I don’t think there’s been a subject that has attracted as much attention on the developer blog as VR – 274 comments on the announcement and another 90 on the next VR topic. We’ve also received tons of bug reports, emails, and Chris has even sat down and watched endless video commentary on Youtube about our VR preview. (Just a reminder, this is a PREVIEW, not a Beta. In a Beta, we expect the features to be mostly complete, though perhaps with some bugs. In this preview, we’re still actively working on the features!)

A lot of the discussion has been about how you interact with the virtual world; Chris and I have spent literally hours discussing this since VR1. In this post, I want to share our thinking and what we’re working on for VR2.

We can view VR interaction in terms of four use cases: fully virtual, virtual with touch and hardware, no touch controllers, and HOTAS. Let’s look at them in detail.

Fully Virtual

The case that works best in VR1 is a “fully virtual” work-flow – take two touch controllers and sit in your room and you can operate the entire aircraft. There are some rough edges that we are looking at.

  • Lots of users complained that the yoke movement in VR is always a joystick motion (rotation controls pitch and roll), even if the aircraft has a yoke you pull toward you to climb. Chris’s always-a-joystick choice was based on ergonomics: since it’s fully based on angle, you can move your hand to rest on something while flying without changing your pitch. This reduces the fatigue that would come with having to hover your hand over the exact position if you were using the yoke in a realistic way. With that said,  we’re looking at providing both a “realistic” mode (where motion tracks the virtual yoke, matching our other manipulators) and an “ergonomic” mode, where the control is always a joystick and you can fly from any virtual hand position.
  • There’s no way to input rudder right now if you don’t own physical pedals. Tyler is working on making the touch controllers configurable as joystick devices. With this, you can map rudder onto your joystick or D-pad, and also use some of those buttons for common functions. (This capability is useful for two-controller use cases; users with one controller and physical hardware will probably want to keep most of the VR controller buttons mapped to VR-specific functions, as some of these cannot be moved to a conventional joystick.)

Controllers and Hardware

We heard about this case in the private beta: users with touch controllers and physical hardware have a problem when the virtual control is located inside the physical control in the real world. This happens if you are flying the Cessna and have a CH Products Yoke, for example.

To solve this, we’re adding the ability to “touch” cockpit elements from a distance via the controller lasers. It’s a little harder to use than grabbing the controls directly (because small wrist motions are amplified by distance) but it lets you get at controls that would otherwise be blocked.

Laser grabbing also turns out to be really handy for airliners – the gear handle is a stretch from the captain’s chair in the 737; now you can grab it by laser.

Laser grabbing should work seamlessly with conventional direct manipulation of controls, so for users who are happy with the direct interaction in the default fleet, there should be no loss here, and no need to revert to a mouse because some of the controls are physically blocked.

Mouse Control to Major Tom

Some users don’t have touch controllers, just an HMD, a mouse and real flight hardware (E.g. a USB yoke or something). For these users, we’re working on 3-d mouse interaction with the sim. I am not sure how capable it will be, but if you used to fly with a monitor, stick, and mouse, now you can fly with an HMD, stick, and mouse; anything you would have done with the mouse before (UI clicking, 3-d cockpit interaction) stays on the mouse.

HOTAS

Some users fly with only physical hardware (E.g. a Warthog or some other HOTAS setup). This is the group of users that Chris and I are, frankly, kind of perplexed by. If you flew X-Plane HOTAS before VR, X-Plane is, right now, just as capable in VR; anything mapped to your USB hardware still works on your USB hardware, and if you have to go pick up a touch controller, you would have had to pick up the mouse anyway.  Once we have mouse support, the mouse can be “the thing you get for UI” instead of the touch controller.

We are looking at HMD-mounted UI selection, e.g. look at the UI and click a button – Rift users may be familiar with this from the “look at this warning message for 2 seconds” notice at startup.

My personal opinion here is: having used half-written mouse code, touch controllers and HMD-aimed selection, personally I thought HMD-aimed selection was not only the worst of the three ways to interact, but it was not in the same league as mouse or controllers in terms of precision. But it does provide a way (not possible right now without VR) to stay HOTAS for the entire use of X-Plane, which could be valuable.

When

I’m not sure how soon we’ll cut VR preview 2 – I wanted to get it done this week, but I think it’s going to be some time next week; we’re working on these issues now, but it’s hard to say when it’s “done” – we might try all of our “really good ideas” and realize they need more work. That’s how user-interface is…you have to try it to know whether the idea works.

About Ben Supnik

Ben is a software engineer who works on X-Plane; he spends most of his days drinking coffee and swearing at the computer -- sometimes at the same time.

156 comments on “Interacting With X-Plane in VR

  1. Hi, great work at all!
    Atm it’s very hard for me to read the garmin displays. I’ve to be very near to the garmin display to read and use the device. I’m still testing out some view settings of my vive/steamVr/nvidia to get the view clearer.

    May be you are able to insert a zoom function or something else to make some displays easier to read?

    Thx

    1. You could take a look at installing advanced settings for steamVR (easiest way to change supersampling) I use 1.5x at the moment. Obviously this is more demanding but I can see the displays a little better.

      Having said that first gen headsets are not great resolution (in fact you would never be allowed to fly if your eyesight was that bad, some have claimed that you could register as legally blind if your vision match that of our headsets) Having said that I can’t go back now, loving flying in VR even with the resolution issues

      1. Just to add to this It also lets you see frame drop and reprojection ratio in real time which is really useful when getting the right settings

    2. I have a zoom functrion mapped to my throttle and zoom in and out to read smaller text. It does tend to make me go cross-eyed at high zoom but I find I only need to zoom in for a second or two.

    3. 2 Things:
      First of all, using only touch controllers is amazing and the idea to do it in such a way where you can rest your hands is very ideal. You can make such small corrections and my landings are way smoother than when I use my saitek yoke. BUT, would having the motion for a yoke still be pushing/pulling still allow you to rest your hand on your leg? The vertical location of your controller would have no effect so you could essentially slide it forward and back on your leg, still allowing for “hand rest”. Maybe a button on the controller to recenter the yoke too to make it even easier.

      Second, I am sure some of your VR research must have included testing out Flyinside. The only thing right now that I feel is sorely missed, is the binocular option. Obviously we are all at the mercy of the resolution of the headsets, but the ability to quick toggle a button that has adjustable zoom allows for quick checking of instruments, GPS, or even looking for your airport out in the distance. I know this is slightly different from just the standard zoom although similar. Hopefully this can be implemented.

      Thank you for everything! Flying feels more immersive than I ever expected and I never thought I would prefer controllers only vs my hardware yoke, but you pulled it off!

  2. Thanks for all the work on VR! Quick question, will the optimizations being done for VR help with frame rate for those of us running triple monitors?

  3. I tried X-Plane VR a couple of times now and I think it’s totally awesome. Especially the Cessna 172SP is exceptional in VR.

    As suggested I tried the the “Fully Virtual” option first and to my surprise it worked much better than expected.

    Regarding the yoke movement I have a few thoughts/ideas/suggestions that I would like to share. What I think would work great is to have two separate touch zones on the yoke. So if you grab it in the middle then you will get the current behavior. If you grab it on either side (on the “handles”) it will follow your controllers movements like you would normally expect. Additionally I think what might be nice for the latter mode is if you previously grabbed one handle with your right controller and after that grabbed the other handle with your left controller the right controller “looses” its grab and is now free to operate levers, switches or whatever without you loosing control of the yoke/plane and without X-Plane having to determine what the yoke should do if both controllers move in different directions. In that latter mode it also might be beneficial not to keep the yoke in the position it currently is if you let it go (like it currently is in the first mode) but to let it move to where it would normally go if you let it go in a real plane (or some fixed center point if that is easier) which would probably help to properly trim the aircraft.

    On a side note – it would be nice to get some ambient noise in the hangar (it feels so lifeless in absolute silence) and to have an option to not have to press the controller joystick to teleport (but just move if off center to start teleporting mode).

    1. Separate manipulator click points is great for convenience, but it’s a little tough for discoverability. We were considering something like double-click-to-“latch” on – not having to hold the trigger is useful but surprising to new users. That way you could also double-click the throttle to permanently hold it. My experience is that if you want to carefully manage the throttle on landing, it’s easy to ‘drop’ the trigger and then hard to find the hot spot again. Of coarse, we can remap the throttle to the controller someday…

      1. Hm – if there are different areas that light up depending on where you move the controller (center of yoke or handles of yoke) I would imagine discoverability to be better than having to double click. Maybe another option would be to use either the trigger buttons or the side trigger/grab buttons (don’t know how they are called) to distinguish between the modes.

      2. Or maybe there could be another mode like a “fallback mode” that as default is linked to the primary flight controls (e.g. one linked to the yoke and the other one linked to the throttle) and then with a double-clicked button enters a “paused controls mode” like “hold this flight control where it is right now then…-> let the controller roam freely to interact with another cockpit control/knob/button then…-> return to control the previous flight control after the double-clicked button is pressed again”. A mode like that would give you no difficulty regaining the primary control of the aircraft that has priority over setting an avionic, like in a landing situation.

        Cheers,
        Jerry C.

    2. On “silence in the hangar”: In Flight Unlimited III (about 10 years old), AI traffic also makes 3D noise: If a plane crosses your path from left to right, you can hear that (even with closed eyes). I have no idea whether AI traffic (not just planes, also ground vehicles) makes any noises in X-Plane though. If not, maybe consider that.

  4. Hi Ben,
    Although I did not try it yet, VR seems to be really some exciting new trend.
    My question is, with all the hype about VR, will you be still working to reach the 60 FPS goal or it has to wait for Vulcan implementation?
    Fantastic work LR! Thank you.

      1. us Rift guys REALLY need native support of the rift api PLEASE Ben using steam vr we lose up to 10% performance this has nothing to do with your guys code too it’s purely do to the Rift core steam vr layer as it effects ALL games using steam vr with the rift

        Also using Rift Core 2.0 lets usinteract with desktop windows in the sim with very little work on your end other than supporting the api

  5. Before I used VR in xplane I was very much set in my ways that i’m not interested in flying with motion controllers, I want to use my hotas and nothing is going to change my mind. Boy was I wrong. I REALLY enjoy flying just with motion controllers for a couple of reasons. It feels more real (Learning accross to pull down the gear lever, moving my hand down to set the flaps on approach and then without having to clumsily put down my controller and wave my hand around hope it hit my joystick on short final to find it, I just grab the yoke and fly) It’s outside my comfort zone and every aircraft feels different (eg flaps down not just assigned to one key/button for all aircraft)

    For me the key to success is to let the people choose what they want and how they want to fly without the other types of control methods hindering them (eg I would not use the laser to control 3d cockpit so the option to turn it off would be appreciated)

    I’m amazed how well the interaction with the 3d cockpit works, It’s the first time in VR I think im faster and more accurate than using pancake mode.

    1. Right – there’s no either-or here…users can fly HOTAS, use controllers, or mix it up. It’s not hard to find a controller you’ve put down because you can see the controller in the HMD.

    2. I feel the same way, i’m a lot faster and accurate flying with the VR remotes than i ever was in joystick/pancake mode. Made my expand into types of Airplanes i have never tried before and a couple interesting moments ensured. I’m hooked.

  6. In one of the record-setting VR comment sections, Chris mentioned he had ordered a WMR headset with the intent of working that to full functionality. Hopefully this was the higher res Samsung model as it sounded like display resolution changes required additional internal tweaking to get the UI correct! Now that some initial dust has cleared, is there any comment on any other headsets being considered beyond Rift/Vive/WMR?

    1. I’m not sure what headset Chris has – our expectation is that most of the product should ‘just work’ regardless of headset res – the idea is that we render a virtual scene and the headset res limits how well YOU can see it. The UI are rendered to 2-d off-screen flat textures, whose own res is as good as what you’d see on a monitor. It’s drawing those into the real 3-d “world” that fails, because that buffer isn’t that high res (and if we make it huge, it gets down-sampled to HMD res when warped).

      Other headsets: TBD. We’re not taking seriously high latency solutions like wifi-to-your-smartphone, but if you can get it to work in SteamVR, we’re not going to black-list it. I’d say anything that’s still “I’m on a kickstarter list” is surely too soon for us to think about.

      1. I currently use my smartphone with iVfy but it supports usb 3 tethering so the bandwidth is sufficient for head tracking. I get no sickness or dizziness using it at all. I’m so glad that you support SteamVR as it makes my ‘headset’ 100% compatible. One day I aim to get a Rift and the controllers. Until then, I’ll have to use the mouse. It’s not a perfect solution but I’d still rather do that than go back to a flat monitor! Thanks for listening to our feedback guys! 🙂

  7. Ben, are the AMD GPU improvements in 11.20 preview yet? I don’t even want to attempt VR until I give the updates a test run. kind regards

  8. Hi Ben,

    Really not trying to open an old wound with this suggestion, but does it make sense to possibly change or allow additional graphics options to maximize for VR. I am quite happy with the performance in VR, except last night I flew into the LA basin where I have a number of custom airports and a lot of autogen buildings, and it became a slideshow. The only way I could get back decent frames was to drop world objects to low, which makes the world very bland. I know there are some “hacks” to permanently or even dynamically change the LOD, but it would be great if there was a slider to adjust. Not even sure that LOD is the best attribute to change (but it does seem natural as viewing distance is already limited by the resolution of the current gen headsets), but in general have you guys thought about any additional options to allow us to fine tune our performance specific to VR.

    1. I second this suggestion.

      Every rig is different and one of X-Plane’s great strengths is its ability to run on different systems, regardless of that system’ capability (recognising minimum and recommended pecs, of course).

      Fine tuning is possible using FlyWithLua, although that brings its own problems as well.

      Personally – and I do understand the attraction for developers – I believe that SteamVR is killing perfomance stone dead, as it does with all games. The single core nature of OpenGL also compounds the problem.

      The ability to tune the setup from within the game, specifically for VR, would I believe provide a significant advantage to users.

      I would like to thank Ben, Chris and others for the assurance that mouse clicks will be available in the next VR iteration. Although I accept that the Touch controller is visible in the HMD, it is still way to slow when, for example, ATC asks you to descend by 7,000 feet for whatever reason.

      Have you ever tried setting the AP altitude on the 737 using a Touch controller? I attempted to do so (even though it would normally done by the co-pilot as the control knob is on his side of the cockpit) and by the time I had turned my risk about 20 times, I was already past short final distance and had to execute a missed approach!. It just takes too long with a Touch controller, principally because you have to use your wrist to turn the knobs, not your fingers, which are much faster.

      I really believe that X-Plane’s VR, even in preview, is setting new standards tht others will find hard to equal. As the system develops, the port to Vulcan takes place and, hopefully, the FPS-killing SteamVR is somehow sorted out, the VR system in X-Plane will be the best there is.

      Like many others, I spend hours on X-Plane every day and I offer my whole-hearted thanks to LR for taking this brave and monumental step. I for one will stick with X-Plane as it continues its evolution into what I believe will become the finest ‘true’ flight simulator available.

      Many thanks to LR for all their hard work and, unlike so many other companies, for their eddiciency in keeping us all informed and for listening to our (no doubt sometimes annoying) complaints, criticisms and hopefully constructive suggestions.

      (System: i7, GTX 1080, 16Gb Ram, SSD, etc.)

  9. For what it’s worth, I think your instinct on not using the mouse and instead using the controller was bang on (I know I am probably in the minority here). I was skeptical of having to manipulate the cockpit without the mouse but to my surprise the touch controller worked perfectly in the 172!

    I think introducing the mouse actually breaks the immersion more and there is the problem of “finding the cursor”. But I am curious to see how you guys implement this.

    Laser grabbing could possible be the best idea for the wider cockpits and I agree with you that “gaze control” is probably better in theory than practice.

    As for the yoke control, I personally prefer to use the physical yoke as I enjoy the tactile interaction.

    Anyway, you guys have already moved the ball forward massively in Native VR implementation and this is a tremendous first preview. We appreciate the thoughtfulness that is evident here and look forward to future updates.

    P.S. Another vote for some sort of sound effects or music for the hangar! If anything, its a good initial confirmation that sound is being output through the HMD. Could even be “ambience” noise such as planes taking off and landing etc.

  10. Great job to the entire Laminar Research team on the VR implementation in the 11.20 beta!!

    I’m a real world instrument rated pilot and have been flying flight sims since the Apple IIe. In terms of VR, I use the Rift with touch controllers and a pretty capable PC (Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070; 16 GB DDR3 RAM; 2 TB SSD; dedicated to VR) and no VR application has yet taxed it. Both DCS World and War Thunder are silky smooth at high texture and resolution settings. However, the X-Plane 11.20 beta still has a lot of stuttering issues even using Medium or Low settings across the board. This is usually manifested by a feeling that you are “lurching forward” over and over again during flight. I assume that this will resolve itself as 11.20 gets further optimized for VR.

    That being said, I want to tell you that the VR implementation in this sim is the most ambitious and frankly brilliant of any other flight simulation. While DCS World is painstakingly realistic — the implementation of the touch controllers in X-Plane is far more immersive and much more like real-world piloting. Everything is so intuitive … click switches up and down, rotate dials to set transponders & comms, pull the throttle in and out, etc. I even love the “joystick” implementation for the flight controls. In reality, your approach is very much like the Cirrus SR22 side stick controller. It took me about 15 minutes to become acclimated to it, but now it feels very natural!

    One of the first things I did in the simulation was to go to my home airport, climb to 5,000 MSL near Cleveland in poor visibility conditions, and kill the engine. It was really fun setting up best glide speed and making my way to CLE with a deadstick landing — without having to worry about real-world crashing!

    I’m very much looking forward further iterations of X-Plane in VR. Make no mistake … you guys are making history in the long story of civilian flight simulation. This is the pinnacle of where flight sim was intended to go.

    Keep up the great work!!

        1. I’m sorry man but your specs will not give you “silky smooth” in DCS. It’s not even min spec for a VR headset.

          You will be running 45fps with ASW. You will get massive benefits from a newer CPU

          1. You would think so. However, ever since I upgraded my GPU, migrated my hard drive to an SSD, and installed a clean copy of Windows 10, the performance has exceeded any PC I’ve ever owned or used. The fact is that for several years now, the CPU has not been the limiting factor for virtually any application. Rather, the most important components are RAM (I have very fast DDR3 memory) and hard disk access (an SSD is exponentially faster and completely eliminates paging as an issue). Furthermore, most applications are now optimized to offload graphics processing to the GPU. My PC is actually a good setup to identify when an application’s code is overly relying upon the CPU, since that’s its weakest link.

            As a point of reference, my PC runs the following VR games flawlessly at medium to high settings and with no stuttering at all: DCS World, War Thunder, EVE: Valkyrie, Project Cars 2, Dirt Rally, Star Trek VR, Dead & Buried, Robo Recall, theBlu, Google Earth VR, Lone Echo, and MANY more (virtually all genres are represented). There is absolutely no performance issues or stuttering with any of them. The last one in particular — Lone Echo — is considered the gold standard for graphics processing intensity. From beginning to end, it was like being inside of a major motion picture. My rig never hiccupped once throughout the entire game.

            So I can only speak to my experience. I’ve never seen any issues with my current VR applications or games running at medium to high settings.

            I stand by my previous praise for Laminar Research. The development team is extremely ambitious and is setting the bar for all other flight sims in what they are trying to achieve. As an instrument rated private pilot, I’m sincerely grateful for their efforts. I’m hoping that my feedback helps in some way. While there may be benefits to upgrading a CPU, if applications are properly optimized to offload graphics processing to the GPU, it opens up the simulation to a much wider market — since it’s very easy to upgrade the graphics card, but much more invasive (and potentially headache inducing) to upgrade the CPU.

            As context, I’m an IT Director at a Fortune 200 company. I’ve been in multiple roles in both the Solutions/development and Operations/infrastructure areas for more than two decades — so I’m not completely guessing. Maybe educated guessing. 😉

            Again, thank you so much for your reply and best wishes for continued success on this effort!!

            – Steve

          2. I know this is a few days old but I just (Jan 7) upgraded from an I7 950 to an I5-8600k and my frame rates in XP and XP VR more then doubled. I’m running a Vive. This is with a GTX 970. XP likes a fast processor and with the new Coffee Lake CPUs offering a greater than 100% boost it is time to say goodbye to old faithful. You will thank me.

  11. Thanks for the update Ben. It’s great that you guys are considering all the options for interacting with cockpit elements, looking at the problem in 3D one might say. So far the Preview is running great and we’re looking forward to the next update.

    Regards
    Bambino

  12. As someone who is firmly in the HOTAS camp, I can tell you that there is some benefit to having HMD and mouse capability for me. I use DCS World as my guide as far as that goes. There are times when I will set up ONLY HMD mouselook mode (I already have a scroll wheel on my Saitek X-52, and there are already left and right mouse buttons built into its functionality, as well as “mouse sticks” to move cursor if needed.)

    What I have found is when set up as a “mouselook HMD” I can fly and fight better. I can look at switches, click them, while maneuvering. Where it becomes a pain is for switches and so on physically located on the periphery of my vision. This is even more apparent in X-Plane, where I often fly helicopters (VERY hands on). In that instance, being able to move a mouse over a button and click (even if I am using a HOTAS as my controls) is very convenient.

    I have to give FlyInside some credit. Their “Blue Dot” mouselook was a really good implementation of this HMD feature.

    I realize we HOTAS lovers may be in the minority as far as control schemes go, but we appreciate any options given to us, to make our workload a little easier in X-Plane.

    Thank you for not forgetting us!!!!

    1. Hi Drew,

      Oh…so…your first sentence is about the “benefits of having HMD and mouse capability” but…if I read right, you don’t mean an actual _mouse_ at all, right?

      You’re referring to using the HMD as a laser pointer and using the hardware joystick for the button. I definitely understand why HOTAS users want this, but I would never call this “mouse” mode…it allows you to NOT use the mouse.

      cheers
      Ben

  13. Ben an team, really enjoying the VR, thank you! The controls discussion is particularly interesting as it has such a determining effect on immersion.

    To achieve ultimate immersion, I believe there is another controls option. I am working on recreating a real world cockpit with switches and controls in the correct place. Studies have shown that the perception of depth and placement of objects in VR is extremely accurate, hence the ease with which we can pick up the controllers in the X-Plane VR environment.

    Naturally recreating the cockpit in the real world is more expensive than simply using the VR controllers, but significantly cheaper than trying to recreate all the dials, displays and dome projection. Think professional VR simulation, possibly with motion simulation thrown in.

    In this scenario being able to see your hands would help, ala LeapMotion. This had been incorporated into FlyInside very successfully. Any chance we may see this in native X-Plane VR?

    1. We have to walk before we run here so we’re focused on getting the included hardware to work optimally before looking into other things like LeapMotion. It’s not off the table but I have heard mix reviews, at best, about its accuracy.

      1. Thumbs up and keep up the good work
        Perhaps its the haptic glove that will ultimately provide the ideal solution…

    2. Yes! I was thinking of building the same thing! A big panel with all the knobs and switches in just the right places so I could actually touch all the controls. And like you point out, you wouldn’t need any of the displays because the VR system takes care of that.

      If LR supported it, this panel could be tracked with a VIVE Tracker so the alignment between the VR and real object could be perfectly maintained.

      That said, the controller implementation is cheap, flexible, and works very well, so I might never get around to building this. (Unless, perhaps, I decide to try to commercialize it)

  14. I’m happy to hear of all these possibilities in active development, and I want to answer Ben that, in the previous post, asked me more details on why I would prefer a mouse. Like Anubhav Srivastava above, I prefer using a joystick too, because of phisical interaction. And yes it’s true: I don’t have three hands so if I use a HOTAS I have to drop hands off the stick to grab both a mouse and a touch controller. And while I can see the touch controller inside the virtual space, I cannot see the mouse. Maybe it’s a matter of habit, but I find more immersive to rely on muscle memory and find the mouse on the right side of my stick than grab a wonky touch controller for which I do not need muscle memory ’cause I can actually see it, but then I have to pay attention when I put it back ’cause I can see the controller but not the surface of the desk on which it is assumed I should be place it back. On the other hand a mouse is firmly resting on that desk, always in the same position, and I find it easier to pick it up only by moving my right hand a little to the right. Beside that, I find immersion breaking to see a bulky object compenetrated to the right yoke when I put the touch controller back on the table. Playing DCS, I tried both head tracked pointer and mouse and I’ve found mouse to be the more immersive and a way to uncouple my head movements from cockpit interactions. Maybe it’s just that I’d like to play x-plane 11 the same way I play other simulators and with witch I feel comfortable. However it’s a good thing you are developing all these different possibilities, so anyone can try and find the one that suits him best.

      1. Put my name on that list too, not only is picking up and putting down the motion controller a little bit of a problem but also due to my Oculus VR setup on the motion sim the only place the motion controller works is by holding it up to my chest!

  15. Thanks for the update. Can’t wait for the mouse. With FlyInside (what I’ve been using for a year), the way it follows the contour of what’s in front of me works pretty well for switches, knobs and levers. The big one I want to work is the LeapMotion sensor. That’s my first choice for a controller, but some good gestures need to be developed so it doesn’t get confused. When I can’t activate a handle with Leap, I use the mouse. LeapMotion hand tracking is the way to go, in my opinion, because all I need are my hands in the cockpit. The only thing missing is haptics. I should mention that I use hardware for primary flight controls (stick / yoke, pedals, throttle / collective / thrust vector). I have programmed switches for other essentials, like gear, flaps and speed brake. Looking forward to the transporter and external views.

  16. I’m a long time simmer in the process of acquiring my real 🙂 Private Pilot License and I’ve to say that X-Plane VR is the way to go to study at home!!! I’ve completely abandoned my HOTAS Warthog joystick and right now using only Rift controllers and pedals (required for rudder inputs). I’ve always found the joystick to be unrealistic (due to the lack of real forces) and don’t really know why but I prefer using the VR controllers for everything.

    Really unable to fly 2D right now!

    Thanks Again

    1. That’s what happened to me too..
      I’m still hopeful we can get next gen higher resolution HMD’s in 2018 though.

      The current ones still make it hard to read small text on gauges and GPS units, etc, without leaning in and looking closer a lot, which unfortunately ruins the instrument scan process vs real life.

      But….I basically don’t sim at all now, as 2D just sucks compared to the VR immersion. There truly is no going back.

  17. Great thoughts for preview version 2, but please take care with the implementation of the laser grabbing. I would hate to see the laser pointers when moving my hands or to accidentally activate something in the distance for example, so please make a bindable toggle command to (de)activate this functionality.

    You may also want to look into performance on the Rift as I have noticed that disabling “Advanced Supersample Filtering” and “Always-on Reprojection” in the SteamVR settings really(!!!) makes a difference from almost unplayable on low settings to really well playable on higher settings.

    1. Laser grabbing is opt-in by partial trigger press, I _think_ – it’s not lasers shooting all over the place all the time. Not sure what other config options we’ll have.

  18. Hi there,

    did i overlooked the comments about the phantastic feature of Oculus Rift Core 2.0?

    With Oculus Rift Core 2.0 it’s easy to use Windows Desktop inside your Headset and place seamlessly several windows into your running VR-App, also in X-Plane!

    It’s no problem to switch immediately with the Home-Button of the Touch-Controller between X-Plan VR-View and the Desktop-View. It’s also easy to import a running App in the Cockpit and size it where you want.

    I have made a little video. Not professional but maybe useful for everyone who doesn’t know about this breathtaking features of core 2.0. A must have for all X-Plane VR User, at least from my point of view.

    You can find the video here: https://youtu.be/1sEXysnqrwA

    regards Chris Oak

  19. I do not have any 3D equipment, nor do I have experience with 3D/VR other than I had to stop playing Doom 2, because I felt really sick due to the bad physical modeling… 😉
    I think three important things with VR are:

    1) Moving the head (the motion tracker) is considered moving the body also (which would be quite untypical while sitting in a cockpit). That’s the problem of feet tracking…

    2) For a real feeling one would need data gloves and data boots to model movements of hands, fingers, and feet independently.

    3) When using physical in addition to virtual manipulators (i.e. a keyboard, a mouse, or a joystick), a kind of augmented reality would be helpful, especially for the keyboard. I believe that pressing real buttons on a real keyboard is preferable over pressing virtual buttons on a virtual keyboard…

    So if you could use the data gloves with a traditional yoke system, allowing you to rest your hands on a yoke (that has no other function than guiding your movements with the hands, and allowing your arms to relax), you’d have a very realistic feeling. But the data gloves should not just give some trigger and touch feedback, but also provide positioning information (6 degrees of freedom) in 3D. Challenging!

    On 3-D/VR mouse: I can imagine that moving the camera (i.e.: your head) keeps the mouse at the same relative position in the view cone. So if your view has settled, you’d move the mouse relative as with a static desktop.

    I also consider an option that the 3D view is momentarily headed towards an interface element that is touched/manipulated as quite useful. During the automatic startup sequence, you’ll have to guess where to look for the manipulation being done. In 3D/VR if you use some static controller button or keyboard, it would be helpful if you would “see” the button in the 3D cockpit being manipulated by your action, also. That could be a settable option.

  20. Goodmorning,
    What is the correct way to start a downloaded steam version of xplane beta vr. I had it going some how yesterday and it was awsom except for some video twitching all the time . is there a fix for that? it would be remarkable without twitching, ha

    I have steam vr loaded, and steam’s x-plane latested beta and x-plane is now visable in oculus vr menu alone with steam . they dont play from there though, get error messeges.

    the only way x-plane plays in headset is going to settings in vr steam and then graphics and then checking the vr in use box at the bottom . and then going to show VR or controller games icons at top right in steam and checking the vr box to display vr steam games and then activating x-plane beta.

    Is there a better way to activate x-plane and control it via oculus
    very confusing getting the correct sequence ha.

    also hows the best way to control instrument panel. my yoke and control quadrent seem to work but key board track pad doesnt. Curser sometimes moves for a second at start up

    alien pc
    32 g ram
    gtx 1080 card
    i-77820
    64 bit
    1 tb ssd

  21. I have HMD OSVR HDK2 which apparently is not supported even though I play steam VR games through steam VR with it.
    How much work is needed to support other HMD’s and is there a work around for users with other HMD’s other than Oculus or Vive?
    How long before there is support for the Pimax 4k HMD and upcoming 8k HMD which I will be purrchasing?

    It is very frustrating to have a VR HMD and X plane 11 and still not be able to play in VR, although I appreciate you are now incorporating it.

    1. We haven’t looked at this OSVR HDK2 at all — from what I can tell, there aren’t a lot of them out there.

      What goes wrong when you try to use it, exactly?

      I have no announcements on support dates for any particular hardware.

      1. Well when I use it I get into the hangar in 3D at 90 fps just fine but seem quite low to the floor and there is no console with options – even though I have no motion controllers and would need mouse or joystick as controller for that anyway.

        1. It sounds like the room scale reference is totally borked. Maybe do a quick calibrate in SteamVR – that’s where it has you put your headset on the floor, etc.

      2. Thanks Ben
        Not sure if last reply got sent properly as used a different email.
        I get to the hangar in 3D and can llok around as normal, all at 90FPS, but I seem to be very low tot he ground and can see no menu in the hangar for options.
        I do not however have motion controllers, could that be why?
        I know I need them to interact with the menu but thought I would try it to see if my HMD worked.
        Hoping for mouse and/or joystick support to navigate soon.

        PS
        I have the digital download version I purchased from you directly so it is not installed on steam.
        With elite Dangerous I needed to use a steam installed version rather than stand alone to get VR to work properly.
        Not sure if that is relevant here but I do not you don’t give digital buyers a steam key which seems unfair.
        Hoping to get to use X pane 11 in VR eventually.

          1. Thanks Ben, you are 100% correct and it was the Steam VR scale that was messed up even though I had calibrated. I recalibrated as a last resort and found I could then see the menu screen so OSVR seems to be working well with X plane after all.
            Hope mouse control comes soon as itching for my first VR flight.
            Thank you for an excellent sim.

  22. I’ve tried joining the VR craze in XP11 on my iMac by cutting a peephole in the bottom of as large cardboard box, pressing it up against the screen and looking through the holes I cut – doesn’t seem very VR 🙂

    On a more serious note, are the AMD optimisations due in the next cut of the VR release by any chance?

    Thanks for all your hard work! Pete

  23. Hey Ben, good news. I messed around some more with the Steam VR set up and found the menu is there so all seems to work with OSVR which is cool. (Maybe you can add it to you compatibility list :D)
    All I need now is way to interact with the menu so really looking forward to support for those who do not use motion controllers.

    I can only hope 8k Pimax will work so well with Steam VR and X plane when it comes out.

  24. Just to talk about philosophy: now I play DCS with rift, hotas + pedals, mouse and voiceattack for voice commands; and I play Il-2 BOS (all non clickable aircrafts) with rift, hotas and voiceattack; so I plan to play x-plane 11 (clickable) the same way I play DCS. But if I have to deal with how I imagine the future of VR flight simulation, I dream of a tracked hotas, so that I could see the real hotas in virtual space the same way I now see the touch controllers. The best would be having also a pair of tracked gloves with whom I could interact with virtual cockpit. But since all of this does not exist (and we cannot ask x-plane developers to create, since I think they’ve got already enough work to do), everyone will try and find his best solution.
    According to steam vr presumed reduction of performance, I don’t think it’s the real problem: I play Il-2 BOS with rift and steam vr and the performances are even better than DCS and without lowering graphics, so it’s only a matter of optimization.
    However, the best news overall is that also x-plane developers find out that VR is the only possible present and future for flight simulation, and are implementing it. Thanks and keep up the great work, we need it!

  25. Very much looking forward to the next version of your VR support. Ben, I don’t know if this is taboo or something but have yourself and your dev team played DCS World in VR? Their mouse control in VR works just fine, and I’m sure when it’s done your VR mouse support will work at least as well if not better.

    Your full tracked controller mode is absolutely BRILLIANT and I can only imagine the joy of those who previously flew with just a mouse and keyboard or gamepad. I myself am far too heavily invested in my sim controls to set them aside.

  26. Hi Ben, I’m one of the weird HOTAS guys hoping for “gaze control” (aka FI’s “blue dot”), I’ve got some feedback:

    Your VR preview is what made me return to flightsimming after a hiatus caused by frustration with the stability or (xor) the usability of other fly-in-VR solutions.

    I’m flying with a HOTAS with loads of switches, buttons and knobs, a throttle quadrant with more switches and a GF module (and rudder pedals). I’ve used all of that stuff much longer than I have a VR headset, so I can find every switch and button without looking.

    The way my stuff is set up has no similarity at all with the layout of the GA aircraft I’m flying most of the time. I have my right hand on my stick (not only because it’s how I control the aircraft, but also because it’s my main cue about the position of all my other physical controls when I’m flying in VR) and I use all other controls with the left hand, no matter what aircraft I’m sitting in and where those controls are in VR space. My brain doesn’t mind. It doesn’t affect my enjoyment when I move a lever on the left in physical space and a lever to my right moves in VR space. It’s just an additional layer of indirection my brain can cope with.

    To be able to fly every aircraft I wanted to fly, I used some joystick-button-to-mouse-event trickery in FI, so I could use the gaze-controlled mouse pointer (“center mouse” on where I’m looking) with joystick buttons for clicks and mousewheel events for those controls which FI didn’t handle correctly and which I didn’t have assigned to a physical control (e.g. radio stack, GPS). Used together with the quick zoom function this was the fastest (!), safest and most comfortable way for me to be in control of my aircraft in VR. I could keep my right hand on the stick and use it for all of my cockpit interaction. Although, describing it, I can totally see why people would be baffled, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend such a setup to others.

    With the preview, I found myself trying to hold the HOTAS stick in a certain position awkwardly with my left hand, while looking to the side (where I have some free space in my cramped room) to recenter my VR view so I could actually reach a certain switch with the Touch controller (desperately trying to keep the controller inside the view of at least one of the two cameras).

    Trying to interact with the ATC window during approach turned into one of those moments where I wish I wasn’t so immersed, even though that’s where the laser beam is used. That’s certainly not the best time to let go of the stick to go searching for the Touch controller (which only stays visible for a certain time).

    Using the GPS seemed to take forever and I had to lean in a lot to be able to read the display (I can’t afford super-sampling and I haven’t set up shortcuts to the zoom function, I only tried setting up a quick view close to the GPS but that didn’t seem to work in VR). (What I miss most currently is pointing the blue dot at one of those huge, gaze-friendly buttons on a GTN750 touchscreen.)

    My current plan to work around the usability issues I’m seeing with my weird setup and usage pattern is to assign buttons to the “let the AI fly the plane” function so I can take my time with the Touch controller. I know sooner or later I’ll find a way to fly the way I want, no matter what input methods you chose to implement (worst case: I get even more (physical) buttons), but I appreciate everything you do to make my life easier. 🙂

    Also, yes, my Baron is also missing the xPad, it’s neither on one of the yokes nor anywhere else in the cabin, at least not from a seated experience. Maybe it takes roomscale to find it? 😉

    And: thank you for committing to VR. I really appreciate it.

    1. I like the term “gaze control” – it’s good to disambiguate this use case from a real mouse cursor, which is an entirely different beast.

      Have you considered duct taping the controller to your HMD? 🙂 🙂 It’s not the best usability idea I’ve had, but it is fully compatible with VR1.

      Seriously, though, I agree, if you’re using HOTAS on final and trying to talk to ATC, having to change to another control device is not ideal.

      1. Now I understand why Touch controllers come in pairs: I can tape one controller to the front of the HMD for targeting and attach the other one to the back as a counterweight!

  27. Hello. Reading comments i found the question about Rudder pedals and i have a suggestion. You know, that touch-pads on Vive controllers can detect where it is being touched and pressed. You may differ the left and right hand and leave teleport feature on the right and map Rudder on the sides of the left hand. Also it would be great to have up and down sides of left touch-pad mapped as pitch trimmer.
    I’ve seen games, that uses different sectors of touch-pad for different features.

    Also i have a question: will you add the ability to have 2D panels on screen in VR? Or maybe some way to add them on your xPad? Map on the xPad needs improvement too. Such information, like NDB, VOR and ILS frequencies is highly needed. People should not have to remove headset to look into the charts (printed or open on other screen). And not all aircrafts equipped with FMC or GNS to get this info.

    1. Remapping one of the two controllers to commands or axes is what Tyler’s working on now.

      Re: 2-d panels, if you literally mean 2-d panels (E.g it’s a plane with a 2-d instrument panel, like the old C-130 or B-52 from XP10) then no, at this point we have made no consideration to show those in 3-d.

      If by 2-d panels you mean the various pop-up windows, like the Garmin screens that can pop-out, I’ll talk to Chris about it. It’s certainly not hard for us to put them on an ipad or floating in space – we have general code to map 2-d surfaces to 3-d rectangles in VR for modern code paths.

      1. Yes, i meant second option – pop-up panels from GNS or plugins. I use those for drawing bigger instruments; payload, CG and fuel calculator; ground handling, and so on.
        Thanx. Will wait for documentation to improve my projects with VR.

      2. Definitely +1 for the pop-out windows!!

        Thanks for taking the plunge into this great VR-adventure and being so communicative to and for all users!

      3. Popout Windows like the FMC or the Garmins, would also help with Reading “the fine print”…

  28. Everything looks great so far!

    Too bad I can’t do anything without touch controls… 🙁

    Hoping the mouse update is soon!

  29. Can we have the ability in VR to display the FMC in a large pop window where we can then enter the data needed for a flight into it? I took the IXEG 737 out today and could not program the FMC at all because I can’t get to it in VR, nor could I see it clearly even if I could get to it!

    Additionally, will the ability to interact with switches in VR with the mouse be implemented in the next VR update? I can’t fly airliners without being able to manipulate the autopilot controls accurately (among others) and that is all I bought or use X-Plane for.

    These are gameplay breaking things for me and a lot of other people. As others have stated above, using the mouse works fine in DCS (actually, it’s a lot better than using the touch controllers).

  30. So far so good. For a “preview”, this is awesome. I am looking forward to seeing how it evolves in the future.

    One criticism I have is about the night time stars. In VR, they don’t look good in pitch black conditions. They appear far too large/close. It looks like a low-res skybox and was very distracting for me; which is unfortunate because the night time scenery lights look great. At dusk and dawn this effect is much less noticeable.

    Many have also already mentioned the crash that happens if SteamVR is already running when launching X-Plane as well as the need to remove FlyInside. I assume those have been documented and will be addressed in future releases.

    Anyway, thanks for your superb work on the VR implementation.

  31. Awesome work Laminar! I was sceptical about leaving all my hardware behind and flying with just the touch controllers. But: once I got over my reservations I love flying with Touch only. Cleaned my desk (bitter sweet experience removing all those trusty Saitek friends). The only kid that hasn’t left the house is the rudder, and the poor thing seems really lonely.

  32. You can never go back. First flights in my physical cockpit (operating by feel) with my HOTAS using an HTC Vive. Delicious. Made me a better pilot. The bitches and gripes will get sorted. I’m missing the clarity of my glass displays, but I think it’s better than a fair trade.

    In other words, great job, guys. We’ll need the mouse for operating CDU’s and the like (as if you didn’t know by now…), but I can’t wait to see where this goes in terms of clarity and usability. Never have I felt as if I’d just been flying as much as I do this moment.

    And taking off the headset is too much like leaving The Matrix. Painful! 😉

  33. Just got my Oculus (touch) headset – up to now I’ve been a bit of a HOTAS nerd. Three 4k screens, with CH yoke and pedals – get 30-35 fps. Also have a few hours now into my PPL in the C172R. But this VR “IS” immersive, particularly when flying VFR patterns, touch-and-goes around my home (3D) airport.

    I have read here a lot of good improvement recommendations – I might add one. Rather than the little “brick” controllers would it be possible to use “hands” (point, grip, etc.) as I’ve seen in other VR releases. Programming, copyright issues, personal preferences?

    1. Larry, I’m looking for the same thing, to which Ben replied below. As for animating the hand with pointing, gripping, etc. like other Touch games; a little info, SteamVR Vive wands do not track your fingers at all while Oculus Touch does. The upcoming SteamVR “knuckles” controllers will have sensors like Touch so this functionality will probably make it’s way into X-Plane after it becomes a standard SteamVR feature with the Knuckles release.

  34. @Ben Supnik Ben, how much work would be required for you to give us the option of the controller showing as a “virtual hand” in the sim instead of the current “virtual controller”? I would much prefer this, and I’m sure I’m not alone. With “touch” and “knuckles” controllers you can even animate the fingers which works beautifully in many existing Oculus Touch titles.

    1. You could do this yourself now. All of the OBJs that are used in the VR experience are (1) standard OBJs and (2) in the library. So you can make a custom scenery pack that replaces a lot of this stuff.

      1. That’s fantastic Ben, thanks! PS- Did you see the news about the expected higher resolution Vive announcement tomorrow? You backed the right horse. 😉

  35. Hi,

    I just borrowed an oculus incl. touch contollers from a friend for the first time VR over the Weekend.

    As a Pilot with PPL-A, I must say the immersion is really fantastic. Much easier to navigate, fly patterns and land in VFR.

    I‘m with you since ages and use saitek rudder, yoke and switch panel.

    After evaluating different combinations, for me yoke, throttle and rudder will stay in VR.

    It is just difficult for the sensors to keep tracking sitting at the desk. To reach all buttons and radios, I would prefer slew/ zoom for the thumbsticks and internal views for the menu.
    Teleport is great on ground but not in the air. Ok, this is my Feedback. Good luck!

  36. I really like how easy the touch controllers are to use. Impressed with how quickly they start to feel like your own hands and you can flip switches and move dials with little thought. While everything in the cockpit is really clear, there are a few things that require some leaning in. For example, the Kollsman window and even the frequencies sometime in the Garmin 530 (easy to mistake an 8 for a zero, etc). Not a big deal on the ground but if you are flying and using PilotEdge its a little tough to quickly set things when you get handed off. Might be nice if when you start changing an instrument value, there was a text projection of the current setting maybe an inch or two in front of the instrument in bigger font but thin and semi-transparent so as not to be intrusive or block your view. This would then disappear a second after letting go of the instrument.

  37. As a person who really likes the feel of my HOTAS setup, I do have an idea for VR.

    I agree that simply using the HMD to select a control is not accurate enough and would be frustrating to many users.

    Most joysticks I’ve seen have a number of buttons and a hat which outside of VR was used to look in a direction. That feature is now completely irrelevant, but maybe we could use that hat creatively.

    How about this?

    1. Look in the “general” direction of the control you want to change.
    2. With a button toggle the dash on, automatically select a dash control “approximately” where you were looking.
    3. Then Use the hat to move to the control you want.
    4. Use another button to activate/deactivate the control
    5. While the control is active use the same hat to change the control on off ( Up/Down ) or turn left/ right ( Left/Right)

    You could then deactivate and go to another control or look at another part of the dash and toggle the dash off/on and have it auto select a control in that area.

    The dash could go return to offline after a timeout or clicking the dash off/on button.

    I think this would be very user friendly and almost every joystick has 2 buttons and a hat on it.

  38. I think even in preview this product is amazing and fairly flawless execution besides a minor thing here and there. It has convinced me that full touch interaction is the future for simulators. My one may complaint besides struggling to keep steady FPS is not being able to interact with the MAP or ATC window.

    Please make it so you can bring ATC/Map window and it just floats or something and you can interact with it.

    1. The normal map window seems to be desktop-only, but there is at least the xPad integrated map.

      The ATC window, though, is certainly supported in VR, and I’m very impressed with LR’s implementation. I imagine it’s serving as their testbed for porting of ‘plain’ 2D UI to the VR space.

      When first opened, it is attached to the user’s head – uncomfortable for extended use but fine for a starting point. At that point, it can be grabbed and positioned in space, resized from any of the edges, menu options can be selected with the controllers, and it can be closed like a normal 2D UI window.

  39. Just because, well, lots are considering what kit to buy (me included) – VivePro has just been announced. Dubya dubya vive.com.
    The big deal is the lighter mask (yes it is) and 78% more pixels (and headphones)
    Not a huge amount of pixels, but enough to make me wait a few more weeks to see what price it’ll be. If you need to visualise it, what would be rendered in a 3×3 block of pixels now has 4×4 pixels. Enough to stress the current graphics cards.
    End of the news.

  40. 2 Things:
    First of all, using only touch controllers is amazing and the idea to do it in such a way where you can rest your hands is very ideal. You can make such small corrections and my landings are way smoother than when I use my saitek yoke. BUT, would having the motion for a yoke still be pushing/pulling still allow you to rest your hand on your leg? The vertical location of your controller would have no effect so you could essentially slide it forward and back on your leg, still allowing for “hand rest”. Maybe a button on the controller to recenter the yoke too to make it even easier.

    Second, I am sure some of your VR research must have included testing out Flyinside. The only thing right now that I feel is sorely missed, is the binocular option. Obviously we are all at the mercy of the resolution of the headsets, but the ability to quick toggle a button that has adjustable zoom allows for quick checking of instruments, GPS, or even looking for your airport out in the distance. I know this is slightly different from just the standard zoom although similar. Hopefully this can be implemented.

    Thank you for everything! Flying feels more immersive than I ever expected and I never thought I would prefer controllers only vs my hardware yoke, but you pulled it off!

    1. There’s something positive to be said about a motion controller instead of a joystick/yoke.
      There’s no snap-to-center that all joystick manufacturers seem to insist on (because loud-voiced kidz insist their joysticks should read x=0,y=0) (cable-ties on the spring still leaves that annoying center detent)

      A friend with a Vive who’s just bought X-Plane is now shopping for pedals and a throttle first.

      By the way, not enough has been said about the genius of the microlight. Such a good call.

  41. Regarding Mouse Control to Major Tom:

    This works very well on aerofly FS2, so if you guys would like to see a working implementation of this, you can check it out. I have flown a few ours with a USB joystick and mouse, with the HTC vive, in aerofly FS2 and I like it better than with the controllers. It has more precision, and I only need it very seldom, so it doesn’t really kill the immersion for me.

    Cheers!

  42. Ben, since this is a preview, not a beta, do you still want suggestions to flow through the bug reporter? I presume bugs would still go that way no matter what.

  43. Do you think it would be possible to use Gear-VR (or other phone headsets)?
    If you already planning support without touch remotes. It would bring VR flying to a much bigger audience that probably do not have the money to buy Oculus or Vive set.

        1. Kind of. riftcat is a driver for OpenVR, so X-Plane will use it because we didn’t black-list it. It’s in “unsupported but try if you want” bucket.

          1. I tried it on a S7 Edge in a gear-vr headset. I have 5ghz network en it is about 200Mbps.

            When not moving around very much it is really immersive. Cockpit looks so real. Letters on the radios I can read but not the instrument pannels.

            Without vr I have a framerate of arround 70 fps, but as soon as I turn on vr I see on the screen arround 15.

            when not moving my head it looks great, but as soon as I move my head it is not fluent at all. and get dizzy in a few minutes. ( I have turned down all my graphics and this is not getting better).

            Am I loosing frame rates via riftcat? I would still want to try it so please do not disable

  44. Hi Ben.
    Can you give any sort of timeframe when mouse support will come, even if it just for the VR menu to allow those with no motion controllers but HMD’s to jump in?
    This week?

  45. Hello to all Laminar guys. I just have this thought…
    You know, many military and even some civilian aircrafts have the Head Up Display (HUD), which draws some information. Basically, it is a collimator optical system, that projects the picture on glass in the way, it looks like it is at some distance behind it. Probably infinite. And the picture “moves” along with pilot’s head. It is not hard to create such gauge for normal mode, using sim/graphics/view/pilots_head_x (z) DataRefs. But what about the VR? Any ideas about how to make the picture on HUD to be visually behind the screen, but actually on the glass?
    Probably we’ll need some new properties for the objects to be drawn separately for left and right eye, or something like that. Taking in account, that Vive, for example, has adjustable eye distance – we’ll need to know this value.
    Or maybe we can just draw a panel at the far distance in front of the aircraft, but having some x-ray property to be drawn over all other objects. And make it dim, when camera moves away the viewing point of pilot.
    Just thoughts.
    Thanx.

    1. What do you mean “it moves with the pilot’s head”? The HUDs I’ve seen up close are screens that are bolted down in the cockpit – if the pilot looks through them with calibration to head position, they provide attitude reference, but look to your left and they’re not out front. Are you referring to a different configuration?

        1. No, i meant collimator systems, that projects picture on the infinite distance of the glass.
          If my two previous replies will be accepted – you’ll see videos about its work.

          1. Hi Andrey,

            I think the least bad way to do this is to position the HUD image in 3-d space behind the HUD glass – this would get you two things in VR:
            1. A sense of “far away” (due to stereoscopic effects) — this might be the least bad option. The image might have to be physically larger than the HUD display to counter-act distance.
            2. Some kind of clipping when the image is not aligned with the HUD – by putting the image far behind the HUD glass, head translation will mov the HUD glass a lot more than the HUD image, taking them out of alignment.

            We may get some kind of _direct_ support for this into the sim…the hack I’ve seen people do is use 1% alpha testing to Z-out the HUD when viewed off angle.

          2. Ok. If i get it right, i may put a special object in front of the cockpit, make it completely transparent and draw HUD information on it. But somehow i should make it visible only, when looking through the HUD glass and partly disappear, when it is partly visible (not aligned).
            Not sure how clipping works. I’m still not completely understand the logic of using glass objects in X-Plane. I remember that issue, when some world or cockpit objects disappear, when you look through a transparent object, that is not marked as glass in PlaneMaker, but has transparent texture. May experiment with that.
            Could be great to have such properties as “HUD image” for drawing information on it, and “HUD glass” to be able to see that “HUD object” only when looking through that glass.

          3. Well. Did a little test.
            I created a square plane about 100 meters in front of the cockpit and mapped it on panel.png texture (added it into the _cockpit.obj object) and put some elements to draw on it. The good thing – it draws itself in front of all other world objects, when in cockpit view. But also it acts really weird…
            First of all, it casts shadow on the terrain and messes with shadows inside the cockpit (now only this one object casts shadows and all other don’t). Second – it declines all atmospheric effects, like distant mist. Third – when switch to external view (Shift+4) – camera moves far away of the aircraft and doesn’t move closer. I guess it’s because the overall length of the aircraft is 100m+
            And the main problem remains: Still need to make it disappear, using some mask, when pilot moves head away from the HUD’s screen center-line. Not sure if this is gonna work at all. Need another solution.
            Here are screenshots:
            https://www.dropbox.com/s/9is4d6q21ijxppu/tu154_4.JPG?dl=0
            https://www.dropbox.com/s/ltexw0knuhlek2r/tu154_7.jpg?dl=0

          4. A lot of this is understandable.
            – Mark it as not casting shadows and glass in the Plane-Maker settings.
            – If you put stuff far off from your plane, we make the plane’s radius bigger.

      1. I mean sideways movement along with head position. The picture appears like it is far behind the screen so pilot should not adjust eye-focus on the screen and just look through it.
        Personally i haven’t seen military HUDs on aircrafts, only collimators on guns.
        You maybe seen targeting collimators in other flight-sims, like IL2 or DCS for example.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPNQB-FyZVQ
        Here is a good demonstration of the picture from real MiG29 and Su27 HUD. Notice how picture “moves” along with camera.

      2. Hi Ben,

        what he means is that the HUD symbols are collimated, i.e. they are focused at infinity and have no parallax. So, for example, the HUD horizon line will always coincide with the real horizon, even if the pilot moves his POV up or down.

        In other words, they act like infinitely distant objects. It is a necessary feature for HUDs to work effectively.

        1. Right. So this is going to be a little weird in VR…in the real HUD, the light is collimated but the HUD reflector plane is close.

          In a VR headset, _everything_ is at the same focal length – I’ve seen online sources claim that it’s ~ 2m, as well as “at infinity” – the former seems more probable to me. Anyway, the issue is that clearly we can’t get collimation cues off the headset – it’s not computer controllable.

          So the theory is that you just draw the HUD image “out there” a bit and rely on stereoscopic cues to convince your brain that the image is far away. That’s not how a real HUD works at all, but it might provide the best approximation in VR (where we have easy access to feeding the left and right eye differently and no access to the optical direction of the light).

          1. Correct modeling of HUD/collimators is not exclusive to VR, but applies equally to 2D monitors, since the POV can be changed there as well.

            Of course military flight sims correctly model that, but I don’t know the specifics of how they do it.

            Probably the easiest way to model collimated symbols in a 3D world, is to put them on the HUD glass, but have their position in the 3D world dynamically changing in every frame, so to be always at the center of the screen. This is equivalent to having them at an infinite distance. In case of VR though, this dynamic change should happen between left eye rendering and right eye rendering.

            The proposed solution of putting them “out there” a bit is probably not accurate enough and quite cumbersome.

            HUD are more and more common (on airliners as well), so I feel this will be an important issue to tackle by either 3rd party developers or by you people at LR.

          2. Looking at that F18 video, I think you’d get a really good approximation by offsetting the hud texture by the ‘negative’ head position (taking the ideal head position to be 0,0,0).

            ‘Head position’ may be ‘left/right eye position’ in VR, but either way, the effect is that you’d get the hud moving in the opposite direction of your head movement. Trick might be lining up the horizon to the hud-horizon.

            This extra ‘movement’ puts it ‘visually behind the screen’ and we can ignore the ‘focus’ word…
            (just dont look at the eye tracking focal VR tech in the labs!)

      3. The F-35 has an HMD where a virtual HUD moves with the pilot’s head. Not sure if the attitude graphics move with head position, although that’s certainly a mode that would be possible.

        As for “moving with the pilot’s head” that Andrey is describing, the collimation effect of the HUD optics give the graphics a feeling of being far off in the distance (focused at infinity), so if a pilot’s head moves laterally or vertically away from the centerline of the HUD, the graphics move laterally or vertically as well — off of the HUD entirely if one moves far enough. It’s kind of spooky, since the graphics become clipped by the edges of the HUD reflector glass in the process.

        If you need to see an example, I’m sure that I can dig one up from Youtube. Greg Hofer’s test HUD for the stock Baron works this way as well. https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/26579-x-hud-demo-for-pc-64bit-by-classic-jet-simulations/

      4. I think what Andrey means is that when the pilot moves his head left/right/up/down the HUD elements appear to move around on the physical HUD glass. If this isn’t working right in XP VR I haven’t noticed but I have mostly flown GA so far.

      5. I presume he is getting confused by systems like for the AH64 Apache which used a projection glas for one eye (part of the helmet).

      6. – Mark it as not casting shadows and glass in the Plane-Maker settings.

        I made it inside the main cockpit object. If i make a separate one, then drawing something on it will be not that easy (i still should learn do draw custom gauges on textures)
        Besides, if i make a separate object, will it be drawn over the word, so it could still be visible over the scenery objects and ground?
        Will try tomorrow. This is interesting 🙂

    2. Well, the “HUD”, is basically the glass reflecting a screen that is on the upper side of the instrument panel. I think it would be easier to just imitate the real thing and have the glass reflect a screen as well. The glass is already reflecting the interior of the aircraft, so maybe it already works out of the box.

      1. This would not work at all – our reflections are (first of all) not nearly accurate enough for this, and second, we don’t simulate the lens effects that the reflectors and other parts of the HUD have.

        1. The technical discussion is over my head but I will just throw this out there.
          I made a “best aircraft for VR” thread in which one user responded witht eh following when commenting on the Colimata F/A-18F, “One cool thing, this is the first VR craft I’ve flown with a HUD and like in real life, the HUD stays focused off in the distance and doesn’t move when you move around.”

          So perhaps there is reality/perception gap here on what works and what does not.

        2. @Ben Supnik, I’m not sure if saying this is taboo, but rather than reinvent the wheel can’t we just find out how other flight sims (such as DCS) are doing HUD’s? I can tell you for sure that DCS HUD’s work as they should in VR.

          Ben, please let me know if it’s inappropriate to reference DCS in this way. Also maybe you all prefer to puzzle it out for yourselves instead of “cheating”, I can respect that too. =)

  46. First of all, I want to apologize for my bad English. I hope you understand me

    If you allow me, I want to make a suggestion. VR is simply imprsionante, but many of us have planes that are very complex and, sadly, it will take years to be adapted (or never will be).
    Due to this or simply because at some point we do not want to fly in VR, I think the simulator should always start in 2D and through a selection in the start menu select whether we want VR or not.
    Another solution would be to start the program with parameters and have two icons, one for VR and another without VR

    What it happening now is that if I’ve flown in VR the last time and now I want to fly without VR the system loads the entire VR configuration (obviously), the oculus home, the steam VR, changes the screen resolution … and later I have to disable VR in XP, close oculus, ….
    A bit cumbersome, right?

    Excellent work, I am really enjoying your cessna in VR

      1. Yes, I know, I have to always remember to deactivate VR before closing xplane. The problem is that I am old and I do not always remember. I often close Xplane from the menu in VR “close Xplane”.

        Maybe it would be better an option in the main menu asking me if I want VR or not. After all, the option that I think is more usual is to load the Xplane from the 2D screen of the operating system.

  47. Does third-party aircraft work in VR? Im interested in getting a Bonanza with 3d cockpit and all, and I was wondering if the touch controllers (which I am loving in the cessna 172 right now for everything except for the yoke) just mimic the mouse in non-vr setup.

  48. Hi, you did a great job and made it perfect! When using the manipulators, I have a small problem – I constantly rest on the table or fall into the shadow of the sensors under the table. This can be avoided if you do a scaling of movements, for example, the hand moves by 0.5 meters, and the manipulator in VR by 1 meter.
    Thank you. I wish you great creative achievements.

  49. Hi,
    Once again, this is milestone. I absolutely love idea of using touch controllers and the way you did it.
    As you mentioned, there is still question around about rudder.
    Is it not possible, to attach rudder to the touch controller axis ? And maybe just to make option to set sensitivity of rudder? Obviously I don’t really know how controllers works from technical side, either they just position xyz or have they own axis. But either way it should be possible imho.

    Another problem with rudder is, brakes. Is it possible to assign brakes to the grip triggers ? or at least make them visible to bind ?

    Also I second someone here who said about button to re-position yoke.
    And I second you on throttle toggle same as yoke, so you won’t loose it when landing.
    And maybe… “stick shaker” ? (unless it’s already there and I didn’t notice)

    And I am waiting impatiently for Vulcan. I am still debating either upgrade my gpu or cpu (or why not both, oh wait .. money)

    Regardless, amazing job and the way you interact with users and listen to them – absolutely brillant.

    Best Regards

    1. I am waiting for Vulkan to be fully implemented before deciding on what upgrades are required for my PC as well.
      I think it has been said it will be implemented sometime this year.

  50. Just did a clean install for 11.20. Sad to see the cloud bug at night is still there… Clouds are totally transparent towards lights.

    Any idea when you’ll look into this?

  51. I absolutely love the way the vive controllers have been implemented. Most of the comments and the blog entry address a few nibbles with it, but otherwise the precision of flying any of the planes is simply superb. As much as I loved when I first started flying in VR for the depth of field, this implementation brings real excitement about control.

  52. HOTAS? If it would be only this …

    I understand that there are a lot of freaky gamers out there which like the VR thing. I would say thats probably right for playing counterstrike or call of duty.

    X-Plane is used for my training device, to simulate real life situations and to train myself giving me more time than you get flying in real life.

    I have my hardware GPS device connected, same as I use in real life, on my plane or helicopter, I have a EFB on my knee, no matter if flying real or on XP. I have my radio panels like in the real cockpit and I have the switches in front of me. What is your problem in understanding that with the Oculus ON, you cannot manipulate properly the cockpit switches and the overhead panels, like in real life. I have tried to fly R22 training device (full motion cockpit) with an Oculus. Thats seriously not possible to have this right. We switched then back to the 180 degrees projector.

    I want to see you in a flat planel training or in a FTD with you Oculus on. Maybe then you are less perplexed to understand.

    You wanna play a game, then use VR. You wanna do serious flight training, forget it.

    Cheers
    Martin

    1. What a hostility. This reminds me of the discussions when 3D modelled cockpits came into existence. There were a lot of pros and cons. I do understand both camps.
      So this is not your cup of tea? No problem. Stay away from VR. You like it? Get on board.
      But not everybody “plays” this simulator with the same intend.

      Personnally, I would even consider to move back to Windows, if someone can not get it working in Linux (but first performance must go up, and prices must drop, I don’t own a HMD set (yet)). BTW, it looks like SteamVR for Linux is coming along nice, but currently still in beta.

    2. What point are you trying to make here? Just bashing VR? Thanks for the opinion.

      Obviously if you have a full panel of switches and instruments, you shouldn’t be using VR unless you replicate each one in 3D and map it exactly to your play space which is almost impossible. I would say most simmers do not have a fill sim rig setup with all switches. VR is fantastic and extremely immersive for most of us. If you don;t like it, don’t use it!

    3. Soooo – why dont you just NOT use VR and keep on flying your super-duper-training setup? Nobody forces you to run in VR! Regular display will not be abandoned!

      Cheers, Jan

      1. Yeah but you’re ALL wrong. X-Plane is not for training with physical hardware or VR. X-Plane is for drinking coffee, compiling, and swearing like a sailor on shore leave when your shaders make the window manager unusably slow.

    4. Martin,
      I dont’ understand.
      Nobody forces you to use VR. The full cockpit, be it home made or professional, is not a use case for VR.
      To take advantage of the full cockpit and a calculated landscape at the same time, you would need some very advanced augmented reality, with some kind of green screen for lanscape projection. And of course the Vive and Oculus VR headsets can’t do this.
      Now, if this combined use is impossible by design, what where you expecting from Laminar ? That they drop VR development because VR itself doesn’t meet your requirements ?
      All the best
      Pascal

    5. “You wanna play a game, then use VR. You wanna do serious flight training, forget it.”

      Simply not true. It just depends on your use case. Of course, a physical cockpit setup with a dome is higher fidelity, but it is becoming less cost and logistically effective for users to field these systems. VR is starting to replace physical simulators as a training tool in these cases, especially in the field.

      Case in point: https://bisimulations.com/company/customer-showcase/vr-based-gunship-crew-trainer

      And further, just to show that VR combined with a complex hardware setup is also used in ‘serious flight training’: https://bisimulations.com/company/customer-showcase/vr-based-helicopter-crew-training

      There are other interesting cases, but I’ll leave it to you to explore.

  53. Ben,
    I had a question regarding head movement while in VR. I was flying the 172 last night in some light turbulence and realized why it was making me a tad nauseous. It seems like involuntary head movement is a tricky thing in VR. Too much of it makes you sick, but also, not enough can make you sick. In real life when flying in turbulence, your head would almost subconsciously compensate and stay or at least seem to stay level to your “path”. But in X-plane when encountering turbulence, your head “location” is locked directly to the plane so when theres a bump, your head is forced to move in 1:1 with that bump. It seems like there should be a small zone where your head’s location in 3d space would remain relatively stable while the plane moves around you. Now this is tricky because there must be a limit to this. Also this would make it harder to grab controls in heavy turbulence as the plane is moving around you.

    Has this been encountered on your end and is this something that you think will be addressed?

    1. We haven’t messed with it yet – when you are ‘in’ the plane, the plane’s relatoinship to your head is based on physical reality. I’d be amazed if you could detect a nauseating displacement fmor the air because the independently moving world is far away.

      1. Hi,

        Airfoillabs and XPReality include head movement based on forces in in all axes including turbulences or acceleration.

        Although the effects a bit too strong it decouples the head movement nicely from the standard view that is always in sync with the cockpit. The cinema effect in xp does not do the same trick.

        Independently from VR this would be a great addition to the core view system.

  54. Fantastic work so far! I’m really looking forward to future enhancements.

    One note: If you haven’t already, please start thinking about products like the Vive Tracker while laying the foundation. It or future generations of it may help considerably with locating your beer (or yoke, I guess) with the headset on.

  55. Hey, great Job on the VR integration! I really like the controller scheme.
    I was wondering whether it might make sense to have an auto-level feature for when you let go of the yoke. A kind of mini autopilot that engages when you let go so you don’t first have to carefully level out everything before you can scratch your nose 🙂

    One small bug I encounter is that I have to start XPlane without SteamVR running (probably known anyway?).

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