Tuesday, November 23, 2021

thoughts on the oculus 2

Spending Thanksgiving week with my Mom and Aunt and we decided to get the house a Oculus 2 (my Aunt was really blown away by the VR they had at the Van Gogh exhibit.)

I already had the PS4 VR setup, but the Oculus 2 is so much better and has made me more sanguine about VR in general...  having the visor free and untethered is an absolute game changer. (Also the PS4 setup was an enormous pain in the butt to set up, all these connecting wires going every which way)

The Oculus controllers are a good mix of classic controllers (like with thumbsticks) and things that work as hand surrogates, with a convention of "mitten grip" button with the middle finger to grab items and the trigger finger to shoot.

The primary menu interface paradigm has use use either controller like a laser pointer pistol, with a thin beam always showing where you're pointing. (The Vader Immortal game I tried had an amusing UI with clunky virtual pushbuttons I liked as well.) 

Another frequent trope I've noticed in VR is often they have you move by pointing to where you want to stand next and then you "teleport", rather than more smoothly moving there like in a game. I think that might tie into preventing motion sickness? 

The visor uses a camera on the thing to aid with head tracking (it complained about the room being too dark when I turned off lights because of some leakage at the bottom of the visor.)  And there's a super cool mode it slips into where it shows you what the camera is seeing, albeit in grainy black and white.  So it's like you're in your space, but not really in your space.

Combining that "AR" showing of the room with the laser pointer guns - they cleverly have you use specify the boundaries it's safe to walk around in in your physical area, using the laser pointer gun almost like it was a big welding torch on the floor. Later, if you're in an immersive game and go too far, edges popup, kind of like the boundaries of the holodeck peeking through.  

I've heard rumors that the Apple Glasses will be AR, virtual objects projected on the background of your actual space, and the b+w room mode reinforces my idea that that might be the future - it was an interesting rebuttal temper one of the problems of VR, how isolated and vulnerable you are

Penny Arcade Sanctum 

Also, just having stereo speakers near your ears vs PS4 VR's ear buds felt much more real - albeit at the cost of annoying anyone in the vicinity.  Which is similar to one of the few drawbacks of the Oculus relative to the PS4 VR: by default it's not mirroring anything to an external screen, so any potential social-in-person aspect is greatly diminished.

Still looking for great games in it. I guess that's the other drawback relative to game consoles: there's not much in terms of first party development, like big names you know you can trust. 

Also it's a little light on some of the non-game "experiences", though maybe my aunt and I haven't looked hard enough.

Though typing this after about an hour or so of play, I realize I'm a little headachey. 

So yeah, pretty cool product overall, and while I'm not sure if VR will just become the next Kinect or 3D TV (just another passing fad that might stick around but barely) or if it's the future-future, this is a nice mid-price way to see some cool stuff. 

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