Thursday, March 05, 2015

VR at GDC'15

Some incredible things have been happening at GDC for VR this year, and here's a quick round-up of what's been revealed so far. Out of the gates, Valve and HTC have joined forces for a new VR device called Vive, announced to release later this year, perhaps being the first device to hit the consumer market? Maybe... given we still have no street date for the Oculus Rift's consumer version.

Rumors and some official word has also been swirling that NVidia is also working on VR alongside Apple. But we've yet to see anything from them, but there are many companies working on VR, most notably Samsung who'd worked with Oculus to create their GearVR system for use with their high end phones.

 Sony's codenamed 'Morpheus' using Move as its VR controllers.

Of course one of the other big players is Sony which unveiled an update to their Project Morpheus VR solution for PlayStation 4. The big announcement aside from the updated specs which include an OLED screen and 120 fps refresh rate as well as additional tracking lights is that the device will release sometime during the first half of 2016. So it's still awhile away, but Sony looks to really be developing VR behind the scenes with some great innovative tech demos to help learn and explain to developers how best to create content for the device.

An excellent video is available below for any enthusiast game developers or anyone interested in the technology about what works and what kind of neat ideas Sony has found for interacting with VR worlds. A major focus being on how the DualShock 4 and its touchpad and tracking light were created with VR in mind and how well that can be incorporated into games which are pretty compelling!

As for some more interesting updates, Valve has been demoing full presence technology behind closed doors allowing people to walk around a small room and fully interact with a VR world, including a tech demo based on the world of Portal! People can fully walk around a room using the HTC Vive which uses an inside out method of tracking IR lights spread about a room from a 'lighthouse' source. This way if anyone approaches a wall or too close to an object, it appears are a grid system in the VR world warning the player that they might bump into something! This technology is completely open for anyone to use thanks to Valve who want to encouragement VR development, so even Sony and Oculus can make use of it if they wanted to!

 Valve's prototype VR controllers above, and below is a peek at some of Valve's full Rom VR tracking using a Portal Aperture Science demo apparently running on Source 2.

There are some truly exciting times ahead, and it looks like the VR party for the rest of us is set to begin in late 2015 at the earliest, though it will very likely hit its full stride by mid 2016. With engines like Unreal 4 and Unity 5 being made freely available, it's a great time for aspiring creators to see what they can do!