The VR Conundrum

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there's a frog in my snake oil
I got Deisim already. I am delighted with how inexpensive many VR games are. I guess I had this impression that they'd be really pricey, for some reason. They're not! Granted, some are kinda silly (see picture below), but I'm still very much in the early learning curve, so at least there are things I can toy around with that don't involve FPS games where people could now sneak up behind me. That will probably never be on my playlist. I can't even handle that stuff on a PC.

Hah yeah, just be aware there is a lot of shovelware out there. (Actually I think you've found some there ). There is something to be said for mixing it up between the bargain basement oddities (with their weird control systems and giant hands...) and some slick-but-short AA+ stuff.

Definitely does helps that a lot of the launch titles have dropped from their insane early pricing though for sure!
__________________
Virtual Reality chatter on a movie site? Got endless amounts of it here. Reviews over here



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



there's a frog in my snake oil
Oh I think you may have this lined up already Aus, but No Man's Sky is on 50% (as low as I've seen it go), and could be a good fit. The next big update is a proper VR port. The peaceful / creative modes could be good for you - just free roaming MC style to see what weird beastie lies over the next hill etc.

It's a bit of a punt as you haven't tried 'walking in the game' stuff though. Might be worth getting your 'Legs' first, and seeing what locomotion types they opt for.



The Adventure Starts Here!
Oh I think you may have this lined up already Aus, but No Man's Sky is on 50% (as low as I've seen it go), and could be a good fit. The next big update is a proper VR port. The peaceful / creative modes could be good for you - just free roaming MC style to see what weird beastie lies over the next hill etc.

It's a bit of a punt as you haven't tried 'walking in the game' stuff though. Might be worth getting your 'Legs' first, and seeing what locomotion types they opt for.
Do they really have a peaceful mode where I won't get shot at/blown up/stabbed/killed all the time?



there's a frog in my snake oil
Do they really have a peaceful mode where I won't get shot at/blown up/stabbed/killed all the time?
See creative mode here



there's a frog in my snake oil
Ooooh, it's like Minecraft creative mode, but all roundy and in space!
Yep pretty much . You get to gambol with the animals and build whatever you want. The crafting/building is nowhere near MC, but the base-building is pretty slick.



there's a frog in my snake oil
BEAT SABER: REVIEW




This game delights in raising the difficulty to seemingly impossible levels every time you advance. It felt like a negative that not even its branching advancement paths could resolve. And logging back in to the sheer slope that last defeated me still gives me pause for thought now. But... this crucible of fire has finally set me alight, and currently I'm fricking loving it

The difficulty steps have a pragmatic purpose, forcing you to improve a subset of skills each time. But it's the sheer tricksiness of the tasks which also forces you into a zen zone of perpetual motion, as you react strategically to the flow of cues in an almost subconscious fashion. And that's where the joy is

That and the fact that you really have to swing those sabres like a swashbuckling pirate in full on flourish mode . (You're rewarded for cutting through the blocks not just at the correct angle, but for entering and exiting them with long flow. Which leads to you curling and swirling your blades in a rhythmical sweep of continuous curves, trying to retain momentum while shaping your body for the next Tetris-flurry coming your way....)

In a strange way the game puppets you into enjoying it, leaving you with no choice but to move to its bigger beats to survive. (Despite some of the tracks being all kinds of modern-8-bit glam-pop woeful ). But it's the freeform finishes you can put on things, and mind-clearing 'in the moment' flow which it engenders, which feel somehow liberating, and complement each other very sweetly indeed


PROS:
  • The skill ceiling requires you to go in strategically but enact your plan intuitively. An intriguing mix.
  • Being compelled by the game to execute fancy, flowing Hollywood sabre flurries is great.
  • Pushes you to the edge of your abilities in a way that rewards
  • Rhythmic, anaerobic, zen...

CONS:
  • The actual music is all kinda twee-electro-RnB meh a lot of the time. (But it does the job)
  • I don't always fancy joining at the last steep slope that defeated me.
  • Longevity is unclear (although there is an active Workshop scene for famous tunes)

(---)



there's a frog in my snake oil
Lone Echo: Review




It took me two goes to get into this, as it suffers a bit from style over substance, with the puzzles being far less stimulating than the spacey setting. But now it's clicked I can see why it's heralded.

For being the first game to successfully combine bespoke gameplay mechanics with lavish AAA gloss, this is close to a must-play. The feeling of cruising around tinkering with an ailing space station is great early on, and when it leans more towards 'environmental puzzle' exploration it's just enough to ring the changes, while still being in-keeping with its 'walking sim' leanings.

Or should I say floating sim? The zero-G motion really is a joy. They're not the first to do it by any means, but the execution is excellent, with 'inverse kinematic' arms, and a multitude of things and places to fling yourself off and around.

Even though the 'tasks' are somewhat rote, the sensation of saving lives and surviving against the odds is strangely elevated by the 'raise that electrical charge here' so you can 'cut your way through that malfunctioning conduit there' pragmatics.

I also warmed to their radiation scanning technique, which allowed for a more free-form feeling puzzle-pathing approach to navigation.

It's all tied together well by the pleasing narrative hook, centred on the NPC human companion to your player automaton. It's all very neat, with you respawning into new shells as you deal with hazards, while she shows obvious attachment to your persistent personality (expressed, simply enough, through dialogue choices & lots of canned chat). The actress has a strong presence, which is accentuated by the astro-animations that see her free-float around the place convincingly, and is only undercut by a certain deadness around the eyes. The broader narrative, while not afraid of some clunking tropes, is an enjoyable sci-fi backdrop to that relationship.


CONS
* Massive initial load time, even with SSD
* Very high specs (I still had to run it on low even with a 1080 for the outside stuff)
* Puzzles are very much on the simple end

PROS
* Environments are pretty great, with the odd grand set piece
* The characterisation, acting and plot are all pretty effective. (Aside from a slight deadness to her face the Liv character really feels like someone you've had an adventure with by the end).


(---)





The Adventure Starts Here!
BEAT SABER: REVIEW




This game delights in raising the difficulty to seemingly impossible levels every time you advance. It felt like a negative that not even its branching advancement paths could resolve. And logging back in to the sheer slope that last defeated me still gives me pause for thought now. But... this crucible of fire has finally set me alight, and currently I'm fricking loving it

The difficulty steps have a pragmatic purpose, forcing you to improve a subset of skills each time. But it's the sheer tricksiness of the tasks which also forces you into a zen zone of perpetual motion, as you react strategically to the flow of cues in an almost subconscious fashion. And that's where the joy is

That and the fact that you really have to swing those sabres like a swashbuckling pirate in full on flourish mode . (You're rewarded for cutting through the blocks not just at the correct angle, but for entering and exiting them with long flow. Which leads to you curling and swirling your blades in a rhythmical sweep of continuous curves, trying to retain momentum, and shaping your body for the structured Tetris-flurry coming your way....)

In a strange way the game puppets you into enjoying it, leaving you with no choice but to move to its bigger beats to survive. (Despite some of the tracks being all kinds of modern-8-bit glam-pop woeful ). But it's the freeform finishes you can put on things, and mind-clearing 'in the moment' flow which it engenders, which feel somehow liberating, and complement each other very sweetly indeed


PROS:
  • The skill ceiling requires you to go in strategically but enact your plan intuitively. An intriguing mix.
  • Being compelled by the game to execute fancy, flowing Hollywood sabre flurries is great.
  • Pushes you to the edge in of your abilities in a way that rewards
  • Rhythmic, anaerobic, zen...

CONS:
  • The actual music is all kinda twee-electro-RnB meh a lot of the time. (But it does the job)
  • I don't always fancy joining at the last steep slope that defeated me.
  • Longevity is unclear (although there is an active Workshop scene for famous tunes)

(---)
This game is what I was first exposed to in VR at my friends' house in Houston in April. They're a young married couple (three young kids). He's a wedding/event videographer. When the kids go to bed they play this game in VR every night. You can get different music for it. They record themselves playing the game (both first person and third person). There's one video of him BEATING an 10-minute song (medley) that is ridiculously fierce, fast, and complicated. When I watch that video I think, "Is this guy even HUMAN?" Granted, they'll practice the same songs a lot in order to do well, but he literally did not get ONE beat wrong in the whole eight frazzled minutes. It was insane.

I think this link might work. It gets really intense at about 4:30...

https://www.facebook.com/jimmy.monro...343522/?type=3



there's a frog in my snake oil
This game is what I was first exposed to in VR at my friends' house in Houston in April. They're a young married couple (three young kids). He's a wedding/event videographer. When the kids go to bed they play this game in VR every night. You can get different music for it. They record themselves playing the game (both first person and third person). There's one video of him BEATING an 10-minute song (medley) that is ridiculously fierce, fast, and complicated. When I watch that video I think, "Is this guy even HUMAN?" Granted, they'll practice the same songs a lot in order to do well, but he literally did not get ONE beat wrong in the whole eight frazzled minutes. It was insane.

I think this link might work. It gets really intense at about 4:30...

https://www.facebook.com/jimmy.monro...343522/?type=3
Haha, that is insane

I'm not sure I'll ever get to that level. (And that's where I wonder about longevity for the game and that).

Part of me feels some of the memorised sections are kinda cheaty, because there's something so satisfying about acting on near adaptive instinct. (At the moment I seem to be fixing my eyes on the furthest blocks, so that I can start adapting what I've just done to flow into what I'm about to do)

When the blocks come in a wodge like that, completely obscuring about half of the arrows, I'm guessing you have to execute a learnt move.

That said I am already doing babby-step versions of the above to get through some tough sections I suspect, and being fine with it

Yeah I definitely intend to get some fave tracks downloaded at some point. Although a lot of what's been mapped out to date isn't really my scene . (I've got Daft Punk's Harder Faster lined up, but after that it's like... disco, Michael Jackson and Uptown Funk )



there's a frog in my snake oil
A Fisherman's Tale: Review



Front and centre, you need to know that this slick puzzler is about 1.5 hours long. Get it in a sale. But do get it!

The premise is that you are a wooden French puppet inside a model of a lighthouse. Inside a lighthouse. But your daily routine is disturbed when you realise that you can influence the world above. And the lighthouse beyond that too...

I loved all the licks of quality here. The general tactile physics, the trippy inter-scale flips, and the bespoke applications they found for this promising scenario. The challenges are ultimately simple (turn off hints, the V/O will give you plenty of pointers anyway), but still strangely satisfying.

It kinda makes a rod for its own back in that you expect to be able to solve puzzles with any object, if used cunningly enough, even though it's much more prescribed than that. But trying can be kinda amusing anyway

It feels worth the outlay, because it was consummately done for what it was. But definitely on the 'experience' end of things over the 'puzzle [i]game[i]' end ultimately. Some nice little narrative dabs towards the end too, even if it was mainly all about figuring out the set-pieces.

(---)



The Adventure Starts Here!
They just came out with an Imagine Dragons pack, I think.

I did about three minutes of an easy song at their house, and then those monolith blocks flew at me and I ripped the headset off. She laughed and said, "Oh, yeah, we could've turned those off. Sorry!"

Yikes. In VR it was a little overwhelming with the monoliths. But with the cute little blocks, it's really satisfying to hit them RIGHT. ON. THE. BEAT.



there's a frog in my snake oil
Pavlov VR: Quick Look

Had a mess around in this. Just offline & TDM. It's a lot slicker than I was lead to believe the launch version was (IE there's a practice lobby right at the start, offline version with bots, comfortable locomotion options like controller-relative)

Glad I held off until now on those grounds. You need all that to find your feet, even though it's mainly just a clone of CSGO / Garrys Mod etc.

Mainly it's all the reloading features varying between guns. And good lord if grenades aren't tiny, handheld garden rakes, waiting to hit you mightily in the face. I'm yet to get anyone except myself with them



Now if I could just find a Trouble in Terrorist Town round



there's a frog in my snake oil
Been messing around with LA Noire a bit more now I've finally figured out what was making it unplayable. (My joystick was confusing it and making me sit down all the time :/)



So much more fun now I can just go freeform around the map and mess about.

It's still a crazy short offering really, with it's culled set of missions, so it doesn't feel like it exploits all the old design work and the new interface possibilities as much as it could. (But then again the original never made great gameplay use of the open world city either). There's only one chase for example, so the fun 'hands on' driving is mainly just for showboating about the place, rather than put to regular use.

But hey, I like driving daft places in a 40s motor, so it's all good



there's a frog in my snake oil
Pavlov: Trouble in Terrorist Town

Actually got some time with this. It works really well. All the ridiculous gun detail provides a constant background of tinkering and cues. And just the general stuff like the gaze awareness due to head tracking (and the fact that you can shoot under your own armpit or pull quick draws while waving your hands around in innocence or whatever). I kinda love little aspects like everyone's actual heights being factored in too. Makes it feel much more like a gathering of incorrigible types

The core functions like the menu items are all solid, although I sometimes had trouble plucking them from my bullet vest from between all the dangling grenades.



There were all the standard online frictions points, and one German server was completely set on playing mass Russian Roulette, but in general it had the same vibe of dedicated silliness that makes the Garrys Mod version fun too



there's a frog in my snake oil
Aww yeahh. With moon landing anniversaries come passion-project updates...




I'm expecting hand controls to really up the 'mersion on this cool little moon / mars sim

EDIT: Can confirm it improves the game nicely

Will get around to writing a proper review for it, as it's a neat little passion project that's been plugging away since the first dev kits hit.



there's a frog in my snake oil
Shorts & Experiences:


1943 Berlin Blitz



This is a neat educational use of VR. A radio journalist recorded himself and a bomber crew as they attacked Berlin. They've synched that audio to some decent player models, a reasonable replication of the bomber, & a slightly blurry rendition of the external night time events.

Although they add some BBC balance at the end, addressing lives lost and the broad statistical horror of war, the main achievement here is the vibe evoked of being in that tin can at that time. The plummy descriptive tones as you pull away from the foggy evening runway, and clipped descriptions of the increasing mass of search lights and flak as you approach Berlin itself, evoke the journalist's own first-timer fears and observations. (I shared his surprise at just how intense the spotlight coverage was above the city itself). But it's the language and tone of the airmen that's most intriguing. Terse during the approach, vacillating between tight communication and bombastic encouragement as they enter the moments of highest risk, and finally jumbling out into relieved glorying as they ease away. Distasteful to modern ears given the civilian deaths, but more understandable in both that moment, and the broader context.

Your view is shifted (slightly disconcertingly) around the bomber throughout the process, hunkering with the bombadier to see the city (blurrily) aflame, looking back down the length of the craft at the young gunner protecting their tail, squeezed in between the pilot and navigator. And it adds to your appreciation of events in the main. The thin skin of the bomber, the claustrophobic confines. Interestingly though, the context's main achievement is to allow you to appreciate the tone and tenor of their voices above all else.

(++) [Freebie]


The Rose & I



Interesting to look back to 2015 and see what was going on. This is an incredibly short short, whose most appealing aspect is the kind of ceramic texture to the models. More of academic interest than anything now. It's cool to stand and peer around the tiny scene and scampering character, but if anything I kept noticing a key technical oversight: They hadn't accounted for 'vergence accommodation' (the natural way your eyes focus on foreground details and let the background fall out of focus). Current kit doesn't allow for that, so if devs don't fake the effect with background softening there's a slight feeling of eye strain with dioramas like this.

[Freebie]


I'm still yet to be properly blown away by classical short in VR. But there are some decent-ish ones about.



there's a frog in my snake oil
Lunar Flight: Anniversary Edition



The addition of hands has rounded this indie experience off nicely. It feels very fitting to poke cockpit buttons above your head and madly wrestle a virtual joystick about as you execute your sky courier routines.

It's hugely niche, but I'm loving the strange space serenity it inspires as you win your stately battle with physics and gravity. Counterpointed by moments of building tension and sheer terror as the delicate lunar lander starts sliding out of your control.

I have a suspicion that this is essentially Euro Truck simulator on the moon, as all you really do is manage to arrive somewhere without smashing yourself to pieces. But instead of dealing with traffic you get overtaken by your own bad decision from 2 minutes ago, as physics catches up with you...

There are gyros to be bought that can stabilise you more, and powerful jets to help you lug bigger cargos about. And a Mars setting where you fling yourself into ever more dangerous giant arcs. But essentially that's the game... Going places in low gravity without dying.

The background astro chatter may cycle almost immediately, but neither it or the astro soundtrack have outstayed their welcome yet.

(+++)



there's a frog in my snake oil
Future Tech...?

**** is getting weird...



Also somewhat practical at an industry level, in theory...

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The VR crowd are also big on this whole face replication thing, doubtless with 'full body' avatars in mind:



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It all looks intriguing, but let us never forget 'FOIP'. Currently featured in... Star Citizen, and nowhere else. Nuff said

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EDIT:

Future 'Events'?

Is this kind of 'live event' going to become a thing eventually?



I can almost see it. If the headgear frees itself totally from the wires especially. You could definitely get trippy with the synched lighting effects, and have a certain kinda crowd buzz.

Would be very fricking odd to do it alone in your own bedroom. But hey, if the concert's in Japan or something...

There's this whole exercise strand to VR gaming that's proved very robust, and the rhythm game subset of that definitely channels dancing. See this person in the disturbingly undressed anime avatar for an example (using full body tracking in this case):



Plus there's a bunch of people who seem to watch livestreams / movies / events in similar pseudo cinemas already just for the chat & the scale.

It seems possible. Odd, but possible



The Adventure Starts Here!
Doesn't really seem odd. It seems ... inevitable. I keep wondering what sort of world my grandchildren will live in, what their definition of entertainment will be. For me it was Saturday morning cartoons, taping songs off the radio, and typewriters as a kid. My kids grew up on early Nintendo and 2D Duke Nukem and Jetpack DOS games. The upcoming generation? I can hardly believe how exponentially the technology keeps advancing.