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VR (ycombinator.com)
1008 points by craigcannon on Jan 13, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 550 comments

I bought a Vive the week of Thanksgiving and have been using it roughly 2 hours a day. Every other day is my workout day most of the week (unless I'm playing hockey that day/night) and the VIVE has become part of my workout now too. After I complete my normal workout - a mixture of hockey specific training, free weights, aerobic and of course tons of pull-ups - I now spend an additional hour+ in VR.

I typically play Space Pirate Trainer first; once I get around level 15-20 things are so hectic I'm moving a ton and often going to one, or both knees. My abs and back can feel it big-time. I start with this game because it's not quite so intense at the start and is a good VR warmup.

More impressive is Holopoint - a bow and arrow game. That is easily the most physically demanding VR activity that I've found so far. I'm usually sweeting pretty solidly when I complete 8-10 games of Holopoint. I'm also noticeably fatigued in my arms, back, legs, hips, all over. And just to be clear most would classify me as extremely fit (regularly skate with/against NHL bound Junior players, the minimum pull-ups I do in my workout are 30 consecutive, body fat <10% etc).

Lastly I find I am no longer interested in 'regular games'... such as Madden, NHL 16, Gran Turismo, etc (on PS4), or even my all time favorite Dark Souls (series). I simply can't go back to not being physically engaged the way VR games are.

VR is going to be absolutely huge in the health/fitness space.

Additional workout suggestion: try Thrill Of The Fight ( http://store.steampowered.com/app/494150/ ). It's the most physically intense experience I've had in VR so far - I'd say even more intense than Holopoint, although the two are close. Obviously you will have to enjoy boxing for it to be much use or fun, mind!

You might also enjoy Climbey (http://store.steampowered.com/app/520010/ ) - it doesn't look particularly physical at first but it uses a decent amount of slow muscle movement. I was surprised at how sore I was the morning after a long play session with it.

(Oh, and given you love Dark Souls - you have heard of Left-Hand Path ( http://store.steampowered.com/app/488760 ), which keeps getting described by users as "Dark Souls VR", right? If not, I seriously need to work on my marketing. It's also at least somewhat physical, particularly if you decide to use the dodging mechanics a lot. Full disclosure: I'm the developer of that one.)

I have played Left Hand Path a lot, very intense esp. the boss fight. I can't seem to complete the ruin sequence to get past the end of level one so I put that one on hold until it gets patched, I'm pretty sure I am doing the ruin sequence right... but yeah great Dark-Souls like experience in VR. Can't wait to see what From does in VR.

Climbly is good too but it's tough because you still have to move around with their locomotion technique and I find it quite vomit-y unfortunately the way it currently works.

Thrill of the Fight is on my list to check out this weekend... new release, looks great :)

Oh, sorry to hear that! The end of that level does seem to stump people - I'm working on making it much more accessible.

If you'd like to either email me (email in my HN profile), reply here, or put up a post on the Steam forums (http://steamcommunity.com/app/488760/discussions/0/) I'd be more than happy to help you past that, as there's lots of good stuff beyond!

Climbey - yeah, the locomotion does get a little nausea-inducing :( I'm bulletproofed to it after months of VR development!

Oh great, thanks man! And I have to tell you it's impressive as hell what you have create with Left Hand Path esp. considering you are a single developer. Simply amazing man! I will definitely take you up on your offer this weekend.

Thank you! It's been a very fun and rewarding shift in career from what I was doing before. Glad people are enjoying my work!

And please do! We'll get you on the path through the Well again...

What background did you have before you went into VR? Anywhere you would point beginners who want to get started?

I've been making Machinima films using game engines for the past 20 years or so, including working with people like EA, the BBC, et al.

(I'm actually the guy who coined the word "Machinima", with a colleague, because we needed a better way to describe what we did than "Quake Movie".)

So I had a lot of game engine experience before I jumped in.

As for beginners getting started: Unity, Unity, Unity. Grab Unity and start learning - you can get a simple VR experience going in a fairly minimal timeframe.

Do you mostly use Blender to create the actual environments? I've started to do a little reading on this stuff too and it's a daunting hill to climb coming from primary a web-dev background (at least I know C# like the back of my Left Hand haha couldn't resist...).

I'm mostly using the Unity level editor, in actual fact, although I use 3D Studio Max for my detailed 3D modeling when I need to.

The Unity editor's very powerful, and you can extend it with tools like ProBuilder and Gaia, which are all available in the Unity Asset Store.

(I heartily recommend both of those for simple geometry creation and landscape creation, respectively.)

I've been coming at it the other way - I know game engine graphics and assembly like the back of my sinister hand, but I've been on a rapid C# learning curve :)

Just wondering what tools or techniques should you specifically learn to make VR games in Unity? I can make desktop games in Unity, is a VR game just like a FPS with different physical controls?

From another Quake veteran big kudos for Quake Done Quick(er). The good old days :)

Terrible graphics. I'm not up-to-date but are we still at this level?

Yes. Even the best VR headsets still have incredibly low pixel density. According to Michael Abrash, "the per-degree pixel density of a 1k by 1k, 110-degree VR display is... actually lower pixel density than the original Quake running at 320x200."[0]

And when you call the graphics "terrible" do you mean they actually look bad to you from inside a VR headset, or just looking at the screenshot on some other device?

Because what looks amazing in a traditional game can look cartoony and fake within VR, and incredibly simple things can look startlingly real.

[0] https://youtu.be/G-2dQoeqVVo?t=14m30s

Depends. Remember a lot of this stuff is driven by small dev houses and in some cases - one man bands. Sometimes the graphics aren't up to scratch.

Also - there's a tendency towards flat shading as an aesthetic choice - it actually looks great in VR and frame rate is king.

However - check out something like Valve's "The Lab" to see how skilled devs can produce stunning graphics that run really smoothly in VR. It shows it's possible...

(self-reply) I found this compilation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW8om7lcNpg

On reflection I don't think VR graphics are looking bad at all...

It's just barely good enough to be a compelling experience.

VR games are a lot of fun, but this is going to drive GPU development for a long time to come.

I welcome it! Admittedly I have enjoyed the past few years of not having to upgrade my graphics card. It would seem thanks to consoles, that shader technology and performance has been a focus of game development for a little while. The result being better and better visuals still running on the same hardware just fine.

But I am also behind an escalation of the chipset manufacturers duelling it out. Some market impetus would surely bring about some great new engineering.

This is exactly why I'm not jumping into VR right now. Once we have hi-res VR headsets and GPUs that can handle it comfortably, then I'll be interested. Give it five years or so, probably.

I'll take horrible graphics over awesome gameplay any day. Take a look at 'Onward' - just shows how simple can equal awesome!

Maybe I'm just lazy, but VR games requiring physical exertion have absolutely zero appeal to me. I want to sit back with a keyboard and controller and relax. I include any kind of room scale in that assessment, and personally, just the idea of wearing a thing on your face and having to crane your neck around to see what's going on sounds like a PITA.

I honestly and truly don't understand why people think VR is going to get any kind of mass market penetration.

I thought the same thing until I tried it.

Seriously, try it out the level of immersion is insane, a more classic game feel can be amazing. But something where you move around is incredibly compelling. I watched a friend try to lean on a counter while cooking in Job simulator. I have hit basically every wall in my living room with a controller at this point as well as all the lights.

On the exercise front, Not every game is a workout but at the same time even something simple like the default valve bow game from the lab can wear people out. After all, you are holding a weight at arms length for a while and simulating pulling back an arrow. Its mot a motion that many people do regularly.

Go borrow one or go to some local game meetup and try some's roomscale handset. Its amazing. I'm thinking about taking mine to the bar up the street on a weeknight hooking it up and getting everyone to try it.

I have a hard time seeing anything you're pitching as much beyond what you could get with a Wii, and that's completely dead and abandoned. How many people bought Wii fitness? Is that enough of a demographic to expect there to be an entire new ecosystem supporting it?

I get that the technology is amazing, I just don't see it getting much mass market penetration.

The big issue on the adoption front is cost.

Basically everyone who has ever tried the vive I own wants to buy one, it's just throwing 800$ after a 1500$ box is a bit steep for most people.

I equate it to using an NES back in the day. Right now it's expensive and imperfect but In The mid to long term it's a clear winner.

I have done the 15 min demo to about 40 people so far and everyone wants one. Something that you can already get on a screen like Google Earth is astounding in VR.

As an example, for most people I start with them wearing the display and hand them the controllers with them already wearing the headset. That is the first thing most people think is cool.they can see the controller as it floats into their hand perfectly. That's enough suddenly they can literally touch their computer. It seems really dumb until it happens and then holy crap is it cool.

That's sort of how VR is. In concept not that cool in execution it's amazing.

Who have you shown VR to was interested in it? My brother shows off his VR unit to everyone, but I've never seen anyone that tried VR that was interested in purchasing it. Even he doesn't use it anymore.

Using VR actually seems to cause less desire to buy it, including me. It actually turned out to be a worse experience than what I expected.

Better question is what is c0nfused showing that your brother isn't? The specific app between the two of them is important, but also everything else. From the headset hardware; at the extreme ends; Oculus vs Google Cardboard. Also important is what add-ons they both have - seeing your own hands inside the headset is remarkably important for immersion, which is kind of the point. Also important is the level of preconfiguration - if the number of times the presenter says "wait hold on", and then goes to futz with the settings for 5 minutes isn't zero, then VR is a total turn off and, eugh, I don't want one. The cables going to the headset are critical as well - wireless isn't here for VR yet, but if there are multiple tangled cable messes rather than a single zip tied set of cables, I'm not going to want one in my living room if it's too complicated to put on and is just gonna be a mess in my living room.

It's entirely possible the two crowds being presented to differs by that much, but there are so many other variables in play too.

> I have a hard time seeing anything you're pitching as much beyond what you could get with a Wii

Try it. It's much more compelling than a Wii.

I think the Wii had part of the jigsaw. Imagine Wii/Kinect interactions, a really vibrant indie-dev culture plus that really hard to explain thing - "presence". It's a fascinating time to be part of a technology. I can only think of a few things that came close - the original home computing and video game boom (I was a child - so everything was wonderful), the early days of my time on the internet and the early iPhone/Android days ("I've got a proper computer in my pocket!").

I haven't been this excited about tech for a long time.

I think the same as someone who has waited for it a long time and purchasing a Rift with Touch, but looking at it rationally the sum of everything is a bit underwhelming if you consider a price of 2k to get started.

Many people i showed it to think its really cool, but out of maybe 15 people, only one has expressed serious interested to actually buy one and he already owns the required PC. Most were also not completely blown away, more like "yeah this is pretty cool and fun" but the expectations were higher than what actually can be experienced today.

There are cool games and experiences, but the tech needs to get a lot better (mainly resolution for me because i enjoy racing games most) and it needs to be a lot cheaper. I am still skeptical about mass market adoption beyond the same people that were interested in Kinect/PS Move.

Err, most people I know who bought a Wii bought it because of Wii Fit. Perhaps I'm a different demographic to you but it was pretty big when it came out.

The balance board sold 32 million units, so it was a pretty major success. That is as many units as Nintendo64 consoles sold. See http://www.gamesradar.com/holy-crap-look-how-many-wii-balanc...

At this point, I have to assume you haven't tried VR, and your point is void until you do. It blows minds. Wii was a gimmick (especially with its accuracy).

Wii was great multiplayer fun. We literally spent half days playing Wii tennis with 2 or 3 people. I assume that VR will be much better (only used DR1 and cardboard and of course they aren't too compelling), but does meaningful multiplayer VR exist yet?

Edit: And by multiplayer, I mean everyone in the same room multiplayer. Social multiplayer?

You're right - Wii's strength was local multiplayer, whereas Vive is more of a conventional online multiplayer, considering you need a separate Vive for each person. If you happen to have 2 Vives nearby with enough space, I imagine it's fun, but you're still inside your own world, so a mic+speakers/headphones is all you really need.

There are some games where another person can participate outside VR (Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes), but it's not really the same at all.

Wii fitness was not fitness. It didn't approach anything of a challenge other possibly pushups, planks and a couple of other bodyweight exercises.

In VR you have to move a lot more for things to work and the the games are not fitness specific. It definitely gets your heart beating because you often have to hop around like your boxing or doing burpees. Burpees don't look that exhausting, but the constant floor to standing movement makes it challenging. I think this is what makes VR more physical.

Dude. Just. Go. Try. It.

When I tried all I noticed was the pixelation and had to take it off. It was such a terrible user experience. It reminded me of some student science project, instead of a marketable product.

VR isn't going to be popular until we have 8K or 16K headsets doing 120fps, and then we have to deal with the fact that it removes you from your environment.

The first generation of VR died off because they couldn't figure out how to solve the product liability issues. That problem still exists, which is why VR isn't going to be usable and is a dead-end.

I agree. I own a occipital bridge. The resolution needs to get 5x better than retina to be believable.

Also 6dof tracking with hand gesture tracking under 10ms is still a challenge. I think it's possible but needs serious hardware advancements.

I love my bridge though. No hanging cables is definitely a good thing

It's not perfect, Valves new controller prototype is probably the closest we have to noninteusive, low latency gesture tracking with some form of feedback (the oculus Half moon prototypes were also fairly close, but iirc the gesture recognitation was neutred for what ever reason).


The definition of Retina varies based on viewing distance. The DPI needed for Retina in VR is a heck of a lot higher than what's needed for a smartphone.

IMO we need to go through at least two resolution quadruplings on the Vive to get it to be crisp enough for the screen-dooring to not be noticeable.

Why 5x?

I let my wife, who has zero interest in games outside of Candy Crush, try on Google Cardboard (minimal immersion) on an iPhone (horrible display for VR) with the demo apps (can't even call them games really) and she was so engaged she ended up walking into one of our shoji/paper doors tearing a hole in it.

Once Vive-level VR comes down to wireless/portable size and down in cost to the $300 range it's going to be MASSIVE. Maybe the first generation ("until we get 16K 120fps headsets") will not appeal to productivity or hardcore gaming buffs, but 100 million Wiis were sold, and there was nothing technically impressive about that thing.

All the VR goggles are 1440p max, so we haven't seen "4K" yet to see how good it is.

I tried Oculus, expecting to be amazed. I found it annoying and not immersive at all. I can see every single pixel. Doesn't feel real at all. Possibly because I"ve been using high-resolution 3D displays for point cloud editing for the science I do for years. (Nvidia 3D Vision 2 -- probably the 3rd major attempt at consumer 3D that never really caught on)

this, I work at Facebook and try out all of the demo devices over at Oculus. I keep hoping that they are going to advance the pixel density, but have gotten so disappointed by it that I've stopped testing their new equipment at all in the last few months. That and the team of folks that work on it are outrageously arrogant. Looking at you Charmaine/pedoguy.

If you actually work at Facebook, this maybe isn't something you should share on a public forum…

put in my 2 weeks not long ago.

> having to crane your neck around to see what's going on sounds like a PITA

This is a step too far in my opinion. You already have to "crane your neck around" to see what's going on in the real world, all around you, all the time.

I'm also sure there are less physically demanding games/experiences for those interested. Pick your poison.

In the real world, you look with your eyes much more than you look with your head.

As you're playing games or working, the only time you ever turn your head is when something external distracts you, and you can resolve it in a split second. If you're using VR and something external distracts you, you have to abandon whatever your doing and dismount the device.

not really. ever wear a neckbrace, or pull a muscle in your neck? it really, really sucks.

i don't think physical movement will be a requirement of vr as a concept. you can sit and eat cheetos all day long if you want.

and in the future, i think we'll have instant-on instant-off see through LEDs so you can hit a button on the side and see through the headset into reality.

> In the real world, you look with your eyes much more than you look with your head.

Unless you wear glasses.

I wear glasses and seem to still be capable of moving my eyes.

Unless you wear bifocals. Single-vision lenses have a usable field of view that is as large as the comfortable range of movement of the eyes.

Anecdotally, I started wearing glasses a couple months ago and have been annoyed at how often I have to adjust my ahead when I would have normally just moved my eyes. My glasses tend to slip down my nose just a tad which cuts off a non-negligible amount of FOV.

That varies wildly by the design of the glasses. I tried rock climbing once with my glasses instead of contacts and it was intolerable. It wasn't immediately obvious how often I relied on a quick flick of the eyes to the outer edges until I tried it.

As to the original point, people adjust their head position all the time without even thinking about it. It's an unnatural and conditioned response to hear a noise on your right rear and move a joystick or mouse to look for the source of the noise.

It's perfectly possible to buy glasses that only minimal obstruct your field of view, and let you look at things out of the corner of your eye.

As a vehement supporter of VR and early Vive adopter, I agree. My Vive has been stuck in a drawer for several months now, and I'm strongly considering selling it.

Though, to be clear, most of my issues with current-gen VR is because of the state of the technology: low-res displays, bulky and heavy HMDs, clunky wires, etc. In a generation or two once this is addressed, it will be a much more enjoyable experience.

The other issue is in the software itself: there are just no must-have VR experiences yet. Technical demos, unpolished experiments, and shallow gameplay make up 90% of the current catalog. Plus there's the motion problem we haven't figured out yet, where most games rely on teleportation as primary movement mechanism, which is terrible UX.

Here's to hoping this isn't yet another failed VR attempt and that the industry will keep evolving, as the possible level of immersion is truly remarkable.

That was my stance, as well, especially after trying some of the early Oculus demos. I was converted the first time I played a game where I really had to aim a gun and reload it by grabbing a new clip and slamming it into the gun. It's a different kind of experience.

True, it isn't all that different from what you may get out of a Wii or a Kinect, but it's more immersive, and that makes a huge difference in how engaged you become.

How do you deal with sweat getting all over your device? Doesn't it start getting dirty quickly?

Agreed with OP on HoloPoint and other apps (e.g. AudioShield is another favorite of mine) being a surprisingly intense workout. I sweat quite a bit with these games after ~15min, and this is definitely a problem. On Vive, the soft padding absorbs the sweat from my forehead as a sponge and becomes quite gross. I've learned to deal with the yucky feeling and can mostly ignore it, but I could see how others wouldn't.

Washable cotton covers are available for the Rift and Vive headsets. The controllers can be wiped clean like any other controller.


One solution is to buy something called "3d sleep mask" costs $7 or so on Amazon but you can get them for less than $1 on Aliexpress with free shipping. Then you just cut out the middle part and the headband.

They won't be quite as soft as the normal ones since they are thinner but the advantage of this is that it increases FOV since you are closer to the screen. In my experience they also stick quite well to the Vive.

Example: https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4gezog/8_sleep_mask_m...

The Vive at least has an removed gasket. You can get the waterproof ones, and have a few on hand when playing with a group.

Overall it's pretty manageable if you are prepared but pretty gross if you are using it out of box

I own an Oculus Rift and find that you only really get sweaty with very physically active games (AudioShield, Space Pirate Trainer, etc.). When it starts getting sweaty I'll usually just go do something else for a few minutes until it dries.

I agree completely. What's really interesting is, if you start to think of VR as exercise equipment, suddenly $800 for a headset and $1200 for a high-end gaming PC aren't that much money. You can easily spend twice that on a treadmill and a treadmill is a terrible workout. You could almost spend that on gym fees in a year and not ever show up, whereas the VR system in my home is fun and compelling: I do use it. And it's only going to get cheaper from here on out.

Oh, yeah, definitely.

I'd actually compare the cost to the cost of hiring a personal trainer. Both solve two problems: exercising, and the motivation to exercise.

Looked at in that light, the Vive's way cheaper.

That's a great point that I haven't considered before. Back on the PS2 there was an "eyetoy" camera addon that allowed you to interact with certain games. "Eyetoy: kinetic" was a favorite of mine and my nieces/nephews: they could punch and kick and get rid of enemies or blocks or whatever on screen, instantly usable compared to the abstraction of a controller. It was easily the most engaging fitness I've done. It had its faults (proper spacing and lighting was critical), and now that you mention it I'd love to get into similar things in VR.

I used to use the Kinect for fitness in much the same way. I'm still upset that never really took off. The rafting game was particularly entertaining.

> That is easily the most physically demanding VR activity that I've found so far

Have you tried soundboxing? I'm on OSX so can't try it, but I really want to give it a shot - it seems awesome, and a good workout. Bringing back the glory days of DDR in the arcade...

[0] - https://www.soundboxing.co/

I've played Soundboxing quite a lot, its a load of fun and you definitely get a solid work out. Its usually my go to game when I want some VR exercise. The leaderboard is a nice touch as well, makes me really try push myself because I want to be #1 on some of my favourite songs.

Oh nice, this looks like a nice tweak on the AudioShield formula - appreciate the rec!

I've heard good things about Soundboxing too, but haven't tried it yet.

I think fitness is going to be huge with VR gaming.

We’re developing an FPS game, and are researching walking and jogging in place to drive character locomotion. The new Vive trackers are an exciting announcement, because that means we can have ankle tracking. In-game hands and feet.

Please consider moon physics! I haven't heard anyone talk about this but I've thought this was the answer to locomotion in VR. It strikes a balance between realistic movement and not being too tiring, and moon jumping would be hella fun, especially in a FPS.

We’re mostly intrigued with 1:1 locomotion and agility in competitive multiplayer. For instance players who can run a marathon, or throw a baseball, will have a distinct competitive advantage over players who cannot. But, in theory, if you played enough it would supplement physical training.

But moon jumping would be a fun game concept :)

> We’re mostly intrigued with 1:1 locomotion and agility

That doesn't sound appealing in many cases. As a game critic once wrote about the limits of realism: I am not a ninja.

For the casual gamer it may not be interesting, though that depends on the learning curve - eg regular sports can be pretty challenging and physically exhausting, yet people play them casually.

But in particular competitive gaming and esports would get a lot more interesting this way.

Ever played instagib with a low gravity mod in a regular FPS? It can be fun, but the gameplay becomes pretty limited, and I imagine the moon physics being similar in a VR FPS. Maybe projectile weapons only would make it work better, or the fact that hitscan is a lot harder in an HMD than with a monitor.

I always thought that the mitigating factor here would be that you don't have to take big loping leaps, you can also accomplish a fairly earth-like gait, just with fewer steps.

I could also see another way of using it that is similar to the teleport mechanic where you clear an area, make a big jump, and when you land you clear that next area before taking another jump. But it would be an interesting thing, almost like a angry birds pulling the slingshot back thing, where the accuracy of the jump is also put to the test.

> can be fun, but the gameplay becomes pretty limited

If I recall correctly, low gravity often made me want to avoid jumping due to the lack of air control compared to ground running.

Jumping in real life and then going back down and landing while your character is still moving up seems like a really efficient way to get nauseated. 1:1 motion is very immersive and very good for avoiding nausea, so it's not something to give up lightly.

Yes, that sounds bad. But you could move further while staying in the air for the same time in reality, right? At least for running it should work?

We were doing in-place walking in VR a couple years ago with the DrumPants foot sensors. It worked surprisingly well and IMO was more immersive than using a hand controller: https://youtu.be/T2K0zWZMC5E

I cannot wait for the point when, as VR devs, we can assume people have legs as well as hands tracked.

There are SO many exciting possibilities that'll unlock.

Also, I want my Thrill Of The Fight-equivalent Muay Thai simulator.

I have a DK2, and for sitting games like Elite Dangerous I'm very happy with it hence not buying a commercial version.

But...man, this makes me want a Vive so badly. The only thing stopping me at the moment is I keep telling myself I'm hanging out for the next resolution bump (and the attendant massive HTPC I'll happily build to drive it).

Don't you get incredibly sweaty though? What is that experience like wearing a bulky mask thing?

That's currently my biggest beef with these VR headsets, you have to wear some bulky thing on your head.

I do but I don't mind it. I wear a thin head-cap and bought the 'VRCover' which helps absorb the sweet (but is unfortunately made of cotton for some reason). My setup is in the basement too and so it's typically pretty chilly down there so it's probably not quite as bad as it could be.

I do have to take the headgear off every few games, towel off head/forehead, and clean up the lens.

Which VRCover did you buy specifically for sweat? I bought the memory foam soft cotton one (it's supposed to come in tomorrow" because I wanted to to be washable, but also comfortable in other scenarios, though I very much have the same experience as you described and I'd like to make exercising with VR games a much bigger part of my routine.

Edit: I'm mostly curious about the "leather" ones as they sounded uncomfortable for other usage, but specifically aimed at physical exertion.

I bought this one but I'm not totally happy with it. For now it does the job but I'm sure better options will come out at some point hopefully sooner than later:


Ohhh, I actually bought one of the replacement foams. Here were the two I was considering, I bought the first of the two I linked and will be getting it tomorrow.



I am looking for a cover that does not soak up the sweat? I like to take the vr to family parties with dozens of people trying the device and the nasty factor can be really if used heavily. I am looking for something that can be wiped with alcohol between uses.

VRCover make waterproof covers for the Vive and Gear, designed specifically for that use.


I haven't done any workout in a VR headset yet but I have cried in one, and the lens got fogged up. Clearly some sort of passive or active ventilation will have to be part of VR headsets.

>I have cried in one

What's the story with that, if you don't mind?

I visited The Library at Night, a part-VR exhibit by Robert Lepage in Québec City: https://www.mcq.org/en/exposition?id=425961

Alberto Manguel narrates the history of 10 of his favourite libraries. One of them, the Vijećnica library in Sarajevo, had a particularly striking history from the civil war: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vije%C4%87nica

That got to me.

Depending on how active the game is and how much you sweat it can be bad. I am certain that one of the first improvements in future devices will be better ventilation without leaking light.

Not OP, but familiar with this - I don't notice it much while I'm still in it, but if you take it off and on again, it's then like putting on a sweaty shirt - it's gotten cold and clammy, but warms up and you stop noticing pretty quick.

You do need to remember to rinse the padding tho, just like a sponge in the sink. Super easy.

I'll pass. Remind me when VR is a pair of glasses :)

Have you watched Dennou Coil, by any chance? :O

Good point - on the Vive you can easily remove the face padding and rinse it off. They also sell replacements, I have a few so I rotate them in/out depending on which is driest etc.

I recall reading in most places that you are not supposed to get the HTC default foam pads wet and that it causes them to degrade quicker. Anecdotally, my wide face cushion has way less definition and is squishier than my narrow face cushion. This is definitely in part because the narrow one gets used less often, but I figured sweat was definitely a factor

I've been totally immersing mine and drying it out so far without any problems.

Can't be all that different than sweat itself. If we're not supposed to be getting these wet, then we shouldn't be doing VR workouts at all.

That has been my worry, but I figured I'd just buy new foam pads from HTC at worst. It does say not to get them wet in the manual. To alleviate this, I just purchased replacement pads that were machine washable from a 3rd party supplier.

That's an interesting observation - most of the caveats about VR (poor UX/interactions, consumer hardware at least a few generations away from a good v1.0) probably don't really impact this space much as the focus is on other things. People are already demonstrably willing to put on somewhat clunky gear for an hour or two for a workout.

lol - great point - a squat rack is a pretty bulky piece of equipment too!

I totally agree! The immersive experience not only makes you forget that you are working out but also makes you want to be better at moving around so you can perform better in the game.

Now just imagine how that'll play out when we have really good competitive VR games that are also cardio workouts - so you're aiming to out-fitness the millions of other players.

The first DOTA or Counterstrike equivalent for VR that also rewards fitness with increased game ability will unleash a legion of very, very fit competitive gamers on the world.

Bearing in mind - 7 hr a week is more or less the minimum to be at all competitive at DOTA, for example. 7 hr of intense exercise a week will get you pretty fit.

It's more like 7 hours a day to be anywhere near competitive at DotA.

By "competitive" in that context I meant "won't get stomped at 1.5k MMR". Which is still, frankly, a pretty high bar compared to most games.

But yes. If you want to be actually competitive at a tournament level, you're dead on.

I see. Yeah, 7 hours of fitness a week on a casual level would do wonders for a lot of people, me included.

Damn - that is a great point!

Have you tried Holoball or Audioshield? Those are my go-to games when I'm looking for some exercise.

I use to use Audioshield for the workout but I find Space Pirate and Holopoint to be more intense.

I haven't seen Holoball, sounds awesome thanks!

Holoball is my current favorite, but I have to try these others tonight

Quite possibly education and elder care too.

I'm not into gaming much (I find the magic of games pretty much gone for "moar" details, "moar" movement). But for health and also bootstrapping understanding your body, I'd contribute a lot to VR.

You should try Beat Boxer. Its a rhythm based exercise game for the Vive and Oculus and will really get you sweating.


Full disclaimer: I am one of the developers.

So do you just have some huge empty room/garage in your house then? Are you ever afraid of smashing into stuff around you that you can't see because of the goggles?

The Vive chaperone tech is really good.

I've been developing with my living room as my VR space for months now - as well as getting other people in to playtest a physically intense, scare-heavy game requiring fast movement - and to date we've only had one even moderately close call with a controller nearly whacking my TV. And that was my fault for setting the chaperone bounds a bit optimistically.

>And that was my fault for setting the chaperone bounds a bit optimistically.

I learned that the hard way.

They need to add a note to SteamVR: Don't make the edges directly against obstacles.

I have half my basement setup for hockey specific workout stuff, I call it 'Hockey Heaven', and repurposed part of the area for VR use too. You can see pictures of it on my old blog below (which I'm in the process of relaunching as a VR specific site in the next month or so).


This is before I setup the VIVE so basically I hung the sensors around the 'blue line area' and put all my computer gear on the desk in the corner.

Your hockey setup is fantastic, nice work. And that is some sick stick handling.

Watch the pullups. I fried my elbows by doing too many. Doing them on rings is much better (if you don't do them that way already, I don't know).

Interesting that you are taking PQQ. I've been meaning to research this stuff. I also noticed no creatine was listed. It probably belongs in your anti-aging stack as it has neuroprotective properties, along with its other well-established effects on muscle power output.

Pretty damn jealous over here. More for the hockey than the VR. Sweet setup. What's the floor made of?

You should talk to a doctor about what your knee and elbow joints will be like in twenty years.

(Supposing you care, and surgical replacement won't be trivial by then.)

> regularly skate with/against NHL bound Junior players,

I've skated with guys that didn't make the NHL cut and they were extremely fast to me. All most no effort it seemed like.

That's really shocking to me that you could get a workout from VR. Fog has to be an issue, no?

Well the Vive/VR workout isn't my aerobic workout and/or what keeps me fast enough to play with those guys at age 49. I do a variation on the the Tabata Sprint workout, which is probably the toughest, most intense part of my workout outside of the pull-ups. Most people I know can't handle fully sprinting near exhausting repeatedly for 2m; the threat of vomiting alone from the workout stops most of my friends. So no, I don't mean to imply the VIVE workout is in anyway the main component of my aerobic fitness routine.

The Vive, for me anyway, is more a overall body workout that strains muscles I don't seem to hit from hockey, snowboarding and/or other such activities I do regularly. I would say it's a) a great overall, full body workout, but not super aerobic, and b) extremely good at training for tracking/responding to multiple 'threats' from multiple angles. Or sharpening my focus, or indirect focus skills. For example I often de-focus my vision and think about the "Inner Game" and just get out of the way of my body; I often will hit two targets with each hand independently from each other spread out 20ft or so apart. I've noticed on the ice I'm picking up players on my side/other team earlier and it's giving me an edge in just being ready a second earlier with the puck.

This actually brings up an interesting point I and other VR devs need to consider for our games.

We're aware of the concept of a difficulty level in games. But we now need to consider the concept of a "fitness level".

That's not so much a problem for my current game, Left-Hand Path, because whilst it's physical it's not focused on physical exertion (except in the "suddenly elevated heartrate" area :) ).

But for the next game I'm working on, which is currently roughed out as a more conventional combat-focused RPG with a heavy physical focus, I really need to consider how I can make something that'll be physically intense and challenging for someone like evo_9, whilst also not making it completely impenetrable for someone who's unfit.

Just another interesting challenge in a VR dev's day :)

> I've skated with guys that didn't make the NHL cut and they were extremely fast to me. All most no effort it seemed like.

All great athletes seem like they're barely exerting effort when in reality they are way above average peak performance. Just running back and forth on a football pitch for a whole game is something that would bring most of us to our knees.

Fogging in the lenses is usually a sign the lenses are dirty. Usually, if I let them fog over and then clean them with a clean cloth, they don't fog over again. I do a very similar workout to the the person you replied to. Once I get the lenses cleaned, I can play Space Pirate Trainer without any problems.

I haven't had a problem with fogging at all, I wasn't aware that was an issue with Vive/Rift.

How do you deal with neck muscle strain from the weight of the device which also gets soaked in sweat? I think it's great that you've been able to exercise but for me those two points are still a big area of potential innovation.

If sweat becomes a persistent issue, products like https://vrcover.com/ will become standard.

> VR is going to be absolutely huge in the health/fitness space.

Totally agree, I cannot see anything bigger. I feel it will be bigger than even the medicine and hospital business and even plaxo and glaxo and klein would be out of business (or who knows maybe they will start selling medicines in VR!)

VR gaming is so intense and immerseful that I hope that I get a chance to go out. All this fitness would make me so slim.. that I hope my family can identify me.

+1 Holopoint! It feels like dancing.

As someone who owns both headsets from day one and has been developing software for Vive, I'd honestly say the current generation of tech just isn't worth it for most people. In five years when we have wireless headsets with eye tracking and full FOV displays with no discernible pixelation and the library of games are finally here it will be worth it. As it is most people would probably be let down after the initial wow factor wears off.

I think VR is at the point smartphones were from 2000-2007 until the iPhone showed up. It's going to take another generation of devices that incorporate all of those features in a really well designed package before it goes mainstream.

I completely agree with this sentiment. I too develop for both Vive and Oculus and they're just so unfinished products that I'd never recommend anyone to buy them.

* Vive has huge problems with tracking devices. It needs to track 3 things and usually 1 has a problem and is not tracking properly sigh * The coords are annoying * FOV is too narrow * picture quality is crap (low resolution) * steam vr (as steam itself) is low quality software * the device is heavy on your face, uncomfortable and makes you sweat (in the face.. nasty) * lack of compelling content that has things just right (i.e. doesn't make you sick)

From developer point of view: * openvr library can be confusing, documentation is lacking and it's married to steam :(

I think the author is overshooting the importance of VR. The next generation hardware will undoubtedly improve much and there's definately potential especially in fields like visualization work and gaming too. But lets be honest there's a whole bunch of basic "productivity" apps and light user content apps (think your average phone app) that really doesn't have much to gain from VR. Undoubetedly some of these will want to jump on the VR hype (once it comes) and quickly make totally horrible half-assed versions of their software for VR.

yeah sounds like the author is still in the initial "wow" stage, since they only tried it last week. I too was amazed by my oculus when i first got it. I was amazed again when the touch controllers came out. But once you get used to the new interface you get resigned to the fact there are no games out for it and the ones that are out are essentially expensive demos created to show off the tech. Furthermore the cords and setup are a pain.

I think that the Vive is a little like the release iPhone. It has all of the pieces, but it's also clunky and extravagant.

You had to have a pretty good imagination to look at any 2004 phone and envision the iPhone, but once you had the 1st gen iPhone it's pretty easy to imagine a modern smartphone. It's pretty much just the same thing only more so.

I don't know, that first iPhone was pretty special. Just having a fantastic web browser (mobile Safari) was a game changer. The gap feels bigger with VR, to me.

The first iPhone cost $600 after subsidy, you had to wait for pages to load forever over EDGE, and it had literally no software. Seems like a decent analogy of current VR.

Before the iPhone, nobody had any idea what improvement on the smartphone would be required to get them in the hands of everyone. All anyone could say was "a smartphone isn't for everyone". With VR, just in this thread half the people are saying "I just hated the resolution, lack of portability and software", similarly specific objections like people had with the initial iPhone.

I actually had the opposite experience to you. The first iPhone wasn't very special to me. "So what, it accomplishes everything my current phone does, only with pinch zoom". My first Oculus dev kit experience, terrible 720p display and all was captivating.

Agreed that the first iPhone was special, it let me move across the country without knowing a soul for two thousand miles with confidence.

The limitations were obvious though. The small screen and low resolution made it hard to read much text. It was really slow, both in processor and in its 2G connection. And it was clear that there was a lot of work to be done on the software and design technology side.

The Vive feels pretty special to me too. Presence, that feeling of being in another place, a fictional place with fictional rules. Perceptually perfect hand and head tracking. The chaperone system to let you move around the room with confidence.

The limitations are obvious: high system reqs, cords everywhere, low resolution, flaky software, and again we need to question a lot of our assumptions about the kind of software that we write. All of that's being aggressively engineered away. I'm bullish.

>Agreed that the first iPhone was special, it let me move across the country without knowing a soul for two thousand miles with confidence.

What was your alternative way to move across the country?

There used to be a weird merge between google maps and 2D printing

There was also that old man Rand McNally. Or stopping somewhere and asking for directions. I think you might've managed fine without the iPhone.

It's nice to get accurate directions when you really, really need it. There's also something to be said for getting lost or wandering every now and then.

Pre-app store iPhones? (and all of the software that it massively incentivized?)

Or just the phones themselves?

You didn't have to buy and configure a gaming PC to use the release iPhone, though. There's a certain out-of-the-box simplicity that's missing from the Vive and Oculus.

For sure, people can see the potential of the interface and it just needs the hardware to catch up.

Which I think will look like:

- Inside-out head tracking (hololens and project tango)

- Dedicated VR GPUs (heat and power issues)

- Better resolution (4k per eye is getting close to desktop screen res)

Then phones will go into 'VR mode' as we're seeing today with daydream, so it essentially rolls out automatically and without additional spending from consumers.

All incremental improvements to really take it mainstream

I love this analogy. A similar one I've been using is that the Vive is like the Nintendo Entertainment System (1985).

Sure you could technically play video games in your house on the Atari 2600, but they were so much worse than arcade games they were sort-of still a gimmick.

The NES was the first home game system whose games were good enough to get lost in. But that doesn't mean there wasn't tremendous room for improvement.

I had the exact same thoughts after playing with a Vive. An amazing glimpse at the near future.

I have used a Vive and a Rift for games for about five hours each and that was enough time for me to get bored with it. Not sure if it's that the games being developed for it are extremely lackluster compared to "real" games or if, like you say, the technology just isn't where it needs to be to be fun, but it was a letdown for me. It did have an amazing wow factor when I first tried it though.

You should take a look at this YC company: https://www.sixa.io/ - these changes might come faster than you think :)

No Linux client. Dumb move, when a typical use case is windows development when working from a Linux workstation. Pity. I'd be a customer (and toss my windows VMs)

I wholeheartedly agree with you, but it's not hard to do so - it's the most logical and obvious explanation for what we're seeing. Just like any 1st generation technology, it's far from elegant and is clunky, so we have to give it a few iterations.

> In five years when we have wireless headsets with eye tracking and full FOV displays

Wireless at least ships in Q1 in China, Q2 for the US (TPCast)

What's stopping it from being wireless right now? Wifi technology or battery life?

Nothing actually. The tech is there and they are releasing multiple third party wireless addons for the Vive this year, but none of the major HMD's come with wireless as standard yet.

I would think the added weight of a battery on your head would be one additional factor also.

We're not going to have all that in five years.

I run a VR-focused VC firm (Presence Capital). We've done 25+ investments in this space, so you can say that we believe in the long-term potential of VR. Even given that, we're bearish on how quickly there will be a profitable/sustainable VR consumer business and have advised most of our portfolio companies targeting consumers to keep burn low.

That being said, almost all of the comments here are taking a singular worldview: consumer-focused VR for a western market.

VR for B2B or enterprises can make money today and doesn't require mass-consumer adoption. If you make someone 10x more effective at their job (tools for sales people: OssoVR) or onboard employees faster (training: STRIVR), you can overcome the cost and rough edges on the hardware.

In China, VR-arcades are going to be how most consumers first experience high-end PC VR. Culturally, people there are already used to going to internet cafe's to use computers by the hour and seek out 3rd spaces. VR-by-the-hour rooms fit this mold. Additionally, the short length of most VR experiences makes it easy to have a 15-20 minute session and not be disappointed by the lack of content. More info on this here: https://medium.com/@amitt/vr-will-be-huge-in-china-41de0c758...

Genuinely curious but what are your thoughts on VR porn being a thing? Recall that porn on the internet has really been one of the first to start accepting credit cards. The old adage "internet is for porn" rings true.

It is already a thing. As many hours spent in VR porn as in all the games combined.

funny you should mention that. I did an AMA on Whale today and that was one of the questions:


Well thought out and thanks for sharing. Having worked in quite a few sales / B2B / Fortune environments, I see VR in a lot of ways similar to video conferencing. Sure, it works and can save lots of money in time and travel, but I don't think it really has the value proposition to be a huge cultural change. I definitely see the use cases in training (heavy equipment, safety management) down the line.

Are you looking at anything or have been pitched anything in the AEC space?

The firm I work for has a small R&D department that is heavily testing out VR. As I've said in other posts, I can only really see it as a marketing tool currently but some of that team are hoping there might be ways to "move and build" items in terms of visualizations.


tools for sales people: OssoVR

Osso is for surgeons, not sales people. Or am I missing something?

Sales people at medical device companies. They need to learn how to use the devices and then easily demo them to customers. It's also used by the end customers, after the sale is made.

Interesting... sounds like a pivot from what's shown on http://ossovr.com

Blown away? Hyperbole of the century. At CES this year, I tried all the VR/AR tech I could get my hands on. Microsoft HoloLens, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Sony VR, Galaxy Gear, and everything in between.

I wasn't expecting much and yet I was still underwhelmed. There is zero immersion, primarily due to the poor resolution, the screen door effect, and the crippled field of view. It felt like watching a scene through a pair of binoculars, but that's not a fair comparison either, as physical binoculars are more immersive than any of these devices.

I feel like I the only one that feels such disappointment!

This is so different from my experience with the HTC Vive: while I obviously perceived the poor resolution, screen door effect, etc., after the first minute I started feeling more and more immersed, and then something in my brain clicked, pretty much like when you are falling asleep. That's when everything started feeling almost like a lucid dream. My heartbeat was noticeable faster and I felt strangely happy/exited, like if my brain was pumping serotonin. It was so weird and fantastic. The only reason why I still didn't buy one is because it currently is a relatively big investment (ie gaming desktop+vive) for an entertainment technology.

I think you nailed it: you have to relax a certain amount and let your brain do it's own thing—like falling asleep. Some people have more of a tendency to latch on to the fact they're looking through a device and don't 'let go' and the magic doesn't happen. It's also probably situation dependent; your mind is less likely to let go of your actual environment and focus on the virtual if there are distractions or anything you're concerned about in your surroundings (e.g. it will be less likely for some people while in stores and at conferences etc.).

I have a Vive and agree. I personally don't see the SDE but I think I need glasses. The visual issue for me is not being able to look away from dead-center where it's the sharpest.

I read once that in VR "geometry matters more than textures" and I totally agree with that. Some of the most immersive moments I've had in VR are when I was peeking around a corner. The graphics were all simple, but the geometry of the corner and connecting corridor are what gave me such a great sense of presence.

I've written software for nearly 20 years now and I don't want to do anything other than VR development. It's the new frontier.

are you doing vr dev?

100% agree - this is how I am going to explain it from now on

I think the closest I experienced to this was when I first discovered Second Life. My dreams after an evening on Second Life were insanely realistic. That thrill of addiction sounds familiar, almost like a dopamine chasing rat.

I found the initial experience very compelling, too. Unfortunately, that initial thrill wears off fast. I challenge you to buy a Vive and report back in a few months with your daily usage level.

My daily usage level has dropped, but mostly it is due to the lack of new interesting software. When you read this thread, or /r/Vive or anywhere else, it's always the same story: people talking enthusiastically about games that came out months ago. The same ones, over and over. Space Pirate Trainer. Holopoint. H3VR. Job Simulator.

I'm really bored of those.

Easy - as that time period includes the Oculus Touch launch titles.

That gives me:

1. SuperHot

2. Arizona Sunshine

3. The Unspoken

4. Dead and Buried

Looking through Steam sorted by user reviews: http://store.steampowered.com/search/?sort_by=Reviews_DESC&t...

Gives me another easy set. I'll stick to things I own or I've heard almost universally good things about:

5. Smashbox Arena

6. Sairento

7. QuivR

8. Distance

9. Bullet Sorrow

10. Vertigo

11. Serious Sam: TFE

12: Bullet Sorrow

13: Werewolves Within

14: ROM Extraction

There's more but I got bored. I can personally vouch for the excellence of at least 5 of those.

Thanks for this reply. Did not know SuperHot had a VR version. I definitely will check that out at least.

It's short but it's astonishing. Totally worth it.

I can't imagine how the game works not in VR.

I hear that Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is very immersive in its VR incarnation, if you're into that sort of thing.

Define 'months'. I can name half a dozen games of equal quality that came out in the last 6 weeks.

Please do! Really! Because I'm looking for great new experiences and not finding much.

(Sorry - I did but accidentally replied to your original comment by mistake: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13396832 )

Elite dangerous (if you're into realistic space sims) could easily eat 1000+ hours of gameplay.

Have had the Vive since 1 month after launch, use it almost every day for a few hours. Just got Elite Dangerous set up as well so I expect to be using it even more. Other games I usually play are smashbox arena, and Onward, as well as Holopoint, Space Pirate Trainer, Audio Shield and Audio Beats. Tilt brush is also amazing for drawing in. There is so much content to play its great.

Interesting. I've got a 4k setup with a GTX 1080 at home right now. I'm sort of debating about a Vive or another 1080 when I've got some extra cash to blow.

The Vive seems harder to rationalize because it seems like a really expensive toy with only a few crappy games for it. Am I wrong about this? Is the VR really worth it? I keep reading awful things about the resolution and about motion sickness issues - I care very much about those things.

I'd have an easier time with it if the resolution was doubled and it was closer to a $500 price point. But as is it just seems crazy to pay that much to have a way lower resolution screen than my current monitor strapped an inch from my eyes.

The coolest thing about VR right now isn't the visuals, it's the controllers. Being able to move around and interact with things in virtual space is a very powerful experience/concept. I can actually see some future apps/games using controllers without the goggles.

> I can actually see some future apps/games using controllers without the goggles

This reminds me of the Nintendo Wii and Wii Tennis and all those other Wii sports games that were really fun.

"...after the first minute I started feeling more and more immersed..."

VR = immersion.

The gear, resolution, tech is all details.

Given my loose definition, we've had VR for years. Dr Dan Bricklin once asked me (rhetorically): where are you during a (deep) phone conversation? Here? There? Both?

AR is when the gear matters as much as than the story.

Source: Gadfly during the first VR hype cycle.

Imagine people saying this about Doom when it was released. The graphics don't look photo-realistic, you can see the individual pixels, you can't look up and down, man I don't think this 3D gaming thing is going to catch on.

Everything you mention are very (very) simple technical limitations on what are basically proof-of-concept devices. If you think we don't have the technical capability to put higher-resolution screens in there, or to make better graphics, or to extend the FOV... the only problem right now is cost. The reason for these limitations is cost. They're solving the hard problems before tackling the easy ones because we already know how to solve the easy problems. Solving easy problems doesn't get you hundreds of millions of dollars worth of startup investment. And screen resolution is definitively an "easy" problem to solve.

The YC post didn't say "VR is perfect today", it said "VR is going to get a lot better". You have to be able to see into the future and determine what problems are solvable and what problems may never be solved. All of the problems you see with current VR are ones that are easily solvable (except maybe immersion, but you'd have to actually define what that actually means).

"Imagine people saying this about Doom when it was released."

Nope. We were blown away.

Even knowing full well we'd eventually have real-time photorealistically rendered worlds to explore, surgery to perform, molecules to inspect... The early advances were exciting.

"Everything you mention are very (very) simple technical limitations on what are basically proof-of-concept devices."

VR has some thorny non-gear problems to solve. Human physiology ain't simple.

I'm very aware of the direction of VR/AR. Prior to my new line of work, I assisted corporations with invention mining in the head mounted display tech area. Despite having fairly intimate knowledge of the tech and what's currently unreleased prototype stage, I had minimal first hand experience.

HoloLens are the biggest let down. That FOV was unusable.

Maybe mercurial MagicLeap is doing AR the right way.

Being able to focus sight on far or on nearby object at will is also a simple problem and already solved in VR? (I honestly have no idea). Until it is solved there is no R in VR.

The ability to focus in VR using your own eyes requires a light field display - that is something which sends light rays from arbitrary angles into your eyes, and your eyes focus them.

Magic Leap has an augmented reality device that does that, although not launched yet.

My feeling is that light field displays will massively increase sense of reality - and reports of people using Magic Leap back that up.

However, I don't think it's necessary for lots of use of VR or AR.

I can see why the current issues might bring someone out of immersion. But from somebody who owns a Vive, I think having a more personal experience is key to getting the most out of it (for now).

When you describe the binocular effect, I know what you mean, however my experience is that all those issues fade away once your brain "accepts" the inputs and starts filtering out the noise. How long did you get to demo the Vive? In my experience (and those I've demonstrated to) it takes a bit. These days, if I'm in an engaging game, I'll lose the peripheral darkness on an unconscious level in the same way I'll lose the world outside a monitor when playing an engaging PC game.

> When you describe the binocular effect, I know what you mean, however my experience is that all those issues fade away once your brain "accepts" the inputs and starts filtering out the noise.

Personally, as someone who owned and purchased some of the early HMDs of the 1990s - these kind of comments look "interesting" to me. I mean, people are complaining about the "low FOV and resolution" - when they clearly never had to use HMDs with 20 degree FOV and 320 x 240 resolutions...

Today's HMDs are things we only dreamed about (and those who could get close to this - well, those HMDs cost more than an automobile.

Regarding the "filtering out the noise" - we used to call this "seeing past or beyond the pixels". It was purely psychological or something going on (I think there were studies done on the effect). There came a point where you stopped noticing the pixels, and/or the low FOV - and it all just started looking much better than it did. The key, though, was to stop focusing on the issue - which some people couldn't.

> they clearly never had to use HMDs with 20 degree FOV and 320 x 240 resolutions...

Being better than what they had in the 90's doesn't mean it's good. It's still too low - like trying to view 4k content on a 720p display.

> The key, though, was to stop focusing on the issue - which some people couldn't.

Or the low resolution is thrown in your face. For example, attempting to view a virtual poster on a somewhat distant virtual wall. It's large enough that you should be able to read it, but the resolution is so low you can't.

Nothing pops you out of that immersion faster than having the fact you're looking at low resolution display thrown in your face.

It's an problem the medium has to solve the way every other medium handles it's technological constraints. Pop music production was partly a way to handle the constraints of AM radio. Opera's vocal style was the result of the clash of large venues, growing orchestra's and the desire for solo vocals.

If VR can't render readable posters then good artists will stop putting posters in VR.

Surely today's HMDs could be both much better than earlier generations, and not nearly good enough yet?

Yes, demoing things are using it every day are two different things. One issue for this tech is, you can show someone, they have to experience it - and for some things you need to actively use it to get your VR legs and really start being able to appreciate it.

The best analogy I have heard is that VR is experienced in layers, and the time it takes to settle into deeper and deeper levels is different for everyone.

My experience with Oculus blew me away. The following three things specifically:

1. Medium, a sculpting program[1]. This tool lets you build 3D sculptures. The intuitiveness of the controls and the ease with which you can make these gigantic sculptures feels amazing. I think things like this are going to have a huge effect on how art is made. It's such an empowering experience to be able to so easily make these huge pieces of art.

2. RiftSketch[2]. This is just a simple demo, but it puts you in an open plane where you can modify the world around you by writing Javascript in an in-world console. Again, the feeling of empowerment in being able to alter your world so easily was really cool.

3. The Unspoken[3]. This is a game where you're a wizard and shoot fireballs and things at other wizards. Not sure what to say about it but it was really fun.

[1]: https://youtu.be/KX-UyFCUfa8?t=1406 [2]: https://github.com/brianpeiris/RiftSketch [3]: http://www.insomniacgames.com/games/the-unspoken/

I feel the same as you tbh. Does the geek in me love it? Sure! But if I take that out of the equation and look at things as they actually are then I still feel VR has a long way to go.

I'm old enough to remember the last VR boom. I was even lucky enough to work in a CAVE for a bit. That hype train derailed around 2000. The same promises were made, the same breathless enthusiasm, the same feeling that we were about to ascend into the cybernetic matrix. It didn't turn out that way, and the only thing that's fundamentally changed is that the hardware is cheaper. This is going to bankrupt some investors, and the remaining companies will serve a niche market.

The hardware is not just cheaper, but its orders of magnitude more powerful. There have also been two huge breakthroughs that I think make this wave the real deal, sub mm motion controller tracking and 90 fps to the eye.

The CAVE was driven by a big honkin' SGI computer in a machine room next door. It was powerful enough.

Those are the least of its problems.

The big problem with VR is the product liability issues.

Honestly, I think the problem with VR is that people outside the bubble don't actually want it.

> the only thing that's fundamentally changed is that the hardware is cheaper.

The same thing might have been said about the commodore 64. Hardware being accessible to the (rich) consumer vs only to research labs and businesses is enough of a difference to create new industries!

I very much get the same sense from the uptick in VR over the past year or two that I did when 3D TV was all the craze several years ago - kind of interesting, but in practice not very good

Interesting. I got a PSVR over the holidays, and had everyone in my family try it out. Experiences were mixed, but trended strongly towards 'blown away' (the major exception was my mom, who was underwhelmed). I'm genuinely blown away by the immersion of the games is Virtual Worlds, and have played hours of Thumper in VR, which is my favorite game of 2016. I did find the more 'room scale' games to not work as well with the setup, though (I'm looking at you HoloBall) but that might just be that my play area isn't set up correctly for it.

My experience was the opposite of yours: I expected a lot, and was still happily surprised by the results. Head tracking is excellent, no motion sickness at all, and consistently high framerates made the experience extraordinary immersive for me. I love just spending time in Windlands and Robinson.

Like you, though, I look forward to higher resolutions and field of view, but I'm a very happy customer with the current setup. I guess we'll see how I feel in a few months!

IMHO presence wise we are there already, even with the PSVR (especially the PSVR in my case, prefer cockpit/controller based games). The resolution maybe needs a bit of imagination to make up for but again presence as described by John Carmack has been delivered by almost all of the devices you listed.

This brings up another point... VR is much more dependent on the user's body characteristics than past technologies. One person's eye distance and head/body shape can be a completely different experience from someone else's.

One person, like you, can have a much worse view and experience than someone else.

I'd say you were probably just very jaded going in already. I've ran literally hundreds of people through the HTC Vive (my company ran a popup VR arcade for a while as a marketing stunt) and 95%+ people said they were completely blown away.

I went to the VR Expo in downtown LA recently where I had to wait in line for over an hour to play for 2 minutes on the vive with the full setup. It was 'kinda cool', I suppose. On the way out they mistook me for the next in line and offered to have me play another 2 minutes on another game but it just wasn't cool enough for me to waste any more time.

If the content is engaging enough, and you go in with a receptive mindset, you shouldn't notice things like screen-door, etc. These are hallmarks of a developer or technologist / tester mindset.

I find Valve's the Lab demos to be very, very good. If you're looking for pixels, then the experience isn't fun enough.

How long were your demos? Have you tried VR for an extended period of time (1+ hours without a break)?

The limitations you mention are absolutely issues, but they start to fade away and the feeling of immersion rises the longer you are in it. YMMV though.

I didn't think it could be much, but my first experience using the gear for a game of keep talking and nobody explodes convinced me otherwise. Even seeing the pixels and with the awful control method of that implementation (a classic iPod esque scroll wheel on the side of the headset which didn't map to the game that well), it was easy to get immersed.

Go up to using a rift or vice for Elite with my hotas and i can see it being awesome. Planning to get either a rift or vive this year.

You're an outlier. Everyone I've observed trying VR for the first time (even Galaxy Gear) has been impressed. I've watched hundreds of people try VR because I love seeing their reactions. VIVE and HoloLens get the best response since they are the most immersive but even Galaxy Gear usually gets a shocked response.

"Hyperbole" implies you think he's not being honest but then later you say "I feel like I the only one that feels such disappointment" which suggests you do think it's a genuine reaction which you are in the minority by not sharing.

So - which is it?

They are only contrary given your flawed understanding of my first sentence.

Given you took the time to point that out, a clarification would have been helpful.

It sounds like you should go and see a doctor. Maybe you lack something neurological that prevents you from experiencing it the way people usually do.

> Hyperbole of the century.

Everyone has had different experiences with VR. To call another person's personal experience a hyperbole is disingenuous.

Curious for reasons, but did you have a chance to try anything by Daqri?

I tried every single AR/VR HMD at CES 2017. So if they were there and they had a demo, yes.

Selling my Vive tomorrow, before it's too late (unsellable due to something better on the market). < 50 hours use over several months. The visual quality is awful, not just resolution, but the lenses are terrible as well. Glare, very blurry except for a narrow center, the rings of the fresnel lenses are very noticeable. The glare is unbearable in any games with a lot of contrast, like space sims, that retro arcade hall game was terrible in this aspect, too, whatever it was called.

I'm not going back to try VR till the resolution is something like 8k per eye and the optical quality is far better. FOV needs to be much wider, HMD lighter and more comfortable, and of course wireless (I know you can get this now).

I have a dedicated home theater and room scale still does not work, because you will never have enough physical space in a regular home, and have to teleport around in games anyway.

The only games that really work are seated cockpit games. Racing, space sim, flight sim, etc.

Nausea was not an issue for me. Nor the "anti-social" issue, I've never been a party gamer, I like to play games alone, in a dark room with headphones on, sat at my desk staring at a monitor, or alone on the couch with a gamepad in my home theater enjoying surround sound and a 106" screen.

All made-for-VR games I've tried so far have been mediocre and more like small demos than full games. Best experiences were games not made for VR but with added VR support: Assetto Corsa and iRacing. Probably the only two games worth having VR at all for, but personally I'll wait for 6th gen or whatever will be good enough for me.

The games I like the best works better without VR. Sim racing games could be one exception, but are, for the moment, better with a triple monitor setup. Games like Pillars of Eternity have no need for VR, IMO.

Certainly VR has potential, I just think the HMDs we have now feel old and dated already. It's 2016 (when released) and it's heavy and wired, basically ski goggles with crappy monitors and crappy lenses hugging my face.

I hope that you realize that 8k/eye at 120Hz is in the 100Gb/s range with compression, that you won't see because it's already a retina display (60ppd) at 130deg view angle. Also there are NO GPUs that could come close to rendering a single eye today at even 60Hz (even 30Hz would be absolutely top end).

So, I think your requirements are completely unrealistic, but I agree that the current VR (1k/eye at <90Hz with 20-30ms latency) is unusable and gives me a headache. I suspect that around 2-3k/eye at 90-120Hz with 10-20ms latency will be sufficient to be usable.

Unfortunately, that almost certainly means Foveal rendering (since UHD at 60Hz is too hard and 120 is right out), which will take some time. However, it probably also means that the bandwidths might be possible to untethered mulit-Gig wireless. Having an unteathered system that used a high powered GPU would be really nice. <edited to add> http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/johnsny/papers...

I said that was when I would go back to VR. Of course I know we don't have the consumer hardware to run it today. But we will in 10 years.

As slow as growth has become in the graphics card and general computing industry, getting to the point where we can do 120hz at 8k per eye is a lot further than 10 years off. It will require a significant change in how (where?) we're generating graphics, not just better hardware.

You're absolutely right... But by rendering separately the high resolution and low resolution views (each at 1k, but one 4x upscaled) we could do 60Hz today. It only requires 2 FHD renders (which is less than a 4k 2eye view at UHD) so 60Hz is very reasonable... possibly 90-120Hz. It also cuts the bandwidth by 8x (2/16) without compression.

There are so many new rendering tricks popping up all the time... new APIs also give less overhead, which is nice.

Either way...

580 gtx gflops: 1581

1080 gtx gflops: 8228

7 years. 420% increase in float calc perf.

And you only need high resolution and high color at the fovea. Eye tracking will be the key to making VR/AR low-power and high-quality.

It won't, no worries. Eye tracking in an HMD, whether AR or VR is hugely complicated from engineering point of view. There is a reason why an HMD eye tracking kit costs several thousands of USD.

Moreover, from the rendering point of view, foveated rendering is a fairly complex thing to integrate into a 3D engine too. It is definitelly not "free".

Foveated rendering is certainly no panacea.

No panacea but another important piece of the puzzle. The software part may be complex - but it is just software, and once done, we all benefit from 10x battery life. Eye tracking hardware is complex but Lots of ongoing R&D - the outcome of which will be sensor chips which can be added to HMDs.

Only 6.5 years :)

Assuming that it's feasible to do ~1080p per eye at 120hz today, 8k per eye is only 16 times more pixels. And considering that increasing the pixel size is embarrassingly parallel, I don't see that as a problem to be able to do in 10 years.

Looks like current technology is 1000x1000 per eye at 90Hz: http://www.digitaltrends.com/virtual-reality/oculus-rift-vs-...

8k x 8k per eye at 120Hz is 64x more pixels at 1/3rd increase in frequency ~= 85x more processing power. Making the (maybe faulty) assumption of doubling processing power every 2 years and that current setup is processor limited, this sort of processing power is ~13 years away.

Same computation but with 4k x 4k per eye predicts ~9 years of progress needed.

I guess I misspoke about being 1920x1080 which is a "2K" screen split in two. An 8K screen split in two would be ~4000x4000 per eye which is still 16x as many pixels as I said, plus the 33% increase in frame rate which I didn't include which matches your second one. Although with how embarrasingly parallel it is, I don't think it's as far off as it seems. Especially considering that it's the previous generation graphics cards that can handle current day VR fine so we're 1-2 years into the 9 years we have to wait, and with so many pixels anti-aliasing can probably be turned off completely. You could probably build something today that could do it, it just would be very expensive and I don't think 8K panels at cell-phone size exist yet.

Also, eye-tracking + foveated rendering will severely reduce the load. Once that works reliably, you just need the cheap, super-high PPI, low-latency screens (which might almost exist today, though at high cost due to lack of a mass-market).

>Selling my Vive tomorrow, before it's too late (unsellable due to something better on the market).

The Vive came out like 8 months ago. I would hardly say even the craziest company (cough Apple) would rush out a new version that quickly.

>Glare, very blurry except for a narrow center, the rings of the fresnel lenses are very noticeable.

You are probably wearing it wrong. There are two adjustments you can make. There is a small knob at the right-bottom edge, turn it and it changes the lenses width (how far apart your eyes are), this is not likely the issue. The second adjustment is focal length (how far away the screen is), if you click out the left circle that attaches the strap to your headseat, you can turn it to adjust focal length.

The third adjustment is wearing it right. I know this sounds really dumb but you have to wear it much lower than you expect. I was wearing it very high up, like glasses, when the better position is like wearing goggles.

But overall, yeah, the resolution isn't great but things like blurriness can be fixed.

I'm not wearing it wrong, and I know what adjustments are possible. This is an inherent fault with the lenses, it's just about optics quality.




I get that you're confident that you're wearing it right, and you probably are, but just in case try going through this excellent guide: https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4e925m/ive_been_weari...

Maybe I'm substantially less sensitive to the aberrations you mentioned, or your lenses are not the same as mine, but my experience is much more positive.

I've given demos to probably more than 75 people at this point, and there are always some people who complain a lot and then we adjust the way they're wearing it and all is good.

Yea he's probably wearing it wrong, and just doesn't want to put in the effort to fix anything or try any games outside of the ones he's deemed "good". Everyone I've shown the Vive too has been blown away, 2 have purchased one.

> I would hardly say even the craziest company (cough Apple) would rush out a new version that quickly.

A side note: although Apple does come out with new product versions rather quickly, it's worth noting that they take a very long time to create the first version of their new products. More often than not those efforts don't even end up seeing the light of day. Now that I think about it, it's probably why Apple hasn't thrown their hat into the VR ring. Once they do decide to go to market with a brand new product category it typically has a ton of polish and iterating from that point on can be done incrementally and rapidly.

Now that I think about it, it's probably why Apple hasn't thrown their hat into the VR ring

They're working on AR

Sorry, what I meant by Apple throwing their hat into the ring was actually releasing a product. They've been working on myriad products over the years that they ended up throwing out. For a company like Apple, working on a product and releasing a product is a far greater distinction than for other companies.

I agree with this sentiment. I can't speak for the Vive, but I did get to try an Oculus headset (but not the new Touch controllers) over the holidays for an extended period of time.

The head/motion tracking was spot on and I didn't notice much lag at all. The problem was more with the resolution of the screen, FOV, and light leaks. I constantly had to trick myself in order to feel immersed. Also, if you don't have near perfect vision, the display will look even worse and its quite uncomfortable to wear the headset with glasses.

I think we're on the path, but the first generation headsets out there now are more in line with an expensive tech demo than anything else. I suppose that it is to be expected though. I look forward to future iterations.

> The games I like the best works better without VR. Sim racing games could be one exception, but are, for the moment, better with a triple monitor setup. Games like Pillars of Eternity have no need for VR, IMO.

This is a very valid criticism. The current limitations of VR require developers to design different kinds of games. I found Valve's The Lab to be excellent. It's frustrating as a designer, because you may not be able to make the game you want, for VR.

I haven't actually played any games in VR yet, but is there any reason the headset couldn't display a normal game? Even if it doesn't need VR and doesn't benefit in any way from head tracking or 3D visuals, just imagining a hypothetical future situation where all 2D monitors on the face of the Earth are replaced by VR headsets, you could still play Pillars of Eternity on a VR headset and it wouldn't be any worse, right? There's no technical reason a VR headset couldn't replicate a regular monitor?

SteamVR has a theater mode. The issue is the pixel density isn't really as high as you'd like it to be. You're using 2160x1200 resolution to render over most of your field of view, so the effective resolution of a rendered TV/cinema screen is actually lower than you might like. It's like playing on a 720p or maybe even a little lower resolution. Also, how will you see your mouse? That's actually not a huge problem if all monitors were replaced there could just be mouse tracking in the simulation.

It's possible, but the resolution and pixel density has to go up before it can be an effective replacement for the amazing screens we have.

I think minecraft is a great illustration of some of the limits of vr today: it defaults to a theatre mode, but also has the option of pov gaming. The latter is terrible for moving around - but works OK for standing still and looking around.

For now simulator-like games such as Elite:Dangerous are the most interesting. I'm sure we'll Se a couple of nice "room scale" games - but "sitting in a cockpit" fixes many of the issues related to movement etc.

Then, I think a backpack rig (Pc) coupled with custom controllers (eg: a softgun with tracking hardware and trigger support) will enable vr theme park games; a typical indoor paintball range with padded corners mapped in 3d - rendered over with vr goggles. I assume the first ones would need custom tracking hw.

This is why I love HN, the first 2 top voted comments are sharing complete opposite experiences using the Vive.

EDIT, in case it changes:

Positive: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13393449

Negative: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13393606

>Certainly VR has potential, I just think the HMDs we have now feel old and dated already. It's 2016 (when released) and it's heavy and wired, basically ski goggles with crappy monitors and crappy lenses hugging my face.

While I agree with many of your sentiments, I don't think you are realizing that only 2-3 years ago an HMD meant something like a Sensics zSight or one of the Collins/Rockwell ones. Starting price $40k, FOV around 30-60 degrees, SXGA resolution and input either frame sequential signal or two VGA/DVI cables (one per eye). And no tracking whatsoever - you had to buy external tracker, either magnetic or optical one ($10k+). No controllers neither, but a professional Flystick 2 (needs external tracking) could be yours for about $2k.

And on the low end you had stuff like Vuzix VR920 for about $400 or, then brand new Sony HMZ-T1 for $800 or so, if I recall right, with terrible resolution (Vuzix), FOV (Vuzix - 20deg yay) and latency (4 entire frames - Sony). Neither had tracking nor controllers neither.

So calling the current generation of HMDs "dated" and "crappy" is a tad unfair. You have obviously never had to use the "previous gen".

8k displays in HMDs would be great but are not going to happen for quite some time yet. Not even 4k, actually. The reasons for that are several:

* HMDs are still a very niche market. So to get components to make one you either pay a large premium to get a made to measure parts you need in low volume (=> that's partly why the Sensics HMD did and still do cost so much) or you have to use parts where the economy of scale works in your favor.

Until HMDs are a mass market device, the only source where to get (relatively) cheap displays in sizes that fit the form factor are smartphones, resp. displays that were meant for them. So until there is a mass produced 4k/8k smartphone, an 8k HMD is not going to happen. And 4k on a phone is a gimmicky nonsense, 8k even more so, so not likely to happen any time soon.

Development of a custom 2k display starts to make sense only when you are planning on buying 100k+ of them, otherwise the manufacturer won't even talk to you. It just isn't profitable. And it gets only more expensive for 4k and 8k resolutions, with insane engineering problems when you are trying to stuff 4k pixels into something 5" across instead of 100" (TV ...)

* You likely don't realize how much electrical a computational power driving of a 4k display needs. Most PCs would struggle with 4k@90Hz or more and even super high end PC would have major difficulties driving an 8k display. An HMD that nobody can use is not much of a product, IMO.

* Bandwidth issues - very few 4k display panels can manage 4k@60Hz, 4k@120Hz that you would want for VR is virtually unheard of. And 8k@120Hz ... well, maybe a decade off? If ever - it is not needed for TV and phones and VR alone is way too small market to make a manufacturer produce something crazy like that.

There is also the question of how do you talk to such panel - normal HDMI tops out at 4k@30Hz, anything more and you need either the recently standardized HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort or some proprietary stuff, along with expensive cabling. Don't get me started on 8k ...

Bandwidth is also why HMDs are not wireless. Until very recently (few months) there simply were no solutions on the market that could manage to transmit the volume of data needed and keep the latency low. You cannot use heavy compression, as has been common for e.g. wireless TV streaming stuff, because it adds too much latency and/or visual artifacts. There are now some solutions coming but we have to see how good they will be. And, of course, none of that will likely work for 4k+ without (massive) changes. Oh and you trade a cable for battery life and having to lug a battery either on your head or belt now.

So, to conclude - your usability gripes about the hardware are valid, but if you want to wait until they are solved, you will have to wait for a very long time. The vendors had to make engineering and economic tradeoffs and even then are not making much (if any) money on the hardware. So one needs to remain with both feet on the ground.

The current crop of HMDs is perfectly OK for many applications, even professional ones. That doesn't mean it is good for or should be used by everyone. That's fine as well - nobody forces you to.

I don't get why you, or the other person who replied, concluded that I thought 8k per eye was feasable now. I only said that was when I was going back to try VR. I'm positive we have at least that resolution in 10 years. I am also perfectly aware of all the challenges involved in outputting such a resolution and manufacturing such a display.

As for the history lesson, I played the SU2000.

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