Reflection: Bigscreen VR

Before I continue I’ll take a step back to define any VR application that brings together people in an environment as “social vr”. What makes Bigscreen interesting is the paradox of choice. In other social applications VR Chat, AltspaceVR, High Fidelity; there are no core activities that you can derive outside of being together, which makes the choices for what you can do very broad. With Bigscreen it’s a display extension or place to watch movies with a cinema experience. Simple.
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Recently I saw that they enticed Paramount (?) studios to do a premiere of Top Gun in VR. I thought that was a nice blend of a social construct we know and love of going to the movies and social VR––though I didn’t attend the screening. I’ve used Bigscreen recently and the environments are nice with physically based shadows and lighting. Bigscreen’s reliance on virtual displays makes it well-positioned to benefit from forthcoming improvements in display clarity.
multiplayer-bigscreen-1400
One thing worth noting is that I haven’t been able to get audio to work for all people in a living room setting. When putting your content on the Bigscreen audio seems to play only for you. This wasn’t the case in the movie theater where a host had no problem playing Rogue One off of Netflix for all to enjoy with sound.
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Finally, when Oculus Home released it’s core 2.0 update everyone on Rift had the ability to see and use their desktop screen in VR. SteamVR also enables desktop viewing. Viveport? Although, today Oculus Home doesn’t offer social as Bigscreen does… this probably effects the uniqueness of their total product and must be considered for continuing fundraising.

Supermedium

Part of YC’s W18 Cohort, Supermedium, is a superset of webVR experiences. It features work from the likes of Inigo Quilez, Ricardo Cabello, Marpi, and others, the browser can be downloaded on Windows today.

I enjoyed Shadertoy’s audio visualizations in particular though they didn’t support touch controllers. An idiosyncrasy of the platform right now is that usually, experiences have HTC Vive controllers supported only. This means that when you use your Oculus Touch controllers the API will receive button presses and input but they will visually appear to come from an HTC Vive controller.

Check out the Supermedium website here. The founders are experienced contributors to webVR efforts, Kevin Ngo and Diego Marcos, and technical artist, Diego Goberna.

Reblog: Player – Game – Designer

The above work comes from Thomas Bedenk, who I met at VRX London in 2016. See end his page for sources (link found at bottom).

This model provides a substrate, an interactive application namely a game and its production and consumption, and highlights the aspects regarding components Player, Game, and Designer into the full picture.

Read the full version from the author’s website.

Reblog: Can gaming & VR help you with combatting traumatic experiences?

Can gaming & VR help you with combatting traumatic experiences? The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community. The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

Can gaming & VR help you with combatting traumatic experiences?

Trauma affects a great many people in a variety of ways, some suffer from deep-seated trauma such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by war or abuse. And others suffer from anxiety and phobias caused by traumatic experiences such as an accident, a loss an attack.

Each needs its own unique and tailored regime to lessen the effects and to aid the individuals in regaining some normalcy to their lives. Often these customized treatments are very expensive and difficult to obtain.

In the world of ubiquitous technology and an ever-increasing speed in visual-based treatments, these personalized therapies are becoming more accessible to the average sufferer.

What I would like to do is take you through some of the beneficial effects that gaming and VR can have on those suffering from trauma, what these treatments sometimes look like and what the pitfalls can be when using them.
I am not a specialist in psychology or trauma treatment, but I feel that increasing awareness of what is out there is beneficial to everyone, and perhaps can help those suffering from trauma to take the first step in seeking help.

Games & VR as a positive mental activity

To date, a few studies have been done on the effectiveness of gaming and virtual reality gaming in therapeutic treatments. But due to the brief history of both, a lengthy study has yet to be completed. But the one thing that we can be sure of is the first-hand accounts of those that have experienced the benefit of these experiences.

A very basic exercise for those suffering from trauma is to engage in mindfulness or meditation exercises. Meditation guided through a VR system can have very positive effects on an individual’s disposition. Due to the immersive nature of VR, you can let yourself fall away into another world and detach yourself from the real world. It is as though you are “experiencing a virtual Zen garden” dedicated entirely to you.

This effect of letting go and identifying with an external locus is probably one of the most effective attributes of gaming and VR. It is the act of not focusing on yourself, on the memories and cues that cause the underlying trauma, but focusing on and engaging with another character, an avatar, on-screen who for all intents and purposes has led and now leads (through you) another life. This character has its own sense of agency to complete a quest or goal, totally independent from you.

The most effective way that games allow you to let go to offer you a challenge that requires your entire focus. And to enhance this, most games offer group challenges. These are two core drivers in improving positive emotions, personal empowerment, and social relatedness. With individuals who suffer from either PTSD or other deep trauma’s, being given a vehicle that allows easier connections with others helps them to cope with their own trauma’s much better. It takes their mind off what is troubling them and through repetition can even lead to a lessening of symptoms.
Did you enjoy this article? Then read the full version from the author’s website.

For a more behind the scenes look at how this manifests in practice, check out this PBS Frontline documentary. Master Sgt. Robert Butler, a Marine combat cameraman, recounts his struggle with PTSD and how Virtual Iraq helped.

OC4 Talks: Designing for Feeling – Robin Hunicke

Notes from OC4 Designing for Feeling – Robin Hunicke

Philosophy of Exploration and Design

Robin opened with her concept of triple E content (a play on AAA, disambiguated below) and extolled the value of figuring out where you want to go first

  • Elegant Expressive and Emotional content (EEE)
  • She presented a 2×2 matrix with high impact, low cost as the quadrant where most content aims… the problem, she expressed, was that the matrix leaves out elegance as a focal point
    Tips
  • Evolve concepts, tools, & solutions, to reduce cost & improve impact
  • Evolve ux
  • Expressive – Players Speak

Process & the Broad Applicability of EEE

Axes in her slide graphic included rational, eee, baroque, and scripted (e.g. Sims, Black ops)

  1. Test your concept like it isn’t your
  2. Throw away ideas
  3. Find the feeling in your idea (lock in on it)
  4. This is your secret sauce
  5. Test the prototype like it isn’t yours
  6. the prototype is different than what is on paper
  7. the process is what helps
  8. Repeat

Luna

Uncertainty is surpassed only by the effort that needs to go into it

For Luna she took inspiration for the design from a paper world feel, influenced by origami, and during the process she packed her mind with fairytales

Not everyone needs to get into hands-on design influences, but she
thought that making origami and the concepts and learning how the
tactile quality turned out were really informative
 I’ve definitely found with Project Futures: The Future of
Farming it’s really key to actually gain some influence from real world knowledge and folks that have built
constructs or structures that are going to lend to the look and feeling of the world space in the app. Namely
Infarm.

One important side note Robin dropped was that none of the characters in Luna have genders.

Other Random Notes

  • Mood boards
  • Luna started out as a PC and VR title from the beginning
  • The demo and vision existed before the actual prototype (i.e. the hands
    controlling the stars)
  • Tested prototype part 2 and threw it away
  • Music is integrated into the testing process with feeling at the center, namely, “what kind of feeling is it communicating?”

Timeline
4 year process for Luna – started out as a drawing in a book

  • They went through a massive phase where no VR was implemented, then in November 2016 it came to life in VR (7 person
    team)
  • By 2017 the pieces are starting to become cohesive and informed by the feeling

Fail Forward was key, it takes a lot of work.

Have to lean into the idea of interesting different challenging titles

UPSHOT = Diverse and inclusive teams, failure is ok, and the belief that you’re
going to get there. Leads to the triple EEEs and successful titles.