I'm going to split this into two parts-- my brief thoughts on the Vive and my experience showing it to my family.
1- The setup process isn't insignificant.. I had to do a few iterations. I didn't have a perfect space for it, but I've got about 2.3m by 3.0m in my front hall. Getting things consistently good took a few tries. This isn't quite plug-and-play, and it required a bit of screwing around with stuff.
2- Resolution and image quality isn't great either. Don't expect it to be too pretty.
3- Once I got my area set up properly (including moving a mirror out of the room), tracking is perfect. Amazingly perfect. With the 90hz refresh rate, any head motion or motion of the controllers feel and look perfectly natural. Technologically, I find it rather impressive.
4- Haptic feedback in the controllers is subtle and incredibly important, and greatly improves the experience. Things like the bow and arrow games has a fantastic feel, and my brain just seems to completely and easily accept that I'm feeling tension build on the string.
5- It is very, very immersive. I don't really like horror-type games, but the one zombie-horror demo that exists I couldn't get through.
6- All the games feel like demos (and some are)... sort of like early Atari or first-gen nintendo, we're at the very beginning of this technology
7- That doesn't seem to matter. I love playing some of the games, and I will basically play until I am physically too tired to continue. I work up a sweat and my legs hurt from the dodging in Space Pirate Trainer, or ducking behind cover in Hover Junkers.
8- Worth it? All considered, this rig set me back over $3200 excluding my monitor... $1300 for the Vive, $900 for the 980ti, and another $1100 or so for the I7-5820k + memory + board. I don't regret it, but it is a lot of money. I would buy it again in a heartbeat, but I have a reasonable amount of disposable income. This or a week in Cuba with the girlfriend/wife/friends for your disposable income for the next six months? Go to Cuba.
My personal favorite games are:
- Space Pirate Trainer
- Longbow in the Lab
- Hover Junkers
Now, the family experience.
For reference, my Father is ~66, mother is 60, brother is 30 and sister is 23. Before loading up anything, I would run everyone through the introductory portal-themed tutorial, which introduced basic concepts.
I put my mom into the headset first. She's the least interested in tech in the family, and historically has been moderately hostile towards video games in general. After the tutorial, I loaded up theBlu, a simple underwater whale encounter (no interactivity), and after that Tilt Brush, a painting app. She loved it, and was totally blown away. The whale encounter shocked her, and Tilt Brush had her very exited about the idea of painting in three dimensions.
My brother, being a gamer, fell into it comfortably. I put him through The Brookehaven Experiment (which is the scary zombie shooter demo), and he made it through the first wave, but didn't want to play anymore of that game. He enjoyed it.
My Dad was the most difficult - he had issues staying in bounds and ran into things (even though he could see the chaperone bounds), but I put him through the Slingshot demo in The Lab, and he really enjoyed that. Same with the Blu.
My sister, after having watched ~2 hours of people going through various experiences, was less interested in trying it out just out of boredom, but she went through a few games and was really happy she did.
- Longbow in The Lab was the most popular by far
- Tilt Brush
- the Blu
- Slingshot in The Lab
Things I've learned about demoing this... four people with ~30 minutes each is too long.. the people watching get bored after a while. I will probably demo this to a lot more people, but I have to set it up for a shorter experience per person, and four people in an afternoon is probably the limit.
I'm still interested in hearing what Xo has to say about his experience.