MAbrash GDC2013 (7)

Also, this time VR isn’t just around the corner.

It’s here now, at least in the form of the Rift development kit, and the Rift is on a path to shipping to consumers in quantity.

The Rift has a good shot at breaking through, for several reasons:

It has a wide field of view – that is, the display covers a large portion of the eyes’ viewing area;

It’s lightweight and ergonomic;

It’s affordable;

And there’s potentially lots of content in the form of ported 3D games.

Most important, gaming on the Rift is highly immersive. I remember how blown away I was the first time a rocket trail went past me in Quake – it’s like that, but on steroids, when a rocket goes past in TF2 in VR.

So the Rift has huge potential, and is very exciting.

But…

MAbrash GDC2013 (8)

It’s still very early days for the Rift – this is only the first development kit – and for VR in general, and just as was the case with Quake, there’s lots of room for improvement in all areas. Some of those areas are familiar ones, such as:

  • Field of view
  • Mobility
  • Input

And resolution. The math for resolution together with wide fields of view is brutal; divide 1K by 1K resolution – about the best an affordable head mounted display is likely to be able to do in the next year – into a 100-degree FOV and you get a display with less than 1/50th the pixel density of a phone at normal viewing distance

Other areas for improvement are unique to VR and not at all familiar, and we’ll see some of those over the remainder of this talk.

The bottom line is that as with 3D, it will take years, if not decades, to fully refine VR.

AR is even harder and will take longer to make great.

The main point of this talk is to get you to believe this and to understand why it’s true, so you can make rational plans for VR game development now and in the future.

There’s no way I can give you a proper understanding in a 25-minute talk of the complexity and depth of the issues associated with making virtual images seem real to the human perceptual system, but I can give you a sense of the breadth of those issues, along with a deeper look at one specific problem, and that’s what I’m going to do today.

MAbrash GDC2013 (9)

It seems so simple – isn’t VR just a matter of putting a display in a visor and showing images on it?

That actually turns out to be hard all by itself.

But solving it just gets you to…

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  • WormSlayer

    My brain hurts! Still I’m excited that guys like him are excited :D

  • Patrick Hogenboom

    Thanks a bundle for transcribing the whole thing :)

  • shole

    If you want to view the two videos in the presentation and don’t have ms powerpoint, you can rename the .pptx file to .zip and the files are in there as .wmv under \ppt\media\

    • Michael Abrash

      Shole,

      Thank you very much for posting this!

      –Michael

  • Andrés

    Thanks so much for transcribing this!

  • Andreas Aronsson

    I thought I would not get to read/hear the actual talk in some time :D Very interesting, somewhat alarming, but at the end uplifting and inspiring! Thanks for this! Also, you could if you wanted to rename the .pptx to .zip and extract the videos (media folder) and upload them unlisted to Youtube and embed them on this page :) Just a thought!

  • Andreas Aronsson

    Ah, in the time it took me to read this (left the article half-read over night) shole already pointed this out :x oops.

  • Esse

    “That means that if you fixate on something while you turn your head, your eyes remain fixed with respect to the real world, but move very quickly relative to the display”

    Hum, no. If your eyes are fixed (in the head referential), they are fixed in the display referential. Because the display & the head are fixed one to the other.

    This is over complicating the subject. Only matters the head movement. Not the eyes movements.

    • Ben

      I think that, in this context, “fixate on something” means a visual fixation on an object in the external world rather than having the eyes be “fixed” relative to the head. If the head is turning while you fixate an external object, the eyes must counter-rotate in order to maintain a stable fixation (eg: via the VOR). Since the VR display is attached to your head frame, this means that your eyes are rotating relative to the display, and that’s the source of the large relative motion that causes issues.

      • Michael Abrash

        Ben,

        You’re correct – that’s what I meant. If you look at a key on the keyboard and keep doing that while you turn your head, you can easily get your eyes moving at several hundred degrees per second relative to the display.

        –Michael

  • Esse

    “The human perceptual system has evolved to be very effective at detecting such anomalies, because anomalies might be thinking about eating you, or might be tasty.”

    It is not some specific “anomalies detection system”, rather that the human brain has in-depth “routines” to analyse the space & movement, and when you broke the rules the routines fail.

    Like when you are sick in a car.

    So I guess the reaction will not be fear or drooling, more puking.

  • Ben Humberston

    Thanks for the transcript for those of us who couldn’t be there!

  • Mattso

    Yeah, just echoing the sentiments above that having it all transcribed meant I actually got to digest it really quickly. Many thanks!

    Very informative stuff – and here was me thinking it was gonna be easy. :)