First Impressions – Part 3

Gear VR Development

I wrote about this at Ocuvelop.com, but development for the Gear VR is harder than I expected. I still consider experimenting and figuring this out, but I want to actually develop at some point.

I fear I can not go for a significant project if I invest half a year simply in learning and experimenting.

 

Android Update

The Lollipop update destroyed a lot of the magic of the Gear VR. Nothing “just works” anymore. Even in the panorama photo app there are weird display effects from time to time and the stereoscopic images crash the application more often than not, probably because there is less memory available.

Fortunately most of the apps still run in principle. The performance has become an issue, though … and I cannot get most of the Mobile VR Jam entries to run.

That is extremely unfortunate because everything was working so nicely … and I fear Oculus will not be able to fix all the problems and Google will not fix the Lollipop problems and Samsung will not roll out a version of Lollipop that allows me to install the VR Jam entries (there seems to be a known bug in the Android 5.0.1 version that Samsung rolled out: https://forums.oculus.com/viewtopic.php?t=22617).

I could test a few apps, though.

 

VR Jam entries

I managed to try DRIFT, which I think has a lot of potential but was too frustrating for me.

I played Atop The Wizard’s Tower until I got the “Need To Cool Down” message. I think a bug messed up the 3rd wave. The enemies were stuck at the spawn locations and at some point “suddenly” Wave 4 almost began. It would be nice without the Cool Down problem.

I rode the VR Coaster several times and love it, except for extreme lag at a certain point which occured every time I tried it.

Captain Clark Adventures is a lot too bumpy. I may be spoilt, but the way you go from scene to scene and do not find anything to do in most of them was not a fun experience. The graphics are great, though.

My favorite so far is the Castle VRuin entry. Photogrammetry was used to create a realistic model of a castle (Hohenrechberg, with shots from a UAV). In the menu the castle is shown as a 1:100 model, slightly too close to the camera for my taste. Then you can actually explore the castle in a first person view experience. Like in the VR Coaster entry, there are many little details to enjoy.

 

Thoughts

The troubles with the Lollipop update are bad. It almost feels like a Google move to fight a certain Cardboard competitor.

I could imagine that strategic moves are discussed at Oculus. I would not be surprised if there are talks with Samsung about the state of Tizen … or decoupling the Oculus mobile experience from the Android development fragmentation somehow.

If they plan to stick with Android, I am not so sure that this would be good news either. While the potential of mobile VR has become more apparent, I am not as confident that Oculus will be able to fulfill the potential in the mobile world. I am afraid that they might pivot and focus on desktop hardware and software eventually.

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