How Would You Solve The Problems With Virtual Reality?

As I've already written elsewhere Virtual Reality elicits strange reactions. In an ideal world Virtual Reality would represent the next grand leap in interactive entertainment and everyone would live happily ever after.

But it's a bit more complicated than that. VR has problems. At this moment, those problems do not have solutions.

How would you fix it?

I'm keen to hear everyone's thoughts. Let's talk about the obstacles virtual reality faces, for both gamers and the wider public.

I'm thinking about three questions in particular...

— How are we going to solve the problems of movement in 3D space. — Is VR going to reach a broad audience and if so, how? — Do you think VR will succeed in the long run?

Okay, now go!


    More importantly, will I be able to use VR without vomiting everywhere?

      That's precisely why Oculus have gone for a high refresh rate. It's supposed to help prevent VR sickness.

        but then you lose the "cinematic" effect of games man!!!

        I've only tried the old boxy Oculus, it took about a minute before I started spinning out, wasn't a great experience. I love the idea, so I hope the Morpheus and I agree with each other.

        The virtual nose is meant to help a lot too I read somewhere. Probably here.

    - I don't think the technology to really make Vr shine is available yet, so for moving around in 3D space a game-pad would be my way if I was making a VR system, then invest in other area's. I would think with the technology brain, muscle and other signals from the body could be used to give a more natural feel, sensors exist now for the phone that work of movement of arm muscles.

    - Porn. no joke. I would fund more porn for the devices even trying to coach the big free sites in on it... sex sells. Virtual holidays. Crazy things like that, have a board appeal, want to see what the Eiffel tower looks like, strap one on. Games cannot be the only thing that gets it started, once it has an audience games might rule the device but big companies wont start making games for it unless people their is a clear market.

    - If it catches on, and my second point tells of how. Sell enough and the game companies will come, even movie etc. But sales have to be strong.

    Last edited 01/07/15 5:52 pm

      The technology you want already exists in a way:

      1) FOVE - natural eye tracking + lighthouse support

      2) GloveOne - sense of touch with texture, heat, water and etc haptic feedback

      3) Cyberith - Move in a 3d space and body tracking

      The technology is available, the issue is that these things all need to come in 1 kit out of box supported by a major brand. The reason is you actually need content to support these stuff. Or what ends up happening is content ends up supporting the BASE experience while not supporting the other stuff. Think of it like this, if you were a developer, would you make a game that used a button that is only available on an optional controller? Or would you aim for wider reach? This is why this all has to be bundled together as a base experience.

    I guess you'd need to try a few things out, allowing some time to adjust before moving onto the next thing.

    Edit: I wanted to elaborate on something I just touched on in my post: I don't think some games will ever work great with VR. Uncharted, or shooters etc. just don't feel right and it's not necessarily because of the controls etc. Games like Mirrors edge, racing games, flights sims, exploration sims etc are great with VR. Perhaps VR will become the best way of playing those games, but not the best way to play ALL games. Which is fine by me!

    As cool as the fixed place tread mills are, I don't think they are a practice solution for the majority (outside of potential use in arcades, which would rock and possibly be it's broader audience as per point 2, IDK). I'm not 100% sure of VR's place as a mainstream gaming device for home users. At least for traditional video games anyway. Perhaps VR shouldn't be a new way to play old experiences, but the only way to play new experiences.

    That said, looking at gear that is already available, to be realistic as well as cut costs etc, I think Sony came close with Move: One possible solution to movement (In FPS games at least) would be to use a gun, similar to the PS move gun, allowing you to move with the analogue, aim with the gun and look around with the head gear. I'd assume that aiming would work 'ok' even when the orb is off camera because of the gyro controls in the 'wands', but maybe not. Haven't tried it ;)

    For other games, I honestly think Sony in particular fkd up by not putting analogous on the Move controllers all those years back. Having an analogue on the 'wand' for movement and the gyro/ glowing ball for tracking would have worked better for Move games and now Sony, possibly, wouldn't be stuck with this movement problem now. (Perhaps they shouldn't be so focused on keeping the old Move controllers, which were even flawed for their original intended use)

    I can see from Sony's latest VR demo's, that all the games that use the Move controllers over the DS4 seem more immersive, but are limited by the wand's lack of an analogue (Or, if using a nun chuck and wand, they are limited by only having one track-able wand/ 'hand', a potent catch 22 IMO).

    Even if the analogous aren't optimal for Move games or VR, I think we can all agree that having them would still be better (At least for Sony) than sacrificing one hand, or the freaking tilt controls some games had for player movement.

    As for the last point, I think it will succeed, but probably won't eclipse current/ mainstream means of gaming in the long run. Anyway, interested to see what others have to say, perhaps not relying on current tech as I have.

    Last edited 01/07/15 5:58 pm

      If the Move navigation controller (or nunchuk, as you call it) had gyroscopic/accelerometer abilities, then that would half solve your issue. It could then be used for the second VR hand. The accuracy wouldn't be as good as the Move controller itself, but it could replicate a "less strong" left hand, for a right-handed person.

      It would also provide the analogue function you're talking about.

      As far as hardware is concerned, it'd be basic to do. Could be an option for Sony.

        Yup, but honestly, if they are putting gyros into the 'nunchuck', they may as well just put analogues in the 'wands' rather and have best of both worlds lol.

        Also, I'm only calling them the 'wand' and 'nunchuck' because I thought most peole would relate to those names better as the official names are... long winded at the very least XD

        Last edited 01/07/15 6:19 pm

      You make a lot of sense. Specially about the part where Move requires an analogue stick. If you remember when move was first introduced, it did come with something called a "Move Navigation Controller".

      Move was essentially designed to have one of your hands inside the game and nothing more. If you put two hands in there, you have to compromise is another way.

      The mistake with Move, was being ahead of its time. I too strongly believe that PlayStation VR, should have its own redesigned controller.

      Oculus Touch is remarkably close to an end result of what that looks like to me.

      I hope they don't forget how important haptic feedback is even if it's very basic.

    I wouldn't. I'd wait for someone with the knowledge, experience and skill to do it for me, and then I would buy their product.

    I think the only solutions are redefining what VR will actually be.
    Oculus already did this by defining it as a "Sitting or Standing" experience, where you don't really move your feet. Great for driving, flight sims, space battles, 'experiences' and games designed with you in a vehicle, whether it be a wheelchair, unicycle or roller coaster car.

    To your questions.
    – How are we going to solve the problems of movement in 3D space.
    I don't think the movement in 3D space is really solvable in the home. The only solutions are a huge, relatively dedicated room, or an expensive, doofy treadmill type thing, neither of which will catch on for the mainstream. As above, the main solution is to define the experience as a relatively 'seated' one.
    In arcades, and places like the PowerHouse Museum, you can have a setup space, with minders that would be a lot of fun, but not so much in the home

    — Is VR going to reach a broad audience and if so, how?
    Hmmm, depends on your definition.
    I think they will sell a lot of units, but not radically more than say the custom controller market (Let's say Steering wheels + HOTAS type flightsticks + Custom controllers/Gaming Keyboards).
    That is still quite a lot of units, but I can't see them selling in the same numbers as say a PS4 console.
    So the install base won't be huge, but it will still reach a broad audience, if one of your mates has a setup, they will be keen to show it off to anyone they know. I think some schools and universities will by a few, and students will get to experience them, ditto with Museums and travelling shows etc.
    I still can't see it going fully mainstream, the immersion is both the benefit and the limitation. The headsets are uncomfortable, confining and cut you off from the world. That isn't going to suit the mainstream.

    — Do you think VR will succeed in the long run?
    Again, depends on the definition of "the long run"
    I think it will do okay this generation, but a lack of quality, unique games and experiences will hamper uptake, and the comfort/convenience factor means they will be gathering dust like an old Nintendo Wii after 12-18 months, only getting dragged out sometimes if someone comes over that wants to try it, or if some new experience gets released.

    Hopefully they will make enough money to get a new generation up after that, but without phones driving super high resolution screen prices down, then the tech won't be as cheap to make, so that is going to be a stumbling block, plus if there is a backlash or just a hype let down, then I can see development slowing by the big players.

    I reckon in 10-20 years time it will get another resurgence. I was working on VR in the late 80s, I think it will get a lot more penetration this time, but will crash and then return again in a decade or two when the tech catches up again, and the crash has been forgotten.

    See you in 2030!

    There are thousands of brilliant minds working on this exact problem right now. Literally the best in the world at creating interactive spaces are wrestling with these exact challenges.
    I have nothing to contribute except for the sincere hope that they succeed.

    I think 3rd person games shouldn't be ruled out. Like maybe have the character in 3rd person but vehicles/sniper scopes in 1st person

    looking around your character almost playing with them like you would an action figure could be fun.

    What I would do is this, I would get a major brand to bundle up something like FOVE + GloveOne + Cyberith + PC which would be about 2000 USD in value and break it up into monthly payments over 3 years to about 55 USD per month. You can keep the hardware or lease it at about 40 - 45 USD per month.

    This way, you insure a quality VR experience for the user at prices they are used to paying for their cellphones already. This will be for the gamers.

    I will then take a separate approach similar to what Samsung is most likely thinking about. Gear VR using FOVE technology which will allow higher quality VR with less processing power.(Samsung is an investor in FOVE). But the price of the headset has to be reduced to something like 100 USD. GearVR is a bit expensive.

    Now you created 2 tiers for VR, the gamer tier and the casual mobile tier. This will allow VR to flourish at both the high end and low end.

    I don't think the 3d space thing is ever really going to be solved for a full vr headset type experience. Mostly because how many games that benefit a vr environment would need much more space than a standard living room could possibly allow

    As far as reaching a broad audience, I think it can, just not for gaming. Using it as a virtual theatre to watch movies with people over skype could be great or how about giving people who can't travel the ability to see any part of the world. How about some relaxing underwater or space facing cameras

    market it like they do mobile phones, it will be successful

    The thing that has gotten me most excited about VR and had me saying "Now that is what VR is for" is The Void. Everything else just seems to reduce it to a very expensive camera control device.

    No matter how I look at it, VR comes across as an incredibly niche thing or something that you go out for to enjoy. There are some fantastic augmented reality ideas that I've seen (Such as taking tours of a virtually reconstructed historical site) so there is a future for it but I have strong doubts that it will become as ubiquitous as TVs.

    What's ultimately going to decide its fate though is what kind of support it gets from the big players. Kinect and motion controls died a somewhat inglorious death because no one did anything creative with it. The Wii U's control tablet, pad thing has so much potential going to waste these days as well because no one is doing anything remotely interesting with it. This is why Facebook's purchase of Occulus Rift is worrying, they have a tendency to see money in advertising and capitalising on the user base which means they may flood the VR market with cheap crap that no one wants, killing it before it starts to find purchase.

    – How are we going to solve the problems of movement in 3D space.
    I don't think we have the technology to solve this in a truly satisfying way just yet. Eventually we will be able to plug in and immerse ourselves completely in the digital world but I don't see this being possible for at least the next 50-100 years.

    I've actually been working on VR games for 12+ months now so I could write pages on these points but I'll just cover the biggest thing for each. (I'm working on both a Hoverboard Simulator and "Small"; first person stealth/puzzle adventure based on the borrowers)

    - Moving in 3d space
    You design everything in your game around this. The biggest problem isn't moving, it's rotation. Rotation by joystick is instant sickness. Hoverboard uses a wii fit board as a simulated board, so rotation is based on body movement. For Small (which is a more traditional first person game) the user turns around 360 to look in the direction they want to move and controls are relative to that. In both cases this plus other techniques reduces discomfort easily into acceptable levels for the majority of users.

    - How is it going to reach a wide audience.
    Mobile VR in retail stores will drive this. Someone walks into a store to pick up a new phone, they see a weird thing on the table and ask "what's that?", it gets put on their face, they walk out of the store with one under their arm. As a bonus it's only a few hundred dollars on top of a regular phone upgrade unlike the uptake cost of PC/Console VR.

    - Do you think VR will succeed in the long run.
    Depends how we interpret the question. Are we talking specifically about closed oculus style headsets? If so who knows... but if we're talking about some kind of VR/AR (like magic leap or hololens but also can work like an oculus)... absolutely. We wont see the tech for this for many years yet but it's the big goal that have Facebook, Microsoft and Google all having this arms race.

    When it comes to mediums for movement, I think people expect a bigger problem than there is.

    I do not look at my mouse and keyboard while gaming. Nor do I look at my joystick or my gamepad. I do not need to; it is a natural extension I have learnt to adapt to. Pressing a key makes me move a particular way - that is the way it is.

    Put a screen on my face and that does not change.

    I have tried out the Oculus DK1 at Pax. I had no troubles using the controller for movement. It was default ordinary behavior. I played a little Alien Isolation and it did not make me motion sick - but I mostly just hid in lockers because I don't like horror games, I just wanted to see it in a first person game.

    The difficult part is coming back out; suddenly you are a foot shorter than you were in VR. Pressing your left thumb forward no longer moves you forward. The release from VR; that's the disorienting part.

    Recording hand gestures will be nice, but without an omni-treadmill you can't track actual body motion through space sensibly in the living room. Such tech would also alienate disabled and unfit audiences; gaming is still a retreat for those of us who cannot physically compete. To remove that and create another barrier to fun would not be smart. You'd be more likely to take in slight motions as inputs - a twitch of a muscle or wiggle of a leg moves legs, etc.

    Once the costs come down, yes, VR will reach the broad audience, and yes, it will succeed. Yes, through games, or porn, or other experiences. I know this as surely as 20 years ago I knew that one day we'd have big superhero movies everywhere and that games would overtake other media for big business.

    But simple hand held controllers that you don't need to swing around blindly will do just fine for a while yet.

    You know how we can solve the technology. well first don't hype it up as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Let the hardware mature, let the developers spend some time with it without pressure of producing a great product from the get go. Get some experimental phases in where people are allowed to try crazy stuff, even if its not so successful. and we need consumers ( yes, looking at you and me, the gamers, to shut the hell up and stop asking for nothing but nostalgia-trip remakes)

    My phone is being a b!tch or I'd post the link
    Somebody YouTube "the void". Basically their theory to place you in an actual space shaped like that in the VR. When you touch a wall in game, it's a real wall, that door is a real door, that panel, is, well, a panel but the controls are virtual. I reckon this is the future of fps and arena shooters. Like an evolvution of laser tag.

    Also I can finally live what I dreamt of in Skyrim, I can fight a dragon with my friends!!!

    I'm not sure that a lot of VR advancements will involve a lot of movement. I see things like architecture, where a designer can display and change things in real time for a client to better meet their requirements. Medicine, surgery practice and other research being visualised in a tangible way without risking patients. As for the movement thing, with a few modifications, there was a TED talk a while back about reading brainwaves as a form of input to perform simple tasks such as pushing and pulling an object. Simple concepts such as move forward and backward would, I imagine, be relatively simple jumps forward, and given that you already have something attached to your head for the purpose of VR, the apparatus required to read brain waves could be incorporated into the headset.
    TED Talk - Tan Le

    How to fix vr? By making it an alternate reality. The computer needs to be a black hole. This forces your brain to navigate the singularity. You create your own alternate reality universe and cease to exist in this one. Solved. Plus gamers eliminated from civilization.

    Everyone will haft to go out and get neural plug implants into the back of their heads... problem solved.

    How about movies that are filmed from different character perspectives so it gives incentive to watch twice and get more of the story

    Perhaps a weighing mechanism which shifts the force or feeling of motion towards the direction the head is facing. Having the natural alignment of vision and physical world distorted would make you vomit, either that; or some sort of acclimatisation period (5-10 mintutes) to immerse.

    Brains in Jars Dont Drive vr isnt the problem..programmers need to put our body and surroundings in with the ability to detect personal movement to match ours
    imagine yourself playing a game in the dark..u r lost..but put an imaginary lit keyboard or joy stick that reacts to the one we r using thats the key to making this successful
    this info belongs to me i own it lol..

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