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Hi Gents of the 104th,

Thought I would start a discussion thread on the HTC Vive.  A co-worker purchased one and brought it in.  I loaded up free DCS World and the SU25T for him so he (and I ; ) ) could see how it looked.  As a guy who runs DCS in 3 - 24" screens in 3x1 and occasionally 3x1 over 1 (with Track IR 5 always).... I was wondering how well the HTC Vive VR experience was going to challenge that setup.  Boy was I surprized.  (no.. I am not affiliated with and do not work for Valve..or anybody associated with the HTC Vive system)

What I'm writing about is running DCS World 2 Beta build 1.54.54596  The Open Alpha also loads into VR (Steam VR) automatically but I haven't flown it yet.  So the Alpha and Beta loaded directly from ED's site (not beta via Steam) still activates Steam VR and runs DCS World in VR.

I laugh at myself because I'd love to post video or pictures to help folks "see" what it looks like ... but you have to have a VR headset on to see it that way... 8 )

Now, mind you... the Vive resolution is not 1920 x 1200 nor is it 5760 x 1200... but all of a sudden I was in the cockpit of an SU25T with everything in a completely believable 3D around me.  I REALLY wanted to reach out and flip switches, turn nobs, push buttons etc etc with my hands.  Taking off and flying... yep... had to fight some vertigo when I was pulling off target and looking back over my shoulder to see BDA.  My brain believed I was moving and the rest of me was fighting the confusion of no gravity/pressure or inner ear inputs to match ....   I'm not overly sensitive to it so I was able to just be mindful of it and not make myself ill.  Incredible experience.

The sense of immersion is really something else.  I have an immediate sense of spacial awareness with the aircraft that I sometimes don't have looking at DCS in 3x1 even with track IR.  I've noticed it to be most prevalent on takeoffs and landings in jets and especially helicopters.... 

So, yes... last weekend I bought one for myself...

My controls are mapped to my X-55 hotas and rudder pedals and that mostly works for me.. having to occasionally peak underneath the HMD or feel around the keyboard to do a key sequence on something I haven't figured out mapping for yet.

I'm still figuring out how to use the mouse and HMD effectively as the HMD controls the mouse cursor's position but so far left or right clicking on the mouse isn't reliable... probably some settings I have to configure still.  Right clicking (as you might expect) opens up a Windows menu window (that I can't see in the HMD) and I lose control authority/inputs to DCS until I realize it ..and close out the window.

I tried using the Vive Controllers once and a big gloved hand appeared floating in the cockpit in front of me with the index finger extended (I was happy it wasn't the middle finger 8P ) I could move the hand around but the finger didn't seem to actuate anything yet (was testing it in the Gazzelle) no matter how I manipulated it or what buttons I pushed.

I have a Leap Motion Controller and will be checking that out soon with the new Orion software to see how well that integrates.

Back to the resolution.... there is definitely currently some screen door (looks like you are looking through a fine black mesh screen door) looking out the canopy... but your brain adjusts pretty quick and it's not a nuisance.  No.. this is NOT DCS World in full HD or 4k.... your 24+" screens will "look" clearer than the Vive's current resolution.

Most of the gauges are legible enough to know what the readings are and some are complete clear (running my cockpit in 1024 every frame) .. but like reported on other sites.. letters can be a bit fuzzy and depending upon lighting and the size of a switch.. a bit difficult to spot.  If your eyes aren't what they used to be and you drive the same route every day... and you pretty much know what a sign says before you can fully read it crisply... it's kinda like that.

Overall my opinion is that the sense of immersion is a game-changer for me much like the first time I loaded Track IR and started flying with it was... or running in 3x1 screens and I'm looking forward to "dialing-in" the graphics as much as the Vive will currently allow.  Pulling into a pop and trying to swivel my head to see a target out of the top back of canopy now means I'm craning my neck for real trying to look up and over my shoulder... slipping a helo onto a landing pad "feels" more intuitive and natural to my collective and stick inputs.....pretty wild.

There is a tab now in the DCS settings menu for VR.  There is a box to tell DCS to automatically recognized VR (box checked) or start in 2D/3D mode (unchecked).  So far DCS doesn't like starting in 2D/3D with my Vive plugged in but that's not a big deal since the plug-in is an external box that is accessible.

So far I've run initial (short) test flights in the :

SU25T, A10A, Gazzelle, Blackshark, Mirage 2000, and enjoyed them all...

So these are my somewhat shotgun, initial impressions I wanted to share with the 104th members since I've been around you guys for so long (on and off).

Is the Vive right for you?  That's an $800+ personal decision for you to make ... and you need to check your system specs to make sure your system can support it.  I can only say I don't regret the purchase as a simulation enthusiast.

I will end with a few questions in case anyone in the 104th is dabbling in the Vive world in DCS...  I'm happy to trade feedback on this thread with anyone who wants to post.  I'll post updates as I can manage.

1) There is a setting in the VR tab of the Options Menu that allows you to set "Pixels" for the Vive... appears to have a default setting of 1.0 and be adjustable in 0.1 increments between 0.1 and 2.0  .. any idea what this setting does ?

2) What is the best way to get the left and right mouse clicks working on operational switches/gauges and dials in the various cockpits.

Semper Fi

AldoUSMC

 

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Little more flying today...

F86, Gazzelle, Hawk, Mirage 2000, all good.

1) Pixels... discussion on DCS forums.. users state this setting increased the pixel density to provide better text in the cockpit.  It goes up to 2.5. I noticed some improvement running up to 2.5 but increased shudder from a framerate hit.  Was still able to fly but with increased shudder. I think each user will have to experiment to find their optimal setting. (no kidding huh ?! :mellow:.. I knew that last bit would surprise everyone...)

2) Didn't notice in the VR tab that there is a box to check that enables mouse use.. the mouse cursor was showing up in cockpit without it checked but it wouldn't function unless the box IS checked.... so mouse works fine in-cockpit.  Tested that in all the AC I flew today.  A related tip posted on DCS forums is to use key combo LALT+Enter (to maximize your mirrored screen (on your desktop) to full screen which keeps the mouse from activating anything in windows d-top if you are working on the edge of the screen area right clicking etc... that tip worked well too and eliminated that issue for me.

Semper Fi

AldoUSMC

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Flight this morning included the UH-1 Huey.  I've had a devil of a time before now not over controlling the Huey prior to VR... I experienced the same impacts with VR for this AC that I've experienced ... spacial-relational awareness is greatly improved.... in that now I can actually fly this AC as the impacts of my control inputs seem more intuitive to me and I am able to reduce my over-control inputs.

When they institute multiplayer for this Helo being copilot/wpns officer or a door gunner is going to be pretty awesome I think....

Due to the reduced graphics quality... if you can find a friend who has one to demo with DCS before you buy... you might want to do that.  As I said yesterday.. so far.. yes.. reduced graphics but the immersion helps me ignore that.

I need to get on the Server and see how it functions there with performance, target ID ... map checking etc... jumped in briefly last night but not long enough to give an observation other than i was able to join and fly a nav route.

Semper Fi

AldoUSMC

Edited by AldoUSMC
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I don't think it will have to be all mapped for clickable cockpits once leap motion, manus, or some other hand tracking capability becomes reliable enough. By that same standard a "HOTAS" might not need to be more than a stick/peg to rest your hands on and pressure points, finger movements combined with hand position "could" be used to input trigger pulls, button pushes, dial rotations, and slider movements and pitch and roll inputs on the virtual stick and throttle/ collective-cyclic.

For some personal research on what I'm talking about look up "Manus-vr", "Gloveonevr", and "Leap Motion".  The first two are attempting to be haptic feedback devices for your hands (in addition to hand tracking) while the third is out and is for hand tracking and input detection only based upon your hand and finger motions/actions. I don't own stock, nor am I a dev for any of these companies.  I do own a Leap Motion that I bought about a year ago but haven't had much time to do much with it yet.  As I noted in my initial diatribe... when in the Vive and DCS a gloved left hand with the index finger extended appears in the cockpit when one of the Vive controllers is activated... but it only moves around and doesn't seem to do anything at this time....must be something they are working on with the ED team ?

Edited by AldoUSMC
added examples of hand tracking devices
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Was able to fly the SU25T and F-5E on the HTC VIVE with pixel density set to max 2.5 on the Server yesterday (Sunday). Only had stutter at a few points (2-3 times in about 4 hours of flying) otherwise experience was smooth.

Targets were a bit difficult to spot in F-5E until I was pretty much on top of them but that's probably not unrealistic with the Mk1 Eyeball.

In the SU-25T I had a bit of a difficult time spotting targets in the TV in either TV mode or with the LLTV pod.  Not sure if it was me being poor at approach target surveillance/detection and the fact that it was broad daylight of if pixel density of the TV was messing with me.  I'll be able to comment more after more flight time.

Semper Fi

AldoUSMC

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Update on VR Gloves created by Vive controllers.

Both right and left hands appear in all "clickable" (Non FC3) cockpits (personally tested this in all the FC3 and Clickable AC except the ME and FW Prop planes).  The right hand is upside down currently when holding the controller correctly... Neither hand currently functions other than to "exist" in the cockpit.  If only one controller is active or in sight of the VIVE lighthouses then the left hand appears.  Makes sense since most pilots keep right hand (most of the time) on the stick/cyclic.  If you have both controllers on and both hands are there.. and you move the left hand controller out of lighthouse view or turn it off... the right hand changes into a left hand since you now only have one controller active.

Added hand-control topic to thread on VIVE on DCS.. as of this morning early no had any authoritative knowledge of any implementation timelines/intent for DCS for glove functionality other than visual reference.

Semper Fi

AldoUSMC

Edited by AldoUSMC
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On the DCS Forums HTC VIVE thread a DCS member named "vicx" pointed me at this web-article:

http://www.vrspies.com/realitycheckvr/leap-motion-controllers-are-working-in-steamvr-how-to-guide/

I gave it a quick try and the gloves DO show up as my real hands tracked by my Leap Motion for position but their orientation is wonky and there appears to be no functionality still even though I know the LM interface tracks my finger movements for trigger pull, grib, and thumb movement.  Going to investigate the new "UI Layer" selection available under the "Adjust Controls" screen.  It's all the way at the bottom of the aircraft type selection drop down.

 

Vive_SteamVR_Leap_Motion_F-5E_160727.jpg

UI Layer Screen in Adjust Controls_160727.jpg

Edited by AldoUSMC
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  • 2 weeks later...

I very much liked your review, Aldo, very informative, contains everything one needs to know, except for fps charts lol.

 

However I will pass on VR for a while. First of all, for my opinion it is too expensive still. Not that I wouldnt like to spend that much for a great sim experience, but it is not a great sim experience yet.

I tried the DKII from occulus and I know what you mean. It really feels 3d. In the A10 for the first time you realise that the right dash is mounting upwards towards the front and stuff like that, you can lean over your canopy, etc...

But the resolution simply cuts it for me. I cannot stand that bluriness in DCS, and so far track IR does the job just fine.

Another reason: the "blindness" and limited input ability. For something as complex as what we do, the VR technology is not ripe enough yet. It would be awesome to have a VR Glove, that would simulate your hand ingame. No more mapping anything except hotas. But even then for a sim you would still need keyboard and mouse etc, a pitty if you cannot use those nice MFDs anymore, but ok, you can now push them ingame. However some flip up visor or a space below so that you see your hands when you tilt your head up - I don't know, something that brings your hands into your view again.

I am sure this will take over one day, it is freaking promising. But for now it seems like paying much for something that will definately be more than antique in 3 years or bit more. It makes sense if you do a lot of other shit with it as well.

The motion sickness can come from a bad set up though, at least with occulus. if you do not set it right to your eyes, youll get sick.

 

cheers for the review, Aldo

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  • 2 weeks later...

Aldo -

 

Please be aware that the pixel density setting in game does not work for the HTC Vive.

 

To adjust pixel Density for the vive edit a file called "steamvr.vrsettings" in the "\Steam\config" folder.

After edit the bottom two lines of the "steamvr" section should read

    "renderTargetMultiplier" : 1.5,
      "showMirrorView" : false

 

Keep in mind that there should be NO comma at the end of the last line in the definition portion of the steamvr section.  You may need to add the rendertargetmultiplier entry.  I'm running a 970 and I can't run more than say 1.2 in a MP server and up to maybe 1.5 in SP without too many other vehicles.  If you have more horsepower then you may be able to run a little higher.

 

Also...

 

In the Steam VR settings you will want to check "Allow re-projection" under the performance tab and uncheck "Enable always on re-projection in the developer section.  Use Ctrl+F9 in game to display frame rate.  Adjust graphics settings to maintain 90 or 45 frames per second depending on preference.  I tune for 45 and it looks excellent to me.  Also...  tuning for 45 allows me to turn up the pixel density which is the most important setting.

 

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Thanks M1Combat ...

I thought that recent updates to DCS, HTC, and Steam VR had made the OR-only Pixel slider settings now applicable to VIVE also.  I had read via forums info relative to what you note ... I will now try those as compare contrast and report back when able what I perceive as the difference.

I will double check my Steam VR settings as well.. so thanks.

I know the human eye needs at least 30 fps to "believe" in full motion video... I'll see where I can get in the 45-90 fps realm with VIVE... but all that matters to me personally is that my brain believes what is perceives as "real" and "good enough" at the end of the day.  So I'm personally not stat bound by max FPS measuring (just a personal quirk.. not suggesting you are implying that about me...) : SMILE :

Semper Fi & Thanks for the input to the thread

AldoUSMC

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  • 2 weeks later...

Note to Vive users reading this.. as of 30 Aug 2016 there was an update to Steam VR that now crashes the VR Server if you try to launch DCS World (1.54 or 2.0) without Steam and Steam VR running first. 

Up to now, most Vive users' advice was : Close Steam VR, Close Steam, Run DCS World 1.54 or 2.0 and Steam VR will launch on its own... 

I've personally tested launching just Steam VR first... and just Steam First... then DCS World... neither works... both result in a crashed VR Server and DCS World Launches in standard 2D/3D non-vr mode.

Perhaps it will change in the future with a DCS update.. don't know.. but you must have both Steam and Steam VR running before launching DCS World 1.54 or 2.0 for now.

Semper Fi

AldoUSMC

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  • 2 months later...

Sorry 104th.. been a while since my last report.

With most recent Steam VR Beta, which now implements Asynchronous Space Warp (ASW) / ASR (reprojection) I am pulling 30 FPS at a pixel density of 2.0... on the 104th Server in Beta 1.5.4.  I have been able to set Graphics settings have gone all to high for:  Textures, Terrain Textures, Traffic Off, Water Medium, Visibility Range to extreme Extreme, heat blur off, shadows flat, cockpit res at 1024 every frame, MSAA 16xQ, HDR off, DOF off, lens effects none, clutter grass at 900, tree vis at 15553, preload at max 150000, Aero disabled, vsync off, and full screen.

Running a I7-6700 @ 4 ghz//32 gb ram// Windows 10 Pro (64), Nvidia GTX 980Ti w Nvidia Driver v375.70, Dx 12.0, and OS and DCS on a Samsung SSD.

It was good before but since the release of the ASW on Steam VR Beta I've been able to crank up graphics settings and distances... and even at 30 FPS there's very little to no jitter... so very smooth.

Semper Fi

AldoUSMC

 

Edited by AldoUSMC
mis-wrote ASW as Time vs Space Warp
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  • 1 year later...

Performance with the HTC Vive has remained solid.  No integration of haptics or activation of the virtual hands yet by anyone unfortunately.  Will be interesting to see what the new HTC Vive Pro will bring to the table with its increased resolution.  I would say the biggest pain with VR implementation (other than no ability to use my hands on switches knobs) is bringing up a kneeboard when using NVGs.... bright levels completely wash out the kneeboard... easy enough to turn off NVGs, access the kneeboard, and then go back into NVGs... so there are work arounds...

I did upgrade to a NVidia GTX 1080 some time after the 7 Nov 2017 Post.  I get better VR framerate performance with lower power consumption.... so it was a good move to make for me.

Looking forward to the 2.5 merge later this month and inclusion of all maps on 2.5 ... fingers crossed.

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