Tell Us Dammit: Are You More Or Less Excited For Virtual Reality

Yesterday Facebook acquired Oculus Rift for $2 Billion and the internet went into meltdown. People were angry, people were disappointed, some people — like myself — were excited about the possibilities. Where do you sit? And are you more or less excited about VR in general after hearing the news?

Despite sitting on the 'excited' side of the fence, I understand the logic of those who are a little concerned. There are issues with this deal, there are things that might feel a little troublesome right now, but it's one of those situations where we literally don't know what's going to happen.

How are you feeling about Virtual Reality right now?


    I'm so damn excited, my friend. One step closer to my holodeck!

      I am also excited that now the OR guys can focus on development and stop having to pursue private investors. It should expedite the process of the Rift coming to consumer exponentially.

      I thought that might be what they were going for with that whole illumi-room thing!

    Excited, very sick of Reddit's bitching and bemoaning, the Oculus team has remain unchanged and FB announced that they will allow Oculus to continue the roadplan, this is increased funds and exposure for VR.

    FB might screw it up, but until they actually do I will reserve judgement. What's the point of saying they've ruined it before they've actually even done anything?

    In Carmack we trust.

    Last edited 27/03/14 11:22 am

      100% Agree and cannot wait to see the results.

    Honestly I'm still waiting to try it out before I pass judgement, at the end of the day.

    I hope the creator doesn't get too much crap from the internet. It would be just about impossible for me not to sell my creations for 2 Billion.

    Firmly in the excited group. If only because the more and more I see the childish behaviour of others it makes me want to associate with them as little as possible.

    Like I said in the articles yesterday, Palmer's all about VR making it big and wouldn't have set down this path if it wasn't going to help that goal become a reality. This kind of financial backing opens up all sorts of possibilities for the technology that just wouldn't be there (or at least not for a long time) otherwise, and Facebook is probably one of the better companies to do so - you just know that if a company like Microsoft were to buy it out they would be hammering and bending it to fit what they expect it to be, and to try and make people use more Kinects with the Xboxes and general Microsoft-based life. Like what they've done to Rare.

    I was optimistic when I jumped on the kickstarter, and I remain optimistic now.

    Meh, my wife winges about me spending to much time already... being immersed in a little helmet means completely excluding her. Not interested. Also, sounds expensive so far, needs to come down dramatically for mass market. No one will pay the cost of a ps4 for a headset.

      Dude, I would. Quite happily. People spend three times the price of a PS4 to build their PC gaming rigs.

        Agreed, its in the ballpark of a decent monitor in terms of price.

      Dude.... think about you spending $5000+ish for nice 3D TV compared to headset that virtually fills all your eyes like IMAX in a price of PS4... i would go for latter.

    I need to try it so I can have an informed opinion.

    I don't even like wearing headphones, so strapping something to my face doesn't seem to appealing, but VR could potentially be cool enough to make it worthwhile.

    I wasn't really excited about VR and the Oculus to begin with, so I didn't really have strong feelings from yesterday's news one way or the other.

    The underlying tech has potential to be good if they can make it so you don't get screen dooring or blur and have a very high FOV. The facebook thing has potential to either create a critical mass to push it mainstream or to fuck it up & discard it like a piece of orange rind. Sony's thing might be good but they seem to be in a place further behind OR so it'll take even longer to appear.

    Far too early to tell one way or the other at this stage. I'll stick with being annoyed that more games don't support TrackIR for the moment.

    No point to have a VR headset - no surround sound. So you need a dedicated room kitted out with 7-channel surround sound, treadmill, accessories on walls, good lighting etc.

    Not really a reality for most people at this stage.

      But then do the sounds change from where you are facing? front speakers would suddenly become rears etc. Headphones??

        The game receives positional info from the headset, telling it which way you're facing. That's how the visuals update on the headset, and the sound follows. In this case, the devs would need to lock the speaker orientation to the player orientation - it should be easily done.

          Its what happens with Arma and other games using TrackIR, sound position is camera relative rather than character relative so if my soldier is looking over his left shoulder and an explosion happens in front of the character, the sound will be rendered primarily in the right ear

            At some point, all of this becomes unnecessary.
            If we remove the ability to change orientation using the gamepad, and rely on headset position, then we find that sounds will automatically be coming from the right direction, if calibrated correctly in the first place.

            Example: Sound is behind you, so you turn around and suddenly the same speakers are in front, and screen is showing you what is making the noise. Problem starts again when you factor in overhead sounds. 7.1 doesn't quite cut it then and we find ourselves in need of a few more speakers to simulate the experience even better.

      If only there were some sort of miniaturised speakers that could sit directly against your ears... :P

        There's hardly any 5-channel or more headphones in the wild. Stereo with virtualisation doesn't cut it. Also, even a 5-channel dedicated headphone will pale in comparison to the sound stage that is possible with an actual speaker setup.

        And that's the whole point of VR - to feel like you're immersed in the game. Right?

          Stereo with virtualisation is pretty convincing in my opinion (I think it's even better than gimmicky 5-channel headphones), but you're right, it's not nearly the same quality as true surround sound.

          But I don't understand why you say there's no need to have a VR headset and that there's no surround sound? Headphones that follow the headtracking would suffice, but even if you did have a room kitted out with 7 channel surround sound, any VR ready game would utilise that and match the speakers to the head orientation. Implementing that would be trivial.

          VR increases the immersion in games immensely, but of course it's not perfect - you'd need a Matrix style direct neural link to get perfect presence probably.

          Actually, I wonder if there's a way to effect the inner ear's perception of gravity through a magnetic field or some other technology. It would be amazing to be able to make a player actually feel like they were moving around by simulating G-forces. If you control the vision, sound and feeling of motion of a player, that'll probably take people most of the way.

          Last edited 27/03/14 11:57 am

            I would agree that stereo with virtualisation is pretty neat, and a lot better than just using stereo. As for convincing ... it really doesn't compare to dedicated channels at all. And if you're trying to immerse yourself, you need quality sound. Sure, VR headset with stereo virtualisation will work, but IMO you're only going half-way so I won't even bother (personal opinion).

            As for affecting middle ear, yeah, that'd be awesome! I thought that using certain frequencies could affect it ..?

              If it only can get half way then you won't even bother - but what about games in general? They only get you 10% or 20% of the way to believing you're in another world, and I assume you still bother with them?

              If it can get me just a teeny bit closer, then I'm in and my imagination will do the rest. But then again, I'm a big fan of 3d stereoscopy (love Nvidia 3dVision and always play my 3DS with the 3d turned up) - something which most people seem to rate rather poorly, so I was always going to be a fan of even "half-way" VR.

                Good point.

                it comes down to cost. I'm not gonna shell out $300-400 on something that does the job differently than my 60inch TV. My opinion may change down the track, but I think I'll be happier with money in my pocket and looking at a TV.

                If it was $100 or so I'd buy it for sure, because it's cheap enough and good enough to have around.

            Actually, I wonder if there's a way to effect the inner ear's perception of gravity through a magnetic field or some other technology. It would be amazing to be able to make a player actually feel like they were moving around by simulating G-forces.There is, it's called galvanic vestibular stimulation/GVS. It doesn't really seem to be ready for consumer use though, apparently has problems with skin conductivity and stuff. There's some cool youtube videos on it though, and it'd be pretty great to see it come to fruition some day.

              That's awesome, I'd love it if it were consumer ready. I wonder if with the extra Facebook money they'd dedicate a small team to looking into that for future versions of the Rift.

              The reason it would be so useful to VR is that there's an issue at the moment that you can feel really sick whenever the camera control is taken away from you - such as an explosion going off and pushing your character away. You feel the sickness because of the disconnect between the motion you're feeling and the motion your eyes are telling you is happening. I even get this a bit when just walking around in VR, as my body knows I'm not really moving forward. I think accurate and low latency GVS could counter-act this and potentially eliminate VR sickness.

          A mate of mine used to be an engineer at Lake Technology, before they were acquired by Dolby. He was working on 3D positional audio for headphones around 12 years ago, and the demos he showed me were phenomenal! You could easily pick the direction and distance of different audio sources, all done via a headphone. Much better than 5-channel surround, where you can still tell it's coming from a speaker.

          That technology would have been perfect for VR. Who knows, maybe someone will develop something as good, once the Oculus Rift is publicly released. Or maybe OR will develop something themselves, now they have a bit of cash on them.

      Why would you want the sound system built into the room though? It needs to be part of the HMD, so that the sound source is constant relative to the orientation of your head. Also what do you need good lighting for when literally all you can see is the screen? :P

        Speakers: see my first reply above.

        Lighting: I dunno, but if you have a dedicated room for VR you'd probably make dual use of it and use it as a home theatre room. Dunno, point not really related to VR ... :P

          Hm. I'm no audiophile, I've had no problems using just a regular set of earphones for sound. I remember playing Metroid Prime Hunters on DS and listening out for other players, knowing when they were passing near me hearing their footsteps off to my side or whatever. Or even Minecraft (with Minecrift running), despite it not really doing sound direction vertically, Still got a good sense of sound direction with just a stereo headset.

            "I've had no problems" <-- that's fair enough, but you can apply that to anything. If you've never experienced the better option, you don't know how good it can be, and thus you don't know what you're missing out on. So you then think that your inferior experience is totally okay and you see (hear) absolutely nothing wrong with it.

            E.g. I had a friend who downloaded good-quality MP3's and bought a $500 speaker system. But, he had some setting on his PC wrong so everything sounded like bad cassette tape quality - but my friend thought everything was awesome! I changed the setting to the correct one, sound quality increased massively, my friend was in shock at how good 'normal' actually sounded.

            Back to the point about virtualisation: there's $30 7-channel sound cards, and $300 ones. You may look at the marketing bullshit on the box and dismiss it as such, but there's an actual discernible difference. Once you experience it, it'll be hard to go back to the inferior tech.

            Anyway, my point is: VR is an optional thing. People are pushing for it because it's new and exciting, and pushing the boundaries of what we thought was normal. So why half-ass it? The Oculus-certified (think THX certified sound, for example. Or Imax) setup should contain no fewer than 7 positional speakers and be attached to a game that has an appropriate high-quality sound engine (not the trash that is coming out in games these days).

            tl;dr if it wasn't for the 'elite 'philes' introducing people to the top tech, the world would have no progress. We can't be happy to just use the same thing forever.

              True. But it still sounds way more complex to me to rig up and calibrate an external sound system than to have a head-mounted one. I mean it'd be ok for cockpit-based situations where you're more or less staying in the same spot, but anything that has you moving around the room at all would be more problematic.

              Also it's making me think of the whole 3D thing and people with only monocular vision - plenty would talk about how the 3D effect comes more from parallax than from stereoscopy. I feel like with sound it's a similar situation, you would get more of a sense of 3D sound from it moving around you than from actually detecting while standing still.

      Not really, you can create positional sound in the headphones, we are doing that now and it works amazingly well.
      Plus the best experiences at the moment are seated. Driving games, space games (think X-Wing vs Tie Fighter, Eve Valkyrie etc.)
      External speakers and treadmills etc. will really be more for arcades. I can see VR becoming an arcade favourite, and potentially replacing laser-tag type setups. The gear is getting cheap enough to make that sort of thing a reality, but in the home I think seated or 'Kinect' style experiences (i.e. mostly facing the front, with a limited area of movement) will remain the key experience.

      It isn't as limiting as it sounds. You can still have a FPS experience, by making it a shooter on Jet-skis, or all terrain quad-bike type contraptions.
      You could have an adventure game with a portion of the game based around a protagonist in a wheelchair, or on a Segway etc.
      There will be new freedoms and new limitations, we are still finding our way as developers, but so far the feedback from our testers is that the experience is so good, that they want to 'live' in VR, even when the experience is seated.

        That's a really interesting point about the arcade potential - opposing teams set up on circular treadmills, all plugged in to the virtual battlefield through VR and motion tracked weapons, with a large screen to display the action to the audience. That would be a reason to visit the arcades again.

    With the seemingly endless piles of money FB has, I'm probably a little more interested. Not excited though. I still can't help but think of it as a gimmick, just like 3D.

    I'm still excited by what VR (or VR assisted AR to be more specific) could achieve, and Facebook's acquisition is not a VR killer by any shot since there are other alternatives out there. It just depends on whether Facebook overloads the mainstream VR market with crap that turns people off it before anyone else has a chance to start producing practical applications for everyday life.

    Last edited 27/03/14 11:38 am

    Like a lot of other people I would like to try it before I pass judgement. But as someone who already HATES 3D movies and having to wear extraneous things like headsets/headphones etc I don't really care that much. Plus my eyes are getting worse looking at a computer screen all day as it is, can't really see how staring at a screen a couple centimetres away from my eyes would make them any better, and i'm not really ready to go blind for the sake of a little immersion.

    It could be really cool, but not as a replacement for everyday type gaming, not like when i sit down to play street fighter for an hour just to kill some time, it's more of a 'serious game time now' type of thing.

    Super excited. But more for Morpheus than the Oculus Rift. I don't game much on my PC and the amount I'd have to spend to upgrade it AND buy the OR would be too much. I already have the PS4 sitting there so it seems like a better way to go.

    Would have bought the consumer version day one. Now I will never pay for anything the company produces, and will go out of my way to prevent others from doing so as well. :)

    VR - more.
    Rift as a specific consumer product - less. After a bit of reflection, I've come to the conclusion that the reasons are purely selfish. I was already emotionally invested in the Rift as a product I was going to buy, no further questions asked, happy with what they were aiming to offer. Now it's being controlled by a company I don't trust, so that means I'm going to have to be sceptical, and have to actually expend effort to research whether it's something I want once the consumer version is finalised. And I'm lazy.

      you must have been reading my mind... that completely sums up my thoughts... I'll be waiting to try both OR and sonys' final retail units before i buy anything now... was actually seriously thinking about preordering an OR DK2 before this FB acquisition...

      now, i want to see what else there is...

    EVE: Valkyrie on the Project Morpheus bitches.

    I'm reserving judgement until I can try the device. I remember well the fad in the 90's. This buyout does nothing to change my stance. Skeptical, while cautiously optimistic.

    I've always been excited, and the Facebook deal hasn't changed that. I've tried the Dev Kit, and even in it's initial state the power of VR is immediately obvious.

    Until the Facebook deal happened I thought it would very likely remain a niche product with only a handful of games fully supporting it. This deal gives me a bit of hope that it might become truly game changing for the industry and receive the support it deserves.

    Excited that the FB acquisition might mean getting the screens we *really* want in the Oculus, rather than the grainer, laggier mobile phone screens it was destined to rely on.
    Excited that VR will hit the mainstream news.

    Worried that even if FB was truly 'hands-off' that FB will still break the culture of Oculus, (see the Bullfrog article
    Also worried that the extra R&D money could mean a lack of focus, and a long delay of product. Palmer is practical, but also a believer, and it is so easy to keep chasing a better future product and never quite getting it done. If the R&D drags out (and making custom screens could easily eat up all of the FB cash) then FB could lose interest and either step in and eff it up, or stop spending, but hold onto the patents etc. and effectively kill VR before it is born.

    Disappointed that it is owned by Facebook as on a personal level, I won't be a developer for them.

    I'm more excited for Sony's version for some reason :S

      I love how Sony have it set up to work in conjunction with their other peripherals like the Move controllers, which is something I think a convincing VR experience needs - hand/weapon tracking.

      Last edited 27/03/14 12:02 pm

    I was mildly interested and yesterday my boss suggested he buy me one to play around with. So now I'm a little more curious. I haven't tried it before though... is it comfortable for people with glasses or do I have to wear contacts?

    You've hit the nail on the head. I'm more or less excited for virtual reality.

      Since hearing about the Facebook acquisition I'm not excited any more... I'm not excited any less either! *BADUM TISH*

    Less. I understand they probably needed the funding but any company other than Facebook would've been fine. At least a company associated with hardware or gaming, not a social media company concerned primarily with increasing their numbers and nothing else.

    They're going to push this thing into a different direction. It may succeed in the social media department, but that audience was not who this device was originally intended for. To the gamers who wanted this so that they could escape reality and immerse themselves in a virtual gaming world without the immersion being broken by any hint of social media, this isn't a great thing.

    It was backed by a community purely of gamers who trusted the company. They wouldn't making this deal if it wasn't for those people.

    This also means those most gamers will be paying extra for features they never wanted. Features opposite to what they wanted. The device itself is going to be the opposite of what it used to be, since now it'll focus on the casuals or the social media junkies.

    Developers are turning away after this news. Does this not mean anything to anyone? You be damn sure Notch isn't the only one running away from the idea.

    The fact that developers don't want anything to do with this is enough for me to know i'm not buying into this crap.

    And yeah, they promised the device will still be intend for gaming and that FB won't have a major influence on the product. But trusting them before didn't turn out so well as we can see, so I have no reason to trust them now. Also, it's easy for them to say what everyone what's to hear, especially when $2billion is on the table.

    Money talks I guess. Goodbye Oculus.

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