Water Rift Hydra
Well the countdown is on till i have an Oculus Rift development kit!
I’m just waiting for some more camera gear to sell and ill place the order. I’d love to order it right now, hell i wish it was already on the way, but money is tight this time of year and i have to wait. I’m not too worried about the second dev kit coming next year, as having two kits wont be such a bad thing. My girlfriend can use one if we watch a 3D movie or something. I think the new kit will probably land around March, and hopefully wont be much more expensive than the current one, which i actually think is a very good price @ $300, considering the experience it provides.
Speaking of 3D movies, if you haven’t seen that Virtual Cinema application for the Rift, you need to. Jurassic Park 3D is now on the top of my list of “rift priorities”.
I’ve been a little bit out of the loop with the Rift since about the start of Stage 1’s development, as any free time I had was spent mostly on editing rather than research, but over the last month or so i’ve really upped my Rift intake to get a feel for what people think of it.
Youtube has taken off with tonnes of video’s of peoples initial reaction, scares, reviews and playthroughs. From what i can tell, the feeling of immersion -of actually being there, is the biggest kick. The more detailed games and applications don’t appear to be any more impressive, with often the simplest effects getting the biggest reaction. Scale is also a big deal in the Rift, with tall structures and big drops getting a lot of oohs and ahhs.
A repeating message from a lot of the people I’ve been following, is that its not more detail they want to see, but better use of it. Fields of flowing grass rippling in the wind (like those seen in Crysis 3), are beautiful to look at, but If the grass is a flat polygon plane then it looks really bad in the Rift, particularly where it intersects the terrain. All that beauty is ruined instantly.
Another thing that really ruins the experience for people is when a static image is displayed, like a non-interactive cutscene or a loading screen. It immediately destroys the whole experience. This kind of stuff is really important and i think its something ill spend a lot of time working on, to ensure that at no time does the game take away your ability to move your head. The Crysis games have always allowed a little bit of head movement during cutscenes, but you’re still on rails for the duration of the cinematic. Its kind of hard to allow someone complete freedom of movement when you have a story to tell though, as they could very well miss out on seeing something critical, and leave a hole in the story.
I’ve come across some really amazing technical videos of projects people are working on with the Rift and the Razer Hydra. Really advanced movements are implemented in such simple ways with the Hydra, allowing the player to perform actions that would be next to impossible with a Mouse and Keyboard. Interaction with not only objects but also the terrain is amazing, allowing intricate manipulation of objects you’re holding, as well as crawling, and climbing by using your hands! The precision of that Hydra is really impressive and much better than i imagined. Once i’ve got my Rift, im going to try and get hold of a Hydra asap so i can start testing with them both together.
Support for both devices is a little.. sketchy right now it seems, particularly for the Rift, with CryEngine not having the best support. Some forum members have taken it upon themselves to improve the support for the Rift which is great, so hopefully it will be really good by the time i get mine.
I think the ultimate Trespasser experience will be with a Rift + Hydra, no question. A set up like that will be out of reach for a lot people, but i think the best solution is to work backwards from a setup like that, so its still an accessible game for people who dont have either device. Seeing how poorly both systems integrate into games that were not designed for them, its clear that if you want to support them, then you need to do so from the start.
I’ll be updating my documentation with new ideas for the Hydra and Rift when i get time and post something here for you to read. I think the possibilities even just the Hydra present, makes it almost a must-have accessory.
In editing news, ive been trying to get some improved performance from the realtime water particles, so they are not such a hit on the FPS. Right now i get drops from 40fps down to 10-12fps whenever there are a few of them on screen, but when i change my view slightly, the FPS go back up. I’m not sure if its issues with certain particles catching on objects and bumping the physics calculations through the roof, but whatever it is, its borderline unusable for some scenes. Its a real shame, because i have a scene where they are flowing down a hill side and it looks absolutely gorgeous and is running super fast, then elsewhere there are half has many on screen and the game slows down.
Here is the start of the river. This scene runs super fast despite having quite a few realtime water particles on screen:
This is down stream a bit further from the previous shot, with only two more realtime particles possibly visible, yet the FPS drops by nearly half:
The terrain here blocks your view of the previously shown water particles, yet performance is so slow, its as if they are all visible from here:
Terrain occlusion is enabled by default, and in the particles properties it is as well. Draw distance is set low enough that they shouldn’t be visible from more than 100 metres away, yet performance leads me to believe are. Bizarre. If i cant fix it, ill have to offer an alternate download with them removed, for slower computers.
A big thanks for all the comments and support guys, it means a lot! Be sure to let me know if you see the project show up somewhere, as i dont go out of the way to promote it anywhere myself. Sometimes i get link referrers to websites that i cant access, so it would be nice to know what they are saying.