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PoV
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 3:54 pm    Post subject: VR, Virtual Reality, and the Oculus Rift Reply with quote

So I'm excited about the Oculus Rift, which as far as I'm concerned it was the only thing nextgen shown at GDC this year. Sony made a decent PS4 push, and word has it it'll be the most powerful console of this next generation (despite Microsoft), but it's more of the same. The Rift genuinely changes things IMO.



http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1523379957/oculus-rift-step-into-the-game

What you may have read in the press this past week was it was the thing to see at the show. Wait times around 2 hours to get 2 minutes with it, almost everyone saying it was worth it. I never got the chance to try it at the show, but I did preorder extremely early, so I'm expecting mine next week.



While I was at GDC, I recorded audio of both talks: the developer talk, and the 'dream' of VR talk. I'm in the process of removing noise and compressing the files in to something you can actually listen to. I'll post them once I finish.
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PoV
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Rift itself is a combination of 720p LCD, a pair of optics that wrap the pixels in an ideal way around each eye for a wide FOV, and head tilt tracking (i.e. accelerometer/gyroscope). It sounds simple, and it is, but you have to remember that both High Density small LCDs and tilt tracking tech hasn't been practical until cellphones exploded in recent years, pushing things forward.

That's all the Rift does. Displays an image, and sends the orientation of your head back to the PC, which you can use to tweak your rendered image.

The Rift demos Oculus has been showing so far have been with an xbox 360 pad, mainly because people are comfortable with them already. But simultaneously, there have been a number of potentially interesting techs showing up the past few years.



Razer Hydra, a motion controller tech from Sixense (Razer making the only commercial version of it so far). Unlike the Wii and PS3 that use cameras, the Hydra uses a magnetic field for detection, giving it some quite good precision. Also it is immune to the typical camera problem of placing your hand in front of your face/other hands.



The Kinect I'm sure we are all aware of. It does broad range larger room detction of motion. There's also a PC version that is supposed to be somewhat better at close range, but details are vague and confusing I find.



There's the Leap motion controller. This is also a double camera piece of tech, but it's place flat on your desk, and detects motion in a sort-of upside down pyramid above the device.



Intel and Creative have been collaborating on what they call their "perceptual computing" initiative. It's also a double camera, but unlike Kinect it's designed fro close range "right in front of the PC" interaction. I got to try out a nice demo at GDC that was combining face tracking with position, and it did a very good job, except when you place your hand in front of your face.

There's a few more too, but these are the ones I know the most about.
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PoV
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's the first talk.

http://junk.mikekasprzak.com/Audio/Not%20Mine/Talks/RiftForDevelopers.mp3

I missed the first 5 minutes of this one, but I got most of it. There's about 10 minutes with the tech guy, and the rest with ... I'm not sure what to call this dude, but he is a better speaker and talks a lot about game design.

Slides of the talk should be available in a few weeks.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RE: Oculus; The individual pieces of tech have been around a long time, but latency is the killer -- and I'm willing to bet it still is. Too much latency between the head tracking and what the user sees and the illusion goes *poof*. Worse yet, motion sickness can kick in.

I'm glad you're covering this.
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PoV
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes latency too, but that's the thing: they've almost got it. 60 FPS vsync'd rendering is required for the immersion, and we can do that with games that are a few years old no problem. I seem to remember the other magic word is 40 ms (one 25th of a second). I'm not 100% but I think that might be where we are right now. That means the delay between updates is 2 frames (16.6666 ms each), and tiny bit more. The head tracking runs at 1000 updates per second, so it's detailed enough for some clean averages, plus there's plenty of room for predicting too. Also from what I understand, there may even be work NVidia and AMD can do right in their drivers to push us over that threshold. I'll see if I can dig up exactly where latency sits, 'cause I think I may have seen it mentioned.

Here's the other talk. Less design'y and more how VR is potentially the ultimate media. Obviously it's not the ultimate today, but we're on the cusp here, so we can start dreaming again.

http://junk.mikekasprzak.com/Audio/Not%20Mine/Talks/TheFutureOfVR.mp3

Oculus has been calling it "day 0", which is a nice way to think about it IMO.
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PoV
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is cool. You can replace one of your lenses with this tester.



https://www.oculusvr.com/pre-order/latency-tester/

Then figure out how lagged your game is.
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PoV
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
6.1 Latency

Minimizing latency is crucial to immersive VR and low latency head tracking is part of what sets the Rift apart. We define latency as the time between movement of the player’s head, and the updated image being displayed on the screen. We call this latency loop “motion-to-photon” latency. The more you can minimize motion-to-photon latency in your game, the more immersive the experience will be for the player.

Two other important concepts are actual latency and perceived latency.

Actual latency is equivalent to motion-to-photon latency. It is the latency in the system at the hardware and software level.

Perceived latency is how much latency the player perceives when using the headset. Perceived latency may be less than actual latency depending on the player’s movements and by employing certain techniques in software.

We’re always working to reduce actual and perceived latency in our hardware and software pipeline. For example, in some cases we’re able to reduce perceived latency by 20ms or more using a software technique called predictive tracking.

Although 60ms is a widely cited threshold for acceptable VR, at Oculus we believe the threshold for compelling VR to be below 40ms of latency. Above this value you tend to feel significantly less immersed in the environment. Obviously, in an ideal world, the closer we are to 0ms, the better.

For the Rift developer kit, we expect the actual latency to be approximately 30ms to 50ms. This depends partly on the screen content. For example, a change from black to dark brown may take 5ms but a larger change in color from black to white may take 20ms.

Stage | Event | Event Duration | Worst Case Total Latency
Start | Oculus tracker sends data | N/A | 0ms
Transit | Computer receives tracker data | 2ms | 2ms
Processing | Game engine renders latest frame (60 FPS w/ vysnc) | 0 to 16:67ms | 19ms
Processing | Display controller writes latest frame to LCD (top to bottom) | 16:67ms | 36ms
Processing | Simultaneously, pixels switching colors | 0 to 15ms | 51ms
End | Latest frame complete; presented to user | N/A | 51ms

Again, these numbers represent the actual latency assuming a game running at 60 FPS with vsync enabled. Actual latency will vary depending on the scene being rendered. Perceived latency can be reduced further. As developers, we want to do everything we can to reduce latency in this pipeline.

Techniques for Reducing Latency:

* Run at 60 FPS (remember that vsync should always be enabled for VR).

* Minimize swap-chain buffers to a maximum of 2 (the on screen and off screen buffers).

* Reduce the amount of rendering work where possible. Multi-pass rendering and complex shaders increase the rendering latency and hence the time between reading the HMD orientation and having
the frame ready to display.

* Reduce render command buffer size. By default the driver may buffer several frames of render commands in order to batch GPU transfers and smooth out variability in rendering times. This needs to be minimized. One technique is to make a rendering call that blocks until the current frame is complete. This can be a “block until render queue empty event” or a command that reads back a property of the rendered frame. While blocking, we’re preventing additional frames from being submitted and hence buffered in the command queue.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slides and words from Michael Abrash's talk (which I missed, oops).

http://www.roadtovr.com/2013/03/31/gdc-2013-michael-abrash-virtual-reality-oculus-rift-presentation-slides-4415
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Rift demo that you control using the Razer Hydra. Appears precise enough you can actually play catch.


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Gil
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oh wow, the Razer Hydra seems to be the sweet spot to operate the Rift
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PoV
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Been prepping a PC for the Rift. Oculus' Tuscany demo runs at a solid 60fps, but Hawken runs at ~30fps. Hmm.

"Good VR" requires 60fps, so I might need a serious PC upgrade. Seems my 7 year old Core2 duo just isn't up to snuff anymore. ;)

Currently downloading Team Fortress 2.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the Rift and its awesome.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand.....???

Don't leave us hanging. Dish, for the love of God, DISH!
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First thing first, there's a great guide here I only just discovered, for getting VR mode working in Team Fortress 2.

http://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/Oculus_Rift_User_Guide

Probably not that useful w/o a Rift, but it echoes some things I learned the hard way. :)

The Good:
- Sense of scale is uncanny. When something is big, it's big. When something is at waist level (barrel), its seems right. It's so natural to gauge the size of things in VR.
- Particles, like falling leaves, floating seeds, even bullets whipping past you look so interesting.
- I want to just stand around and look at stuff. Tourism apps I bet will be extremely popular when it goes mass market (see below).
- Head tracking does a really good job keeping up. It's easy to get used to.
- I'm Neo. It's actually not hard to dodge an incoming rocket, since your sense of scale (distance) is so much better.

The Bad:
- Things that are wrong/cheated really really really stand out. They're amplified. Textures aren't enough, you really need bump maps.
- It's low resolution. Pixels are huge, kinda like playing a game on the 3DS, though it is better, it feels like that.
- It has a really good FOV, but it is still like looking through a pair of goggles. This you do get over quickly, since the FOV is good.
- There is a noticeable blur during head motion. I'm unsure if its the subtle subpixel rendering in to the harsh pixel grid, or the refresh time of LCD pixels, maybe both. Again, VR amplifies what's wrong.
- When you first start, you do get nauseous after a bit. Valve recommends 10 minute sessions as you build up your comfort with VR.

The Oops:
- Calibration is very important. I was getting the nauseous feeling after just minutes w/o it. I played a round of Team Fortress 2 uncalibrated, and I had to put it down (but I'm getting better with it). After calibrating, everything felt clearer. I was still a little left over nauseous from before, but I bet I could play a serious session of TF2 now and be good after.
- the calibration is about calculating the distance between your eyes. I have a big head, so I should have expected this. ;)

The Hmm:
- Everything moves too fast in VR. I.e. Games are typically balanced very exaggerated, because our sense of scale isn't very good when staring at a TV several inches away.
- looking down or looking at yourself, I'm not sure I've seen a demo yet that does this ideally yet. TF2, I played as the heavy, and things in front of me looked good, but looking at my body and shoulders didnt seem right yet. Of course, my real hands were on a keyboard and mouse, not gripping a minigun. :)
- I played one game from a friend that used a follow camera. This works well too, but I should have calibrated.
- I'm looking forward to trying headphones. :)

The Future:
- A 1080p screen (vs the 1280x800 screen in the Developer Rift) will help a little, but I think the real magic will happen at 4k and 8k. 16k and 32k, I think that's where you don't see pixels anymore. I think the 1080p (2k) consumer Rift will still be a niche gamer device. I think it's going to take us getting to the reasonably priced self contained 4k headset before they go mass market (self contained, as in GPU+CPU+RAM is all on device, or in a breakout box). SAO style. ;). As long as Mobile GPUs continue to make insane performance jumps, I could see this possible by 2020 (I.e. 5-7 years). Just in time for the next console generation, interestingly enough.
- It's day zero, or really, day 11 or 12 or so. I think we're going to learn and see a lot happen in just 6 months.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

God, I want the rift combined with a kinect. just imagine the levels of awesome. Crouch to crouch, jump to jump. Lean around walls.
Someone needs to make that shit and demo it in the malls and watch people throw dollars like the first time they saw a Wii.


-Bean
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure. I can see the Hydra working for me, but I don't see the Kinect working.

If I were made out of money, I'd say using the Kinect for subtle nuances, while doing real control with the Hydra would be best though.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah you're probably right. But hey, why not have both? hehe

-Bean
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh hey, there's a promo on right now, 50% off the Hydra.

http://www.razerzone.com/VRpromo

So $50 w/o Portal 2.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm... you better make sure your key bindings are familiar before putting the Rift on. You can't look down at the keyboard to verify the key you're about to mash ;)
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Grandma vs the Rift.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hehe, that was awesome. I absolutely love her reaction :).
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stop making me want one PoV. I decided to hold out until 2nd generation for these and you keep teasing me :D
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gil wrote:
Stop making me want one PoV. I decided to hold out until 2nd generation for these and you keep teasing me :D

I'm an absolute TF2 addict, so I'm torn between buying one now (with money I don't have) and getting the VR headset promo item, or waiting til I have steady-ish income, and getting no hat :,(
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, the next gen ones are gonna be really sweet. Like it's pretty good right now, and thanks to the Kickstarter it's reaching a wide developer population, so we can all critique and figure out how to make this more compelling ... than it already is. :D
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