Set your updaters to grab the latest Beta and you’ll find yourselves with VR2 Preview Release. We put a lot of time into this release in an attempt to tackle as many of the usability issues of the VR1 release as we could. (Steam users — VR2 should be available as a public beta on Steam sometime this weekend, as soon as Philipp gets it uploaded.)
Important Note: If you are trying to run VR2 on an X-Plane install that was previously running FlyInside’s plugin, you might experience a crash on startup. We suggest installing VR2 to a fresh copy of X-Plane on your hard drive. If you can’t do that, you might need to uninstall FlyInside and reset your X-Plane preferences.
EDIT: There is currently a known issue with the Thrustmaster HOTAS causing the sim to crash. We’re looking into this and once it’s fixed, we will release VR3 which will address this issue and possibly others should they arise in the next 48 hours or so. For now, if you want to use VR2, you’ll need to do so without your HOTAS.
I’ll enumerate the major headliner features/improvements and talk about them individually, but first, let me be clear what is NOT in this release. This release will NOT dramatically improve the performance or reduce judder for any VR platforms. The goal of VR2 is to address usability for all users.
3D Mouse is now a thing in X-Plane with VR! This had to be the single most requested feature from VR1 and we heard you loud and clear. Starting in VR2, the 3D mouse is now available. This is really helpful if you prefer not to use your VR controllers or if you are trying to fly a legacy aircraft that does not have good/any VR support. With the mouse, you should be no worse off in VR than you were with flying the plane on a 2D monitor.
The mouse can be enabled or disabled by using the new “VR Settings” tab in the preferences screen, or by binding the toggle-3d-mouse command to a keyboard key, joystick button or even a VR controller button to enable or disable it!
Laser Manipulation support has been added. In VR1, if you wanted to interact with something in the cockpit, you needed to place the tip of the controller on the manipulator such as the throttle and then click and physically push as if your hand was on the real throttle levers. This was and still is the preferred way of interacting with the cockpit elements because you are doing the exact things that a real pilot would be doing. It offers the highest level of immersion.
However, for some of you, this is not always possible because of ‘permanent’ physical limitations in your surroundings. I’m willing to bet, many of you have knocked cups of coffee off of your desks trying to get to that Cessna throttle! To help with this, we have created Laser Manipulation. This allows you to interact with manipulators using the controller from a distance. It’s always available, all you need to do is lightly and partially squeeze the trigger and you’ll see a green laser appear. Now aim that laser at the thing you want to interact with and ‘grab it’ by squeezing the trigger the whole way just like you would as if you could reach it. Once you’ve ‘grabbed’ the manipulator, interact with it intuitively. If it’s a throttle, just push your hand like you would. If it’s a knob, just twist your wrist. If it’s a switch, just flick your wrist. Laser Manipulation essentially just takes traditional manipulation and lets you operate at any distance or angle that is convenient for you.
Yoke Modes/Settings. One common complaint about Yoke interaction is that unlike the rest of the cockpit, the yoke behaved differently. Starting in VR2, there are TWO Yoke modes. The new default is ‘Realistic’ mode. In realistic mode, you interact with the Yoke/Stick the way you would expect. If it’s a Cessna yoke, pull/push it for pitch, or rotate your arm around the center of it to roll. If it’s the cyclic on the S-76 or the stick on the ASK21, just slide your hand forward/back and left/right and the stick will track you perfectly.
The other mode is ‘Ergonomic’ mode, which forces all yokes to behave the same. In Ergonomic mode, your wrist is used to control pitch and roll. The position of your hand means nothing so you can just rest your arm on an armrest and fly comfortably. In addition to the yoke modes, we’ve also added the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the Ergonomic mode so you can adjust it for greater control or responsiveness.
Lastly, you can enable or disable latching of the yoke. By default, when you click on a yoke manipulator, your controller will stay attached to it until you click again so you don’t have to hold down the trigger. If you disable latching, however, the yoke will behave like all other manipulators that end their interaction when you release the trigger. Yoke Modes, sensitivity, and latching options are all set in the new VR Settings tab on the settings screen.
VR Controller Customization is now possible, starting in VR2. Go to the Joystick tab of the settings screen and you should see any VR controllers that are currently powered on. You can configure them just like any joystick and add any X-Plane commands or axis to them.
There are some caveats: there are certain reserved VR axis and commands that must exist SOMEWHERE between your two controllers. Touchpad-X, Touchpad-Y, Trigger, and VR Menu for example. These do not need to be replicated across controllers (though they can be if you’d like) but they must exist on at least one. This allows you to use one controller to do VR specific operations like teleport and manipulator interaction, while you can use your other controller to control the rudder, brakes, weapons etc. You can also configure a free button to run VR commands like resetting your VR view which is incredibly useful to get back in the cockpit facing in the proper direction. You can also enable/disable the 3D mouse cursor or ZOOM.
VR Quick-Zoom has been added as a command that you can bind to your controller. When you press the button, it currently zooms your head in so you can read things in the distance a bit clearer. When you release the button, your zoom resets.
Windows Mixed Reality support has been added! Be sure to check out the VR docs as you’ll need to also install “Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR” to get it up and running.
In addition to all of these features, a lot of work has been done behind the scenes to improve the stability of the VR system but I must remind you that VR is still a PREVIEW. This is more like an Alpha test than a Beta test which means major pieces are still being added and improved rapidly. We’re listening to your feedback and doing what we can to create an amazingly immersive X-Plane world for you but there are still some rough edges to get cut on so it’s still wise and recommended to run VR2 on a dedicated install of X-Plane.
The one big usability bug we did not get to: the xPad will still float around when you teleport around the runway area. This will be fixed in a future preview or beta.
Oculus Judder – A workaround, at least for now.
We do acknowledge that there is an inherent judder in the Oculus Rift that we do not see with the Vive or WMR. We do plan on investigating whether using SteamVR is impacting Oculus’ performance – it’s next on our todo list. The rearchitecting to be able to run this comparison has been done in VR2 but we don’t have data to make decisions yet.
We do suspect that this judder is made worse by the default use of Oculus’s Asynchronous SpaceWarp (ASW). If you don’t know what that means, I’ll give you a very brief explanation with some hand waving. The VR headsets want new rendered data fed to them 90 times per second. Games that cannot render their scenes at that rate would normally have a continuous perceivable stutter.
To solve this, all major headset drivers have created software algorithms that make predictions based on your head’s orientation (tilt/rotate) to predict what the missing frames would look like. For Oculus, this is called Asynchronous TimeWarp (ATW). Since we tend to rotate our heads faster and more frequently than we reposition our heads, ATW solves a big portion of the errors that would otherwise exist in predicting intermediate frame data, but not ALL.
Next comes ASW. ASW’s job is to solve prediction errors caused by repositioning your head quickly (sliding it forward/back or side to side rapidly). This works well (supposedly) but it has its limitations. ASW works well above 45fps, but below 45fps it tends to create more problems than it solves. These problems are surfacing in a lot of cases as the perceived judder Oculus users are experiencing. It is because of this that we recommend disabling ASW.
As I said before ASW is nice, but not necessary for an enjoyable flight since we tend to not make rapid position movements with our heads…unless you are head-banging to some good rock. There are several ways to disable ASW but this one is pretty straightforward:
After launching X-Plane with VR Enabled, go to C:\Program Files\Oculus\Support\oculus-diagnostics and run OculusDebugTool.exe and set Asynchronous Spaceward to “Disabled”. Resist the urge to touch other settings!
Important Note: This has to be done each time X-Plane is launched as ASW reenables itself by default.