VR: What to consider for a smooth experience

Inspired by this week’s developer interview in which a timeframe for VR developments was shared, I thought it may be of help to collect some topics which I stumbled upon during my own VR flight hours (Oculus Rift, FSX and Flyinside). Feel free to add/reply to this post so that developers can get more upfront feedback.

  • Framerate: Always an issue, even with good hardware. Companies like Oculus or Flyinside implemented extrapolated frames for head movements to increase FPS (Asynchronous Timewarp) to keep up 90 FPS, works surprisingly well.

  • Readability of displays (like waypoints on the ND): Can be an issue with current headsets. A solution can be a magnifying lens which can be bound to a joystick button

  • Controllers: A matter of taste, different opinions. I am happy with a mouse pointer in the virtual cockpit, still the most precise way to reach a knob. BUT: We do not have a keyboard in the virtual cockpit(!!!). So, please allow to bind all essential features not to keyboard keys but to something more applicable like joystick buttons.

  • VR-specific view functions: Depending on the situation, your position in the cockpit might be distracted or you cannot see your controllers/mouse pointer anymore. So, button-linked functions to recenter view or mouse pointer/controllers can be a lot of help.

  • Import of external windows: Very important! We only see the virtual cockpit, nothing else. So anything else of use needs to be visible inside of the virtual cockpit. Typical cases: Chart viewer application (in my case a PDF viewer) or the vPilot window for interactive communication with VatSim ATC. Essential of course: All simulator settings need to be accessible and changeable from the virtual cockpit, wearing the headset.

  • Communication with airplane developers: There are still new planes being developed for which the usability design collides with VR requirements. E.g. essential controls like a settings MCDU is only accessible as a floating window in addition to the virtual cockpit (as in the case of the new 64bit Aerosoft A320). This can be avoided if specifications and requirements for VR are early communicated between simulator and airplane developers.

In summary, in my case, I have all my moystick buttons mapped for VR requirements in the meanwhile:

  • Pause
  • Interaction key for VR settings menu
  • Recenter view
  • Recenter mouse pointer
  • Lens
  • Push to talk for ATC (vPilot)
  • Brakes
  • and Reverse Thrust of course… :wink:

With this, I hope that VR development for MSFS will go into the right direction! Looking forward to having a lot of fun with this! :slightly_smiling_face:

Very well done. It has always been a pet peeve of mine flying XPlane in VR that there are things that require your headset to be removed to accomplish.

My system is an Oculus Rift also, with CH yoke and pedals. So braking is via the toe brakes, only that in XPlane they don’t depress evenly. They often pull to one side and you have to adjust, sometimes this has negative affects. That is not the case with MSFS so my joystick button to EVENLY apply brakes in XPlane isn’t required. XPlane has it’s own ‘menu’ system which is accessible via the Rift hand controllers. The only default function on the left controller that I use is the ‘reset view’ so that makes it nice to fly with only the right hand controller. You mentioned zoom… in XPlane one of the hand controller buttons (the right controller A button) allows you to momentarily zoom in. Makes it possible to ‘read’ the fine details. And yes, my frame rates are in the basement so if this works for me then it should be good to go on better systems. This is one reason I ordered a new system (for the new graphics card). My mic PTT button for vPilot is on the yoke just like it would be in a real a/c.

So, you hit it nicely out of the park. Good job! I am really looking forward to seeing VR in MSFS. :slightly_smiling_face:

This is a great list, however there are already solutions for importing external windows. In the SteamVR/Vive realm there is an app called OVRdrop that lets you bring in windows and position/size them how you want. It also allows you to show/hide windows via hotkeys, controller buttons, etc. It’s a little painful to initially set up, but it works great once you’ve done so.

I am less familiar with the Oculus world, but I’ve been told that there is something similar for use with the Rift, etc.

I only mention this in here because it would certainly be convenient to have that baked into the sim, but I would rather see development efforts go to perfecting other things, at least in the near term. They’ve already got a lot on their plates with the base sim and now the VR implementation, so no need to have them spend resources on reinventing the wheel.

Thanks for pointing to existing 3rd party solutions. Indeed, similar to the intense discussion on 3rd party weather, one can argue which features should be included into the sim and which can be left to 3rd party specialized developers.

However, features being tied to 3rd parties can also mean that they get unavailable: A current example from VR is FlyInside which did a great job bringing efficient VR to FSX and P3D including most of the features in my list above, but now they disappear, no more activity.

Now, imagine a central feature like e.g. import of external windows into the virtual cockpit being provided by a 3rd party only and the 3rd party disappears: Then the feature is gone.

So, from the experience with FlyInside, I would prefer for the features in my list above to see them included into the sim rather than provided by 3rd parties. A working VR environment in my view should be one complete package and not a puzzle of several external solutions.

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