All of us had a super enjoyable time – and that was before our first summer BBQ kicked off in the sunshine. So, what do we have to report from the day? For one, VR (using the HTC Vive) is a pretty nice alternative to the everyday world around us.
The Dauntless crew recently held our very first Virtual Reality day – hopefully the first of many to come.
Earlier this year, I posted about our expectations of what was, back then, unfamiliar and exciting. It seemed fair to say that 2016 would be the year of VR. After a day of playing around in this new medium, I’m even more confident in that statement than I was in February. Back then, I covered a few of the possibilities VR could unlock for us outside of gaming, and how VR could be our next major tech revolution in a post-smartphone world.
But I wasn’t ready for the sensation a VR experience delivers. Oh… em… gee!
The proud owner of the HTC Vive we played around with was our Head of Development, Michael Hogg. I was there early to help with set up: after we tweaked the two tracking sensors and calibrated a roughly 5m² space, we were ready to leave the everyday behind…
My First Steps...
When I first put the headset on, I certainly wasn’t in Kansas any more: I was far away, and no longer in a building, limited by four walls. All of a sudden, it was that special dusky, twilight time of day. It felt like I had been dropped into exploring a desert in Nevada, complete with a clear, starry sky above.
While adjusting to my new ‘surroundings’ it struck me: this brand new experience almost felt like a physical sensation, as if the Vive was very softly teasing that area in my brain that informs me about where I am. I was totally unprepared for this, but I still came to feel quite comfortable in this new locale: it was surprising how rapidly this happened. On top of that, walking around in this new world – at least at first – made me feel as if I was a little tipsy and disassociated. And yet somehow, this wasn’t in any way sinister. More like a bit floaty.
Let's Talk About That Lab
After that, I got stuck in with Valve’s tutorial. I don’t believe in spoilers, but I will say that lasers were fired at balloons. Nicely acclimatised, it was time to get into VR Proper, which meant… *drumroll* …The Lab.
This was most impressive of all. The software has been meticulously crafted by Valve: it functions as something in between a virtual sandbox for you to play around in, and a mini game compilation of some quintessential VR experiences. This is where I settled into picking up and manipulating objects around the lab, throwing things for a cute little robot dog to go and fetch, and even a spot of archery. It’s also a natural extension of the Portal universe, so those with fine taste when it comes to games will feel right at home.
For the moment, the Lab is arguably the most polished experience on the Vive, but with the number of experiences offered now numbering over 200, only time will tell. In addition, Mike had also installed Tilt Brush, Fantastic Contraption and Job Simulator, as they come free for early adopters. We’ll go more in-depth on those soon enough!
That’s not all from us on the subject either: next time, the Vive owner himself, Mr. Hogg, will be here to talk us through his impressions, what it’s actually like to own one of these hot new pieces of technology, and what struck him the most from our VR day.