Indefinite Hiatus

August 26, 2016

I don’t think anyone’s reading this thing, so it’s going back to the vault for now.

My Vive Library So Far

July 7, 2016

Title — Short Description — Letter Grade

A-10 VR — shoot bullets and lasers at robots floating towards you — (B)
Audioshield — Music rhythm game — (B+)
Fantastic Contraption — Physics puzzle game — (B)
Final Approach — air traffic controller simulator + more — (B+)
HoloBall — Pong in VR — (C+)
Irrational Exuberance — drug trip simulator? — (B+)
Job Simulator — comedy-guided “job” simulator, little replay value — (B-)
Project CARS — driving simulator (fairly realistic and rigid; don’t get if looking for an “arcade racer” like I was) — (B)
Space Pirate Trainer — similar to A-10 VR but with more emphasis on dodging — (B)
Surge — free VR music video — (B-)
The Lab — well polished set of minigames — (A+)
theBlu — interactive “underwater” demo — (A-)
Tilt Brush — nifty drawing app — (A+)
Universe Sandbox — play God and fly around space, but very limited features in VR mode — (C+)
Vanishing Realms — adventure game / first person RPG — (B+)
Water Bears VR — well-polished Pipe Dream-ish puzzle game — (A)
Windlands — grappling hook simulator — (A-)
ZenBlade — basically fruit ninja in VR — (C-)

The HTC Vive Brief Review — on a barely qualifying computer

May 20, 2016

When I purchased the HTC Vive, I did so knowing that my computer barely met the minimum requirements (in particular, my GTX 960 graphics card is a bottleneck of performance). I also ordered a powerful new computer to dedicate completely to Virtual Reality, but until it arrives I’m having to make do with what I’ve got.

So, up front? If you have $800 to spend on a Vive but not enough juice to power it, it’s probably not worth the trouble. It’s a demanding, not always user-friendly setup that is going through the growing pains of early technology. Job Simulator is unplayable (dropped frames), The Lab and Audioshield frequently crash or freeze, and I have been experiencing frequent audio glitches. The technical difficulties just break immersion too often.

More general comments: If video-watching is your preferred activity, you might want to invest in Google Daydream devices instead — there is no native support for YouTube yet (though surely it’s coming), and generally videos don’t look all that hot on the Vive. Rendered environments (such as those in games or simulators) look much better, and the quality of software seems to depend a lot on how well they utilize the controllers.

My biggest complaint about the hardware is that it’s very difficult to properly fit the headset on in a way that fits well comfortably for long-term use. Adjusting the straps, getting your eyes in just the right position, all of that stuff is actually quite a challenge… and even once you get it right, you’ll still be pretty hot “inside” that thing and may want a fan blowing on you.

So how does the room-scale stuff pan out? Well, from my experience you want to do VR in one of two ways: Sitting down, or with the full recommended area. Playing with a half-room to walk around in just feels clunky. It’s totally worth moving that couch to get the extra meter of space.

So, yeah, I’m getting a pretty watered-down experience so far… and I must say in spite of all that, it’s been super fun! I’m getting the impression that the Vive is the best VR option available -if- you can clear out a whole room, but otherwise the Oculus and PS VR might win out. I hope I can find more content besides Audioshield that I’ll actually want to revisit.


May 12, 2016

Not much news to post, but the game is not forgotten! I have been spending a lot of time recently on a “secret” project, however, whose results I’ll be discussing here hopefully within the month.

VR: The HTC Vive

May 7, 2016

Over the past several days I’ve managed to watch most of this 11 hour long video reviewing the HTC Vive on the day of its official launch:

There’s a lot of potential, but it seems not very many developers willing to commit a lot of resources yet so the content is lacking. The reasoning isn’t hard to come up with: at this point in time, someone developing a VR app or game doesn’t know which of the VR hardware is going to take off. Do you assume the user has space to walk around or will be sitting down? Do we assume they have access to hand sensors or not? Nobody’s gonna want to sink a lot of money into making a game hardly anyone can play. There is definite mutual interest between the various companies developing VR to make their stuff work on each other’s hardware, but I don’t think we have terribly coherent organization in this industry just yet.

I may be interested in the second or third generation of the Vive, assuming more content becomes available down the line. The fact that it must be wired is quite a large downside, all other things considered.

Smaller cities still adapting to WiFi

May 2, 2016

I went to the local Seasons of Japan for a steak bowl. They advertise (with great big posters) their free WiFi. Well, long story short, the employees were unable to figure out the password, so it was of absolutely no use to me. This is something to consider for those trying to stick to WiFi usage in smaller towns and cities. Statesboro can pass itself off as medium-sized these days, but I was still not at all surprised to have this happen.

Physics! 4

April 29, 2016

The goal is to be able to run this darn game smoothly on my Lumia 640, and it looks like a lot of optimization will be required to get there. So far, it seems like # of background objects and resolution (especially!) both play a large role in frame rate.

It only really runs at optimal speeds when you get down to minimal resolutions like this: