Getting your hands in

Handtracking is hands down my most anticipated upgrade to the Oculus Quest!
I have developed games with hand tracking in the past and can’t wait to see what I can do with the Quest in the future.
And it will be such an improvement. I can do project demos without explaining non gamers how to use the controllers. And yesterday my right controller died while I was checking out Bigscreen … and without it there is no way to exit it, while I was perfectly capable to control it with the left controller otherwise.
Also of course I no longer had any usable batteries at hand.

So check out what Nathie thinks so far – it is not perfect, but looks solid enough. Until release it will get even better I expect.

Oculus Quest Day 7

Today I was too sick to play Beat Saber, didn’t even go in until the day was almost over. Decided to play something that is not requiring me to do a lot of movement:

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Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl

Part of me really likes the cute presentation, but another part of me really feels like it is just half a game that is in dire need of a campaign mode and on top wasn’t really ported to the Quest with a lot of love.

First – this game is a multiplayer game where you just get to put units out there and then watch them fight it out with little room for actual interaction or control. So the real magic lies in putting the right units in your deck and adding the right perks on your units.

I played a couple of games against the AI and won all but one, where I got overrun. And it was a bit of fun. Unlocked a couple of cards by paying with gold I earned in the matches, but this was sold as building cards and makes me suspect there was originally something more crafting like planned that got cut and now represents a complicated way to unlock cards.

What really irks me is that almost all the text fields are so far away that they look horrible. You have to lean in on them to read them and that is not very user friendly. Plus there is no reason for it, in all cases there is plenty of room to make them bigger – but as the PC version likely fixes it with MSAA 8x the mobile version suffers from a quick and dirty port.

And then there is the lack of a campaign mode. I guess I would be a lot happier if there was a simple campaign mode that gives me 40 missions to progress through while unlocking units. And where I am introduced to the concepts of what units are good against which foes in a less random “trial and error” manner.

Seems like an obvious thing to do with the title.

Still … I got a lot of cute miniature units on a battlefield, so that is cool and nice.
Not sure how much time I am gonna spend with this one though.

… the 6th day …

Had a really big meal … and then played 30 minutes of Beat Saber and it just amazes me how fogging was no problem at all in the headset! Oculus has done an amazing job keeping the lenses from fogging as I have issues with that in my Vive all the time.

In those 30 minutes I cleared several of the campaign levels of Beat Saber and I can already see myself playing this at least 3-4 times a week as a light workout that really feels like gaming, distracting you from the labor.

Also added a few more experiences as I discoverd the “not installed” tab.

Also realized that with PC support coming I will finally be able to play Chronos and Edge of Nowhere that I bought during a sale but never played so far.

Then I accessed my Facebook Gallery through the Quest – really like how the higher display resolution gives a good image quality.

After that it was time for a break, but I already knew it wasn’t all for the day. The incredible low friction changes how I use VR. When John Carmack sold the Oculus Go through the argument of low friction I knew he had a strong point, but the Go was lacking 6DOF and that was too much of a compromise.

The Quest on the other hand doesn’t feel like a compromise at all and still offers this VR anywhere and anytime low friction approach!

So a few hours later went back in and played one more round of Beat Saber, finishing a level that had me failing twice before in the first go with, I think, not a single miss or wrong cut. Love how that game makes me a Jedi.

Bogo
After that I jumped into Bogo, a free experience where you play with a little alien dog. And it was a fun and lovely 10 minutes or so in a fantasy world where you pet BoGo, play fetch and do a few other things. It does require a little more space than I actually have right now and it made me feel bad when the virtual pet wanted me to stroke the belly, but my hand couldn’t reach it as it was lying down right where my armchair was in the real world. But nothing broke the game mechanics, those parts are distributed in a more tight space.

After that I discovered another Gallery, this time I went into the 3D gallery of Facebook images of friends! And DAMN!!! Having a lot of photographers as friends certainly helps and the 3D effekt is sooooo much cooler in the Quest than in your Facebook timeline.
Many pictures do have artefacts or are broken in a hilarious way that really just appears when you watch it in VR.
I especially liked all the food pictures! Having food presented to you in 3D at a gallery size has a great effect and I can see how future menus in restaurants will heavily rely on 3D represenations.

Overall another day where the Quest was nothing but joy!

… indexed Quest (day 5) …

… the muscle ache is gone.

And the AMVR controller straps arrived!

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Full disclosure – after my last post a Facebook friend from AMVR contacted me and offered to pay for the straps in return for a review, so I got the straps for free.
That won’t influence my review … but the fact that the very first round of beat saber I played with them was 195/195 hits for the first time might.
And given that I now saved almost 25€ I bought Beat Saber as my first Quest game.

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So how did the controller straps do? Actually quite nicely! I can completely open my hands and the controllers stay in place and don’t feel like they drop at any moment. That they are lightweight without a strong force feedback motor certainly helps.

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I especially like that they have different straps you can pick from when assembling everything. So you get 2 white, 1 red and 1 blue strap and I went for the Beat Saber color scheme. So now I can see which controller goes where by color.

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The one thing I am doubtful about is the spring clasp, it seemed a bit simple and I am in wait and see mode if it still holds the strap well 6 months from now.
And obviously the extra grip does make the whole controller a bit thicker, but at least for my big hands that doesn’t hurt at all. It was certainly a lot more comfortable than the one that is on the way back to Amazon!

I am quite happy with it!

Now there is more in the package! A nose piece that I didn’t bother with and that I am not entirely sure how to use. I already have the silicon cover that I am happy with.

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And then there is the lens cover … and I failed to get it in properly. Seems too big. Maybe I need to cut something or just fold it. No clue. I put it back into the package together with the remaining straps and the nose piece – got a Quest carry case in the mail from China anyway and hope that will make any lens protection obsolete.

 

Link notification

I am actually quite excited for the LINK cable from Oculus. It is a bit pricey for a cable at $79 (which will be likely a hundred Euro here in Germany), but I am told it is super leightweight and not comparable to usual HMD cables.
LINKcable

So if you are excited as well, you might want to visit here and subscribe with your email to get notified when there is news!

… the elder Quest (day 3) …

I wasn’t up to play even a single round of Beat Saber! My legs hurt and asked me politely not to play today.

But I took it to my parents and first set it up in our mobile home garage where there is a ton of space … and it worked just fine!
Sadly the Wifi signal there was too weak and it was too cold for my parents (both sick with a cold) to really jump in.

So I moved it to the home cinema and after moving a few things out of the way the setup once more went super smooth. They really have perfected that part.

So my dad went in and played through the first steps app (which took something like half an hour or so) as well as 2 rounds of Beat Saber (after which he was actually sweating a bit).
Overall the introduction is done well enough to guide a 68 year old through the process – but he still needed a bit of help with the grab/middle finger button. He is used to playing FIFA on the Xbox 360 with my nephews, but the concept of a middle finger button confused him. It took a bit of trial and error until the pickup and release worked well, but then the fun of exploring the gimmicks and tossing paper airplanes clearly took over.

On the not so fun side I failed to get the screen cast to my smartphone. Which really is annoying and makes watching someone toss cubes in VR for 5 minutes a bit boring.

Trying out the casting in a solo experimentation mode is complicated by the headset turning off all the time – need to cover the sensor for the next round of experiments.
I suspect that, again, the wifi was too weak at the location!
Need to fix the wifi coverage as there are not that many spots in the house that I can turn into a VR zone.

… the Quest continues (day 2) …

… first let me say that day 1 left me with a lot of muscle aches. Being a big dude the whole leg work during Beat Saber is noticeable the day after. Still managed to break my record of the prior day on the first try today.

And you start to notice a couple of flaws. For example the controller representations in the home environment do not reflect what you are doing with them. You can press the trigger or tilt the stick and the controller representation stays static … that is a bit disappointing.

And when I enter the headset I better do it at the playing position, because otherwise Beat Saber expects me to play where I put the headset on and that is not always ideal.
I guess I need to check how to center the game – just trial and error did not reveal the solution.
[the solution – keep the right Oculus button pressed!]
But I just put the headset on near my optimal center position.

What I do love is that I just need to take the headset off and then put it a few hours later on and it snaps back into the game as if I left just a minute ago. That is seriously low friction and I love it.

journey of the gods

I also picked the Journey of the Gods demo to try out today and it was a great experience that I especially loved because it allowed a first person as well as a miniature top down view of the world.
It is also quite apparent that the rendering resolution of this game is lower than the screen resolution, as text is a bit hard to read at some points. Not a deal breaker, but I would lie if I had not noticed the visual degradation a bit.

Playing a game like that standing reminded me of the first days of playing Half Life 2 on the DK1 and how I felt when playing it standing. But I ignored the comfort settings, my VR legs these days are strong enough to handle it. Still need to get used to turning with my body (don’t like the snap turn via controller), there is a part of my brain that constantly wants to keep the tether unentangled.

Tomorrow I will send my parents in and am quite curious how well they will do!

Going on a Quest …

“Setup requires an iPhone (iOS 10 or higher) or Android (6.0 Marshmallow or higher) smartphone …”
Source: https://www.oculus.com/setup/#quest-setup

September 25th … almost night.

How could they do this to me? I already had the Oculus App on my good old Note 4 because I used the GearVR with it. That was a long time ago, but I expected to be good here. Sadly my AT&T phone was never updated to an Android beyond 4.4.4.
And the Oculus app is gone on the phone as well and it is no longer shown in the  Playstore on my Note 4 as my device is not supported.

And so there now is an Oculus Quest sitting in front of me that neither my Note 4 nor my iPad 3 are capable of connecting to.

I was annoyed. It was hidden in the fine print and I paid no attention. I guess I split the annoyance between “with myself” and “with Oculus”. Afterall I still don’t see what my Note 4 is lacking to work with the Quest.

There is no easy way out – ordering a cheap Smartphone on Amazon, a UMIDIGI A3, should solve the problem without impacting my budget too much at 70€. I am still too happy with my Note 4 to get a more expensive one yet.

One day later …

I am actually impressed with the build quality the UMIDIGI A3 brings to the table and while the documentary was a bit lacking I still was able to get the phone running in a few minutes (mostly spending time training the fingerprint sensor).

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So back into the Playstore and this time I get to download the current Oculus App.
From here setting up the Quest was just a matter of feeding the right account information … and done without another serious hickup.

The worst part was waiting for the Quest to reboot after it updated the software,
because it just didn’t turn back on. After a few minutes I decided to risk it and turn it on manually (which is a risky thing as we all know we are not supposed to touch devices that are updating) … and it went well, the Quest booted up and I was finally able to go in, do the guardian setup and jump into the introduction experience.

And it was an eye opener! I am not a fanboy by nature, but I admit that the Oculus Quest is now my favorite VR device. Oculus managed to make me a believer in them with this lovely little device.

Where I was not very happy with the Index controllers (and you can believe me I really wanted to be), the Quest controllers are fantastic. Yes they don’t try as hard to give you perfect hand representations … but they are so much more stable with the poses than the Index was for me and they are using them much nicer. The demos that introduce you to the system are sooooo smooth that I couldn’t help but love it.

The only thing I miss is the strap that allows you to let go!

The screen resolution is great and I was very surprised to have so few lens artefacts spoiling the experience. Overall the image quality does not feel like you have to “suffer” because of the mobile chipset powering it.

The weight is also fantastic and the headset sits tight on my head. Played a few rounds of beat saber and the lack of a leash is making even this forward facing experience A LOT nicer.

I think the Quest will keep selling as fast as they can make them for a while!