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The Oasis (still) Sucks: Talking About VR Gaming

Droewyn

Smol Monster
(She/her, they/them)
Isn't that kind of idiotic when anyone younger than 40 thinks facebook is for geezers?
 

fanboymaster

(He/Him)
Precisely the point, you use accessories like Oculus to capture userdata from people who would otherwise refuse to have a facebook account. Oculus doesn't really have the kinds of killer apps needed to make people keep a facebook account just to use it yet but that's the principle.
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Oculus Quest is being discontinued, likely because its successor is being announced next week.

I don’t know what’s more frustrating, that freaking Facebook of all companies is the only game in town for stand alone VR gaming devices, or how quickly they cycle through hardware in this market. The Oculus Go came out in 2018. We’ve had three generations of stand alone VR headsets in as many years, and if his is anything like the transition from Go to Quest, software support for the Quest is going to dry up fast.

At least the home brew scene for the Quest has been really good so far.
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Today in fuck Facebook news, Facebook will be adding an unlisted section to their Quest storefront, and is working with Sidequest to migrate its apps there.

...Okay, that’s probably a lot of gobbledygook for non VR people. Let me explain, as there is a lot to unpack here.

To begin, much like consoles, the Oculus Quest has a curated storefront, and apps need to be approved by Facebook. Sounds perfectly normal, but the Quest is Android based, so this curation presents a bit of a Paradox. Android is supposed to be an open platform where developers can sideload their applications on commercial hardware for testing or alternative storefronts, and Facebook wanted the former to make it easier to develop games for its stand alone VR devices, a market segment struggling to gain wider acceptance, but not necessarily the latter for all the same reasons any platform holder would.

To try and prevent non developers from just side loading whatever they wanted onto their VR platforms, Oculus removed the ability easily sideload applications from devices directly. Instead, you have to setup a developer account, put your device into developer mode so a permitted computer can read/write to it, and use command line tools to install your app. This added layer of complexity was sufficient for the Oculus Go, as it’s storefront was more open, so few people felt the need to jump through these hoops for home brew, leading to fewer home brew applications.

The jump to Quest’s curated approach resulted in a lot of devs with rejected applications, who eventually began to rally around a PC application called Sidequest. Sidequest is a PC application that both provide a GUI for installing APKs to your Oculus Go/Quest, as well as an alternative storefront for developers who where either rejected or didn’t want to work with Oculus/Facebook. Unlike the Go, the homebrew scene on the Quest exploded.

This unlisted section on the surface looks to be Facebook wanting to support this homebrew community. Facebook will host these homebrew apps, and better integrate them into the OS than sideloading allows even, but they won’t be accessible from the store. Instead developers will have to share links to their app. They are also coordinating with Sidequest to shift it to use this process in the future instead. Sounds good at first...

...But this would put the homebrew scene under Facebook’s terms of service. The homebrew scene includes paid applications outside of Facebook’s purview, emulators, ports of old PC games, and political satire, all things Facebook might decide it no longer wants to allow. (Edit: Forgot abouts mods too. One of Sidequest biggest draws early on was Beat Saber modding.)

But Facebook would never do something underhanded like that, right? It’s not like it’s frequently made promises on how it was going to manage Oculus that it later broke...
 
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fanboymaster

(He/Him)
There's a worryingly large but unsurprising venn diagram collision between "tech weirdo with way too much fuckin' money" "fascist" and "VR tech enthusiast" which in that context explains honestly a lot about the facebook buyout to begin with.
 

muteKi

Women want fish fear meme
While I tend to defer to Eco's particular checklist on the matter of what constitutes fascism, for a back-of-the-envelope style figuring I tend to think of fascism (or at least, a fascist movement that gains popular support enough to need to be dealt with) as being built around two things:

- A philosophy built around claims of objectivity to enforce a social order
- That is in service to the ruling/owner classes (i.e., capitalism)

In that sense it's not that surprising that a sort of scientism backed by the financier classes (i.e., Musk and Thiel are not scientists so much as they are bankers) winds up paving the way to overt fascism. One of the reasons I make such a big deal about, say, the SlateStarCodex stuff as that community is sort of peak that, forehead calipers and all.
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
And now for a different kind of VR discontent. One of favorite games of last year was The Under Presents. I think I mentioned it a couple of times on the old forum to blank stares, so don’t worry if you never heard about it. The basic concept was a surreal VR adventure game/immersive theater, so we are talking niches within niches within niches here. Here’s the release trailer for what little context it may provide.


Trying to describe the game is difficult. Part of the game was a social VR hub taking place in a extra-dimensional night club with pre recorded acts and skits that play in sequence. Players would meet each other in the hub, except everyone was a faceless ghost in masks who couldn’t speak, just pantomime and use their masks to cast spells to alter the environment. From this hub world, players could explore the area outside of the nightclub together, which was full of various secrets to discover, or they could go do the games solo content, The Aickman, which was a prerecorded immersive theater play with some adventure puzzle elements sprinkled throughout.

Note how I keep saying prerecorded? That’s because there was live elements to the game. Tender Claws actually hired a theater troupe to use built in dev tools and go into the games hub world and do improv theater for players randomly throughout the day. I only stumbled on these a couple of times, but it was pretty wild trying to interact with actors playing various goofy characters the best you could with just hand and head gesturing. Originally this was only going to last until March of this year, but then covid happened, and regular theater got a little difficult to do, so it got extended, and they even ended up expanding on it by putting together a way for the theater troupe to do performances of the Tempest within the game in its last expansion:


So why the discontent? Well it looks like the live content will finally be coming to an end at the end of the month, or at least the Tempest, as September was the end of its run and I don’t see anything else announced for after that so far at least. I’m not sure the Tempest did as well as they hoped it would. It probably didn’t help that it worked like a conventional play pricing wise, you had to buy a ticket to it for a live showing at specific times. Originally it cost like $16 I believe, which probably scared a lot of potentially interested people off. They slashed the price in half when I looked yesterday, but even at that price, as a parent I can’t rationalize spending money on a theater experience I can’t share with the rest of the family, or at the very least not pause it so I can go take care of my kid if necessary. While I was there I checked around the hub world, and it seemed pretty dead player wise, not shocking given its a niche indie title that has been out for nearly a year now, but still sad to see. The game is still playable with all the prerecorded stuff, but without other players and live actors, it will be missing part of the full experience.

Also, I remember the music performances from the game is pretty good, and I should have nominated some in the thunderdome, except this game is so obscure I can’t find any good audio captures on YouTube, so I guess not?
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Looks like Facebook may have bitten off more than it can chew trying to merge Oculus and Facebook accounts. There have already been multiple reports of people making new Facebook accounts to link to their Oculus account, only to get auto banned either because they used to have a Facebook account that Facebook neglected to delete like that had said they would, or because the new account wasn’t being used enough in Facebook proper, in both cases the new account was deemed a fake account as a result.

Also they had to pull Oculus out of Germany completely because the Facebook merger violated laws against bundling unrelated services. Now the U.S. government is possibly going to be investigating them for similar reasons.
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad

Well, that’s certainly one way to inform consumers about the sun setting of Gear VR/Oculus Go backwards compatibility on the Quest, i.e. not telling anyone and letting people find out about it via John Carmack griping about it on Twitter.

Seriously, as a game console manufacturer, Facebook is uniquely terrible at its job.

Well, at least it’s still there for Quest 1 owners (for now at least...)
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Good lord, there is now talk online that Russian Oculus users are getting banned en masse because of course forcing them to set up new Facebook accounts in order to continue using Oculus social features a month before the U.S. election was going to go over poorly.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Sooooo, it transpires that by brother, who works for some unrelated corner of the FB empire, sent me one of these things as a combo birthday/xmas present. So I guess I'll see what I think of it! Fortunately I have a FB account that I use rarely but occasionally, so hopefully signing in shouldn't be an issue.
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Well then, let me change from my usual griping and actually recommend some games.

From the paid content on the main store, as I’ve already mentioned in the thread there is Rez Infinite and The Under Presents (The Tempest performances are done, but they did end up extending the improv theater stuff out until the end of the year if you want to check it out still), which are both good picks. There is also all the more well known VR games like Beat Saber, Superhot VR, Pistol Whip, Vader Immortal, Space Pirate Trainer and Job Simulator/Vacation Simulator which you can read about elsewhere. Some lesser known games I’d recommend include:

Virtual Virtual Reality is the previous game from the devs behind The Under Presents. It gives the impression of a Job Simulator type game at first glance, but there is a twist to it.

Red Matter is probably the most technically impressive Quest title if you want to see what kind of graphics it can push at the high end. It is also a good puzzle/adventure game that uses the conceit of you being an astronaut to cleverly frame the limitation of the VR interface as part of the game (teleportation being you doing moon jumps, the controllers matching up to gripping claws attached to your suit, etc.)

Thumper you may have played in non VR already, but it’s great in VR if you want a rhythm action rollercoaster ride. I haven’t played it, but Falcon Age is also available on the Quest, which I people here were interested in.

I’m interested in getting either Until You Fall or Star Shaman, but I was waiting until Star Shaman releases sometime in the next few weeks before I make a decision. Both look to be colorful fantasy rogue-lites with an emphasis on combat, Until You Fall being slashing and parrying with swords while Star Shaman looks to be shooting Magic spells and dodging blows.

In terms of of all the free social VR apps, I really only have experience with VR Chat, and the PC users of that have a reputation of being unfriendly to Quest users, as they blame the Quest’s hardware limitations for dragging things down technically (and even if you were playing the PC version it can still be toxic at times). Other social apps include Altspace (VR Chat’s less popular but less immature rival) Rec Room (the more multiplayer game focused one), and Facebook’s Horizon, which as I’ve opted out of merging accounts so far I can’t tell you anything about really.

You can also use Sidequest/sideload .apk files for additional content. Words of caution though: 1) Since getting banned from Oculus now also gets you also banned from Facebook, and Facebook has a one account per person only policy, I’d be extra leery of side loading any Oculus sold .apks you don’t already have tied to your account. Facebook seems to give zero fucks about emulating over consoles and ports of PC games, but since new users have to use Facebook accounts use your own judgment there. 2) Sideloading requires setting up a developers account, which Facebook recently changed the rules on to require a two factor authentication of sorts in case your account get compromised somehow (you don’t use it to login, it’s just there in case you get locked out of your account). Of course, Facebook being Facebook chose the scuzziest options available to it for this, and rather than using your email or a 2FA app they request either your phone number or a credit card number (because why not use every opportunity to gather more information from people/prove everyone’s big brother fears about us right?). Fortunately, a pre paid visa gift card seems to be sufficient for this dev account requirement, so I’d used that instead of your actual credit card (given Facebook’s history with data security, you’re probably better off this way even if you weren’t trying to setup a dev account.)

Now there is a surprising amount of content to be side loaded, given the Quest haves only been out for a year and half. For starters, Virtual Boy Go is exactly what it sounds like. It is a fully 3D Virtual Boy emulator made for the Oculus Go, that has since been updated to work with the Quest controllers by default rather than needing to pair a bluetooth controller to your device (coincidentally the oculus controllers line up surprisingly well to the Virtual Boy controller layout.

Also check out Dr. Beef and friends’ VR ports various old PC games, including Quake 1 & 2, Half-Life, a Return to Castle Wolfenstein, The Doom 1 & 2 engine games, and coming soon Doom 3. Of these, I’d say the Doom 1 & 2 engine port and the launcher too for it, QuestZDoom and QuestZDoomLauncher are the best of the bunch, given the sheer amount of content available between all the official Doom engine games plus various mods. Also, once you tweaks the graphic settings not to smooth out the textures, there is a certain charm to fighting sprite baddies in VR that the PS1 era poorly aged attempts at realism that the other games represent can’t really match.

Since the quest is Android based, you can also sideload any Android TV compatible app and they will appear in your Oculus TV section. This is a fun way to play emulation on a big screen on the go, and in some cases can even works well with light guns games.

In terms of original Sideloadable content Sidequest has a ton of options both free and paid to look into. For starters I’d recommend Tea for God, a free early access room scale rogue-lite shooter that uses non Euclidean geometry to make it feel like you’re exploring a maze far bigger than your actual play space, and Totally Realistic Space Combat Simulator, which you can buy for a buck on Itch.io, has Star Fox-esque cartoony low-poly graphics, and plays better than some of other space combat options available on the main Oculus store.

Speaking of Itch.io, if you bought the Racial Justice bundle a few months back the you already own a few of Quest games you can sideload onto you headset. Most notably, Perpetuum Mobile, a wireframe 3D shoot em up, and A Lullaby of Colors, which is best described as a giant VR ball pit to relax in.

Well this is a long and rambling post already, so if anything else catches your eye, just ask as I may have played it.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Thanks for the info!

1) Since getting banned from Oculus now also gets you also banned from Facebook

Haha, fucking whaaaaat? I know getting banned from FB (for example because they think your account is fake or a duplicate) locks you out of Oculus because it requires the login, but the reverse is also true? Cheating at games means you can't have a facebook account? That's both hilarious and insane.

Anyway, setting up to sideload sounds like enough of a PITA that I probably won't pursue it immediately, though there's enough enticing possibilities there that I may be tempted eventually.
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Haha, fucking whaaaaat? I know getting banned from FB (for example because they think your account is fake or a duplicate) locks you out of Oculus because it requires the login, but the reverse is also true? Cheating at games means you can't have a facebook account? That's both hilarious and insane.

For new users there is no Oculus account, just a Facebook account. I’m not entirely certain you would be banned from Facebook completely for Oculus related transgressions, but they haven’t ever suggested that you wouldn’t.
 

TE-Ryan

a good boy
I've been completely out of the loop for VR in general, because I have a garbage PC and a tiny condo. But then I saw an ad for Quest 2 and then I sold my soul to Facebook bought Quest 2. Tiny condo is still not optimal, but it works! And it's super fun! So far, not regretting this very expensive impulse purchase.

I bought Rez Infinite VR, Affected: The Manor, and Five Nights at Freddy's VR. Rez, I never really "got" when I played it on the Xbox360, and it didn't click with me in VR until I hit Area 5. Area X was bonkers awesome and I now want a whole Rez sequel built specifically for VR. I've barely played the other two, because despite my love of horror, it's a whole different ball game when you're actually in it, and I don't know that I can take it.

Mission: ISS is a fun, free app that puts you on the International Space Station and lets you zoom around in microgravity. There are also all sorts of little videos and notes about life on the ISS, making it feel almost like a museum. Getting to float around outside the space station is super fun, but it made me sad that you can't jettison yourself into space. I played it for exactly 92 minutes (one full rotation around the Earth), and I know that only because you have to play it that long to score an achievement.

I've also spent a heck of a lot of time just watching a random assortment of free video content provided. Things I would never watch otherwise have been oddly compelling when I'm brought into them in VR. I'm sure the novelty will wear off before long, but I'll keep enjoying it for all it's worth until then.

Sideloading is something I've looked into a bit, but I'm somewhat afraid of screwing up and getting my account banned. Since the account is required to use the system, I assume that would also mean everything I've purchased is lost to the ether. Playing DOOM in VR would be pretty great, though...
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
FYI, just setting your Quest for side loading isn’t going to get you banned. It’s the process developers use to set up a commercially bought Quest as a dev kit is all. The irksome part is Facebook being Facebook and wanting more personal info than needed to set this up. If your just looking to play games on Sidequest, bans shouldn’t be an issue.
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Yep, Mare is a Team Ico ass VR game. Gameplay is pretty simple (fly from perch to perch to guide the girl and occasionally use lightning to attack things/solve light puzzles), but I was expecting that. I wasn’t expecting it would look this good on a baseline Quest (figured it would be compromised there), so kudos to the art direction.

My main complaint is I wish there was an option for a behind the bird view when flying from perch to perch like in the earlier trailers from years ago. I wonder how much the fixed perspective they ended up going with was a VR comfort thing vs maybe that was something the Quest/Quest 2 couldn’t handle and we’ll maybe see that in a future PC version.
 
I bought one of these back in October... then actually got it mid-December, thank you, supply chain.

I had a Rift like 3-4 years ago and ended up selling it because there wasn't anything interesting on it. I'm really enjoying it this time. I bought it primarily to play Subnautica in VR, if I'm being honest, but what really has captured my attention was the free copy of Alyx I got. As disillusioned as I am with Valve in general, they know how to refine gaming to a razor point through constant playtesting.

And my arms are about to fall off from Beat Saber'ing to 80s classics. There have been other fun experiences, but that's the standouts.

BTW, don't buy a headset for Subnautica VR unless you're just absolutely in love with the game. It's not a clean experience, but I'm willing to put up with it.
 

Sprite

(He/Him/His)
This thread seems pretty down on Oculus, is it worth getting a Rift S if I’m already on Facebook? Would it be current for at least a few years?
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Rift S has been discontinued I believe. If you can find one they were an affordable alternative to the Index and the like while still a slight update over the original Rift and the Vive. I don’t think it had any IPD slider to it though as a cost cutting measure. It uses the same style controls as the Quest/Quest 2 so that should keep it a viable PC headset for a few years at least. Also the Rift/Rift S can be used with Steam VR if you don’t want to give Facebook money.

Quest and Quest 2 can play PC games too via usb c cable, but the image quality has to deal with compression as a result I think (I haven’t gotten my gaming PC to actually try it yet myself).
 

Sprite

(He/Him/His)
I’m glad I asked, because I had no idea it was discontinued! Browsing around it looks like they’re easy to find, and have had a price drop. Seems like the right time to bite, then. Thanks!
 
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