Three Challenges with Running Oculus Quest Demos
and how to Conquer them
and how to Conquer them
Ninja Legends is a game built with the Oculus Quest in mind. It takes advantage of 6 DOF movement and a wireless headset to deliver the most intense combat experience in VR. Recently, Ninja Legends was accepted into the Indie Megabooth at PAX West. This meant running a booth giving demos and talking about our game for 4 straight days. We were the only game in the entire expo to be demoing exclusively on the Oculus Quest.
There are excellent articles already written about running a successful VR Demo at an event or Expo. A great one is on the Oculus blog: Part 1 and Part 2. What we will cover here are three main challenges that come with demoing on the Oculus Quest.
Challenge 1 – The Oculus Quest uses inside-out tracking
This challenge applies to any device that uses inside-out tracking. Cameras on the headset itself are calculating the player’s movement by identifying and tracking high contrast points within the cameras’ view. In a convention style environment, many challenges may arise:
- If there are extremely high ceilings, like those in expo halls, the system will not be able to meaningfully track any movement against the ceiling.
- If there are crowds of people walking by, the opening of the booth may cause tracking issues.
- The base materials of the booth may be too uniform for good tracking.
For our Demo at PAX, we had all three of these problems. The ceiling was hundreds of feet up. There were throngs of people standing and walking in front of our booth. And the booth was solid black cloth with a bright red carpet.
- TIP: When you first arrive, look through the cameras in pass-through mode to see what the cameras see. If an area is solid black or solid white, they might be problematic for the tracking system. We were surprised to find that the red carpet beneath our feet came out as completely white. Our theory is that the IR cameras are particularly sensitive to the red side of the spectrum.
- We used our pop up banners and a folding room separator to create high walls for the tracking system. This helped due to the lack of ceiling and to block out some of the crowd movement.
- We put our TV between the crowd and the player, to give even more surface area for the tracking system to use.
- We drew patterns into the carpet using black gaffer tape. This gave great high contrast points for the tracking system.
- We covered the solid black booth cloth with signs and a textured tatami mat.
- In the future, we would love to put up hanging lanterns to give the system something to track above the player.
- Do Not: Place the screen that is live streaming the game somewhere where the headset will see it. A screen with movement on it is untrackable for the system and creates another hole in the tracking space.
With these changes, we were able to run demos for 4 days straight with only a few moments of tracking issues.
Challenge 2 – The Oculus Quest is wireless, which means live streaming must be wireless
While there are ways to stream video from an Oculus Quest across a cable, this defeats the power of having a truly wireless system. When wireless, the Oculus Quest can stream directly to a mobile or tablet device, or compatible Chromecast devices.
- A packed convention hall will not have a reliable network or internet connection.
- To stream to a Chromecast or NVIDIA SHIELD, the Oculus Quest requires an internet connection in order to start the stream.
- Bring our own wireless router and set up a local, non-internet connected wireless network just for our devices.
- Stream directly to an iOS or Android tablet. The internet requirement does not apply for direct streams to a mobile device.
- Connect that tablet via a direct HDMI to the TV displaying the live gameplay to the audience.
- Bonus benefit of this setup: Because the view is mirrored on the tablet and the TV, the person running the demo can watch the tablet
Challenge 3 – The Oculus Quest is battery powered
- The Oculus Quest is battery powered so you will need more than one to run a multi-hour demo.
- The devices will also heat up while being used, causing degradation in performance.
- We had 3 Oculus Quests total. While we might have been able to get away with 2, there were situations where a backup prevented large chunks of downtime. We found that one headset would charge at about the rate that a headset in use would drain.
- We would switch the devices every hour at least. Being proactive about the swap avoided interrupting a demo and heat issues.
Bonus Tip – Hygiene
Having hundreds of people touch a device with their hands and face is a recipe for spreading germs very quickly. We were very proud of how we kept our demo hygienic.
- Use a non-absorbing faceplate material. In our case we used the VR Cover PU Leather faceplate.
- With each demo, switch out the faceplate for a clean one.
- Clean a dirty faceplate with alcohol prep pads. These are cheap and convenient as they come in single serving sterile packaging.
- Wipe down the headstraps and controllers with alcohol
- Encourage heavy hand sanitizer use
We were definitely nervous going into a 4 day expo demo. But in the end, the challenges were manageable and demoing on the Oculus Quest was a blast! Players loved the headset and our game. We gathered valuable feedback and created many new fans of the game! After the event, we were exhausted but overjoyed with how the demo and devices performed. We were also pumped by the attendee response!
— PuppetMasterEN (@PuppetEn) September 3, 2019