Saturday!

Now, first things first, I need to point out that I’ve been sick this week. Like, sinus stuff. And it’s the variant of sinus stuff that makes the wearing of glasses something that you have to steel yourself for in the mornings. As such, I have not put on a VR helmet this week since Monday.

Oh. But Sunday and Monday? I played Fallout 4 VR.

I didn’t play it *THAT* much. I made it out of the vault and got my first group of people to Sanctuary. That is, however, enough time to generate some first impressions.

VR isn’t *JUST* VR, of course. It’s also 3D. But not the sub-standard 3D that you get at the movie theater when there are two images on the screen and your glasses filter 99% of one of the images out and thus giving you a stereo picture with depth. This is, like, a different image sent to each eyeball independently and each image is getting immediate feedback from the helmet. So, like, when you straighten up a little bit, your field of vision is raised a bit. If you squat down, your field of vision is lowered. This means that you can look over things or under them.

If you stand up in a 3D movie, the image raises as well so that you have the exact same perspective that you did when you were sitting down. (Of course it does. You only have the images on the screen.)

The images in the VR helmet, by contrast, change depending on how you are moving your head. If you slump in your chair? You see yourself get just a little bit shorter in the game. This makes the 3D feel like a fully immersive experience. When Codsworth (my butler robot) floated in front of me, it felt like we were looking at each other. It was downright eerie.

After that, stuff starts to get *REALLY* interesting. The game’s story itself starts *BEFORE* the war. Like, minutes before. You sign up your family to go into The Vault (that happens to be researching Cryosleep) and, like, a minute later the air raid sirens go off and you have to run to The Vault. You make it to the elevator going down just in time to see a nearby mushroom cloud go up.

I thought it was a good scene playing it on a flat television set. Seeing it in VR? With texture and immersed in a 360 view of the pre-war universe? I got gooseflesh. Even now, as I’m typing and remembering it, I’m getting gooseflesh again. It was beautiful and terrifying and awesome.

Wandering around the Vault after the cryosleep ended was creepy. It didn’t just look like I was wandering around a long-abandoned vault. It *FELT* like I was. (And some parts had me glad that sight and hearing were the only two senses available to me.)

As the story progressed and I made it out, it felt weird just looking around and seeing the wasteland like I was actually there. Using guns with sights *FELT* like I would think that it should. The green dots line up in front of the thing you want to shoot? Pull the trigger. Wait, don’t pull the trigger, squeeze it. Line it up again. Now squeeze… good. (And VATS still works, of course… but the early enemies sometimes come in twos or threes and you need to know how to aim for that last one.)

When I got to the power armor, the heads-up-display that popped up *FELT* like a heads-up-display. It didn’t really work on a flat television screen but, holy cow, it works *REALLY* well in VR. (Perhaps it’s the inadvertent tactile feedback of being in a helmet.)

I got past the (spoiler) by the skin of my teeth and got my team of friends back to Sanctuary.

Holy cow. This isn’t just a game. It’s an experience.

It’s not a gimmick. Two weeks ago? I’d have sworn it was. This week? I’m a believer. Though, sadly, one with a sinus thing.

So… what are you playing?

(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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10 thoughts on “Saturday!

  1. I’m revamping my workout routines, allowing myself to indulge a little too much in the winter doldrums. I’m also more or less fully recovered from the nasty injury I sustained during my last half-marathon in March of 2017, so time to get back out there with running. I actually made it out for a 5K on the almost-1-year-anniversary of the injury and it felt good to complete a race, even if it was a short silly one. Now it’s time to push.

    Not sure if any of that counts as playing but it’s probably the best I got right now.

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  2. I’m in the process of modifying my headphones.
    These things need a power amp.
    2 x 12″ 200w is my baseline.
    I know these headphones can’t keep up, but I can do what I can.

    Oddly enough, I don’t really feel like listening to anything.
    I just want these headphones to work properly; i.e., much louder.

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  3. Do you think a person that tends to get motion sick at IMAX theaters would be able to handle the experience with this VR interface?

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    • For watching movies in the VR interface? Absolutely. Have a bucket nearby.

      For playing video games? I honestly don’t know. I could see how the movement of scenes in IMAX would be nausea inducing but the immersion of the VR within a generate virtual environment would not trigger the same parts of your brain.

      Seriously, it feels not like a difference in degree but a difference in kind.

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  4. > Fallout 4 VR

    Why won’t they let Obsidian create another chapter for Fallout, instead of dopey fantasy games?

    I sometimes play Minecraft on an Esperanto-only server. http://esperamondo.net/, if you’re interested.

    Today I went to the Brooklyn Museum for the David Bowie exhibit. Three hours later, I realized it was “weird theater geek makes good” rather than “contemporary mystic redpills normies with modern legends”. Not enough of the man, but plenty about his acts and personae.

    It’s ongoing ’til July and one of the security people said they’re sure the exhibit will be extended yet again.

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    • I believe that the official argument is “why should they? New Vegas only got an 84 on Metacritic while Fallout 4 got, lemme check here… wait. Looks like an 84.

      Anyway, Fallout New Vegas is estimated to have sold 12 million copies worldwide.

      Fallout 4, by comparison, *SHIPPED* that many copies to retailers at launch!

      Which might have you ask me, “But Jaybird! Aren’t you comparing apples to oranges there?” and I will tell you “I honestly thought that the Fallout 4 wiki page would have a sentence dedicated to units sold by this point (or a somewhat recent point in the past) and I’m confused that there isn’t one.”

      They just say that Bethesda has announced the Fallout 4 has outsold Skyrim without releasing further details and we know that Bethesda has announced that Skyrim has sold somewhere around 30 million copies.

      So assuming no shenanigans, Fallout 4 moved two-and-a-half times as many units as New Vegas so why in the heck would Bethesda want to ask Obsidian to make a game that won’t move anywhere near that many units?

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      • Obsidian seems to have moved out of the AAA space in any case – they seem to prefer to do their own thing these days. Fair enough, I just wish they weren’t so wedded to the Infinity Engine combat system.

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        • It’s like looking at Werner Herzog and asking “why doesn’t Marvel throw 200 million at HIM to make a superhero movie?!?”

          You know what? That would be one hell of a movie that would probably stick with me forever.

          Put Kinski in it as the antagonist.

          Wait, what was I trying to argue? Oh, yeah. I think that gaming is wandering toward the theory of creation that Hollywood currently has: Spend hundreds of millions to make billions rather than spend millions to make tens of millions.

          Making a perfect little gem that will appeal primarily to connoisseurs and not have much appeal beyond that group of snobs with pinkies extended is something that very much appeals to me… but I’m a snob with pinky extended.

          I can see how the big-budgeted companies don’t want to play small ball for critical acclaim anymore. If they were the type to do that, they’d be giving speeches about “quality” in dinky little companies like Obsidian instead of creating huge games for Real Companies like EA or Ubisoft.

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