Aug 212015 Tagged with , , ,

HTC Vive TI5 Demo

When Valve invited the /r/DotA2 team for press at TI5 they emailed us and offered an appointment to try the HTC Vive. Normally only press and lucky ticket holders got the honor to enter the truck and try on the goggles for an extended thirty minuet demo of the product.

Naturally ReaverXai and I argued over who would get the honor. And I ended up winning the deathmatch, because he is super nice and I don’t think wanted to be there at 9am.

I was super hesitant to try the demo, mostly because of my previous VR experiences. I have used an Oculus a few times, and every time I put it on within five minuets I feel like I want to vomit all over everything. I am very easily motion sick. I have gotten ill playing Mario Kart 64 for Christ sake. I thought that I would be a goner for sure knowing that I was about to willing subject myself to thirty minuets of this HTC monster.

Regardless, when I got into the room I was greeted by a nice man who was going to give me my demo. Standing in an empty room he put the Vive on my head and helped me tighten the straps. It felt quite secure and a little bit heavy. Right away I felt as if I was on a different plane. My brain knew that I was in an empty black room in a trailer, but my eyes kept telling it that this was not the case. That I was in a white virtual room with balloons flying all over. I walked around a bit before being told to stand still. There was a big wire coming out of the back of the headset that I had to avoid tripping myself over as I pranced.

Then the coolest part of the demo happened real early for me. When the dude came over to give me the two hand controllers, I could see where they were because they were projected through the goggles. I was about to use the information form the Vive to reach out and grab the controlled out of the guys hands. I don’t know why but it felt so fluid that it blew me away that I was about to reach out into space and grab onto those things with no real information.

Then the real demo started. I was brought under water to a ship. It wasn’t interactive in terms of the controllers, except I could use my hands to make fish swim away from me. I looked all around the bow of the boat, over the edge, at the fish, into the abyss. It was a bit triply to be able to explore this virtual environment with my body, something I have not experienced with VR before.

The next demo was a cooking simulator. I had a lot of fun in the kitchen following instructions to make soup or sandwiches. I also played around a bit seeing what was programmed into the demo that I could do for fun. Throw eggs around the room. Open and close the microwave. Tilt over the fridge, or stab the robot with the knife. Everything I could play with and it was the sheer amount of intuitiveness which I found interesting. If I wanted to open the fridge to find the extra eggs, and then crack them on the floor, and then put that yoke in my sandwich, no problem.

Third demo consisted of an art program where I could use the controllers to pick different brushes and colors to draw in a 3D space. Now I aint no art guy, but I had a lot of fun making squiggles and then walking in circles around them to see different perspectives on said squiggles. Begin able to move in the environment still felt foreign, but it was very natural.

Finally the last demo was a little bit of an experience involving being in the shop keeper’s house. You got to see all of the items and interact with things there while he talked to you. There were special glyph that you could find to take new perspectives in the world. Some of these had super awesome jump scares, some of them had some dope ass dota references. There was a lot of walking around to do here and actual head movement. If anything was going to make me sick, this was the demo.

Alas I took the headset off and felt fine. I feel like it was because it was a full body experience and not just an eye exercise like other VR I have tried. The man demoing the Vive made sure to tell me a bunch of key points about it that would be useful if I was like at CNET or something and writing a more official report of the software. One of the things I remember Vividly (pardon the pun) was how HTC considers this a tier above every other VR experience. I can see why.

At the end of the day I was really happy with my experience. I can see that the tech is not done, but when it is it will be able to create some amazing things. The hardware is solid, and Valve is sure to deliver something ground breaking on the software side. While I still feel like VR is the 3D TV of a few years ago, if there is any unit that is going to break into the mainstream and lead the pack in terms of the technology, I can tell you first hand that it’ll be the Vive.

Thanks Valve and HTC <3