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Old 31-03-2013, 09:43 PM   #1
RRS
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Angry where is my VR helmet?

While stereoscopy (nicknamed "3D") is the latest fad (...again!), I want something else.

When I was starting my adventure with PCs 20 years ago (not counting playing games earlier with my buddies on their Amigas or C64s), I was seriously interested in 3D computer graphics. Often called "virtual reality", it was different from the prevalent 2D sprites from 8-bit computers. Not only I wanted to play 3D games - I got my 3DStudio certificate before I turned 14.

In order to fully utilize the "virtual reality" effect, those fancy VR helmets were introduced in early 1990s. Expensive gadgets as they were, HMDs were beyond the financial capabilities of average computer users. Yet one could hope that with spreading computer technology, its advancement and reduced unit costs, one day it would be possible to buy a head-mounted display paying as much as for a good joystick or a digitizing tablet (not something everyone owns, but somewhat affordable).

Considering not only recent technical advancements but also their widespread acceptance (only impoverished weirdos like me still using CRT displays) - all those flat lightweight low-energy displays, wireless console controllers et all - I'm unpleasantly surprised that HMDs have yet to become commonplace for gamers (yes, I know that new HMD models were released, but how about the prices? Native game support? How many people use them? etc.)

I recall 20 years ago the problems were: primitive low-res low-refresh display units (don't we have thin, lightweight, stable screens now?) increasing size&weight, heavy power/signal cables (wireless controllers are fairly common today, right? think how batteries in cell phones had shrunk over those 20 years). So most of the problems should be noticeably reduced with today's technology.

I'm not sure if I'd like to play FPS game with that helmet on. But in the context of a flight / racing simulation, where in-game your avatar sits and doesn't run, with hands on controls (joystick/wheel, throttle, pedals), VR Helmet (containing surround headphones) would allow for free looking around. Useful when someone tries to fire at you from your six.

When I was still active in flight simulator community (about 6 years ago), HMDs weren't commonplace even among well-off players (those who could afford extra peripherals such as rudder pedals or throttles), with TrackIR being the ersatz (a device which tracks your subtle head movements to translate them into rotating your view in-game). As you can see, there's a target group for those helmets, those people like to invest in their games (haven't you heard about all those cockpits built at home etc.?).

So, where is my VR helmet? I've been waiting for 20 years, dammit...
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Old 31-03-2013, 10:10 PM   #2
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So, where is my VR helmet? I've been waiting for 20 years, dammit...
Right around the corner!

http://www.oculusvr.com/

Its not yet publicly available though, so I have no idea how well it works really. They got both John Carmack and Valve on board, so they probably have done something right to get some big name support.
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Old 31-03-2013, 10:17 PM   #3
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Right around the corner!

http://www.oculusvr.com/

Its not yet publicly available though, so I have no idea how well it works really. They got both John Carmack and Valve on board, so they probably have done something right to get some big name support.
Yeah, John Carmack has recently started taking VR stuff seriously. Here's him explaining his work so far at E3 2012:

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Old 31-03-2013, 10:22 PM   #4
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I think VR is one of those technologies that was much anticipated, but long after when it got feasible, it got nowhere, not because it's too expensive, but because people don't really want it. There's just no demand. Pretty much like video phones. They have been offered in the market since decades ago, but nobody's interested. (Of course all that's relative, if it cost $0 demand would be everyone.)

1987, the future was back then: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:S...3D-Glasses.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ic_video_games

There will continue to appear VR gadgets, which is a good thing, and maybe their time will actually come, depending on consumer preferences. Just like so many features of gadgets nowadays had existed in ancient devices that sold terribly.

If you are really interested in getting one of these, you surely have something to choose from. Of course there's no point in blaming other consumers' tastes if there are too few games for it.
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Old 31-03-2013, 10:44 PM   #5
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I first posted this 9 months ago. Back then there was little info about Carmack's project.

Japo, stereoscopic glasses are like those you wear to watch Avatar in the cinema. I want a head mounted display with motion tracking: if I turn my head back, I see my plane's tail.

If flightsimmers buy this odd TrackIR thing, surely they'd happily replace it with superior HMD that will give them in-game six degrees of freedom - they will no longer need to look into the monitor.

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Old 01-04-2013, 12:11 AM   #6
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I can only hope Carmack's VR will be good, other than that, 3D is still a big let down. I've seen a 3D TV, and 3D cinema, not to mention poor old stereoscopic red-cyan glasses. It's not good or not cheap enough for the public yet.
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:23 AM   #7
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Oooh, I can go skiing in the alps without freezing to death!
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:30 AM   #8
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not because it's too expensive, but because people don't really want it. There's just no demand.
Yup. Pretty much that.

I will never be satisfied with "3D" until it really become 3D. Anything else until then is a waste of my time, even more of my money.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:57 PM   #9
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Hmmmm, this is sounding more and more like Larry Niven's Barsoom Project novels.

i must read him again...

Who wants to go see Total Recall with me?*

*Disclaimer: I ain't pain' for the airticket, dayum.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:21 PM   #10
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3D is still a big let down. I've seen a 3D TV, and 3D cinema
I'm not into "3D movies" fad either.

I want something else. People overuse "3D". Remember when games from the 1980s were called 3D, while they were only isometric? Anything that gave better spatial illusion got this moniker.

* Stereoscopy is the illusion of depth seen on pictures/film (think "Avatar").
This is where you use those two-color glasses.
This is where you still stare at the screen.

It's still like peeking through a keyhole.
What I want is "you're there" experience.
Have you ever seriously played a realistic flight simulator? Situational awareness. The pilot constantly turns his head, looking around for new enemies and tracking known ones. You fly in one direction, but look in another. This is where you need head motion control.

* TrackIR is an ersatz solution. Camera sensor tracks your head movement and translates this to in-game view changes (scaled up, so your small move is sharper in game).
This is where you still stare at the screen.

* Head-mounted display (VR helmet or whatever you call it) is the ultimate solution. The image is projected near your eyes, so you don't look at the monitor. That Oculus thing promises to have such large displays you won't be seeing borders of your visors. Gyro-sensor tracks your head movement and translates this to in-game view changes. Turn back and your avatar in game turns head back.
There are usually two visors, so stereoscopic effect can be achieved as well, but note the difference! Here you have both motion-control AND stereoscopy AND no monitor. This is what I'm waiting for.
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