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Podcast Post #2 this is Only a Test - ep #468: the VR Hour

The "This is Only a Test" podcast is a podcast about the goings-on at the Tested Youtube channel, normally covering topics in technology news and related content. this week, however, the podcast was focused around the channel's other show, Projections, which is a VR-focused show that features new VR/AR technology and games.

Last week was Oculus Connect 5, and one of the biggest announcements ever released by Oculus happened at the Keynote for Day 1. Zuckerberg, up on stage, announced the Oculus Quest, a new VR headset with no PC needed, meaning you can take it anywhere and it has all the technology for inside out tracking (where cameras for tracking headset movement are on the headset itself rather than scattered around a playspace, meaning less cluttered rooms and no need to hide/organize cables. It runs a qualcomm processor that was the flagship processor in many phones from last year, and has been optimized to run at 72 hz (which is almost as high a frame rate as Oculus Rift's 90hz, on mobile!)

They spoke very little about the actual headset itself (as the specs are pretty self explanitory and there aren't many metrics to compare it with other headsets) And rather they focused their podcast talk to the content they played at OC5 inside the new headset!

The Quest was announced as having "50+" titles that will be ready day 1 to launch with it, and they got to play 4 of those titles at OC5 in the demo areas. Those being SuperHot VR, Tennis Scramble, Dead and Buried, and Face Your Fears 2!

All of these games are a testament to the technology inside of Quest, most notably it's 6DOF technology (meaning 6 degrees of freedom for moving around with both the headset and controllers, which is the first HMD of it's kind to launch with such a setup in a Standalone fashion). Games like SUPERHOT VR which are normally a standing 360 experience became vivid worlds that you were encouraged to walk around in, featuring huge rooms on the show floor that you could traverse to dodge bullets, find weapons and attack enemies in slow motion!

Tennis scramble was a testament to the Inside Out Tracking's ability to sense the space you have and adjust your movement in-game accordingly, something they call Oculus Insight. For this demo, one player stood on a life-sized tennis court, and another stood in a square living room space about half the size. Due to the smaller room size of one player, Quest's Insight system was able to use the data of both room sizes and give balanced gameplay to both players and allow both to traverse the whole court. It was also a fun game of tennis.

The third game was Dead and Buried (specifically called the Arena mode) which was, again, a testament to the Quest's Inside out tracking. The game was set up in a 4000 sq-ft arena featuring two sides with 3 players each shooting at each other in a western ghost-town with a train track down the middle keeping the two teams separated. Players could move around the entire battlefield attacking opponents (minus crossing over the middle because it was insta-death by train), but otherwise were allowed to move around 360 wherever they pleased, and they were able to see each other playing as well! From what the podcasters said, it was an amazing experience.

the last experience was a horror experience, and while it was a cool demo (they said) they didn't talk much about it, for various reasons.

Technology like this will be vital to the future of my trade, allowing creators to be more connected, freer to move about virtual spaces while viewing/creating their works, and making games and experiences for everyone to enjoy! Hearing that not only did the quest work well, but that it would be at a price point where almost anyone could pick one up leaves me with high hopes that this is really when virtual reality truly begins to take shape.

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