VR headsets could change the entertainment industry in 2015

Oculus Rift

By on January 20, 2014 at 11:18 am

The ever popular Mike Abrash gave a fascinating talk on Virtual Reality at Steam’s Dev Days conference last week, explaining Valve’s work on VR headsets and what they have learned during their research and development. Abrash explained that their work has identified the major draw VR has over other forms of entertainment, and that a consumer-ready headset could be developed as soon as 2015, or soon after.

What sets VR apart from standard forms of entertainment, Abrash explained, is presence – the feeling that you occupy the same environment shown on the headset, instead of the office/lab/lounge room. It’s like magic apparently, and once you’ve had a taste of actually existing inside a video game, everything else seems flat.

The technology is not without its flaws of course, and the 2015 consumer product will barely scratch the surface of VR’s capabilities, for reasons far too intricate to go into here. Check out Abrash’s blog for a big run down of the potential and potential setbacks for VR technology – a PDF version of the talk is available, along with some more information on the subject – it’s an enthralling read.

19 comments (Leave your own)

For the first time – after years and years of going no-where technology and empty promises – it actually feels like VR is almost here.

 

It’s possibly the first time in ages I’m keen to see how the new technology turns out. I hope it takes off in a big way.

 

I got to use one at a gaming bar in Osaka. It was really cool until I felt like I’d had x10 more beer than I actually had :S … I hope its just beta issues, but since other people don’t complain so much I think its just a no go for me. Its sad cause it really was amazing.

 

VR units have always been very expensive in the past, We have come a really along way since those early VR days and yeah first time in history everyone will be able to afford one.

crocadrilla,

I tried the oculus rift HD prototype at PAX 2013 and I have to say it was really impressive compared to those big clunky ones from the 2000′s and yeah there were some issues too which could cause motion sickness, but the latest crystal cove protoype shown off at CES 2014 has eliminated this problem, so good things are to come.

 

realone,

I could be wrong so take this with a truckload of salt but…

Wasn’t the reason VR eventually failed was because of the internet. CR was supposed to be the ‘next big thing’ but then someone had to invent the internet and ruin that for the (few) people who were excited as shit to have VR.

 

crocadrilla,

According to Abrash, motion sickness is tied pretty heavily to that magical presence, so even if you do feel motion sickness on the newer crystal cove models, the more they can sync presence the better that will get. I was thrilled to read that (I would have posted this article earlier but I ended up reading the entire report and the ancillary material) because motion sickness killed my attempts with the Rift DK.

 

crocadrilla,

Which bar was this?

 

Liam Gilroy:
crocadrilla,

According to Abrash, motion sickness is tied pretty heavily to that magical presence, so even if you do feel motion sickness on the newer crystal cove models, the more they can sync presence the better that will get. I was thrilled to read that (I would have posted this article earlier but I ended up reading the entire report and the ancillary material) because motion sickness killed my attempts with the Rift DK.

Some things are worse than others with the DK, my game Lunar Flight is regarded by many as being a very low nausea inducing experience. Generally anything FPS based has problems. Seated experiences tend to be much better particularly cockpits.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fWL0pHnyjk

 

Nothing will happen. VR is the equivalent of of using a steering wheel for a racing game or a flight-stick rig for any type of flying games.

You can get as excited as you want, it will only ever have basic market-share…

 

tacitus42:
crocadrilla,

Which bar was this?

Pretty sure he’s talking about Space Station – coincidentally I have also tried the Rift there!

I also had motion sickness, and found that the input lag was too severe to make fast paced gaming really work.

That said the potential is definitely there – the sense of being somewhere else was almost total. Once they get latency down (which I gather they are working very hard on now) and the resolution up, this is going to be amazing.

 

Liam Gilroy: motion sickness is tied pretty heavily to that magical presence

From what I’ve read about the OR (quite a bit) the key issue is latency. At the moment there is too much delay between moving your head and a new image being delivered to your eyes. They are working on all kinds of funky stuff to fix this – this Wired article has some details:

http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2013/12/oculus-rift/

Some of it is pretty smart – like if your head is moving, it is going to keep moving in that direction with some maximum rate of acceleration/deceleration, so you can afford to ‘render ahead’ a little to allow the computer to keep ahead of the user.

 

PinothyJ:
Nothing will happen. VR is the equivalent of of using a steering wheel for a racing game or a flight-stick rig for any type of flying games.

You can get as excited as you want, it will only ever have basic market-share…

Stepping stones mate. Maybe the 2015 push will again not penetrate as deeply as it could. The difference with the other peripherals is that they are for one experience. Flying/driving etc. Think of a gaming controller. That’s closer to what a VR headset should be to gaming than merely another joystick or wheel.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that the other peripherals have limited uses and hence out for everyone, this one might just tip the balance though.

Then again I’m an optimist so I like to think positively about this sort of thing :D

 

PinothyJ:
Nothing will happen. VR is the equivalent of of using a steering wheel for a racing game or a flight-stick rig for any type of flying games.

You can get as excited as you want, it will only ever have basic market-share…

Have you used the Oculus Rift?

As the proud owner of both a reasonable joystick and a steering wheel, I would say this is quite different – not just a bit more fun, but something which transforms the gaming experience into something fundamentally new.

 

Hehe yea It was Space Station.

I’m not sure if that Oculus Rift is the same as this Pax 2013 model realOne mentioned or an older one.

I’m really routing for them, but I think limimi / Abrash is correct in that it is the disparity between seeing movement and not moving that kills me. I believe this because even slight head-bob in games drives me to pain. I guess I’ll have to try it with one of those omni treadmill things as well XD

 

sh0v0r,

It sounds like I’ll have to visit my brother and get my Rift back then :D

caitsith01,

That’s a pretty awesome article, thanks for the heads up. I haven’t been following VR for a while (it makes me too sad because I can’t use it) but I am realising how much I’ve been missing out now, it’s a fascinating topic.

 

this just in, gamers to develop boss upper traps with the release of VR headsets in 2015

 

caitsith01,

It still will not become any more mainstream than a steering wheel. The only way that it will take off is if it is bundled with a console.

 

hopefully the motion sickness issue is like the ole Doom days where it was really just a symptom of low res and low frame rate. Let’s hope that they release with 4K displays that can handle decent refresh rates.

Hell, they might even be able to start using the curved LED display tech to make things feel a little more organic (maybe? haven’t had a chance to see any of those new curved screens in action yet)

 

PinothyJ:
caitsith01,

It still will not become any more mainstream than a steering wheel. The only way that it will take off is if it is bundled with a console.

Soooooooooo, have you actually used it?

I agree it won’t become the default for gaming, but I suspect it will be somewhere between a steering wheel and a console-bundled peripheral.

On top of that, given the direction they are going in, someone will release a console in due course which uses it, I’m sure.

 
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