First Virtual Reality Arcade Opens in Manila - Virtual Room PH. Exclusive discount for VRAR | Q Readers
I don't know about you but I'm not willing (read: can't afford) to shell out the money required to get an Oculus or HTC Vibe, so when I found out Virtual Room was having an open house to try out their toys for free, I was all over that. Thanks Facebook for letting me know of their event!
I was thrilled to be able to meet and chat with owner, Elle Castaneda! See our interview below.
ALSO - Thanks to Virtual Room PH, you can get a 50% discount on all packages exclusively for VRAR Queen readers. Fill in your email in the form on the right to get instructions on how to redeem this special offer.
What it's Like and What They Have
Virtual Room is Manila's first VR arcade. The vibe is much like the game room many kids dream about. When you enter, there are some Oculus Rift stations to the left, and behind them, a chill out area where you can relax your eyes and hang with your friends. The chill out area is a wall lined with multicolored bean bags that instantly put you in a good mood- like you're about to have a bag of Skittles, start kindergarten, or that perhaps you may have just gotten a job at Google. It's a wonderful break from the all black everything that game consoles and headsets are these days.
What this was Like for a Non-VR Enthusiast
Walk deeper into the arcade and it's a cozy den for the 90 inch tv. I came here with my boyfriend and he was most interested in playing NBA 2k17 on this. It was his first time trying non-mobile VR too and he described it as "intense" and that it "made him dizzy." He also said the zombie game on Oculus was "quite stressful." After this, he had no interest in trying the Vibe and parked it at the TV, playing basketball. He was very content here. It's cool, VR isn't everyone's bag.
What an Oculus Rift Feels Like
I watched an animated movie about a hedgehog. It was his birthday and these dancing dog balloons that came over to his house to play with him. One of the balloons popped by one of his spikes and they all got scared. I don't know what happened after, because I don't have that kind of attention span, and I switched to VR Goat which was very, very addicting! In this game, you climb up a mountain as a goat, but similar to Super Mario, you have to avoid falling to your goat death.
As expected, Oculus was much better than mobile VR, but at this point idk if it was 10x better, that I would buy one. An interesting difference was that with Oculus, I REALLY wanted to reach out and touch in things. Not so much on mobile. Probably because with mobile VR your hands are holding the viewer and/or pressing the button on the viewer. In Oculus, I had no motion sickness of any sort, which was as nice change from mobile VR.
Note to self, would be cool to be a user experience Designer for games. At least my twisted dreams would be of use. Look at the plots I just described. LOL.
With hand controllers, the urge to reach out was satisfied. I started with Google Tilt Brush and then did the rollercoaster. The rollercoaster really felt like one, but unfortunately I had to rip off the headset mid free fall because my head was starting to feel the same way it does when hungover - not good. The graphics were nice for both the Vibe and Oculus. The only real difference at this point was the ability to use your hands, which is kind of a big deal.
Who Should Try Virtual Room
Do you have a VR arcade in your country? Tell us what that's like in the comments!
Interview with Elle Casataneda
Founder and Owner, Virtual Room PH
Tell us about Virtual Room, what hardware do you have here?
So far we have Oculus Rift CV1, HTC Vive, 90" LED TV, and a Flight Simulator.
What are some of the most popular games or ones you recommend?
For Oculus - Eve Valkyrie, Lucky's Tale and Project Cars.
HTC Vive - The Brookhaven, The Lab and Google Tilt Brush.
PC Games on the 90" LED TV- NBA 2K17, Fifa 17 and GTA 5.
What's your background? How did you decide you were going to start this?
I work with startups from Silicon Valley, establishing their offshore operations in Manila and Cebu. After recruiting top developers in the country, I noticed one of their similar interests is games. I used to have employees playing DOTA2 for hours after work in the office. My partner and I thought why can't we have a hub for them instead of playing in the office and their respective home and simply enjoy it with their group of friends. Also, an average student or professional won't be able to get a hand of the VR devices and set up a custom CPU for the specific requirement. So, thought of making it available and affordable to the market.
What's your personal favorite headset and game?
I personally enjoy the HTC Vive especially the Google Tilt Brush. Roller Coaster is also a big thrill.
What do you think the future of VR is? What about for the Philippines?
VR is fast developing with recent adaptation in other countries and field. I was impressed with the VR Game Shops in Hongkong, London and Tel Aviv. One of the most impressive VR technology I witnessed is the tour of Old Jerusalem in Israel via VR headset. Such a great way to revive history. Philippines is getting there, we are still at the infancy stage I believe. Most people think we are ripping them off thinking we are using the Plastic VR boxes for $5 available in the market right now. Information about VR is lacking, and personally I hope VR won't be a mainstream "game only" mindset in PH but also an alternative tool for education and other areas. I have to commend you for a great website flourishing much needed information about AR and VR technology!
More about Virtual Room PH:
Why did I start with Unity? It is pretty much THE development platform for 3D games and apps, for mobile, desktop, and consoles. (Pretty much everything)
How to Get Started with Unity for Beginners in 3 Easy Steps
1. Download Unity
2. Watch a few (or all) of the tutorials from Unity
3. Follow a long a YouTube tutorial like this one for 3rd Person Controller + Fly or 3rd Person Camera
Tip: shorter the video, the less complicated. Do yourself a favor a get quick win. Do not get discouraged if something isn't where it says it is in the tutorial. Your screen may not look exactly the same as the tutorial, but the tab, section, or button they are talking about are there, just look for it.
An Hour with Unity as an Absolute Beginner
(Procrastination time included!)
0. Download Unity (can be done before, doesn't count as part of your hour!)
1. 5:35pm. Open Unity.
2. Watch the first tutorial on the interface.
4. Watch part of the second tutorial.
5. Decide tutorials are boring and I'm going to poke around the software myself.
6. Open up Assets. Seems to be where you get things to make your game from.
7. Attempt to import a package. Won't work. Back up.
8. Check 10 days worth of emails they've been sending to get answers there. Nothing but promoting their own tutorial. Maybe look at that later.
9. Take the hunt to YouTube / Google. Find this tutorial on how to setup the "3rd Person Controller + Fly Mode" which I was trying to download (it was one of the first 12 Free things they give you in the Assets area).
10. Follow the first step - inserting a plane. Ok I think, getting somewhere.
11. Another road block. Cannot import the character (Ethan, the default Unity character. Named after Ethan Hunt? Hmm)
12. Google "unity won't let me import character"
13. Answer is a bit old (2014) but I click on this link anyway, it's from Unity's site.
14. Suggests I should re-start the program.
15. 5:53pm. I restart the program.
16. Dope. Problem is solved. Continue on.
17. 6:12pm Finish YouTube video. My Ethan is walking around!
18. Ethan walked off the plane and now is stuck. What to do?
19. Go back to the inspector, check out the different settings, see that "Scale" is the only thing not set to 0, it's at 1. So I tried setting it to 2. Lo and behold the plane increased. Yippee kay yay.
20. Press play again. No danger of falling off the platform.
21. 6:29pm and I haven't gotten him to fly. Annoying that when I google it, its a bunch of people posting scripts on "how to fly" gonna go over the time limit. Must figure this out.
22. 6:31 got him to fly. I was pressing the directional buttons with every button on the keyboard, starting from left to right, at command, up and down. Ultimately what got it was the qwer keys. Its the directional key + the E key that makes him fly. If you press E again, then he's walking again.
Then I remembered something in the tutorial about those buttons meaning something HAH. Guess this is why you should watch the tutorials. This was way more fun though. And I made it in time!
Cheesy documentation side note: I know qwer keys are assigned special actions but it wouldn't be more intuitive if fly was F? Not that they can or should make a separate command for this function, but just to give you insight into my maturity level, I was thinking, well, I guess you're flying when you're on E? HAHA. I wouldn't know. There goes hopes of getting work in VR one day if anyone in a hiring function ever reads this but hey, least there's proof I'm #honest and have that #quirkysenseofhumor all companies want, right? Ok I'll stop.
Please drop me a comment if you found this useful, funny, or cool. Are you a beginner at Unity? What suggestions do you have for me from here?
I've neglected VR for entertainment thus far which is weird because this is probably how VR will move from gamers and early adopters to everyone else. VR movies as they are now are almost a hybrid of a game and a movie which is amazing. You must try it. This particular movie I'm reviewing will only take about 10 minutes of your time.
In looking where to start, I decided to do Google best VR apps. Surely there will be a short film I can watch on the list that exists purely to be entertainment, and not have other agendas.
I picked VR Noir because I thought the synopsis was intriguing. This film a thriller where you play a private investigator, Veronica, who happens to be a former cop.
The movie begins in her office. She explains what's going on in her life as you walk around. She has a nice, soothing voice, like a childhood math teacher that patiently explains to 11 year olds why there are suddenly now letters in math equations. She narrates details from her life, and her character develops in a short amount of time. You begin to feel her problems.
After a rough FaceTime with her estranged husband, in walks a desperate, haggard looking woman, who sits and begins to explain why she has come to a private investigator. It is now when the investigation begins! I won't ruin the story for you since I think you should download the app and watch it for yourself, however, my analysis requires that you've seen it, so if you go now and watch it, it will only take about 10-15 minutes.
Here are some notes about what I think was good and what needs improvement:
What I hope to see in the future
VR Movies that address the areas where I said need improvement.
Movies with a lot of thought or strategy, turned into VR - like House of Cards in VR with real decision making capacity would be awesome. Imagine making some calls as Francis Underwood!
Crazy last note
I think it would be cool to use VR as a method of "trying on" careers. Imagine you could go through a "season" of a specific job, just like on Netflix, and decide if you enjoyed that industry or profession, or not. I sort of felt like a private investigator here. I think a lot of kids went through I want to be a spy, investigator, explorer, etc phase and then (perhaps falsely? I will never know) assume it's too difficult, too dangerous, or too impractical. Maybe VR can open up career possibilities to people earlier in life (as opposed to oh hey figure out your life in four years of college and be bound by that decision forever).
The makers, StartVR
Behind the scenes of making VR Noir - highly recommended!
Ok I have a confession to make, I have this dream to work in the VR industry in some capacity by later this year and one of the companies I've been stalking is PlutoVR.
1- It's founded by the guy that made the game Bejeweled (Popcap Games). If you're not familiar, it's that game where you match shapes and colors of jewels. It's incredible. It's highly addictive and filled all the idle moments of my childhood. From the looks of his LinkedIn, it was wildly successful and bought by EA, so his new venture is likely to have great success.
2-They're a Seattle based startup (I'm originally from there)
I've been following them since they barely had anything on their website, it was an unassuming and reminded me of the 1996 Space Jam website that's still up, so of course that was plus points. While their site has since been updated, they don't disclose too many details about their work, but as my first company profile of the year, it had to be them.
What do they do: They're revolutionizing remote communication. They allow you to communicate directly in VR, alongside your other VR apps. Be "Virtually in Person" as they claim. Their goal is to help people move beyond the constraints of physical location, and to create a feeling of “shared presence” — the feeling that “comes from all of our senses and social cues that exist when we are in person together.” They are the app you use to talk to other people in VR.
What this means for you: Just as an example, remember that post I made about the app, YouVisit? Imagine we're in Paris in the app. We're together. We can talk and shop like we're there. We can chat about how underwhelming the Mona Lisa at the Lourve is (Seriously, it was a lot smaller than I thought it would be) and maybe you can be an enabler and encourage me to buy more stuff from the Lanvin store, or eat more macaroons.
No plane ticket, don't even have to change out of my five year old lululemon sweats. One day maybe taste can be integrated and we can eat in VR. We could eat cornettos together in Rome. Wouldn't that be wild?
Maybe that's not the use case they envison, but I plan to move back stateside, far from my mom, and it would be nice to do things together. Previously I've talked about VR transporting your mind elsewhere, but with the social element, now you can be with other people! How exciting! That's why the Microsoft Hololens demo was so fascinating! Social VR is what I'm most smitten about.
How they make money: Too early to tell. Charge the user? Charge the app for getting more people to use the app?
Where they are based: Seattle, WA, USA. Founded in 2015.
Who's behind it: John Vechey, Jared Cheshier, Jonathan Geibel, and Forest Gibson. Read about them here. Job openings are on the same page if you're interested!
Signup for their alpha here. FYI though you'll need an Oculus Rift with Touch Controllers or an HTC Vibe, so early adoptors, have at it!
Update Monday 1/9/17: So I dropped the ball on Saturday's post but I will post it today. I had a crisis in the household and with my other business. It wasn't raining problems it was a tyhpoon.
TBH, I've never been more excited to write- I didn't think anyone really read this blog but after looking at the traffic after the last post and then Saturday (when I was supposed to post). OMFG I have readers! Forgive me for my tardiness! It won't happen again!
I've been abesent for a while. Been working on my site that helps international students study in the U.S. (internationalstudentgroup.com) because I know how hard it was for me studying in the U.S. far from my family so I wanted to help this group with their issues.
In that time, I put a pause on this blog but I want you to know I'm back, delivering (what I hope) you want to know about AR and VR. If you have questions please drop me a line!
Because of my excitement in the area last Spring, I got ambitous. For a while, I was posting everyday. Doing time consuming things daily is very difficult. I've made a more sustainable schedule for myself to produce quality writing, and I've decided I will post once a week (Saturdays) unless there is breaking news, and I decide to post additional things.
I know excuses suck. But I'm only human and have a human bandwidth, so please accept this as my hey, let's give this another shot.
Here is the schedule:
Week 1: Company Focus
Week 2: App or Game Review
Week 3: Advenutures in Amatuer Programming
Week 4: Industry Interview: Day in the Life + Crystal Ballin (their predicitions for the future)
I'm most welcome to contributors, comments, or what you want to see covered or researched. Please subscribe or email me at carolinaa @gmail.com and let's chat.
Happy to be back and see you soon!
P.S. It's a new year. What will you resurrect in 2017?
VR & AR are for everyone.