A virtually good time

On Sunday I finally broke down and bought a Meta Quest 2. I’m not thrilled with having a Facebook-controlled device strapped to my face, but it’s a pretty decent bit of hardware and is an all-in-one setup that is way cheaper than most headsets, and doesn’t require me to upgrade my PC GPU (which is still a bit too expensive). And on the plus side it can also be used as a tethered headset, when I’m ready to finally upgrade my GPU.

Anyway, with all that out of the way, I’m having a lot of fun. VRChat is a fun experience, at least if you ignore most of the awful people in public spaces. (I’m fluffycritter there if anyone wants to friend me and hang out in non-public spaces.) And I’m thoroughly enjoying Beat Saber as well. It’s a heck of a fun workout, and even though I’ve only been playing for a couple days I’m already holding my own in online play. But then again, I’ve always had an affinity for rhythm games.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to stream it to twitch. Unfortunately the official channels are kind of obnoxious and limited, and it seems that the least-bad approach is to get a Chromecast to stream to, but I’d, y'know, rather not have to do that. That might be something that has to wait until I get a better GPU.

I did try some very light VR gaming on my 1050Ti, and it was an extremely not-good experience. The Quest’s reprojection did an admirable job of not making the world completely fall apart around me, but the adaptive resolution made everything into a blurry mess and even then it still only got around 20FPS. Fortunately, now that the cryptocurrency markets have crashed, GPUs are coming down in price, and with the nVidia 40-series coming out soon it’s likely that used ones will become even cheaper. So hopefully I’ll be running on an RTX3080 or similar soon.

Another thing I want to do is get full-body tracking (via HaritoraX or SlimeVR or similar, or maybe there’s a way to get my Kinect to be useful for this) and maybe do some cosplaying and/or vtubering. I should probably re-re-relearn Blender or Daz3D or something so that I can make myself a critter. Or, more realistically, find someone who I can commission to make the avatar for me.

Also, I’m pretty pleased to find that I seem to be handling motion-related stuff a lot better these days. It used to be that even the slightest bit of camera-body mismatch would put me into full-on puke mode (literally the reason HBO started stocking ginger ale in the fridge when I was on their VR team) but I’m finding myself able to inhabit VRChat with the full joystick motion just fine. I do put it onto the lower “tunnel” comfort mode, and there’s still a couple of spots where I run into trouble (like if I’m in dense scenery which forces my head to duck) but on the whole it’s a surprisingly comfortable experience for me.

Also, last night I had a pretty neat interaction. I was dancing in an immersive music visualizer, and two folks dressed up as Olive came up to me. One of them was clearly a prepubescent boy (as are a lot of people on VRChat) and was being a bit of a gross little twerp, but the other one was somewhat older and being friendly.

“Hi there,” he said, reaching out. “Take my hand.”

Which I did.

“Thank you for trusting me,” he said, and then walked off.

It was a surprisingly human moment.

(Then the younger one started asking me a bunch of gross sexual questions and I tried to figure out the best way to discourage him from doing that, but nothing really came to me until a few minutes later. Oh well, I think I have a strategy now.)

Anyway. I got myself an Oculus developer account and I’m tempted to try building some actual games for it. Or at least some VRChat spaces. There’s so many things worth trying.

Also, in addition to the headset, I ended up buying some accessories, which arrived today:

And if anyone is interested in getting a Quest, here’s a referral link to get a $30 credit in the Oculus store at time of activation, which is just about enough for a free copy of Beat Saber.


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