Hands-On With The HTC Vive

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CaedenV

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It is going to be pretty hard to figure out which VR headset to pick up next year. First I need to get a newer GPU to drive one though... no way my old GTX570 is going to be pushing two 1200p+ displays, especially at 90Hz lol.
 

spladam

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You cried? They moved you to tears with this tech? It sounds cool, but how do you know you are not still in VR?
 

zerghumper

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Ok here's my question and no article on the Vive / Valve VR that I've read so far has answered it:

Will games have to be written from the ground up to support the Vive, or like the Oculus Rift, can support be modded into a game? I know most of the features Vive brings to the table wouldn't be supported, but what about head-tracking? This is the one reason this decision is so difficult for me. I keep seeing developers being blown away by the Vive, but I wonder, will I be able to use it to go play minecraft, STALKER, Alien Isolation, and other games that already do support the Oculus?

Either way this future excites me and I can't wait to see what games get made with this system in mind!
 
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The main thing I want to know is if there will be a Vive that excludes the movement sensors as I personally don't have the space where my PC is setup to stand up and move around at all so I will be only able to sit. I'm sure they must have thought of this but I just haven't seen it mentioned much
 

Hector M Torres

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Sitting inside a giant MecWarrior or flying a Space Fighter ( with simulated full 360 degree range of view/movement will be awesome ) , Tank battles , flying Jet fighters, i can see a few great games made so much better with this new tech,I can't wait !
 

alex davies

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Ok here's my question and no article on the Vive / Valve VR that I've read so far has answered it:

Will games have to be written from the ground up to support the Vive, or like the Oculus Rift, can support be modded into a game? I know most of the features Vive brings to the table wouldn't be supported, but what about head-tracking? This is the one reason this decision is so difficult for me. I keep seeing developers being blown away by the Vive, but I wonder, will I be able to use it to go play minecraft, STALKER, Alien Isolation, and other games that already do support the Oculus?

Either way this future excites me and I can't wait to see what games get made with this system in mind!
The Vive use's Valve's SteamVR platform, which is a set of APIs that any developer can support in their games, and any or all aspects of the platform can be incorporated. So if there is a game that just needs to use the Vive's head-tracking feature, there is no reason a developer can't just support that one feature.

From what I understand the Vive is the first of hopefully many solutions built on SteamVR. There may be different versions of the Vive from HTC themselves (such as a kit without the controllers etc.), or there may be cheaper headsets from other manufacturers that are built on SteamVR.

Either way, I think if one is questioning if games that currently support Oculus now will also support SteamVR in the future, I would say most definitely. That is, other than platform exclusives, which there surely will be a few of -- for example, I'm pretty sure EVE: Valkyrie will be Oculus and Morpheus only.
 

alex davies

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The main thing I want to know is if there will be a Vive that excludes the movement sensors as I personally don't have the space where my PC is setup to stand up and move around at all so I will be only able to sit. I'm sure they must have thought of this but I just haven't seen it mentioned much
I'm sure there'll either be a Vive starter kit minus the controllers, or another OEM will partner with Valve to make an entry-level SteamVR headset for sit down only gaming experiences.
 

gaborbarla

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Interesting read Alex, I think now you need to quickly go and test the latest version of Oculus and give us feedback on it. I have disappointing review of the Vive before and glad to hear that you found the opposite. I really want this technology to succeed and we need fast and accurate tracking, high Hz, Hi-res screens, and no motion sickness. From your article it seems like they are on track with achieving this. Hope they don't scale it down due to commercial reasons. I rather spend 500-1000USD and get something decent. Anyways a comparison to the competitors from your perspective would be great. If I remember correctly the Vive requires some sensors/reflectors to be installed in the room where you use it which is something that we can get rid of eventually for sure.
 

cats_Paw

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Ill wait untill there is a comparison by someone who I can call unbiased (dont know this reviewr, but Id better make sure).
I will buy a VR, no doubt, but want the best one, even if I have to overpay a bit.
I want to run it at high fps, no motion sickness, etc etc etc.
Then I will fire up crysis for my unsuspecting new lady friend :D.
 

alex davies

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Interesting read Alex, I think now you need to quickly go and test the latest version of Oculus and give us feedback on it. I have disappointing review of the Vive before and glad to hear that you found the opposite. I really want this technology to succeed and we need fast and accurate tracking, high Hz, Hi-res screens, and no motion sickness. From your article it seems like they are on track with achieving this. Hope they don't scale it down due to commercial reasons. I rather spend 500-1000USD and get something decent. Anyways a comparison to the competitors from your perspective would be great. If I remember correctly the Vive requires some sensors/reflectors to be installed in the room where you use it which is something that we can get rid of eventually for sure.
I do want to try out Crescent Bay sooner than later so I can compare the experience. From my understanding after talking to and reading articles by people who have tried both there isn't much difference in the visual experience and tracking accuracy. Both are 90 Hz headsets, both have sub-20 ms of latency, both do 360 degree head-tracking and both have a similar (unspecified) FoV.

The big difference, something I talk about a lot in the article, is that the full-body presence the Vive achieves is a game changer. I am sure Oculus is also working on immersive controls for the Rift, either as a first-party accessory or with a third-party. However, I think initially the Rift is going to be targeted to sit-down gaming experiences that utilize traditional gaming controls.
 

branwright

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It is going to be pretty hard to figure out which VR headset to pick up next year. First I need to get a newer GPU to drive one though... no way my old GTX570 is going to be pushing two 1200p+ displays, especially at 90Hz lol.
Ya, same question here. I've been wanted to do a full PC upgrade, but I'm waiting to get a better sense of what the high-end of these looks like.
 

alex davies

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It is going to be pretty hard to figure out which VR headset to pick up next year. First I need to get a newer GPU to drive one though... no way my old GTX570 is going to be pushing two 1200p+ displays, especially at 90Hz lol.
Ya, same question here. I've been wanted to do a full PC upgrade, but I'm waiting to get a better sense of what the high-end of these looks like.
The Vive demo was running on a single GTX 980. The Portal demo, using the Source 2 engine, looked amazing and was of course running at 90 fps with this hardware. However, that was a pre-canned demo, not a full game. I think come the Vive's release one may even need Pascal to power a proper game (Portal/HL 3) with that level of fidelity on the Vive.

Recently builds of EVE: Valkyrie running on Crescent Bay have been shown powered by a single Titan X.

So, yes, to enjoy full-fidelity VR you ARE going to need a top-of-the-line gaming PC. However, there are still going to be plenty of other VR experiences that are going to be a lot of fun that perhaps don’t need as much horsepower to run. Still, Gen 1 of any new technology is always for early adopters, with the expectation that those kind of users already have kick-ass hardware.
 

computerguy72

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The Oculus will have 90% of the software. VR not too fun with just a small number of cool demos to play with. The Oculus store already has tons of stuff.
 

Vorador2

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This time. VR is here to stay unlike the early push in the 90's. I'm really interested on what developers can do with stuff like this, but i don't have much free space to flay around in my room.

I think the games that are going to benefit the most are simulators where you stay in a small room and/or seated. I'm also thinking of a Myst style game where you move around on rails, but have freedom of movement to investigate on predetermined areas. Or a Dungeon Master/Legend of Grimrock style RPG where you move in squares.
 

8R_Scotch

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Although the full fidelity, full presence VR experience will probably stay quite expensive, what will save VR from hitting an entry wall is simpler forms of entertainment and VR video.

Being in a NASCAR or F1 pit, standing next to the coach on a soccer or baseball match, seeing a journalistic report on riots or a documentary about the amazon while feeling there is pretty awesome and doesn't require expensive hardware. Something better than a Google Cardboard but cheaper than a Gear VR+Phone can pull it off. Those are live/recorded experience that require virtually no graphics horsepower compared to drawing polygons, shading, texturing and physics. They require no movement tracking appart from headtracking... VR porn falls into this category too (straightforward VR porn, not silly Second Life-like constructed virtual worlds).

These things are cheaper, more accessible and dead easy to produce. They also appeal to a very wide public. Once VR/360 cameras get more popular you also get experiences like remotely watching your son be born if you're overseas or something, or just the Facebook video feed of your friend, giving you the chance to witness some of the party that you missed. Then there's conferencing, teaching and training... regular everyday uses that appeal to non geeks/nerds, businessmen, educators, real-estate, governments and what have you.

Beyond that you can get into actual virtual (as opposed to remote/recorded) reality. From basic applications like architectural end engineering. Even simple 3d environments that let you model an apartment already has some appeal, they also don't require heavy hardware or tricks of the trade to provide full immersion and avoid motion sickness.

Then, the icing on top of the cake is full blown virtual worlds, games. These also can be low requirement, cartoony, artsy worlds can provide immersion with attention to detail, interactivity and some secret sauce techniques to avoid motion sickness. Even on Occulus DK1 you can avoid it if you limit movement speed, etc. The entry level is mobile-like games, there's plenty of market for that. With all this basis holding up the market, more specialized and expensive set-ups like Occulus consumer eddition and Steam VR hardware can provide premium experiences, taking full advantage of developments in graphics hardware, DX12, modern source engines, etc.

As this massive market comes into it's own more factories and processes will start to dedicate themselves to VR hardware or components, more software and tricks of the trade will be developped and new ideas might overcome some of the limitations of interface on the higher end. What's more, core tech for VR is already good enough, but sinergy from highly important components is great right now, moblie is pushing compact displays to ridiculous levels of PPI, CPUs and GPUs are getting ever more compact and energy efficient.

Think about Gear VR, it's effectively a cobbled together thing... it's primarily a phone with a barebones VR headset strapped in. This makes sense because VR is still a risky prospect for Samsung. But just think of what they could do if they made a dedicated VR headset with the hardware specifically desinged. 2 high PPI displays, one for each eye, instead of 1, slap about 4 NVIDIA Tegra X1's in the thing, full sensors, no LTE or other useless phone components, propper cooling... with current battery and fast charge technology you could probably pull 3h battery life with a 30min recharge time.

In a couple of years, techonogy that's already here or about to surface will be viable to make wirless or headset contained VR hardware.

Compared to high-end PCs and graphics cards, that cater to a narrow public, VR is much more likely to succeed and develop. Sure, high-end VR will be costly and nich at first, experiences won't be stellar compared to well established and experienced platforms, and diversity of quality games and software will be lacking.

VR is sort of doomed to succeed, it might take a few years for the tech to be universally compelling and developers and creative people to fully embrace production for it, but unlike 3d television that the industry tried make us think we wanted it, this is something we always wanted, but the industry is now about to arrive at a point where it can sell it.

 
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Am I right in thinking that the main difference between this and the OR is the room tracking? As cool as that sounds (about as close to a holodeck as I can think of!) I just don't have that amount of empty space available.
 

aztec_scribe

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I'm well up for this but it's definitely going to end up killing people. Walking around with a full headset on your face is crazy. Still if they can make the sensors pick up objects in your room you could model your Elite spaceship interior using chairs and tables :)
 

alex davies

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Am I right in thinking that the main difference between this and the OR is the room tracking? As cool as that sounds (about as close to a holodeck as I can think of!) I just don't have that amount of empty space available.
It is not just the room tracking, but the SteamVR controllers too. Oculus currently doesn't have official VR input hardware - there are either 3rd party add-ons like the Leap Motion or the Sixense STEM or you just use a traditional gamepad/mouse & keyboard. The Vive's controllers use the same tracking tech as the headset, and allow for 360 degree control, even if you are playing a sit-down game that doesn’t require full body tracking. Because there are two sensors, you can, for example, look over your shoulder and reach behind you to control something, or grab an object.
 

alex davies

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I'm well up for this but it's definitely going to end up killing people. Walking around with a full headset on your face is crazy. Still if they can make the sensors pick up objects in your room you could model your Elite spaceship interior using chairs and tables :)
I guess common sense would dictate that you clear an area to use the Vive. Since the play space is adjustable, if you are only able to allocate 6 x 6 feet, then the system will adjust to that space. Of course, there may be games that require a larger minimum play space, etc.

The system of showing you virtual boundaries within the game world should prevent people walking into things. However, if that isn’t enough, there is a camera on the front of the headset. One solution to prevent injury would be to have the game shut off as soon as you cross that boundary. Then, using the camera, a video feed of your surroundings can be displayed instead, which would let you know you are a step away from going face to wall.
 

kittle

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Looks very impressive... but as somebody who wears glasses (contacts are not an option), im always worried about how that will impact things.
If there is enough room in the headset to fit my glasses, then its possible... but the photos of the headset dont seem to offer the room.

other than that... where do I buy one?
 

8R_Scotch

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There are other differences. OR uses an IR camera and IR LED's on the headset to track your head position and some movement, while the Vive uses lasers picked up by the 2 box sensors, it's a more expensive solution, I'm sure, but probably gives less lag and more accurate. The same is true for the controllers/sticks. This gives greater freedom, even if the VR simulation is not meant to be walked around in, the IR camera from the OR might be inconvenient if you want to stand, or move slightly away from where you're pointing it at.

OR also uses (in the latest prototype) a separate screen for each eye, which reduces some of the resolution unfocused/blurred effect and might reduce eye strain on the long run. I'm not sure about the Vive.

OR has integrated, high-end, 3D audio as of the last prototype, with the Vive, you're on your own about the headphones.

Last, but not least, OR is being built with low-cost as a clear goal, while the Vive makes no promises and has already indicated that it'll be more expensive than OR.

It's hard to gauge, really, none of these products are final, we might see some sort of input on OR and the Vive might integrate audio or make interesting use of it's headset cameras (which OR doesn't have).
 
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