first flights : lessons learned

Flying : Major accomplishments, and major lessons learned.

dSky VR : under the GGB!

dSky VR : under the GGB!

The good news : we got Flying Adventure working in the Rift, and let me tell you : flying under the Golden Gate Bridge, through volumetric clouds, at 70mph about 3′ above deck… a total rush. I flew in and around the city for about 30 minutes, totally absorbed, free, in bliss. Further, there was a palpably sublime moment when, flying across the surface of the water at speed, I looked down and saw something on the face of the waves: it was my avatar’s reflection, distorted in real time. Spine tingling.

whats that on the face of the water? me, as avatar

whats that reflected on the face of the water? me, as avatar

The bad news : humans and birds are not at all built the same. We first modelled the simulation so that a human flyer would be belly down, in a sort of yoga cobra position, abs engaged. The challenge is : while a birds eyes are on the *sides* of its head, and its head is naturally aligned for the bird to view forward while prone… a human’s eyes are on the *front* of our heads; and while prone, we are naturally looking downward. thus, if we are using “natural” forward propulsion, as one might imagine superman or ironman doing, we humans are forced to *seriously* arc our necks back in order to see “forward” towards where we are headed, and to more naturally navigate our flying world.

Human neck : natural downward articulation while flying | avian neck : natural forward orientation

Human neck : natural downward articulation | avian neck : natural forward orientation

human v. eagle : very different animals.

human v. eagle : very different animals.

The consequence : after 30 minutes of flying, my neck really hurts… and that’s coming from a trained acrobat, supposedly used to such contortions.

Fast conclusion: we are fast coming full circle to Palmer Luckey’s assertion that “present-day VR is a seated experience”. Going to start exploring alternate methods of navigation metaphors, including:

  • levitating chair, a la Professor X
  • cockpit, a la an F-18
  • saddle riding, a la How to Train Your Dragon
quite possibly the best way to fly

quite possibly the best way to fly : on a saddle, atop a trained giant eagle.

  • we also might simply try rotating the camera 90° up
    relative to the avatar body 🙂

Until our next post, enjoy the screenshots.


Click here for downloadable demo.



Controllers, Controllerism, Controrgasm?

virtual xBox 360 controller - high fidelity modelMy god. I haven’t installed this many device drivers and intercept layers in… well, in my entire life. VR exploration and 3D creation require whole new methods of interacting with a universe, and tho the Apple Magic Mouse — essentially, a crazy-accurate optical mouse with a curved multi-touch surface fused to its carapace — is still my go-to interface after all these years, I find myself asking: What is the best interface for navigation and manipulation?

In the past month, I’ve configured my lovely MacBook Air LightWarrior(TM) to accept ALL the following input streams:

  • LeapMotion — “AirHands” pointing and gesture tracking
  • xBox360 wireless game controller — 8 buttons, 2 joysticks, 2 pressure sensitive triggers, 1 D-pad… all in the palm of your hand
  • 3Dconnexion 3d mouse — an amazing piece of kit that should be standard for all 3D design rigs.
  • Unity xTUIO iPad multi-touch simulator — enables one to use a bluetoothiPad to send multi-touch signals in real-time to the Unity application.

and, of course:

  • Oculus Rift Optical Head Tracking — explore the Multiverse simply by looking around, i.e. moving your torso, head, neck, and eyeballs. CAUTION: may cause a very bizarre form of RSI (repetitive strain injury), a.k.a. a VSN (Very Sore Neck)

Curious to know more about my explorations?

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