Get off my (virtual) lawn (week 1 in VR)

If you haven’t played with VR in a while, or never had, here’s some observations by a 48 year old someone who had very little interest in it a week ago and has logged his first week.

This is following up on the Oculus Quest 2 – I’m legitimately working on virtual office spaces (testing out Immersed at the moment,) as well as reviewing a couple of VR things and, being a parent, can only get things accomplished when the kids are asleep. Also forgive, I have no editing computer until at least Thursday, I can cut and paste graphics but that’s about it.

Everything’s a lounge room

Every VR app you’re in has to give you a couch, fire place, improbable scenery, floating particulate matter, and light that comes from no discernable direction. Everything’s evenly lit and you start thinking “is this Ikea? Is this cheap fantasy?” Oh, you can change the room, but all of them scream “here’s a place where business people can party.”

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Notably missing in all of these is any exit. Oh, you can walk up to the edge of a room and peer over a cliff, but if you want to go out the front and hang out in the weeds forget about it. Noticeably absent in the rooms are anything that make them feel like you might live there. Like, I know there’s no kitchen, bathroom, sock on the floor, etc there, but all of these cast the feeling that there’s no real exit.

This room exists, you’re in it. The only way out isn’t through a door, it’s through a popup menu and the room just disappearing. There’s never a transition. This seems to be for every app I’ve played with that has a social construct.

This would be so much easier if it worked with the joysticks

I don’t know if this is standard or not as I haven’t investigated a lot of VR, but I’ve got thumb joysticks. Whoo hoo. I’ve been in several apps now where I need to pick something up and place it. The general thing is grab it with the trigger, and then do something. In some cases it’s push my arm forward which will push the object away, but then I like need to rotate it which means I have to capture it at a corner and then it’s up or down and now somehow I’ve got it at an angle but pushing or pulling just moved it forward or back.

Let me just select something and rotate it using thumb sticks rather than trying to figure out where to grab. Does not seem to be a universal standard for object manipulation, nor moving.

Man, you try that Spider Man VR – forward (go forward) any other direction of the stick and you’re facing somewhere else. Like what?

Stationary boundaries, thunk

I don’t have a lot of space upstairs, and if I’m downstairs my kids wake up. I’ve been VRing from my desk a lot. Oh hey there randomly placed object that requires me to put a controller into my real world desk, evidently I’m not touching that. If I go to my comfy chair the stationary boundary is too small. Seems like with the ability to do hand tracking there also would be the ability to see I’m at a desk attempting to adult.

OK, wasn’t attempting to adult, I was trying to grab the Spider Man mask and that’s right in my desk…

Narrators, now boring in 360 degrees

Holy crap have I seen some beautiful scenery and tours. Mute is your friend. Good lord some of the most spectacular scenes are ruined by narration done by someone who wants you to be miserable.

Glasses man

OK, so first thing you’re going to realize is that it looks fuzzy because you need glasses. There’s even a special insert that provides room for glasses.

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I don’t think the above picture does it justice, but getting glasses into these things is a chore. Wearing one of these with glasses, then ripping it off at 2am because a bird just slammed into a window next to you, you’re going to hurt yourself. I’ve got a set of magnetic lenses coming hopefully soon as this… not great. I mean, beautiful with glasses on, ok with them off.

The cost

I really am working on this for a business project, but if I was going for games, the cost structure is weird. It seems like things from years ago that look like 1980’s CG and bleh are priced the same as amazing, immersive, and otherwise great looking games. Seems like some of the meh looking ones would be priced to move.

You have services that sell you items that literally take no processing or server power beyond your headset as a monthly subscription.

Very odd pricing structures and subscription models for things that don’t need to be.

Services that VR

There are a few VR services for movies and such. So far I’ve found what I’d consider demos from an age of VR long past. Oh wow, I had to turn my head to see a spaceship doing something behind me. I’m so blown away. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great things out there, but they don’t seem to be evident front and center at the start.

Also there seems to be very little distinction between VR (virtual reality,) and 360 degree video in advertising speak. I don’t consider a 2D movie on a virtual screen in a 1960’s lounge VR, but that’s what I’m told it is.

The feels

Going to wrap this up with having been next to completely not in VR and coming into what I’m seeing now, it feels like half of the stuff out there was gimmick, and half is amazeballs, and what exists is sort of a weird mish mash of what people thought would be cool 15 years ago combined with hardware and an OS now that’s twiddling its thumbs rendering this stuff.

It’s neat, but I’m having trouble locating a path as a newbie toward what I want, and I only know one other person who’s in the Oculus-verse.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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