Ofcourse, once you threw the ball too high, the virtual version would stop mid-air and before you knew it, you got smacked in the head with reality. The solution was cool, and very-very expensive. There was also some technology for untethered VR that actually worked, so we might see VR cabels dissapearing sooner than we might think.
Next we had a presentation by Aleksander Väljamäe, a local academic and researcher who has been heavily involved in VR related science since the beginning of the 2000s. The presentation gave a really brief introduction to his wealth of work already done in the VR space. This included auditory illusions, the sense of self-motion, out of body experiences etc. Currently Aleksander is setting up a new lab in Tallinn University to investigate brain-computer interactions through media. For anyone dealing with VR audio, this talk will surely give some interesting new insight.
First we had a video bridge with Kyra Hendrix and Diana Skopina from MSI, who took us through their line of “VR ready” products. We heard about the latest graphics cards, gaming technologies and also had the change to ask the MSI reps some questions. One big suprise for many was the fact that MSI “VR Ready” laptops were the go-to hardware for many VR demos in this years CES and that said laptops can power the giants like HTC Vive for hours, without being plugged to the wall! MSI also sent a nice swag-box for the event participants, so nobody was left empty-handed.
Last one in the spotlight was again Madis Vasser, a true EEVR veteran. This time he spoke about a little fieldtrip abroad, visiting one “leading company in VR knowledge transfer” in the UK. He came back with mixed feelings, but these are best left discussed in the video.
The bottom line – VR headsets are the future, no other technology even comes close.
The demo sessions were fun as always. As the art school provided PCs, all that people had to do was to bring their headsets. And so we had a nice row of HMDs lined up, from a DK1 to many DK2s, and also some mobile systems. Content wise people had the chance to try out EVE:Valkyrie alpha, I Expect You To Die, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes and also some local stuff, such as the University of Tartu rollercoaster by PsychoBus.
Pics from the whole event can be found here.
Until we meet again in april!
The setup is used to validate new engineering and architectural approaches in virtual space. Egert argued that the ability to share the virtual space with other spectators also wearing stereoscopic glasses is a major advantage over head-mounted displays. There was a brief debate about social VR and it’s ability to replace every possible CAVE solution soon. But as for now, CAVEs definitely win in terms of the users own full-body presence. Those who have a stronger urge to try one of these systems out should contact Egert via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second speaker was once again Madis Vasser, this time sharing his tips and tricks on the topic of how to talk about VR to the general public through VR demos. As many know, talking about VR without showing it can be a lost cause, as people really do not grasp the idea behind say presence without having the experience themself. His recipe for a good 30-minute introduction included the following: VR Lab rats (to demonstrate the fundamental difference between playing the same game on the screen versus in VR), Deep Space VR (to show that the content has not size limitations), Back to Dinosaur Island (no time restrictions either, so yay for timetravel), Senza Peso (to highlight the abstract side of VR), Henry trailer (to show the power of interactivity) and Blocked In (to emphasize that VR can also be a standing experience and that the future of computer interaction will be so much more natural than today). He finished with a call to action to create more VR-compatible content, as the tools for this are freely available and require zero-to-minimal programming skills.
In the demo area we had some interesting exhibits, as usual. People got to out try the legendary AntVR (sadly not having its best day), the GearVR innovator edition, some simpler mobile headsets/spectacles and also the mandatory Oculus. Content wise there were the usual Elite:Dangerous and I Expect You To Die (thanks Mario!), other demos from the web (thanks PsychoBus!) and also many homegrown experiments. One was an impressive mobile turret shooter by Maksim Vladimirovich called “Battle 360“, the other a quick Gear VR test scene by Karel Airapetjan.
Madis also showed his work with porting different Unreal demos to VR, namely Landscape Mountains hang-glider and the Matinee fight scene. He also organized a quick mini-game with his “spinning tunnel” demo (to be released) where people had to try as hard as they can to stand on one foot for as long as possible. Much harder than it sounds when your eyes tell you that the room is tilting! Much general netwoking and buzz also took place and many decided that perhaps our next local meetup before the actual phycial one in february will be held in VR! Many thanks to Digix for the awesome place and snacks, and to everyone coming out!
More pictures here.
Next we heard from Kälver Kilvits and his work at Street-U, a company dealing with mapping city streets. He showed us the ropes of getting a VR app running with three.js and Oculus libraries. It’s a surprisingly simple undertaking, if you know the basics. The result was a live web-based experience to navigate through the virtual streets of Tartu. The potential for mapping cities with lazers to create massive point clouds was also discussed in lenght.
Link to slides.
The demo round was especially rich this time around. Those interested could for example pop their head inside the long anticipated OSVR HDK 1.2 and we also took a look under the hood, as the HDK is easily hackable to pieces. Another cool hardware gadget was a rally seat by Keijo, who let people try out Dirt Rally and Assetto Corsa with maximum immersion. Turning to the game scene, our local prodigy Ats Kurvet was showing off his Mythos of the world axis, and also a new demo for the Epic Megajam, Teleported. Madis demonstrated the glory of Oculus 0.7 runtime with Showdown, Henry trailer and some of his own random experiments. One of those was an asymmetric Leap Motion demo, where one player was controlling the “hand of god”, while the other player inside the rift was climbing up said hand. Great for a bunch of mini-games, stay tuned for more 🙂 Hendrik Proosa showed his quick demo about rendered lightfields in Unity, which left many scraching their head in hopes of understanding the tech behind the cool experience.
Also, check out the pics! (Thanks Karl)
Ott also revealed his 360-degree videos and drawings that everyone fell in love with instantly. The videos were shot with a custom cardboard rig and with only one camera. This worked great with rather still scenes. But shooting every angle separately produced some interesting effects in moving shots – depending on where you would look, you’d see a different storyline. His workflow to create immersive drawings is to first capture the scene in reality, then print it out as a cube map, draw over it and then scan and merge all the pieces again. The results were looking incredible and we can’t wait to try them once they appear online.
Next we had Rene Rebane, presenting Rikai Games’ “Bit by Bit”, a game teaching the fundamental mindset of programming to children. Although not directly relater to VR, the presentation was still useful to many. His project was a great example of how to create something beautiful with only free weekends at your disposal. We also learned about extensive prototyping and playtesting, choosing the universal communication language (tip: avoid words) and the best distribution platform. With visual scripting making it’s way to many game engines, Bit by Bit should interest anyone who wants to get their programming concepts down. For more info check here.
The evening was rounded up with the legendary demo sessions. In one corner we had the impressively detailed Displacement Theory, where the player must try to escape a sinking U-boat. The task is made difficult by the overwhelming amount of knobs and cranks to pull, and the claustrophobic environment is not exactly helping either. Get the demo from here.
Madis showed his prize-winning Nuclear Juggle, where players must use their hands via Leap Motion to catch falling plutonium rods from a overhanging refrigerator. People quickly adapted to the limits of the current Leap Motion sensor and worked out ways to save the innocent people working below. Get the game from here.
We also had Ats Kurvet, who amazed everyone with his many small Unreal Engine demos, ranging from motion capture experiments to controlling a tiny character exploring a dungeon or a wobbly box sliding down a deadly hill and mostly crashing into pieces. Expect great things from this talented developer!
Be sure to check out all the pictures from the event here
Next up was Criffin‘s Peeter Nieler, sharing some insights from a recent trip to Unite 2015 in China. The conference had a dedicated VR day, where Peeter also took the stage. After trying many different tech demos, the general conclusions were as follows: China is flooded with Oculus knock-offs and haptic chairs. On the one hand there is no real innovation, but on the other hand everyone is doing their own thing, so it definitely an interesting scene up there. And the ergonomics of chinese headsets is terrible for westerners (-: (emphasis on the nose).
After Peeter we heard a talk from Siim Raidma on VR game design and porting. He has been hard at work developing his still unnamed “hamsterball-death-ray-battle” game and porting some other beautiful (and terribly un-optimized) experiences to VR. He shared some key point for avoiding cyber sickness – avoid any g forces! His own project is a perfect example how this can be achieved with smooth floors, no walls and gentle turns. Yet the gameplay stay engaging. The bigger idea behind the battle game is of a VR e-turnament. Stay tuned!
During all the talks it seemed that the VR lingo is expanding at a mind-boggling pace. Here’s a quick test to see how hard-core VR enthusiast you are. Try to find the hidden meaning in the following sentences: “I think this lighthouse thing is awesome. Have you seen the magic leap motion slam? I don’t believe in tango.” Check your answers from our dictionary 🙂
The demo sessions featured some local software (curtesy of Psychobus), triple-A titles (on behalf of Mario) and also interesting mobile headsets straigh from China (thanks to Criffin).