So last week I went to London for fun (I know, right…) and took the opportunity to try out some of the more recent public VR experiences.
After watching back the video filmed of me on The Slide by my wife (video below, apologies for the portrait video) and whilst being conscious of not externally reacting to the experience, it got me thinking about how, as an evangelist of VR, I should appear to others watching me (who more than likely don’t know me from Adam anyway) immersed in VR.
Part of our roles as technology evangelists is to encourage and enthuse others to help spread wider adoption and acceptance, otherwise the market will wither and die if it’s just us experiencing and owning it.
However I also see part of our roles are around education and ensuring that experiences people have are great, comfortable and not gimmicky. Otherwise if you are overly positive about everything, then you have less integrity and value for when something is really standout. (Discourse about current binary nature of online interactions, where everything is only either frickin’ awesome or utter shite with no degrees between relevant here).
I’m more interested from a technical viewpoint how other studios create VR, their capabilities, value etc to the overall industry and movement of pushing the technology forwards. I will note here that the motion platform tracking to the virtual representation was pretty good and in-sync with my angle on the slide, so plus points for that at least.
So anyway, back to the video — most people watching me experience The Slide would probably think it’s not that great and not bother queuing up to have a go afterwards. Which I guess in this case is fine; £10 for a 2–3 minute experience that is generic and base VR at best is a bloody rip-off as far as I am concerned.
But that’s me with my experienced VR user hat on; 9/10 people still haven’t tried VR and would probably get a real thrill out of this experience but I can’t help thinking that afterwards, they would come away thinking the technology is a gimmick, a fun distraction for fair-ground type rides but nothing more.
And we all know VR is capable of much more than that but there’s no way here of making that apparent.
So should I pretend it’s the best thing ever and falsely advertise the experience or try and at least look like I’m having fun…? There are always limits, like this guy from itv Good Morning Britain:
Additional notes & thoughts:
- Obviously an agency got paid to make these experiences. I have no knowledge of the budget, timescales or development process. Perhaps the two experiences were pre-defined in a brief to the agency. I assume the agency doesn’t get a rev share of the profits from ticket sales.
- NB. both experiences were initially free upon launch, now they cost £10 each or £15 if you do both (p/person).
- Rollercoaster and waterslide experiences continue to be one of the most popular genres / types of experience on all VR app stores, especially amongst free content (along with horror).
- The other VR experience on offer at The Shard is “Vertigo”, a complete rip-off of “Richie’s Plank Experience”, albeit replacing generic cityscape with London and The Shard during-construction 3D models.
- The HTC Vive / SteamVR setup for Vertigo had visible firmware update requests visible on-screen.
- The Slide had some noticeable UV mapping errors with stretched textures inside some parts of the tube.
- I forgot to look but I wasn’t aware of positional tracking with The Slide (which used Oculus Rift) but I guess it was ok and comfortable without.