We discuss to the individuals behind Superhot and Pistol Whip on how Oculus’s newest headset, the Quest 2, allowed them to up their recreation and enhance efficiency.
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When particulars of the Oculus Quest 2 had been leaked, VR fans had been ecstatic about one merchandise particularly: the brand new headset can be extra highly effective. Because the Qualcomm GPU behind the standalone went from the Snapdragon 835 to the Snapdragon XR2.
We now know from benchmarks that the Quest 2 GPU is greater than twice as highly effective than its predecessor. However what does that basically imply for customers? Builders have gone that additional mile to faucet into that GPU energy to enhance the graphics of their video games.
One of many first breakout titles for the unique Quest was Superhot VR, a reimagining of the PC shooter for digital actuality. Many who performed this model of the sport discovered it to be extra engrossing than the flat-screen model, with the movement controls in three-dimensional house enhancing the time-bending and bullet-dodging gameplay.
However the port from Oculus Rift to Quest was made with some tradeoffs. With the extra energy of the Quest 2, builders Superhot Workforce had been capable of restore a lot of what was misplaced.
“We had been ready so as to add loads of little issues again in,” mentioned Mark Schramm, Lead VR Developer at Superhot Workforce. “One instance is the extremely detailed concrete texture that was lacking from all objects. This might not be one thing gamers would discover straight away, and we joke loads about it internally, however because of the upper decision show of Quest 2 it was an excellent essential addition for us. Different objects embrace transparency results, reminiscent of the bottom fog that makes distant geometry mix a lot nicer into the surroundings.”
Gamers on Quest 2 will now discover a Superhot recreation that has extra polish and extra shininess than earlier than. There’s a texture to the objects of the world and improved lighting. The crimson crystalline enemies gleam in methods they didn’t earlier than. And the backgrounds are nearer to the unique, with artwork fading within the fog to make all the things really feel suitably disembodied.
Superhot for Quest 2 appears to be proof that regardless of the drop in energy from a PC to a standalone headset, a recreation might look simply nearly as good, giving customers the total expertise the developer meant.
“Quest 2’s chip is sort of a beast and we had been pleasantly shocked at how far we are able to push it. As we change into extra accustomed to the hardware, I’m sure we can do much more cool issues with it, and we’re persevering with to work on it,” mentioned Schramm.
The fore-mentioned improve in display screen decision, from Quest 1’s 1440 by 1600 per eye to Quest 2’s 1832 by 1920 per eye, was a technique Superhot Workforce was capable of make the most of the hardware. Fortunately, their recreation had help baked in.
Schramm mentioned, “A lot of our in-game supplies are procedurally generated, which meant we had been capable of make nice use of Quest 2’s greater decision show. Our advanced supplies such because the crystal and concrete have used texture slots previously. For example, this would come with textures for any grout strains within the ground tiles, reflections contained in the crystal or the scan line stripes.”
“For Quest, we modified to a procedural system the place many of those options are calculated by way of code, fairly than loaded in from a texture. This meant two issues: The supplies use much less texture reminiscence, which could be a restricted useful resource on cell GPUs typically. And we are able to simply scale these options when eye buffer decision will increase. In sensible phrases, this implies we don’t must writer two completely different texture units (one for Quest 1 and one other one for Quest 2 resolutions), but additionally that our supplies are as sharp as they probably could be. This was tremendous essential for us, since we need to all the time keep that clear, crisp Superhot look.”
On the alternative facet of the gun barrel is Pistol Whip, the quick-paced counterpart to the gradual gunplay of Superhot. This rhythm-based shooter that seems like an amalgam of Beat Saber’s music and the bullet motion of the arcade video games of yesteryear was an already colourful recreation, however Cloudhead made it prettier. Bringing again lighting and different graphical results which are discovered on the PC model, Pistol Whip feels extra surreal, extra shiny, thus extra like itself than earlier than.
“The factor we had been most enthusiastic about was having the prospect to push the boundaries of visible parts within the recreation. Certainly one of our targets is to verify the sport all the time seems wonderful on all platforms, from Quest to PCVR, so the group is all the time engaged on options to see the visuals getting near the excessive finish platform. The Quest 2 gave us the chance to push this additional,” mentioned Ed Lago, Senior producer at Cloudhead Video games.
As soon as the Quest 2 was of their fingers, Cloudhead knew they needed to restore a lot of what was beforehand lacking from the Quest model. Fortuitously, Pistol Whip was all the time evolving, receiving a gentle stream of latest songs and accompanying ranges, wrapped in a metaphor of movies taking part in at a movie show.
Lago mentioned, “We had been in the midst of the ‘Heartbreaker Trilogy’ manufacturing after we determined to replace the sport for Quest 2. This new content material was actually completely different from the earlier updates, far more colourful, extra heavy on sfx’s and new shaders we wished to implement within the recreation, it was the right time to make the most of Quest 2’s greater specs so the visuals would look wonderful within the new headset. “
The lighting and impact enhancements reveal how a lot this degree of polish can carry a recreation to life. Some Quest video games had a bent, whereas nonetheless having fantastic characters, objects, and worlds, to really feel flat. Lighting was not dynamic. Scenes had been easy. This was what the Quest 1 GPU might, and that was with assist of Mounted Foveated Rendering (FFR), the place software program lowers the decision of the image on the perimeters of the display screen, decreasing the load on the GPU.
The Quest 2 doesn’t endure from a restricted GPU and the ensuing flat graphics. With lights, shadows, and different flashy results now doable, video games like Pistol Whip really feel extra current and fewer like easy throwbacks.
“We all the time wished to have PC and Quest variations as shut as doable by way of visuals, however as a consequence of unique Quest’s limitations we needed to sacrifice some options reminiscent of realtime shadows and bloom. Mounted Foveated Rendering can also be used on Quest to avoid wasting GPU time. So, the very first thing we thought after we received a Quest 2 was ‘what if we flip all the things on?’ Then we tried and the outcomes had been tremendous spectacular.
We had been capable of preserve acceptable framerates with real-time shadows enabled and FFR disabled, which is nice. With FFR disabled, we had been additionally capable of match the dithering impact (throughout scene transitions or when harm is obtained) high quality in PC and Quest 2 platforms. We’re now working in the direction of bloom and evaluating different visuals,” mentioned Teo Dutra, Graphics Engineer at Cloudhead.
And these aren’t the one enhancements for these titles. There are extra to come back. Cloudhead will proceed to tweak and enhance issues, as they proceed so as to add new songs to the sport.
Detra mentioned, “With every new replace, we’re continuously enhancing visuals and the efficiency of the sport. Platform parity is a dialog we have now steadily and the Quest 2 brings us extremely near the PC model of Pistol Whip. We are actually ready to make use of the identical shaders, shadows, VFX, and resolutions as PC, and sooner or later we hope to work in the direction of hitting 90fps.”
Superhot Workforce can even present that vital bounce in presentation to match the PC model, simply as quickly as Oculus brings the promised help for it: the rise in framerate from 72 frames per second to 90.
Schramm mentioned, “Because the recreation has many very shiny scenes, working at 90HZ reduces the perceived flicker within the peripheral imaginative and prescient, which is likely one of the fundamental complaints, and the rationale we added a screen-dimming choice to the Quest model. 90fps additionally makes the sport buttery easy to play, not solely in quick, motion heavy moments, however particularly in scenes the place gamers transfer slowly and intentionally. It heightens the expertise and makes it a lot extra visceral.”
And these two video games aren’t the one ones to get new life on this new headset. We have now seen the enhancements in VR mainstays like Arizona Sunshine and newer titles like Onward. And we’ll seemingly see much more as builders take the time to improve their video games, or simply make new ones that may make the most of the facility of Quest 2.
“Oculus has put super effort into making builders’ lives simpler, each with technical help and instruments help,” mentioned Dutra. “It seems like we’ve crossed a threshold into the long run, the place cell VR is lastly encroaching on console and PCVR. The way forward for VR has by no means been brighter.”
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