HTC Vive - My Impressions

Discussion in 'Games Talk' started by Doktor Richter, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. Doktor Richter

    Doktor Richter L3: Member

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    After following the VR stuffs for the past few years, I finally grabbed a Vive last week. I haven't spent as much time as I'd like with it, due to general life busyness, but I figured I'd talk about my personal initial impressions.

    First off, the burning question: Does it work? Does it really make you feel like you're in another place?

    Short answer: Yes. Within seconds of putting it on, you're somewhere else. It's not just the sensation of 3D space and depth, like from a 3D movie or a 3DS or something. It's actually real. And your brain just sorta accepts it. The tracking on everything is incredibly precise (when it's working correctly), so the positions of your head and controllers feel exactly 1:1 in the game world. You totally forget about the restricted FOV and the visible pixels on the screen and the weight of the headset; it all just melts away. The dream and fantasy of being "inside" of a game world is perfectly delivered. With some games, you almost feel like a kid again, acting out an imaginary role in a totally different world. There's a digital barrier to keep you from walking/reaching too far and hitting furniture/walls, but it's surprising how often you ignore it, especially when you're lost in another world. Nearly every person I've demoed it to has bopped a wall or chair, and many times a ceiling fan. It's just mind-blowing how easily you forget about the real-world and put yourself in another.

    What have you played so far?

    I've had a lot of fun so far with The Lab, Valve own minigame/experience collection. While some of the content is just one-off demos, the games in the lab are pretty fun to play, even after a few hours. In particular, I'm trying pretty hard to get better at the longbow game, and have been using it as a morning workout. The table full of toys is pretty fun to jump in and play with, too.

    Space Pirate Trainer is another favorite at the moment. There's a lot of fast-paced aiming, blocking, twisting, turning, and ducking that make a whole lot of traditional games feel a lot slower by comparison.

    Another fun one is Out of Ammo, an RTS where you build up defenses from high above, then shrink down onto the ground to help fight off attackers. Crouching behind sandbags and trying to quickly reload your rifle with a bunch of bad guys running up to you is indescribably tense, and I've punched a wall pretty hard while trying to grab a grenade in a panic.

    I've also touched Holopoint, Audioshield, Light Repair Team #4, Tilt Brush, Job Simulator, Minecraft (via the Vivecraft mod) and a few other tiny demos and experiences. I'm hoping to spend more time with them, and try more stuff, in the future.

    So far, most of the games are pretty simplistic, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There's a lot of stuff that looks totally mediocre when you watch someone else do it in VR, but is surprisingly fun when you try it out for yourself. Still, I'm eager for a more substantial experience to try out, something I can get lost for hours in. More on that later.

    I use theBlu and The Lab to demo the Vive to other people, who have all been absolutely stricken with amazement. VR is really something you have to show to people - unless you're an avid follower of VR news and developments, there's no other way to get a real grasp of what it's capable of.

    This wonderful device of the gods sounds like 12 kinds of awesome. Surely there are no issues or shortcomings whatsoever.


    Well, there are. Quite a few, in fact. As I mentioned, many games are fairly simple at the moment, and while they're very fun to engage with, you'll still be done with many titles after, at most, a few hours each. There are a handful with significant lasting appeal: Wave-shooter-like games like SPT and Out of Ammo come to mind. I'm still looking forward to a meatier game, although I'm glad developers are taking their time with smaller experiments to figure things out.

    That said, developers are still not quite sure what they're doing, and it's obvious in many cases. Teleporting is a popular form of locomotion in VR, but it controls a little differently in each game. In one game, you touch the trackpad and aim; in another, you pull the trigger and aim; in another, you just pull the trigger, etc. It's like if one FPS had WASD controls, another had ESDF, and another had RDFG. Things like weapon mechanics, item switching, environment interaction, etc. also tend to vary from game to game. Some games seem to take better advantage of the room-scale movement and interaction than others, and a few experiences don't even do much at all with positional tracking. VR menus are really neat, though, and it's been cool to see all the different ways devs have been implementing them.

    Things look somewhat blurry at long distances, although you can use supersampling to help that issue if you have a beefy graphics card. I've noticed some devs are getting around the issue by using smaller environments.

    The hardware tracking gets fiddly occasionally, especially if you wear bulky headphones and block one of the base stations with your body, so that the lasers can't see the headset. I've heard it also totally freaks out if you have something very reflective in your room, like a large mirror.

    I haven't had motion sickness as bad as I thought I'd have it, even in games with artificial locomotion, but I also can't use the Vive yet for more than ~2-3 hours at a time without getting a bit of headache. The FOV doesn't really bother me, since I wear glasses and am used to a slightly lower FOV in real life anyway. Speaking of, glasses fit OK in the Vive, but don't leave much clearance between the glasses lenses and the headset lenses (about 8mm). I'm always adjusting my glasses because I'm self-conscious about scratching the lenses.

    Was it over-hyped? Under-hyped?


    Having followed VR since the first Oculus kickstarter, I felt I had a pretty good idea of what the Vive was and wasn't capable of going in. Those expectations were just about spot-on when I tried the Vive, but I was still quite blown away by it. Especially in the first few hours playing with it, it almost felt surreal. There's a lot of hype around VR at the moment, and it can be difficult to understand if you're not following VR too closely, but I personally think the hype is well-deserved, at least for people who have been looking forward to this technology for some time.

    Final Thoughts

    At the moment, I'm still having a great time with it, and I'm hoping I can find more time to play with it, and toy around with developing a game for it. For what it's worth, I haven't played a non-VR game since I got it. I've also been interested in game development for a long time, and I'm personally fascinated with the whole scramble to make new sorts of games for a medium nobody's really made games for before. It's also a good exercise machine with the right games, so there's that.

    I think VR's gonna be big, especially once the technology improves. It's still quite expensive and prohibitive for a lot of people, but if you've dreamed of being inside a video game since you were a kid, and the $800 price tag doesn't immediately scare you away, you should take a look if you can. Definitely try to get a demo, if possible; there's so much about VR that's hard to convey in words, although here I am doing my best to try.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016
  2. KubeKing

    Server Staff KubeKing dan's birthday was fun too

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    I love my Vive, what a dream come true. Have you tried Rec Room? It's a social VR sports platform (dodgeball, paintball, etc.), it's awesome, and it's free.
     
  3. Doktor Richter

    Doktor Richter L3: Member

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    I've been meaning to, along with like 20 other games and other things. I've only done one multiplayer thing in VR and that was co-op in Out of Ammo. It's surreal seeing another head and pair of hands there. Especially when you're on the ground shooting enemies and the hands are giant and 50 feet above you placing defenses around you. Given the impact of that one experience, I think VR is gonna have a huge social impact. I know Facebook's acquisition of Oculus was controversial, but I totally understand why they're going for it.
     
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  4. Crash

    aa Crash func_nerd

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  5. 14bit

    aa 14bit L14: Bit Member

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    Brb, getting RecRoom

    ...in all seriousness though, the Vive is fantastic, I'll miss it when I move out for college.

    I'd highly recommend Home Improvisation if you have a couple controllers and some friends, watching them throw couches at your face while they "help" you assemble Ikea furniture is really fun.

    If you want a meatier experience, Vanishing Realms is the longest game I've played so far, clocking in around 2-3 hours. It's a fantastic example of what you can do with a fantasy setting in VR, and it so much fun to sword fight/shoot magic/shoot bows in an immersive world.

    Portal Stories: VR is fantastic too, if a bit short. It's free, though!
     
  6. Startacker!

    aa Startacker! L⛧: Hell's Bells

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    Gah, all of you enjoying it really makes me want to get it.
     
  7. Bakscratch

    aa Bakscratch Finisher of Maps

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    My major problem still there is no real killer app/game for me. Nothing really has had me hocked, there are lots of cool ideas but that's all I feel they are just cool ideas.

    I've had a lot more fun with social games like Rec Room and Pool Nation, as they are just super stupid and fun. But they still do feel lackluster for me, yes they are super neat but I can only play them for about 30 mins before getting bored. I do think social stuff is gonna be the interesting stuff.

    One game that had really interested me is House of the Dying Sun (which is really just a vr camera) you can play the game without vr but playing a space fighting game in vr is just super fun. Same with Project Cars, its super cool and fun. But then I think it comes down to that them games are fun without vr for me.

    Job Simulator is probably the most important VR game atm, it does a lot of interesting things. It is also one of the few vr titles with decent amount of structured gameplay.

    Other than that, I am happy with pre-ordering it day 1 and feel I got my worth out of it, but I do feel that there is nothing really worth playing other than "Cool Experiences" which is what I think VR is atm a "Cool Experience"


    Addition Side note:
    Once Sony release their VR Headset, the VR boom will kick off massively. Sony will push the shit out of VR until my dog knows about it, If they can push more interesting ideas I can see more big publishers pushing VR.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
  8. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    The killer app for VR won't be a single game; it'll be the moment when it natively supports all the first-person games that already exist.
     
  9. Osspial

    Osspial L2: Junior Member

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    Eh, probably not. Most current first-person games have locomotion being done in some way that doesn't really translate well to VR. People have been putting a good deal of effort into modding existing games to support VR (afaik, the current best general-purpose one is vorpX, but some games like MInecraft have mods that add in support in a much better way), but those tend to be the ones that most easily induce motion sickness. There are also common design decisions and time-savers that work in 2D but not at all in VR - off the top of my head, plenty of games take control of the camera away from the player during cutscenes (or just move the camera slightly when the player does stuff like grabbing onto things), and during those scenes forcing the camera anywhere but the dev's desired location may reveal that there isn't actually any geometry outside of the camera's frustum. Those sorts of choices break immersion entirely.
     
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  10. Doktor Richter

    Doktor Richter L3: Member

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    On top of that, I feel like there's potential for new sorts of interaction in VR that you wouldn't get by just porting a traditional game. In VR, you can reach up, kneel, crawl around, dodge with your body, use weapons physically, etc. You can grab, manipulate, and examine objects carefully to see minute details. The few traditional games that let you do this are a bit janky about it, only because the input methods aren't suited to object manipulation. Most games simply aren't built at all with these types of interactions in mind.

    Imagine you have a first person game with a book. On a regular monitor, you'd walk up and press E on it, and a menu might pop up to show the book's text. You could easily just port that system to VR, where the menu floats up in front of you (this is how the Vivecraft mod works). But it's so much more satisfying, tactile, and engaging to be able to physically pick up and open the book yourself, which is (sort of) possible with room-scale VR.

    I can totally understand the viewpoint of porting traditional games, though. It's what people want out of VR, and it's the most obvious venue for exposing it to the mass gaming population and getting them excited about it. Bethesda's porting both an open-world RPG and a fast-paced shooter to VR; maybe they'll have a chance to debut some techniques we haven't thought of yet. It's still a wild west of figuring out what works and how to do it.
     
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  11. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    Something else I just remembered I'm curious about, if you or anyone else has tried out any traditional games with this: One longstanding problem with first-person games is that their environments tend to look smaller than they're meant to unless they're deliberately overscaled. A good example is Minecraft; those blocks are supposed to be a meter tall, but they don't look it. Does playing in VR address this?
     
  12. KubeKing

    Server Staff KubeKing dan's birthday was fun too

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    It's funny that you mention Minecraf specifically, because one of the most popular VR experiences right now is a mod called Vivecraft. It allows you to build/attack with your motion controllers, and to teleport around the map.

    The sense of scale is probably one of the greatest features Vivecraft has to offer. Buildings are suddenly person-sized, cathedrals are suddenly cathedral-sized, and mountains are suddenly mountain-sized. It's disconcerting to attack mobs that are suddenly your height or taller.

    One of my favorite VR memories is standing inside of my little hut, watching the pouring rain outside. The hissing storm surrounded me in a much more believable way than flat Minecraft could ever offer me.

    The last time I played Minecraft I had a ravine to explore. You can imagine how I might be a wee bit afraid to do so.

    (And yes, blocks make more sense when they are a meter tall.)
     
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  13. Crash

    aa Crash func_nerd

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  14. Doktor Richter

    Doktor Richter L3: Member

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    So far I've only tried two games in the Vive that weren't initially native: Minecraft (with the Vivecraft mod), and Mind: Path to Thalamus (for like 15 minutes).

    Minecraft took a little getting used to. There are options for both teleporting and artificial locomotion, and I actually ended up using artificial locomotion a lot more often, although I had to turn down the speed quite a bit. Using it at the reduced speed made me a little dizzy at times, but not quite motion sick. I suppose I'm a bit more resistant to motion sickness than most people, but I'm hesitant to extrapolate from a sample size of...well, me. The blocks are, indeed, way bigger than you'd think, which just goes to show how well VR brings out the scale of a game world. The mod lets you physically punch and mine blocks to break them, but it was pretty impractical to play Minecraft that way, since you're expected to kinda tear through blocks really quickly. Fortunately the mod also lets you just click to mine. All of the menus are floaty in-world menus, like many VR games do. To be honest, though, I don't know if the survival gameplay of Minecraft is a good fit for VR; combat with with more dangerous enemies feels weird, and crafting is a little fiddly with point-and-click floaty menus. I haven't tried creative mode much yet, since I have a creativity of a tree stump.

    Path to Thalamus uses teleporting, as well. The VR support seems a little hacked in, and it's obvious from the opening cutscene that the game just wasn't built for VR. You know how lots of games have trigger zones that cause little in-game events like doors slamming or objects tumbling when you walk into them, so developers can precisely time those events to where you are in the game world? Those just don't work well in VR at all; they feel totally artificial, and don't work well at all when you can just teleport around wherever you want. There are only a few in the opening cutscene, but they left a sour taste in my mouth. Otherwise, the game seems to run at a very low resolution within the headset; maybe it's using the native headset resolution (built-for-Vive games scale up ~1.4x internally, I believe). I'll have to experiment with super-sampling to see if I can get it crisper.

    Anyway, back to your question: yes, when you go into a traditional realistic game where scaling was an afterthought, it's very very obvious. However, there are some cartoony VR games, like Out of Ammo, that get away with cartoonishly scaled objects because it's believable in that world. It's impressive how VR can make even cartoony worlds immersive like that. In Minecraft, I just kinda got used to the giant blocks and the weird tools because it was believable in that world. A minecraft tree isn't trying to be anything like a regular tree, because regular trees aren't tall rectangles, so I didn't really have much an issue with it.
     
  15. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    I wonder if part of the reason for motion sickness is that movement in 99% of games involves instantaneous acceleration to full speed.
     
  16. KubeKing

    Server Staff KubeKing dan's birthday was fun too

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    Actually, I've heard the contrary: that gradual changes in acceleration get people motion sick much, much quicker than quick changes.
     
  17. Fr0Z3nR

    aa Fr0Z3nR Creator of blackholes & memes. Destroyer of forums

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    Most games that have VR tacked on, aren't as good as games designed for VR.

    re simsickness: It's been shown and proven that any form of acceleration will cause you to feel ill - acceleration imparts force, which your body expects. When it doesn't feel that, it gets very, very confused and thus you start to feel the effects of SimSickness. If we're doing any sort of sliding motion, it always should be 0 to full speed, instantly. This reduces drastically the Sickness feeling, sometimes even eliminating it when starting motion. However, it still doesn't remove the sickness the is caused by actually moving in-game, but not in real-world.

    There are tricks to help reduce that sickness that some people are using to somewhat surprising positive effects, but they aren't used a lot of games using them now as they weren't properly discovered/experimented with until the past few months.
     
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  18. KubeKing

    Server Staff KubeKing dan's birthday was fun too

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    Some very important news has surfaced, so it's time to resuscitate this thread.

    Valve has given us an initial taste of its new Knuckles VR controllers. They look pretty phenomenal, and you can read about their features here.

    The developer of Vertigo has been working with these Knuckles controllers for a while now, and has made this interaction demo:



    This guide lays out one of the main selling points of the controllers:

    With Knuckles on the horizon, and Oculus Touch on the market right now, it looks like finger tracking is to become the new standard for VR interaction.

    In other news, the Steam Summer Sale is making Steam's library of VR titles more approachable. Here's a great guide to what VR titles have received significant discounts.

    Oh! One last thing: Fallout 4 VR | Doom VFR | Skyrim VR (HTC Vive release in 2018)