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Experiences

Gnomes and Goblins preview

Well this was completely unexpected, and a very welcome surprise return for Jon Favreau and Jake Rowell’s Wevr title that seemed to have slipped into oblivion. I had played it again when I got my Valve Index last year but there had been no further updates or information since, like many early Vive demos that are still available but appear dormant in terms of development.

I always had fond memories of the Vive demo from 2016, but 4 years was a long time ago, especially in terms of VR software. So to find a “Venice” preview available at the festival was fantastic, and much more rewarding when I discovered in-headset that it wasn’t an updated Vive demo but something entirely new.

One problem I found with the original Vive demo was the requirement for a big room (to create a big play space) to get its roomscale VR to work properly. Without going into software and moving my playscape, an important trigger event could be just out of reach, often at home I’d find myself trying to flatten my Vive controller against the physical wall to try and reach something.

During the new Venice preview I used free locomotion, shook a fairy (don’t ask!), transferred through portals, paddled down a river on a raft, lowered myself on a rope platform down into a mine, explored a series of tunnels in an illuminating way, attended a meeting of many in a cave and finally released lanterns into the sky. Hundreds of NPC’s roamed about, some singing, many doing their own stuff, with gorgeous detail and animation. Overall an incredibly rich world, which felt like being inside a big budget Hollywood animation movie.

Performance took a hit, with strange microstutters in headset, despite my frame timing not averaging over 9ms/11.1ms (90hz) though the developer graph showed very thin yellow spikes in places. I tried adjusting super resolution without it resolving the issue. Textures seemed muddy and very “2016” in places, yet sharper in other places; close up interaction with NPC’s were richly detailed, longer distances were blurrier.

Something odd was going on, could be compatibility with the Index headset, though I suspect Viveport was not playing nicely with the new Windows update, or with SteamVR. Its not the first time I’ve had problems after installing Viveport, and was glad to uninstall it at the end of the festival.

I’ll need to play the Steam release at the end of this month to see if this problem reoccurs. The recommended specification demonstrates that this title will be perfect for the new wave of Nvidia RTX 3xxx graphics cards as its going to require some serious grunt to run well. For reference I’m using 8086K @ 5.2Ghz / RTX 2080Ti.

  • i7-9700K or equivalent
  • Memory: 32 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia Geforce GTX 2080 or equivalent

I’m not going to say any more as its better discovered first person in your headset. The full game releases on 23rd September 2020 and promises many hours of gameplay in its rich environment.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Gnomes & Goblins is the biggest project Wevr has developed. Where the G&G Preview was a quick introduction to Buddy and his world, a bit like a tasting spoon of ice cream, this all-new, full-featured, multi-hour VR simulation game is like a full pint of your favorite flavor with new interactions and story moments to discover including new characters to meet, forest areas to explore, magical collectibles to discover and a range of open-world gameplay from climbing to paddle boarding to farming and brew-making.”Wevr

Thanks for reading! Rob Cole

Categories
Experiences

Immersivecomputing @ EGX 2018

Visited September 2018

After earlier accepting an invite from my friend Callum to be on the discussion panel for “The Future of VR” at EGX 2018, I travelled by train to Birmingham’s NEC.

Having never been to EGX before, I wasn’t sure what was happening across the show, but was pleasantly surprised to find a good number of VR demos and experiences on offer.

Sony in particular had made a huge effort for PSVR with numerous demo booths and events occurring.

With several hours free until the panel discussion started I hit the show floor and set out to demo everything I could find.

It’s always a pleasure to use PSVR with its clear display, comfortable fit and wonderful software library, “The Persistence” was very impressive. Sony had a neat booth setup taking digital photos and giving out colour prints so I obliged!

After trying several PSVR demos I moved onto PCVR and found multiplayer game “Skyfront”.

Skyfront on the HTC Vive was great fun and very challenging. After talking to the developers I understood more about their development process and the difficulty of optimization for large maps.

Moving on, I found “Titanic VR” running on the Oculus Rift CV1 with a gamepad instead of Touch controllers.

The eyewitness scene in the lifeboat was unnerving and effective with some great character animation and voicework.

The ROV section gave a great feeling of presence, but started making me feel motion sick due to the disconnect between the ROV movement and my seated position; enjoyable to witness but good to know when to stop.

I then found an Oculus Go with a starfighter game (cannot remember the name) which was great fun and banished any feelings of motion sickness as I engaged in combat until I’d hogged the demo for too long!

Walking around the show I also found lots of simulator rigs being test driven with some very expensive and exotic setups as well as more affordable offerings.

After finding some lunch, I came back to the show with an hour to spare and wandered about looking at all the shiny stuff until I met this chap, legendary overclocker Ian “8 Pack” Parry.

Talking tech was interesting and he said he’d sort out a nice overclocked 8086K motherboard bundle if I got in touch with him at Overclockers.uk (I took him up on this offer a month later)

As usual, all kinds of ridiculous PC were on display showing off liquid cooling, RGB and custom modifications.

It was time to head over to the theatre where the discussion was taking place so I threaded my way back through the show watching many people having fun in VR.

“The future of VR” discussion started with a good number of people in the audience, and 3 other panel members including a prominent YouTuber, a VR specialist from The VR Concept and a Public Relations manager from Skyfront VR. Callum did a great job in hosting the event and keeping the discussion going forward as there was much to discuss.

I had a great day at EGX and made to check out some other VR experiences I’d missed before lunch; of course I had to go and look at the crazy PC’s again before getting a train home!

Thanks for reading! Rob Cole, immersivecomputing