Voluntat 2016 sigui l'any en la realitat virtual de joc desenganxa?

Will 2016 be the year virtual reality gaming takes off?

La primera onada d'auriculars de realitat virtual es va deixar caure, però aviat el Oculus Rift, Viu HTC i PlayStation VR sortiran a la venda - i que van a ser molt, molt millor


Desenvolupat per Guardian.co.ukAquest article titulat “Voluntat 2016 sigui l'any en la realitat virtual de joc desenganxa?” va ser escrit per Alex Hern, per The Guardian el dilluns 28 de desembre de 2015 11.00 UTC

La realitat virtual està arribant. 2016 veurà el llançament dels primers receptors de cap greus dels consumidors de VR 20 any.

En el primer trimestre de l'any, VR pioners Oculus (una subsidiària de Facebook, des a $ 2bn (£ 1300000000) compra de participacions en de març de 2014) posarà en marxa la versió de consum de la seva auricular del Rift al món. A l'abril, La taiwanesa HTC llançarà el Vive, un altre PC perifèrica desenvolupat en conjunt amb l'empresa de jocs de vàlvules. I en algun moment en l'any - probable que sigui la primera meitat - Sony llançarà la seva PlayStation VR, un add-on per a la Playstation 4, el que portarà VR a la sala d'estar.

Aquests auriculars no són els primers en el mercat, per un llarg camí. En 1995, Nintendo va llançar la Virtual Boy, un auricular monocromàtica que prometia oferir veritables gràfics 3D en els jocs per primera vegada. un maldestre, dispositiu de taula de mescles que es va vendre per $180 ($280 a 2015 dòlars, o 189 £) i va donar als usuaris la divisió dels mals de cap, va vendre tot just una dècima part del que Nintendo havia esperat i es va suspendre menys d'un any més tard.

El Virtual Boy va ser el fracàs més destacat de la primera onada de la realitat virtual, però tots comparteixen la mateixa destinació. La tecnologia simplement no hi era: pantalles no eren d'alta resolució suficient com per ser col·locat tan a prop dels ulls, que no podien tornar a carregar prou ràpid com per presentar una imatge suau, i els processadors darrere d'ells no van poder empènyer suficients píxels per representar un món convincent. El fet que el 90 onada de realitat virtual era tan completa que va matar al camp per a una generació.

Gran part del crèdit per a la reactivació de VR ha d'anar a una persona: Palmer Luckey, el fundador de Oculus. Llançat al públic amb una campanya de Kickstarter, l'auricular del Rift va recaptar $ 2,5 milions en 2012. Es troba fora de l'onada d'interès en el camp que continua fins als nostres dies. Una persona aliena a la indústria de la tecnologia, Luckey no era part en la creença popular que la RV era un joc de ximples. Ell va pensar que era fresc, i ho va fer més de 9,000 altres.

Palmer Luckey, cofundador de Oculus.
Palmer Luckey, cofundador de Oculus. Fotografia: Bloomberg mitjançant Getty Images

Però tan important, d'una manera indirecta, era el telèfon intel·ligent. Tot i que ningú hagués endevinat com Steve Jobs es va posar de peu a l'escenari i va demostrar el primer iPhone, la tecnologia necessària per fer un telèfon intel·ligent de nivell superior té una notable similitud amb la tecnologia necessària per fer convincent VR. pantalles d'alta resolució, sensors de moviment precisos i factors de forma compactes són tots molt bé en un smartphone modern, però també són un pas en la fabricació de realitat virtual, bé, una realitat.

Això va ser il·lustrat en primera 2015 com Google cartró i el Samsung Gear VR bootstrap una manera barata i alegre de VR usant telèfons intel·ligents. Encaixant un telèfon en una pantalla muntada al cap, que ofereixen accés als mons virtuals simples. google cartró, per exemple (literalment un tros tallat amb làser de cartró, utilitzat per a la celebració d'un telèfon intel·ligent compatible en el seu lloc) va ser donat de forma gratuïta amb el New York Times al novembre, paired with a VR app from the paper used “to simulate richly immersive scenes from across the globe”.

But where the coming crop of headsets differ from these is in quality. Simply put: they’re really, really good.

A modern smartphone provides a strong base on which to build a virtual reality headset, but it can’t hold a candle to a dedicated device. And VR headsets have been getting better just as fast as smartphones have been improving. When I first used an Oculus Rift in 2013 I was underwhelmed. The unit, which was the second public prototype, was clunky and ugly even before I put it on. Wearing it felt like having uncomfortable ski goggles clamped to my face, and the resolution of the screen was low enough that it felt like staring at the world through a mesh door. The demo – which featured me strapped into a roller-coaster – did little to help, with its comparison to a fairground ride serving only to emphasise the gimmicky aspect of the whole thing.

Two years later, using the final pre-release version of the Rift at an event organised by Facebook, and I finally saw what the fuss was about. Wearing the device that will hit shelves in less than six months, I sat in a spaceship, gazing around at the cavernous hanger within which it sat. A string of lights turned on in front of my ship, which began accelerating faster and faster until, suddenly, it emerged from the side of an enormous capital ship (which I could see if I craned my neck behind me), and I was left floating in the calmness of space. That was when the enemies ported in …

A gamer with the PlayStation VR headset.
A gamer with the PlayStation VR headset. Fotografia: Chesnot/Getty Images

The game, Eve Valkyrie, has been in development for two years, beginning as a tech demo for the platform in 2013. It’s now set to be a launch game for the Rift and for Sony’s PlayStation VR, and for anyone who’s harboured secret dreams of dogfighting in space (a group surely larger than ever following the release of Star Wars).

But there’s a problem: you will have to take me on my word. VR is notoriously hard to actually sell. A video of Eve Valkyrie, watched on your screen, will look like nothing special – just another space game. Because, without the VR, that’s all it is. A video of me playing Eve Valkyrie would be even worse: a technology reporter sitting in a chair, gurning and writhing, with a bizarre black box strapped to his face. Even if I look like I’m having fun, it’s not the best way of selling the hardware.

Game developer Mike Bithell, whose Volum: Coda will be one of the launch titles for the Playstation VR, agrees with the concern, but thinks that the wow factor will be enough to overcome that initial hurdle. “You undoubtedly look very silly wearing these things, but if they can get folks trying them on in shopping malls, or party games that demand to be played with friends, I can see it going big,", Diu.

Because of that, the early penetration provided by cheaper versions of VR such as Google Cardboard could counterintuitively spoil VR’s chances of taking off. Many who were unimpressed by the smartphone-strapped-to-your-face approach will be unwilling to give VR a second chance, even if future versions are considerably better.

Not everyone is concerned about an initial hurdle, però. Brian Blau of analyst firm Gartner dismisses the worry: “I believe that once people get a basic understanding of the device they instantly understand its power, even without trying one on. The notion of a wearable computer isn’t science fiction these days and people have a good understanding of what VR could do for them.”

For Blau, the real difficulty comes in the next step: “The VR experience is completely dependent on the device and the quality of the content. I’m convinced that the initial devices being released in 2016 are good enough, but it’s the content that must keep users coming back. Is there enough good VR content in the pipeline to keep users engaged with the devices over time? From early indications there are some great VR games and video experiences so I’m not worried, but ultimately this is a question that we can’t answer until we see how the general public reacts to these new types of personal computing devices and content.”

Even if it overcomes those hurdles, there’s another one waiting around the corner: cost. Both the Rift and the Vive require a top-flight gaming PC, which costs about £1,000, to power the devices – which themselves are likely to start around £300. Against that, the PlayStation VR, which only requires a £300 PlayStation 4 on top of its own (unannounced) preu, is comparatively cheap.

Com a resultat, “it’ll remain a super exciting early adopter tech until the price comes down”, says Bithell. “It’s important to remember though that, while the price will be high, we’re not talking ‘buying the first 3D TVs to hit the market’ prices here.” The prices will be probably high enough, però, to prevent an immediate repeat of the last great crossover hit from gaming, Nintendo’s Wii.

That’s a shame, because some of the most interesting uses of VR are a long way from traditional gaming. As well as the burgeoning field of 360˚ cinema, which places viewers in the centre of the shot and allows them to look around as they see fit, there’s the looming presence of Facebook in the field. The social network is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of gaming – but that’s not what Mark Zuckerberg cares about either.

“Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home,” he wrote when he announced Facebook’s acquisition of the company. “Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones.”

But that’s further down the line. For the next year, the question will be whether a virtual reality headset can take its place on the gaming stage – and if so, which one. Bithell thinks so. “As products, all three are solid and ready for that audience. While I’m not expecting to be throwing my TV in the tip next Christmas, I think they’ll have a strong start, then it becomes about sustaining that success with software and further iterations on the tech.”

Gartner’s Blau thinks that “a single year isn’t enough time to get an overall picture of the future of VR”, but that it is “certainly enough time to fully understand how the first few years of VR technologies will do in the hands of consumers”.

Even now, with months to go until release, the state of virtual reality tech impresses me. I’ve written it off before, worried that over-promising and under-delivering would combine with the “dork factor” to produce something dead on arrival. Ara, I’m only sure of one thing: I want one. If you want me, I’ll be the one in the corner, gurning and writhing with a smile on my face.

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