So yeah, this blog started as a gaming one. It’s time to doff my cap in that direction and talk a little about the HTC Vive our house has acquired recently. My husband had been saving up since it was announced, so we ordered one as soon as they went on sale and started to upgrade the computer to be able to handle it. We also use bluetooth headphones and are lucky enough to have a spare room to have it all set up.
I was pretty unconvinced by VR before I’d experienced it. I thought it’d make me sick as many people said the initial Oculus Rift tests at gaming cons said it did for them.. but I never even bothered to queue up to test it. As far as I was concerned, it was something my husband was interested in, in the same way as I played MMOs and he didn’t much.
But he was quite eager to get me to try the system. And of course, I was interested once it was in the house!
I started off with the tutorial, set in the Aperture Science Labs, which is always nice to see. There’s a few small games to get you used to controls, how to jump around so you can walk seamlessly even when the physical room is running out, how to shoot bows, investigate objects, pick things up, and even stroke a robot dog (highlight, of course). Got to wander around a mountain looking at scenery, shoot a bow at baddies trying to storm a keep, repair an Atlas robot with GladOS badmouthing me, and yes.. even locate some cake. I threw a lot of things around, shot an Aperture Science worker because I could.. it’s quite liberating. And then didn’t do much else for a while. I really like the immersive scenery, couldn’t spend too long on ledges of mountain as it made me feel a bit vertigo-y, which shows how realistic it can get.
Then I tried Waltz of the Wizard, which let me wander round a magician’s house and play with objects. And TheBlue, where you stand underwater, and watch stuff, including a very majestic whale swim-past. And then of course Trials on Tattoine where you get to wield a lightsaber and use it to deflect bolts back on Stormtroopers. All very short, but cool experiences.
But none of which are ‘real’ games. More like experiences. And that is one of the strengths of the Vive VR for me, it really does take me out of the room and let me just BE somewhere else, even if I don’t want to play an active game.
However, it was time to try a game. So, after the summer Steam sale, I played Vanishing Realms, which is proper little D&D game, and includes swordplay, solving puzzles, grabbing items (and yes, smashing barrels and crates) and feels very much like a real version of Knightmare, but without the actors. I haven’t played through too much, we had some computer issues which are now resolved, but I found my height was an advantage on the skeleton-killing, since I could go under their shields and stab upwards. Yes, I had to kneel to get through a knife trap, I jumped over platforms to get through a water room, and had to choose my weapon! It’s not all crazy action though, so that suited me.
And my most recent gaming has been on Audioshield which is a bit of a workout. Using music from your own hard drive, it takes songs and turns the music into a series of blobs you have to deflect with shields on your hands. Your right hand is an orange shield and your left a blue one, and you have to hit blue and orange blobs, with the correct hand! And you put them together to deflect purple ones. It comes with 3 difficulties, 3 shield types (I mostly use gladius) and 2 stadia to choose as backgrounds. It’s not a graphically amazing game, but it’s pretty fun and I hope to do 20-30 mins a day just to get me moving on days I don’t leave the house.
I know most people would have tried EVERYTHING, but I’ve been purposely picky. I don’t want to dip in and out too much and I’m still finding what’s best for me. But I’m delighted by the Vive VR experience much more than I ever thought I’d be. And we love showing it to people, because mostly they have the same reaction – that it’s a lot better than expected.