Saturday, October 25, 2014

Unboxing Oculus DK2

It felt like Christmas yesterday when FedEx dropped our first Oculus development kit.

I had tried Oculus before at GDC this year. I was not particularly impressed, which was expected for an early prototype. I did get a very positive feeling about the potential of the VR medium.

It was the Couch Knights demo back then. While I was "inside" the demo I wondered why I would spend time in such a place. But it did take me to another place. This was a big deal for me, I do not remember any other device or medium getting close to that.

A few months later I had it in a box right in front of me. (I made sure it would be delivered to my home address instead of the company's so it could be just mine, at least for a few days.)

I was immediately impressed with the quality of the hardware. It was light and solid. You would get a distinct feeling this thing was properly built. The SDK was alright too.

It did not work at all in the first machine I tried. I blame Windows 8.1 and its new ability to use either integrated graphics or the standalone GPU. I see a lot of applications getting confused by that. As soon as I switched to a machine with just a GPU it began to work properly.

Then the sickness began. It was not a subtle discomfort, it made me so sick I could not function properly for the rest of the day. I am not astronaut material, but I have never been troubled by motion sickness in my life. I was aware the Oculus was making a lot of people sick, and was convinced I was not part of that population.

That experience was so bad it got me thinking. I felt poisoned. Poisons and our ability to survive them are masterpieces of evolution. So, in some sense, it is like I had evolved against VR.

What if no matter how much we improve displays, cut latency, etc. we will still be hitting biological triggers that tell your body something is wrong and it must puke its guts out?

I want to go back to working with the device. If the content is appealing  people won't mind the discomfort and will spend time to build tolerance. A lot of people do sickening drugs like alcohol.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

3ds max

We have a 3ds max plugin in the works. Here is a quick screenshot:

We want people to use Voxel Farm to create scenarios for their video projects. But this may also help for the content you create and experience in real time. For instance: any content from your game world, procedural or hand-made, could now appear rendered in very high detail. Since this does not need to run realtime anymore we have time to crank up the voxel resolution. Exporting to max and creating a high quality rendering can be a very effective way to showcase your work.

3ds max is where this project started. Before writing a single line of code, I used 3ds max for a while to prototype geometry and texturing. It is good to be back.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Desktops, Tablets and Phones

One of my goals starting this project was to have relatively simple client applications exposing rich and complex worlds. While we later worked on generating as much as possible in the client-side, there will always be a case where you want access from power-challenged devices. Phones, tablets and even desktop web browsers do not necessarily have the power to generate everything you would like to have in your virtual world, but are still ideal mediums for people to experience it.

The good news is that generation can be offloaded to the cloud. Check out the following video. This is me at my home running several of these simple clients. The content they display is generated by servers running in Amazon's cloud: