other interaction possibilities--if the simulation allows for them anyway. Over time I've felt like flat gaming was being limited by the interface through with you engage with the virtual world and VR appears to be a way of overcoming that. Issues with gen 1 VR - It might seem odd but the attributes of VR that I find the most compelling also happen to have aspects about them that I think are the most problematic. I think the biggest issues are in the areas of comfort, "perceptual limitations", and clunky interactions. Discomforts Ergonomic Discomforts - The headsets are hot, heavy, strapped tightly to your face, and tethered. Visual Discomforts - You can't change focus so there's basically only one depth plane that is perceived correctly at about 2 meters away from the user (closer objects appear out of focus and "medium distance" objects look decent but still "off"). And there are many issues with the visuals that people are sensitive to e.g. pupil swim, distortion, god rays, glares, chromatic aberration, etc etc. Physical Discomforts - Too many games require you to stand which is ultimately a losing proposition during the critical end-of-day gaming timeslot. How many gamers are actually going to stand up to play games after work/school? Not many I think. I personally suspect that the default mode of play will eventually settle on a seated mode with smooth vertical translation on the dominant hand's vertical joystick axis, accomodated by a seat that swivels. Simulator sickness - Simulator sickness is a problem and may always be a problem. I know most can overcome it with careful exposure (and thus getting your so called "VR Legs") but getting more casual users to that point is difficult. And yet not building up one's VR legs will leave them very limited in how they can experience VR (so limited that it understandably may not even be worthwhile). I think there's a chance that this problem will always constrain VR to the more "hardcore" end of gaming (a noteable exception being for a more niche group that uses VR for "active gaming" / exercise) Perceptual limitations - Pixel density, SDE, FOV, clarity, the fixed focus, poor black levels, etc etc impose frustrating limits on how you're able to interact with the environment. E.g. devs tend to avoid near field interactions like reading something in your hand because you can't actually change focus to that depth right now. Clunky interactions In Games - In many games, the input is at least as clunky as it is compelling because current controllers are lacking in feedback, i.e. think trying to navigate through everyday life with unfeeling hands. We take for granted how complex and informative the senses of feedback through the hands are and how critical they are to even the most basic of interactions. Object reorientation, grabbing objects, throwing objects, swinging melee objects, opening doors, etc etc are all quite hindered right now. Proprioception hardly compensates and visual feedback must be largely independent of this for viable input mechanisms that aren't frustrating (imagine trying to carefully watch your hands perform even the most inconsequential interaction). Another problem is with the software itself and how well their interaction systems are being implemented. The same general interaction concepts are being implemented in a multitude of different ways, with some being rather gimmicky/pointless (i.e. you may as well just press a button to execute them) while others truly offer a degree of depth that warrants the use of motion controllers. In Desktop interaction - Outside of and in between games you really feel crippled. There's no good way (yet) for key input and we need integrated eyetracking to move past this silly laser pointer/Minority Report UI phase. Right now all of these fatigues and frustrations lead to many people not feeling particularly motivated to use the headsets very much after the honeymoon phase. Until the hardware better replicates human vision and until it is somewhat comparable to the clarity and comfort of a desktop monitor, I think VR will continue to have major retention issues. And yes, to me it's currently worth it--especially with content that does something interesting with VR beyond spectacle, but I'm just a nutty enthusiast. And, sure, when it comes to what's missing from current gen VR, "content is king" and "cost" are the reflexive platitudes you hear from most people. However, at this point VR already has a good deal of engaging content (especially given the age of the medium) and it's also about as cheap as it will get for a decent experience and for the foreseeable future (what most people don't realize is that the Facebook, WMR, and Sony headsets are subsidized), but retention remains to be an issue. The problem I see is that even an extremely polished and grand experience (like HLA) is difficult to keep coming back to month after month if what you're experiencing it through is fatiguing/uncomfortable and frustrating, especially when it's competing with the wildly successful medium of flat gaming that has been refined over many decades and that has none of VR's comfort problems. There is a very high threshold that must be overcome here (there's a big difference between "tolerable" and "I actually want to use this every evening past the honeymoon phase") and getting to that point will take some incredible technology. I don't think it will be any different for Half-Life: Alyx. Future advancements - I'm trying to be really candid about all of the issues VR has but, to be clear, I'm really interested in the technology and it's what I invest much of my free time playing and hacking around with. I could see the following things dramatically improving the experience and gradually (with each incremental improvement) making the technology something more and more PC gamers will actually use regularly. Variable focus - This is the feature that I think everyone wants without actually realizing it (though not quite the same, I think if you disabled one's ability to change focus in real life the value of this would immediately become apparent). It will dramatically improve comfort, interactivity for the near field, and immersion. Facebook detailed their approach at the last Oculus conference and others have patents for similar solutions. Unfortunately I think we'll be very lucky if we see this in the next major headset refresh around 2024 or so. General visual improvements and foveated rendering - This is with respect to things like pixel density, screen door effect, field of view, lens quality, pixel persistence, refresh rate, etc etc. Having used the Valve Index for a while, I actually think we're getting pretty close to being "good enough" here. With another decent incremental improvement beyond today's specs (for which eyetracking and foveated rendering will be required), I think the primary concerns most users have with VR technology will be focused elsewhere. Smaller, lighter and wireless headsets - The use of things like pancake lenses will allow headsets to become much smaller and lighter (there are already some examples shown at this year's CES). 60GHz 802.11ay and foveated compression will allow us to transmit the data wirelessly and with negligible latency. This should dramatically improve comfort and make the technology less distracting to the experience. The less conscious you are of the thing strapped to your head, the better. Interaction (hardware) - Haptic feedback is a major area that I really hope the industry leaders (Valve, Facebook, Sony) are focusing on internally. The single dimension of vibration in each controller is insufficient for the reasons noted above and I think the lack of feedback is the major source of motion controller clunkiness. Right now I think you need something that gives users a sense of positional and rotational forces relative to at least a single point within the motion controller (e.g. something like this https://www.roadtovr.com/miraisens-3dhaptics-directional-haptic-feedback/ ). This would give the user a vision-independent spatial sense of how their hand is interacting with the environment, how wielded objects are behaving, and how to solve "violations" of the simulation (e.g. when one's virtual hand intersects with a solid object). Like any other input/feedback system used in gaming, I don't think the feedback manifested in one's hand needs to be 1-to-1 with the simulation--the brain just needs the information in an intuitive form over a sufficient number of dimensions. However, I don't think things like full hand simulation / finger level simulation (e.g. per-finger force-feedback and touch sensation) will be viable for gaming until such an input device can adequetly simulate joysticks, triggers, and buttons itself--and something like that is so far in the future that I don't think it's even worth thinking about in the consumer space at this point. I've seen the early implementations of such a thing but I don't think they're anywhere near being viable. Interaction (software) - When the hardware interface through which one interacts with a virtual world gives the user a higher capacity for control, the software simulation must also expand in tandem to respond to that capacity (actually, not doing so can make a VR experience feel rather lifeless). Over the past few years developers have been fleshing out VR interaction systems across a wide variety of contexts to show how motion controllers can be used (with each game typically focusing on one or two core mechanics e.g. firearm simulation, flying, swimming, climbing, swinging, etc etc). More recently you see developers like SLZ (Boneworks) and WarpFrog (Blade & Sorcery) trying to generalize the interaction systems through the physics system so all aspects of the simulation behave consistently and to allow for a much larger space of potential interactions. As these mechanics improve (and there is a lot of room for improvement), I can really see VR interaction being something that is highly coveted. Anyways, I generally write things like this up just to help organize my own thoughts but hopefully it's of use to someone else. Right now I'm enjoying what VR has to offer and I'm optimistic about future tech, but I'm also a bit nervous about hardware and software developers sticking this out for another 5 years or so due to the expectations they came in with. There are only about 1.3 million VR headsets connected for the Steam Hardware Survey, and I suspect many more have been purchased but just aren't being used. I think that back in 2016 the expectations about the speed of progress were completely unrealistic. When you look at the consumer launch of other mediums and how long it takes for them to get established, 10+ years isn't that unusual. The impression I got from the VR marketing and tech journalists was that this was being treated like the launch of a new console but this was obviously something quite different.
  10. Thanks, you saved me some of my time. That sounds horrible.
  11. Just updated the topic with both videos. Trailer Short interview with Geoff Keighley My early (and almost certainly premature) impressions based on just the trailer: The production values are quite insane for a VR game and the basic interactions look solid and rewarding. However, as I detailed in the original post, I'm thinking the kinds of interactions one can perform will be quite limited by their concerns about sim sickness. I didn't see anything in the video that involved smooth locomotion or that used VR interaction in a novel way like Boneworks. The crowbar was also strangely absent from the trailer. I got this vibe from the interview that the developers weren't happy about something or weren't necessarily convinced about the state of the game (or maybe they're just burned out from overworking themselves) I think this will be an awesome first time VR experience but I don't think this kind of content will be sustainable in the long term. It's the common tension between making a VR game interactively novel and making it accessible. There's probably a good chance someone will be able to mod in flat support down the line.
  12. Oh yeah, jumping straight into something like a Rally game would be a disaster for most people. Smooth rotation like that is even harder to tolerate than smooth translational movement (forward, back, left, right), though sometimes the frame of reference provided by cockpits does help. In the past I couldn't play that kind of game but at this point I'm accustomed to racing around tight tracks at 1000+ km/h in BallisticNG without any issues. It takes some dedication to build up to that though. Generally you want to start with something that uses pure translational smooth locomotion like Onward or Pavlov, using the "VR legs" training regimen I outlined above. Most people can work up to that pretty quickly. One uses instant incremental rotations of ~45 degrees mapped to the joystick to turn (this doesn't cause simulator sickness like smooth rotation would) and their head/body for everything in between. I'm quite amazed and disappointed that no current VR platform has a built in "VR legs training" application. Regardless, simulator sickness is still the biggest roadblock for VR. I think we could still have millions of VR users even with this problem but at some point we'll hit a threshold where more casual users just won't bother. Other things like the fixed focus (you can't focus properly in today's VR headsets) or the lacking haptic feedback seem solveable.
  13. It's definitely being designed with the Index controllers in mind but it will work fine with the Vive, Rift, Rift S, Cosmos, WMR, etc etc as well, which you can get for between $200 and $400. As long as it's compatible with SteamVR it should work. Hell, Facebook dropped support for the old Oculus development kit but even that still works through SteamVR. I think Valve's major ambition with making the Index was to push the technology forward.
  14. I think the main trouble with this is that if you're actually trying to take advantage of VR input you can't really map the interactions to flat/desktop input devices in a way that isn't clunky. VR games seem to be trending toward highly dynamic physics based interaction methods where you need input closer to the expressiveness/fidelity that your actual hands provide. Instead of the typical approach of defining a small set of preset actions bound to keys/buttons and animations to go along with them, the player's body (as inferred from at least the hands and head) and the environment itself are defined at a more granular level as objects in the physics engine, and then you let the physics engine play out all of the different possibilities. If you tried to map these sorts of dynamic interactions onto mouse and keyboard, you'll basically be manipulating your character as you would 3d models in a 3d editor. Of course we're no where near the fidelity of actual hands and fingers, the software implementations are still immature, and input is still pretty clunky because current gen motion controllers aren't able to provide a sense of directional or rotation forces (so you have no feedback beyond vibration). But despite all of this, what the Boneworks devs and Blade & Sorcery devs are doing right now is still quite amazing. The lasting appeal of VR seems to be the interaction mechanics afforded by this kind of input and while the spectacle of VR perspective itself is cool it's actually more important for putting these interactions in the correct perspective so they become intuitive (and of course modern VR's visuals still have a ton of issues). With respect to movement, what you say was the dominant belief in early 2016 but ever since Onward came out ~late 2016 VR games have transitioned to the regular smooth locomotion you're accustomed to in flat gaming. What makes it comfortable is (1) controller relative smooth locomotion with careful use of acceleration/inertia and (2) a "VR legs" training period where you gradually build yourself up to that kind of movement over the span of several days. The trick is to only play up until you start to feel strange (not sick) and then stop for several hours before trying again. In my experience, after about 5-7 days of even a single exposure per day most people are OK with smooth locomotion and the result is that you can do so much more in VR. After getting regular translational smooth locomotion down you can graduate to more extreme games like Windlands 2 or Jet Island. Don't get me wrong, that training period is still a huge roadblock for VR and some people fundamentally just can't get their VR legs or won't have the patience/persistence to try. But the dominant VR FPSs that people currently play don't even support teleportation anymore (e.g. Pavlov VR, the second most popular VR game by player numbers). Teleportation is just too immersion breaking and clunky. Younger people seem to have a much easier time acclimating to smooth locomotion. And eventually there may be some hardware solutions to the problem as well. As for the price, yeah that's still an issue--costs about $350 for a decent VR system now--but it's not unheard of for new technology. These things start out expensive, clunky, uncomfortable, etc etc only appealing to an enthusiast market and then they gradually expand as the hardware and software mature over many years (with feedback from enthusiasts being critical). Same thing happened with e.g. computer games and smartphones, they take a decade+ to really hit the masses. And VR hardware still has to improve a lot in ergonomics, visual comfort, visual fidelity, haptics, etc etc and this basically has to happen in the high end. There was way too much VR hype early on for what the tech currently has to offer. And if anything Facebook's break even pricing is very unusual for a market that's this immature ... but I think they're trying to corner the market through predatory pricing (as well as getting impatient with the rate of VR adoption, being a publicly traded company and all of that)
  15. EDIT: Trailer is up Interview with the team: --- original post belo Rumors say March 2020 release. I'm both excited and terrified. It's really difficult to make a good VR game. On one hand the Kerry Davis VR game development presentation shows they're trying to tackle the nuances of VR interaction that really bring virtual worlds to life. But on the other hand Valve has been very cautious about inducing sim sickness in the past. The limitations imposed on the player to prevent sim sickness are in conflict with player agency and interaction is (IMO) VR's strongest value proposition. One gets accustomed to the spectacle of the VR perspective and the visuals in today's headsets have just as many downsides as upsides, so you really have to do something more to take advantage of VR. Really curious about what they're going to do.
  16. woah

    DR VR

    Regarding VR editors (e.g. Dark Radiant VR), right now VR is pretty awful for any sort of productivity applications. Lacking pixel density and the inability to interact with your immediate real world environment are the obvious things but the main thing is actually the lack of variable focus, which makes desktop usage, UI interaction, and reading text a really uncomfortable experience. Lens anomalies (distortion, chromatic aberration, glare, god rays) are also really apparent when interacting with flat UIs in current gen VR. You'll still want to use mouse and keyboard as well--motion controllers are terrible for anything that requires finely controlled interactions and we still haven't figured out text input either, which is essential. The whole Minority Report UI thing is only cool for 5 minutes--after that you realize how much energy expenditure is required for even the most basic of inputs and it's incredibly fatiguing. Today, the main thing I see devs using VR for during development is to properly get a feel for the scale of things, which works quite well. But even then, most VR developers do a good chunk of their development through a typical desktop mode because it's just so much faster, convenient, and less fatiguing. Overall I think AR will be a bigger deal when it comes to optimizing development workflows--whether it's in the form of a VR headset with *very good* passthrough or just AR glasses/a visor. VR input will get better as well but I wonder if it will ever get good enough to fully realize the dream of being able to "sculpt" 3D objects in VR because without some sort of grounded device that restrains your arm/hand/fingers you will just clip through the virtual object. High resolution feedback/response over many haptic dimensions is absolutely essential to that experience and there seems to be some sort of uncanny valley effect that happens when trying to simulate hand/fingers with high fidelity. Perhaps the most viable alternative I've seen to this is from a company that is using multiple LRAs to simulate the sensation of positional and rotational forces through an ungrounded motion controller. Depending on how well this can be perfected this may give you a sufficient degree of feedback but even then I think it will still be conveyed through an abstraction rather than directly trying to simulate hands.
  17. https://twitter.com/KevinMackArt/status/1101234908402409473
  18. I'm aware of that research but I just think this is going to take a long time. I think we will be really lucky if we get variable focus by the time second generation headsets come around ~2024. My stance on things is that we'll be fortunate if the high end enthusiast market sustains itself until that time--I think variable focus will breach a certain threshold of comfort and immersion that will make the technology desireable as a pure substitute for monitors in traditional gamepad/M&K gaming (still with snap rotation) and some desktop applications. I'm also really hoping that anti-simsickness tech like this pans out https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2018/11/inventor-may-have-cured-motion-sickness-without-drugs-and-could-mean-lot-us-military/152960/ . I love VR and I use a Valve Index every day. I am not dismissing the technology overall--just trying to be realistic. New technologies like this almost always start in the high end and gradually expand to wider markets as both the hardware and software experience improves and is shaped by the experience of early adopters. The real question is whether or not short term profit obsessed corporations like FB, Google, MS, and Sony will have the patience for that. MS is already pivoting to enterprise and there is no sign of VR for their next console. Google Daydream is practically dead and they seem to have largely lost interest in the tech--I suspect they're going to focus on AR (and they should). Sony's public comments and leaked patents seem to suggest that they might try to stick it out--but again they are smart enough to not release a pure VR platform. A leaked email from a few years ago reveals that Zuckerberg expected he would have tens of millions of users right now--in retrospect that is laughable. What I see FB doing is waiting 2 to 3 years after an absurdly overhyped first generation of hardware and then getting impatient and launching mainstream consumer focused and aggressively subsidized products when the technology is too early for that. Hence the leaks late last year about the whole "race to the bottom" thing and the Rift 2 being cancelled, I think not coincidentally timed with the departure of the Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe. I still don't understand why standalone must be the goal for VR. It's solving problems that don't exist. Aside from enterprise/business applications and frequent travelers, how many consumers are actually going to regularly use VR outside of a dedicated playspace in their home? It's enough of a pain in the ass to just carry a cellphone around with you, let alone take it out of your pocket, occupy your attention with it, and fumble around with a crappy touchscreen UI whenever you get pinged. But carrying around a full VR headset? That people running around in large open fields or warehouses with VR headsets on will be anything but a very niche or occassional OOHE application sounds nuts to me. On the other hand, you throw on e.g. a PSVR2 with inside-out tracking, it wakes up your console from sleep within moments, and the 802.11ay wireless (which will have negligible latency) gives you all of the power of a PS5 ... that you would've bought anyway even if you weren't interested in VR. And that PSVR2 would not have the costs of shoehorning decent processing into such a small device--it would likely cost less than or equal to the cost of the standalone device with much better specs. As for advances in processing giving standalone the edge, while I am skeptical of Carmack's understanding of people, their tolerances and what they desire, I do trust his outlook on technology and he stated in this very interview that he thinks fundamental limits to the performance of silicon will bottleneck us well before mobile chipsets get anywhere near today's desktop performance. And again, we're already struggling with VR here. Eyetracking and foveated rendering will help but we're still looking at a dramatic increase in pixel density, FOV, and physics processing loads. On the other hand, I think AR makes complete sense even in a limited rendition if they can get the form factor small enough. Just being able to do basic things like go to the grocery store and nearly effortlessly and seamlessly identify and check off items would be transformational (vs the absurdity of trying to do this via a clunky smartphone app and UI). Nevermind all of the obvious media, entertainment, and communication based applications of AR. It fits the business model of the aforementioned corporations to an absolutely frightening extent--AR will be something you wear nearly every waking hour and they will have moment to moment access to everything you're doing. There are still a lot of technical challenges here, such as occlusion, but this is the holy grail for them (short of some BCI-based interface). It will be interesting if they can resist the urge to make everyone look like a branded tool or borg--I think this will be a major selling point for the early versions.
  19. It was a good interview, he's a lot better at talking to less technical people now. Interesting perspective on why he's interested in VR. You can tell that he gets shit for not transitioning to a purely managerial position but I respect that he's adamant about sticking to his passions. Little disappointed that he left Joe with the impression that you can't really do smooth locomotion in VR. I get that Carmack is basically only concerned about bringing VR to "the masses", but more intense gamers (e.g. the type that would play Quake competitively) will build up to it. In my experience it takes most gamers a about a week with daily exposure of 10 to 30 minutes to get translational movement down, but you need to be consistent and careful to not push until you're actually sick--which is the actual hard part because most casuals are impatient and not very dedicated. However I have to wonder if this push to bring VR to the masses will fail because I'm not so confident that the masses, casual gamers, etc etc that Carmack wants will be interested in VR for quite some time. First there are all of its current discomforts--visual, ergonomics, and sim sickness. Second, it currently suffers from certain critical limitations, e.g. fears of sim sickness lead developers to dramatically reduce player agency, the lack of variable focus makes it difficult to interact with things in the near field, and the lack of positional/rotational haptic feedback makes certain actions clunky. Lastly, it isolates you from your surrounding environment and many applications require a decently sized space and high energy input. All of these things scream to me "still high end/enthusiast". Rather, I think the more realistic scenario is that VR continues in the high end and gradually expands as problems like the above are addressed. I just doubt that FB has the patience for that--I expect them to transition to pure AR at some point because that is *certainly* a technology for the masses even in a limited form (as long as it doesn't make you look like a borg) Lastly, this whole focus on standalone VR is pretty absurd to me. I mean, yes Carmack is right that Quest is an incredible device--it is technically quite amazing (I've used it)--but wireless and a dedicated external processing box will be just as convenient. In addition, VR is dramatically increasing processing loads, and not just for stereoscopic, high fov, high resolution, high fps graphics processing but also with respect to physics and interaction--when you give players less abstract and higher fidelity inputs the simulation itself must also expand and converge on something higher fidelity. I'm not sure how Carmack squares the dramatic increase in processing demands with something that is, as he says, ~1/50th of the power of desktop PCs--which are already struggling. I mean, I consider myself a hardcore VR enthusiast with rock solid VR legs--I'm regularly zipping around at 800km/h around tight turns in BallisticNG with its VR cockpit view, but the Quest's 72hz display made me feel pretty bad (not to mention it's often motion smoothing from a lower fps up to 72). A traditional console with a flat mode makes way more sense for the reasons noted above, and also in terms of price: people are going to buy the next iteration of their console anyway--independent of any VR-related desires--as very few people are willing to completely replace flat gaming with VR right now, and thus there is no cost advantage to standalone for most everyone. It's just anecdotal but I bought my brother a Quest a few months back. He tried using it maybe 8 times but ultimately put it back in the box. At the end of the day he's tired and doesn't want to wear something fatiguing. Right now I'm hoping he might use it for exercise--I think that's the only salvageable use case for him (which was my original intention anyway)
  20. I didn't mean to say that Thief was indie but rather that its patient form of gameplay may not have been financially successful even in its time. I personally had a lot of trouble finding anyone that could tolerate it. But it was posed as a question because I'm genuinely not sure. LGS shut down due to financial issues but the Thief 2 wiki indicates the game sold 220k copies by Nov 2000 and this was considered ""commercial acclaim." There are of course plenty of indie titles that are taking a generic route but it doesn't change the fact that this is where developers are trying new things.
  21. Indie games are where it's at. That's where I find stuff that is technically and mechanically interesting, sometimes story-wise as well. With respect to larger developers, I stopped being bitter about this when I realized there's no good reason to expect them to produce anything different anyway. That would ultimately mean expecting the cultural norms of the masses to change ... and good luck with that. Did Thief 2 even break even in its day? Also can't expect indie developers to produce content at the scale of modern developers either. I'm personally more invigorated by gaming than I've been in many years with VR and that's about as indie as it gets. Insofar even the higher budget content that FB has commissioned is pretty/polished but rather uninteresting compared to the works of indie devs
  22. The major thing that is a counterpoint to this is Valve's VR ambitions. HLVR is quite clearly in development and they're pushing enthusiast VR hardware further than anyone else in the consumer space with the Index. The company's philosophy on this is that you establish something that proves to be compelling in the high end before addressing the major cost reduction matters for the wider markets. This is while other corps involved with VR are getting impatient and engaging in a "race to the bottom" under the assumption that VR's major roadblocks are in price and friction. Which is an approach that I think will ultimately fail because even as a big VR enthusiast I realize that VR is currently not yet good enough for wider markets at any price (IMO it needs variable focus, sim sickness mitigation tech, and haptics that convey translational/rotational forces--promising solutions for all are in the works but these are things that need to be paid for and "beta tested" by the high end). But the point here is that if they were only concerned about the most profitable path of least resistance they wouldn't even bother with VR as VR is quite the opposite of that. The $1000 price tag of the Index (and this is not a mistake--see Gabe's comments on "premature price reduction" going back to 2017) is evidence of this. They are investing a *ton* of resources into a market that quite transparently consists of mostly enthusiasts (for now anyway). Over a third of Valve's employees are working on VR related things. But supposing they were motivated to create another Half-Life, *could they* actually make something that lives up to HL's hype? The expectations are so absurdly high. And if you look a litter deeper, they do seem to be *trying* (many leaks over the years have suggested the development of games related to their major series but at some point the leaks dry up and the assumption is that those projects were cancelled). Both HL1 and HL2 paired major developments in gaming technology with an engaging storyline, high production values, and great gameplay. So first, could they even satisfy the latter three aspects? This is no small feat as the gaming market looks much different than it did around the time of HL2's release--the scale and production qualities of modern games remind me of something closer to big budget movies. Competing here doesn't seem to suit Valve's organizational structure which is anything but an assembly line of devs slaving away. And second, would making "just another Half-Life" game at modern production standards be enough? I seriously doubt it and I also doubt Valve's employees are even interested in something that is ordinary. Gamers are expecting something novel--there need to be major technical innovations paired with it. And what remains for *major* technical innovation in flat (desktop monitor) gaming? There certainly doesn't seem to be any low hanging fruit remaining. Personally I think in many ways gaming is currently bottlenecked by the medium through which it is experienced. VR removes some of those bottlenecks--and has at least temporarily added some of its own (but as I said above I think those will be overcome). Increased immersion is nice but more importantly VR is about expanding on the interaction space--giving us something closer to the complexity and dynamics of real life interactions (which the VR perspective is critical for). When I see what e.g. the Boneworks ( https://i.imgur.com/L0rwfrl.gifv ) and Blade & Sorcery devs are doing, creating the next iteration of Half-Life here totally makes sense (and Thief games as well ...). And sure enough, strings for "HLVR" prefixed to things like "crowbar" and "grabbity gloves" started showing in Source 2 binaries in late 2015 (and other leaks seemingly pertaining to HL3 came to a halt not too long before that). So I think this is what they are doing. EDIT: Literally just 10 minutes or so ago. When was the last time that Gabe has stated--in practically direct terms--that they have the intention of making HL3? At the Index launch party of all things. ""Maybe some day the number 2 will lead us to that shiny integer glowing on the mountain someplace ... you'll just have to see ..."
  23. For what it's worth I can't remember the last time I purchased a piece of hardware new. If you're in the US (just not sure about other countries), eBay is a great place to find good deals and there are people with too much money that just dump their hardware for cheap from time to time. I don't bother with auctions unless the item isn't in high demand--people get emotional about it and bid the item up higher than the market price. Also, if you buy Gigabyte, MSI, or EVGA you can often take advantage of transferable warranties. If you don't break the conditions of the "eBay Money Back Guarantee", they are really good about "Item Not As Described" claims. Just thoroughly check the condition of items, the item description, and the seller profile. The only thing that I would be careful about buying used is the PSU. I ran an experiment over the span of 12 months to see how cheaply I could build a high end VR gaming rig for my grandfather (for flight sims). I was able to get him a GTX 1070, i7 6700, Gigabyte GA-Z270XP-SLI mobo, 16GB RAM, 450W PSU, and a 500GB SSD for $400--all sourced from ebay. A few of ebay's random 10% off coupons did help.
  24. woah

    Thief 2 HD mod

    Would you say that the feel/character/tone/spirit/whatever-you-want-to-call-it of the original assets are preserved? Sometimes these HD packs are more impressive on a technical level but completely fall flat artistically and/or have an inconsistent feel.
  • Create New...