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Oculus Rift DK2, impressions after a few days of playing

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Kjell Eilertsen, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. TL;DR version:
    It’s bleeping awesome! But not without its share of issues, if you’re not computer savvy you might want to wait for the consumer version.

    So, I’ve spent several hours every evening the last few days playing around with the Oculus Rift DK2 mostly doing racing sims and thought I’d share my experience with y’all here.

    First impressions:

    The first thing I did, after installing it all and reading up a bit online on how this gadget works as it didn’t come with a “Getting Started” guide (or any other documentation for that matter), was to test a couple of those purpose built demos that are found on the Rift forums. Specifically these two;


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKoSALEaV28

    The rollercoaster ride was my first trip (pun intended :p), I was instantly impressed with the sense of depth but having watched the video on YouTube upfront I didn’t really get that WOW effect that others seem to get (you should have been there when my spouse tested it the first time though, completely without expectations she kept laughing and screaming, she was really impressed with it!).

    Jumping into Tuscany I found the experience slightly nauseating, I reckon this is because you are stationary IRL while moving around ingame, which can make your brain think there’s actually something wrong going on. But more importantly I was a bit disappointed with this demo!
    While the world indeed had the feel of depth, every object felt… well not fully 3D. I experience the same with 3D in theatres, where you sense depth in the picture but the people and objects does not look fully 3 dimensional. So I was disappointed as mentioned, but that did not last long.

    Next I booted up Assetto Corsa, slight understatement there as it took me a while to get there, but I’ll touch on why a little later. I picked the Lotus 98T and Spa, hit Start and after a few seconds loading my brain melted. I was IN THE BLEEPING CAR! I mean, I just as well could have been, I could stretch and lean to check out the suspension, the ground, the wheels, everything felt fully 3D, I think I spent a good 10-12 minutes just looking around at this stage, the buttons on the dash, WOW! I’ve read statements like these before, I’ve seen the videos on YouTube, but none of those could convey the immense immersion you feel when you actually get to try it on yourself!

    So I took the car for a spin, first impressions where great, I KNEW where I had the car, I hit apexes like nothing, I was slow, mainly due to this being such a new experience overall I think, but I thought to myself that if I put in some practice I would start beating my P.Bs. But I jumped on to test other games, next on the list was iRacing, then pCars, then LFS and finally R3E. I’ll get into details about my experiences with all of them below, I think this has to do it for first impressions.


    The sims, the experience, some of the issues I encountered and some tips:


    A quick explanation on the two “Display Modes” that the Rift can be used in;
    - Direct HMD Access Mode, which means that Windows does not see the Rift as another monitor, but apps with specific support for this mode can still activate and use it. This is the preferred way to run as it yields the best results.
    - Extended Desktop, which means your Rift is just like any other monitor, you set it up to extend your desktop and you can drag programs back and forth between them, problem is that the desktop is not set up for 3D use so unless you run a Rift specific app you will have a hard time seeing anything in the Rift.

    First problem I ran into with AC, which requires you to run Extended Mode, was the fact that the menus are not compatible with the DK2 yet, so you need to find some other way of navigating the menu until you are seated in the car. I read some guide about running the launcher windowed etc., but luckily @GamerMuscle had just released a video on how to use Open Source Broadcaster to navigate AC, so I followed his guide to (some) success;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNd0aUx4DVs

    Some success, because while it worked fine (and his guide was flawless), I got some weird issue where the leftmost part of the image in OBS was garbled, as if the first vertical row of pixels repeated itself over and over for 1/6th of the monitor width or so, THEN the picture was fine until it chopped off the last 1/6th on the right side, hard to explain but I haven’t caught a pic of it yet ><
    Even worse was the fact that the mouse pointer was off by equally much, so hitting menu choices was a proper PITA! I went into mouse settings and put on “Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key” and hit Ctrl over and over to see where my mouse where actually located;

    mouse_options_111614_094247_PM.jpg

    Now I suspect that this might be due to the fact that my main monitor is running a different aspect ratio (21:9), I’ve since then changed it so that when I run the Rift in Extended Mode I lower the resolution on my monitor to 1920x1080 to match the Rift, has been working fine since then at least.

    Next issue appears, I’m wearing glasses and while the Rift can be used while wearing glasses it also introduces another layer of problems. For the optics in the Rift to work properly, they need to be positioned correctly in front of your eyes, move them too far in any direction and you’ll lose focus. Well, the same goes for your glasses, so when you’re trying to adjust the Rifts position you might end up with your glasses a bit out of focus, and vice versa ><
    It’s perfectly doable to get running, but at times I sat and mucked about with the headset for a good 2-5 minutes before I felt I’d found a good position on both. This will ofc differ greatly between differently shaped glasses etc so your mileage may vary.

    Also related to glasses, but even when running without, is the fact that the optics would usually fog up when I just put it on, partly attributed to the fact that I’ve got a broad nose and breathing out made hot air hit the plastic cover of the Rift and sent it back up straight to the lenses! It’d usually stop happening after a few minutes of use when the lenses had heated up a little bit, but sometimes I had to stop and wipe it off cos I could not see on one or both eyes. I hope they find a bit better design for the consumer version, because driving the first few laps with just breathing through the mouth is a PITA (and it probably sounds like I’m watching porn to family members who might still be awake :p).

    Queue the next issue, while jumping back and forth between the two display modes I would sometimes be stuck with some weird graphical error on my monitor (horizontal lines and overall purple hue);

    IMAG2745.jpg

    It was a proper weird problem and I’m not sure exactly what caused or fixed it, I tried several things and it has stopped happening the last two days, it was really weird when it happened though because it would persist even in POST/BIOS, which means it was not driver related, the Rift must have put my GFX card in some weird state or whatever.

    Now I didn’t only test with AC as mentioned.

    Life for Speed was on the menu, and the Rift implementation certainly is great here! The game requires extended mode, but once you start the game in VR mode you can navigate the menu from within the Rift, very well done by the LFS devs here! Furthermore the implementation when on track is also pretty much perfect, great headtracking and the game looks really good in full 3D! I did encounter a problem with LFS and that was the complete lack of FFB in my wheel, turned out to be that LFS can only serve one of the two first controllers it sees with FFB and in my case my shifter was first, some unknown device second (I suspect some virtual joystick driver for headtracking) and my wheel third, so when I unplugged my shifter I got FFB again. I don’t think the dirt tracks in LFS can get mucg more fun than what it is with the Rift!

    Project C.A.R.S. was next up, also run in extended more I had similar issues here with the screen being skewed as mentioned above with AC, but when on track things worked nicely. I must say that being the game that looks absolutely the best when driving on a monitor, I was a bit surprised to see that I actually preferred how both AC and LFS looks when running on the Rift, but that being said I haven’t tweaked the graphics settings on pCars much so there’s probably room for improvement.

    RaceRoomRacing Experience was a mixed bag, graphically it looked the worse of the lot to me, and while they have made parts of the UI supported in the Rift (like the big Drive button and the surrounding options when on track), I had issues with actually hitting the buttons as the function of clicking didn’t align with the visuals (similarly to above issues, but this time from inside the Rift!).

    Lastly there’s iRacing, which is the only of these games to run in Direct Mode. This is a taste of how Oculus Rift implementation should be done in the future, when I loaded a car and track the game threw this popup at me;

    oculus iracing.PNG

    And that’s all there’s to hit, answer Yes and you’re ingame on the Rift, dead simple! iRacings menus have been tweaked to work with the Rift so it’s fully possible to navigate the menu without taking the headset off, but it might be challenging to read some of the text at times due to the “low” resolution of the Rift screen. Overall though I must say that driving in iRacing with the Rift was an immense experience. Graphically speaking it’s quite neck and neck between AC, iRacing and even LFS, mostly due to the resolution I guess, but if I have to pick a winner it would be iRacing, that is until I tried doing an official race with the Rift…. :p
    Having practiced a fair few laps running the RUF C-Spec on Road Atlanta on Friday and Saturday, I felt comfortable and consistent enough so I decided to have a go at an official race on Sunday. Problem was that from being stable on a capped 75 FPS during practice, I was on the grid seeing 45-50 FPS, and running ANYTHING below 75FPS makes headtracking extremely jittery! So it made it really difficult to drive the first few laps, until I spun out and crashed, which gave me time to lower the settings and regain some FPS, but which in turn made the graphics look quite horrible.
    And by horrible I don’t mean “boring looking trees, 2D crowd, blocky cars”, I mean a garbled pixelated mess that made it hard to judge if there was two cars in front of me or if it was just a sign, or whatever.
    After having repaired and lowered my settings I went back on track, and not only did the lowered settings make it hard to see, but I felt so insecure because of the jitter (which was still present though better/less now) so I found myself crawling around the track for the first two laps and made a couple of people pissed for being so slow :p
    Overall though, I have been LOVING the DK2 on iRacing, for offline practice at least.


    So, after rambling on about everything related to each sim and so on, I thought I’d sum up the good and bad things about the Rift, things that hold true for every sim I’ve tested so far;

    The good:

    - Insane immersion, I’ve tested triple screens and it does not come close to this level of immersion.

    - Immense presence, not only do you feel more like you are inside a car, you feel much more like you are in control of a car. Positioning the car on track is much easier, down to mere centimeters*.

    - Feeling of loss of grip is instant, I was correcting slides on the RUF C-Spec that I have never ever before been able to, just because I could react much earlier to them.**

    - Rather cheap solution compared to triple monitors

    The bad:

    - Not a finished product yet, both hardware wise and software, tinkering needed.

    - You are fully cut off from everything not the game, even checking what time it is means taking the headset off, chatting ingame is difficult.

    - At this point in time, glasses is a slight issue, hopefully future versions are better

    - Resolution and performance (on my system) too poor for competitive racing as of now

    * An example of this from iRacing in the C-Spec on Road Atlanta, was coming down the long straight downhill towards the chicane just before the pit entrance, just as I got on the brakes I thought to myself “S**T I’ve got the right wheels on the curbing I’m gonna loose it” and instantly counter steered and let off the brake BEFORE I had noticed the car sliding, resulting in just a slight twitch from the car, correction and then on the brakes again and made the corner without any drama. I went to check the replay, I was on the curb with about 5-10 cm, which I KNOW I would not have reacted to in time if I was racing on my monitor.

    ** There is something about running with the Rift that makes it so natural to feel the loss of grip and how much to counter steer etc. I think it’s down to the fact that you are fully immersed with head tracking and positional tracking, hard to explain but you really get the feeling of what direction the car is moving in. This is why you can freely look around while driving without completely losing track of direction like I often found I will do if I try the same running TrackIR/FacetrackNoIR.

    Final Thoughts:

    Long post is long… Sorry for that :)

    But finally, to me it is no longer a question of “if 3D is the way to go”, the question for me now is rather “how”. I would love to compare the Rift to running either a huuuuge screen (perhaps even curved) with proper active shutter 3D and low input lag, aka SuperFOV, like this but with 3D and back projection:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ev7cFzgpJ7s

    …or triple screens running the same 3D solution. Right now I think those won’t be able to beat a VR headset in terms of immersion, but I hope I get the chance to find out before the release of a consumer version of the Rift.
    Should you buy one? Hell if I know, I’m having a blast with mine despite the hurdles and issues, and I dread the day I’ll have to go back to racing on my regular monitor…. :p
    So as I mentioned at the start, if you're not computer savvy you might want to hold out for now.
     
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  2. Sorry about the youtube vids, RD only allows one video per post so you'll have to click the links...
     
  3. Cote Dazur

    Cote Dazur
    AC Addict

    Kjell thank you for sharing your experience, very interesting and well written,
     
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  4. Nicely done Kjell. It's always great to read about this new experience from fellow rifters. :) It's truly impossible to understand until you experience it for yourself.

    BTW, I have Pcars running very good on the rift and it looks great although, I really like AC with it too. Let me know if you want any tips - I have some settings that work well and can point you in the right direction.
     
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  5. Thanks guys, if but one person finds it useful/interesting to read then it hasn't been for nought :)
    I'll gladly take some tips on pCars settings! What system specs are you sporting @Dean Ogurek ?
     
  6. Thank you Kjell for this detailed review!
    I'm very interested in the consumer version of the Rift, but now a little disappointed as I hoped the Rift could completely displace (replace) my monitor in MP racing too.
     
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  7. Excellent post, thanks. I have a question about using the Rift and audio: what is better in terms on immersion, using a headset or surround sound (5.1 speaker set)?
    Kjell: what are your PC specs (CPU and GPU)?
     
  8. It might when the consumer version is out. Plans are to bump up the resolution even further, the Samsung VR headset using a Galxy Note 4 is running about 2k resolution and I've heard that makes a huge difference.
    Also, in time the implementation will become better within the games, not only is the DK2 in beta but the support for it is in very early stages in all of these games.

    Couldn't tell you as I don't have speakers >< My guess would be that headset is more immersive though, just as the Rift helps suck you in to the game by blocking you from seeing anything but the game, headset does the same soundwise. Besides to get the same audio quality from a 5.1 set of speakers that you get from a €100 pair of headphones, you will have to part with a lot more money!

    My PC is running a i5 2500k and a GTX 780, both in stock clock (but I think the 780 is factory overclocked slightly). 8GB RAM and a pair of Sennheiser PC360 G4ME headset which I highly recommend, if you get a amplifier or soundcard with an onboard amplifier to drive them.
     
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  9. jimortality

    jimortality
    Premium Member

    You forgot another bad

    YOU LOOK LIKE A GIMP WHEN YOU'RE WEARING IT LOLOLOL
     
  10. In my case covering half my face is considered an upgrade ;)
     
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  11. I spoke too soon, problem with purple garbled screen when changing modes are back... :(
    Gonna have to make a post on the official forums and see if I can get some help there.
     
  12. And after some quick troubleshooting it seems like the problem is my monitor! I hooked up another PC on one of the other inputs and that displayed the exact same issue. Good thing with these large Dell monitors is that they come with great support, called support and explained the problem, I'll have a new monitor delivered to my door while they pick up my current one by the end of this week! :)
     
  13. Here are my system specs:
    PC Specs - CPU Core i7-4470@3.4 GHz / RAM 16 GB / OS MS Windows7 Home Premium / Video GeForce GTX 780 / Audio SB ZX (Sennheizer HD555 headphones) / Wheel Fanatec CSW-V1 + CSP V2 + CSS-SQ

    I have had to lower some settings in both Pcars and AC since SDK 0.4.3 was released. Hopefully, that is only temporary. Currently, I can run about 12 AI and maintain 75 FPS but, it may vary with different tracks/weather.

    Pcars Launch options: -x64 -skipcrowds (can also add -fpscap 75) I am using Riva Tuner Stat Server to limit my FPS to 75 in both AC and Pcars.
    Pcars Settings: (fresh profile) from default, I make these changes. All others at default.
    Game-play: Driving Aids OFF / Damage OFF
    Controls: TF = 22 / FFB = 100 (CSW Damper & Spring = OFF)
    Visuals: FX: Vinette = NO / Particle Level = Med / Particle Density = High / Crepuscular Rays = NO / Fidelity: Texture Filtering = Anisotropic 4x / Anti-aliasing = DS2X / Car Detail = Med / Track Detail = Med / Shadow Detail = OFF / Motion Blur = OFF / Render Frames Ahead = 1
    Camera Movement: World Movement = 1 / G-Force Effect = 15 (personal taste) / All others at Off or Zero (Although, they should default to zero in Rift mode)

    Using the DS2X AA should make PCars look better for you. I do get a bit of tearing with V-sync off but, head-tracking is smoother. I make initial settings with DK2 off and then restart the game. Changing tracks, cars, weather, race settings is quite easy using the one-eye method after that.

    BTW, I have used "Virtual Desktop" with good success and the new version has support for setting "Rift as Main Display" mode as well. It allows you to have head-tracking in Windows with a Remote Display Screen in front of you.

    Also, with AC I make all settings and then turn on the rift at the start button screen, re-center view and then turn off the rift when the race is done.

    I hope you find some of these tips useful.

     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
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  14. Thanks a ton, will test these out later tonight!
     
  15. MrPix

    MrPix
    Project Immersion

    I ordered the DK2 a few days ago, hopefully will get it for Xmas, but who knows.

    I thought it only fair to try it against my SuperFOV setup and do a comparison (rather than dismiss it completely) and also what it will be like with my GS-105 motion seat.

    I bought a 55" curved 4K TV the other day and it just didn't work out for me due to the motion blurriness and the placement on my desk so it went back the following day.

    Great write up.. I'll be picking your brains when I get mine later in the year for a good setup.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
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  16. Cote Dazur

    Cote Dazur
    AC Addict

    What was the reason for the "motion blurriness"?
     
  17. MrPix

    MrPix
    Project Immersion

    Lack of 4:4:4 chroma support on the Samsung UE55HU7200F, so subsampling caused it as it flicked between the colours with fast motion. Samsung have updated the firmware for higher end models, but could not promise they would do it on the £1600 'low-end' models ... so I got my money back and bought a DK2... just got the email saying the DK2 is ready to be shipped :)
     
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  18. I think you'll have a lot of fun with the DK2. After using it for the last couple of months, I could go back to using a monitor for racing if I had to of course but, I really don't want to. I did try a couple of laps without the rift , . . . meh, its just so . . . flllaaaaaaaaattt. :)
     
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  19. Oh I'm very much interested in hearing your opinion on the Rift vs your superFOV setup!
    Couple of questions, are you running 3D on your setup?
    That GS seat, are you happy with it? Ever tried a GS-4 (the one Simexperience now sells)?
     
  20. museumsteve

    museumsteve
    Premium Member

    Nice write up Kjell, glad you're enjoying it. I find R3E to be one of the best Rift racers for me, mainly because it feels so solid and it's my fav racer in terms of physics and FFB so it's my first go to title..but at the moment does lack a single player mode (in VR).

    I have superFOV and would pick the Rift over it any day. When I use the Rift with my 2dof rig and SimVibe it's such an amazing experience.

    I am really looking forward to Reiza adding Rift support to GSC (hopefully soon) that will be so awesome. I'm hoping they will add support to Formula Trucks at the same time as the cabs would be brilliant in VR :)
     
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