Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rift Demo Round-up: Mar 16th - Mar 29th

Below is a list of around 31 free and native VR demos that have come out of the community in the last 2 weeks - either as new demos or significant updates to older demos.

These demos come in various shapes and sizes, some more polished than others, and many with excellent ideas.      Where possible I have linked to the developer's thread on the Oculus forums.

With the onslaught of posts about the Facebook announcement, it's entirely possible I've missed a few.   If I missed any, please let me know!

I am sure the developers would love to hear your thoughts, even if just a one-liner to let them know someone is playing them.

Here we go, in alphabetical order, starting with the second half of the alphabet:



Friday, March 21, 2014

Final thoughts on GDC

Today I visited with Technical Illusions to try out the CastAR.  They have a room with three different prototypes running three different demos, all highlighting different aspects of the AR experience.  I was so engrossed in what I saw that I completely forgot to ask about the VR clip-on and where they are with that.   In any case, their HD prototype is stunning, and I was pleased to realize that even if the 3D world you're looking at extends past the physical surface with the retroreflective material, there's no conflict because the retroreflective material doesn't have any detailed features to focus on.   So, I'm thankful they took the time to demo it for me and I'm quite glad that I backed it.   Plus, the pins they were giving out are covered with retroreflective material, how cool is that? :)

Same deal with PrioVR.  It's one thing to watch videos of people using the system, but when you're the one donning a Rift and PrioVR harness, it's pretty magical.  There's a full body harness and an upper body harness.  I tried the upper body one, which of course is more aligned with the seated VR experience that Oculus is targeting.  It initially felt odd that you can move your upper body and arms as you would in reality, and yet you're confined to using a controller for your leg movements and walking around.  After this demo, I would say that the upper body harness will absolutely shine for social VR experiences where you're seated in the game too.   Tabletop RPGs, Couch Knights style social games, cockpit simulations, etc.

I sat down with the lead developer of The Gallery: Six Elements, and he walked me through the controls (it's using the Razer Hydra for now).   I have to say, this was extremely well done.  The developer obviously is putting a lot of thought and care into the experience, and pushing the envelope with interactions in VR.   I especially enjoyed the "VR Comfort Mode", which I'm convinced is going to be yet another thing that all VR experiences are eventually going to have to support as a "simsickness management" setting.

And finally, I ended up going back for several more demos of the Oculus DK2.   Twice for EVE:V, and four times for Couch Knights (still awesome).   My apologies to the probably-exhausted Oculus staff for taking up more of their time than I should have.   I actually had a blast on my 2nd go with EVE: V.  This time around, the Oculus staff explained the controls to four of us and made it clear we were going to be having a 2 vs 2 multiplayer experience -- I had no idea this was the case the first time around!   Lots of fun and was able to look past the scaling issue etc, and just have fun.   Cannot wait to be able to play these kinds of games from the comfort of my home.

That is all.  :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thoughts on GDC 2014 so far

Well, it's definitely the year VR takes off, that's for sure.  Everywhere you look, VR VR VR!  Absolutely impossible for a developer to ignore the trend now.    I saw several booths utilizing the Rift as though it was just part of everyday life.   And still more booths showcasing technologies that will clearly benefit VR content.

I noted a couple of new entries into the market:  SeeBright and Sulon.   Both are touted as VR/AR devices, with radically different approaches.  SeeBright has adapters to use different smartphones as the display, and apparently will use the rear-facing camera of said smartphone in a periscope to look down in front of you for AR and positional tracking.   Did not try it out.    Sulon just launched their product today (giant banners inside the convention center!), taking preorders at $499.  They are demoing their prototype outside in a closed room where you can walk around, and I did try this one out.   Interesting to see an example of passthrough AR in practice!   But, their prototype is clearly a work in progress, with slow tracking (both head and marker tracking) and the AR view looked rather zoomed in.   It shows promise but I think they should have waited for the product to mature a bit more before demoing it.

After all... just inside GDC is the amazing Oculus Rift DK2!    The thing is, it's probably only *amazing* if you tried the Couch Knights demo.  If I'm being honest, the EVE Valkyrie demo wasn't quite ready to be a central showpiece at an event like GDC.  The game itself looked fun and engaging, but I am guessing that the CryEngine Unity Rift integration is probably not up to date with full DK2 support, because I saw heavy chromatic aberration, too-small FOV with giant black borders on the sides, and in my particular case, the IPD was very wrong (I didn't think I was that far off from average IPD).   I tried Couch Knights afterwards and was blown away by how much better the experience was -- not to mention the game itself is incredibly fun and surprising.   I think I was grinning.  :)   Oculus was a well-oiled machine in getting plenty of people to demo the DK2, and it was a bit surreal to see the familiar faces of the Oculus staff standing around talking and interviewing.   Later I went to stand in a very short line for Sony VR, and was told I need a ticket that is only given out at 10am.   I don't understand why Sony didn't let the lines just queue up and offer demos to everyone -- that would be good PR?   So, I went back for more Couch Knights. 

I have not seen GameFace or CastAR yet, gotta look around some more for those.

EDIT: Apparently EVE:V is using Unity, not CryEngine.  My bad!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rift Demo Round-up: Mar 2nd - Mar 15th

Below is a list of around 36 free and native VR demos that have come out of the community in the last 2 weeks - either as new demos or significant updates to older demos.   I've been quite busy so it's possible I've missed a couple.  :-|

These demos come in various shapes and sizes, some more polished than others, and many with excellent ideas.   If I missed any, please let me know!   Where possible I have linked to the developer's thread on the Oculus forums.

I am sure the developers would love to hear your thoughts, even if just a one-liner to let them know someone is playing them.

Here we go, in alphabetical order:



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Rift Demo Round-up: Feb 16th - Mar 1st

Below is a list of free and native VR demos that have come out of the community in the last 2 weeks - either as new demos or significant updates to older demos.

These demos come in various shapes and sizes, some more polished than others, and many with excellent ideas.   If I missed any, please let me know!   Where possible I have linked to the developer's thread on the Oculus forums.

I am sure the developers would love to hear your thoughts, even if just a one-liner to let them know someone is playing them.

Here we go, in reverse alphabetical order: