A GEARVR NEWS REVIEW
RelayCars™ is essentially a Showroom Simulator for high end cars made by the developers of the same name. It came out a few months ago and was not very well received at that time due to what I felt were some serious errors in its design mentality. At that time, the Showroom area you first load into contained cars made of 2D isometric floating images.
You couldn’t rotate them or feel the full 3D-Depth of them, which really hurt the immersion factor and I feel the credibility of the app itself. If you want to help sell those stylish and expensive cars in VR, you first have to sell the VR experience! The two go hand in hand, painting each other! You have to sell the VR so well that this experience wraps back around onto the cars themselves, painting them in the best possible light.
I told the company as much … in some pretty colorful language because of how upset I was that they’d ruined my expectations for the possibilities this app would bring to the shopping industry in general. I felt it set the industry back due to those flaws, so I was a tad angry with them. But they were incredibly gentlemenly about it, forgiving my words and expressing satisfaction with my feedback, listening deeper to my underlying feelings of disappointment.
There was no one else giving them much feedback at that time, at least not in the Reddit forum where the post began. But they didn’t take offense and were kind to me and pleased to hear my feedback. I was taken aback by them, startled even. Once I saw the royal caliber of the people I was working with, I apologized for my rude tone and opened up to them, sharing my ideas with them in depth.
They promised to go back to the drawing board, based (incredibly) on my feedback alone. I was a bit incredulous but it had happened before with Anshar Wars 2, so I thought … maybe. I wasn’t holding my breath though … just in case.
It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that RelayCars™ has returned with Version 2 … which includes many of the new additions that I’d personally asked for! I had requested engine noises for the cars, and they gave us a lot of cool engine noises. Maybe not every car has them, but a majority of them do. This adds so much to the immersion factor.
However, I would caution you (the Devs) not to let the sounds get cut off at the end. The sounds should fade out rather than get cut off, as several of the engine loops do. Or better yet, just record the key being turned off and the engine dying normally. You don’t need to loop the car noises indefinitely. We turn the ignition, it plays the sample, the key gets turned off and it dies … all naturally. A small issue, easily fixed.
Plus, please add a smidgen of camera rumble when the car reaches the peak of its roar, so we FEEL it. This would only be about 1-2 seconds worth of shake, so it shouldn’t get anyone sick, but it would shock them the way being in the real cars does when the rumbles go through you, shaking your vision. It happens. Those car engines have some serious vibrations that can shake up your vision for real. Add this feature, you sell the physical power of these cars.
I asked for more color choices. They gave us some more color choices, but not for every car. If the cars don’t have any other color schemes then please make a note in the app explaining that so we don’t think its your apps fault for skimping. Below the options menu just write “This car really only comes in one color scheme… so please enjoy it!” or something like that.
However, there is a pretty big error here with the color choices! I chose a red car and when I went inside to view the interior POV, the paint on the outside was blue, not red. That bothers me and would bother anyone really actually shopping for a car this way. With the colors, we have to see how the interior colors work together with the outside of the car and right now that’s a tad broken.
Keep working on this issue, it’s a bit of work to paint every car, I realize that, but you’ve got to keep up the illusion of choice, since choice is what people think sells cars. What sells cars is how they make us feel about ourselves. Which is why the VR has to be done right, so we can accurately feel the car’s genuine character.
They’ve added a whole new Video Room (a conference-style room) set aside to view the advertisement video clips for each car. I must say that location is really well done. I can’t tell if it’s 2D or 3D, I’m pretty sure it’s not 3D rendered, but the perspective is so well done and the distance from the table is so close to spot on that I guess it doesn’t matter in this case, the 3D Depth is felt either way. When they are clever like this, 2D images can be made to look like 3D ones.
However, I do wish your company would just invest in the 3D-Depth of actual 3D-Depth and stop using 2D. VR is preeminent (at its best) when its done using full stereoscopic 3D Depth, not skimping on style or aesthetic in any way. Your cars deserve the Full Meal Deal, please.
Also, I would like to be able to hear more background noises of salesmen walking by (spatially located) outside of this room talking to customers or asking for help from managers. We needn’t be able to hear their exact words, only that real dialogues are going on just outside the room we’re in, so that it remains a part of the Showroom Floor, being that it’s the room we see from the Showroom Floor that’s located up and to the left.
The Showroom Floor area where you view the cars is very well done, too. The Showroom is still a 2D backdrop and the cars are a series of 2D snapshots of each car rendered from about 12 or 16 angles that, when animated, make the cars appear to rotate as if they were really right there. The plane they are mapped onto is itself in 3D, which is what makes the whole thing work and give you the feeling the cars really are right there. So that’s some good work on the Showroom Floor, it really works great to make us feel we are there.
I do think a Showroom Floor would have a few well-placed security cameras aimed at their cars, though. These cars are worth a lot of dough, and cameras are cheap.
Another great aspect to this area is watching the car you’ve chosen drive out of the garage and enter the Showroom Floor right before your eyes. It adds so much weight and heft to the VR experience to see that cars come alive. They are also mapped onto an invisible plane set in real 3D so they appear to be really there as well.
The only downside here is these cool animations are only for one set of cars and don’t show up for every vehicle. After seeing the effect once, you really want to see it for every car and when you can’t, feel skimped on just a tad.
The car cockpits look awesome visually. But the VR aspect is still damaged and that still ruins the experience. This is the most important part of the demo, being inside the car. This is the one place you literally cannot skimp on true 3D. The cockpits are all rendered in 2D and this distorts the depth perception and throws off the car scale! NO!
If you are wise enough to close one eye, however, the cars return to their true scale and you can sort of enjoy it … a little bit. But both eyes would be best. And for that, 3D stereoscopy is required here. This is the one really bad issue with the demo that bothers me even with Version 2. I feel the company did so much right only to get this crucial part wrong again. I did ask for actual 3D cockpits before, but for some reason they didn’t update the interior aspect as they should have.
I love that they added close-up views of the dashboard, sometimes in two places, but they forgot to add a night-time view so we could see the car’s interior style when driving at night! What do the night-lights and neon dashboards look like for these cars when driving in the dark? That’s crucial! We need a daytime/nighttime toggle to be able to experience both aspects, and of course, the cockpits of day or night should be rendered in full stereoscopy this time.
These cars all have amazing sound systems, too. Some even have 13 speakers; I mean, that’s just insane! If this app had positional audio programmed into it, then you could let us load up our favorite songs from our own phones and play the songs from these cars’ stereo systems using all of those 13 speakers. And the audio would change based on how we turned our head, giving us one more layer of immersion! How bad ass would that be!?
CAMERA HEIGHT ISSUE:
The next issue with the interior spaces is that the camera has been placed way too low, making it feel like we’re Michael J. Fox or that kid from Different Strokes. “Whatchu talk’nbout, Willus?” Our head is located where our stomach should be. This throws off our P.O.V. entirely.
In the film world, putting the camera low and making the audience look up is to render your viewers as children, as powerless. This is the opposite effect of what you need in order to sell cars. You need to make the audience feel powerful. So raise the POV up much higher, putting our head almost to the top of the car. This will give the feeling of being a tall man looking down over his new favorite toy.
One popular reviewer on YouTube, VRGamerDude, recently reviewed your application and said that if the cockpits were more 3D looking, he would never leave your application. Just sit in the cars for hours and enjoy the sensations. That’s how I feel, too! Or … at least how I want to feel. The poor 3D aspect and poor height of the camera really serve to damage your app’s entire raison d’être (“reason for existing”).
Since you’ll probably need to redo the cockpits anyway to get the 3D part right (if my advice is to be taken again, wink), then you should place the camera much higher this time around to elevate the viewer over the car.
DEPTH SETTING IN OPTIONS:
If you are going to add 3D this time around for V3, then I suggest giving the audience some choice over how much 3D Depth they want to experience. Sometimes 3D can make things look smaller. So give us 5 levels at least for how deep the 3D eye separation is for the Cockpit Views.
The Showroom Floor and the Video Conference Room don’t need any changes here, but the car interiors all need to be done again if you want this app to be the best experience it can be. The VR experience is what gets linked to back to the cars in our minds, so help to get people salivating over these amazing cars by making them as real as possible through depth. And let us choose our own depth level for our eyes. Thanks.
In a book called “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell I learned the importance of what we perceive about reality whether its true or not. Since the idea of this app (for you as the Developers) is to influence car sales, then the idea has to be planted in the viewer’s mind that cars … ARE being sold. But your Showroom Floor is empty and there’s no background noise of busy salesmen pitching sales going on. Not as good as it could be. A bit of a “no no” in the Perception department.
It’s a proven fact that when people are already buying, more people show up ready to buy. But when no one is buying, no one shows up to buy. Perception drives itself. It’s a causal loop. Just ask the banks what happens when people hear their bank is going to fail! Hahaha …
You don’t start the day with no money in your tip jar because then your incoming customers won’t add any money either. You have to put your own $25 in $1-bills in there, really fatten your tip jar, so they see how popular you are (perception, true or not). And then they’ll add some tips to your already-growing pile. That’s how it works. So what am I recommending here, you ask? Three things:
- Some salesmen with customers (on the outside of the store) walking past those 4 windows on the right. At least 3 different events are needed with different salesman and customers before finally looping. The looping doesn’t have to be too fast, or it will feel canned. Space it out over at least a 10-minute cycle. We can hear them talking but its far away, so its very diffused sounding.
- Put a salesman in that empty sales room over our left shoulder behind us. Put a static image on the TV behind him of one of the best cars. This is motion video, but cleverly looped: || A) Salesman’s writing on the Contract. B) He laughs and nods to the Customer C) He looks out at the Showroom Floor, nods at you and waves superficially (so as not to annoy his current customer) and this animation can never be played again. D) He looks out at the Showroom Floor and scratches behind his neck. E) He uses his thumb to point at the image behind him and then both him and his customer laugh and seem amused by some joke he made. We never hear the actual words he’s saying, only his tone and conviction. || Loop A should be the most used animation, five times more than any other loop. Loop C only gets used once when the viewer is looking behind (it switches from Loop A to Loop C when the app sees the viewer is watching the salesman). This will help endear us to the Store because we are noticed, even as we notice them back. It creates connection.
- In the foreground, that Video Conference Room opens and a salesman leans out halfway to ask “Where’s the remote control?” Someone shouts something that we can’t make out from the far-right-corner office. He nods and slides the door shut. Maybe later he opens the door to ask “Where are the brochures for the ____ car?” [insert random car name] at that part. Another bit of mumbling from the far office and the door shuts again. Three or four of these events spaced out over 15 minutes.
These three things will give the Showroom Floor the life, the energy, and the sense of sales being made that will reflect back onto these cars. Everyone knows they’re awesome, but subconsciously it will not feel right if there isn’t a bit more life going on here.
While I do like the clean look of the Showroom Floor, we would sense deep down that a place like this should be thriving with rich customers ready to part with their Platinum Cards in exchange for a set of keys. A set of keys to a new life on the open road, riding in style.
I feel it is so cool to get the app update promised to me, one that I helped in some small way to improve with my ideas that, like with OZWE and Starship, were heard and taken seriously. Things like this just don’t happen to me in my life. I’m starting to feel included by the world, heard by this RelayCars™ Team as much as by Starship (vTime’s Creators) and OZWE (from Anshar Wars 2) … since all three companies have gone out of their way to get back to the drawing board to use my, and many other people’s, creative suggestions to improve their applications and games.
VR, I feel, is really bringing out the best in people. And not just from others, but from myself too. I am proud to be a part of this new world. I’m so grateful to the VR industry, Samsung, Oculus, and to my new bosses at GearVR News for a job where things like this can actually happen. I hope this is a trend that doesn’t slow down any time soon. So hey, let’s all go and build this cool future… together!
This game contains no motions sickness features, so I rate it … very comfortable.