Plea for VR port of Senscape games


#1

I just bought a Samsung Gear VR headset to play with and… OMG…playing Scratches with this thing would be hard to describe to others except it would be…just…wow. It truly is the future of gaming (amongst other things) and 100% simpatico with pano point-n-clicks. Porting real 3D games presents a challenge because in those games you need to move around. In the current VR technology you can’t do that without physically walking into walls. Pano point-n-clicks match perfectly because panning with a mouse is equivalent to head-turning, and pointing and clicking to another location is already required in both VR and normal displays. Porting the graphics would require very little work since the rendering methods are identical.
With no need to use a cursor to pan the display the only change left is how to click on something. Also, static overlays like HUD elements or scrolling text would need a solution.

Of course the market is still very very young and not really accessible to the mainstream yet, but there are already a small number of games developed or ported to VR available, mostly on the Oculus website. For the most part they are simplistic and immature demos for the VR experience. Scratches now finds its way into the casual-game bin for $5 dollars, but making it an early port to the VR world could easily make it a flag-ship must-buy product ahead of everybody else because it’s already a proven game without the VR.

Another coincidental advantage of the point-n-click is that fast VR motion causes nausea in many people (I definitely had to stop a few of the video demos!) There are likely to be many people who can’t handle anything more than simply looking around so WAMMO, instant captive market for whom Scratches would be the pinnacle VR experience.

I’m already rendering pano images that are intended for the Dagon engine so it’s easy to look at them on my headset. Being inside my renderings reveals spatial relationships and size issues that I could never tell by looking at my monitor. Standing on the edge of a cliff and looking down causes the same kind of unease as the real thing. Jump-scares will probably cause heart-stopping freak-outs that may make more than one person yank off their head-set and start swearing out loud!


#2

Yup, I got a friend who’s really into the VR movement and he told me that Gear is absolutely stunning. Clearly the winner in this first round of VR devices.

I certainly agree that pano games are ideal for this technology as you don’t have to worry about moving around. The “static” nature of the nodes that invite you to stay still and look around is just perfect.

So yeah, this is very, very high on our list. However, the potential market is going to be very small at first, so we’re cautious about the effort involved. Good news is, Unity would make it trivial to port Asylum to most VR devices.

The old Dagon++, though, is another story as we’d have to interface ourselves with each of the many APIs for aaaall these VR devices (or the ones that we chose to support). Not sure if that’s gonna happen, honestly. At least not anytime soon.

(but hey, there’s a reason why the engine is open source! :wink: )


#3

Shadowphile, you make me want to go buy one of those! The price is rumored to drop by half around Christmas time, but we’ll see. I think that as soon as the first big game comes out that utilizes the technology that those things will fly off the shelves.

By the way, by “…reveals spatial relationships and size issues that I could never tell by looking at my monitor,” do you mean that you are finding errors in the spacial placement of items in your scenes or just that it visually more interesting and 3d?


#4

A month later I finally reply…
The Gear is a great demo but considered a beta version for bleeding-edge early-adopters. Not really buggy but does have a limited usability:
Pros:
No noticable lag turning the head. Blocks outside light. Decent resolution (Note 4, and a newer S6 version.)
Moderate range of accommodation for those who normally wear glasses.
Fairly intuitive interface; X/Y pad one side and a ‘back’ button.
Cons:
Cannot be powered or receive a signal from your PC.
You have to take your phone out of any case, what a pain!
Phone is running full power and gets hot quickly, battery drains fairly fast of course, field of view is only so-so.
Getting local content onto your phone requires removing the phone and putting files on it the normal way from your PC, then put the phone back in the Gear (also have to take off and put on the headset, which usually requires some squirming around to get the focus back into a relax position.
Focus wheel will not adjust enough for very bad eyesight (may cause heachache)

It’s good for trying things out but not a valid mass-market device.
Here is what I read about the next version of Gear:
-Supposed a consumer device.
-Better optics in all ways, more and wider adjustability.
-File browser for local network resources (shared folders in Windows)
-Will use all of the phones sensors, not just the accel/gyro/compass.
Samsung’s game-plan with VR is to develop the smartphones and headsets in tandem. That probably means putting some more battery capacity in the headset, and designing the phones to run less hot at max loads.
-I don’t know about ease of phone attachment but they really need to divorce the requirement for specific models. That means one headset can use multiple phones, which also means possibly leaving the case on.

I got my headset on Craigslist, new from somebody for whom it did not fit his phone: $150 and no shipping.

Imari, since you are the one doing the designing, there is no ‘error’ in placement, just whatever meets your goals. 2D images allow an artist to manipulate perspective in non-realistic ways for artistic reasons, lighting, texturing. Right now 3D environments are forced to be more realistic or the sense of ‘immersion’ can’t be maintained. Perfect example for me: Loved Myst and at the time it was so realistic. But when the later 3D version came out and I hated it. You could feel how simplistic and mundane the Island was. In the 2D version there was always unrevealed terrain outside the display and that creates a sense of mystery about scale that allows the mind to perceive the Island as a much bigger and more mysterious place than the actual CAD model. Also, you can’t warp the perspective because trying to move and rotate forces a normal 3D environment on you. If you try to mess with the perspective then the space around you will look warped, like seeing through a fisheye or telescope. Also 3D just puts everything under a spotlight (at your will).

So when I am rendering cam shots for a 2D screen that look right, in 3D the barn may actually look too small when you try to stand inside and look around, even though the CAD dimensions are correct. Basically, you are stuck with one FOV because now your eyes are the camera and only one FOV will fit the 3D environment.
(Just like Inscape is allowing non-photo-realistic renderings in Blender, new ways of messing with what you see in artistic ways will be invented though.)
Still, some cools things can be done. Lighting can be changed to 1/R^3 falloff instead of 1/R^2 that is same as reality. 1/R^3 or higher powers would cause more intense shadows, good for a very intense but real-feeling atmosphere. The opposite could be used to make desert day scenes feel intensely bright. Same as in normal 2D pictures but one of those things you are allowed to do in 3D as well.


#5

Thanks for the review and explanation, Shadowphile.