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Developing a VR experience without a headset, is it possible?

Discussion in 'AR/VR (XR) Discussion' started by martin_cy, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. martin_cy

    martin_cy

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    Hi, new to these forums but after sitting on the sidelines since the first oculus kickstarter, I no longer can prevent myself from getting involved..

    So I did not buy the DK1, neither the DK2, neither do I own Gear VR.. but VR is pretty much all I think about lately, as we are slowly approaching Q1 and the Rift release which is what I will buy and express deliver as soon as I can.. but till then.. my question is:

    Can I start dabbling with unity VR and create things even though I can not actually experience it in VR, is there some way using unity so that I can at least get an idea/debugging if they thing i'm doing is possible?

    I have written down many ideas and things i want to create and experience, can I create them and learn things until I get my CV1 rift or is it pointless without having something to debug on? same goes for the Oculus touch is it possible to start coding for that now even though nobody really has one yet?
     
    AtheneNoctua likes this.
  2. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    There's always Google Cardboard and the SDK for Unity. It's a cheap way to get VR running right now.

    You really need to be able to experience VR to iterate on design. Unite this year was full of talks about VR. One of the big takeaways was that designing for VR is in many ways completely different from designing for flat screen experiences. I recommend watching the broadcasts as soon as Unity releases them, especially Owlchemy Studios' excellent presentation on the real-world design challenges they encountered.
     
  3. jashan

    jashan

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    What you can do is build art assets and start building the general game mechanics. But it's really best to get at least a headset like DK2 - even better: some motion controllers (I believe Razor Hydra is the only one that was publicly available - but it's probably no more, and it's not that great anyways).

    Being able to be fully immersed in VR and actually walk around (like you can with the HTC Vive), and interact with the world in more or less natural ways (like you can with the HTC Vive Controllers or Oculus Touch) is really a completely different way to "play" a game and the game mechanics really need to be designed for that.

    But it also depends on the kind of game/experience you want to build.
     
  4. AtheneNoctua

    AtheneNoctua

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    The speakers at SIGGRAPH and VRLA said exactly the same thing as TonyLi is reporting from Unite. You need something, even Google Cardboard, or your app looks boring and flat.

    Is there a link to the Owlchemy Studios presentation online?
     
  5. Todd-Wasson

    Todd-Wasson

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    My project is a speedboat simulator ( http://speedboatsim.com ) which could have been done largely without any VR access. The really big VR specific thing for me was the user interface. This has to be a world space thing in 3D, and I don't see a way to do anything useful there without a VR set.

    You could do quite a lot without a VR set though. When you play around, just make sure your camera has some parent object attached to it that you move directly. I.e., don't move the camera object, instead move the parent. Then when you get the VR headset it'll just work right away.

    While you could do a lot without a VR headset, I wouldn't get to a release point without one. No reason not to get started playing around though, you might be surprised at how well it works once you get a VR headset. I'd recommend investing the money in a headset now though instead of waiting around for the Rift CV1 to be released.
     
    wccrawford likes this.
  6. thesnowdog

    thesnowdog

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    What about the Steam VR SDK..? Doesn't that produce visuals that will work with both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift HMDs..? If so then there has to be some way to get this working for Google Cardboard HMDs too..?

    The Google Cardboard SDK is only for Android and iOS devices, isn't it..?

    Perhaps you could develop a game or app with the Steam VR SDK and then use something like Trinus VR to test it using a Google Cardboard HMD..?
     
  7. Todd-Wasson

    Todd-Wasson

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    No idea, sorry. I've only worked with the Oculus Rift. Maybe someone else will know.
     
    Algodrill likes this.
  8. jashan

    jashan

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    SteamVR is totally awesome - but as far as I know, it currently only supports Vive and Oculus and it definitely does not support (and probably won't ever support) "mobile VR". In fact, at the moment it even only supports Windows (but eventually, it will support Mac and Linux again ... they say ... and I guess no one knows when ;-) ).

    Personally, I think Google Cardboard (and comparable stuff) is really a wrong direction to take. Gear VR probably has its use cases (stereo 360 videos) and certainly is the best of the "cheap things" (even though it's actually not that cheap).

    But for "actual VR", you really need positional tracking - it makes a huge difference. And in many cases, you'll want to have tracked controllers for both hands (that's really the thing where current hardware sucks because those that support it - HTC Vive and Oculus Touch - are pretty hard to get your hands on ... and Razer Hydra really sucks).
     
  9. thesnowdog

    thesnowdog

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    Jashan, TrinusVR does give you head tracking. It streams the game from your PC to your smartphone sitting in your Google Cardboard-type HMD.

    Have looked at the Steam VR forum and the only thing stopping you from using a Google Cardboard-type headset in place of a hideously expensive Oculus or Vive devkit is that it won't start without a recognisable HMD (Oculus/Vive/Gear VR) connected.

    Someone on there is working with the devs to get it sorted out.

    Once you're able to test games using a Google Cardboard-type HMD things will start to get VERY interesting. We'll see indie development reaching similar heights that the industry hasn't seen since the 80s with the Speccy and Commodore 64. You'll have kids and hobbyists releasing stuff all over the place, and due to the open nature of the Steam VR SDK - stuff that works will work for every platform.
     
  10. trinusvr

    trinusvr

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    There's a Trinus library available for Unity. By adding it to your own Unity projects you can do your VR development without needing additional hardware *.
    Plus plenty of users without a Rift/Vive will be able to play it in VR too. You can find the lib and sample source code here: http://trinusvr.com/survival-shooter-for-trinusvr

    * Ok, you do need a phone and Google Cardboard (or better) :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
  11. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    The answer is no, it's like making a colorful console game without a controller and in monochrome color only.

    It's critical to have an hmd to develop with.
     
    jashan likes this.
  12. elbows

    elbows

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    Google cardboard type head tracking does not compare favourably to desktop solutions. Rotation is not enough, accurate position matters. There is a reason they have complicated the Oculus setup with camera(s) and the Vive one with beacons. It was the most obvious difference to me when going from cardboard to DK2, and it made a difference to the wow factor, believability and level of nausea.
     
    jashan likes this.
  13. trinusvr

    trinusvr

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    I'm curious about your impressions, was it really about positional tracking, or could have been other factors like rotational tracking drift or low performance?

    While phone sensors are not as good for head tracking as the dedicated hardware alternative, they can still perform well.
    Drift can be minimized by proper sensor calibration and, in the case of Trinus, using certain settings to improve results.
    As for positional tracking, well, the tech used for Oculus is relatively simple and has been in use for a long time (before VR became trendy), TrackIR, freetrack and Wii use a very similar approach (Infrared LEDs + camera to determine position in space). There are several DIY projects for that.
    Back to Trinus, I developed a positional tracking system for it which did work (although it is not publicly available). To avoid extra hardware and/or DIYing, I went with a different approach: pattern recognition (different shapes, with captured size determining distance on each axis). That is lower quality positional tracking than Rift/TrackIR/Wiimote, but uses a standard camera instead of requiring a setup of LEDs and IR filtering cam.

    In any case, I do wonder what made you sick/less 'wowy' with the Cardboard, was it the rotational drift/accuracy or the lack of positional tracking... I'd assume the former, but you seem to imply it was more about the latter.

    I'd like to get your impressions on that Trinus demo I mentioned earlier (http://trinusvr.com/survival-shooter-for-trinusvr). Now I understand you are already against it, but would like to know if it is as bad as the previous experiences you had or better than what you expect :)

    I might get back on supporting positional tracking for Trinus... although one of the main problems is lack of software supporting a protocol for it (usually only flight/racing sims... and Arma). Games using the Trinus lib would automatically support it though :)
     
  14. elbows

    elbows

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    Sorry, I can't try Trinus because I was using Google cardboard v2 with an iPhone 6, not an android device.

    Don't get me wrong, cardboard was still fun. And yes, some of those other issues you mention may be partly responsible, not just positional tracking. But I know for sure that positional tracking was quite a chunk of reason for my varying experience - for example I got extra wow by being able to look at objects from a varying position based on real head position tracking - e.g. looking around the side/back of objects on the desk in the standard oculus scene.

    I am glad cardboard and other related tech exists, and there is some good stuff that can be done for it. Casual VR is interesting, and not without potential. But I can really see why desktop VR solutions decided it was worth the extra complexity and cost for users to have some more robust positional tracking tech as part of the mix.
     
    jashan likes this.
  15. jashan

    jashan

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    It's so simple it almost sounds stupid: How are you gonna track the position of your head in VR without positional tracking?

    For VR hardware to not be what makes you sick (unless you hold your head perfectly still), you not only need positional and rotational tracking - you need this kind of tracking with minimal latency and highest possible accuracy.

    I can imagine a mobile phone solution that works with Lighthouse to be pretty awesome when the phone is capable enough to render a VR experience that is simple enough quickly enough.

    Once the tracking is near-perfect and the performance is 90+ FPS, it's up to the developers to build something that doesn't make people sick. Without the appropriate hardware, some people will be able to take it, other will feel sick after the experience and some will actually not want to try VR again. Once the hardware "is there", it's really only up to the software. If the hardware isn't "there", you won't notice the difference because the hardware will be the limiting factor.

    Chet Faliszek explained that quite well in his recent talk @ EGX:

     
    elbows likes this.
  16. maubar

    maubar

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    i did ...... with out oculus....
    but my game ..... is like a soldier on the ground like a shooter, but not move, because the enemies, coming to him.
    but if you will move your headset... brother you need a device.

    hope this help
     
  17. immerseum

    immerseum

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    Hi Folks - I realize this question dates back about a year, but since it comes up high in the google results thought I'd throw this out there:

    There are lots of situations in which you might want to develop for VR without a headset. For example, I was on a flight out to LA yesterday, and it would have been very impractical to try to put on either a Vive or Oculus HMD in my itty bitty airplane seat.

    What a lot of the folks I've spoken to have done is basically throw together a quick set of scripts which gives them keyboard and mouse control over their camera - that way if they don't have an HMD connected, they can still move and look around in their VR worldspace. However, that doesn't solve the challenge of simulating positionally-tracked controllers which raises an entirely different set of issues.

    To facilitate our own work on the Immerseum SDK, we built out a little utility tool we call the VR Simulator which basically detects whether an HMD is connected, and then gives keyboard/mouse/gamepad control over the camera, and can simulate positionally-tracked controllers if there's no HMD/controllers detected. We've found it to be very useful and let us continue our development efforts when we're not near a headset (or - TBH - when we're too lazy to try and get one connected / plugged in).

    Following some convos with some other VR devs, we released the VR Simulator publicly yesterday for folks to utilize. It's in a beta version, for the moment, so there might be some glitches we're not aware of. As we get through the beta period, we'll be hoping to release it in the Unity Asset Store, too. It's compatible with the Vive and Oculus Rift headsets and plugins, but we haven't tested it with Daydream, OSVR, or PlayStation VR yet.

    Overall, we've tried to be pretty comprehensive about writing it up and making it super easy/intuitive to use: Just drag the asset into your VR scene and hit "play" and you get keyboard, mouse, and gamepad control over the camera and can simulate position-tracked controllers with primitives or any prefab you want. Feel free to check it out: http://developers.immerseum.io and let us know what you think!

    Hope this helps!

    All the best,
    Chris
     
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  18. Hormic

    Hormic

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    Wow this is awesome, i hate to have the HMD on my head and it slips over my eyes every few seconds while iterating things, this is a benediction for me, thank you very much for sharing. :))))
     
    immerseum likes this.
  19. immerseum

    immerseum

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    Thanks! Glad you're finding it useful. I had the exact same issue - and what with me wearing glasses, I kept on having to take time to find where they'd fallen whenever the HMD knocked 'em off. :)

    Feel free to join our Slack group, and let me know if you run into any issues - it's in beta at the moment, so there might be (read: probably are) bugs lurking around in there...

    Chris
     
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  20. Hormic

    Hormic

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    Yeah i will test it in the next few days and give feedback,
    i guess there are many VRdevs which will highly appreciate your tool! :)
     
    immerseum likes this.
  21. immerseum

    immerseum

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    Thanks! I really appreciate it, and I hope you find the tool useful!

    Chris
     
  22. kenmgrimm

    kenmgrimm

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    Cardboard isn't getting much love but for $10 you have the ability to at least see your scene in 3d. With some very simple scripts, possibly even using what @immerseum mentioned above, you can replicate movement within the scene with a mouse or keyboard. You can then use Unity Remote to allow your phone to control the camera rotation and you have a lot of VR there minus hand tracking. Re-reading immerseum's description, it sounds like you could potentially emulate hand tracking as well so, sure, it's not a Vive but it sounds like you could nearly emulate one using cardboard.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2016
    SiliconDroid and immerseum like this.
  23. Titos

    Titos

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    Tried the immersium extension in 5.4.1 with the standard demo scenes - lots of compiler errors. Is it limited to 5.3 or the 5.5 beta?
     
  24. immerseum

    immerseum

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    5.4.1 (and in particular Oculus Utilities v.1.8, which requires 5.4.1p1) has introduced a variety of changes that are causing some errors. We'll be releasing a new version for Unity 5.4.1p1 early next week which fixes these errors and introduces some new features, but in the meantime I might be able to give you some quick fixes (depending on which errors you're running into).

    Feel free to shoot me an email at support@immerseum.io with the issues you're running into and I'll do my best to help!

    All the best,
    Chris
     
  25. immerseum

    immerseum

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    @Titos FYI - We just released a new version of the VR Simulator that's been tested on Unity 5.4.0f3, 5.4.1f1, and 5.4.1p1 - 5.4.1p3. As of right now, we're recommending 5.4.1p1 and higher, but it will still function on earlier versions up to 5.4.0f3 (with some behavior / performance issues if you're targeting Oculus).

    You can read the details of what's included in the release here: http://www.immerseum.io/2016/10/03/vr-simulator-v-beta-0-9-released-major-update/

    And I recommend taking a look at the requirements for additional detail (http://docs.immerseum.io/vr-simulator-beta-0.9/topic5.html) if you've got any concerns.

    If you run into any trouble, feel free to drop me a line: support@immerseum.io.

    All the best,
    Chris
     
  26. DoomerDGR8

    DoomerDGR8

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    Hello, Unity World!

    I'm attempting to revive this thread yet again. After reading the above, I take it that to attempt AR without the expensive cloud-based subscriptions, Google Cardbox is the only way. I have been trying to learn AR/VR following YouTube tutorials but that doesn't go for long because all those people have subscriptions like ARToolKit, Vuforia.

    Can I not do a serious AR without these ridiculously expensive services/SDKs?
     
  27. Polff

    Polff

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    May 18, 2017
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    I know, old thread and stuff, but if anyone stumbles over this problem. I have an VR Simulator for the Unity XR Interaction Toolkit released to the asset store: XR Interaction Toolkit VR Simulator
     
  28. wizgrav

    wizgrav

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