Hey Rifters!

UPDATE: Stream Recording with recap!  This week, we investigated the best from the first crop of demos for the DK2, including PolyWorld, Technolust, and Elite: Dangerous. A few technical issues hampered the beginning of the stream, but after a reboot and some camera adjustments it was smooth sailing. Catch the video recording and written recap here.

Episode 28, Part 1 – Jump Scares, Nostalgia, and Technical Difficulties

The live stream began as it does every Sunday: with community conversation, playful banter, and various questions about VR in general. This Sunday, there was a fair share of talk about Voice Attack, and how useful voice recognition is for space sims like Elite as well as VR in general. After a few more minutes of conversation, I tore into the demos for the day.

Crystal Rift
Crystal Rift is an interesting demo because of its locomotion model. The player is restricted to grid movement. Think of the entire world like a chess board, and you are a rook that can make discrete 90 degree turns. Unfortunately there were some issues with positional tracking right off the bat due to conflicts with the Logitech Webcam I have. I powered through the demo without it. While I found the demo interesting, I was unable to continue due to one of the worst VR jump scares to date (see timestamp 25:15 in the video).

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Kokiri Forest
After fiddling with the cameras a bit (and losing the Logitech cam totally) and still unable to get positional tracking, I decided to dive into the upgraded version of Kokiri Forest. This demo is an upgrade from a DK1 predecessor, where you can explore the beginning level from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. A very fun romp for a person that grew up with the game, but a younger user may balk at the dated textures. I had a great time!

Episode 28, Part 2 – Gripped by Technolust and Lost in Elite: Dangerous

After a reboot I discovered that the key to a smooth livestream was to make sure that Windows recognizes and uses the Oculus camera before the Logitech one. Although I played around with the position of the Oculus camera quite a bit, I was still able to enjoy the following demos:

Kon Tiki
Kon Tiki is one of the most peaceful demos out there, with a wonderful aesthetic and great music (when you bother to turn on the tunes via the in-game radio). One of the best moments was climbing up the mast and physically leaning to see around it. Awesome!

Poly World
PolyWorld is a fascinating demo because of its dynamite combination of high performance, simplicity, and beauty. The low-poly multi-faceted style of the world looks great in the DK2. Exploring this title invokes a true sense of wonder and child-like exploration. Highly recommended.

Technolust Beta
Technolust is something special. In spite of the constant struggle I had with the Oculus camera, the experience is gripping even at this early stage. Few demos give the illusion of a living, breathing world like Technolust. On top of all this, the “hacking” sections in which you physically explore program constructs was absolutely fascinating. This is the cyberpunk title we all need for VR, and I can’t wait to see how it continues to develop.

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Opera Nova
Opera Nova comes from Unello Designs, a dev well known for introspective and relaxing VR experiences. This fantasia inspired teaser definitely reinforced that reputation, as particle effects spawned into being via MIDI sounds and patterns. This title has the potential to invoke some powerful emotional response.

VR Typing Trainer
Probably the biggest surprise of the stream. The experience is well designed from the outset – the user has to type ‘start’ to begin, ensuring that the user is comfortable with their blind keyboard position before things get intense. Believe me, intense is the best word to describe what happens next. The entire world changes into some technological dreamland, and then the words begin to fly towards you. Slowly at first, but fast and furious in no time at all. Mavis Beacon can’t touch this.

Warscape Alpha
Warscape Alpha was one of my favorites on DK1, and the title that confirmed that a frame of reference is essential for rapid locomotion in VR. If anything, the experience is even more comfortable with positional tracking. I gleefully zipped around the first few stages in a super powered hover tank.

Rev Kyle’s Project Torus
Rev. Kyle has a Kickstarter going for his title right now, and I must say he is on to something awesome. A title designed with performance and fun at the top of the priority list, Project Torus gives me the easy-to-learn but hard-to-master gameplay I crave. It was a blast!

Unofficial Dolphin Emulator
Playing Metroid Prime in VR is the professed dream of many gamers and enthusiasts (according to formus and subreddits, at least). The Dolphin emulator allows users to revisit Gamecube and Wii titles on their PCs, and has just received a DK2 upgrade. Playing Metroid with the DK2 was both awesome and strange. There is no way a decade old game could have today’s VR in mind, so the experience was populated with plenty of immersion breaking factors. However, the sheer cool factor of pretending to be Samus exploring the halls of Tallon IV cannot be denied.

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Elite Dangerous
Elite: Dangerous is so good, I played it for an hour after my stream was due to conclude. The gameplay slice in this stream was mainly showing off the docking and launching procedures, activating super cruise and warp, and trying to manage flying the spaceship without flight assist. I stumbled through with much help from the chat, and had a blast every minute of it. Commander Bruce Cymatic will be back in space very soon.

All in all, a fantastic stream. It is heartening that there are so many promising experiences in the first few days of the DK2’s release. Things only get better from here.

I look forward to seeing you on the next Sunday stream, August 10th at 1pm PDT!

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