Second Life – State of VR – Gear VR

If you are hoping I am going to tell you we have VR for Second Life™, I’ll disappoint you. However, it apparently is possible. But, it isn’t easy and the whole VR thing is a mess, especially if you want to do it cheaply.

For an instance of a mess, when you place a phone in Gear VR it auto-launches the Oculus app. Doesn’t matter what app you have running, the Oculus app launches and takes over the device. A bunch of people tell you to insert to the headset without connecting the phone to the headset. WAY lame, but doable. However, without the USB connection made the phone can fall out of the unit.

So… you have to get Samsung’s BK Package Disabler (US$1.49) get around this problem. They have a free version if you rooted your phone. If not, you have to hope the retail package will install. If you did root it, no problem just delete all you phones accounts, installed the root-version of BK, and redo all your accounts… lovely.

And you can’t just install the BK Disabler. You have to put the phone in Developer Mode and then do the install. Didn’t they tell you that before you started the download-install? Oh yeah, then there is a developer key thing… Oh, and to get that you need a Samsung Developer license which requires an account… sheesh…

Then there is screen capture. On an S8 and my S5, you press the down volume and power buttons at the same time or palm swipe. Neither is available when you put the phone in the unit. So, when you want a screen shot, stop what you are doing, go into setup, then into Utilities, then to screen shot. You then have 5 seconds to get back to what you wanted a screen shot of… Or buy a keyboard for your phone with a PrtScr key… Or get and app that records the session, later play that back and take your screen shots… So handy!

While Gear VR 2017 is better than previous versions, so I am told, it is NOT a final polished product. Expect to experiment and trial and error a lot.

For Second Life

Almost a year ago Hypergrid Business carried an article, Second Life and OpenSim in VR using VorpX. Of course, things have changed. I am working my way through those changes and exploring what works and doesn’t. Plus, I am finding User Interfaces are NOT intuitive.

Once using VR there are numerous ways to select things. One is this look-at-me-long-enough-without-me-giving-you-any-feedback and I’ll do something… that is disconcerting. Of course, that may just be my Gear VR not working with that app.

Then in one app you swipe the Gear’s touch pad up to scroll up and in another you swipe down to scroll up… forward and backward swipes are way more unpredictable.

Also, most apps are for DirectX. Finding ways to get OpenGL to a headset is additionally complicated.

However, NVIDIA did release an OpenGL driver with VR features (Dec 2015). Road to VR wrote about it. But, I’m not sure if anyone is using it. Those people building the apps to stream your PC to a headset are sticking with DirectX.

I suspect the problem is OpenGL and the CPU are pretty much tied together on the PC side. So, the NVIDIA feature may not help streamers planning to stream the PC rendered image and create the left-right image on the phone. But, I would think…

The newer NVIDIA GPU’s 10xx improve frame rates by 1.7 times. So, if I understand correctly this would reduce the hit on SL by 60% of the impact of having to render 2 cameras. (If 1 camera is 100% and two cameras is 200% render load then a new card would mean we would see a 130% of the single camera load.)

Whatever, since SL is an OpenGL game there are more challenges. VorpX says they support DirectX games. No mention of OpenGL. But, Doom is an OpenGL game and vorpX users are getting it to run in VR mode with Gear VR and vorpX. There is some ambiguity as to how many are getting their VR in 3D or whether it is just 2D… there are modes where vorpX just places the same image up for both left and right eyes, called 2D.

It is very possible and relatively easy… relatively being VERY much the keyword… to get SL running on Gear VR. But, in all cases so far, I’ve only seen SL working on the theater like screens in VR. My monitor looks better… So, I’m at a loss to understand why people like theater presentations in VR.

And the theater presentation isn’t 3D… well the theater they sit you in is and the screen is a 3D thing. But, SL on the screen but the image of SL on the screen is 2D… I started out with that on my monitor.

That Two-Way Thing…

With streaming from the PC to a device there is seldom a need to have 2-way communication. Generally, the headset only needs to control what is happening in the headset’s display.  With games we need 2-way communication so head movement can control what is happening in the PC. This adds another level of complication.

In general, this is a feature few of the people making apps bother to clarify. I suspect a lack of generally understood terms is a problem when discussing features. So, I’ve run down lots of disappointing paths.

Summary

I’ve found several ways to get SL on my Gear VR. But, not that give me the 3D presence of being inside SL and none that give good… correct that… USABLE control of the viewer. I’m still looking and experimenting.

Since vorpX does not have a demo version, I have been putting off spend the US$40 to try it. Hyper’s article didn’t give me the warm fuzzy I need to think it is the solution. Those that have demo versions haven’t worked. I’m still fighting my way through getting the BK Disabler installed…

I’m writing about what I do, what works what doesn’t and the various apps available. At some point, I’ll publish that information. But, for now, there is no ideal or even usable way to get SL into VR.

I hate the treadmill everyday, hic
Oh no…

I love the S8. Most of the things I do are more polished and easier to accomplish. They are different from the S5 I was using. So, there is a learning curve. Most of my S5 annoyances are gone. The S8 annoyances seem to mostly be in the third-Party apps.

The Gear VR and I are still in the honeymoon stage. But, while I really like it… I am beginning to think it has a bit of and ED problem… SL just may not be its kink.

Then there is my thing… I knew hair was going to be an issue and it is. But, duh! Makeup… that is proving to be a problem for me and the Gear unit that didn’t occur to me. Long lashes strike the lenses and I have to clean mascara of them. Then the foam thingy that is the contact between my face and the unit gets makeup on it…

The unit gets warm inside. I understand previous Gear VR units had an overheating problem. So does this version. My eyes perspire and eye shadow runs… There are articles on cooling the Gear. But, to use Gear and have makeup on is going to require full on waterproof makeup.

This is proving to be an evening toy for use after I remove my makeup… :/

2 thoughts on “Second Life – State of VR – Gear VR

  1. Brave pioneering stuff Nalates! Reminds me of the convoluted hacks I had to use when Nvidia dropped consumer OpenGL stereo support almost a decade ago. They reinstated the functionality back in 2013 but it seems to require the almost-abandoned Nvidia 3dtv Play activator which is another forty bucks. This also has a lot of caveats but there’s a trial version here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/3dtv-play-14day-trial.html#

    I dumped Nvidia for AMD over this since it works out of the box in Windows 10, but of course, poorer performance with SL. I take it the Gear works fine in VR and stereoscopic with CtrAltStudio viewer? Obviously people wearing Bento will appear hideously deformed but it’s still my main viewer as 2d is so …dull!

    • I think I have the latest… um… last CtrlAltStudio Viewer. I haven’t tried it yet. I am still playing with the mountain of stuff that is supposed to play non-VR games in VR.

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