Welcome friends, to Naylor's HTC Vive Discussion thread!


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So I ordered my Vive on 3rd May expecting a delivery date at the end of June. However it arrived about 2 weeks later. Awesome!
I thought it would be cool to do a little write up of my impressions so far, to hopefully help any of you who may be considering purchasing one of these babies!

Let me preface this by simply saying "Holy shit! This is the future of gaming!". Hyperbole aside, here's my thoughts so far, both good and bad:

1. The setup

It's a pain in the arse. Seriously. The device comes with two 'Lighthouse' stations that contain motors and IR LEDs that flood your room with IR to track the controller and headset's movements. However, these need to be mounted on the wall, above head height and no more than 5 metres apart. This is easier said than done (especially in a 'typical' Manchester house, where available space is not particularly easy to come by!) Setup states around 30 minutes to get up and running, but between finding space on the walls, drilling, cleaning up, hiding the power cables from the Lighthouse stations in coving stuck on the wall and my wife loudly complaining about the whole process, it took around 2 hours.

After this, you need to install the drivers and software from Steam/HTC. The headset itself is connected from the pc via a USB cable and Displayport/HDMI from the GPU to a 'Link Box', which then connects to the headset with a long, relatively inflexible wire.

Installing the software was also a tedious experience. I have a fairly new installation of Win 10 and it took about 3 'reinstalls' and 'Verifying Steam's application files' of the software to make it not crash immediately upon opening. The 'Room Setup' involves simply holding down the trigger of one controller and 'drawing' the physical space you have around you. The software will then calculate the optimal play area and set 'Chaperone' walls that appear in the headset when you get too close to the play area. In practice this works wonderfully, and has stopped me accidentally smashing into my TV on many occasions.

The headset itself has adjustment values for the top and side straps, IPD (Inter-Pupilary distance) and the distance the lenses are away from your eyes, to accommodate users who wear glasses. My wife wears glasses and states that it is extremely comfortable to wear, with no issues at all.

2. Yeah yeah great but is it actually FUN?!

Yep. It's amazing. The first time you strap on the headset, the tutorial plays. This involves being in a small white room in an Aperture Science lab. Everything looks fantastic in true 3D, and it feels like you are actually there. Then the walls fall down. You are actually in a HUGE warehouse. The sense of scale is just incredible and within 2 seconds you are transported from your living room to this new environment. I won't spoil the rest of the tutorial too much , but it involves blowing up balloons and bashing them about with the controllers that track PERFECTLY to your hands.

Remember my wife who was complaining about it all evening whilst setting it up? Within a few seconds of putting the headset on she was laughing out loud with a huge grin on her face. It really is amazing.

It's hard to put in words how convincing this is - you really have to try it for yourself! Everyone who I have demoed this to has been in awe. Give me a shout if you're ever in Manchester (UK) and want to come round to have a go :-D

There are a number of games out for the Vive, but unfortunately most of them are not fleshed out enough at the moment. It needs another 6 months to a year to really get developers on board and creating great content. However, there are a few to note, such as Space Pirate Trainer (Shooting drones that shoot back at you) - this will have you falling all over the place dodging lasers and shooting back like a badass. Great fun, and great exercise! Audioshield is another good one - punching coloured orbs out of the sky to the music of your choice. Valve's very own game "The Lab" is a perfect introduction, as it contains a number of mini-games that show off the various capabilities of the technology. My favourites so far though are the adventure/rpg games such as "Vanishing Realms", "Call of the Starseed" and "Budget Cuts".

I could go into great detail about how good these games are, but it's probably better to just check out some Youtube footage of them. Be aware, though, that the footage you see on a 2D Youtube video doesn't compare in the slightest to what it's actually like to play these games. Before I got the Vive I thought all the games just looked a bit crap. When I tried them I was blown away.

3. Good points

Ok - here's a few good points I can think of:
  • Most immersive gaming experience I have ever had. An order of magnitude above anything I have tried before.
  • The controllers are incredible. Being able to fully interact with the world trick your brain into thinking the VR environment is REAL. (So much so that on a number of occasions we have leant on walls that aren't actually there, and put the controllers down on a virtual desk, only to have them fall straight through.)
  • There is actually a nice selection of games out at the moment, but many are short experiences (under an hour).
  • Even though VR is a solitary experience, the Vive works as a communal activity. Everything is mirrored to the main monitor as well as the headset, and audio can be also. This ends up with a load of people watching and laughing at the person in the headset winning or failing miserably at whatever game is being played.
4. Bad points

  • Resolution. Although you have 2 x 1080p screens strapped to your face, unfortunately you have 2 x 1080p screens strapped to your face. This means that the resolution isn't great. Think 720p kind of quality with a slight mesh, or 'Screen Door' effect over everything. However, you'll find that you're having WAY too much fun to notice this after the initial few seconds
  • Text readability - due to the resolution, any text smaller than around 12pt is quite hard to read. However, this isn't too bad as most games designed for VR take this into account and use large text scaling.
  • Tracking issues. I have the lighthouses set up in my lounge and occasionally one of the controllers will float away from me when it loses tracking, due to reflections from the mirror. It's better when you cover all the reflective surfaces, but it's also a pain in the arse to do this every time you want to fire up the Vive!
5. Is it worth the price?

It depends. The Vive is an incredible piece of kit, and from the moment you put the headset on you'll realise what a huge leap forward this technology is, however it is still very expensive, and requires a beastly computer to run properly (running 2 x 1080p screens at 90FPS is not such an easy task).

Also, the number and quality of games that are currently out is quite limited. I still use it every day, and the sense of wonder and awe never really goes away, but I can't wait until this time next year, when the AAA studios start to release content for it.

Honestly, if I were you, I'd just come round to my house to check it out and see what you think! Then I'd wait until the price is slightly lower and there are more games out for it. Give it 6 months.

Cheers!
 
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Ian

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I had a go of this at @Naylors house last night - it was bloody amazing :D. It's nothing like the VR headsets of the 90's... Until you've tried one of these, it's hard to imagine how good they are.

The tracking and immersion is so good then when you have the headset on (and can't see anything other than the VR world), someone can hand you the controllers and you can grab them as if they were real - the shape/tracking of them in the virtual world is perfect.

If this is what the first generation of VR headsets look like, then I really do this this is going to be a mainstream product within a decade. (Let's bump this thread in 10 years and see if that is the case ;)).

That said, I'm not going to get one yet - as they're damn expensive and I'd like to wait for the next generation. The big downside for me was needing wires from the headset to the PC, but I'm sure that will change soon enough.
 

V_R

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Good write up and an interesting read. I agree with Ian, the next gen should be great!
 

Becky

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I had a go with the Vive too (thanks @Naylor! :thumb: ) and can confirm that it is totally amazing. As someone who has always had motion sickness I was worried about whether it would give me problems when I was playing it, but it was fine. I actually felt worse watching the screen when someone else was playing it! Stupid brain. :wall:

I like how you can move through games with the blink motion (ie you point to where you want to go, and move there instantly - sounds weird but works well) - I think I would have felt sick when moving around without that.

Oculus Rift certainly needs to up their game!
 
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Yeah I agree about the wires - although reading up on the sheer volume of information needed to be transmitted back to the base unit, it seems that this could be a while away yet. You do get used to it after a few hours though, and kind of subconsciously keep it out of the way. Stuff like 'LI-FI' technology could be a game changer for this tech, and dual 4K screens would be immense! It would also need a hefty battery, so Graphene tech would compliment it well, but I really think we're a few years away from that for now.

I've seen some people use gaming laptops strapped to their back for this, but that looks fairly awkward, for like 30 mins of game time before the laptop battery dies due to the power consumption of those discrete graphics cards.

I've had motion sickness on some games where there was locomotion, such as walking forward, or jumping in 'Windlands' *barf* - thankfully most VR games use the 'blink' system anyway, which is more intuitive than it looks when just watching Youtube videos of these games!
 
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Becky

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They should totally do a Star Wars game for the Vive. Using the force and lightsabre battles would work really well with the controllers :D

Also I'd love to play a game like No-One Lives Forever 2 on there! :nod:
 
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Oh hell yes! No One Lives Forever is one of the best games I ever played. I get the same kind of vibe from "Budget Cuts" on the Vive, but it's just a tech demo at the moment. Hopefully the full game will be out soon!

I think there is a 'Lightsaber' simulator at the moment but due to copyright it's called something like 'Lightblade VR' :lol:
 

Becky

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Thought you'd like it! You can put yourself in their... erm... paws. Maybe it will grant you deeper understanding into their behaviour :lol:

What's next, Goat Simulator?!
 

V_R

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lol, that cat simulator looks hilarious! :lol:
 
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Becky

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Just read this article about an alternative to blink locomotion in VR (which, if you don't want to delve too far back in this topic is a method of moving about in VR that helps avoid motion sickness). So with blink locomotion you point to where you want to go, click a button and you appear there. It's effective but a little jarring. Doom has built on this by incorporating a fast-forward sprint between the two points:

There's a glaring, unavoidable issue facing every developer who dares to venture into virtual reality: how do you handle movement? The answer for many creators--especially those making first-person shooters--has been some form of teleportation. Rather than risking motion sickness by letting players sprint straight ahead, they allow you to warp around the map with some sort of point-and-shoot traversal mechanic. It works, but it's clumsy and often jarring, especially since it's easy to lose your bearings while magically popping from the place to place in first-person.

Doom VR takes this same tact but ends up feeling far more elegant thanks to a few subtle yet crucial tweaks. Rather than instantly shifting the camera from point A to point B, Doom makes you feel like you're dashing through the world with super speed: when you hold down the trigger of HTC Vive's left handheld controller, the world slows down, the audio drops into a deep rumble, and a bright blue aiming cursor appears. When you release the trigger, you see the world rush past as you dart to your selected destination. Being able to see how you got to where you're going while feeling like a time-bending badass in the process feels worlds better than the instantaneous, unceremonious perspective shift found in other VR games.

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/doom-may-have-solved-vrs-traversal-problem/1100-6442439/

Sounds like a great idea! It's interesting to hear about the methods that game developers are coming up with to deal with the whole movement in VR issue. As someone who is prone to motion sickness but would love a VR set up, this is very encouraging :thumb:
 

floppybootstomp

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There's a good little roller coaster simulation game available on Steam atm which will work with VR headsets and I think it would look very good on one.

There's a demo available on Steam where you can ride three different coasters and I'm enjoying the roller coaster rides even on a regular PC with a 28" Monitor.

It's called No Limits 2 Roller Coaster Simulation.

YouTube link:
 

Abarbarian

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Sounds like a super dooper piece of kit. Wonder if any one will buy me one for christmas. :rolleyes:Which is only a few months away. :lol:

Just checked out the pc specs needed and am surprised that you do not need really top end stuff to use the Vive. I'd only need a new graphics card ohh and loads of loot. It will be a great toy once they get rid of the wires. :cool:
 
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Becky

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I think that would make me hurl! :lol:

Sounds like a super dooper piece of kit. Wonder if any one will buy me one for christmas. :rolleyes:Which is only a few months away. :lol:

Just checked out the pc specs needed and am surprised that you do not need really top end stuff to use the Vive. I'd only need a new graphics card ohh and loads of loot. It will be a great toy once they get rid of the wires. :cool:

They are incredible, if you get a chance to try one you really must! :thumb:
 
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