Saturday, March 19, 2016

Stephen Totilo sold me on VR.

Well... maybe not sold me, but Chamberlain and I had a conversation on the podcast about VR, in which we both agreed that we hadn't really seen any single game that made us want to go out and buy a VR headset.
CHAMBERLAIN: We're waiting for the killer app for that.  There's got to be something that's gonna' be the killer app.  They wouldn't release it if there wasn't something.  I trust them - we'll see...

CHANCE: Do you actually trust them?

CHAMBERLAIN: No.  You're right, I shouldn't.

CHANCE: I trust a history of peripherals like this failing badly.  Now, in fairness, there's never been anything like the push that we're seeing into VR this year.

CHAMBERLAIN: I think technology has caught up to the point that it can support it now, where previous attempts at this (Virtual Boy) were just painful to behold - they just didn't look good, they weren't fun - where now the machines in your house have the guts to actually do it.  Maybe now is the time.  Maybe it's finally arrived, I don't know.

CHANCE: I think the PC technology has caught up to the point. Aside from Thumper I haven't seen anything for PSVR that I'm like 'ooh that looks like a game I want to play regardless of whether or not it's in VR.' But I'm wondering if once you put the headset on I would be okay with a game that looks as shitty as that Zombie Taxi game because it is just so shockingly immersive that it is like the different between Super Mario World and Mario 64.  Like 'oh my goodness, this changes everything.' Maybe it is.
And then, like magic, a few days later Stephen Totilo posted an article with this headline:

In the article, Totilo essentially says "you're right, Chance."  He begins by saying that people playing VR look pretty silly, and when you look at the monitors showing what they're seeing, it never looks interesting or immersive or impressive - but once you put the headset on, all those doubts go flying out the window and you are absorbed in another world.
"These games do not show well unless you’re playing them. Any apathy you have is completely reasonable, if you’re a bystander wondering if VR is just more manufactured hype like 3D TVs a few years ago. 
The difference between watching a VR game on a monitor or in a trailer and actually playing it is often astounding. If you watch a trailer for a VR game or watch a live VR session as its graphics are output to a TV for spectators, you might as well be looking at a postcard for the Grand Canyon and not quite understanding how incredible it is to be there."
He talks to a developer and points out that, on this monitor, the game they're showing to people doesn't look all that great.  The developer says (paraphrased) "yeah, we try to turn everything up to 11 on our games, but people go into sensory overload if you do that in VR.  So we basically have to turn everything down to 7, so in a trailer or on a screen it looks like ass.  Once you've got the headset on, though, you flip the fuck out because on a screen it's a 7, in VR it's 11."

He then notes that he and all journalists are sickeningly aware that articles about VR don't do well.
"When I’m talking about VR with people who work at game companies, they are surprised when I tell them that VR stories do badly on our site. People don’t click.

Any reporter I talk to, though, knows the score. VR = traffic death. Readers don’t care.

Well, readers, I don’t blame you. No matter how wildly VR trailers zoom the camera into a VR headset, no matter how hard they try to recreate the experience in 2D, in the end you’re just seeing a regular old game trailer. You’re seeing a bunch of games that look set to 7."
So maybe...

...maybe I'm gonna' start saving up for this Fall.

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