It sounds to me like a lot of the problems you have with current generation VR will be solved by Moore’s Law in a few years or so.
You’re correct though that “life changing” is probably an exaggeration, and that “it uses VR” isn’t enough to make a game good; that’s true of pretty much any tech. That said, VR definitely will have it’s place in the games industry. The way I see it, VR is to current games what 3D graphics was to 2D back in the days of DOOM. It won’t completely replace current “flat” games, but it will become pretty dominant in the industry.
I think your analogy to old cell phone technology is the easiest way to talk about VR hardware progress. The Oculus Rift DK1/2 equal the old suitcase/car cell phones. The consumer version of the Rift/HTC Vive are the first generation of the brick telephones and then the progression continues. And just like for the old brick cell phones, I think that the only people who should buy the first generation VR hardware are the people who know “why” they are buying it and have a purpose for it.
I actually think the display technology is going to outpace the rendering technology for a while. I think the resolution issue is going to be “solved” on the headsets before mainstream hardware comes anywhere close to rendering frames fast enough.
I tried both DK1 and DK2. And Google Cardboard on an S3.
DK1: meh… basically at the level of Google Cardboard (graphics detail apart, lower on a mobile) but OTOH it was intended for developers to be able to start working on their ideas and test them. Nevertheless, a fun experience (if used for a short time.) and for sure a worthy first step.
DK2: finally 6DOF precise tracking, higher spatio-temporal resolution + low persistence. Nicer!
Being tethered is of course a limitation. Moore’s transistor-count law will probably come to rescue (heat is still an issue, see Gear VR). Or some new very high-performance and low latency wireless video transfer system (it might be that Valve is working on something like that.)
Then came the HTC Vive by HTC / Valve, a few months ago. I’ve only read the specs and various reviews. But I feel like it’s probably the best (low cost) VR system existing, as of now. It would be nice to try it out, see here: HTC Vive World Tour 2015.
And I’d like to try Microsoft Hololens. Their demos look interesting!
Best regards, and thanks for CodingHorror (and Discourse.)
Your experience with VR was with development hardware and consumer expectations. With that mindset, you are already setting yourself up for disappointment. No inclusion or mention of the GearVR, HTC Vive or CV1 of the Rift means you lack perspective of where VR hardware is at today, not last year.
I never bought a smartphone, even when I had the money, I just saw no use to having to be connected if it wasn’t for business reasons… years passed by, and the smartphone became a full fledged computer that would allow me to keep a constant communication with my customers without being tied down (EMAIL), and it also allowed me to read news in my RSS feeds like in my desktop providing a great experience, and it also allowed me to listen to my 128gb music library, and so, I got a smartphone. I feel like your feelings with VR are very similar to my feelings with smartphones, you like the idea, you like the product, but it is not in a place where you feel comfortable with it. And everything you said, every nitpicking, should be addressed. I don’t think it is too much, I think there is a market of consumers that are not willing to try technology they know it will make them uncomfortable, and you know it, because you have tried it, and it didn’t work. At least that was my impression.
Being mad at tech coverage is like being mad at a duck for being a duck. And to be fair to the author, in your quoted text he did mention “a couple of years”.
Personally, I think we are at that tipping point where VR is going to become the next technological revolution. As you mentioned, there are the limitations of being tethered to a console, which is why I think you need to include AR in the conversation. The Rift is supposed to ship next year and I suppose the long term success of it will rest on the early-adopter reaction. As I recall it, the iPhone didn’t really “disrupt” anything until the 3G.
Will market saturation take time? Yes, but 3 years, or 5 or 9 is not really that long. I remember standing in line at the mall in maybe 1994 waiting to fork over $10 to try VR (which totally underwhelmed). At that point in time, VR was decades off. Now the technology is finally catching up.
The reason I think that you are frustrated with VR Believers, for lack of a better term, is because you are looking at the technology with the bias of a gamer. I think VR/AR will be transformative in a broader sense. To many, graphics and resolution don’t matter. I think of the Wiimote; at the time it was so novel that all sorts of non-traditional gamers bought into it, and it wasn’t even all that sophisticated (try a backhand in Wii Sports). As a parallel, I can imagine a VR pong where you hold the paddle or even are the paddle. VR/AR Tetris, the list could go on and on and on. And the non-game applications of VR are possibly as limitless as virtual space itself.
Also, it’s not just the mainstream pundits, Andreia Gaita had a wonderful interview on hanselminutes and while she shares your frustration with the tether, her enthusiasm is contagious. I haven’t tried VR since my mall experience, but if the tech today is even half as good as it looks, then I think 2020 will have a much different technological landscape. I guess time will tell.
Seems like you checked out the same boring VR I had checked out originally too but MozVR (WebVR an open web standard) is actually pretty damn cool
I remember when I got my first iPhone and there were these cool HTML5 and Jailbreak apps for things like drawing using the touch screen. I played with them for a few days, and then … never opened them again. I assume that eventually some of these apps evolved into something powerful enough that actual artists may want to use them, but I suspect that most people forgot about them like I did.
So much of the current VR is not just for games crop of tech demos feel so much like those old drawing apps. (Not to mention some are drawing apps.) I wonder if there will be some future idea that makes VR not just for games, but so far I haven’t seen a real proposal of what that might be that seems like it would appeal to more than the smallest niche.
I owned a VirtualBoy and I loved the 3D Tetris game.
Finally, someone level headed about VR! Actually, I think all technology is this way. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I love what it currently can do, and what it is capable of becoming. But I am continually disappointed with every piece of tech I try. I always almost immediately notice some kind of limitation I was not expecting or wish something worked differently or notice that something is somewhat glitchy. Even after becoming a power user of any given thing and learning all the little tricks and how to use it the way it was intended and how to use it the way it was not intended, there are still these limitations, things that should work differently that very greatly detract from the experience and prevent it from being what I want it to be. I guess I am just seeing past the technology, imagining it can do anything that would naturally accompany its purpose and work any way I want, and it is always nothing like that. But worse than being nothing like that, often enough, technologies are so flawed, they are really a somewhat poor experience. However, there are many technologies out there, that despite not working how I want, are quite transformative in that I keep using them so regularly that I can’t understand some of the people who still don’t want to use them.
The term du jour for immersive VR experiences recently is “presence.” It’s a tricky thing to achieve, but when it is (for me, it was with the Crescent Bay demos), it’s a qualitatively different experience than strapping screens onto your face - there’s a suspension of belief that is happens on a subconscious level that’s hard to convey. Because of that, IMO, there’s little point in having a discussion on how compelling VR is until someone has that experience. For many people, it will be w/ the first consumer headsets (Vive, Rift) over the next few months - many people will walk out of these demos ready to drop a few hundred bucks for a headset, or even the $1K+ for a full system. For others, it may take better hardware, but it’s likely that compelling use cases (telepresence, 360 video) that might make adoption worthwhile regardless.
A couple of notes:
We’re a lot closer to sunglass-style devices (my current favorite is light-field displays - 3rd link not allowed, look it up for yourself I guess) than most people might think, but R&D->production will largely depend on the success of the first generation of consumer VR
Talking about resolution in absolute px terms doesn’t make sense for VR (except when it comes to calculating rendering bandwidth) - what you want for resolution is arc-pixel resolution and FOV. Retina displays are at least 60px/degree. (As a point of reference: Immersive VR should be at least 100 degrees FOV. With peripheral vision, your FOV is 170 degrees, with eye rotation, it’s 270 degrees)
I’m personally pretty bullish on a fast ramp over the next 5 years - almost all the HW issues are being worked on, I can see a variety of very compelling, even killer app use cases, and the stuff coming out is “good enough” to get a lot of people excited.
I agree so much but have an additional concern with it. I don’t see in 3 dimensions. My brain never developed the ability and for me the world looks the same as a high def 2d movie (well, when my contacts are in). I cannot go see 3D movies as whatever they do to try and force it to look 3d gives me a nasty headache and an extreme case of motion sickness. 3D tvs are even worse. Every iteration gets a little better but I still avoid it like the plague. And I know I am not the only one that has problems viewing 3D entertainment. Most may not have such a dramatic reason for it not working but it seems like 20% of my friends like 3D, 40% don’t care or don’t want to pay for it and the rest don’t like it for one reason or another.
I want to be excited about VR tech. A fully immersive RPG or MMO RPG sounds like loads of fun but I can’t imagine how they are going to overcome the issues that I and others have with 3D tech.
Your 3D experience was so-so because you did not have a good motion capture rig for input nor were “you” the avatar in the 3D world. My brother is working on those pieces of the puzzle with CCP.
As someone who’s spent years working in VR, with all different levels of technology, I think that VR’s biggest advantage is that your first five minutes of VR experience will blow you away.
That’s enough to convince upper-management that your project needs funding, or enough to get a reporter to write a breathless article.
But after the five minute point, the limitations start to become more and more obvious, and you realize that VR, while a major advance that’s useful in many situations, is not the holodeck-style total immersion that everyone wants.
For example, you talk about gloves. They’re great. And for that first five minutes, they really contribute to the effect of being blown away.
… But after five minutes, you’ll start to realize that there’s no force feedback. Everyone thinks they have a simple solution to this, but they don’t. If you put your hand down on a table, your hand has to instantly stop moving, or the illusion is totally broken. If you grab a steering wheel, your hand has to be able to rest its weight on the top of the wheel, or the illusion is broken.
There’s no way a glove is going to solve that. It can be solved very very well with physical props, but that takes us away from the “You can be anything” dream that VR enthusiasts perpetually believe we’re just about to realize.
Virtual Boy actually had TWO Tetris games.
One of them was really good, the other had broken stereo graphics that gave me a splitting headache.
But it was so long ago that now I’ve forgotten which was which.
It is extremely refreshing to see an author whose capacity for analysis is not guided by the herd mentality that is hype. I found this article well formulated and logical in addressing where VR is today. I have a DK 2, but since getting into surround gaming that DK2 is collecting dust; why?
-It’s a PITA to get working with games
-I personally find the resolution on the DK2 pretty terrible no matter how much better it is than DK1
-The honeycomb effect drove me nuts
-It made me dizzy without fail, after repeated sessions; it made my wife dizzy after a few minutes and she stayed dizzy for an hour afterwards
-I have never and will never have any desire to watch media via VR; just not my thing, particularly for movies with my family I cannot think of a more isolated way to spend family time
-I found after my DK2 experience that multi-monitor gaming could offer me immersion, let me see what I was doing, properly use a mouse and keyboard, and most of all, not make me dizzy every time I use it
I think VR will certainly have its niche, but mainstream wise it is too obtuse, still primitive in terms of resolution, isolating, and prone to unpleasant side-effects for some people which cannot be resolved by simply increasing refresh/tracking/resolution since for many people this has more to do with how the brain is interpreting things than any of that.
I’m hearing that by avoiding the fully-immersive approach, HoloLens has avoided quite a few of the issues, but I’ve yet to hear from anyone independent who’s had a chance to evaluate it - Anyone here?
It is still early days – nobody has officially released a product yet! No Oculus, Vive, or Hololens we can buy. Maybe by the end of the year? Sometime in 2016?
"I’ve had incredible gaming experiences on 2D screens. I recently played Alien: Isolation, or as I like to call it, Pants Crapping Simulator 3000"
Did you try P.T in VR?
After trying out a few VR implementations I’d say Samsung’s Gear VR is the best of current implementations and has the highest likelihood of making the jump to a mass market consumer product.
While not entirely mature, it handles a number of the objections above fairly well while being cost effective (for Samsung smartphone owners). It also has a growing library of content and apps in the Oculus VR and Milk VR stores some of which (e,g Titans of Space VR) cannot be replicated using any other medium.
I’m eager to see how well the latest version works…