Hardware

Published on November 12th, 2016 | by Edwin Millheim

Virtual Reality, the Beginning! Lets Game!

Virtual Reality, Lets Game!

Virtual reality gaming has been all the buzz for a while. It has been a long time in coming, and it is a good thing that it has taken the time to garner content and work out any issues long before it was presented to the consumer market.  Virtual Reality in the home is just in its beginning phase, so it seems like the market is full of more VR experiences, rather than VR Gaming.

The VR experience is more of a movie with the player being in a static position and they are IN the movie or events happening all around them. Those experiences MADE for VR enable the player to look in any direction as events unfold all around them.

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On the gaming front, a game MADE for VR can be a true immersive experience. As writers and reviewers of gaming, over the years we have all thrown around those words when we wanted to relay how impressive a game is and how it really draws you in.

Virtual reality games brings it to a new level. Looking at a demo or video on your computer showing what the player is seeing in no way relays the true sense of BEING in the middle of that gaming world. It is an exciting time for consumers as we get to see what is brought to the market.

At this time it seems like there are more experiences than true games.

Though in the coming months publishers are working to fill that gap, and bring more games to the consumer.

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There are choices for VR on the market now and at the various price points for the gear, the consumer will have to make some choices on what system to invest in. Make no bones about it, it is a major gaming investment.

I will only concentrate on three main players in the Virtual Reality market now. First and foremost if you do not realize it yet, Virtual Reality headsets are not self-contained product. They are accessories for the various platforms. Sony PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive for STEAM.

They are mainly for PC and at this time the Sony PlayStation 4. Sorry folks, but at the moment, Microsoft is not planning any kind of headset for Xbox One. At least nothing they are talking about.  So while a consumer is making the choice of what they want to invest in, at least part of the choice will be what system they already own.

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Sony has a slight edge on the market, in regards to its VR Headset as it has a dedicated system in its PlayStation 4 console. It’s just plug and play and run a game that is designed to be played in Virtual Reality. You do need to have the PlayStation Move controllers and the camera also, but for the most part it’s all just plug and play.

No fiddling about wondering or stressing if the system can run it.

playstation-vr

On the flip side, we have the Oculus Rift, and the HTC Vive. Though before even jumping on in and making a purchase you have to make sure you have all the system spec requirements to be able to run not only the games and experiences in VR, you also have to have the right amount of Ports and port types to plug all the various controls and accessories into. Those being not only USB 2 and USB 3 ports but a HDMI port as well. Though we are sure that if you have nothing but four USB 3 and an HDMI you will be fine.

While there are minimum specs to run both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive headsets, we strongly suggest that you go above the minimum for the best experience in gaming and entertainment that the industry has to offer.

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The Minimum for Oculus Rift to run is

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • 3x USB 3.0 ports + 1x USB 2.0 (or higher) port
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer

If you can run Oculus rift, you should be all set for the HTC Vive.

Jumping on the band wagon so we may do reviews for Virtual Reality gaming and Experiences our system build is:

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
  • 6thGen Intel® Corei7-6700K processor
  • 16GB DDR4 Memory
  • HDMI
  • 6X USB 3.0 ports + 2X USB 2.0 ports
  • Windows 10

So, again, if going down the route for the VR Headset’s that are PC based, you may or may not be investing more into your system… or just getting a new system all together to run it to its full potential.

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Some of the Virtual reality Gear comes with some items, like Oculus Rift is bundled with the Xbox controller which is a little strange as there are no plans for VR on that console. But it is a gaming controller after all and has been used on PC’s long before this. The Oculus also has a couple of other touch type controls that will be out very soon, just in time for the Christmas rush. These extra types of controllers has a high cost as well but for the most part players can get by with the packaged Microsoft controller bundled with the Oculus.

The Vive comes with a pair of controllers, one for each hand.

For those willing to spend the extra money on a PC if you need upgrades or a new PC and extra controllers, the HTC VIVE or Oculus Rift may be what is right for you. Though on a practical sense the PlayStation VR right out of the box is going run on your PlayStation 4. Just remember you do need the PlayStation Move controllers and the PlayStation Camera as well.

The other thing to consider is play space, because the systems each have some requirements for the sensors that come with them to track head motion.  PlayStation and Oculus Rift do not need much room for the tracker that comes with them. The PS VR and Oculus sensor get their power from USB…. the HTC Vive on the other hand has two sensors that are set up around a room in order to map the area to be used by the player with each needing its own power supply to run. Also, the room needed for full room play is around six feet by five feet in all.

Lastly one thing that you also may want to be prepared for is the possibility of Virtual Reality sickness. VR Sickness is a lot like motion sickness and some experiences or games may do this to some players. So feeling off balance, (yes even falling over is a danger) nausea, dizziness can all take place. Thanks to your brain not agreeing with everything that your senses are seeing and the real world. The sensory information just does not agree with what the eyes are sending to the brain and the ears vestibular system that controls your balance.

On more than a few sessions I have almost fell forward and even had times that the sick feeling carried over into the next day.  I suggest take breaks every few minutes, get into a sitting position for some of your playing sessions. Have a spotter to catch you if you are standing and start to lose balance. It may sound funny for someone to go falling over, but there is a real danger if some of the furniture around is glass. Or if they fall and bash a hard corner against their head, the outcome could be more than bad.

Some games such as Adrift (See my review here) have a button mapped to reorient the player and narrow the field of view which relieves the disorientation somewhat but, it is not a catch all system. With this new style of gaming and experiences, gaming habits have to be changed and be more responsible.

We are at the start of some exciting times for the gaming world. Enjoy it, and play safe.

Have fun, play games.

Edwin Millheim Impulse Gamer


About the Author

whitelotus@aol.com'

Edwin Millheim is a freelance writer since the 1980's has worked in comic book scripting and story writing, for such magazines as Shadis magazine, Anime A2. and also has worked on role playing game creation and adventure creation in the role playing industry as a freelancer (For such companies as Hero Games ,Palladium Books Rifts Index and Adventures Vol 1 hook line and sinker story contributor) working over the years with his editor and co writer for many projects, Donna Millheim, his wife, together... wrote the "electronic games" article for Funk And Wagnalls Encyclopedia Edwin has also worked as writer on comic adaptations to some of his writer/created role-playing games such as Bright Future (Sci Fi) and Unknown Eagles (Based in World War II), and Moonsfar: Warrior's Creed.(Sword and Sorcery) Released Ebook on Amazon 'Unknown Eagles Special Operations" in 2014. Edwin has worked on articles ranging from, previews, reviews and interviews, for various media over the years including magazine and internet, and pod casts, video media shows. Currently the United States Editor For www.impulsegamer.com Over the years Edwin with his often co writers Wife Donna Millheim and Daughter Shael Millheim have written well over 400 articles and reviews and various role playing game books and game supplements. Edwin Millheim is also an actor and stage combat stunt fighter, and has been acting in shows and productions since 1989. Edwin has an over 22-year background in Whitelotus kungfu, a mix of northern and southern Shaolin. Bringing those skills to film and live action stunt shows was a natural thing. Over the years, he has been Cast Coordinator for interactive shows, as well as stunt and fight and action coordinator for various film projects (Sanctuary film from NiceWonderFilms) (BFF Zombie from LifePlay Productions) (Hunter X from Jab Haus)and live action stunt shows. Edwin has had many featured parts as a stunt fighter/actor, and has choreographed hundreds of hours worth of scenes over the years.



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