This series of Q&A sessions takes a look at the growing VR community and some of the luminaries, peace-keepers and general heads of our time.
Today, we ask r/oculus redditor and HL2VR developer Wormslayer for his views…
VRG: Wormslayer, thanks for taking time out of your busy HL2VR schedule to shed some light on what is still, for most, an industry in its infancy. As someone with a handle on both the community and development sides, we’re looking forward to seeing what you see. OK, let’s get things started.
What’s your earliest VR memory?
Dactyl Nightmare on the Virtuality CS1000
Did you read about VR before it existed?
Well, depending on what you define as VR, it could be said to have existed for decades before I was even born. But yeah I have always been a big SciFi fan, and read things like Snowcrash back before the last VR boom in the 90’s.
What is the main idea that draws you to it?
It’s the ultimate form of escapism; literally creating other worlds to play in.
Do you think we could all end up in vats of Nutri-Gel living Better Than Life?
Haha, anything is possible in a long enough time frame. I recommend reading some of Ian M. Banks Culture novels: “’The Minds call it Infinite Fun Space. The space of all possible mathematical worlds, free to explore and to play in. It is infinitely more expressive than the boring base reality and much more varied: base reality is after all just a special case.
From time to time the Minds have to go back to it to fix some local mess, but their hearts are in Infinite Fun Space.”
VRG: As massive Banks’ fans, we hear you. Minds creating places for Mind to play in. Hello, 21st century!
What are your favourite experiences so far?
So many great experiences since getting my DK1, I have been playing a lot of Elite recently, it’s pretty awesome and a game I’ve been waiting decades for 😀
VRG: Gotta love the Brabben. We’ve been looking forward to the VR demoscene that nails it, perhaps that’s it (we’ll know better when we finish our review).
If a truly life-like VR experience existed today, what would be your first destination?
I guess a quick Titans of Space style tour of the Solar system then off to Whore Island? 😉
VRG: Island?! You’re thinking too small… ;p
What spec is your PC?
Intel i7-970, 24GB of RAM, Geforce Titan, SSD’s for OS and apps, HDD RAID for bulk workspace.
What do you think the launch resolution of the Rift will be? What about the Morpheus?
Wild Speculation: 1440p for the Rift, 1080p for the Morpheus.
VRG: Interesting, consensus here is that we’d like Sony are going to show off a little, but it being a PS4 accessory seems to anchor it to 1080p.
Can you see GPU manufacturers delivering solid performance boosts to VR in the next 3 years (i.e. comparable to single-view rendering)?
I’m sure there will be some VR optimisations from the GPU manufacturers.
VRG: [Update] Prophetic! Nvidia have released the Maxwell GPUs with VR-Direct, a per-eye GPU rendering solution for SLI setups. We’ll have to wait and see what this means for performance, but it’s a major step in the right direction.
At what point will resolution cease to matter?
I suppose once we can no longer distinguish individual pixels in our light field displays?
Do you see Oculus (or anyone else) being the gate-keepers to VR, in a commercial sense?
Not any more than current hardware and software manufacturers are the gate-keepers of desktop computing. I think in the short term Oculus have all the factors aligned in their favour and will be hard to compete with.
How do you see VR taking hold in the mainstream?
Truly mainstream? VR soap operas!
VRG: Haha! Oh, god, yes! Jim: Harold? I have a present for you. Harold: Ooh, thanks! What’s a head crab?
How long until people are buying VR sets for the grandparents?
That has already happened!
What has being a mod in r/oculus taught you about the community?
The community is full of smart and interesting people looking to get a really wide range of different things from VR.
What other sites are really bringing the community together?
There are dozens of VR forums, blogs, podcasts, etc. and they are all instrumental in the current resurgence of VR popularity, check out the extensive list on the sidebar in /r/oculus
Where did you learn to code?
Despite dabbling in all sorts of different languages, it’s not really my area of expertise. I suppose my first exposure to programming would be using BBC BASIC on a school computer in the 1980’s.
VRG: Ahh, those were the days. Line 10. Print Bollocks. Line 20. Goto 10. *happy sigh*
What resources could you recommend for new developers?
The official Oculus dev forums, /r/oculusdev, the Unity and Unreal dev forums.
Unreal or Unity (for newbies)?
I would have to go with Unreal for newbies, Rift support is only available in Unity Pro.
How are things going with HL2VR? (Pssst! Have you heard anything about HL3?)
We just released a new version of the mod! We’re currently looking forward to getting our hands on the new STEM controllers and maybe some stuff like Omni and PrioVR. Sadly I dont know anything about HL3 beyond the wild speculation that abounds on the internet.
Do you intend on working on any other HL2 mods, such as Portal?
No plans right now other than finishing the features we already have planned for HLVR. Sixense are working on a Portal VR mod!
If you were to head-up a new VR IP, what would really make your mouth water?
A brand-new IP? I suppose it would have to be a VRMMO.
What are you enjoying most about the VR community?
Seeing so many people who would otherwise have nothing in common uniting in a shared enthusiasm for things Virtual
Are there any negative signs or trends that concern you?
There are a lot of people trying to opportunistically cash in on the success of Oculus, and I do sometimes worry that they will slow the rise of VR by releasing sub-par VR products.
On that note, what are your thoughts on mobile VR right now? Is it too early and being forced, or can it legitimately ignite the market alongside PC-based experiences?
I havent really tried many mobile experiences, but if anyone can make mobile VR work its John Carmack.
How do you see drift being solved for mobile?
Techniques like Dense Tracking and Mapping seem like they may be a solution, not really my area of expertise though!
Regarding HMDs, who do you think will be sat at the VR round table other than Oculus and Sony?
Once there is a proven market, companies like Microsoft and Apple will step in.
VRG: iGlass and Reality 2020? Sounds feasible.
What’s the most bat-shit insane thing you’re looking forward to?
HLVR: Deathmatch with foot tracking; everyone running around trying to kick each other in the virtual balls? XD
VRG: Oh, hell yes!
Do you think Oculus will launch an input device with the CV1? What will it be, if so?
Maybe not with CV1, but we do need standard, affordable controllers.
Given hand and arm inputs are so important for presence, which devices are doing the best work in that area right now?
I have yet to actually try any of them, so I’m not sure.
Can you see any kind of treadmill providing a means for increased presence in the next few years? Or are we doomed to shuffle our way around VR?
I’m not sold on the idea of ODT’s, but I havent tried any of them yet so I’m reserving judgement. I think an empty room is going to be the way to go.
VRG: Sounds like an AR/VR cross-over. We agree it’s probably the most workable solution until spinal taps become the norm.
How far can we take customisable virtars? Will our residual self image get in the way?
Come to one of the VR Chat meetups, every week people try and out-weird each other with new avatars
VRG: Haha, that reminds me of Zaphod meeting the insecretary. We’re so there.
How do you see the military using VR? Can it change the face of warfare?
They already use all kind of VR training stuff, but I’m sure they will find new and exciting ways to use it to kill people XD
Do you think VR porn could solve the global over-population problem?
Not until VR reaches Matrix-like levels of immersion.
VRG: Agreed. Trinity was so hot in that PVC.
Oculus + [?] = VR Perfection
VRG: Respect +1
Oculus + [?] = VR Nightmare
Failure to adhere to VR best practices.
What’s your favourite presence-enhancing accessory (PEA)? Control VR? Perception Neuron? Other?
Havent tried any of them yet
Will the Rift ever be free? (as Luckey hopes)
I can easily imagine them being given away “free” as some sort of monthly subscription package to a VR game service.
VRG: And thus, it starts…
Many thanks to Wormslayer for giving up his valuable time to share his thoughts with us all. We really enjoyed hearing his views and it’s heart-warming to know that our community has Trekkies at the helm. Join us for our next LoQ session as we continue to get a rounded view on anything and everything in this land of infinite fun.