Just Delivered: Oculus Rift with Touch Controllers

Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2017 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, Oculus

The Oculus Summer Sale finally gave me the courage to pick up a VR system. In Canada, where the Oculus, with touch and two sensors (something that their website doesn’t highlight very well), is currently $550 CDN and the Vive is $1100 to $1200 CDN, it feels like the former dropped into impulse buy territory, especially as a game development tool. More on that in the coming days or weeks (I hope).

oculus-2017-box.jpg

I played around with it over the weekend, mostly Robo Recall, Lucky’s Tale, and Valve’s The Lab. I was a bit surprised at how virtual objects (like GLaDOS and the Robo Recall robots) getting into your personal space feels slightly intimidating. More accurately, I am a bit surprised how effective the “layer of glass” effect that a traditional computer game, on a computer monitor, isolates you from what’s going on. I know this was a hot topic a couple years ago, but I didn’t experience it at the time. Now I did. It could be very useful for expressing ideas...

From a technical side, it’s a bit annoying setting up the sensors. They were a bit picky until I figured out what they were trying to do, and I would probably want a third sensor at some point for when I turn around. Setting up the back end of the play area perimeter is annoying when you’re trying to move your body around to not block the sensor.

Also, the extra USB devices pushes my system to about the limit, showing me a few notifications of my USB hard drive dropping and reconnecting at times. I’ve heard that many people install add-in cards for extra USB ports (if they don’t have a high-end processor platform). That could be useful.

Podcast #459 - Threadripper Pricing, Liquid Cooled VEGA, Intel Rumors, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2017 - 11:53 AM |
Tagged: zenbook, z270, wireless charging, water cooling, VR, video, Vega, TSMC, thermaltake, SILVIA, podcast, Pacific, Oculus, Kabby Lake-R, corsair, Contac, asus, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #459 - 07/20/17

Join us for Threadripper Pricing, Liquid Cooled VEGA, Intel Rumors, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg, Jim Tanous

Program length: 1:46:03

 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:36:30 Jeremy: Deal on a Ryzen 7 1700
    2. 1:41:04 Allyn: Still using WMC? You need EPG123!
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Source:

Oculus Rift + Touch Short-Term Price Reduction to $399

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: VR, Oculus

For a limited time (UploadVR claims six weeks although I don’t see where that listed on any official source) Oculus has reduced the price of the Rift + Touch VR system from $598 to $399 USD. For us Canadians out there, this translates to $549 CDN, which is about on par with the exchange rate these days. Their hope is to bring VR into the price range of a gaming console, which multi-platform gamers are (obviously, otherwise they wouldn’t be multi-platform) willing to accept.

This also puts it at almost exactly half of the price of the HTC Vive in both countries, which makes for an interesting comparison. They both offer about the same level of hardware, albeit with some minor differences, and Oculus has been pushing quite a bit of exclusive, free content, like Robo Recall. One concern that I have, however, is whether Oculus can maintain stock levels throughout the entire period, since availability was one of the areas that HTC got right, and did so long before Oculus.

The cynic in me also wonders how long it will be before HTC and Oculus VR release their second-generation consumer VR kits. All we’ve heard about from HTC is accessories, like the wireless upgrade kit and the tracker, alongside a Daydream-based standalone unit, which is a much different market than PC VR.

Either way, $399 is quite cheap for what you’re getting, so it seems like a good deal if you're interested.

Source: Oculus

Oculus App Version 1.14 Released

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2017 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift

Oculus has updated their Oculus App to version 1.14. This release has two noteworthy features: full support for 360-degree tracking with three sensors, and the Touch controller can now be used with some, but not all, games that were previously gamepad-exclusive. For the latter, you will need to check with each specific game in the Oculus store, where it will be listed with a “Touch (as gamepad)” tag.

oculus-2017-touch360114.png

As for the former, Oculus has been allowing 2- (like the Vive) and 3-sensor setups for 360-degree tracking for a while, but experimentally. They have apparently settled on the three-sensor setup for final support, though. According to their documentation, they recommend that two of the sensors are plugged into USB 3.0 or higher, while leaving the third on USB 2. Specifically, the USB 2-connected sensor will be the one behind the user, with the two USB 3.0 sensors sitting out in front; to visualize this, imagine stereo speakers sitting on either side of your TV, with only one surround sound speaker behind the user. It will be interesting to see how Oculus two-sensor, Oculus three-sensor, and Vive two-sensor compares, especially since the last two are (in the case of Oculus, now) officially supported, but the first one isn’t.

While I don’t currently have a Rift, Oculus apparently delivers updates on a staggered schedule. Don’t be surprised if your system isn’t pushed to the new version immediately.

Source: Oculus

Today Is Palmer Luckey's Last Day at Facebook / Oculus

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: oculus vr, Oculus, facebook

Almost exactly two months after ZeniMax won a $500 million USD judgement against Oculus, subject to appeal, of course, co-founder Palmer Luckey will leave the company. As expected, Facebook isn’t commenting on who initiated this departure because of their corporate policy, and it would be inappropriate and unprofessional for a company to do so (except in certain circumstances).

Their official message, via UploadVR, is as follows:

Palmer will be dearly missed. Palmer’s legacy extends far beyond Oculus. His inventive spirit helped kickstart the modern VR revolution and helped build an industry. We’re thankful for everything he did for Oculus and VR, and we wish him all the best.

Facebook.png

Brendan Iribe, another co-founder and former CEO of Oculus VR, is still at the company as far as we know. Last we heard, through his blog post on the company’s website, he’s moved to an internal team that focuses on their PC initiatives: the Rift, research, and computer vision.

For now, it’s somewhat unclear how the company is structured. John Carmack is supposedly still the CTO, but I don’t think Facebook has found anyone to replace Brendan Iribe as CEO yet. Today’s departure leaves another vacant hole, although, according to Tom Forsyth’s joke tweet, his title was “Palmer” and thus his role will likely be retired. Who knows? If your name just happens to be Palmer, then maybe you can apply for it.

Source: UploadVR
Author:
Manufacturer: Various

Background and setup

A couple of weeks back, during the excitement surrounding the announcement of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, NVIDIA announced an update to its performance reporting project known as FCAT to support VR gaming. The updated iteration, FCAT VR as it is now called, gives us the first true ability to not only capture the performance of VR games and experiences, but the tools with which to measure and compare.

Watch ths video walk through of FCAT VR with me and NVIDIA's Tom Petersen

I already wrote an extensive preview of the tool and how it works during the announcement. I think it’s likely that many of you overlooked it with the noise from a new GPU, so I’m going to reproduce some of it here, with additions and updates. Everyone that attempts to understand the data we will be presenting in this story and all VR-based tests going forward should have a baseline understanding of the complexity of measuring VR games. Previous tools don’t tell the whole story, and even the part they do tell is often incomplete.

If you already know how FCAT VR works from reading the previous article, you can jump right to the beginning of our results here.

Measuring and validating those claims has proven to be a difficult task. Tools that we used in the era of standard PC gaming just don’t apply. Fraps is a well-known and well-understood tool for measuring frame rates and frame times utilized by countless reviewers and enthusiasts, but Fraps lacked the ability to tell the complete story of gaming performance and experience. NVIDIA introduced FCAT and we introduced Frame Rating back in 2013 to expand the capabilities that reviewers and consumers had access to. Using more sophisticated technique that includes direct capture of the graphics card output in uncompressed form, a software-based overlay applied to each frame being rendered, and post-process analyzation of that data, we could communicate the smoothness of a gaming experience, better articulating it to help gamers make purchasing decisions.

vrpipe1.png

For VR though, those same tools just don’t cut it. Fraps is a non-starter as it measures frame rendering from the GPU point of view and completely misses the interaction between the graphics system and the VR runtime environment (OpenVR for Steam/Vive and OVR for Oculus). Because the rendering pipeline is drastically changed in the current VR integrations, what Fraps measures is completely different than the experience the user actually gets in the headset. Previous FCAT and Frame Rating methods were still viable but the tools and capture technology needed to be updated. The hardware capture products we used since 2013 were limited in their maximum bandwidth and the overlay software did not have the ability to “latch in” to VR-based games. Not only that but measuring frame drops, time warps, space warps and reprojections would be a significant hurdle without further development. 

vrpipe2.png

vrpipe3.png

NVIDIA decided to undertake the task of rebuilding FCAT to work with VR. And while obviously the company is hoping that it will prove its claims of performance benefits for VR gaming, it should not be overlooked the investment in time and money spent on a project that is to be open sourced and free available to the media and the public.

vlcsnap-2017-02-27-11h31m17s057.png

NVIDIA FCAT VR is comprised of two different applications. The FCAT VR Capture tool runs on the PC being evaluated and has a similar appearance to other performance and timing capture utilities. It uses data from Oculus Event Tracing as a part of the Windows ETW and SteamVR’s performance API, along with NVIDIA driver stats when used on NVIDIA hardware to generate performance data. It will and does work perfectly well on any GPU vendor’s hardware though with the access to the VR vendor specific timing results.

fcatvrcapture.jpg

Continue reading our first look at VR performance testing with FCAT VR!!

Podcast #440 - Ryzen 1 week later, Naples, Logitech G533/G Pro, Riotoro PSU

Subject: Editorial | March 9, 2017 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: podcast, steamvr, ryzen, riotoro, Oculus, Naples, Loitech, G533, G Pro, arm

PC Perspective Podcast #440 - 03/09/17

Join us for Ryzen 1 week later, Naples, Logitech G533, G Pro, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jermey Hellstrom

Program length: 1:35:41

 

Source:

GDC 2017: $200 Off Oculus Rift and Touch

Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2017 - 02:59 AM |
Tagged: Oculus, VR, pc gaming

Alongside the release of Robo Recall from Epic Games, which is free of you own an Oculus Rift and the Oculus Touch controllers, Oculus has changed up how you can purchase the Oculus Rift. As was the case since the Touch controllers shipped, the Oculus Rift is bundled with these motion controllers. The difference is that, now, the bundle will cost $598 USD. This is a $200 reduction in price compared to someone who purchased the headset and the controllers separately last week. The controllers, alone, are now $99 USD.

So this is interesting.

According to recent statements by Gabe Newell, who is obviously in the HTC Vive camp, the VR market doesn’t have “a compelling reason for people to spend 20 hours a day in VR”. This assertion was intended to dispel the opinion that a price cut would help VR along. From his perspective, VR will have a huge bump in resolution and frame rate within one or two years, and current headsets are basically the minimum of adequacy.

So, from both a software and technology standpoint, VR can benefit from more time in the oven before tossing it down the garbage disposal. I see that point and I agree with it, but only to a point. A price reduction can still help in several ways. First, the games industry has made some drastic shifts toward the individual. Free tools, from IDEs to AAA-quality game engines, seem to be picking up in adoption. A high entry fee for a segment of that mind share will push those with creative ideas elsewhere.

But, probably more importantly, even if the market is small, pulling in more users makes it grow. The more lead users that you can acquire, the more risk can be attempted, which will make an even better situation for whenever we need to start considering mass market. Imagine if a factor of two increase in user base would be enough for Microsoft (or Linux distros) to consider virtual desktops for VR. If we reach that threshold a year or two sooner, then it will have a more significant impact on the value for mainstream users whenever the technology catches up to their interest.

And yes, this is coming from the guy who is currently surrounded by four monitors...

Anyway, rant aside, Oculus has jumped in to a significant price reduction. This should get it into the hands of more people, assuming the injunction order doesn’t get accepted and drop on them like a hammer.

Source: Oculus
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

VR Performance Evaluation

Even though virtual reality hasn’t taken off with the momentum that many in the industry had expected on the heels of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift launches last year, it remains one of the fastest growing aspects of PC hardware. More importantly for many, VR is also one of the key inflection points for performance moving forward; it requires more hardware, scalability, and innovation than any other sub-category including 4K gaming.  As such, NVIDIA, AMD, and even Intel continue to push the performance benefits of their own hardware and technology.

Measuring and validating those claims has proven to be a difficult task. Tools that we used in the era of standard PC gaming just don’t apply. Fraps is a well-known and well-understood tool for measuring frame rates and frame times utilized by countless reviewers and enthusiasts. But Fraps lacked the ability to tell the complete story of gaming performance and experience. NVIDIA introduced FCAT and we introduced Frame Rating back in 2013 to expand the capabilities that reviewers and consumers had access to. Using more sophisticated technique that includes direct capture of the graphics card output in uncompressed form, a software-based overlay applied to each frame being rendered, and post-process analyzation of that data, we were able to communicate the smoothness of a gaming experience, better articulating it to help gamers make purchasing decisions.

pipe1.jpg

VR pipeline when everything is working well.

For VR though, those same tools just don’t cut it. Fraps is a non-starter as it measures frame rendering from the GPU point of view and completely misses the interaction between the graphics system and the VR runtime environment (OpenVR for Steam/Vive and OVR for Oculus). Because the rendering pipeline is drastically changed in the current VR integrations, what Fraps measures is completely different than the experience the user actually gets in the headset. Previous FCAT and Frame Rating methods were still viable but the tools and capture technology needed to be updated. The hardware capture products we used since 2013 were limited in their maximum bandwidth and the overlay software did not have the ability to “latch in” to VR-based games. Not only that but measuring frame drops, time warps, space warps and reprojections would be a significant hurdle without further development.  

pipe2.jpg

VR pipeline with a frame miss.

NVIDIA decided to undertake the task of rebuilding FCAT to work with VR. And while obviously the company is hoping that it will prove its claims of performance benefits for VR gaming, it should not be overlooked the investment in time and money spent on a project that is to be open sourced and free available to the media and the public.

vlcsnap-2017-02-27-11h31m17s057.png

NVIDIA FCAT VR is comprised of two different applications. The FCAT VR Capture tool runs on the PC being evaluated and has a similar appearance to other performance and timing capture utilities. It uses data from Oculus Event Tracing as a part of the Windows ETW and SteamVR’s performance API, along with NVIDIA driver stats when used on NVIDIA hardware to generate performance data. It will and does work perfectly well on any GPU vendor’s hardware though with the access to the VR vendor specific timing results.

fcatvrcapture.jpg

Continue reading our preview of the new FCAT VR tool!

ZeniMax Seeks an Injunction Against Oculus VR

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: zenimax, Oculus

As far as I know, it’s fairly common to seek injunctions during legal fights over intellectual rights cases, so I’m not sure how surprising this should be. Still, after the $500 million USD judgment against Oculus, ZeniMax has indeed filed for a court order to, according to UploadVR, block the usage of Oculus PC software, Oculus Mobile software, and the plug-ins for Unity and Unreal Engine. They also demand, as usual, that Oculus deletes all copies of the infringing code and a few other stipulations.

oculus-2016-riftkit.jpg

I should stress that this is just a filing. It would need to be accepted for it to have any weight.

The timing is quite disruptive to Oculus, too, even if by total co-incidence. Epic Games is about to release their flagship, Oculus-exclusive title, Robo Recall, which was intended to be released for free to those who have Oculus Touch controllers. If it succeeds, and that’s way more if than when at this point, then that could sting for whoever gets stuck with the game’s invoice, which (I assume) would be Oculus.

Personally, I’m not quite sure how far this will go. Based on my memory of the jury decision, ZeniMax is entitled to $500 million USD for prior damages, and nothing for ongoing damages. You would think that, if a jury ruled that the infringement has no lasting effect, that an injunction wouldn’t recover any of that non-existent value. On the other hand, I’m not a judge (or anyone else of legal relevance) so what I reason doesn’t really matter outside the confines of this website.

We’ll need to wait and see if this goes anywhere.

Source: UploadVR