Virtual Reality on the Cheap

I found a refurbished HP Windows Mixed Reality headset for $160.  It’s the cheapest way to do virtual reality.  It does 95% of what the fancy/expensive HTC Vive does.  They keep the cost down by using cameras on the headset to sense the controller position instead of external sensors.  We cleared out a bunch of space in the living room and I temporarily moved my computer into there.  The more space you can clear, the better.  But being tethered to the computer with a cable is a pain.  You almost need to play barefoot so that you can feel the cable with your feet avoid getting tangled.

Anyway, it’s a lot of fun!  It really does a great job of tricking your brain into feeling that it’s real.  The Lab is an awesome free game where you walk around a lab and play a variety of mini-games…some of them hilarious.  Picking up objects and looking at them closely with even the light glinting off of them is really convincing.  Putting your head into physical objects is a weird thing to do because you’re thinking “collision”!
Google Earth VR is fun.  You’re like a giant walking around Paris or wherever you are.
Beat Saber is a music game that’s a big workout.  You use light sabers to cut through music blocks as they fly at you.  You also have to doge moving walls…kind of like a virtual reality Dance Dance Revolution.  You really feel the music.  Exercise with VR goggles and headphones is very sweaty, though.
Windows has their “virtual house” and Steam has theirs.  The Windows portal prefers everything to be Windows apps.  You can paste a giant Netflix app on your fake living room wall.  (Everything is houses instead of desktops.)  So it’s funny starting out in the Windows house and then loading the desktop as a big screen floating in the backyard.
I recommend going cheap on these things because electronics devalue so quickly.  I recommend a GTX 1070 videocard or better because some of the games got laggy on an AMD RX 580.
Sometimes, games are made with Vive/Oculus Rift in mind and the WMR controllers work by emulation or something.  Google Earth VR, for example, shows a virtual Vive controller with a button in a totally different position than the Windows controller.  It can be confusing when you look down at your hand and see a controller you’re not really holding.  Of course, your controller can look like anything.  In Minecraft, it’s a blocky arm.  (The Windows 10 Minecraft app didn’t use the normal teleport movement, so it borders on nausea as you move, but your real body remains still.)  In the Windows house, your controller is a realistic looking Windows controller with an added bonus of a virtual battery indicator on the underside.  In The Lab, your controller changes to whatever contraption you pick up.

After playing VR for a while, you can get a weird disembodied feeling with your hands…almost as if you’re wondering whether they’re really your hands.

The Job Away From Your Real Job

I got to play Job Simulator in VR the other night at the mall. It was a blast! They had an HTC Vive set up.  In the game, I was working in a small kitchen at a restaurant fulfilling orders. You can move around the small room and the motion is all realistic. I put my head into the freezer and started eating the food in there. I picked up some food and moved it to my mouth and started eating it. I moved things around with my hands to cook whatever was ordered. On the last order, I’d done something wrong and was about to run out of time so I just started playing around and throwing things on the stove, causing a fire. The display was a little more pixelated than I was expecting. And afterward, I was using my phone and had this weird feeling like I was still playing the game.

Deceptively difficult games

Why do games that seem to be kid-friendly suddenly ramp up the difficulty to an insane level?  Super Mario Galaxy, Rayman Origins, and Ori all have this friendly cartoony look to start…by the end of the game, you’re lucky if you’re getting through the game just by luck, trying the same level over and over again.

Well, anyway, as we just finished Rayman Origins, here’s the best song in the game.  Catchy

Black Flag Sea Shanties

Some Black Flag Sea Shanty mp3s from Ubisoft

Drunken Sailor
Leave Her, Johnny
The Rio Grande
Fish in the Sea
Paddy Doyle’s Boots
Randy Dandy-O
Stormalong John
Homeward Bound
Johnny Boker
The Worst Old Ship
Roller Bowler
‘Way Me Susiana
Lowlands Away
Padstow’s Farewell
Where Am I To Go M’Johnnies
Hauley Hauley Ho
Derby Ram
Running Down to Cuba
The Coasts of High Barbary
Bully In The Alley
Spanish Ladies
The Dead Horse
So Early in The Morning



Ingress phone game

I’ve been trying a game on my phone called Ingress.  It’s a GPS game where you gain points or energy by walking around.  It doesn’t work at driving speeds…you have to walk.  (It was initially developed by Google to get people  to photograph monuments and public things they were looking for images of.)  There are 2 teams.  At some monuments or public areas there are “portals” that can be captured by either side.  To capture a strongly held portal, you’d either need to walk around a lot to get energy or bring a lot of people from your team.

I joined the Enlightenment because it seems to be the losing side and I wanted a challenge.  🙂  Everybody picks the Resistance.

Eyepets and Friends

Here’s my review of Eyepets and Friends…a game we recently found on sale for about $5.  You might think from the name that this game is about virtual pets or something.  Surprisingly, this game is actually all about helping the game find the floor.  You start up the game and place your PlayStation Move controller on the floor to help the system figure out where the floor is.  We played the game last night and were unsuccessful in getting past this “level”.  I’m guessing that the game is best played 3 inches from the sun so that it has enough light to actually get past the calibration phase.

Sean having some floor-finding fun

Everybody Dance

For winter exercise, we got Everybody Dance.  It’s a Playstation game where you hold light bulb controllers and mimic dance moves on a camera.  It has the embarrassing option to record your dancing and upload it so that others can see it.  (From what I hear, Just Dance 3 is a better alternative for kids, without risque videos and songs.)  Anyway, it accomplishes the goal of getting some exercise nicely.  It teaches you more than Dance Dance Revolution did, since you’re not just stomping in a square pattern…not to say that I actually look like I’m dancing.  Here‘s a video of Mia and Sean.


We happened to be near an R/C hobby shop yesterday so we went in.  They had a PC with RealFlight R/C flight simulator set up.  It was really neat to be able to fly an R/C plane, crash it,  reset, and try again.  It had a real R/C controller.  I assume it can simulate harsh New Mexico desert winds.  Unfortunately, the price is $100 for the most basic version.  I think you can get a cheap battery-powered plane for that much.  As long as you don’t crash it, it’s more cost effective.  I wonder if those trick R/C helicopter pilots practice with this software.