Archive for the ‘VRambling’ category

OF COURSE GEL loves VR! *eyeroll*

October 21, 2017

If I told you I love VR, would you really be surprised? I have a soft spot for crazy new tech when it works.

Alas, far too many people think in binary extremes. Something is either good or it’s bad, it’s great or it’s shit. Whenever new tech comes along the question then becomes: Is it a revolutionary device that will CHANGE GAMING FOREVER or is it a useless overpriced gimmick? Those are the battle lines that are drawn. We have a tiny handful of VR True Believers insisting VR is the future and a LARGE number of folks shouting about how VR is a stupid gimmick everyone should shut up about.

The thing is, NOTHING will “change gaming forever”. You know why? Because gaming is already fun and being fun is the point of gaming (generally speaking anyway). As I’ve said in the past: Pac-Man and Tetris will never go out of style and no piece of new technology will make them “better”. Different perhaps, but not better. Standard controller and buttons gaming will never go out of style. Even when we have holodecks, you know what we’re gonna do? We’re gonna use them to generate an old CRT and an NES.

…and then we’ll complain about the emulation inaccuracies. On the holodeck.



…you know I’m right.

To make matters worse, Nintendo successfully ruined the term “immersive” by using it as a flimsy excuse for building an entire console around a controller they accidentally put together BACKWARDS and didn’t wanna admit they fucked up. So people just say “Well you don’t need VR to be immersed in a game so clearly VR is a stupid overpriced gimmick!”

Know what else you don’t need to be immersed in a game? A big screen TV. Yet getting a big screen TV for gaming is something a lot of people would like. THAT is what VR is: an infinite inch big screen TV. Infinite because you get the game ALL AROUND YOU and in 3D to boot!

Suddenly VR makes a little more sense, right?

Indeed I wish I could play every game in VR even if they don’t benefit from it. I’ve already gotten a taste of that with Infinite Minigolf, a game available on pretty much everything but the PS4 one tacked on some PSVR support because they could. It doesn’t change the gameplay AT ALL. It’s not first person, you don’t use the Move, it is the EXACT SAME GAME just you’re surrounded by the game world…AND I LOVE IT!

This is why I think VR will take off…NEXT console generation. Because then you could just build in VR support for all 3D games on a system level and yes this is possible. Believe it or not, there’s a VR version of the Dolphin Gamecube/Wii emulator floating around out there which lets you play any Gamecube/Wii game in VR. Wish I had the tech to try it for myself but it looks super promising and if we can just make any Gamecube or Wii game VR, then we could totally build a system around universal VR support!

Now obviously you DO NOT REQUIRE VR. Not everyone likes it, not everyone can afford it (though I expect it to be MUCH cheaper by next generation), do NOT make this an XBox One Kinect situation it WILL tank your system. Oh sure, sell a bundle pack that comes with it just don’t require it.

But what is it I like so much about VR?

Well to be honest, the surrealness. See, the videos of VR do not do it justice as all you see is a blurry low-res shaky image. But inside VR you actually see the entire game world all around you in 3D and yes I think 3D is a bit of a gimmick normally. However, in VR where you can look at objects from multiple angles, the 3D is much more interesting. The head tracking is super tight and the result is that you are replacing your 3D view of the real world with a 3D view of a GAME world. Couple that with some solid 3D surround sound via headphones and some games can give you a trippy sense on “being there”.

The strange lonliness I felt when doing the practice courses in SPARC was unbelieveable. I really felt like I was alone inside a metal box floating in space just bouncing a ball around. It gave me chills. Not every VR game pulls this off but when they do it is a trip.

Then there’s the sense of scale. When I rise up out of the elevators in RIGS and look around the massive battle stadium, I really get a sense for the SIZE of it all! Does that added sense of size change gaming forever? No, but it does make for a very compelling experience I can’t get on a flat TV.

Of course, my favorite is when I get a VR body. When I played the EVE: Valkyrie demo for the first time, I remember marvelling at how the body moves along with me as I swayed when I noticed my chest looked a bit odd. I tried to crane my head around to see if it was what I thought it was only to see my crotch and wide child bearing hips in the skintight flight suit my avatar was wearing. Well. Question answered then. (For the record the full game lets you choose a male avatar, but the demo is female only)

That got more surreal with Ancient Amuletors, a tower defense wave shooter out of China where you play as a variety of different heavily designed characters, each with their own unique method of attacking. One fires a bow, another generates and throws magic orbs, yet another wields dual shotgun pistols and so on. What’s fascinating is that this game is played standing up with full 1:1 motion tracking and the characters are designed in such a way that EVEN THEIR HANDS have character and personality to them.

…and the archer is a busty elf babe with awesome leather gauntlets and pink painted fingernails. Yeah. It was weird…but in a fun way! Honestly makes me wonder when someone will take this idea further, have a game all about posessing random bodies or shape shifting and people reacting to you differently depending on who you are. It would also be cool to watch your own arms hulk out or turn into werewolf claws or something.

Again, that’s not a game changer. But it’s also not something you can get on a normal TV. Remember we’re talking 1:1 motion tracking so where your arm is in real space? It correlates near perfectly to where the elven archer’s dainty hands are in virtual space.

Which DOES bring up the one thing VR actually DOES improve: Motion Controls.

Yup. VR by its very nature is a form of motion control. Think about it: what defines VR? The visor/goggles/HMD which tracks your head movement in 3D space and that in turn controls the in-game camera. Your head MOTION CONTROLS the camera. Motion control.

Of course if you’re already tracking a head in space, why not track some controllers too? The result is REAL 1:1 motion control where the PSMove is the MINIMUM quality of control that would work. No Wiimote waggling and laggy Kinect gestures allowed. Cripes that would be awful in VR.

I’ve already spoken at length about how motion control actually IS potentially revolutionary, not because it improves existing games but because it can create new genres and possibilities!

But how does VR improve it? Spacial awareness. When using 1:1 motion control on the PS3 with the Move, it was like puppeteering the on screen character. You had to think “This glowstick in my hand represents the sword on screen. How I move my glowstick is how the sword will move.” Though the Move was quite accurate, you could still have a little trouble aiming your motions.

In VR, however, you’re not looking at a screen. You look to your left or right and where your hand is in real space? That’s where your virtual hands are in virtual space. It’s not “this glowstick represents an on-screen sword”, it’s “in the virtual world, I have a sword in my hand”. This makes swinging much more natural and accurate as I experienced with Fruit Ninja VR. I should make a side-by-side comparison video as one of the Move fitness games had a frisbee slicing mode that was very similar and I could easily notice the difference in my accuracy between the two.

Alas, the concept of motion control has been kinda ruined to most people. Shoot, if the reception to Starfox Zero is any indication then most folks may actually have some kind of weird motion control PTSD!

…and yet they still won’t admit that the Wiimote is a busted piece of poorly designed crap that didn’t work because Nintendo put it together backwards.

Whatever. I could probably compile these feelings into a more eloquent and concise article later on, but I think you get the point: I love VR, but I think it needs a few more years to become mainstream as people work out the remaining kinks: price, figuring out how to actually MAKE VR games, and solving the motion sickness problem (which is more complex than most people realize…might need to explain that later but the long and short of it is: everyone’s motion sickness is different and there is no one singular solution to it and in some cases a solution for one person will make another person sick). I think VR isn’t so revolutionary it will change gaming forever, but I do think it is incredibly compelling and does offer some interesting and surreal experiences you can’t get normally. And, you know, I love the PS Move so much I pretty much bought a VR headset just for it (though even I admit the button layout is awful).

BUT! I DO understand why a lot of people hate VR or are very negative towards it and perhaps we’ll explore that later. Either way I have one last thing I wanna say:

The Nintendo Switch is my dream console. I’ve wanted a portable/console hybrid since I was like 5 or 6 years old. On top of that, it has so many of my favorite games it is absurd: the first official US release of Waku Waku 7, an unbutchered real Puyo Puyo game complete with Draco Centarus, a new Blaster Master game which lets you play as Shantae as well as a Shantae game I might have Kickstarted for $200, a game about playing dress-up with cute tentacled girls, a weird simplified boxing game featuring a hot black chick who fights with giant pigtails, and even a new Penguin-kun Wars! At this point all it needs is an amazing rail shooter and we’re in business!

…and yet, I have used my PSVR far more. I have found myself prioritizing getting more PSVR games over other kinds of games and I have used it regularly since the day I got it. I do not recommend it wholeheartedly due to the large pricetag and unusual game library that mostly consists of weird $20 indie experiments. However, I can safely say that there is SOMETHING there.

…and yeah lets make a GEL Rambles About VR Again tag. We’re gonna need it.