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Carmack On VR Latency 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the harder-better-faster-stronger dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For a while now, John Carmack has been pushing to bring virtual reality technology back to the gaming world. VR was largely abandoned over a decade ago when it became apparent that the hardware just wasn't ready to support it. In 2013, things are different; cheap displays with a high pixel density and powerful processors designed for small systems are making virtual reality a... reality. One of the last obstacles to be conquered is latency — the delay between moving your head and seeing your perspective change in the virtual world. In a lengthy and highly-technical post at #AltDevBlogADay, Carmack has outlined a number of strategies for mitigating and reducing latency. With information and experience like this being shared with the game development community at large, it shouldn't be long until VR makes a permanent place for itself in our gaming lives."
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Carmack On VR Latency

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  • Dactyl Nightmare

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      I used to work for a company doing VR arcade games.

      Dactyl Nightmare was the big kid in a very small playground.

  • by robthebloke (1308483) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:49PM (#42984891)
    .... I can't help thinking this [buytvhatnow.com]
    • I always wondered what happened to that technology...
    • by Hidyman (225308)

      .... I can't help thinking this [buytvhatnow.com]

      Seeing that makes my think of The Jerk.
      How long before people start suing for neck strain?

    • by grumbel (592662)

      Yep. The fun part is that this isn't even much a joke, the Oculus Rift is essentially that thing, just in a nicer box. There where even iPhone add ons that did stereo and head tracking. Kind of funny how some cheap crap from the shopping channel and the future of virtual reality are just inches apart.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:56PM (#42984999) Journal

    Surely any dedicated gamer would see the value in simply injecting a thickening agent into the endolymph of the Vestibular system. With careful dose control, that should induce a matching lag in the perception of motion, thus providing a highly realistic experience!

    *Ability to walk and/or perform normal ocular saccades not guaranteed, please refrain from the use of industrial silicones in medical applications.

    • by drkim (1559875)

      Surely any dedicated gamer would see the value in simply injecting a thickening agent into the endolymph of the Vestibular system. With careful dose control, that should induce a matching lag in the perception of motion, thus providing a highly realistic experience!

      *Ability to walk and/or perform normal ocular saccades not guaranteed, please refrain from the use of industrial silicones in medical applications.

      You can do this magnetically.

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Better to focus on the motion programming ie things like what level of motion is ignored, how much can you reduce resolution during motion (less processing less lag), adding in catch up and, simply skipping areas during rapid motion. This tends to match reality, where you head is tending to catch up to your eyes point of focus and you only really focus in on detail once you head motion has mostly stopped.

  • There has been 3D movies for decades, (50s or 60s... to lazy to check) but just recently the technology allow it to became mainstream.

    Maybe it's time for a VR grand comeback.

    (... I'm still waiting for my holosuite...)
    • Honestly this is more perceptive than you might think. IMO full VR doesn't make much sense for games, but consider how much real world difference there is between a head tracking system combined traditional 3D glasses, and maybe a second or third screen. Simpler to implement, more flexible in terms of what the system can do and the only real loss is the retention of peripheral vision and the head tracking not having 1:1 ratio of head to camera movement (and lets face it, in a gaming environment 1:1 is goi
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      There has been 3D movies for decades, (50s or 60s... to lazy to check) but just recently the technology allow it to became mainstream.

      Fort Ti and House of Wax were both in 1953.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Actually according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] the first red/green anaglyph film was shown in 1922 for an audience in NYC. man I knew that shit was old but not THAT damned old.

        And as much as I hate to admit it, but being in computer retail as long as i have I know this will end up being the case, know what you need to get VR the big thing again? Porn, that's what. people wanted burners "To back up my pictures" (bullshit, porn) and they got big hard drive "To store my pictures" (A TB of pictures? bullshit its for porn) and

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:08PM (#42985113) Homepage

    Stanford has an elaborate VR lab. [stanford.edu] The system is 120FPS, and the lag is low, but I'm not sure how low. There's full motion tracking of the subject in a 20 foot by 20 foot space. They have public tours every Friday. Sign up and try high-end VR.

    This isn't a graphics lab. It's a psychology lab. Some of the results are scary. [stanford.edu] They've had kids go through a VR experience of swimming with sharks. A few weeks later, the kids are asked about it, and a sizable fraction of them believe they really did it, adding details that were not in the sim like what they ate while visiting the sharks.

    They're always running psychology experiments, and looking for volunteers. Pays $15/hr.

    • by Threni (635302)

      > This isn't a graphics lab. It's a psychology lab. Some of the results are scary.
      > They've had kids go through a VR experience of swimming with sharks. A few
      > weeks later, the kids are asked about it, and a sizable fraction of them believe they
      > really did it, adding details that were not in the sim like what they ate while visiting
      > the sharks.

      That's entirely normal. A bunch of people who all saw the same thing at the same time from the same location a few weeks later, such as a car accide

      • by mikael (484)

        Our high-school English/Drama teachers did an exercise like that - they set up a classroom skit where they got into an argument or something, and started messing about with hitting each other with fake glass bottles. When it came to the class being given the exercise of writing down an eyewitness account, every person saw a different order of events, even though it was quite obvious the order from a recorded video.

  • Oculus Rift (Score:5, Informative)

    by Coolhand2120 (1001761) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:11PM (#42985153)
    How can they not talk about Carmack's chosen one? This seems to be the best hope for affordable VR for the masses.
    http://www.oculusvr.com/ [oculusvr.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Carmack gives them a shoutout at the very bottom of the article. He doesn't mention them within the article itself because he's not in the hardware business, he's in the software business, and he's talking about techniques that can be used on the software side to improve the experience.

  • by Pseudonym (62607) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:12PM (#42985165)

    Oh, yeah. Michael Abrash did this two months ago. [valvesoftware.com]

    • It's normal for many people to write on the same topic. Carmack's article is very well written and discusses very different technical approaches to latency than the article you linked. Of the two, I found Carmack's article more useful because it covered a lot more ground, and focussed more on the high level issues than on the implementation details.
      • by Pseudonym (62607)

        I actually found Abrash's article more useful because it looked at the problem from end to end, from head tracking sensors to display technology. Carmack mostly talked about everything between the game engine and the GPU.

        But yeah, I was actually making a point about Slashdot's relationship with Carmack.

    • by CityZen (464761)

      Matthew Regan and Ronald Pose did this in 1994 [google.com].

    • by Hast (24833)

      Considering that the two were on stage together at QuakeCon talking about this issues I don't think it's all that strange. ;-)

      The Virtual Insanity session (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gaqQdyfAz8) is well worth watching if you are interested in these things. As is Carmacks keynote from QuakeCon 2012.

  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:16PM (#42985829) Homepage
    I remember when everyone suddenly got excited about virtual reality in the early 1990s. Of course, back then it was more the concept and the possibilities that triggered peoples' imaginations- actual VR systems and games did exist at that time, but were never really widespread, probably due to the limitations and cost of the then-current technology and the fact it was essentially a novelty.

    One commentator, however, said something that has stuck with me ever since. I can't remember the exact wording, but it was along the lines of...

    "Eventually the current fad for Virtual Reality will pass, and everyone will forget about it. Then one day you'll look around you and realise that it's everywhere."


    (*) If you remember it too, then yes- it really *was* [abime.net] that long ago [amigahistory.co.uk] :-O
    • by TheLink (130905)

      As a tech advance I actually don't care much about Virtual Reality. The VR stuff would be nice for some games and maybe porn, but I doubt it'll be everywhere any time soon. Augmented reality would be nice (but latency for this won't be as big a problem). What I'd want is human augmentation ( http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3478821&cid=42956909 [slashdot.org] ).

      It'll be nice if you could have a minimap in your vision that updates with locations of stuff of interest, cool HUD sort info, and other fancy tech (as ment

    • by Sigg3.net (886486)

      Eventually, in all aspects of the VR discussion, it all boils down to pr0n. We all want ___________* naked, moving, responding to us, in immersive 3D, in our bedroom. Admit it. This is what "the possibilities are endless" means.

      * mileage may vary.

  • by s.petry (762400) on Friday February 22, 2013 @07:52PM (#42986561)

    Numerous studies showed that extended use of VR could cause severe problems, namely permanent lazy eye (loss of depth perception). I believe it was Nintendo that dropped a VR product because of their own studies (I'm too tired to go look for the data at the moment). Government studies also found this to be true, so working in VR in Government jobs is restricted (or was when I was there) to 8 hours per week.

    More studies need to be done to determine safe levels, and most importantly people should be made aware of the potential risks to health. Currently there are no warnings that I'm aware of and most people have no knowledge of the studies.

    • Nintendo's product was the Virtual Boy [wikipedia.org]. It flopped in the market and they discontinued it. I never heard anything about them pulling it due to health studies; people just had general eye discomfort from the red flickery display and didn't like it. It didn't get to any sort of point where "real" injury stemmed from it.

      Also note that the Virtual Boy sat fixed, it was not head-mounted so there was no motion tracking and no weird vertigo effects. Spending time where you're actually moving/looking around a s

    • by sabernet (751826)

      The Nintendo Virtual Boy failed due to being an undesirable product to most of the population(not me, I loved the thing....but I do think it was a bad idea and definitely way to pricey when it came out). It had nothing to do with safety concerns.

      Having said that, there was a study way back which claimed stereoscopic displays would negatively impact the development of children less than 6 years old. There was also the concern of staring at a dark+red display too long since the display(unlike the Occulous)

    • by Hast (24833)

      I looked into this claim when the Oculus Rift was first presented (and the same references were made). BTW the experiments were funded by Sega as they were also looking into making a VR headset.

      The only claims I could find are made by one guy. (Who I can't remember the name of right now, but he was involved in the Sega VR project.) And it seems like this is the only person to have said that there are medical problems with using VR. (IIRC he was also involved in the more recent scare that 3D TVs could hurt y

      • by s.petry (762400)

        I worked in the DOD on VR projects which is why I know of the studies showing potential harm from viewing. One may argue that at the time, we used 48hz per eye and now we can get better so it may not have the same impact. The studies did show a chance of it happening increasing based on amount of use.

        What is easily provable is that immersion can cause severe headaches,nausea, disorientation, and in rare cases panic attacks. This is why 3D movies use very little depth in their visuals, and more single eye

  • Its like the Wii, its awesome for a little bit, but at some point your just going to want to sit down and play a game like normal. Thats kind of like the way VR is, its awesome ... then it becomes more and more of an inconvenience, then one day you clean off your desk cause the damn gear, is in your way.

    • I think this will only be true until they get the visuals and interaction to the point where it feels like you're in an expansive environment. I remember that Mario 64 was the watershed game for me; the first one where I actually felt like I was freely exploring around an actual place, not just looking at pretty effects on the screen as most 3d (on a 2d display) games were up to that point.

      Right now, they all feel like you're operating a camera as part of the "experience". Once that is transparent, things

  • If you've played Nintendo Land on the Wii U you've seen this problem basically solved: you look around by moving the Wii Pad as though it were a window, and there's no latency problems at all (unlike with the Wii, thankfully). Just shrink down the display and make it head-mountable.
  • I wonder if they can combine it with the unlimited detail rendering technology developed in OZ.. That would be kick-ass

    Unlimited Detail Real-Time Rendering Technology Preview 2011 [HD]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00gAbgBu8R4 [youtube.com]

  • we can crash someones brain with a QR code.

  • After playing RAGE, I'm pretty sure whatever Carmack is doing at the moment, it's about 10 years out of date.
    • by GuB-42 (2483988)

      IMHO, Megatexture style engines are the future. The reason is that we our eyes resolution is limited, there is a point where adding more detail is useless and we are close to this point right now. On the other hand, storage capacity and bandwidth continues to increase, making repeating textures less interesting.
      Also, RAGE is designed to run 60 fps on XBOX360 and PS3, as a result, a lot of compromises were made. It probably explains the mostly static environment.

      I was also a bit disappointed by RAGE but I do

  • Seriously, though: as a longtime admirer, I have to say his genius would be better used in gaming if he rid himself of the albatross known as id.

    Imagine what he could do in any number of R&D areas if he didn't have to ship games bogged down by boring narratives, bland level design and twenty-year old ideas of corridor-based run-and-gun.

    I wish he'd turn his attention to improving AI and developing emergent gaming. The next frontier awaits, but our Einstein is bent on rendering the same old mousetr
    • by Punko (784684)
      And some folks would have been happy if Einstein would have made a better contribution to humanity if he'd turned his genius to violin playing.

      Caramack is very interested in the way things look - visual fidelity of computer generated images. While working on AI is a somewhat related field, it may not simply interest the guy. His talent has been to find ways of producing impressive visuals with low resource costs, this IS the kind of guy we want working on VR (and AR for that matter), given the current st

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