dal330200

My Weekend VR Experience

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Evenin' Folks from the VR Flight Deck,

I dove into VR in 4.3 yesterday with the Oculus Rift and today with the Odyssey, and I just wanted to share some of my observations in case some of my fellow pilots may be considering doing it as well.  I tend to fly the line in P3D, following routes with carriers I like according to as RW as I can make it, and realism and sim-fluidity are very important to me.  I also have an obsession with tweaking shaders, cough, but we'll leave that discussion for another day.  Right off the bat, VR is terrible in terms of visuals and performance, and I'm sure there's ample discussion to be had in other forums about those things, but I want to emphasize that the videos we see on YouTube and other places do not represent at all what is displayed through the headsets.  Imagine looking at the P3D world in an old, pre-digital color TV set.  It's that bad.  However, the feel of being in the cockpit, looking around, and being totally immersed in that environment completely took my breath away, baked my noodle.  Amazing.  I got senses of height, distance and movement like never before, and TrackIR is just a tiny representation of what I experienced for those of you who fly with that awesome tool. 

I tried both headsets because I read somewhere that the resolution in the Odyssey was a little higher than the Rift.  I didn't notice much of a difference, and the Rift was much more easy to install, much more intuitive, lighter and more comfortable.  It took forever for me to set up the Odyssey, and I also had to sign up for Steam and Microsoft, which was an ordeal for a variety of reasons, before I could get the headset set up. I also had to go pick up a bluetooth USB adaptor for my PC, so if you don't have bluetooth, you need to get it set up beforehand.  The interface was clunky and I had to go in and out of windows and programs in order to browse, download and open games.  With the Rift, everything could be done in VR, and it was a nice overall experience.  Except for that blasted resolution.  It's TERRIBLE.  

Fortunately, I got them with good return policies, so at the end of the day, I didn't lose anything by taking a shot at VR, but they're both going back tomorrow.  I tasted the immersion of VR, and long for the day when it becomes a viable alternative to looking at our monitors.  I believe this will be the standard in a couple of years, because VR is the future in the gaming (including PC gaming) world. It's just that good.  But I have to leave that full immersion behind because I just can't fly in that low-res environment that's available to us at the moment.  Lighting is great, the P3D world fills up with weather, autogen, terrain-- everything-- in beautiful, head spinning immersion from top to bottom.  But the resolution is just unbearable. 

I do want to take my hat off to PMDG for the NGX, which in VR looks and feels absolutely like you're in the cockpit. Unbelievable.  However, with the low-res display, no matter what tweaks I tried, the gauges were unreadable, the scenery was also pixelated, and frame rates were terrible.

There's chatter here and there about how much better VR is in X-Plane and Aerofly, and I was tempted to install X-Plane (I used it a couple of times before removing it a few months ago) to test it there.  However, with the limitation being in the lenses/displays in the headsets, I doubt things would be much better on the other platforms, but that's just my suspicion. 

In any case, if you're a pilot who doesn't mind a substantial, almost crippling drop in detail and performance for the sake of immersion, then you'll absolutely love it in P3D.  However, I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who needs detail and clarity in their flying experiences. 

Well, that about sums up my two-cents, and it's with deep regret that I can't be the bearer of happier news.  Being in that cockpit was just...wow, and it feels like such a tease to have a taste of what's possible without being able to enjoy it.  

John

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Hi John,

Thanks for sharing your experience with us.  That's exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for. It is a great help for me to make my mind about VR.

Mike

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It's too bad you didn't find the time to experiment using SuperSampling set at 1.5 (with Nvidia 1060) or up to 2.0 (Nvidia 1080) so that the image is much much clearer - in fact, it is quite easy to read the cockpit gauges. Some flight sims like DCS and Aerofly FS2 have the ability to set that up directly in the VR settings but you have to use a freeware tool called Oculus Tray Tool for Prepar3D. True though that most of us flight sim VR enthusiasts are waiting eagerly for the PiMax8K or the StarVR (if we can afford them) to improve the clarity of the world outside the cockpit to "20/20" vision instead of  "20/30" or so vision.

As far as frame rate settings, we use the Single Pass mode that is available in Prepar3d v4.3 and also use Asynchronous Warp (ASW) set up for 45fps. Also, we do reduce settings depending on our CPU/GPU combination - water/shadow rendering and only 2XSSAA with SuperSampling at 1.6   - and we fly in areas where the frame rate is at least 60fps with nonVR single HD monitor.

Dave W.

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, dal330200 said:

Fortunately, I got them with good return policies, so at the end of the day, I didn't lose anything by taking a shot at VR, but they're both going back tomorrow

VR is the single greatest advance in flightsim that I’ve seen since the Bruce Artwick days. I do feel that posts like this are unfortunate - it’s the equivalent of taking up flight sim as a hobby, buying the NGX and then quitting a day later because the “plane won’t fly”.

I’ve done almost 100% of my flying in the past two years in VR - I only use pancake mode (2D) for testing, screenshots and sometimes for CDU data entry. I’ve mainly been using x-plane, DCS and aerofly in the past six months, but am now back to P3D VR as my primary sim. I’ll happily fly for eight hours plus in a VR session, and that includes complex airliners of the sort that you want to fly.

As i’ve posted before, you need to put in a solid amount of time to adapt to VR - your visual cortex and vestibular processing centres will take time to get used to it. You need to right hardware, the right VR tweaks - like the supersampling mentioned above - and a willingness to compromise on certain areas of the sim to achieve acceptable performance (particularly with P3D, but also with X-plane).

I’d encourage anyone out there who is considering VR to just go out and buy an Oculus and spend at least a month getting used to a very new experience. If you’re trying to achieve immersion and get “as real as it gets”, VR can provide that.

By the way, I also thought that VR was no more than a novelty in the first few days that I flew it!

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6 hours ago, dal330200 said:

In any case, if you're a pilot who doesn't mind a substantial, almost crippling drop in detail and performance for the sake of immersion, then you'll absolutely love it in P3D.  However, I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who needs detail and clarity in their flying experiences.

Very well said. It's nice to see someone agree with my point of view on VR every now and then. It doesn't happen very often, oddly enough.

3 hours ago, whitav8 said:

It's too bad you didn't find the time to experiment using SuperSampling set at 1.5 (with Nvidia 1060) or up to 2.0 (Nvidia 1080) so that the image is much much clearer - in fact, it is quite easy to read the cockpit gauges.

SS sure helps, yes, but the overall low res looks remains. Airports in the distance remain a bunch of undefined pixels whatever SS setting you use. I have flown AFS2 with SS at 2.0 and still I gave up on VR due to the low resolution.

1 hour ago, OzWhitey said:

As i’ve posted before, you need to put in a solid amount of time to adapt to VR - your visual cortex and vestibular processing centres will take time to get used to it. You need to right hardware, the right VR tweaks - like the supersampling mentioned above - and a willingness to compromise on certain areas of the sim to achieve acceptable performance (particularly with P3D, but also with X-plane).

It is often said you will get used to it but not everyone will get used to it. I've flown in VR (in AFS2) for half a year and still I gave up on VR in the end. So you can't say I didn't give it an honest try. 😉 I simply like the clarity of my 2D screens. Almost all detail is lost in VR, certainly when it comes to scenery but also the cockpit looks very low res. I constantly squinted (if that is the right word) my eyes, trying to see things better. Immersion is absolutly great but I simply prefer 2D and my TrackIR.

And btw while immersion is indeed great I never ever had the idea I was actually flying a real plane in a real world. I was always clearly flying a modelled plane in a modelled world. In fact, seeing the sim scenery at full scale doesn't really improve things...! I also never experienced fear like I would in a real plane (if I had to land it). I clearly remember expecting to experience fear during my first VR flight like I would if I had to fly a real plane: I was very disappointed I didn't experience any anxiety at ALL during my first flight and all the flights I did after that. The simulated world my look great in a lot of regards but it's still a far cry from the real thing.

In fact, in that regard I even wonder if an 8K headset will be that good for the experience... It will only make those low res ground textures even more obviously low res and those carboard buildings and trees will look even more fake.

I think I will prefer 2D screens for quite some time. 😉

BTW I also didn't like being seperated from my actual surrounding for various reasons when using VR but that's also a personal preference, I guess.

EDIT
I mainly flew VR in AFS2 so performance never was a problem. 😉

EDIT 2
The above doesn't mean you won't be able to totally LOVE VR!!! It's my personal opinion and experience. I sometimes even envy those who DO get immersed in VR and totally love it LOL

Edited by J van E
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Well I must say I'm one of the believers. 

I have spent a couple of years building a dualseater 737NG cockpit and spend above 20K. 3 months ago I bought a Oculus Rift and connected most of the switches and modules to PMDG 737 and today I'm only flying VR !! Yes it's blurry, airports in a distance hard to see etc, BUT you are in the cockpit and can look around and down !! Even we you fly on-line and you can see the other online planes you think you are there for real. Many have tried my VR and the say it's like the sim now also has motion.

Graphics can be better, but it still in the early stage. I'm using Flyinside which makes things much more easy and performance is good ! Fly in bad weather or in the night is very special.  

It do takes some time to setup everything but once it run it's great. And new add ons like GSX2 even makes the experience better.

Setup

I7700K 4.9, 16 GB RAM, Nvidia 1070, bunch of hardware modules

Regards

Claus

www.737sim.dk  

Edited by chansen

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8 hours ago, whitav8 said:

It's too bad you didn't find the time to experiment using SuperSampling set at 1.5 (with Nvidia 1060) or up to 2.0 (Nvidia 1080) so that the image is much much clearer - in fact, it is quite easy to read the cockpit gauges. Some flight sims like DCS and Aerofly FS2 have the ability to set that up directly in the VR settings but you have to use a freeware tool called Oculus Tray Tool for Prepar3D. True though that most of us flight sim VR enthusiasts are waiting eagerly for the PiMax8K or the StarVR (if we can afford them) to improve the clarity of the world outside the cockpit to "20/20" vision instead of  "20/30" or so vision.

As far as frame rate settings, we use the Single Pass mode that is available in Prepar3d v4.3 and also use Asynchronous Warp (ASW) set up for 45fps. Also, we do reduce settings depending on our CPU/GPU combination - water/shadow rendering and only 2XSSAA with SuperSampling at 1.6   - and we fly in areas where the frame rate is at least 60fps with nonVR single HD monitor.

Dave W.

 

 

 

thanks for your input, but I already tried that.  And, at the end of the day, it is the resolution that is the deal breaker for me.  I can't do it.  When the next gen headsets come out I'll be eagerly waiting with my credit card. 

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I’ve dabbled a bit in VR with P3D using a rift.  I found it too hard to operate complex airliners in VR, however I did play around with some VFR GA flights and they were quite immersive.

Where VR really shines is Aerofly.  There’s nothing quite like zooming through mountains in a F-18, it can actually be stomach churning if you’re not careful.  I stick to basic VFR flying there too though, as I haven’t gotten the hang of flipping a lot of switches etc yet.  But if you want to just hop in and go for a flight, it’s quite amazing.

I’m excited to see what future generations of VR gear will bring in terms of resolution etc.

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The rift has to be supersampled to make the visual quality acceptable this has been known since the first gen headsets were released.

The performance on a 7700k 1080 with 1.5 supersampling is very good and graphic quality is acceptable for everything but large cockpit aircraft. This has been known since LM released P3D 4.3.

Performance is good because LM in 4.3 have made VR very usable out of the box on current hardware and even though you have to tune settings down relative to a monitor, it simply doesn't matter because the lower resolution of the 1st gen headsets don't get benefit of higher visuals anyway.

I appreciate the personal perspective of the OP but it is not to be taken as a review grade piece of writing. VR is already a massive improvement for most types of aviation except the tubeliners.

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22 hours ago, dal330200 said:

Imagine looking at the P3D world in an old, pre-digital color TV set.  It's that bad. 

This is why I'm holding off on VR. I'm waiting for the resolution to get to 4k. It might not be so bad for me, because I'm an old fart and grew up watching standard-def television, but then I also didn't watch TV from 1 inch away either. Even full-HD can't possibly look great when your eyeballs are that close to the screen, supersampling or not.

And yeah, I do fly the PMDG tubeliners, so the res matters.

 

 

 

 

Edited by eslader

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John and Mike,

Hey that is one hell of a heads up and I am sure that it will create a lot of discussion.  I only say that because whilst resolution is oft mentioned as a drawback for VR in Flightsim, there is a huge number of fans out there who will disagree/agree with varying amounts of enthusiasm. I am very much a potential adoptee.

I look forward to  more of the ensuing discussion and just hope it remains moderate.

I also wonder how much opinions will change after the Pimax 5k+ is released to the yearning public in a couple of weeks (allegedly) Saw a couple of reviews today and I gotta say that the Pimax looks good, albeit with no controllers. 

Regards,

Tony

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5 hours ago, himmelhorse said:

I also wonder how much opinions will change after the Pimax 5k+ is released to the yearning public in a couple of weeks (allegedly) Saw a couple of reviews today and I gotta say that the Pimax looks good, albeit with no controllers. 

 

The Primax looks good indeed, I also watched a few (long!) reviews but it still doesn't convince me. Besides, you need a monster PC for it. All in all it would cost me some $ 2500 at LEAST to upgrade my PC and get the Primax and then things would be better but still not superb.  I will pass on it and have a look again at VR with the next (3rd) gen devices.

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