You all know if Cahiry's massive thread on VR but it is I suspect mostly read by us enthusiasts. That I think is a shame so felt like making another one just about my experience after I got my very own CV1 (Consumer Version 1 Oculus Rift) yesterday.
It is expensive and has high hardware requirements. It can get a bit warm on the face and it does have an SDE (A screen door effect). Its resolution is appalling low if you compare it to your HD monitor, don't even try comparing it to UHD. If you keep these things in mind and remember this is the very first generation of these things then you probably won't be upset.
Perhaps they are not ready for everybody yet but who bought one of the first generation plasma TV's when the rest of us were using fish bowl monitors? It has to start somewhere and now look at the price of TV's, monitors, size, resolution. I didn't want to try any prototypes but I wanted this so bad I was going to be an early adopter no matter what the cost.
For game controllers I have some fairly good stuff. I have a racing seat that I have set up so it can be a race cars seat with the shifter on either side and any practical height and it also can be a pilots seat with the throttle or collective on the left and the stick in the middle or on the right at any practical height. I made it this way so I can mimic where the controls are in VR in the real world. I want my virtual hands to be where my real hands are. I want to see the virtual controls move the same as the real world ones. I want it to be as convincing as possible.
So that was a quick rundown on the hardware but I wanted to talk about my experience in VR with the above limitations and controller layouts in mind. I want to tell you what I felt, what I experienced.
Yesterday I was face to face with an alien speaking gibberish to me. I tried to reach up and touch a T-rex's belly. I stood at the edge of a very tall building somewhere in the future looking down at amazing sights.
I raced an AMG Mercedes GT3 around the Nordschleife track. I also raced a Ford V8 Supercar around Bathurst and was surprised at how steep that track really is and I raced a whole bunch of open wheelers around various tracks of the world. I set lap records for me on most of those tracks because I was no longer confined to watching on a box, I was in a car. From my perspective I was literally sitting in those cars. That was all well and good but that leads me to this...
It was 5pm in Romania. I selected one of my many cars and in this case it was a Shelby AC Cobra 427 and went for a nice cruise up the Transfagarasan. I cruised up the road not racing in any way and keeping to the right hand side of the road. A bit of a novelty for me for sure but hey when in Rome as they say.
I enjoyed the sun streaming through the trees and the view got better as I went higher and at one point high up the mountain I saw a lookout and pulled over, got out of the car and stood next to it and looked around. Nice. (No bullshit I did this). I got back into my Cobra, looked over the back of its awesome shape and backed it back onto the road and continued on up to the top of the mountain.
Once I got there I turned it around, lined her up, punched it and with smoke pouring from the wheels I roared back down the mountain road until I Thelma and Louise'd it straight off the cliff! A good thing I live on acreage I susspect.
Enough of the cars, I got heaps of them in this virtual world. Now I want to fly.
I fired up my KA50 "Blackshark" and had a heap of trouble trying to control it until I remembered to turn off the flight computers. I learned to fly with assists off so I don't do so well with them on. It is amazing actually sitting in the cockpit for "real" this time. I am not looking at a box, I am not looking at "3d". I am apparently sitting in the thing. The joy of flight brought a smile to my face and more then one "whoop" I can tell you.
It wasn't long before the call of the tail draggers was heard. Anyone who has actually flown and flown tail draggers knows this one. They are awesome fun because they don't do a damn thing for you. You fly them and fly them right or you crash on the runway. No free passes.
Lets get back into it with a P51 Mustang. What could go wrong?
I crashed and burned on the runway.
Dealing with lack of rudder authority and crosswinds took a bit of crashing but eventually with a combination of all flight surfaces and toe brakes I could get her into the air without dieing and I which point I began to do circuits to practice short take offs and landings. Just like I did long ago in the real world, now I was doing it in the virtual world and anyone that has played DCS knows just how damn accurate these cockpits are as well as the flight model. I was flying again and very happy to be doing so.
I then flew around, through the clouds, enjoyed the view looking down at all the people who were stuck to the ground. I checked the oceans and the mountains and buzzed the towns.
I even had an engine out. I took my time, scanned for where to land and found a reasonable highway that would do and put her down safely. When she pulled up undamaged I let my breath out. I was holding it. A big grin crossed my face then, a real big grin.
There are no limits in the VR world so next I was in space and this is where VR shines and shines brightly because I will never ever have the chance to do this, ever... but today I did. "Elite Dangerous" here we come.
I warped my ship in from near the sun. I have been there for over a year because I broke my track IR and couldn't look around anymore so no more play of this game. Now not only could I look around I was sitting in the command couch looking out!
I warped into a station. A massive rotating cylinder kilometers long. I approached within meters and turned off the assist computers. I needed full control for the inspection run. I matched rotational velocity and came to a relative dead stop with the station and began to proceed down the spine.
I maneuvered between various monolithic pieces of superstructure with my lights illuminating the darkness as we rotated out of the sunlight. Minute thruster bursts made it seem like I was simply moving along a stationary object when in fact I am following a corkscrew pattern through space..
Once I came to the end I spun away as only something without the limits of gravity can do. I "parked" using the computers again to hold her stationary distance wise and relative to me the station began to rotate.
I got out of my command couch, walked around behind it. Had a look at what was back there and walked over to the window. It isn't a big cabin but I can stretch my legs. Looking though the window I took in the vista of ships coming and going from the station I had just inspected. No, I am not bullshitting you.
Later today I will be having a look at the ocean and perhaps the Grand Canyon. I have also been to the moon with my mate Niel and then perhaps a tour around the solar system this afternoon but first... time for breakfast, or lunch. Time flies.
VR. It is only the first generation and I have waited for this since the first time I saw a Viewmaster as a child. 40+ years. The wait for me, well... it was worth it. The future isn't on a box, it is IN the box