Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

What I’ve Spent Crazy Hours Working On

Posted by Rampant Coyote on December 1, 2016

gs_vrsimOkay – so… this is what I’ve been working insane hours on. Well, okay, in part. There’s actually a lot more to it than this. This press release is a tangible result of it, though… a brand new product offering from my company… a VR Crane Simulator.

Mostly, the work has been all the underlying technology to overhaul our simulator software–rebuilding most of it from the ground up–and get it up to the point where we could integrate VR technologies into it. As often happens, the most impressive stuff was often the easiest, and the stuff that we didn’t think much about turned out to be the most time-consuming. We still have a lot to do, but this trade show was a pretty big deal. We had a bigger presence than we’ve had in the past, and I’m lead software engineer.

Pressure? Yeah. Just a bit.

But on the other hand, I have been waiting TWENTY FIVE LONG FRICKIN’ YEARS for VR to get to this point.  Since shortly after reading Neuromancer the first time and finding out what real research was going on to make VR a reality, I’ve been expecting it to arrive “any year now” in the consumer & commercial space. I  hoped I would have a chance to jump in when it was new enough to still be experimental, yet practical enough to be able to be make things  that real people could use. And now… BAM. I’m here.

We’ve been able to push ahead in a very cool direction to solve some thorny issues that have been bugging everyone in this space, primarily mixing tactile reality with audio and visual virtual reality. You need both, when you are training skills that require physical action. This has been cool, even if my job description has required me to delegate some of the really fun, cool tasks to other people on the team. But the project has been great fun overall, even if the hours haven’t. We have one more day of the show left as I write this, and while I personally have a tough time not seeing the faults, missing features, and limitations, so far the feedback we have received has exceeded our expectations. The real proof will come later, but it’s off to a great start. We’ve had a chance to share with people some of the potential of the platform for practical training. Which, IMO, is already huge and is going to expand very quickly as the tech matures.

On Monday, I get to go back to focus on our more traditional simulators, which are still incredibly cool and powerful. Because we have contracts and customers and deadlines that still need to be satisfied. And the VR side of things is really just a tiny piece of the whole,  and the whole still needs a lot of work. I was pretty stressed out about this trip, but being able to show off what we’ve been doing has been a great experience, and probably a bit cathartic. Whew.


Filed Under: Virtual Reality - Comments: 5 Comments to Read

  • Mr Horse said,

    That’s a pretty decent day job you got there!

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I’ve had a lot worse.

  • David W said,

    Wow! This is the first application of VR I’ve seen that just simply makes sense. I had thought that the limits on movement to control nausea would doom the idea, but I guess the real requirement was to pick a domain like this where your movement is naturally limited anyway.

    Similarly, I was convinced that the price tag of the hardware would limit, but I’m sure it’s still minor compared to what it would cost to rent a crane for training (let alone to repair a crane broken by a newbie who didn’t know what not to do).

    You’ve convinced me that VR has a future. I still think it will be niche, but…I’m definitely less confident of that now. How many other domains are out there that I haven’t thought of, but someone is already working feverishly to make a reality?

  • Xenovore said,

    Very cool! Looks like y’all are using the Vive?

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Yup, for now, though we’re trying to be somewhat vendor – agnostic.