I got my Rift yesterday! 🙂
First impressions? Nauseating potential!
I’m not an overly sensitive person to motion sickness, but there are times when if im sitting in the back of a car, and im reading or playing a game, i can get a bit of motion sickness if the car suddenly takes a few bends im not prepared for. Some carnival rides can be a bit the same, particularly ones that just rapidly spin or go up and down. Roller coasters are fine as long as i can see where im headed and know what to expect, my brain can prepare my body and i can handle it.
With the Rift, there are many real life movements not replicated in the virtual world, so your eyes are not receiving the visual response they expect. This seriously messes with your head! This will be corrected in newer versions of the Rift of course, but for now it can make for a very horrible experience. When i read and watched people respond to static images, i never expected the effect to be as bad as it is. Playing HL2 is one of the most nauseating experiences i’ve had yet. Its been more than 12 hours since i last used the rift, but i can still feel the effect it left on me. Being able to look around freely is rudely interrupted whenever a static image like a loading screen appears. Suddenly your vision is fixed with your head movement, and the effect actually hurts. It physically hurts your eyes!
Obviously that’s a negative effect. You never want to feel pain or sickness while using something, but i’m an optimistic person and i look at it in a positive sense as well. I think the reason the effect of seeing a static image is so painful, is because the immersion inside the Rift is so good, and when its suddenly taken away from you, its a shock to the system. The immersion is really that good. The VR Cinema app is very cool, and you feel like you could just grab the arm rests, or seat-backs next to you. Jurassic Park 3D? Awesome!
Best experience so far? The Unity Engine Tuscany Demo!
Standing in front of a Sunflower and almost feeling it brush my chin is amazing. The candle sticks on the walls appear to be touching my forehead, and standing on the balcony excites me as i imagine its Hammond’s balcony, overlooking the Town. I’m so pumped to get a Razer Hydra now! Anyone wanna sell me one cheap? 🙂
The resolution is obviously a limiting factor in the current model, but again im an optimistic person and i’ve always been a little bit behind the times with hardware, so i’ve gotten used to playing games at lower resolutions and framerates. I’m really enjoying the experience, just knowing im lucky enough to be alive at the right time to be among the first to experience this new technology. Its awesome! There’s a retro kind of charm to the pixelated visuals, and it does actually help to hide some of the blockiness of certain low poly objects.
I think one of the biggest improvements that could be made in this current Rift, is some new optics. I dont know where they had them made, but the distortion at the edges is the single biggest limiting factor of the display. The distortion is so great that in-game correction is not enough, its actually a focal distortion rather than a perspective distortion, which causes everything to be very blurry and honestly unreadable. In HL2 for example, if i open the console, i have to grab the edges of the console and make it smaller, then drag it to the middle of the screen just so i can read the text. Even then its very difficult, as the text is only a few pixels in size, and the Rift has that screen-door effect which can appear about half a pixel in width. If i try to shift the lenses closer to my eyes and push the distortion further out in my peripheral, then my eye lashes hit the screen and eventually it leaves a light oily residue. I can just cut those off though yeah? 🙂
Going from what ive experienced in this short amount of time, i honestly dont think they will eliminate the screen-door effect unless they use a 2560×1600 display. Using a display like that, you then have the issue of it not only being more expensive, but few systems will able to handle that kind of resolution, considering the engine has to render everything twice. BUT, you dont HAVE to run it at that resolution. I think a 2560×1600 display will give them the pixel density they need to eliminate the screen-door, then you can just run your games at a lower resolution and use anti-aliasing to improve the quality.
The optics distortion will still need to be fixed using high quality lenses though. This could push costs up more and result in a larger unit, if they need to add additional lenses to correct the distortion. They have to fix it though, as its not nice.
I’m sure there’s a shit load of stuff they have to work on for the Commercial Rift, but its very promising indeed!
One thing that im not impressed with, is Crytek’s lack of support. This is not just a Rift issue, but an issue i have with their latest CryEngine SDK.
I recently decided to switch over to the new engine for Stage 2. This was not a decision i made lightly, and by doing so it means i have to almost start fresh after abandoning the work i’e done in stage 1. Once finished, i plan to start with the new engine and import a new larger heightmap and then begin importing all the models im using in stage 1, and then start working on the trees, then eventually improve the quality and add more textures etc. I’ll then go through and make all the stage 1 models properly, adding physics objects like boxes and rocks etc, and make it much more complete than stage 1, and most likely a lot nicer looking too.
Here’s where that plan turns to dog shit. Crytek have decided to pull support for levels any larger than 4096, unless they were made in a previous version and opened with the new version. This means my new hightmap is useless, unless i create the map with an older version of the SDK, then open it with the latest version.
Okay, so this is not a big deal because im still using the last version, but it gets worse. In a future release, they are planning to add a new “segmented worlds” system, which will most likely be used to handle large terrains that are broken down into smaller chunks. Okay sounds pretty good, but when is it coming, and how will this effect maps not made with that new system? What about when support for the new consoles is added, what changes to the engine will be made then?
Back when the SDK was known as the CryEngine3 SDK, with every new release there was a flood of complaints on the forums about errors in maps, lighting, textures, entities.. you name it. Some peoples maps were corrupted and couldn’t be opened again. I’ve said this before, that if ever that happened to my project, it would be the end of it. A little flash of white light would twinkle in my eyes and some kind of twang would sound in my brain, and i’d be a lobotomized mess. I’d probably chew off my tongue too.
I’m not really prepared to move development onto the new Engine until Crytek stabilize their development. They don’t have support for the Rift, and i haven’t even looked into support for the Hydra. Any time i spend working on this project i want to spend productively, and not trying to fix and update things to work with every new release.
I’m going to continue working on Stage 1 and monitor the development of the latest engine, to see where its heading. If things starts to improve, ill take a closer look at it. I’m also going to play around with some other engines that already support the Rift and Hydra, to see what they are capable of.
This wont delay the first release of Stage 1, but it might mean a stage 1.5 will happen if things don’t improve elsewhere. For that i might start to import tree’s and sounds etc, but we will see.
I’m going to have some breakfast now and then mess my brain up in the Rift! 🙂