2021/04/29

Oculus Quest 2!

Hi, Geril here.

April is here! It sometimes looks like it's summer, then blam: snow. Oh well, April is the most bipolar month I guess.

We got our hands on an Oculus Quest 2! We already had a Vive Pro, but setting that up is never easy so it's always extra effort just making it work. That usually means we don't use it for fun, only for work. Also, it is too big for Lussy's head, so it gives her headaches when she uses it.

Well, Oculus is the other way around. There's no real setup, you just put it on your head - you may have to set up Guardian or set the bounds to stationary - and there you go, you're in VR. No cables, no pairing and it also doesn't need a PC - it has its own operating system. The controller tracking is inside-out, so it also needs no lighthouses or tracking devices.

Its quality of life features are excellent, too. With Guardian, the headset warns me when I'm too close to the edge of the Guardian space. It keeps in mind where we drew the bounds, and we can add a couch or a table to its calculations, so it understands what's happening.

Connection with a PC is straightforward. You'll need a long, good quality USB 3.1 to USB-C cable, connect it to a PC, download the Oculus app, and there you go.

The controllers are also quite good, especially after the Vive's wands. The wands are really good for precise work - because of the touchpads -, but for gaming, it just doesn't make sense. Oculus at least has analogue sticks, that are standard in gaming.

All good, right? Well, no.

The headache comes from the Quest's operating system. It needs a Facebook account and it keeps notes and information about your location and such. It's super creepy, and I really don't like it. I'm sure they can't do much with my info, but still, Facebook's way of stalking freaks me out.

Other than feeling the cold stare of the big brother, the inside-out tracking is just not as precise as the lighthouse method. It's still absolutely playable, but as someone who's using VR for work too, precision is the most important feature of a controller.

You can't buy games inside the Oculus, you must install a smartphone app and link it with the headset. This is kind of a headache, because I have to jump between devices just to buy something.

What is also disappointing is that the Oculus doesn't work in daylight. We have an unnecessarily huge balcony, with nothing on it, and I thought I could use the empty space for room-scale VR play. Nope. Oculus doesn't like UV light, and bright lights in general, they confuse it. I waited until dusk, and set up the guardian on the balcony. At dusk, it works fine, a bit weird sometimes, but manageable. I played and finished SUPERHOT VR, but by the end of it, it was dark and the Oculus stopped working again. It didn't like the darkness.

So yeah, it's an indoors-toy. Oh well.

Now, what gave me the most headaches is the wireless connection. It needed an app called VR Desktop that really didn't like our router settings. Early this month, we bought a new shiny Archer AX11000 router that is a beast, but sadly, VR Desktop just didn't like it. After a few days of trying, Lussy could finally connect through it, but I just couldn't. I turned on my PC's WiFi hotspot, that basically connected my PC straight to the headset, and that worked, but it had very short range.

But good news, they just released a beta feature that gives us an official way to connect to a PC in the latest patch! And it works without any struggle. FINALLY!

So in our experience, the Oculus Quest 2 is a good headset overall. I'd rather not give away my personal information and location, and I'll probably keep using the Vive when it comes to game development - its precision is superior - but for fun, and for showing someone what VR gaming is, the Quest 2 is the easier hardware to show off. It's also cheaper, which is surprising.

2021/03/31

VERY tired!

 Hi, Lussy here.

There's not much to say. We've been working almost every minute of the month, and the game we were developing finally launched. We don't want to say the name of the project, but we might at one point, just not now.

We just want to sleep for a week now.

But we're planning to buy an Oculus Quest 2 early next month, so we'll have some new stuff to test.

2021/02/27

8BitDo Arcade Stick and the Zombie GameGear!

Hi! Lussy here.

Remember those cardboard arcade controllers that we made a while back? Well, Geril bought an actual arcade controller, an 8BitDo Arcate Stick. At first I was like, "but we already have our cardboard ones... what could be better than cardboard?", but it's really an impressive piece of hardware.

I decided to try it out by playing Tekken 7 - a game I got about 3 years ago and only played once. I was skeptical about how loose the buttons felt, but after trying it with both the 8BitDo and our homemade controllers, I have to say the loose buttons are better. It was really tough to go back to our own stiff buttons after playing with it for a few hours.

Also, our sticks are built with a Zero Delay chip, and Tekken 7 really didn't want to recognize them, so in the end we had to solve that issue with Joy2Key. It was worth it after all, even though it is weird to play 2 player arcade games on the PC - we really should get Tekken for one of our consoles, so we can play on the big screen.

Other than that, we actually resurrected a Sega GameGear!

We've had a non-working one for a few years now, that we started recapping but stopped halfway. We finished it, but it was still bad, so we bought a second GameGear, that was supposed to work, aside from the sound that only worked through the jack. When it arrived, it turned out that the screen was almost dead, only visible in a very narrow window when looking at it from below.

We then tried to combine the two - the old one didn't even start up, so we tried to complement that with the power chip from the new one, and lo and behold, it worked; what's more, the screen was SO MUCH BETTER than the new one's, after the (apparently) successful recap.

So, the only issue that remained was the sound, and we solved that later by buying a sound board for it separately. We now have a fully working GameGear (man, these Sega consoles are a true hassle to keep alive).

Oh, right, and we're playing Alone in the Dark: A New Nightmare on the Dreamcast. It's super sharp with the VGA output, and it's interesting to try to beat it after it terrorized me and my sleep when I was still a child. I'm getting revenge.

There wasn't much going on aside from that. We're still working, so that takes up a majority of our time, but we try to squeeze in fun things here and there, when we can.

2021/01/31

Retro portable consoles!

Hey!

We started a company. It was a hard and very long process, but we're finally officially a company. What will this change? Nothing, actually. Just more paperwork.

Other than that, this new year started out pretty hard. A lot of work and bureaucratic shenanigans. Sadly Geril's GPU got a bit fried and Lussy's CPU is acting up because of a leak in our ceiling that took out the power for a few hours, so we have to buy some new hardware - what is not the easiest thing to do at the moment.

Also, Geril's obsession of portable gaming devices got to the point that he bought a Nokia N-Gage. And what is a console without games, right? So he got Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey, Rayman 3, Ashen and Worms World Party. They are all fine games, and they work pretty well on the little Nokia gaming device.


What is really surprising about the machine is its multitasking ability. You can make a phone call while you're playing, or you can go back to the phone's operation system anytime while a game is running. Also, you can take screenshots - even if they are a bit chunky.



So in some ways, this device was ahead of its time. But where the real issue lies is the controls. No one wants to use a num pad to play a game. It just feels uncomfortable and unintuitive. But playing an Elder Scrolls game on this four centimeter portrait screen is weird, in a good way. I can't recommend the device to many people, but if somebody like curiosities, this is certainly one.


Other than the N-Gage, we got an Atari Lynx, which is a very powerful portable console (I'd rather not call it a handheld, because it's really heavy). Geril had the most fun with Blue Lightning and Hydra, but Rampage, Rygar and Crystal Mines are fun, too.


Our biggest disappointment was the Sony Xperia Play. We got an old Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Z1i - the one with the sliding control-panel - thinking that we could play some cool older mobile games with an actual, physical controller. Sadly, that's not possible anymore, because they shut down all of its support last November. Even to jailbreak it, it would need a few applications that are no longer available. Too bad, we wanted to try the Android version of Dead Space and Mass Effect: Infiltrator and a few other old rarities.


Next month we'll try to assemble a working GameGear out of two barely working GameGears. Wish us luck.

2020/12/30

Happy Holidays!

 2020 is finally coming to an end. Can you believe that?

At the end of the year, we finally got a little time to ourselves. We expected we'd be doing all sorts of things, working on personal projects, maybe making new models for Sketchfab or learning new things inside Unreal, but we've just been resting and playing games. The last month was especially busy, so we probably need a lot of time to regain our energy.

So now we're spending that time on playing games we've meant to play, or we like playing. We started Persona 5 Royal, but we're disappointed that the localization wasn't improved at all, and we couldn't use the original game's save file for New Game +. It's a good game for chilling at night, has a wonderful atmosphere, but the story bits often have us scratching our heads.

Another game we've been playing is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (because what else would we play on a 4K TV?). It's a pretty special game for us, since we played it together very early on at the time we first met. Geril has only completed the 3DS version, and I only completed the original game on an emulator, so now we're playing it on the Gamecube, as part of The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition. It's not a perfect port, but with the Gamecube controller even Geril can tolerate playing it.

There's not much left of the year, and we doubt we'll suddenly get an ungodly wind of inspiration to create something on the last day, so we're going to end the year with hopes that during the next one, we'll get more time to work on our personal projects.

Happy New Year!

2020/11/30

Huge Screen!

Hey, Lussy here.

This month, after a lot of hesitation, we upgraded our 8-year-old-ish 1080p TV to a shiny new enormous 4K OLED TV. It is ridiculously big. Seriously, it is dominating the entire living room.

With this upgrade, we had to mess with our cable management again, but thankfully since this TV has 4 HDMI inputs, as opposed to the previous one that only had two, we could give some devices their own dedicated slot in the TV. Currently, the OSSC and PS4 are plugged directly into the tv - the PS4 didn't like sending HDR data through our cheap HDMI switches, so when the content we watched was HDR, the image kept blinking.

It's crazy how many new problems come with this upgrade, next to fixing many pre existing ones. For example, one of the biggest advantages is that the TV now properly transmits 5.1 audio through its optical out, unlike the previous one, where we had to bypass the TV with our whole audio setup. So this is cool, BUT. It only supports Dolby, not DTS, and it has a pretty significant delay. It's not an issue for movies, but for rhythm games, we find ourselves bypassing the TV still.

We are learning so much about audio and video signals due to this. For example, this TV simply does not support the NES's video output anymore, and the OSSC doesn't support it either. We still have to find a proper solution for that (without using one of those nightmarish little signal converter boxes).

Other than that, there's not much going on. We're working a lot, but that's nothing new.

2020/10/31

Home improvement!

Hi!
Geril here, writing about our mundane days in lockdown.

We did quite a lot of home-improvement projects this month, bought some new furniture from IKEA. We also bought two sets of arcade sticks, buttons and two controller boards, so that we could play classic arcade games on our Rasberry Pi. After the assembly of the IKEA furniture, we realized that we had no surface where we could attach the arcade stick parts... but we had quite a few empty IKEA boxes. So, temporarily we assembled the arcade stick into the IKEA boxes. They work fine, and we played several classic games with them.


They look kinda flimsy, but they are just sturdy enough to work. Also, we reassembled the cable management in our media center, now with the surround sound system in mind. By the way, did you know that Star Fox on the SNES could output surround sound? Well, it can. Seriously, and it's pretty impressive. A few SNES games can use "VHS" type surround, and it's a trip to play a classic game with surround sound. It's like a super-secret level that you unlock after decades.

Apart from messing around with our setup, there's really not much to talk about. We're looking forward to the situation improving, so we can go out more.