VRWorks finds its way into Unreal, Unity, and EVE: Valkyrie

Do you already have a VR headset, or did you pick up an Oculus Rift for $399? If so—and if you're rocking an Nvidia graphics card—you'll be pleased to hear about the latest news from Nvidia's VR team. The company's VRWorks libraries have been integrated into both version 4.16 of the Unreal Engine and the 2017.1 release of the popular Unity game engine. More immediately, folks with high-end graphics hardware and EVE: Valkyrie can enjoy new "Ultra" settings thanks to that title's recent VRWorks integration.

Team play in EVE: Valkyrie

Integrating VRWorks means that VR titles developed within the Unreal and Unity engines can take advantage of the Pascal architecture's fancy VR-specific features, like lens-matched shading and single-pass stereo rendering. Unity has been flirting with VRWorks support for a while, but now it's part of the mainline SDK, meaning Unity developers can grab the VRWorks plugin on the Unity Asset Store. Unreal Engine developers will need to have a subscription to the UE4 Github to grab the specific code branch with VRWorks support (login required).

Meanwhile, VRWorks integration in EVE: Valkyrie means a bevy of graphical enhancements for the space dogfighting sim. Improved cockpit lighting featuring higher-quality specular reflections, softer shadows, dynamically-lit particles, and a new anti-aliasing technique called "Multi-Sample G-Buffer Anti-Aliasing" are all part of the game's new "Ultra" setting. EVE: Valkyrie may be one of the most compelling VR titles so far, particularly for nerds like yours truly who came up on Star Wars. Assuming your graphics card is powerful enough to handle it, the Ultra mode update is available now.

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    • synthtel2
    • 2 years ago

    EVE’s ultra (based on those screenshots) changes basically everything about the lighting environment, but that doesn’t stand out half as much as the fog, which is heavy enough to look like a massive competitive disadvantage. The way they did the light shafts, there has to be a lot of fog to base those color shifts on, yet it doesn’t even end up matching realistic light scattering that closely (I dislike it in FO4 too). Aside from implementation issues, unless I’ve missed something terribly important about the EVE universe, [b<]there should be no fog or light shafts in that environment[/b<]. I can excuse a touch of it because space rendered accurately would look all wrong to the uninitiated (just like explosions making sound in space in movies), but this is just ridiculous.

      • Airmantharp
      • 2 years ago

      Would being inside a nebula make the attached screenshot above make sense? I don’t know if there are nebulas in EVE, don’t and won’t play, but that shot approximates what I think being inside a nebula would be like.

      [definitely could be wrong]

        • synthtel2
        • 2 years ago

        [IANA astrophysicist] In some particularly high-density parts, that’s probably close enough to plausible (ignoring another implementation issue or two). That much fog does equate to an awful lot of mass to have randomly floating around, especially if that’s after a star and a planet(oid?) have already coalesced out of it. The trouble is that the game appears to use this basically everywhere. What we’re seeing in the game is many orders of magnitude beyond what it takes for something on a nebula’s scale to look opaque when viewed from Earth. If EVE actually all takes place in nebula that dense, good for them, it just shouldn’t escape being a serious plot point (enough so that I probably would have heard of it).

        Edit: Follow the link at the very end of the story and look at the screenshots with the sliders to see all the fog that just got added. To the fog at high settings, I say whatever, it’s just a game and they’re trying to make it feel a bit more familiar. To the fog on ultra settings, I have to WTF a bit.

      • BlueScreenJunky
      • 2 years ago

      Playing the devil’s advocate : Maybe in the middle of a space battle involving huge cruisers, and dozens of ships there would be enough tiny debris and various gazes (from thrusters for example) to make some kind of dog.

        • synthtel2
        • 2 years ago

        I followed that train of thought with both mining and battle debris (I enjoy world-building my way around technical or gameplay issues like this), but mostly still can’t make it check out. The core problem is that debris hardly slows down in space, so (a) it won’t hang around the area very long, and (b) if it is still around, parts of it are likely to be high-velocity and extremely dangerous. For battle debris, some details of shield tech might suppress movement enough (laser ablates armor, ablated material motion suppressed by shield?), not that anyone seems to have a clue how the ubiquitous space game shields are supposed to work. For mining debris, maybe the mining is pretty violent and they’ve got tech specifically to keep the debris from being dangerous, but then any dust that’s still falling out is material they’re not capturing for further processing (wasteful, especially if they’re already semi-capturing it to keep it from being a hazard). Either way, the clouds would have to be much more localized than nebulas require.

        I did just get a better idea – what if it isn’t mining debris at breaking-up-asteroids time, but at processing time? Maybe there’s some stuff in some asteroids that miners don’t have much use for, and maybe the less-environmentally-conscious of them find it a bit cheaper to dust that stuff in-place than to turn it into a brick in a landfill-equivalent somewhere or toss it into the sun or whatever. If shield tech is really good (so the clouds don’t pose major hull wear problems) and propulsion/energy tech is meh (from what I know of EVE it isn’t), that would just about make sense, and would do at least more than the other options to explain the ubiquity of the clouds. It would still be a helluva nuisance though, the clouds should be not present in many areas, and it should show up in game plot/lore. (I also know EVE makes mining a fairly player-run thing, which probably means there’s lore running actively counter to this somewhere.)

        This theory does have a big advantage over nebula: due to implementation details of those light shafts, the fog ends up looking more like it’s made of >1um particles, not gas. I don’t know enough about how nebulas coalesce, but I would expect remaining nebula to be mostly gaseous.

        • GrimDanfango
        • 2 years ago

        [quote<](...)to make some kind of dog.[/quote<] Some kind of wondrous, celestial space-dog?

      • psuedonymous
      • 2 years ago

      [quote<]but this is just ridiculous.[/quote<] Like any space arcade shooter, [b<]EVERYTHING[/b<] about Eve Valkyrie is already so incredibly, hilariously wrong when it comes to even a vague wafting gesture towards realism. Adding fog on top of it is merely a placing wrong cherry on the existing massive steaming pile of inaccuracy. Being inaccurate isn't intolerantly bad, but complaining about fog in space is like looking at Borderlands and complaining that the primers on expended shells aren't dimpled: it's missing the forest for the fucking trees.

        • GrimDanfango
        • 2 years ago

        It’s an interesting notion in general… I mean the reality of space as a setting has long been deemed completely impractical for games, and pretty much from the earliest beginnings of the genre, was replaced by something that more closely mimicked WW1 biplane combat.
        The aesthetic shift (probably brought about by the highly stylised nebulae in Homeworld) towards all space games needing to feature a perpetual thick soup of gasses everywhere at all times has almost merged in a feeling of an underwater aspect.
        Add to that the massive corruption of scale almost all space games use in order to be more relatable to our conventional ground-based notions of distance, and really the modern default “space” setting has so little to space anymore as to make it an entirely unrelated fantasy environment.
        Especially considering there are a tiny handful of games that *don’t* do all that… like Kerbal Space Program, Rogue System (…Elite Dangerous partially – it just pilfers what it wants from both sides of the line), it’s probably about time we considered them two distinctly separate settings, or in keeping with science-fiction precident, separate dimensions. Perhaps “normal reality” and “the soup dimension”.

        I move that henceforth we refer to all games such as Eve Valkyrie as “soup combat simulators”.

          • Voldenuit
          • 2 years ago

          [quote<]Add to that the massive corruption of scale almost all space games use in order to be more relatable to our conventional ground-based notions of distance, and really the modern default "space" setting has so little to space anymore as to make it an entirely unrelated fantasy environment.[/quote<] The scale of space shooters also has to do with playability. The fan-made Babylon 5 starfury simulator tried to have somewhat realistic spacecraft scale, but that meant that enemy ships were mere dots at any engagement distance, and would flick past the screen when crossing paths.

            • GrimDanfango
            • 2 years ago

            Of course, but it’s to do with playability of a WW1 dogfighting game with a space “skin”. Playability of a game set in actual space would involve a lot of consideration of orbital mechanics, tracking targets that aren’t even dots, that are essentially far too far away to ever see unless you align orbits for a docking maneuver… and so on. It’d probably play more like Defcon.

            What you point out only highlights my point – what most people expect from a “space” game has pretty much nothing to do with space, and everything to do with what they’re already familiar with here on the ground.

            I mean, even more arcadey modern jet-fighter games tend to shrink the scale and relative speeds down to WW1 biplane terriory for the sake of providing an immediate and purely visual experience, which is mostly divorced from reality, where pretty much everything is conducted via instrumentation and HUD data.
            The difference with a space setting is that the change in scale and mechanics required to make it feel like a WW1 biplane sim is so extreme as to render it about as relevant to call such a game a barbie-doll simulator. I making an accessible, familiar “space” game, the setting is sacrificed in its entirety. The only thing that remains is a distant black sphere with dots scattered over it as a background image. Add to that the fact that at this point, even that plain black sphere has been thrown out in favour of a pretty nebula-soup aesthetic that is utterly disconnected from reality, and well… what we’re playing isn’t space… it barely even faintly resembles space, mechanically or visually, on any level.

            I’m not saying such “space” games are bad. TIE Fighter is one of my favourite games of all time! Just saying that it’s sort of a silly notion to even debate the relative realism of games like EVE Valkyrie (TIE Fighter, etc) when at a fundamental level they aren’t actually set in space, they’re set in an entirely imagined fantasy void.

            On the flip side – take Kerbal Space Program – now that *is* a game that has taken a genuine space setting, and scaled it for playability. It’s still very much set in an analogue of real space, and mirrors real space travel mechanics, but scales everything by a factor of 10 (I think) to allow looser tolerances, so you can actually get a rocket into space without taking an engineering degree first 🙂

        • synthtel2
        • 2 years ago

        Just because it’s very wrong doesn’t mean they need to make it even more wrong just because it happens to make some render tech they’re being offered fit.

        Often there are choices between getting gameplay right and getting realism right, and when that comes up, gameplay has obviously got to take priority. There seem to be two schools of thought beyond that. One says “whatever, it’s a game, screw any further passing thoughts about realism”. That can work excellently, but IME when it does, it’s usually because all aspects of the game embrace the craziness (as in Borderlands). For most games, I’d rather keep worldbuilding to reduce the phlebotinum use to the minimum necessary, at least to a point where it feels internally consistent.

        [s<]Space[/s<] Soup games (thanks GrimDanfango!) do require unusual amounts of phlebotinum, but I don't think entirely insurmountable amounts. Shield tech, energy/propulsion tech (both in magnitude and ability to not toast whatever's behind you), and distance compression seem like the necessary ones. Most everything else (even ship handling that feels more familiar) can be world-built around. This boosted fog doesn't exist for a gameplay reason, because it's less ridiculous on non-ultra settings, but if it existed at all settings, I'd excuse it on the theory they're trying to make it tough to fight facing towards the star (which is probably realistic). Atmospherics aren't an ideal tool for that, but nobody has yet created an ideal/realistic tool for that AFAIK.

      • Generic
      • 2 years ago

      I can think of no better way to mitigate that threat of lasers than a large cloud of cold ionized gas.

      EVE just failed to render the ships pumping the stuff out for you to enjoy. 😉

        • synthtel2
        • 2 years ago

        In a vacuum, laser range is sharply limited by diffraction (depending on the wavelengths in use, the size of the weapons themselves, and exactly how much distance compression the game in question is doing). At some point, it won’t be focused enough to do much damage. Adding light-blocking gas might help (especially if it’s tuned to common laser wavelengths), but it does open up another fun trick.

        [IANA physicist] Apparently, if there’s a whole lot of light in one place, it enhances that effect where light moves slower in mediums that aren’t vacuum. (Dunno why, ask a physicist.) Apparently modern Q-switched lasers can have high enough instantaneous power density to, in Earth’s atmosphere, cause the “beam” (a few millimeters long, IIRC) to refract into itself, self-focusing and retaining a diameter of a few millimeters even after travelling multiple kilometers. In the article I read, some researchers were using this to ionize a multiple-km column of air in an attempt to form an initial path for lightning.

        Dropping gas clouds might not be to block lasers, but to enhance them. Maybe it’s both, and major battles are instruments-only for more reasons than just distance.

    • James296
    • 2 years ago

    Still not getting a VR……I don’t the spare cash, what else can I say

      • Airmantharp
      • 2 years ago

      Even having the cash (or being able to choose to…), VR just isn’t appealing given the halfassedness of the total solution.

      What I mean:
      -The resolution isn’t there. This is a big deal because VR is intended to dominate your vision, unlike a monitor, and thus pixelation can be jarring.
      -The performance isn’t there for the resolution we have. Again, because VR dominates your vision, it needs a solid 90FPS/eye. Further, the ‘best’ performance available is expensive. And we probably need at least twice that.
      -The solution is bulky, and the connection schemes are kind of annoying.

      I’d love to play with it, but I’m not willing to invest in owning something that is so obviously sub-par at the moment. I’ll say the same thing about 4k TVs and HDR.

      • BlueScreenJunky
      • 2 years ago

      I feel your pain but look at the bright side : As awesome as VR is right now, there’s still a lot of room for improvement for gen2 (resolution, and GPU power to use it, fov, ergonomics…), so by the time you have enough cash on hand to get a VR setup it will be even better than what’s available now.

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