28th of november 2014 saw the first ever EEVR meetup in Tallinn. There was a great mixture of people from 3D artists, game devs and engineers to general enthusiasts. All in all, about 15 people attended the proof-of-concept event during five hours. We had two planned talks and much discussion, also some really awesome hardware/software demos.
In the intro talk the organizers Mario and Madis talked about the concept behind the event – to get people connected, share knowledge, discuss latest VR news and also boost the development of local VR software/hardware. Humble goals indeed 🙂
Madis Vasser then discussed the different aspects that make up a stress-free VR demonstration. In short: know your hardware, location, software and audience. He highlighed some big mistakes one can do in a demo setting, like placing your laptop in direct sunlight (performance killer) or letting players accidentally smash themselves into various real objects while inside the rift (fun killer). Special focus was also on the fear factor – how different age groups tend to react to VR. Children can be quite shocked, so it’s advised to communicate with them frequently. Older people are sometimes in “VR denial”, so expect lots of screaming from them.
Mario “Zuurik” Saarik took the audience down the memory line with a quick review of VR history, starting from the 1930s! The slideshow had something new for everybody, as the VR scene was much more diverse than anyone had expected. Some headsets were super cool, slightly funny or epic failures, others never even saw a proper release. The talk
smoothly transitioned to todays technological advances. People discussed different input devices and their limitations, the possibilities of waking in VR and also the elusive soon-to-be-seen Magic Leap technology. All in all, a solid two hours of discussions. Next were the demo sessions.
Madis Vasser demonstrated the uncanny valley effect with a all-too-real looking 3D scanned self-portrait demo, done with the help of DollyMe3D. The players could see him run around, creep uncomfortably close or just mirror the headmovements of the rift to really mess with the senses. Madis also let people experience the presence of hands in VR through a rift-mounted Leap Motion and different demos found from the web.
Zuurik brought out his War Thunder cockpit –
complete with a joystick, steering pedals and throttle lever. Those who tried it were impressed – despite the crazy in-game dogfight and upside down manouvers the whole experience felt comfortable and quite immersive.
Siim Raidma premiered his special build for EEVR I called Ball Turret. In the game you are a Turret pilot that sits, well, inside a ball. The virtual world is TRON-ish, with a seemingly endless flat surface beneath and a city of blocks above. Your job is to roll about and shoot different targets high in the sky. The game relies on a joystick for movement and fire commands, the aming is done with head movements. Although rolling around in a giant ball might sound nauseating, the actual experience was super-comfortable. Drifting sideways was the most fun I’ve had in VR since the barrelrolls in Great Power demo.
We didn’t have the planned hackaton due to hardware issues, but Madis filled the gap with his DIY VR viewers (one made from a tea box, the other simply from cardboard and foam). Ott Pilipenko also brought his legendary Puppetmaster, so people could take turns controlling each others minds.
The evening presented many opportunities for networking with fellow enthusiasts. Some where looking for a job, others were offering jobs. In summary, the first event was a great success and the next one can only get better, as we already have some sweet talks in mind. Many thanks for Psühhobuss for providing all the snacks and Tallinn Polytechnic School for the nice
The next event will most likely take place sometime in the end of january 2015 in Tartu, Estonia. Who knows, maybe in a form of a VR jam. Everybody, start your game-engines!