Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Thoughts on VR

So last weekend as I was going through the Steam listings like I do every damn day, I found a whole bunch of new VR releases.  So I guess that means that VR is starting to hit some kind of stride now.  Of course I don't own one of these things yet, although I have tried the Occulus a few times so I thought I'd just take a little bit of time to talk about VR as a concept.

On paper VR sounds really fucking cool.  The idea of being completely immersed in a game experience, actually getting that feeling of being IN the game, sounds amazing.  This isn't a new idea but the last time someone tried it the technology just wasn't anywhere near where it needed to be and it ended up sucking really hard.

Although that was 1995 and now we're in 2015 so shit is way better than that red and black sack of shit.  I've not actually played a game in VR yet, which is a shame.  My current experience consists entirely of being on impossible roller coasters and it was an impressive experience to say the least.  I'm terrified of real roller coasters and these demos did give me similar sensations although I wasn't screaming like a little bitch because I was still very much aware I was just sat in a chair in a shop front.

That said, there's a potential here for things to be really great once developers get their head round everything.  Obvious applications involve things like FPS games where the motion sensors can give you real freedom to move around and shoot things.  What I'm holding out for though is a real good horror game and I'm not just talking shitty "BOO! VR JUMPSCARE!" stuff, I mean real immersive, Silent Hill 2 level shit.  Other interesting ideas could be things like first person dungeon crawls or games that involve piloting a mech or something.  I'd love to play a game where you take the headset off and maintain/improve your robot just using a regular mouse/keyboard/screen setup but when you have to go on a mission or whatever you slam that headset on and pilot it using those weird motion controller things.  It would actually feel like your suiting up and getting in your bot, it would be pretty sick.

There are two big problems though I have with VR as a concept right now.  Not a single game that I've seen actually seems to have any substance to it.  It's all just fucking gimmicky bullshit and even if I had the headset I don't know if I could bring myself to buy any of the available titles.  That said, I'm sure this is a problem that's being caused by the age of the damn thing, once developers get used to developing for it I'm sure there will be some really cool games. 

The other thing that turns me off though is the goddamn price point.  One thing I noticed on Steam is that most of the games seemed to be compatible with the HTC Vive which is pictured at the top of this post.  So of course I look the thing up thinking that maybe I'll buy one and...

holy shit, $1000?!  When everything right now seems to be trumped up tech demos $1000 is a lot to ask for.  I'm sure there are plenty of people who have been waiting for for VR for a long time so the price point wasn't too big a deal but for normal folks like me, holy cow.

Still, as time goes on the games will get better and the tech will probably get cheaper.  I for one and looking forward to seeing where this all goes.  Nothing well ever beat just relaxing in a nice chair and chilling with a video game but the world of VR is absolutely worth keeping an eye on.

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