Valve Just Did An Amazing Job Of Explaining Virtual Reality

There are a million different reasons why virtual reality has a tough road ahead, particularly if it wants to go mainstream. But perhaps chief among them is this: it's very difficult to explain the power of VR. It's absolutely something you need to experience.

Valve's solution to this problem is perhaps the best I've seen thus far.

This commercial essentially records the experiences of people playing VR. It records them in green screen and then builds the world they are in around them. Does that make sense?

It certainly makes sense whilst watching.

It's funny. Technically the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR are competitors, but really they're all in it together. A rising tide lifts all boats — I can't remember another technology where that metaphor applies more rigorously. The grand job here is convincing the broader public that VR is the game changer it really is. This commercial, I think, is a great step forward.


Comments

    That was pretty great.

    Also the (brief!) sound of that Sidewinder gave me a real pang to play some Elite. Weird.

    This is the first time VR has seemed like a gimmick to me - Reminds me of the Eye Toy and Kinect ads when that all kicked off

    The main application I see for VR is driving/flying games - I dont see myself standing for hours on end playing round after round of team dm - I may as well go play paintball if i were to do that! Probably cheaper than the Vive too haha

    Maybe its just me - or the fact these are demo experiences that are pretty much designed to look gimmicky lol

      Same: pretty keen for seated VR but all the rest won't have any staying power imo.

        Project Cars with my G29! My Mrs wont be able to distract me at all anymore!!! lol

      I feel like a good portion of the gimmicky nature of it at this point is that developers are still getting their feet wet seeing what works and what doesn't.

      Personally though I see more future in AR like MS' Hololens than I do in pure VR.

      In some ways I share your sentiment, but I don't think that VR will get hung up on the "gimmicky" stuff for too long.

      On a base level, I am excited for simple things like racing games to be more immersive. I want the sensation of driving an F1 car at high speeds around Monaco and be able to look around and see all the yachts in the harbour whilst trying to navigate a chicane. I want sci-fi experiences like Adrift and the Apollo 11 VR experience.

      I'm also excited for sports games or even just sports simulations/recreations. Some sports like football (any code) will be hard to recreate running around a room. But there might be experiences that can be created where you just play 1 player in the team and focus on their role, like the be a pro modes in EA sports games.

      But a sport like Tennis would be easier to do. Basically take Wii sports, add VR (and personally I'd like a more realistic art style with licensed players) and some way to maximise in game movement for minimal real world movement and I could see that working.

      I'd also like to see a Cricket VR experience, even if its just the batting side of things. You could be facing balls from spinners/quicks/whatever and try and score as many runs as possible - maybe a 20/20 thing like Big Bash League. Practice in the nets, then move on to actual games and have the immersion of VR make it feel like you are standing in the middle of the MCG with thousands of screaming fans. I think the ambiance and visuals would really sell something like that.

      It's all down to how developers implement audio/visuals. You could easily do a gimmicky stick cricket VR type thing which would be a bit of fun and just have high score leader boards, but if developers can implement something more realistic with proper licensing it could be amazing.

      I'd definitely stand up in a room using the wand controllers to pretend I was trying to play cricket shots. Wouldn't require too much movement.

      What excites me the most though is the games/applications that people haven't even thought of yet. I want new game play styles and experiences, not just old ones with a coat of VR.

        Yeah I agree - I see MLB The Show being a good fit too - imagine knocking one out of the park in VR!

        VR olympics I came up with this morn
        all sports extreme sports surfing ect ect

      Flight simulator integration would be great. Sit in a chair with your flight stick and be able to look around the cockpit and interact with the panels properly. No more need for multi screens and diy simulators.

        and controls for looking around have never been intuitive! To be in that space and just look where you want will change those types of games completely!

          I tried using the hat on my joystick and it's so clunky, using hard keys on the keyboard flicks your head 90 degrees right or left which just destroys immersion. This is one of those things I think would really show off the uses.

        microsoft flight simulator works on the rift ATM... I just flew around perth this morning in VR

          Do you have to use keyboard controls for panels or do you have your flightstick mapped?

          Last edited 07/04/16 8:51 am

            can use any binds that normal FSX uses, it also has a totally new VR overlay with input from that..

            flyinside
            https://flyinside-fsx.com/

    Best way of showing VR yet!
    However, it also shows its shortcomings in a group environment, a setup like that is the only way everyone else in the room can also enjoy the experience whilst the other person plays.

    I really thought VR was going to be huge this time around, I bought the DK1 and DK2 and started developing, but now I think it will flop after an initial spike of interest, much like the Kinect.

    Why?

    Well, because I have kids, 16, 12, 10 and 3. We have had all of their friends over for VR sessions over the last two years, and they and their friends absolutely LOVED the experience.

    The first time.

    Now, even though the VR is permanently setup, running off a Titan X, and able to be played with any time, in a dedicated room, they really never ask to play it. If I get down some new games or demos, sometimes I can get them to have a go, and they usually like it, but they don't feel compelled to come back to it. They are all gamers except the 3 year old, and have a diverse range of game tastes, from Animal Crossing, to the Halo franchise, Star Wars, to platformers and driving games. They all prefer to play on the projector screen or on their handhelds than bother with VR.

    They were wowed by it, but it didn't stick, the noveltly wore off really quickly.

    I can see VR being great for parties, arcades and events, kind of like roller coasters or a jumping castle, you love going on them at a theme park, but wouldn't necessarily bother after the first couple of weeks if one was in your backyard.

    Last edited 06/04/16 10:13 am

      To be fair, Content does matter. Ease of use does as well. While it may not be ready for mass market time it doesn't mean it'll never will be. Kinnect and Wii are constrained by the same time of games while VR already has supreme control accuracy over kinnect and Wii so it can be adapted to a wider range of games.
      There's also the fact that kids may never really get into VR but for the adult community, Some people will never play elite dangerous again without a VR headset.

        In theory, yes, the content will come, but in practice, games development is expensive, and most studios can't carry unprofitable titles for very long.

        If VR doesn't get a huge uptake, and I am a games developer, and I can spend 20 million developing a cross platform XBOX One, PS4 and PC title, or spend 20 million developing a VR title that has a potential purchase base of 1/10th that size, which will I commit to?
        If the titles don't come, then people won't buy the headsets, and before too long, the public will viw VR like the Wii or the Kinect, as in something that was briefly really amazing, but is something that is no longer happening. It will then be very hard to sell the next generation of headsets, which if they have real innovation, will mean the new software wouldn't work with the old headsets, creating more fragmentation, and more risk for developers not getting their money back.

        I think VR has a future in industry, and event based things, and quite possibly on mobile, as the $80 add on for your phone, and maybe the same kind of niche as cockpits and high end steering wheels, but have the feeling that in 2 years time, it will not be mainstream any more, at least in the gaming community, and that would mean there would be no money in developing better headsets, and the whole thing my stagnate for another 30 years like it did last time.

          Even if did fail, It can't be another 30 year stagnation. That's highly infeasible even if they don't refine mass production methods. AR in the work place will eventually be so much a production gain for workers that companies won't be able to ignore it, So even if VR fails. AR will continue in the commercial sector until it gets adapted for cheap consumer VR/AR. I guess the other thing is cheap VR will still keep moving and have a purpose, so things like skypeVR could be a mass market thing which pushes VR tech forward while game VR tech gets the benefits.

          No doubt that AAA VR games is not a great investment and converting current games don't always work. Some AAA games might and only add 10% of their budget to make it as VR friendly as possible but I agree there isn't a huge return. It's more so we might get the type of experiences that are coming out now for quite a while, Games that are closer to tech demos then full fledged games. Investment could say around that level until the market grows, which the VR games will grow with them. You could ride on sequels as well. Investment into a solely VR GTA game is just the worst (financial) idea you could do. Rockstar could do stuff like having a 2hours mini prelude game to the next GTA, again till they get the price down for the rift, it's hard to justify VR for both the dev and consumer just for small experiences.

          PSVR is the best thing to quickly grow the market right now, I am worried about the accuracy of the move controllers and putting people off buying it due to a failure of controllers instead of the entire VR platform.

          I doubt the next gen HMD's will have a feature that breaks the 1st gen HMD's, that's just suicide for all parties involved. Hopefully what we will see is Oculus bringing out 2 next gen models, A cheap version that is pretty much the CV1 and a higher end version which still requires high end PC's. Gaming VR only has to float above the water until GPU's and reduction in manufacturing costs brings it down to a decent price level. I do hope devs priority gameplay in VR next. I'm guessing there are VR games that will only be successful because of the initial wow factors of VR; not because it's a compelling gameplay mechanic

      THat's really interesting and not at all what I would have expected. When you mentioned the kids I thought you were going to say that they were fighting over who got to be 'in' virtual reality and in control all the time. I did not expect: "...sometimes I can get them to have a go, but...".

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

        It surprised me too, they were unbelievably excited by it at first, my nephew yelled out "I want to live in here!" when using it for the first time. The second time he visited he was keen to get back into it, but the third and ongoing times, not so much. And there has been plenty of new content each time they come over too.
        I have to admit, I am kind of the same, I got back into it during the alpha of EVE Valkyrie, and have been playing CARS on it, but I tend to just play on the big screen instead of the headset most of the time. It is great, but for some reason, doesn't keep you coming back after a while.
        Even Elite which I loved in VR I now really play mostly on the projector.

        Last edited 06/04/16 11:42 am

    The part that impressed me most was the guy who caught the vive controller that was thrown to him.

      Take a look at it again, it's fake as all hell.

        Nope, it is real. The controllers track amazingly well. There are multiple videos on the net of people throwing and catching them. When you try it you will see what I mean. It is freaky.

    Watching those people tread all over those cords and spin around with them swirling around their feet... I think Valve could be in for a lawsuit pretty quickly selling this as a walking/standing experience. I hate to be that guy, but watching the wide shots I was just waiting for someone to tangle the cords around a leg and go face first into the TV or edge of the desk.

    I notice they had cable wranglers on the green-screen set.

      not really that much different from tripping over a lan cable or even controller cable/power cable
      give it a few years and we might see wireless start happening with the head sets

    I have that kitchen game at home already.........

    flying in VR is my fav
    a drone flying over niagra falls recording 360 video so you are flying over
    space sims and flight sims
    top of a tall skyscraper looking over!! it all plays on my fear of heights and its awesome
    like that VR demo of saving a cat from a skyscraper on a little boardwalk it just tricks the mind

    its sharks next... wish me luck I absolutly freakin scared of great whites

    edit: and also my fav is surfing tahiti barrels as well :P

    Last edited 06/04/16 4:49 pm

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