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  • Mon 28 Sep 2015

    VR Go

    Published at 22:02   Category Game, VR Applications  

    I’ve been interested in the game of Go for some time. Even though I’m still a complete beginner, I find the game to be very subtle, and its depth is quite amazing.

    As Wikipedia says:

    photograph of Go equipment with game in progress

    Go is played on a grid of black lines (usually 19×19). Game pieces, called stones, are played on the line intersections. (…) As of mid-2008, there were well over 40 million Go players worldwide, the overwhelming majority of them living in East Asia.
    The basic rules are extremely simple, but the strategies are infinite. Also computers are not (yet) able to beat good players.
    It is also very interesting to see how Go and Chess can be seen as analogies for the diplomacy of the Eastern and Western parts of the globe.

    As a side project I wanted to try implementing the game in VR, mostly for the followig reasons:
    - Have fun,
    - Try to get better at Go,
    - Test the upcoming multi-user feature of MiddleVR.

    I am not getting better at Go but the project is coming along nicely!

    Features:

    - Play in VR with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, …
    - Fully functional 19×19, 13×13 and 9×9 boards,
    - Automatic score evaluation when the game is finished,
    - Can’t play illegal moves,
    - Correct positioning of Ko points,
    - Mark last move,
    - Play against another player with another VR system. You will see the opponent’s mask and hand move.
    - Play against players on the PandaNet IGS server, which has clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android. Their TELNET protocol is easy to reverse engineer.
    - Play against computer: to be restored and improved.
    Todo:

    - Manage time,
    - Restore handicap settings,
    - Undo,
    - Improve menu,
    - Fix computer play,
    - Allow observers,
    - Chat,
    - Me get better at Go,
    - Make it much more beautiful !

    The app makes heavy use of MiddleVR’s GUI system via HTML5 for the menu. I had great fun using it!

    You may also notice a keyboard (also done in HTML5) to type text in the menu, like login/password and challenger on IGS.
    It’s not as efficient as a real keyboard but it’s much better than expected!

    You may wonder about the precision with current controllers. I used a simple way to snap the cursor to intersections.

    I was afraid people would misplace stones a lot but it seems pretty robust for now.

    The game integrates Fuego as the Go engine to check legality of moves, keep track of captured stones, count score etc.

    Let me know if you are interested in early alphas! My e-mail is at the top left of this webpage!
    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

    Tue 28 Jan 2014

    VR Lemmings

    Published at 9:43   Category Game, VR Applications  

    This year again I participated in the Global Game Jam, and this is what came out of it:

    YouTube Preview Image

    We had great fun doing it and it seems people also enjoyed it :)

    You can download the demo here.

    If you have any issue with the demo, my e-mail is written in the top-left corner of the blog!

    A huge thanks to the great team:

    Thomas Klein         – Game desin
    Judith Guez          – Game design / VR
    Pauline Gosselin     – GFX 3D
    Sarah Menager        – GFX 3D
    Florian Costes       – Sound design

    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…

    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 :)

    Sat 30 Jul 2011

    MiddleVR – Teaser 2

    Published at 10:27   Category VR Applications, Virtual Reality  

    [Update: MiddleVR for Unity is now released !! http://www.imin-vr.com]

    Some of you already know it, but I’ve been working on a new product called MiddleVR, a middleware for VR (pun intended).

    It’s a VR plugin which goal is to add VR capabilities to 3D engines.

    The VR capabilities include 3D trackers management, stereoscopy/viewports management and cluster management.

    I’ve also created a company, ” i’m in VR “, to commercialize this product. ” i’m in ” also stands for “i’m(mersion) in(teraction)”.

    Here’s an integration of MiddleVR in Unity3D :

    YouTube Preview Image

    Of course we hope to have other 3D engines supported.

    The plugin is in C++ and it has been designed to be very easy to use. It also has a C# wrapper. You could compare MiddleVR to VRJuggler or Cavelib.

    It is currently in beta phase and the v1.0 should be ready in fall.

    We’re working really hard on this, so that’s why I’m a bit less active online.

    Let me know what you think :)

    Wed 29 Jun 2011

    VR Geeks @ Laval Virtual 2011

    Published at 13:45   Category VR Applications  

    The VR Geeks (non-for-profit association) were invited to the Laval Virtual tradeshow, the largest VR tradeshow in Europe !

    (See my review here)

    (Update: by the way, we now have a Facebook page. We’re trendy. )

    Setup

    Our secretary David built a projector mount for less than 50€ :

    This allowed us to have two immersive VR setups (a VRKit-Wall and a VRKit-HMD) for less than 2000€.

    Professionnal days

    During the three pro days we had a lot of people interested to see what we could do with such a limited budget, and most people seemed to like it a lot.

    I think we really achieved our goal of proving that it’s possible to create really immersive experiences with low-cost hardware.

    We mostly showed three applications :

    - VR Asteroid, created by our fellow Ukrainians VR Geeks of VRM, which attracted a lot of people thanks to it’s beauty, simplicity and immersion.

    YouTube Preview Image

    - VR Sadistic made a good impression thanks to its innovative gameplay :

    YouTube Preview Image

    - and finally VR Escape which has more interesting 3d interactions.

    All in all, people were rather impressed by the quality of our content and by the immersion of our VR systems.

    Conference

    We also had a poster at the international conference, VRIC, about those two cheap VR systems : Low-cost and home-made immersive systems

    General public days

    Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to the general public, who often only knows about 3D games. We showed only VR Asteroid and Sadistic because they can be run without the fragile, wired, Gametrak.

    The public was impressed that we did all this for free, on our free time, and we baptised a lot of people, from the youngest to the oldest !

    Association

    The association now has around 60 members, the French mailing list has 130 members. We also got more press coverage : http://www.vrgeeks.org/in-the-news

    We also bumped into Carolina Cruz-Neira, co-inventor of the CAVE system, who like our work and accepted to be an honorary member of the VR Geeks !! (You can tell because she has the two VR Geeks badges ;)

    Conclusion

    That was a (very) intense tradeshow, but it was really worth it ! We had a lot of fun and met a lot of people!

    A big thank you to Nicolas and Sylvestre for being there the whole time, and to all the VR Geeks who participated to make this even a success !

    Sat 7 May 2011

    VR Minecraft

    Published at 18:18   Category Game, VR Applications  

    I wanted to see if I could adapt Minecraft to VR :

    YouTube Preview Image

    It’s not perfect yet but it’s fun to be immersed in cubes :)

    Tue 12 Oct 2010

    More about Ford’s VR facilities

    Published at 12:00   Category VR Applications  

    DigitalTrends has made a nice visit to Ford’s VR facilities (which I already talked about here), notably the Programmable Vehicle Model (PVM) and the Digital Preassembly Lab, but also the VIRTTEX driving simulator :

    digital-preassembly-lab-650x380

    There are two things I particularly like about the PVM and the digital assembly :

    - Passive haptics: having real objects match virtual objects and obstacles. This improves immersion greatly, and is much easier to setup than real haptics.

    - Empathy testing: testing the vehicle with your actual body, then test it with the body of a shorter man, or a taller woman. Feel what it’s like to be in a body different than yours ! Mel Slater is also investigating this issue.

    With all that I’m confident we can say that VR has reached the Slope of Enlightenment (even if Gartner is not yet aware of it).

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