Today the college had a welcome addition to it’s suite of technology, a HTC Vive and a Playstation VR. As a class we were lucky enough to all spend some time with this amazing piece of new technology and I’d just like to lay out my own personal thoughts.
I’ve spent a lot of time watching the concept develop from the very early prototype days of the Oculus through to the multiple consumer units we have now. Sadly as with all cutting edge technology the price to get in on the action is slightly out of reach so till now I’ve mostly spent time watching videos of other people playing the tech, which I can tell you now doesn’t even compare to the first hand experience.
I’ve tinkered before with a cheap Google cardboard clone using free software called TrinusVR to stream a double feed to my phone over USB and the primitive headset. I quickly gave up due to nausea and eye strain. I’m in a rather unfortunate position of having a genetic defect with my left eye which didn’t fully form my optic nerve, meaning I can’t correct the vision in my left eye. For the longest time I had assumed this meant true VR would never be an option for me. This will factor into the play test.
The game on demo was ‘The Lab’ and an archery mini game contained within it.
Immediately after putting on the headset I had concerns my sight would hinder the experience, however much like a 3D movie I still had depth of field. After finding the sweet spot to knock an arrow thanks to the great haptic feedback on the controllers I launched my first couple of arrows and hit nothing! It took a while to manually correct for my left eye and figure out where the true trajectory was, after this there was no stopping me, I survived all sixteen waves of baddies and felt absolutely no nausea doing it!
Now I know when using TrinusVR you can set a level of compensation to shift more field of view to one side, which I always had to do. You lose some field of view but this allows me to see more in focus, I’m sure if I had the ability to tinker the Vive it would have similar functionality. However even as an out of the box experience for a guy with a wonkey eye, I’m more than impressed at how immersive it is, nothing prepares you for the actual sense of space you get. At the end of the play test I was told to turn back to the person doing the demonstration and they’d safely remove the controllers from me, in VR I was still holding an arrow and as I began swinging around my brain started screaming ‘STOP you’ll hit him with the arrow’! After some time immersed it’s hilarious to momentarily lose your grasp on whats real and what isn’t.
I remember the rather short lived days of the Nintendo Virtual Boy, through magazines only as it never lasted long enough on the market to be released in Europe. It was plagued with issues that had to be overcome by modern VR systems, problems such as nausea, headaches, dizziness etc. The system was never received well and is generally regarded as one of the worst selling consoles in history. It was an interesting early experiment by Nintendo but sadly a concept a little too ahead of its time in terms of available technology. If you have the time give the youtube link below a watch to see the history of this little machine and the humble beginnings of home ‘VR’.
It’s safe to say I’ve been waiting for the hardware of the VIVE/PsVR since I was a child and I truly believe if developers all get onboard, it’ll become the norm for the future of gaming.