February 2021

Experimenting with Oculus Quest, using the rift link, I am attempting to explore the 3D capabilities of my projects which I have previously created. This first test was using the model from the Machine Learnt landscapes projects. Exploring the Oculus Hub, the methods of grabbing and interactions within the oculus controllers is incredibly fascinating and is something I intend to elaborate on through my experiments.

Moving forwards with the oculus experiments, I wanted to move the shift into a first person perspective. Looking to build from a ground up concept, and find out through design research and experimentation what makes interactions within a digital environment both unique and interesting in relation to the standard physical one we are used to.

In this first version I decided to add some standard cubes to a table. I wanted to begin with an environment which would be easily achievable within physical space, which would mean later on, I could add non-Euclidean game concepts in order to warp its usability. A simple table with an array of cubes available on it. These can be picked up, dropped and played with. this version was very rough, with the floor not being properly aligned with the real world floor making it hard to pick objects up form the floor when they landed there.

I also was using the Oculus Quest headset which is intended as a standalone mobile VR headset. For my purposes I wanted to be able to quickly send and adapt the experience iteratively. Therefore I found a sideloading application for the headset, and sideloaded a server and client application to my headset and computer respectively. The program named ALVR allows the computer to send the video feed to the headset and receive the inputs to mimic a regular wired experience without the constraints that causes. Using this process, with an extended router very near the device enabled a much more free experience instantly.

After this first test, I wanted to work on smoothing out some of the initial distractions within the environment, which were making the experience feel less real. I imported and textured some more realistic tables, as well as adding in a floor texture to make each section of the environment more realistic. I also enabled raytracing to allow realistic reflections within the experience which made objects feel less foreign. I then added 2 tables to, and a much larger series of cubes which enables the user a table to create mess and a table to build or play in a cleaner manner if they so chose. I also added some invisible boundaries in the distance to stop the player falling from the world space and break the game.

This first test is extremely simple, but now has enough groundwork to begin experimenting with the subversions of expected reality. I think to begin with these don’t need to incredibly complex and should naturally become more akin to alterity over time.

These next two experiments begin to bring in this sense of alterity. Adding in a yellow block at first to test this concept of surprising objects, this cube as with all the others visually looks the same in terms of shape. Also due to the fact we cannot feel mass when holding an object in VR, we can become unaware of the differences between these objects until we allow them to interact with the world around them.

The yellow cube has an almost infinite mass, which means when thrown and allowed to hit other cubes, it has immense forces which are acting upon objects around it, and therefore has incredibly surprising effects. If placed lightly on top of other objects, its immense weight forces the other cubes to collapse out of the way of it.

The green cube has no mass, and when let go of, is removed from the forces which would normally effect an object. It cannot fall or be moved, unless it is held by the player. This means that it can be used to place other objects on top of itself in any position and again subverts the expectations of regular building blocks in the real world.

The final cube was something of a uncanny experiment. As with all the other blocks, when held by the player, they all feel and interact in the same ways. However once the block is let go of, it cannot rotate in any way. This makes it seem incredibly low quality in a sense, but also enables it to be placed on edges or collide in unusual ways because of its inability to tip over an edge.

Going forward with this simple experiment, I would like to implement methods for the player to change any cube into another type of cube. In a sense a digital alchemy would occur, and the blocks can be combined in many orders, and in different quantities of type, depending on the players wish to play and to experiment. This in turn could create a mental disposition very similar to a child playing with building blocks and learning the basic interacts of objects and shapes in the real world. In a sense this could be seen as a form of four dimensional toy blocks, where the rules of time and space can be subverted to allow new methods of understanding for the users of it.