Is VR Anti-Social?

Currently, I am sitting in my living room and I am watching someone use a headset. It was funny for about 10 seconds watching them bumping around. But, I can’t help but want to either see a stream of what they are seeing or get in the experience with them.

I was listening to some people who I admire greatly. They said that they thought that VR is going to be a large flop because it is AntiSocial. It is a very solo experience. It is nothing something you would invite a bunch of people over to your house to use.

The real test is going to be how good can mobile VR get. I have used some Daydream apps and I think that if that experience keeps getting better with future releases. I can see people keeping a couple of headsets around the house. Plus, if there is a way for a multiplayer gamer or syncing a Netflix stream to together. The experiences can get intense and be something that is going to be a thing we want to share and even be in the same room.

Google Just Mainstreamed VR

Google had a big event last week. It announced a slew of new products including a new line of phones, new Chromecasts, and a new Google Home Speaker. But the big announcement out of Google was a more in-depth look at the Google Daydream specs and the Daydream viewer headset. Google alluded to a number of partners at launch including HBO, Netflix, and the MLB.

The thing that really caught my attention was the VR viewer. It looks like one of the most polished products out of Google in a long time. It looks like it was not a rushed product or a half-baked idea.

Design

If you ever used Google Cardboard or even Oculus, you know how uncomfortable they can be and how difficult it can be to get in and out of the device. Google Daydream looks like it was designed for ease of use and something to quickly pickup. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of adjusting and lining things up. There doesn’t seem to be a need to remove your case from your phone to load it in. There is also room for you to keep your glasses on.

VR

VR, until this point, has been something that just been too dorky and just for the dedicated. Samsung’s Gear VR started to open that up and show that we can use our phones to become the brains of our VR content. We don’t need to get a $3,000 computer and spend an extra few hundred dollars on a headset.

Google Daydream is giving me a lot of reasons to make a jump to a Pixel Phone to be able to use this VR.

Would No Man’s Sky Be Better in VR?

My gaming nowadays is usually limited to a few hours here and there. My Steam playtime for this year has been 20 hours of NBK2k17 and 10 hours of Metal Gear.  My machine is an Alienware “Steam Machine” just in case performance becomes an issue.

According to Wikipedia, “No Man’s Sky’s gameplay is built on four pillars — exploration, survival, combat and trading. Players are free to perform within the entirety of a procedurally generated deterministic open universe, which includes over 18 quintillion (1.8×1019) planets”

I really don’t know much about the game, gameplay, or story line. I didn’t really know the story behind it or who even makes it. The visuals just pulled me in and made me watch the release date and the progress. I still don’t know if I understand the whole thing.

This game felt like the start of something new, the start of the next wave of gaming. This “procedurally generated” universe sounds like something that could only be achieved with some true firepower. I have been missing around with Google Cardboard a lot and have been researching a lot about the Vive and Octus. Both are just too expensive for me to try out right now.  But, I think that we need to start rethinking games and their experiences.

#Day 1 – Hour 1

I finally got the game running. I installed it, and it booted and loaded well. It was nice that the game was a minimal download, coming in at around 3 gigs. But, I wasn’t really sure what to do. I was just dumped on the inside of a planet. I was given a mining laser and told to fix my ship. I had to figure out most of the other stuff on my own.

The game starts off by not showing most of the story and right away. I stumbled across some engaging elements, but I really didn’t know if they would turn into anything or mean anything.

I am addicted

The world is massive and I have been able to visit and explore some various different planets and environments. As I was on the lookout for some rare minerals to power up my blaster and my spaceship, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is the kind of experience I would want to consume with a VR headset. It is slow and a mythical game with a lot of walking and exploring, and I found myself looking overhead a lot, watching planets and what is going on inside of them.

There are plenty of things you can find wrong with the game, but there are many things that are just enjoyable. I had an audio book on while exploring this new planet and it was a relaxing and enjoyable experience. I would be very curious to see if there is a way to get this running on one of the VR headsets. I am not sure of the technological challenges, but this is something that I want to dive in with.

If you want a first person action game, this is not it. This just feels different and I am glad that I am on this journey, wherever it might go and whatever we might end up seeing along the way.

Did Pokémon GO Just Make the HoloLens Exciting?

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Today, I spent an hour walking around my neighbor looking for Pokémon. Pokémon GO is the thing everyone is talking about. Never has an app affected human behavior at such scale. If you go outside right now, you see people walking around neighborhoods and stores on the hunt for Pokémon.  

I have been reading countless articles about how sales are down for Macs. Also, how this fall’s iPhone is going to be a boring release and not crazy like they usually are every two years. We also can’t forget about how we were all heartbroken by the rumor about the headphone jack on the latest iPhone.

Lately, we have seen smartwatches and VR as some of the biggest disruptions in consumer products. Most people have been priced out of VR until the fall with the ps4 will become somewhat affordable. Smartwatches you can only get some excited about.

Pokémon GO came out around the 20th anniversary of the original games. It is the first AR product to hit the mainstream. The company behind Pokémon GO had a similar type of real world game that never got above the niche factor.

Last night I found this GIF

For any of the people who have been playing the Pokémon game, doesn’t that concept look amazing? I think we have done a lot of thinking about some concepts and applications of VR, but what about AR?

Pokémon GO is going to start a wave of some other apps borrowing a similar philosophy. There has been a lot talked about the future of VR and the products in the pipeline. But, what other applications are available for AR? The video has got the vibe of a Black Mirror episode. What would be a good way to toggle gaming on and off? Imagine if we had glasses and could check for Pokémon unprovoked without warning.

There were some questions raised when Google Glass had some buzz. It is going to be interesting to see if the HoloLens can become a product that we can have these types of experiences with. The HoloLens dev kits are slowly started to ship; you can apply now and get one for $3000. I hope that a consumer product would be considerably cheaper, but I am sure that is a few years away.