So in another thread Coot asked this question:
I can't imagine what it would be like in VR. Seems like some of those tense O2 management risks would feel quite suffocating. I've never tried a VR system. Do you all that use them get interesting dreams after playing in VR?
So I bought a VR headset recently, a Pimax 4K with a NOLO spatial tracking solution. After a few back & forths with faulty products (on the NOLO side), I eventually got VR on my rather old system, which was surprising in itself.
I bought it ostensibly to play Elite Dangerous, I was currently really enjoying that game and I had heard that it was sublime in VR. As I run Windows 7 Pro, the Pimax was the only solution available to me, and as I live in a country that allows consequence free returns on products I felt safe in trying it out. It is indeed sublime, the sense of volume and solidity of the cockpit is incredible, heavily augmented by the fact that as I use a HOTAS
, and the ingame avatar also uses a HOTAS
, the immersion was very real. I was IN that game, not "in" that game.
So one of the things you can do in Elite Dangerous is land on a planet/moon, and deploy a Surface Roving Vehicle (SRV). It's a neat little 8-wheeled vehicle that has a vaguely spider-like appearance and is good for romping off and doing a little "off-road" type activity. In 2D this is fun, but in 3D it was.... different. I drove up steep inclines, jumped over ledges, and descended insane slopes and what VR gave me was head spinning, stomach turning and heart racing experiences, I luckily don't get motion sickness so that's not what I'm describing, I'm describing a level of visceral enjoyment that I have not felt for a VERY long time in a video game, so I was quite pleased with that. It was pretty much more than I was hoping to get.
As good as Elite is in VR, you're essentially sitting in a 3D cockpit with a 2D view outside, as for the most part everything outside is too far away to be visualised in 3D. Aside from planet exploring of course, when the ground is within the human range for 3D visualisation. I thought about this and wondered how a racing sim would be, I'm still in a cockpit, but also everything I need to deal with is in a human 3D range, the road, other vehicles etc. I was not wrong, I bought Project Cars 2 and tried it out (using Steam's 2 hour/2 week return policy as a cushion against wasting my money). I was so impressed I bought a force feedback wheel to see if it improved again, it did. I bought a stick-shift to augment the wheel & pedals.
Now I'm not really a racing sim kind of guy, but I am always looking for a great game experience, and I feel this setup provides it. I'm not really much good at it, by by crikey it is enjoyable. And as luck would have it, I found out that Project Cars 2 is a particularly good example of a racing sim VR implementation, it is outstanding. I don't use the NOLO for this, just the headset, it has it's own gyroscopic 3DOF implementation that is perfect for cockpit-based gaming, I don't need to lean or wander around. (NOLO is the part of the package I bought that adds 6DOF to the Pimax's 3DOF. It tracks your headset and gives you two reasonable VR controllers, and is a single-basestation solution, so good for games that you can play 180 i.e. not 360 degrees around you.)
But there's a weird thing that happened also. I discovered something about myself: I can get freaked out by some VR experiences. I downloaded Valve's The Lab to play some free high-quality content, and one of the experiences is that you get to wander around a fantasy shop, like a wizard's apothecary or something. I set up my SteamVR playspace and was wandering around the shop, looking at things, picking them up, reading books, spinning globes etc. All nice & lovely.
Then this..... character
comes into the shop that I was NOT expecting. A caricature of an Arabian/middle eastern/Mediterranean stall salesman, overly friendly and familiar, flattering, you know the thing. But it was his appearance, he was proportioned oddly, like a Pixar character or something, he was rather fat, his hands were too big, his head was too small, his lips and nose too big, small piggy darting eyes. On a 2D monitor I'd have no problem here, I've seen far worse. But in 3D I felt every hair on my body stand on end, he was in my space (or rather, I was in his) and was really pretty freaked out. I stayed on my side of the shop and watched him very carefully, not wanting to get close. As part of his script, he tried to give me something, coming closer & offering it out in his hand. I thought: if he comes for me I'm just going to fill my pants here. I stayed put, and eventually he placed it down, said some more stuff,and wandered back out of the shop.
After I was sure he wasn't coming back I went to the table where he put the article, it was some sort of lamp, or light source. I expect it was something I'd need to use at some point in a dark place. After I picked it up and turned around, where I was a few seconds ago was a large Jack-in-the-box. About a meter in size, with a large handle on the side. I thought: That was definitely not there just now, it has appeared. Then the handle started to turn around by itself.
I was still a little freaked out by the shopkeeper so I went "Nope. Nope. Nope" and took the headset off
So there you go. I did not know that I could be freaked out by VR, while still enjoying other aspects so much.