I Tried VR and It Was Just OK

It's been about a year and a half since I wrote The Road to VR, and a … few … things have happened since then.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://blog.codinghorror.com/i-tried-vr-and-it-was-just-ok/

And as you mentioned, you don’t even have motion sickness. I do, and this is another quite important thing to fix.
I can still see a present-day usage of VR for professional use though, like virtual visits.

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Walking around is tiring. Reaching out to press buttons or interact with UI gizmos is tiring. Pretending to hold a shotgun to your shoulder is tiring. It drives me nuts that technologists are assuming that humans will suddenly want to reverse years of sedentary progress, gagging for ways to interact with a virtual world that are far more strenuous and far less convenient than simply twitching a mouse a few millimetre here or there, and flicking a glance from one side of the screen to another.

The only experience I can see being accurately simulated by current VR is “Clumsy newborn robot baby simulator”

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I think the quality of the VR experience with gaming depends a ton on how close your body’s physical position matches what’s going on in game. I felt pretty similarly as you do until two things changed.

  1. The DK2 brought the resolution up from viewmaster slide viewer level
  2. Elite: Dangerous came out.

If you haven’t given E:D a try - I highly recommend it. I can’t remember a time that I’ve had as much of a visceral reaction to a game even when I’m just flying around not doing much. Everything from the ship movement - your character models limbs actually moving - to the UI of the ship is completely believable. It’s really the first game I’ve seen that really seems built around having head tracking goggles rather than having them added on as an afterthought.

The technical limitations are still there - I still have a 50/50 shot of the oclulus working right the first time I try to play, and in the world of 4k displays the resolution is still disappointing. But this is really the first game that completely sold me on goggles for gaming for at least some genres.

tech media babble hyperbole != what people like or find useful

So you certainly aren’t the last person on Earth left who thinks that VR is just ok.

It will have its uses, and in a few years time it will be great to use it in those sweet spots. After I saw the demos on Occulus I thought e,g, that it will be awesome for educational videos where it is a good thing to get a sense for the physical dimensions involved (ok, now I know how big those darned Dinosaurs were).

Other things like games can drive people nuts. E.g. the car race demo was a catastrophe for me with missing centrifugal forces. Alas, combined with a moving simulator it would be very awesome with centrifugal forces up to 1g :laughing:

I agree, and the same applies to racing and flying sims/games, where you can use a wheel and HOTAS for immersion.

I agree… I developed motion sickness over time: when I was a boy I could play wolf3d for hours without any problem, today I can’t play any fps for more than 30 minutes… so I wonder if I will ever be able to experience VR,

Experiencing something in 3D, in and of itself, is just not that compelling. If it was, people would have scarfed up 3D TVs, see only 3D movies, and play only 3D video games on their PCs and consoles

This is where you might have strayed away from the argument. I do say “might”… the reason is:
In 3D - bigger is better. There’s no way 3DTVs were ever going to take off. Even a 60 inch 3DTV is not going to offer those oft used words “immersion” / “presence”.

3D movies - when done right - work, in a cinema or Imax. Despite the common belief about 3D movies - there was a rise in awards won by 3D movies http://3defence.blogspot.ae/2014/03/3d-films-were-46-percent-of-oscar-winners.html

Which bring us to the topic of the quoted excerpt.
When you strap on a VR headset - it’s the (almost) same scale of experiencing 3D as in a Cinema.
Combine that aspect with look around stereoscopic content and you have a winner.
Now - the more resolution they can add, the better the end result.

TL;DR In stereoscopic 3D - bigger is better. VR headsets make good on that promise.

I to-tal-ly agree with you on this one.

Slightly off topic but related: I have the same feeling about Siri, Cortana or Google Now and any other speech recognition software that I encountered. Those speech recognition apps have been heralded in the tech media in much the same way as VR: Disruptive! (I actually don’t know what that means anymore)

But I don’t see myself using it, besides the fact that it makes you look like a complete tool.

Maybe with speech recognition there’s a language barrier, because I’m not a native speaker. Still the looking-like-a-tool-argument remains valid.
Do you guys at Sillicon Valley shout at your phones all day long?

You may have heard of this before, but have you tried to widen the field of view (FOV) in games ? Narrow FOVs seem to be an important factor in motion sickness, especially on PC where you often see console ports with FOVs adapted for TV/Couch.

I do agree, I’ve played with the DK1 during college and it I spent way too much time trying to focus. A Grad student was studying the effects of motion sickness and if adding a nose onto the rendered screen would help.

I believe that VR will take a massive leap forward if they can somehow make it like Neuromancer and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, just Jack-In and hallucinate the rest. This is decades from reality and brings a lot of moral issues.

Reps from Goldman Sachs were pressing Mark Zuckerberg on the last earnings call about getting something back from their 2 billion purchase. He promised to start delivering on the promise of VR.

Immersive 3D content is the obvious next thing after video -Mark Zuckerberg

He wont, and it will be declared a contentless flop.

I’m more interested in holography (is that a word?) than VR. What Microsoft is doing with the Hololens looks pretty amazing.* To me, being able to seamlessly interact with the physical world is 1000x more useful and awesome than strapping a video screen to your face.


* Yes, it has it’s limitations.

How about HoloLens? It’s AR, but it fulfills pretty much every single expectation…

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I find it interesting that so many people agree that the current generation of 3D is only “meh”, when the OLDER generation of 3D (jaws/etc) was considered mind blowing (as I recall).

I get the difference in use… current 3D is used for subtle layering, whereas the previous generation incorporated the 3rd dimension/plane into the cinematic experience.

What I don’t get, is why the older style isn’t being reused. Is the tech just unable to give the complete POP that the older technology could?

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I just generally get tired of the over-the-top hype that anything even remotely new generates these days. It’s like it feels that if it isn’t a revolutionary, life-changing experience it won’t get noticed. Remember the Segway?

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Finally. Someone said that. Thank you!

I think your sentiment is bias effected by bias. I agree that its very exadurative to say VR is going to replace everything, period. But it feels like your perspective is guided by hype.

I have tried the Oculas rift, and I don’t think I have “motion sickness” but I do feel a physical response. I duck when something comes at me overhead. When a rapter comes in slowly and starts barking in my ear, i have an immense wish for it to go away, and fear that it wont.

I’m not sure by what you are comparing it to, to say that its “just ok”, but any comparison to video games or movies I feel is just unfair. VR is just in its own category, and I feel if a person goes into the experience, judging it by nothing else but by the intrigue and joy that individual experience brings, I think they will find it enjoyable and Unique.

P.S. It’s a little early to criticize its minor annoyances(wires, headgear, etc) since its still a work in progress(acknowledging you stated something similar).

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I agree, though we should be careful not to undervalue new tech to combat the hype.

It’s not an assumption, its a hope. Im not saying that all digital entertainment should be strenuous, but to say tech that requires physical effort is bad tech, is accepting a cultural lethargy that disturbs me a little.