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I want to see Art in Virtual Reality

The obvious way is using 3D software and the results can be great, but more often than not they are not stellar. I would love to see great 2D artists apply their skills and draw, design and paint for VR. I created a Challenge at herox.com: VR Illustration – Web Development Toolkit …

… but at the same time I am working on figuring this out myself – with HTML5 / JS and Bootstrap. I plan to look into Blender workflows that can create the kind of grid that I have in mind. I hope a few people will get inspired once the first convincing proofs of concept exist.

Personally I find the vision thrilling: Memes at DeviantArt.org (like a 360 degree original character one), artists at Patreon painting for VR, collaborations, maybe social platforms for hand drawn art and 180 degree animated loops would rock my world.

In the case of comics I am pretty sure that this will be a thing in the very near future, but in the case of the less mainstream opportunities I fear that they might be missed. Please everybody, remind me to not let that happen 🙂

Awesome Update – Samsung Internet Browser

I love the “new” modes that the “Samsung Internet Beta” Browser supports. For a while I wondered why images did not seem to be supported. I read the release information again and looked into what HTML 5 fullscreen mode is all about.

I think it is unfortunate that this needs to be implemented on the website. For the Gear VR version there should be a mechanism that allows users to view any image in fullscreen mode. Maybe Samsung would love to implement that but for some reason that would violate important HTML related specifications!? From a usability standpoint I see no big challenges except for establishing expectations that users would have to unlearn if other features ever interfere with such an option. As I see it the pros far outweigh the cons.

At least now I can experiment with Digital Panorama Art. This might be a fun project that I can do without turning my VR ambitions into a fulltime job.

Of course I already have ideas that would turn this into a business, like a perspective grid creator software for 3D Panorama Art. I guess for now this is a lonely niche, but at some point people will probably start browsing galleries of digital panorama paintings.

Another thing that I want to try is creating mockups of the app ideas that I will never get to tackle, unless something huge happens (financially speaking).

Horrible Oculus Rift PR

The Rift Pre-Order announcement made quite a few people very unhappy.

I already suspected that people were too optimistic regarding the price. Oculus said $1500 will be the all in price. Oculus Ready PCs will cost roughly $1000. Zuckerberg pointed out that Break-Even is an option which already sounded as if the Rift would not be subsidised.

I expected the price to be around €550 … $599 did not really surprise me, but the whole communication from Oculus was extremely bad PR work. A few remarks in the Tweets to indicate that $1500 as the all-in price would be the absolute minimum would have been the way to go.

But 699€ ($750) before shipping costs is insane without a warning for international backers (in my case Germany). Kickstarter campaigns do a lot of international shipping and none charge that much ($599 are 550€. You need to add $160 or 149€ to get to the 699€ price).

As far as I know there will be AMA at Reddit today. I would not be surprised if the price turns out to come up over and over again in some form. Oculus more than deserves the outcry on Twitter and the launch probably messed with their image quite a bit.

I personally would have ordered the Rift, but the shop is broken. I could order one … for 69900€. I have seen more people who seem to have the same problem. Is anybody working on that bug?

Update:

Expecting a confirmation / summary after submitting the form I went further in the order process and the price with shipping was actually shown as around 750€. I went for it. I guess I will get mine in May. Not sure when I will have the money to buy the PC.

Update #2:

Okay, that makes sense. Well played, then … just not very fan friendly:

Oculus’ pricing ‘misstep’ was a clever marketing ploy

End Of 2015 – Status

Still love my Gear VR and Note4. The biggest news is the Netflix app. I have watched the whole series Breaking Bad using the app and am happy with the performance and stability. I updated the VR Top 10 page and gave Netflix the 2nd place. Being able to watch Netflix in the cinemas would be totally awesome, but I bet Oculus knows that and it just cannot be done.

Then again, I personally hate many of the interface changes they made to apps like Oculus Video and Oculus 360° Pictures. I used to love the clean interfaces, now I see them as a nuisance. In Oculus 360° Pictures I really struggle now. I cannot find many of my favorite pictures in the weird categories. I would not have to, if the app stored them properly, but they get lost with every other update.

I hope the Gear VR gets some more love now that it officially hits the market. I fear the old Cinema interface is gone for good, though. Well, I will have to take the good with the bad.

Strange Contest Results

The Mobile VR Contest has ended and the winners of the Render the Metaverse contest have been announced as well.

Mobile VR Contest: The results are a little discouraging. A game like DRIFT did better than content that I actually enjoyed. The other winners might actually be great, but I could not get them to run.

Render The Metaverse: The images that I liked best did not do well here, either.

“Crazy Furniture Freeze”, “Dirty Cooper”, “SE7EN exhibition inside” and “Storytime” are my favorites (Storytime is my #1 by far). The Office and The Art Gallery are also pretty cool … and Mashup Between the Clouds deserves the 3rd place, but I think the others are pretty meh. I fear my taste might turn out to be a problem in the future.

Also, the way the proclaimed vision (providing a platform for billions) and the now obvious support for expensive proprietary solutions (OTOY) really make me want to switch my attention from Oculus to OSVR … and / or check out the Fove.

 

A quick status update: because the week off revealed more troubles than opportunities, I am looking for different approaches. The Mobile SDK 0.6.0 might be a blessing. I will take a closer look at the changes, but right now I am in panick mode in my day job.

I had to disable the survey link, because the plugin seems to be broken. I double checked the link that I entered in the backend, but the link does not actually point there: http://meandvr.com/go/gaia-vr-pre-crowdfunding/ There is a support forum on the website of the plugin provider, but I signed up an can not actually log in.

 

Currently my guts tell me that should go for a really simple content creation project. I guess creating cinema models is more doable than actually starting with a native SDK application (it probably makes more sense to wait for the new IDE). I would love to be a trailblazer, but my day job does not leave enough room for that kind of project.

First Impressions – Part 2

During the week I managed to spend some more time with the Gear VR.

 

Gear VR Development

I also set up a developer website at Ocuvelop.com where I can keep track of my findings during research phases, manage my projects and write articles that might help other developers at some point. It seems as if Oculus is not betting on many developers showing up that will actually use the native development tools. Probably I will mostly be writing for myself, there … but that is fine. I need both a Blog and Wiki for my Scrum based development workflows,

I also watched the whole keynote “The Dawn Of Mobile VR” now, and there were a few small details that I thought were interesting. Especially the controller topic is a huge one. Even Carmack says he is glad that he is not in charge in that department. My personal strategy will be developing for the good old Gamepad for a while.

 

Software Updates

The Gear VR software has been updated. The library has gotten a lot cooler, but now two taps are required (taps … I keep thinking “clicks”) to actually start a program.

I tried some games now and they are … well … okay. The potential is obvious, but they did not blow me away yet.

I have yet to actually use a Gamepad, so I have not tried HeroBound. I did check the shop description of “HeroBound: First Steps”, though and was pleasantly surprised when the Shop Background changed and looked undescribably stunning.

Oculus chose a pretty boring and weird looking default home background, though. I hope they will use a different one soon or let us pick one (actually I should check if that is already possible somehow).

 

Comfort

For me personally, something about Rocket Toss makes it a not 100% comfortable experience. I did play it for quite a while without actually having to stop playing it, so it is not a serious problem. ( I personally hate that the rockets fly if you miss with your last ring – it is confusing. The rocket should fall into the hole instead 🙂 ).

Interestingly I tried some of the videos and the 360° storytelling program. Watching the photos can be weird and slightly unpleasant for certain indoor perspectives. I was surprised by how much my brain responded to a part of a video (Walking The Nile) where “the viewer walks” downhill. That got unpleasant for a few seconds, but again not in an alarming way.

 

SD Card

Finally I also had a chance to check out the content on the SD Card. I love how well the stereoscopic effect of the Patrick Watson video and the Cirque Du Soleil demonstrations works. Oculus is really good at choosing the right content (with the exception mentioned above).

There are also quite a few more photos and videos. The Pacific Rim one looks great, but there I really miss some kind of force feedback device. I can not wait for technology that will allow the average person to capture 360° content.

Still, my favorite is the cinema. I keep rewatching the 3D trailers. The multi screen feature is intriguing. I just cannot get over how cool the cinema is.