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  • Mon 26 Jan 2015

    HoloCommander

    Published at 15:32   Category Game development, VR Applications  

    It seems the only time I have for personal (or non-confidential) VR projects is once a year at the Global Game Jam!

    Anyway, this year we decided to create a VR realtime strategy game – I named that VRTS ;) – like Starcraft or R.U.S.E.
    It is a networked game so you can play against a friend!

    Believe it or not,  everything including 3D models, textures, sounds and music were created in 48h!

    [Except for the head of the player which is from the Unity asset store]

    Here is the result:

    YouTube Preview Image

    We had of course a lot more ideas to go deeper and add some surprises, but we only got 48h!
    It’s already a miracle we managed to finish a networked VR game with this level of quality in such a short time :)

    It was carefully designed so that it could be used:
    - with most good HMDs (Oculus Rift DK2, Playstation’s Morpheus, maybe Samsung’s GearVR with rendering optimizations),
    - with any interaction device: wands like Razer Hydra, Sixense Stem, but also with “bare” hands with a glove, Leap Motion or a Kinect.

    It would also work on Technical Illusion’s CastAR or Microsoft’s HoloLens.

    Depending on time and interest we may release a playable version, so let me know!

    And of course thanks to our amazing team:

    3D Artists: Xavier Renou, Guillaume Bertinet, Charles Kaing

    Sound designers: Florian Costes, Clément Anelli

    VR coders: Xavier Le Coroller, Christophe Gouet, Sébastien ‘Cb’ Kuntz

    [Edit: This is not a MiddleVR project, it's a personnal project. Xavier Renou, Guillaume Bertinet, Charles Kaing, Florian Costes and Clément Anelli are not affiliated with MiddleVR, we have met some of them at the GGJ and have known the others beforehands. Feel free to contact them, their talents can be for hire !!]

    If you want to checkout the games I previously worked on during a GGJ:
    - VR Lemmings
    - VR Lux
    - InSnaketion
    - VR Escape

    Mon 27 Jan 2014

    Lessons from the VR field #1

    Published at 21:46   Category Game development, VR Applications  

    [This is a re-post of the original Gamasutra article which was published on 12 Jan 2014]

    Introduction: presence

    Through my career I have tested many different VR systems, from entry level to high-end, with systems costing several million euros. I have developed a feeling of what VR represents for me. This feeling of being present in the virtual world is very strong. I have already defined “presence” at length in this article. To summarize, you have cognitive immersion (like in video games, stories, books..) and perceptive immersion (fooling the senses), which is the part that makes VR distinctive.

    Read more…

    Mon 27 Jan 2014

    Creating VR games – the fundamentals

    Published at 21:38   Category Game development, Virtual Reality  

    [This is a re-post of the original Gamasutra article which was published on May 23, 2013]

    When I was on a field trip to London back in high school, I played my first virtual reality (VR) game: Zone Hunter. I was immediately hooked and I knew I wanted to work in VR! I started my VR career more than 12 years ago working on industrial VR training applications and VR software tools.

    I am now the founder and president of a company called “i’m in VR“. We offer tools to simplify the creation of VR applications such as MiddleVR, a VR middleware that enables 3D applications (like Unity) to run on any VR system (HMD, caves etc.). I’ve been blogging about VR long before it was cool, and you can also find me on twitter (@Cb_VRGeek)

    Read more…

    Wed 30 Jan 2013

    VRLux – PostMortem

    Published at 22:37   Category Game development, VR Applications  

    During last week-end, along with six fellow VRGeeks, we participated in the Global Game Jam 2013 for some non-professional VR fun.

    While the four other VRGeeks created two other teams, I teamed with Judith Guez to work on an idea that was in my head for quite some time: create an efficient escape room in VR. The theme this year was the sound of a heart beat. We decided to use a candle as a metaphore for the heart beat. (But the focus changed a bit during the jam.)

    We were quickly joined by two 3D artists, one sound designer and one coder who were intrigued by VR. They turned out to be a really great team to work with!!

    I already participated in 2011 and 2012, resulting in VREscape and InSnaketion. All three games were created exlusively in 48h.

    VR Escape was too complex for most “normal” (non-VR) people to handle: they were not acustomed to VR, and the lack of haptics feedback was disturbing: your virtual hand could go through the walls or tables, so you had to be precise (thus slow) with your movements.

    Thus the core of the idea for VRLux is to minimize breaks in presence, and make sure anyone can play with it.

    “Like a candle in the wind”

    To make sure the game was easily accessible, we simplified the interactions: your only input device is.. a real candle. You can only move it around to interact with the game.

    f

    We brainstormed about what are the interaction possibilities of a candle. It turns out there are plenty!

    The first one is of course to shed some light, which allows you to explore.

    Having a very dark environment was a great way to force the player to explore. Most people sat and asked “What do I do now?”. And we just answered “Find out by yourself!”. And they did ! They interacted naturally by taking the candle, and as the environment was pitch black, they used the candle to explore.

    Exploration alone turned out to be a great experience.

    Then you can burn or heat, which enables interesting gameplays that I won’t disclose here in case you play the game :)

    Another obvious possibility is that you can push objects: push them to another position, or simply push a button for example.

    There are of course others, but we may integrate them later :)

    This means that a lot of interactions are possible without any kind of button or joystick involved. A bit like the great experiment dontclick.it

    The best thing is that a you already know what to do with a candle, there is nothing to learn!

    This is one of the strengths of VR: as it can simulate reality, you don’t have to learn any interface, you already know what to do! Natural affordances.

    YouTube Preview Image

    SPOILER: Full game:

    YouTube Preview Image

    Breaks in presence

    Minimizing breaks in presence means that you should continually feel present in the game. Breaks in presence occur when your brain detects an anomaly in the virtual reality: latency, your hand passing through a table, strange laws of physics.

    We paid a lot of attention to details: the behavior of flame of the candle, the light, the shadows, the realism of the interactions with the objects (trying to avoid passing through them when pushing)

    (As you can see, we used the cheap Razer Hydra magnetic trackers to track the candle position and orientation in the game volume).

    Based on ideas from Judith, we also made sure that when the virtual candle touches the virtual table, the real candle touches the real table! Free haptics!

    At one point you also have to push a button in a box. So we put a real box with the same size and position as the virtual one, so everytime the candle touches the virtual box, you can feel it and it doesn’t go through.

    We didn’t need to add real walls or ceiling: it seems most people didn’t try to go this far; moreover they were nearly out of arms reach. We also made sure the tracking was reliable in the whole game volume.

    Atmosphere

    I had this idea of a dark environment for a long time, and really enjoy the game genre of escape rooms, so I really loved the iPad game “The Room“. It is beautifully crafted and the difficulty is perfectly adjusted. Its atmosphere is also great, so this was definitely an inspiration for VRLux, both in terms of graphics and sound design.

    Real game ?

    When looking for team members, I was suprised to hear comments like: “We won’t join your team because we want to do real games”, or “Your games are interesting only because of the nice hardware”.

    I hope we are and will prove all of them wrong :)

    And based on the feedback we had from (already) a lot of people, I think we’re on the right track. Everybody, including non-players, were immediately at ease.

    What do you think ?

    A million thanks to the great team:

    - Judith Guez: VR/Game Designer

    - Florian Reneau: Game Designer/Coder

    - Florian Costes: Sound Designer

    - Charles Kaing: 3D artist

    - François Gutherz: 3D artist

    Sun 26 Aug 2012

    Existing VR games ?

    Published at 8:13   Category Game development, VR Applications  

    With the Oculus Rift which will be in the hands of game developpers before the end of the year, I think we will have a great next year :)

    So I thought I’d find videos of some of the VR games I’ve played. It would probably be worth making a list of all existing VR games, so if you have links for them, I’ll take that and make a page on the VRGeeks website!

    [Update: a more up to date list is here: http://www.vrgeeks.org/wiki/vr-games]

    In my definition of a VR game you at least need to have head tracking, so this rules out any Nintendo’s Virtual Boy or Sega VR games.

    What got me into the field was ZoneHunter. Being able to shoot around and look in a different direction was a founding experience of the teenage me.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Then Atrium Experience was also a great experience:

    YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

    Of course all the VRGeeks games:

    YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

    I didn’t play this one but it seems fun:

    YouTube Preview Image

    I don’t mean no shameless plug, but VR Angry Bot is quite nice:

    YouTube Preview Image

    And finally Doom3 that I tested last week in the Oculus Rift:

    Then you also have Cave Unreal Tournament, CaveQ3, Panoramic Quake III, … There is also a nice list on the VRTifacts website but it’s not working for me..

    Please add ideas :)

    Fri 1 Oct 2010

    Interviewing Jeffrey Jacobson, creator of Cave Unreal Tournament

    Published at 14:00   Category Game development, VR Applications  

    If you’re a VR Geek, you’ve probably already bumped into Cave Unreal Tournament (CaveUT), an adaptation of the Unreal engine to run in CAVEs and create VR applications. I’ve had the chance to meet its creator Jeffrey Jacobson at IEEE VR 2010 where he co-organized the “What is VR ?” panel. He’s also the director of PublicVR, “a Non-Profit organization dedicated to free software and methods for using Virtual Reality in education and research.”

    He was in Paris for the VAST International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, so I invited him home for some VR chat and to show off my home-VR system.

    He also took the time to answer some questions about the definition of VR, CaveUT and of course a message to VR Geeks :)

    IMG_2734

    Read more…

    Sat 11 Sep 2010

    Sony PSMove – First impressions

    Published at 12:03   Category Game, Game development, Product Review, VR Devices, Virtual Reality DIY  

    I’ve been interviewed by the french tech magazine Amusement (October edition) about the new 3D controller by Sony, the PSMove.

    Sony liked the interview and decided to put it in the (french) press kit:

    SONY_Couverture

    Part1

    Part2

    The interview was done after testing the basic sports games, and my initial reaction was very good. I had to unlearn the bad habits of Wii Sports where you just had to shake the wiimote at the right time to catch the tennis ball. Now you have to really move ! Come closer, move your hand to realistic positions and orient it in a useful way. The controller reacts like a real 6dof tracker as long as the camera sees the glowing ball.

    They really improved perceptive immersion by having you do basic moves like actually doing the movement for taking an arrow before being able to shoot it. Like in Heavy Rain where you have to do all sort of seemingly useless movements, those movements in fact increase the Place Illusion. The more ‘realisitic’ movements you do that have a believable impact on the world, the more presence !

    Heavy Rain will have a new edition based on the PSMove and I’m eager to test that further. My first impression was mixed since I didn’t have the chance to run the tutorial and didn’t understand all the moves..

    I also made the point that future hardcore gamers will have to improve their physical abilities to be better at games.

    Then I just said that I’d love to play Splinter Cell and Call of Duty in full VR, and that while interesting, the PSMove is only one step towards real IVR at home.

    psmove_gig_small

    hr

    psmove

    Then this week I attended Sony’s big gig for the release of the PSMove, in a three story loft with view on the Eiffel tower !

    There I have quickly tested Heavy Rain, Time Crysis and I’ve seen a gameplay video of Killzone 3 using the PSMove.

    I fear the aiming will not be as good as I hoped for. What I’ve seen is that when the controller is used for aiming, there is 1/some (small but annoying) lag, and 2/ some (annoying) jittering. 1/ is probably due to heavy filtering, and 2/ would probably be worse without filtering. There was less jittering in the archer game, but the small lag was still there.

    When you think about it, it seems obvious : the optical tracking of the glowing ball alone cannot give you orientation information. The optical tracking of the wiimote, when used for aiming, seems faster and more precise, because the camera can see the slightest movement of the targeted LEDs. The orientation information of the PSMove is only given by the inertial sensors, which as you know are fast but not very precise. So I fear the aiming is mostly based on filtered inertial data.

    It should be noted that the lighting environment at the gig was probably not the best, wish flashy lights (some matching the color of the glowing ball…), which could also explain why sometimes the tracking got lost.

    So of course all this requires more testing and I’ll be in the starting blocks next week to buy that and play work with that !

    Thu 11 Mar 2010

    Playstation Move – 3D Tracker

    Published at 17:29   Category Augmented Reality, Game development, VR Devices  

    In the end of 2006, Sony was already talking about it. Now they’ve finally made a demonstration at GDC of their upcoming 3D tracker, named Playstation Move :

    YouTube Preview Image

    Tt has gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometer for high rate updates and the Playstation Eye webcam watches the glowing sphere to recalibrate the position at each frame. It should also have two distinct elements, ala Wiimote & Nunchuck.

    Develop-Online has more specs :

    Features
    “The latency for the Playstation Move is under one frame” – Scott Rohde, vice president of product development, SCEA.

    PlayStation®Move motion controller
    Three-axis gyroscope
    Three-axis accelerometer
    Terrestrial megnetic field sensor
    Colour-changing sphere for Playstation Eye tracking
    Bluetooth® technology
    Vibration feedback

    PlayStation®Move sub-controller
    Built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery
    Bluetooth® technology
    2 DUALSHOCK® or SIXAXIS® Wireless Controller replacement capability.

    PlayStation® Eye
    Built-in four-capsule microphone array
    Echo cancellation
    Background noise suppression

    Price
    “Under $100” (£47)

    I’ve been able to test a pre-version and must admit I was really impressed with the reactivity and precision of that device. As you can see, it can also be used for nice AR applications :

    YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

    Yes, it’s much better than a Wiimote since it’s a real, absolute 6DOF tracker (as long as the camera sees the sphere) . Ok with the Wiimotion plus it’s getting better.

    Contrary to the wiimote, which has an embedded camera that sees the infrared dots, the camera is now on your TV looking at the device.

    They both have the same occlusion problem, meaning that if the camera doesn’t see the marker, the inertial data will rapidly drift to become useless. This can happen is someone stands in front of you or if the device is behind you.

    It’s a good start for VR games, especially if you can stick one to your head !

    And as the PS3 is supposed to support stereoscopic displays soon, this will get exciting :)

    ( Especially if, as the rumour says, Killzone 3 uses the Move and is S3D compliant !!!)

    Wed 3 Jun 2009

    One step closer to home VR

    Published at 17:42   Category Game development, VR Devices  

    Fresh from E3, and I’m sure you all have seen it, but still I have to print it here because I’m happy : we’re one big step closer to having VR at home ;)

    The first controller, by Microsoft, uses a sort of Z-cam that can get the depth information of the environment, including the player(s) :

    (beware, some of the following seem to be more a “vision” than actual games)

    YouTube Preview Image

    And the second is a complete 6 Dof tracking device, probably using some 6 Dof inertial devices plus the camera tracking the glowing ball to recalibrate an absolute position !

    YouTube Preview Image

    The only issue with the technique they chose is that when the further the device is from the camera, the less precision you get.

    I hope this tracker is enough to support head tracking without getting me sick ;)

    So the battle is opened, let’s see who will be the first to have games in an HMD to fulfill Steven Spielberg’s prediction that VR the is future of gaming ?

    Mon 3 Nov 2008

    Immersive gaming by Torben Schou

    Published at 13:29   Category Game development, VR Applications  

    Last week, I saw Torben‘s poster at VRST about using multiple sensor bars to extend the range of the wiimote. And yesterday, as I was looking around to find out how to adapt Half-Life 2 in VR, I stumbled on his page with nice research on immersive gaming, using Source Engine mods with the wiimote and with face tracking with only a webcam :

    YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

    I really feel that it’s becoming easier to get a nice VR setup at home. The minimum that we should have is head tracking and one hand tracking. From that point on, we only have to use the mod capabilites of games and play VR!

    Hum that’s the theory, practice is another thing, but let’s start trying!

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