My first look at Virtual Reality: Beat Saber

The enveloping of one’s self into what we know as virtual reality provides a sensory gorging experience, where your senses are intertwined with a virtual, yet surprisingly realistic world.

First, it is important to understand how your real time movement is imported into the game. The HMD (Head-Mounted Display, or VR headset) is not only your eyes, but it also acts as a head tracker. In my case, I use the Valve Index. The Index controllers are a like a more advanced Wii controller, where your every movement and swing of your arms is translated into the game world. They are unique in that they also track finger movement. This is because the controllers also double as hand trackers. Most people play with this setup, which is three point tracking (head and each hand). However, it is also possible to do full body tracking, where three additional pronged puck-shape sensors, called Vive trackers, track the movement of your feet and your waist once they are fastened to your body with specialized straps. See my (future) full blog post on full body tracking here *coming soon*.

In Beat Saber, very note or “cube” placement in 3D space is specifically calibrated not only to match the beat, but to encourage actual side stepping, hand to eye coordination, dancing, and most importantly, excitement. The game is developed to an extent where your adrenaline is anticipated, and the game throws more movement challenges at you at the exact moment a song reaches a climax.

Furthermore, the community powered feature of the game provides the user with a personalization aspect, as powered by one’s song choice, that is capable of aiding the already adrenaline saturated game with an even greater level of awe and excitement–that which comes from your personal relationship to your song choice.

You are, therefore, thrown into an experience that combines the wonders of virtual reality, with the adrenaline drawing nature of the game, with a theme of nostalgia, or happiness, or whatever your specific song choice brings to you.

What. An. Experience

OH, did I mention you will lose hella lot of weight doing this?

And then, there is streaming.

3rd person avatar view (Hatsune Miku 3D model by keiichiisozaki)

One way or another, I found myself delving into streaming, and the ways you can interact there are incredible. If you are familiar with Twitch, you have an idea what I am about to say. If you are not, let me explain briefly. Twitch chat features Live streams of people doing stuff. Mostly, it is gaming, but there are a few others. The Twitch chat is capable of adding extensions, which are pieces of programming code designed by devs that allow people to interact directly with your game play. For instance, there is an infamous stream where the internet is able to control the movements of old Pokemon games via Twitch chat. The commands possible are basically up, down, left, right, A, B, etc; and these are triggered per person dictating a command in live chat. This results in utter chaos of course, but that is fun of it.

How does this relate to beat saber? Well, wonderful beat saber modders designed a way for people to be able to request songs during Beat Saber live streams. It requires a bit of know how and setup if you are the one streaming, but once done it is fairly easy for your audience to jump in and participate. Basically, the viewer visits a site full of beat saber songs, copies a special twitch code from the selected song, and pastes into the Twitch chat. That’s it! With that, us streamers get that song added to an in-game live queue, which allows us to play the requested songs with a single click.

This may not be something that is that “new”, but as someone who just entered the VR world in January, I am often flabbergasted by the technology and developing it takes to get everything going. As a technology enthusiast, I love sharing all the exciting things I learn so that those who are not familiar with them, as I once was, can experience them as well.

Check out my one of beat saber twitch streams here!

Hatsune Miku 3D model by keiichiisozaki

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