Skyrim VR with Oculus Rift and Touch

As an interesting coincidence, and in a crappy mood because Dimwit Drumpf just won’t shut up and die already, I decided a few days ago to fire up Skyrim so I could wander around, be nice to Villagers, do a favor for a Jarl, kill some Bandits, and forget for a short while what utter shit that idiot is making of America Again.

Coincidentally, the very next day, one of my closer work buddies asked, “So, did you see that Skyrim VR is out on Steam?”

WHAT?!! OMG!!

So immediately upon getting home from work that afternoon, I went and bought it. Full price. None of this silly putting it on my Wishlist and waiting for a Steam Sale (which happen frequently). Bethesda absolutely deserves a premium price, given the (literally) hundreds of hours of enjoyment I’ve gotten from what has now really become a franchise in its own right. (Yes, it’s already part of the Elder Scrolls franchise, but it would seem that Skyrim has more “legs” than the rest.) Plus, I want to do my small part to encourage them to do more things for VR (or as I prefer to say, “which support 3D HMDs”).

First time trying it out, I got hung up with a glitch during the Character Selection and Modification subroutine… I ended up with a generic Nord with the name “Prisoner”. Figured I would just plow onward, going through the initial tutorial-ish chapter, just getting used to vastly different control mechanics. Then I’d start over and try to get the Character Setup stuff done correctly.

And so I did. Took me 3 tries, but finally figured it out. That’s one spot where the stuff that floats in front of your view doesn’t jibe. It’s a picture of a couple Vive Controllers blocking your view of the floating virtual keyboard, with cartoon thumbs, and some markings which seem to imply “You must type your name with the thumb joysticks.” And with Touch, at least, that ain’t true at all.

No – you must use the left-hand (odd) laser, and your forefinger trigger, to shoot past the foreground Vive Controllers image, to the dimmed keyboard behind them, and hit the backspace in the upper-right corner to erase “Prisoner”. As soon as you’ve hit the backspace once, the foreground crap disappears, so you can see what the heck you’re doing.

Anyway, on the 3rd try, I got it. So when I go to load the game, there’s one “Kleiven” and three “Prisoner” in there. LOL… I’ll have to figure out how to delete the Prisoners, which coincidentally was exactly what the Imperials are trying to do in the 2nd scene of the game.

Finally, I spent over an hour in Skyrim VR last night. I spent way too much time fussing over the Kajiit head-and-face characteristics. I think there’s no 3rd-person view.

My buddy says “No third person would make sense. Can you see your body in it?”

I replied, “Only time I could see my body was when making the character adjustments just before not cutting my head off.  Just see either floating Touch Controllers, or weapons if unsheathed. Don’t see arms, feet. But I see hands (fists, actually) if I’ve chosen no weapons, but am going to hiss and scratch the bad guy to death.”

Anyway, Bethesda made great choices for how to deal with turning, running, rendering. The thing that made me stop wasn’t any hint of VR sickness, but the brow getting tired of the pressure. If the Rift was 50% lighter, or the weight arranged such that it doesn’t need to press so hard on my brow, I could see playing like that for 3 hours easily.

I’m somewhat tempted to try adding a weight to the rear strap. I wonder if it were balanced back-to-front, though heavier overall, if it wouldn’t need to press so hard to stay in alignment. The weight could be borne by the top strap more than anything else.

Or maybe just tie a big Helium balloon to the front. It’s not like I could look more silly anyway. But I digress.

Skyrim VR is SO FUN! I hadn’t seen the game without make-it-more-beautiful mods in a long time. I’d forgotten how homely the NPCs are. But it didn’t take long at all to get used to that and ignore it, completely enveloped in the game. This is only my 2nd time starting from the beginning, and I’m consciously making different choices, just to experience it all from a different perspective.

Boy howdy, when suddenly set upon by a Wolf or Skeever, armed with a long-bow, it is not a simple push-a-button ordeal to start poking the beast with sharp, pointy things. I need to get into the habit of sprinting away, turning a 180, and THEN trying to draw the bow. Or just walk around with the sword more of the time. Derp.

SkyrimMilkDrinker

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A Man Of Extremes

In some ways, I’m very difficult to peg.

Every time I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® test, I find myself recognizing when a particular question is trying to ascertain whether I am Introverted or Extroverted. And every time, I try to go with the first situation that pops into my head, but I immediately think of some other situation for which the answer is completely opposite. And in neither case is my answer iffy… it’s like a holy-crap-yes-strongly-agree or it’s OMG-no-no-no-strongly-disagree… for the exact same question.

So when it’s all done, the thing puts me a little nudge to one side or the other on the I-to-E scale, as if I had given middle-ish answers to all those questions. Nope. I gave extreme answers, but very polarized.

The same is true of the Red vs. Blue, R vs. D, Right vs. Left. If you tried to find an average of my views, you’d probably conclude that I’m a centrist. The most recent example of this is the 2nd Amendment. I honestly believe I would fight in a shooting-back-and-forth battle to defend my 2nd Amendment right. I own guns; always have. But I would also argue at the top of my lungs until I’m blue in the face that our current interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is completely screwed up, outdated, backward, misguided, and otherwise just freaking wrong.

Limit how many rounds may be in a handgun clip, or rifle magazine? Not an infringement, in my opinion.

Outlaw bump stocks? Not an infringement.

Require Universal Background Checks regardless of who sells what to whom? Not an infringement.

Raise the minimum age for purchasing certain classes of weapons? Not an infringement.

Outright ban on a well-defined (unlike last time) class of weapons? Not necessarily an infringement.

Waiting periods? Not an infringement.

Requirement to pass safety training? Not an infringement.

Requirement to pass skills test? Not an infringement.

Requirement to keep current liability insurance? Not an infringement. (And mind you, I hate insurance companies.)

Mental health screening? Not an infringement.

Confiscation of weapons when someone has made batshit-crazy remarks or credible threats? Not an infringement.

Yanking the tax-exempt status of the evil-dickweed NRA? Not an infringement. In fact, a damned good idea.

Putting firearm registration info into a computerized database, instead of those stupid index cards? Not an infringement, and also a damned good idea.

Art Is Dead

A near, dear, and wise fellow I know quoted some wise fellow he knows…

And art is dead. There’s been a sea change. Jack speculated that people have discovered looking at an image on their screen has become all they want from that image, and that’s a pretty good guess.

Ironically, that usually means looking at an artistic image of some sort on their iPhone, and Steve Jobs has been quoted as saying…

A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

My reaction to art can be very visceral. Oh sure, I have better color acuity than the average male, but it’s not like I’m on LSD or anything. Just for example, looking at a variety of “white” paint sample chips, I can spot the “warm” one versus the “cooler” one or “greener” one, just like my mother can, but my dad cannot. To dad, they all look just white. That’s why I had a successful career in Digital Prepress Color Correction, and can see subtle color hues like the average female can.

There’s no good way to judge to what extent my better-than-average sense of color plays into the following, but my hunch is “only a bit”.

I was in a museum in Winona recently. Got as close as sniffing distance (figuratively) from some great masters’ works. Most of them were images I’d seen before – some dozens of times, some hundreds. Some images were new to me. But here’s the thing – even the one I’d seen thousands of times before, this was the first time I’d seen it in person. I nearly wept. There’s more to it than you’d think.

Here’s my point: if you haven’t visited an Art Museum IRL and looked at a really great painting in person (not on your computer or iPad or iPhone), you don’t know that you want to… but you do. You really do.

See also: http://stanfellows.com

 

MyKronoz ZeTime Review

I was backer 12643 on the KickStarter of ZeTime back on April 15, 2017 (boy howdy, it seemed like so much longer ago, but maybe that’s because I’ve received several Kickstarter rewards this year which were soooooo laaaaaate as compared to their initial estimates). Over that span of 6.5 months there were 36 updates.

That’s pretty good. Compare that to the gruff Richard Haberkern, whose 8th Kickstarter campaign I backed on 6/4/2016, was initially estimated to ship that coming October. It’s 13 months after the initial date – still not shipped. And there have been 10 updates. TEN.

Soundlazer VR from Richard Haberkern Sheesh.

Anyway – back to the ZeTime. The idea of having physical hands over a smartwatch touchscreen is brilliant. The fact that it’s shaped like (and the typical size of) a watch, unlike pebbles or iWatches or fitbits, is brilliant.

IMG_6475

No, it doesn’t have luminous hands (inside joke). But look what happens if you push the crown button once… That’s not a great angle (quick-n-dirty iPhone photo and avoiding glare). Point being, in the dark, it totally looks like luminous hands pointing at luminous indices.

If you push the crown button a 2nd time, various things may happen depending on circumstances, but most of the time, it will then display your chosen face (presently there are 24 to choose from).

IMG_6477

Like this… Now I’d like to point something out on this particular face. It has two virtual complications. The day of the month at the top, and weather info just above and below the axle of the hands. It shows the temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit, my choice), an icon indicating partly cloudy, and the city in which those were the conditions.

But I’m in Eagan, and it’s 30 degrees. I’ve been down here for two hours. The watch and my iPhone have needed to communicate with each other a few times since I left Centerville to drive to work… but it still says “Centerville” and “28°”. Why?

I mean, if it’s mid-day, and it looks sunny out, I might want to know if it’s warm enough to go for a walk outside during lunch. Boy, wouldn’t it be convenient if I had a weather bug on my smartwatch that showed reasonably current conditions where I’m at? But no – – unless I go to a specific screen on my iPhone, then drag down to force a re-sync with the watch, this sucker will say “Centerville 28°” all… day… long!

So although the face pictured above is my favorite, and would be most useful to me, I have instead chosen a different one which isn’t going to irritate me all day by showing stale info.

IMG_6478Another thing I wish they’d done (though it’s a visual design choice which could discourage certain other potential customers). I can sort of tell the time when the display is off. And, wisely, they have it designed such that even in powered-down mode (i.e. display completely disabled, no bluetooth, no nothing), the hands will run for about a month. Well, if it had indices around the outside of the face, that is outside the display area, but still below the front glass, I would be able to tell the difference between “about 7:20” and 7:19 or 7:21. That would be a “smart” thing to have when the watch is not in smartwatch mode.