A GEARVR NEWS SUGGESTION ARTICLE
Samsung, hello …. I wanted to say that you’ve really got a jewel waiting in the wings and it’s my hope that you don’t scrap it like there’s been talk of lately. You must be persistent in order to help GearVR users fulfill their mobile VR dreams with your amazing devices. This one would be the last piece in the puzzle (okay, I know: there’s always a last piece, yet more pieces to the puzzle like eye tracking, but still…) and I felt the release of this product would be just around the corner, so close I could almost feel the devices in my hands already. Or more appropriately written, “ON my hands.” Since … that’s where we wear it. I’m talking, of course, about your hand and finger tracking solution “RINK” which isn’t out yet, but is already rumored to be something you (Samsung) won’t be bringing to Market.
I hope those rumors are false, because if you can pull it off, more people would trust this version because it would be purely native to the Samsung phone. Another developer’s version would possibly be seen as some off-brand that might not work with some phone versions. Their chances to sell well are not as good as Samsung’s. And if the devices are mass adopted by most GearVR owners, then developers can begin to program games and apps that would make use of Rink. And I can’t wait for those games and apps! Which is the point of this article, to talk about what these apps should be via some suggestions….
The Rink device, if you don’t know about it yet dear reader, is a hand and finger tracking system that works with a base unit that attaches to the top of the GearVR to monitor its two hand-blades that you wear. They look like staplers, haha. You can then wave your hands around, cutting a swath through the air, which might be the actual “rink” Samsung is referring to here. Perhaps they are making some analogy to the effortless nature by which people glide on the ice and how our hands would glide similarly in VR. The word “rink” actually means an “enclosed area for ice skating.” The “enclosed area” part certainly makes a lot of sense since the field of view for the tracking is only about 120 degrees. But as the system moves with your head and body, the 120-degree window should, in theory capture the 360 degrees all around you, since you are carrying it around with you. But in some situations, as discussed below, that might not be so easy to pull off in practical use.
In games where you can turn your body and your head, the “rink” would move with you, so that wouldn’t be a problem. But for example, what if you needed to look left and fire left while doing a finger command with your right hand forward of your body at someone coming in at you from that side? Would that be enough to capture your separate commands without jerking your head back and forth to capture both gestures? I ask because this was the control scheme for a game called “Dactyl Nightmare” in the 90’s and it worked flawlessly. It was easy to learn and quick to master and it made you feel invincible when you mastered that control scheme. It was so fun! I will explain …
VR HISTORY LESSON:
Dactyl Nightmare (shown above) was the first really popular VR game made in the 90’s when VR was first taking off in the Public sphere, you know, when VR failed the hardest. I played it 200 times in three months; it was mind blowing even back then. The graphics were pretty good, not Amiga good (which is funny because that was the device is ran on T1000 Towers) and sold to “VRcades” that opened in Germany for $100K per machine. But they were stereoscopic and that really did make all the difference. I reveled in it like someone high, drunk on the effects and what the fun it gave me was telling me about the future which we all thought was coming. One that failed to manifest … until 2014 essentially. But worth the wait!
In Dactyl Nightmart, you had one gun and one free hand (in game) which could hold a shield or be empty. Only one person could get a shield, only one person could get a crossbow. When those ran out or failed, you had 1 bolt in your hand gun. You had to wait for it to hit something and be destroyed before your gun would fill up with a new bolt. That was a tense situation, if you missed, your opponent might have 1-4 seconds while your bolt flew off into the sunset and you had no offense to threaten him with so he would be all over you like mosquito repellent at a camp out.
To move in any direction, you would simply hold up your arm with a wired joystick in it and aim where you wanted to go and pull the trigger to actually move. The trigger was analog, so you press it a little, you go slow, all the way in, and you are running. So wherever you pointed, you would go. Independently of that, you could turn your head, watching yourself fly along sideways, and you could change your movement direction on the fly by pointing you arm somewhere else. It was so cool! I fell in love with it.
In your left hand was your gun, you could fire off these bullets with huge bulbs on them that arced down from above. They could only fire straight for about 12 feet. So you had to learn to arc your bolts the same way you would with a crossbow, also in the game. The thing that made it fun was that you could do two different things at the same time and when you were good at it, it became more like you were flying around. You could rotate your body, point left and go, all while simultaneously shooting off your shots.
All physics were calculated meaning your forward motion combined with the gun shot and would throw the bolt far wide of the target unless you slowed down first to drop the lateral motion out of the equation. This was a whole new way to interact with games. And I want these kinds of FPS game controls back in the next round of games. I want to do all of these crazy things all over again. I don’t want someone to tell me I have to blink from point to point, either. I have my VR sea legs after 14 months in VR, so let me run around like I want to. Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus says it best: “It’s my party, I’ll get sick if I want to…” Okay, haha, I know, it didn’t really say that…. but it should have. Wink!
Now on to the suggestions you came here for:
SUGGESTION #1) DACTYL NIGHTMARE 2017 REBOOT
Using Rink, revive Dactyl Nightmare with all new glorious “Smash-Hit“-style moody graphics with up to at least six different free levels to play on as the game which comes with Rink. It would be “Oculus Social” enabled, meaning it would be the first FPS shooter multiplayer game for human-scale operations (meaning with avatars and not spaceships for bodies as in Anshar Wars 2’s MP). Revise the rules to account for today’s standards and gamer skill sets. Create 2-3 different Rink game control schemes to map to the Rink for different kinds of players. Some players might like to push themselves forward by aiming backwards like someone piloting a motorboat. Others might want the “move toward where I am pointing” style. Build the game forward to have hiding places you can only get to by literally ducking down in the real world once full-body positional tracking is added in the future. So as the GearVR’s abilities grow, the game is already ready to adapt to those awesome new changes as they finally come out.
SUGGESTION #2) VIRTUAL PIANO STUDIO
SAMSUNG’S TV AD: “That’s right, VR fans … Put away your actual piano and reclaim your living room for Timmy! With Samsung’s GearVR and the Samsung Rink-patented ‘hand-finger tracking system,‘ you can play a luxurious Baby Grand piano any time, anywhere! Record yourself playing a live performance and save it into “replay mode”. Now give your GearVR to a friend and it will replay your show for them, with an avatar in your place. Watch them ooh and ahh as they behold what you just recorded in 3D right in front of their eyes! Or if you prefer, with a BT-enabled speaker in the same room, an audience can even experience your live performance as you play it in VR!
“Rink responds to your hand and finger movements with great accuracy. Also, in Virtual Piano Studio, you can define the size of the keys to your fingers and your own spacing. No more excruciating finger stretches to train you to fit that huge piano your fingers can’t reach! Just instantly adjust any of our 25 piano variations to your height, size and scale for maximum comfort!
“You can even fill your immediate space with up to 3 medium-sized pianos or one of 10 keyboards from major Samsung partners like Casio or Roland (keyboard-synth-sound packages sold separately as micro-transactions in Oculus Home)… all surrounding you at once. You just rotate 90 degrees and a whole different piano or keyboard is right there at your fingertips, ready to play instantly! You can play an entire ensemble in VR without hardly moving a muscle! So go ahead and get your Rink today and receive 10$ off of the Virtual Piano Studio (obtained in the Oculus Home Store at any time) …”
DISCLAIMER, READ SUPER FAST: “Rink is a product of Samsung GearVR and is not affiliated with any actual rinks, roller-skating rinks, whatnot, and is not intended for any other VR device but GearVR. Use Rink responsibly. Do NOT punch your family members in the face on purpose pretending you couldn’t see them, or even accidentally if they are stupid enough to put their face into your arm-reach-area knowing there is a device covering your eyes and you really cannot see them. Please do not start fights using Rink by playing games in bars and then Rink-punching the biggest drinker in the room as you play “Ninja Basher VR” on Ultra-High settings. Samsung does not encourage this kind of careless behavior in VR … or anywhere else for that matter.”
SUGGESTION #3) VIRTUAL KEYBOARD WITH VIBRATION
As seen by this mock up photo, this idea is already in the works. This is because everyone knows that any functional keyboard simulation working in VR would be phenomenal!
But my skew on this idea is to ask, “Will Rink include any tactile sensations?” I think these could be added by putting tiny rumble packs that send high-frequency vibrations when you type. When your finger touches a key, the device rumbles very fast and short to fool your mind into thinking you touched the actual key.
If this doesn’t end up working very well, how about a series of cabled caps that plug into the Rink somehow (via side port hole) and these caps fit over your finger tips? They caps each have a small vibration pad directly in contact with your fingertip. When you touch a key, the cap buzzes your actual fingertip. So you can get real tactile feedback of having touched something in your actual skin! Virtual Keyboards are nice, but without fingertip feedback, I think we will still be pretty slow typers. But by adding the feedback, we might be able to get away with much faster typing in VR, to keep our abilities sharp and useful even in VR!
This device by Samsung isn’t ready yet, but the anticipation from GearVR users is nearly palpable, despite few people having heard of Rink yet. The system will be powerful enough to detect individual finger positions at all times, allowing for complex and intuitive controls that will open untold worlds of gaming fun, interface control and interaction that makes our lives easier. And even add fun projects like finger painting.
Imagine using the now-infamous “Finger Tutting” animations seen on YouTube (example here) to cast spells in the VR-RPG games which would finally be able to come along due to the flexibility and power such motion controls would give developers! They could basically invent any kind of mechanism they wanted to do almost anything instantly in VR! The tutorials might get a bit wacky, though, but hey that’s fine with me. With controllers like Rink, literally the sky is the limit to what we might experience over traditional game pads!
I implore Samsung to fight for this project and push it forward no matter the technological hurdles, to empower GearVR users to do all the new things we have only been dreaming about, and waiting for since the technology was announced way back … in 2014 (a joke haha). Rink is a cool name, too, despite it not sounding very VR like, because it’s short and snappy. And it really does paint an image in my mind of something done fluidly without any hindrances, like skating on ice. In a …
Categories: Random Thoughts