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25 VR Twitter Accounts You Need To Be Following

 

UploadVR published an article recommending 25 people you should be following if you're interested in VR.

I'm very happy they've included me on the list, alongside some people I very much respect - and some personal heroes of mine! 

To be included with such people as John Carmack, Tim Sweeney, Timoni West, Alan Yates, Chet Faliszek, Shuhei Yoshida, Robert Scoble, and of course, the man who kickstarted the VR revolution - Palmer Luckey - is pretty amazing! Thanks UploadVR!

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Introducing the Vive Pre!

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Introducing the Vive Pre!

The Vive Pre has arrived! If you're not aware, this is the latest developer version of HTC / Valve's VR headset, and it's absolutely incredible. 

If you've used the original HTC Vive you'll know it was already very impressive hardware, and the wireless controllers added a new dimension to interaction in VR. The Vive Pre takes an already astonishing experience and refines it even further.

Firstly, the HMD is noticeably smaller and looks much more like a final version. The photosensors are now hidden by plastic that is transparent to IR light. It also has a USB hub for accessories, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. HTC also bundled some decent in-ear headphones. There's also a camera on the front of the HMD, though the new chaperone system is yet to be enabled for developers.

 

The Lighthouses (or Basestations) are smaller, make no noise, require no sync cable if the lighthouses are in LoS of each other, and only have a couple of visible LEDs. This makes it much easier and more practical to mount in the home. Interestingly, the only way to power them off is to unplug them. It seems HTC intend for us to keep them on permanently.

The controllers have absolutely wonderful ergonomic and aesthetic design. The hockey-puck design is gone, replaced with a far more pleasing look. The weighting of the controllers is perfect - it rests easily in the hand, and the underside of the trigger can balance on just one finger. 

 

Overall, this display on the Vive Pre is much improved. The 'linen screen' effect is entirely gone. Colours are more vivid, the contrast is fantastic, and the screen-door effect is barely perceptible. I've only noticed the SDE when looking at large areas of solid colour, and even then I was intentionally looking for it.

While the hardware is undeniably great, the original Vive took a few hours to get it set up and working. However, the Vive Pre was set up in about 30 minutes, with only a few issues in getting one of the controllers paired. Valve have done a great job with the software, making something that could be difficult very straightforward. I've heard some developers have had a few problems, but my experience has been almost plug-and-play.

My only criticism would be the headphones. While they're good, I'm not keen on sharing in-ear headphones! Of course, these can easily be swapped due to the 3.5mm jack. It remains to be seen if this will be the solution in the consumer version.

Overall, the Vive Pre feels like a consumer product. I feel they could probably release this as-is. 

How does this compare to the Oculus CV1? Well, I don't have one to compare it to yet, although the Oculus CV1 Kickstarter Edition should arrive in the near future. 

Exciting times for VR!

Finally, BAFTA for scale ;)


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Unity VR Samples: Remixed

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Unity VR Samples: Remixed

After working on the VR Samples with Unity, I thought it might be entertaining - for me at least - to try 'remixing' them in the style of some of my dioramas

Here's a few hours of playing around with the Flyer minigame, and adding a bunch of Asset Store things in, and lots of tweaking of various properties.

Runs at a solid 75fps on my DK2, with 780ti. This is in no way designed to run on mobile :)

Assets used include:

Gallery of my WIP below.


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Unity VR Samples

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Unity VR Samples

Unity asked me to work with them on the Unity VR Samples, which is aimed at people who are interested in starting VR development in Unity. I'm very happy to say it's now been released!

It consists of a VR Sample project for Gear VR and DK2, with a menu scene and four minigames:

It's also backed by extensive documentation about various aspects of VR and how they're applied in the VR Samples:

 

If you're new to VR dev, take a look! There's tons of information in there that's bound to be useful to you.

Big thanks for the Unity team for their hard work and putting up with me :)

 

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HTC Vive has arrived!

Very happy that I have now received a Vive dev kit! I was blown away after originally using the Vive at EGX in March 2015. Not only is the quality of the screens and lenses way ahead of the DK2, but room-scale VR is something that you need to experience to believe it. It's the closest to the holodeck that we're going to get for some time.

Another fantastic aspect of the Vive are the two wireless controllers. Positionally tracked with sub-millimeter precision, being able to reach out in VR and grab the controllers is an astonishing feeling.

Valve and HTC have done an amazing job with the Vive. I can't wait to see what the consumer version will be like.

If you're based in Brighton and would like a demo, get in contact and I'll try and sort something out.

VR development - now with lasers!

VR development - now with lasers!

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Oculus Touch Demo

I was invited to a VR developers day at Oculus in London to try the new Oculus Half Moon controllers and the final engineering sample of the CV1. 

Input has always been a challenge in VR. I've used gamepads, LeapMotion, Kinect, Razer Hydra, Myo, and gaze-based input - but none of them feel right. Oculus have pretty much nailed it now: These Half Moon controllers are absolutely fantastic. Not only are they incredibly precise, but they're an ergonomic delight: From the moment you pick them up, it's obvious an enormous amount of effort has gone into creating these.

The final engineering sample of the CV1 is also an engineering masterpiece. Lightweight, sleek, and with excellent displays and lenses, it's very exciting to see what the first consumer version will look like.

 

Me, trying the Half Moon controllers

Me, trying the Half Moon controllers

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Speaking at Unite Europe 2015 - A Quick Summary

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Speaking at Unite Europe 2015 - A Quick Summary

This was the second time I attended the fun and inspiring Unite Europe conference in Amsterdam, and this time I was on stage - twice!

A huge, heartfelt thank you to Unity and the team who organised it. Not only for organising a wonderful event for ~1500 people, but also for accepting my session, and putting me on the main stage.

First up was the brief mention in the Unite keynote at 1:46:50 (thanks Andy!) - followed by my session on the main stage: "Turning It Up To Eleven: Making Unity 5 Look AWESOME". For those of you surprised I wasn't talking about VR, making Unity look amazing is my other passion!

This was my first time speaking at an international tech conference, and it seemed to go down well - see the tweets embedded below. Although it's a lot of work to prepare, the payoff is definitely worth it, and once you're on the stage any worries just disappear.

On the second day of the conference I was on the "So You Want To Be A Unity Freelancer?" panel with Cat Burton, Kerry Turner, and Emil Johansen - which was genuinely interesting to be on from my point of view. It was great sharing thoughts, tips, and strategies with other experienced freelancers - I definitely learned some new things, and perhaps we convinced some people to go freelance too.

I believe both talks were recorded, and will be available on YouTube over the next few weeks. I'll update this when they're available, and upload my edited slides soon.

[Edit: Link to Turning It Up To Eleven: Making Unity 5 Look AWESOME!]

Various tweets about the two talks below. I think my favourite is "@yezzer is the Michael Bay of Unity scenes".



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Unite 2015. Turning It Up To Eleven: Making Unity 5 Look AWESOME

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Unite 2015. Turning It Up To Eleven: Making Unity 5 Look AWESOME

Very happy to say I'll be on the main stage on the first day at the Unity conference in Amsterdam, talking about making things in Unity 5 look shiny. This is in addition to being on a panel of Unity freelancers on the second day.

 

I believe this will be recorded and uploaded to Youtube over the next few weeks, so everyone can see what I have to say. Should be fun!

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Talk on Dioramas at Brighton Unity

Talking about the making of Dioramas at the Brighton Game Collective inaugural Brighton Unity group meetup.

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Column published in PC Pro on VR development

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Column published in PC Pro on VR development

Very happy to say that a column I was commissioned to write for PC Pro has now been published, and is available in UK shops! 

If you, or the company you work for, has an interest in VR development, it's worth a read - there's lots of useful info in there.

You can also buy the issue for Android and iOS

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Unity 5 FX and composition test - LD Dropship

Over the weekend I spent a few hours creating a diorama from Assets Store purchases, with a focus on making Unity 5 look good through lighting and image effects. 

 

Watch this video at 1080:

Here's a couple of stills to compare before and after:

Before image effects

After image effects

I'm now working on the next partof the sequence. It's a little tricky to see, but here the door is falling off:

Door falling off

I'll be blogging about my process soon - a lot of people have expressed interest in this, and it really was only a few hours of playing around (and years of knowledge and experience which I'm willing to share!).

Worth noting that this is only designed to run on my machine: i7 4790k @ 4.6Ghz / 16GB / 780ti.

 

 

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