denny_headshot-200x200Valve premiered a prototype of a new type of VR input controller at Steam Dev Days in order to get some preliminary feedback from developers. They’ve created a capacitive-touch controller that is attached to your hand so that you can open and close your hands to mimic the feeling of grabbing a tangible object. They used a modified scene from The Gallery, Episode 1 demo to show off this new controller, and I had a chance to Cloudhead Games President & Creative Director Denny Unger about it at the VR on the Lot conference. We talked about the Valve’s new input controller prototype, the growing ecosystem of lighthouse-tracked peripherals, his thoughts on the future of non-linear narrative, and an update about The Gallery, which recently won best narrative VR experience at the Proto Awards and has surpassed $1 million in sales.

LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

SEE ALSO
First Look at Valve's New VR Controller Prototype

Support Voices of VR

Music: Fatality & Summer Trip

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.


  • DiGiCT Ltd

    +1 for elbows

  • DougP

    Omg … these look amazing!
    I wonder if the thing he can’t talk about, that he knows is in-the-works, is associated with that part that goes around wrist…where I’ve seen sensors that can pick up like when a tendon flexes – this could give incredible amount of detail to individual finger movements.

    Being able to “let go” of an object & “use your hands” without *holding* anything – that’s just taken things to the next level.

    I feel sorry for Oculus with the Touch controllers now. They’re just gonna keep playing “catch up” with the likes of Valve behind the Vive/SteamVR.

    • ummm…

      dont feel sorry. they have facebook money. they wont just roll over and die. ill keep my vive, but hope that oculus can at least parody it.

      • DougP

        Re: “but hope that oculus can at least parody it.”
        Not sure what you mean there.

        Re: “feel sorry”
        Sure, Facebook has deep pockets. I suppose it would’ve been more accurate to say – “feel sorry for the users”.
        I usually feel bad for the underdog who’s *following* / playing catch-up.
        Just have sympathy.
        If they announce the Touch 2.0 with more capabilities, particularly if exceed these new Vive controllers (before they launch), that would also be good for *competition* – which is a good thing.
        Keep companies on-their-toes & forced to innovate.

        • ummm…

          1) i meant that oculus would be as graceful with their hardware solution in regards to price and forward looking, as well as delivering a user and development ecosystem that bolsters VR and their proprietary hardware.

          • ummm…

            forgot to write my other points

            2)u r right i dont have sympathy for oculus, but for their users.

            id like to see hardware that doesn’t dictate who i buy from and how i enjoy VR. right now, the oculus doesn’t cut it.

    • aphexguy

      I honestly don’t see Oculus touch as a form of “catch up” but rather that it was being developed at the same time as Vive, and simply released later on. They were also doing innovative work with capacitive capabilities, which has moved the needle forward by allowing finger tracking to form poses.

      And after that, Valve has then iterated on that idea, and made capacitive controllers of their own. Further moving the needle forward, they add on wrist constraints so that players can let go and to allow open hand poses.

      The point is, these are industry-wide iterations, and things are getting better through competition, and it’s not at all a matter of one catching up or lagging as opposed to the other. So I for one welcome this form of progress.

      • DougP

        Re: “catch up” / “iterated on that idea”
        Yeah, but going from NON-motion control to actual motion control IS “catch up”.

        Xbox to Touch is not iteration.
        That’s what I meant by “catch up” – waiting ~9mos to even join motion control/input is fairly massive timeframe.
        Valve appears to be iterating on their MC with the hands free config.
        As well, something I see as very positive, have opened up for other devices/tracking.
        I’m hopeful that feet tracking is added, as well as some interesting (hopefully de factor std) rifle type holders for shooters.
        Interesting days ahead.

        • aphexguy

          At Rift’s launch they had long since already announced touch controllers. I guess what I’m saying is that they didn’t look at Vive and at that point decided to get into the motion control game. They knew from the get-go that MC is important, but rather than ship it half baked, they waited to refine and iterate, but in doing so missed about 9mo of market share time.

          Valve took a different approach by shipping things at a very rapid rate, and as a result we have a product that is a little rough around the edges. The upshot of their approach was they they could get it all out at the same time and get developers (like me) crankin’ away at content.

          Not saying one approach was less valid than the other, just that both camps had the same target in mind with MC and took vastly different routes and timelines to get there.

  • AndyP

    Afraid I’m more worried about the software gluing our feet to a spot (including god awful teleportation), though new hardware can be a bonus – it’s not the fundamental problem that needs fixing at the moment. Please let me walk (with any controller), take travel sickness pills, and get used to it over time developers; or you’ll lose the majority of gamers quicker than you seem to realize. Fix what’s broken!

    • ummm…

      there are games that have free movement using the touchpad. you dont know of this?

      • AndyP

        Sorry, I should have said FPS and RPG games such as dying light etc etc (used to be playable on dev versions, which kind of tricked me into buying VR, or how it feels) – and what the majority of gamers want. Are there any of these for Vive or Oculus, and any decent? Thank you.

        • ummm…

          fps and rpg? oh for sure. but do you just mean those that can be used with free movement? clarify and ill make a list.

          • AndyP

            First person shooters or role playing first person (but interaction and combat orientated would be nice) – with free movement, as we game to be free and explore, not be restricted like reality (or by teleportation). These are the big hitter commercial games, and commercial success is important (though I respect, and I’m sure you know these points). I haven’t seen this so far, because of sickness worries I keep reading (noting games like Elite Dangerous etc don’t have this issues as our brains are used to cars). I’m concerned that Oculus etc and devs are playing safe, but missing the point, losing fans, being patriarcal (not letting us chose to risk/learn) and endangering a the future of VR, when the industry succeeded because of DOOM, Quake, Resident Evil etc. Thank you.

          • AndyP

            The HUD reduces nausea, and an extension of this (like a mech/caged warrior) strikes me as a solution, like the car frame; though I guess they have tried this. I’d just take motion sickness pills, keep a bucket near-by (I’m that keen!), and learn to tolerate it with time – like a kid that overcomes travel sickness with exposure and age.

          • ummm…

            ok onward is free movement. awesome! art of fighting is free movement, and an alternate funky mechanic as well – where you sway your arms to move. bullets and more is freemoving. solus is free moving. i could go on im sure, but there isn’t going to be a franchise that you know that does it. these are all new franchises. its gonna come, and soon. probs holiday for at least a couple indie devs.

          • AndyP

            Thanks, that’s very helpful and gives me some hope (was getting frustrated spending more money on naff titles with teleportation). All franchises were new once, I just hope it isn’t all ‘hipster’ releases as VR needs at least one big ‘hitter’ soon for all our benefits.

    • Mike Handles

      I agree, I wish they would add foot tracking. This would allow for a locomotion fix by something as simple as marching in place which translates to walking forward (speed based on how fast you “march”) with backwards motion being captured with leaning backwards slightly while marching? Not a perfect idea but it would also work sitting down.. I donno.. I do wish they would do something, teleporting isn’t all that fun

      • VR Cat

        The problem with marching in place – especially if you lean to add direction or make it feel more realistic is that you’re going to drift off the spot towards your walls. You’ll either bump into them, or have to be reminded of them with chaperone lines. There is a way to lean and walk naturally (i.e. one foot in front of the other) without drifting, and that’s the Virtuix Omni.

        • rabs

          Yeah, that’s the only way to properly simulate walking.

          I don’t know why so many people claim remote controlled movement is that much better than teleportation… It’s just another kind of immersion breaking workaround.

          For multiplayer shooting games, remote control is the best so we can anticipate people trajectory.
          Otherwise it just feels like a useless constraint, teleportation is a way better mean of transportation.
          What we really need ASAP is teleportation IRL.

          • Raphael

            Teleport is an annoying bodge pandering exclusively to the nausea clan. I’m reading more and more complaints from people who are sick of it. Onward allows full motion with no nausea. Not that I ever have nausea anyway.

        • Raphael

          treadmills aren’t practical for 90 percent of VR gamers. Some people can just about manage to clear enough space for standing/room scale. The bulk and cost of a treadmill rules it out for most VR users.

          Jogging on the spot works fine and I have never drifted and bumped into anything but then I’m not a 91 year old man with poor balance.

          • VR Cat

            Aside from the drifting issue, though walking around a room space feels nice, hopping up and down does not feel as good. Your brain knows you’re not really walking / jogging, because the action is so forced. With an Omni you can trick the brain by having a more natural stride. I’d never go back to hopping up and down.

            I don’t accept the bulk and cost argument. I look around my home and see so many things we’ve invented over the years — dishwashers, dryers, electric ovens, gas stoves, microwaves (yes – I have three ways of cooking food!), televisions, boilers, shower units, storage cabinets, sofas, chairs, dining tables… the list goes on. When you add up the total cost and space of everything we own, that man was able to survive without for millions of years, it begs the question – why do we have them? The answer is that our possessions make our lives more convenient and enjoyable. What is one more thing in your home, if it’s going to revolutionise how you move in VR, and make all the time you spend engaged in that activity more enjoyable?

          • Raphael

            You look around your home? Well… look around someone else’s home. Not everyone has the room for a treadmill. I’ve read enough comments about lack of space for room-scale VR. I love room scale but I have less than 2 square metres.

            Also a treadmill forces you to stand. it’s a very limiting and somewhat clumsy solution. I love being able to crouch and go prone if necessary as well as sidestepping.

          • VR Cat

            It takes up much less space than roomscale demands. If you have room to stand, you probably have space for it. It’s intended for games where the character stands and and moves around. In those types of games, you typically don’t sit or go prone that much (take Skyrim for instance). Actually, compared to roomscale, the Omni makes it easier to play for longer as you can lean on the ring during passive moments in the game such as cut-scenes.

          • Raphael

            I know exactly how much space it takes up. Bonus of having eyes. Useful. I have less than 2 metres and no room for one.

            But my statement that 90 percent of users don’t have room for one is obviously utter nonsense. 90 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.

      • AndyP

        I didn’t mean foot tracking, though it sounds great, just free movement (not teleportation).

  • ummm…

    starseed was bundled with the vive? where is my copy?!?!??

  • Mike

    Who cares! Really, who cares. What the Vive needs is new games/experiences not new controllers!

  • user

    Darpa has a new feedback technique aswell. The robotic hand is optional ofc. Imagine a virtual world would trigger the feedback https://youtu.be/A4BR4Iqfy7w

  • Raphael

    Biggest problem for me now is the horrendous performance of steamvr… I was hoping valve might bring an equivalent to oculus ASW but I don’t see that happening ever. I might have to do the unthinkable and ditch Vive and return to Palmer. I can’t run DCS world with certain aircraft even on lowest setting with Gtx 1070.