Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Virtual Realty is Stranger than Fiction

Or perhaps, it's more amazing. Consider this to be me gushing about the future of technology, my expectations, my excitements, and so on.

Due to how things have shaped up in the past two years, I haven't been as up on tech news as I used to be. However, I still catch wind of some things every now and again. This time, I learned about what is essentially the manifestation of my dreams. Believe me or not, but virtual reality is something I've always desired as a kid. Along with my hopes to pursue genetic splicing and help setting an academic foundation for giant robots, of course. You know, kid dreams.

But thanks to Dan aka Nerd³, I'm feeling particularly emotional.

Here's Dan's video on Tilt Brush. Underneath the cut, I'm going to start crying. So I hope you're ready. Hand me some tissues and bring a few bottles. It's been rumoured my tears have regenerative properties. Or was it degenerative? Can't remember – take a gamble.

As is evidently shown to you in the video, Tilt Brush is a 3D painting application developed by Google. It was released April 6th of this year. I can't give you a full technical breakdown of this product because this recently just came to my attention, and I myself don't have a VR set. Dan does explain his set up within the first few minutes of his video. So if you're well versed at sped up British or have really good ears, you'll be able to get that information. [Dan's great though. Super shout out to him.]

I won't lie. I was honestly moved when I saw this. As I've expressed, this sort of technology is the byproduct of my dreams. Blame it on anime and reading one too many sci-fi novels, but this was everything. As I grew up, I – like many others – got to see the advancement of touch screen technology. In the past eight or nine years, holographic and projected technology has been getting more polished. (Even hover! I see you, Tony Hawk.) It's hard to describe everything that this means to me, but just know this.

It's exciting, and it's amazing.

Let me reduce my excitement to just a video game scope. This can have an extreme impact on creative and immersive play styles. Dan's video gives an example of "creative": painting, clothing design, cartography, etc. Oh, god. Designing clothes in a 3D realm. It would be remarkable. "Immersive" falls solely on video games. Something like this would be a hit with FPS and horror games, but this would be amazing for espionage or RPGs. Of course, there would have to be a bit more control, so incorporating Wii U mechanisms and tighter wrist straps would be ideal.

People create amazing things regardless of the medium, and this could be an amazing and relaxing outlet for people. Sitting, standing, kneeling, laying down in bed! You don't have to be incredibly mobile. You can creative serene landscapes to calm you down or something big and explosive because you're feeling a certain type of way. Anything and everything, and you can see it form in a realistic scale right in front of your face. It's amazing.

Thank you, Imgur, for making this gif possible. First take is on MakeaGif.

And I've seen game developers start to take advantage of VR tech. My sources have always been from horror developers, but they're all bringing interesting aspects to the table. The worlds are sized realistically; the atmosphere always has a particular mood. You feel as if you're actually there, and the audio design is amazing. Sharp as a knife. You, as the player or viewer, feel properly threatened. Mechanics wise, some of them are lacking or overly ambitious – but the fact that they're trying and they're getting pretty honest feedback is incredible. I would love to see this technology used in games with turn-based combat, something that has magic! Or even in something like Rainbow Six.

There's so much that can be done for interactive reality video games. Of course, we, as a gaming society, need to understand what games are actually safe for VR and which games are better off without.

I have a lot of hopes for VR; I can't say that I have any expectations as of yet. The tech, despite being around for a decent time, is still in its infancy as far as successful products. Developers are always trying to brainstorm what they can create, are willing to have their products tested, and receive feedback from participants. They're still building. However, something like Tilt Brush reminds me that the product doesn't have to be extreme and huge in scale. It just has to offer a decent variety of actions, an interactive environment, and work well in what it does.

You can have a game where you change your outfit in a very Psycho-Pass kind of way or go into Skyrim, climb a mountain, and watch the sky change. (Watch out for random bandits trying to bludgeon you over the head.)

You can read a bit more about it on Google's official blog. They have a twitter and Facebook, but they don't seem to be all that active. But swing on over to the official home page for a product showcase and you can pick it up now on Steam if you have a VR headset.

Again, I would like to give a really big shout out to Nerd³. He's been one of my favourite YouTubers for some time, and he's made me laugh sometimes when I didn't think I could. Check out his channel; follow him on Twitter, and even show support to his dad over at Dad³ on YouTube.

And remember… The world is amazing. Our scope of creativity is boundless, and if you take a moment to let clarity set it, you'll be floored by the things we have made and continue to make. I know that this is hilariously cheesy coming from me, but stuff like this makes me fall in love with the world. And I'm so glad that I spent years and years of my childhood writing my pseudo academic papers, drawing my inaccurate blueprints and diagrams, and answering questions no one would ever ask me. I'm glad because someone out there believed in that possibility and made it real. It's validating. It's wonderful; and it's fucking revolutionary.

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