A GEARVR NEWS BULLETIN
“Exciting Changes in vTime 1.8, Water World!”
(Edited to Change the Article’s title from 1.9 back to 1.8 as intended…)
vTime is back in 1.9 with a shiny new update, one that does not disappoint! The first big thing of note is new level, “Shipwrecked” (shown above) which is placed deep under the sea. The graphics are gorgeous, with excellent use of their 360-photo backgrounds to make you feel submerged a hundred yards below the surface. Three different whale scenarios play out, including a fly by where one whale stops 5 meters away to look at you up close, showing off its amazingly textured skin and huge eye. Later, a submersible rig with a human pilot scans your treasure bed looking for loot, zipping around in the depths to scan the location from multiple angles. The graphics are really well done for this level but I wonder if anyone else feels a little strange talking underwater without any masks or anything? VR’s key ingredient is about immersion and Presence, so doing anything to disrupt the great illusion they’ve built is a bit counter productive, I think.
I feel vTime would be a little more interesting if they DID add masks to this level and for the level in space called “Orbital Station.” Both environments are in locations humans need masks and without them, it breaks the immersion quite a bit. It takes what’s perfect and degrades it a tad. I wish vTime would just offer the ability for its users to tailor our clothing for each and every level we go to. There would just be an option in the clothing section of vTime to “save these clothes to location….” [select the location intended.] Now these clothes will be on you when you show up in that level only. Every level would have its own slot for the unique clothes you want to wear there. For example, the river and beach locations would let you wear shorts and sandals, while the bat cave in the snow theme would let you wear a turtle-neck sweater or a Parka to reflect your character’s need for warmer clothes. That would be a lot more useful, because then you could add clothing items like masks that would serve to enhance the illusion Starship’s created.
vTime would then need to remember our avatar’s clothing choices and automatically switch out our clothing options for each level as you load into it. There would then have to be a lot more seasonal clothing being made to offer that, but what the heck? Starship did say one of it’s other VR projects is a clothing line for shopping in VR, so why not kill two birds with one stone here? One of the clothing “options” would be a space helmet, a few different space suits, and an underwater suit line with SCUBA masks. The cool thing about these options is that they would have some audio technology built into them to modulate the user’s voice just a little bit when he/she talks. The space helmets would make you sound like an astronaut. And the SCUBA mask would make you sound like like you’re actually using that equipment underwater. So you’d have to breathe funny too, like Darth Vader. That means when you breathe, Starship would mute your voice so you can’t talk at the same time. This would mean you’d have to actually frame your conversations around these limitations as you would in such extreme locations. I think that would make the experience even more unique for every crazy level Starship can think to dream up!
The next amazing thing is that the “Orbital Station” actually orbits the planet now. What this means is that you can feel the planet rotating beneath you, making the experience a LOT more rewarding. The entire world’s graphs have been re-done from scratch, and also to scale, with the starting point for entry as hovering over Saudi Arabia and Africa. The planet continues to rotate under you and as that area passes out of the sun’s range, night falls over it and you can see city lights starting up and dotting the dark side and it’s lovely to behold, like star constellations. Its so beautiful and amazing. Also of note, the star ship features an amazingly-detailed textural update as well. By all means that’s kind of important in this case because the name of the company is Starship. Haha! All their star ships must look the best in that case, right?
This is one of destinations I didn’t care for much in vTime since the beginning because of the selfsame flaws this very update has just addressed! I use to wish for these exact changes to the Orbital Station and almost couldn’t bear to even go there because it was so flawed in my mind. An Earth that doesn’t rotate, no visible landmasses? It was really bad at first. But now it’s truly marvelous, everything I knew it could be! Thank you, Starship, this is one amazing change!
The next big series of changes is to the Paris “Terrace of Love” environment. They moved the location of several buildings, removed an entire street of redundant buildings and added in a lovely river with a bridge. It feels more open than before. They re-lit the scene with a bit brighter lighting; it’s still dusk but it’s a bit more airy feeling because of that. There are more interesting street sounds and the nicer textures on the walls where you are sitting, too. The whole level just feels so much nicer than before, although it was incredible already. I’ve been to Paris and I just feel these updates help to better reflect the authenticity of what I remember myself a whole lot more than the first version did. Really nice job, guys.
The final set of changes to report here are as follows, in short form:
- More sociable seating in ‘Paradise Resort’. (The chairs all now face inward).
- Go inside your own world in 360 gallery. (Redesigned beautiful graphical overlook.)
- ‘Mute’ function added: (Open menu and select Mute icon beneath your avatar.)
- ‘Go Offline’: (Appear offline to everyone by selecting go offline underneath your avatar bubble on the menu.)
- Connections screen improvements.
- More grasses, +nicer textures and water effects in the Wilderness River Destination.
vTime really continues to amaze and delight. Starship forces its own relevancy to remain forefront by failing to be lazy, by updating their premiere software again and again, across PC and Cardboard versions, and on GearVR. Their attention to this product is unwavering. We VR enthusiasts who love amazing applications such as this one that push the limits of what GearVR can do (on S6 and below) never cease to earn our admiration and respect. I love that they are tireless in the pursuit of perfecting their Destination graphics, they way I feel myself. Sometimes I grow weary of an environment, and suddenly, they patch it up with all new textures and make me feel something all new and vivid.
The new Paris has helped me fall in love with vTime all over again. Shipwrecked has … wrecked me for all other chat programs. And I can actually enjoy the Orbital Station Destination now, as it’s new look helps me feel a renewed sense of wonder about our Earth. But… and I really must say this, I’ll be right here waiting for the spacesuit clothing options, the SCUBA gear and masks, and all the cool voice filters that modulate our voice in these crazy space/underwater environments. That will be the day! Can’t wait.