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VR Technology + Flight Sims?

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  • VR Technology + Flight Sims?

    Just a quick poll to see what VR technology you've tried or seen used (successfully) with flight simulation software. Check all that apply.

    Please share what products and platform(s) were involved!

    I don't know about you, but this is, IMHO, the next big thing to happen to home flight simulation.

    I saw the recent post about Oculus Rift + FlyInside, and I got me wondering what else has been tried or is in the works.
    HTC Vive
    Oculus Rift
    Microsoft HoloLens
    Sony PlayStation VR
    Meta/Meta 2
    Razer OSVR
    Google Cardboard
    Samsung Gear VR
    Other (there are indeed many more than what I could fit on this poll)

    The poll is expired.

    Take the time, a second to soar; for soon after, beckons a second more.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Wingman View Post

    I don't know about you, but this is, IMHO, the next big thing to happen to home flight simulation.
    Yeah, but only if the core game is completely redesigned to specs similar to more modern games. A VR version of what we have now? Nope, I'd stick to space! But as good as my other games? Then maybe.

    Edit: P.S. My "other" vote means "none".
    Last edited by Storm; September 28, 2016, 01:13 AM.


    • #3
      I've used my friend's Oculus Rift DK2 a few times via FlyInside. I may buy his spare Vive off him, but I'm not 100% sure which platform I want. He's setting up a new room for his Vive and I'll be heading over to try it and the Rift CV1 side by side soon.

      It's especially interesting as both are supported NATIVELY now with Prepar3d 3.4. I haven't tried it yet, so can't say how it is vs old versions of FlyInside. (Never did try the Leap Motion part of FlyInside, that may be the killer reason to use it over native).

      I can say it is the most immersive way to fly virtually at home. Even with all the cockpit controls/screens etc that I have using VR felt like such a more real experience. I don't think I could do it all the time. Sometimes you want a more casual experience. But when you are sitting in the default P3D Extra and looking all around you it is amazing. It was like a low res, screen doory version of reality. I don't say that to down play it, but just state the truth. One day they'll improve, but for now if you look at it you can see the flaws. Looking past them is an amazing immersive experience. I just got a 1080 (yay gift cards), so now I just need to decide on my headset.

      It's very cool with Elite too!
      - Michael
      Check out my cockpit build!


      • #4
        From speaking with the developers of FlyInside @ FlightSimCon their product always struggled slightly with P3D, but would deliver an excellent experience in FSX. From my (limited) understanding (and the fact that the details he went into left me behind quite quickly) it has to do with the way the graphics are disptached from the Simulator Engine enroute to being picked up by the Graphics interface. FI intercepts this flow and does something with it to then inject it into the VR headset and flow onto a monitor.

        It was rock solid with FSX but unstable with P3D.

        So it is with interest that P3Dv3.4 now supports it natively.

        I will admit though I would rather look for a platform that is designed to work with it from the ground up such as DCS / ED so I am going to remain on my 2 dimensional fence for now.
        Per Ardua Ad Astra

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        • #5
          The native P3D support isn't as good as what Dan has with his FlyInside plugin from what I have heard. I don't have the new P3D version to try it personally, though. Regardless, Lockheed-Martin has the rights to the sim market for FSX and not the entertainment market and they have chosen to build in VR support. IMHO that speaks volumes for what they think the future holds for VR and flight simulation. Meanwhile, and I don't understand it at all, Dovetail has chosen to rule out VR for their new Flight School and only allowed a maybe sometime in the future for their new Flight Simulator.

          P3D is based on old FSX code and so are the new Dovetail sims. X-Plane would seem the most logical for ground up VR support in the civilian world but they are stuck since they develop on Macs and there is no support from either Oculus or Valve for that environment. Luckily for X-Plane users, Dan is starting up an X-Plane FlyInside beta test right now but it's still a plug-in and not native. On the other hand, I would assume the X-Plane devs welcome this support (but don't know), but if they do, they can build in whatever hooks and features Dan needs to really optimize VR with FlyInside.

          VR is the only way I fly now unless I'm troubleshooting something or setting something up. It is more cumbersome basically blinding yourself to the real world and losing easy access to your keyboard, etc, but the experience, at least to me, is so amazing it's worth it many times over. I use the Vive for my flying and love it. Huge step up from the DK2.

          I also fly DCS but still prefer FSX:SE for VR. DCS has some nice graphics but I can achieve the same thing with add-on scenery and aircraft in FSX/P3D and have the whole world available to me. While I love flying the warbirds, I am not into combat flight any more. Obviously DCS wins for combat flight simulation.

          But FSX (and P3D), for being such old code and not designed from the outset to be for VR, do amazingly well. I don't know how Dan (FlyInside dev) has done it, but the combination might as well have been designed from the start for VR. it's just that good. Some future tech like eye tracking and foveated rendering may break that paradigm and not be possible without access to the core sim code, but for now it really is amazingly good. In fact, the VR support in FSX/P3D with FlyInside has really been consistently better than the built-in support of DCS in my experience. There are some minor eye candy caveats, but that's been the way it's been pretty much all along.


          • #6
            So I did take my PC over to my buddies house and tried both FSX:SE and P3D with both the Vive and Rift in one sitting. Here's my final thoughts towards using it for flight sim (Yours may vary ). I used FlyInside demo for both headsets/simulators. In my quick time there I didn't see how to get them working natively in P3D, I'm sure with more time it wouldn't be an issue. Framerate and such they appeared equal. I did not see a difference with either performance wise.

            Rift Cons:
            • Immediately saw "God rays"
            • Face foam is more uncomfortable/hard
            • Doesn't breath well so I had one side constantly fogging up. No amount of loosening would change this.

            Rift Pros:
            • Head support is awesome. On and off like a baseball cap.
            • Integrated headphones are so comfortable. Especially with taking on and off. (no cable to mess with!)
            • Cable for the headset is simple
            • "Feels" lighter (mostly due to support/cable)
            • Screen door effect seemed smaller

            Vive Cons:
            • Felt a bit more awkward
            • Head support is not great.
            • More difficult to put on, then put headphones on top of it.
            • Cables feel large and bulky (adding to weight/awkwardness)

            Vive Pros:
            • No visual artifacts pulled me out of the experience (I did already anticipate the screen door effect)
            • A lot more comfortable on my face

            So with all that, I think the one I'm going to buy is:

            HTC Vive

            They both have some huge pluses and minuses. Features that I like over the other. In the end the Rift was just so uncomfortable on my face, it actually hurt. There are 3rd parties selling some padding that may make a difference. There's also cheap mods folks are posting to use welding mask headgear to replace the Vive's straps. I do also like the way HTC does their sensor tech over Oculus' camera's. And yes, room scale is a blast too (and cheaper now than Oculus as theirs will really require 3 cameras).

            The perfect one for me?
            Vive front camera (it's a nice little feature that would be nice to see more clever use of)
            Vive sensors
            Rift headgear
            Rift headphones
            Vive optics
            Vive padding
            Rift cable
            No Facebook BS (The "real name" policy for Oculus and FB are dumb... so Hi, I'm John Smith in Oculus.)
            - Michael
            Check out my cockpit build!


            • #7
              Hey Mike, a few things about the Vive and you may already know...

              First is always protect the lenses from sunlight or even bright lights in general. Some have set VR headsets down where sun from a window can get to them only to come back to big dead swaths across the displays. One guy took his outside to take pictures of it in natural light and in just a few seconds killed it thanks to the magnifying glass properties of the lenses.

              A company called VRCover makes foam coverings and even replacement foams for both headsets. I have the memory foam one and the cloth covers. The memory foam one is easy to clean but a little clammy. Overall the cloth covers over stock foam feel best to me. YMMV.

              A lot of the fit has to do with strap adjustment. A number of guides online if you search for Vive strap adjustment or similar. Vive also comes with wide and narrow foams to help with fit. A lot of people prefer the fit of the Rift but a properly adjusted Vive works great for me.

              The Vive displays are three times brighter than the Rift displays (both are way dimmer than sunlight) so colors tend to be more vibrant and outdoor scenes more natural looking. Effective brightness isn't linear though but most notice the brightness difference.

              The headphones bit is a drawback but in being cumbersome also mimics getting strapped into an airplane. There are some headphones with short cables and lightweight cables that really help. My headphones for flying are the Logitech G230.

              The original stock cable is very thick and a bit unwieldy but HTC has switched to a new lightweight 3 in 1 thin cable that people are very excited about. New units still seem to ship with the old cable though and they don't sell the new cable yet for spares but as soon as they do, I'm buying one. People love them that get them as replacements.

              The camera on the Vive isn't high resolution both for bandwidth reasons but also for purpose. Looking out through it is only handy for locating things, avoiding or finding tables, chairs, or desks, etc. It's part of the Chaperone system and you can set it up to automagically overlay a tronlike view of the real world when you near your boundaries or manually turn it on using the headset side button. I can't read the key legends on my keyboard with it unless I get real close but I can navigate pets, untwist the cable, find my chair, etc with it.

              One thing really fun to do that both headsets should be able to do as soon as Touch starts shipping (due to the larger tracking volume possible with the second Rift camera) is to get out of the cockpit and check out the plane. It's really weird to do. Not all planes are fully rendered from the virtual cockpit view but many are. Those that aren't kind of mess with immersion but those that are are a trip. Carenado, Alabeo, Golden Age Simulations, and Ant's Airplanes, among others, tend to render the whole plane or most of it. A2A tends to leave off parts. The Cub is sadly particularly bad in that respect but looks great from the cockpit and the other camera positions. But checking out the exteriors is now huge fun with any new plane and repaints take on a whole new dimension.

              Along those lines, the Vive tracking is amazing with a 15'x15' by 10' high space if you have that much room with sub 2mm accuracy over the whole volume. You don't want to move the base stations when running as they have spinning parts with some kind of servo loop that can be damaged if moved too much or abruptly. Rigid mounting works best but I've been using light stand tripods for mine though mounting rigid probably this weekend.

              There is much to know and learn but either headset is great for flying. Some friends I fly with have the Rift and love it. I have the Vive and don't second guess my choice in the least. And flying in VR is what gives me the most enjoyment in VR. It's just amazing. The other VR experiences are great and even magical, and racing sims are a close second, but flying wins for me.

              If you don't already have a seat shaker like a Tactile Sound or Buttkicker, it's highly recommended. Starting up something, especially with a big radial, feels magically alive when you can feel the engine, runway bumps, door and canopy thumps, etc.

              And for me, a huge part of VR flight is being close to other planes like in formation, group flights, etc. Hard to describe but since everything is full size and in 3D, getting up close to other planes is a real thrill. JoinFS's ability to save and overdub flights, besides the multiplayer option, opens up whole new experiences. Lorby-SI's AITrackerX does similar but different stuff but is also part of my essential add-ons for VR flying craziness. Be sure to set up your AI sounds so planes sound right when flying with them.

              Since you took your computer to your friend's house you already know your USB ports are compatible at least for running in VR. For others, there are a lot of older USB chipsets out there that don't quite meet spec. These can cause issues with tracking, when using the onboard camera, pairing the controllers and base stations, and firmware updates. Anyone having issues on either Rift or Vive may want to grab a known-compatible PCIe USB add-in board.

              Sorry about the wall of text and it's probably a lot of stuff you and others already know, but VR flying is a whole new world and it can be overwhelming how much there is to it. It's the only way I fly now and I always look forward to going back up. ;-)


              • #8
                Like Storm my "Other vote" means "None".
                Oz Flyer.
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