I tried The Void’s Star Wars VR experience

Hidden in plain sight between an art gallery and a gourmet cupcake shop, The Void’s virtual reality experience at Downtown Disney is one of the best VR experiences currently available to consumers. From the outside it’s a set of glass doors that open onto a small, crowded lobby with none of the style that Disney incorporates to lure people to enter. To the side of the door is a window display of monitors showing Stormtroopers and some Star Wars motifs, but nothing specific. The reflections on the glass make their presentation blend into the architecture. The crowd management in the lobby makes it look a shambles that rebuffs the casual passers-by. Realistically, this low key appearance serves their purpose because tickets are sold out for months in advance with none available at the venue. Continue reading “I tried The Void’s Star Wars VR experience”

I would like a good horror VR app for parties

Every year I look forward to October 1 because that’s the day I get to start with Halloween. The decorations, the music, the movies, and all the spoopy stuff – October 1 is when that begins. Some years we start planning ahead and other years, like this one, we’re sort of behind. I’ve only just started thinking about having friends over to play some horror in VR. Over the last year we’ve held a few gatherings that were PSVR-centric and those experiences have revealed certain titles are better for group play than others. Sadly, horror titles so far haven’t made the list of good group play. I have a friend who has specifically requested playing Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (RE7), but I don’t think that will happen in a group setting. Sure, it’ll be fun to watch him jump, but the game itself is mostly incompatible for showing many people a good time. I know that there’s been a long and sustained call for quality long-form VR, but there’s also a need for quality short-form too. Continue reading “I would like a good horror VR app for parties”

The rise of warehouse scale virtual reality

A couple of years ago I watched a proof-of-concept video on YouTube of “warehouse scale” virtual reality. It showed people walking through darkened, real world spaces wearing VR goggles over their eyes. Their goggles worked as high tech blindfolds, keeping them from seeing what was really around them but also showing them a virtual world that was synced to the physical space, thus preventing them from colliding with anything physical. That’s the premise of warehouse scale VR. Once actual implementation occurred, the gear the users tote includes hand tools and haptics and the physical space has props and atmospheric effects to round out the simulation. While many teams worked/still work on the manufacture of warehouse scale VR, The Void was the first to deliver in the US. They brought their setup to TED 2016 and delivered next level virtual reality to a wide audience. A year and a half later warehouse scale installations are beginning to appear across the country. Continue reading “The rise of warehouse scale virtual reality”

I love JobBot

As tethered virtual reality headsets started shipping in early 2016 there was an eruption of content for them. One of the titles that stood out was Job Simulator by Owlchemy Labs. It got big laughs, big reviews, and was used to showcase the whimsical side of virtual reality for those new to VR. It was one of the first experiences I bought and played once my PSVR was delivered. Even though the game only lasts a short while and has limited replayability I developed a fondness for the main character, JobBot. I strongly considered cosplaying as him (it?) at San Diego Comic-Con and was stopped only at the challenge of transporting the costume on the train along with my luggage. Back in March I pre-ordered a JobBot plush toy from iam8bit.com and it has just arrived. Continue reading “I love JobBot”

Palmer Luckey is not virtual reality news

Palmer Luckey did the same for virtual reality as Apple did for mobile phones. He saw improvements in all of the necessary technologies and knew enough to assemble them in the right order and how to excite the public about his creation. He worked for years developing headset prototypes in his garage. When he had a winning model he founded Oculus VR LLC, demonstrated the prototype publicly, and then began a highly successful Kickstarter to fund production of the headsets. He became the face of virtual reality when he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine. Within two years of founding Oculus he sold his company to Facebook for a mint and is now personally worth more than three-quarters of a billion dollars. He worked for Oculus, and thereby Facebook, until earlier this year, when he left as quietly as a VR giant can leave a company.

Continue reading “Palmer Luckey is not virtual reality news”

I don’t understand what Microsoft is doing with virtual reality

The console wars are long and storied and skirmishes still occur. Last year the battlefront was virtual reality. Sony fired first by announcing their PSVR accessory for their PlayStation 4 and by delivering it during the 2016 holiday season. Without any real hype from the company fan demand was strong enough to keep the product out of stock for months. They’ve recently reported that in its first nine months on the market over one million units have been sold. It took them until earlier this year to get a handle on supply; expect a heavy marketing push later this year. Microsoft fired back with the announcement of the heir to their Xbox line, called Project Scorpio. It was rumored to be a high-spec performance beast that would be capable of powering HTC’s Vive VR goggles. Fans of both companies clashed online with barbs generally being about how PSVR was for suckers who’re too eager to part with their money/better to hold out for Scorpio versus I’d rather have something now than wait for vaporware. At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) last week Microsoft officially unveiled Project Scorpio, only they’re calling it Xbox One X. Sure enough it’s a high-spec console that’s quite capable of handling virtual reality due out this holiday season. Only Microsoft left the stage without discussing VR, leaving me with an unclear picture of their VR plans. Continue reading “I don’t understand what Microsoft is doing with virtual reality”

I’m thinking about buying a VR mask

One of the things I do when I’m bored is that I start thinking of all the things I want to buy. This is followed by a lengthy period of convincing myself that I truly need these things and that I need them immediately. A quick glance at my bank account and brief thought about why I’m trying to save money are the final process before this fool parts with his money. It’s a bad process, I admit it. Usually once I look at my bank account I realize why I haven’t bought yet. So here I am now, bored, thinking that I need a re-usable VR mask to use while I’m at San Diego Comic-Con. I went last year and tried all the VR experiences that I could. I plan to do the same this year only this year I plan to also consider hygiene. While I was at VRLA I saw some sample masks. Continue reading “I’m thinking about buying a VR mask”

The PSVR blues

When Sony announced PlayStation VR last year there was a lot of noise from the peanut gallery about the number of launch titles and after-launch support. The concern was that there wouldn’t be enough content to justify buying the goggles. Sony promised there’d be enough and I think they delivered. Between launch and Christmas there was plenty of content released – at least enough to keep me going into January. I still have titles on my wishlist that I haven’t bought. Since Christmas, though, there’s been a lull in new titles. The peanut gallery is making noise again. Terms like “dead” and “abandoned” are being used by some. The more prolific VR news sites have started publishing pieces trying to reassure fans that Sony isn’t walking away from PSVR. Continue reading “The PSVR blues”

My Gear VR is gathering dust

PlayStation VR being an October release made a lot of sense for Sony. PlayStation VR being an October release also made for a purchase that sat idle until my end-of-year vacation. Being a married man who works outside of the house I don’t want to spend the limited time I have with my wife by ignoring her from under the goggles. My habit with Gear VR, and Cardboard before it, is to use it in those moments when she’s occupied and when I’m not. Besides finding an appropriate window of time there’s a physical component of my using the PSVR that had me wondering if I’d really ever put any miles on it. I thought that at least the Gear VR would be my frequent VR experience and the PSVR would be the special occasion one. Here at the end of January I can say that I had that backwards. My Gear VR has been collecting dust ever since my December vacation. Continue reading “My Gear VR is gathering dust”

My first weekend with PSVR

I received my PSVR just about a month ago, whenever it was that the pre-ordered units started arriving at everyone’s homes. At the time I didn’t own a PlayStation 4 so I ordered the Pro model and waited a month for it to arrive/waited a month to use my new PSVR goggles. One sentence rant: WTF Sony, how did they not ship simultaneously? I used that month to try some Gear VR apps I’ve been meaning to try and deleting some have been sitting untouched on my phone for a while. I also read a lot of hype and excitement about PSVR in that month and was super eager to give it a go just as soon as I could. Continue reading “My first weekend with PSVR”