With our brand new Christmas #VRinspired competition now live and running (better be quick if you want to win a Vive or Rift this time!), we thought we’d have a chat with Andreas Aronsson, who bagged the first prize in our inaugural #VRinspired competition. Andreas chose an HTC Vive as his reward for correctly identifying the games that inspired WEARVR’s new artwork. Congratulations again to Andreas for winning, via Reddit, and we took a few moments out to chat about what VR means to him, what he’s going to do with his new headset, and which aspects of the VR world he finds to be the most inspiring.
From ViewMaster to VR
“Disregarding using the ViewMaster frequently as a kid and being spellbound by it, I tried an actual VR headset the first time at a student fair in the late 90’s, I think,” Andreas begins, tracing his path back through the world of stereoscopic entertainment. “It was a clunky CRT headset with a very narrow field of view, minimal resolution and high tracking latency. I was hyped before I tried it, and so disappointed afterwards, thinking VR as I had imagined it was a definite pipedream.”
He wasn’t alone in that notion. The early VR headsets, like the Virtuality, are broadly considered to have actually put the technology back a few years due to the public being so initially enamoured, and then instantly turned off after trying it. And The Lawnmower Man didn’t help.
“I’ll mostly be using it for games right now,” he continues, “but I’ve gotten a habit to check out locations for world news or historic events I hear about in podcasts in Google Earth VR. That is sublime, and with the Street View integration even better. Such a good use for the data set. It’s definitely a goal to get into any of the modelling apps soon enough though. Whenever I run out of games to play I guess.”
Would You Choose Vive or Rift?
The first prize that Andreas received was an HTC Vive, but the competition offered a choice between that and an Oculus Rift. So what was it that appealed more about the Vive? “Room-scale VR is the selling point for the Vive for me,” he says. “I know there are mixed opinions about this online, but for me Lighthouse tech seems more suitable for a large tracking space. With room-scale I mean games that are in a static space without open-ended artificial locomotion. Those games are few and far between, but to me they have a certain kind of magic not found elsewhere in gaming.”
We quite agree, and there are some inspired examples of how room-scale games existed outside of VR but really found their calling once players were able to enter those “rooms” in a much more personal, almost physical way. Superhot VR is a prime case for this, as even though the gameplay was effectively identical to its screen-based version, its brilliance was only fully realized when we came face to face with those fragile, angular red enemies in virtual reality.
Andreas is now decked out with his free HTC Vive, but he’s very experienced with the virtual realm already and has some great advice for newcomers who are wondering whether to make the same choice he did; Vive or Rift.
“When it comes to choosing which hardware,” he advises, “it’s definitely very personal; which fits your head and is comfortable and affordable. If you can, attempt to find somewhere to try the hardware out before making a purchasing decision. And remember that for this return of consumer VR we’re still at the very first hardware generation. It can only get better and hopefully cheaper from here on!” he laughs.
Where to Go in VR Next?
“I don’t have a career in VR lined up so I’m not sure what my aspirations are right now,” he says, when asked about what the future of VR holds. “I do user testing in my spare time so that’s how I contribute to the developer community. When sending videos or feedback to people it has either been appreciated or completely ignored, which is perfectly fine by me!”
This is an interesting use of this first-generation VR gear that shouldn’t be overlooked by any dedicated users out there. You may not be making games yourself, but helping out with testing and connecting with developers is a valuable — and very enjoyable — way to contribute to the proliferation and growth of the industry as a whole. It can be your way to contribute to the shaping of the next generation of virtual reality software and hardware, not to mention a great way to discover new games and apps to try out.
“What I’m most looking forward to regarding the tech would obviously just be everything we already have, but better,” he concludes. “I cannot wait for eye-tracking with foveated rendering to follow. It would also give so much more life to characters to get actual gaze direction and blinking in there.”
And what about the future of headset design? Where’s VR going in terms of face mounted gear that gets users excited about the next generations of virtual reality equipment?
“Integrated wireless and/or a wireless/standalone combo headsets,” he says. “Wireless but still attached to a PC feels like a good start. I suspect we would get different game libraries for PC and mobile VR. Mouth tracking could also be a thing, not as essential as eye-tracking but could be nice for expressiveness in social situations, otherwise reacting to the input audio is pretty good already. These are mostly things I could see being added in a rather close hardware iteration and not alien stuff that is even harder to imagine!”
Congratulation go out again to Andreas for winning the first #VRinpsired competition, and our thanks for taking the time to chat.