Having Fun with SteamVR in Windows Mixed Reality

This week, since Windows 10 Fall Creators Update came out, I was able to upgrade my main development machine. I have been waiting on that for a while as my main dev machine has the NVIDIA 1080Ti GTX.

Now a few weeks back Microsoft announced that SteamVR would be supported on the Mixed Reality devices. But there was little information as to what that looked like exactly. In fact, I had a fellow MVP tell me that “’SteamVR’ was a marketing promise, not a real one”.

Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case. After I installed the Fall Creators Update, I opened a couple of native Windows Store apps first. The first one being vTime. It is a VR social area like a few others out there. I setup my avatar and tried out a couple of the cool locations they had. But I didn’t actually try to connect with anyone… I had more things to try out!

I did a couple of other things but then I brought up SteamVR and played the “War Robots VR: The Skirmish” game I downloaded when I first got the headsets to see if it would work. It didn’t work then, but I was able to launch a beta version of SteamVR that actually launched inside of the Mixed Reality Portal.

I transferred from my Cliff House room and I was brought into the SteamVR room. From there, I was able to browse the SteamVR store and my library and then I was able to play that War Robots game. It was a great experience. I really liked how I could move my head and it used that to turn the big mech I was in around.

I then grabbed a few more free titles from SteamVR like Google Earth VR, The Lab, Rec Room, Anyland, Bigscreen, and some more. I actually only tried out Google Earth VR and the Lab. I spent a lot of time playing and enjoy the Lab. I wanted Google Earth VR to work, but it was pretty buggy and I couldn’t get it to actually get past step 5 of 7 in the tour to get started. Assuming I can figure it out, I liked what I saw and would love to be able to see different places in VR.

The Lab was really a great experience. I think some of it is because of my love for Portal and Portal 2, but the actual Slingshot gameplay was really a lot of fun. You can see me playing that part of the game in this week’s video:

Developer Contests FTW

A couple of months ago I mentioned that Dream Build Play was happening. There are some sweet prizes available.

Well, now there is another contest where you could win all of the following:

  • Surface Studio (2TB / Intel Core i7)
  • Surface Pro (256GB / Intel Core i5)
  • Surface Dial
  • Acer Windows Mixed Reality headset
  • Xbox One X
  • Custom Xbox controller with engraving
  • $2,500 USD advertising credit

To have a chance to win, all you need to do is update or publish an app targeting the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (build 16299) by November 17, 2017.

So go ahead and update that app you already have out there, or create something new…

And if you are making a game then you could really rack-up with the awesome prizes from Dream Build Play.

HoloTour on Mixed Reality Headset

Back in April of last year, I talked about the top 5 apps on the HoloLens. It was a pretty popular video… I guess “top x” usually are…

Anyway, one of the top 5 apps was the HoloTour app. When I first ran this on the HoloLens and saw the cobblestone appear I was truly amazed.

About a month later, I did a “Deeper Look” into the HoloTour app as a request from a subscriber.

Well, here we are well over a year later and I’m doing another demo with the HoloTour app.

This is also by request from another subscriber. It appears the app was crashing for them, but I didn’t have any issues running the app.

As of 8/23/2017 I’m running the Creators Update and for the machine I was running this on, I did not have any preview builds of Windows. My understanding is the latest fast ring is actually a lot more stable. Two of my machines are using that build, but neither have a powerful enough graphics card to run these MR devices. I prefer for my main development machine to stay in a stable state.

My machine is currently running a NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti. You don’t need anything that powerful to run it, but I did want to mention it in case you aren’t able to get the app to run.

It is interesting that even though HoloTour is definitely a VR experience, I enjoyed it more on the HoloLens. Even though the FOV was small, I was blown away originally.

I believe I feel that way simply because it was so new and I was amazed that my carpet turned into cobblestone. Truly being able see environment through these headsets was very nice. I guess I just wasn’t as impressed as I was originally since I already knew what was coming.

It looked really good.

So if you have a device and haven’t tried out HoloTour yet, go ahead. I’d be interested in knowing if you had any problems in getting the app to run.

Here’s a video of me playing HoloTour…

Acer vs HP Mixed Reality Headsets

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I received the Acer Mixed Reality Headset back on 7/25 and I did an unboxing video and talked about the headset in that video.

I received the HP Mixed Reality Headset a week later on 8/1 and I did an unboxing video and talked about that headset in that video

When using the Acer headset, I actually played the PC game Forza 6: Apex a little. I was playing the game on the headset.

When using the HP headset, I played the Xbox game Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun. I was streaming the Xbox game to the PC and actually playing it in the cliff side house.

This worked better than trying to play a AAA game on the same PC I was using the headset on, and trying to stream live on Mixer and record. It was too much for the PC and the gameplay suffered.

The two headsets have the exact same hardware specs. Same FOV (95), same resolution (1440×1440), same refresh rate (90Hz) same everything really…

But they do differ…

They differ in the way they look, their price, their weight, their comfort level, their cables, and their padding.

Headset Weight (grams) Weight (pounds and ounces)
Acer MR HMD 410-411 0 lbs. 13 5/8 oz.
HP MR HMD 513-514 1 lbs. 2 1/8 oz.
HoloLens 580 1 lbs. 4 1/2 oz.

While the HP is heavier than the Acer, it has more padding.

Subjectively, I think the HP is more comfortable. But your mileage may vary.

Their cables are basically the same length. The HP is a 2 to 3 inches longer, not enough to make any real difference.

The price of the Acer is $299 and the price of the HP is $329.

The biggest difference between the two headsets are how they adjust for you to put them on and take them off of your head.

The Acer uses a belt like feature, which can’t easily be adjusted with one hand.

The HP uses a knob that you turn to loosen or tighten the headset. It is much easier to work with.

To see the full comparison, check out the video:

I’m looking forward to getting some development done on these devices!