Friday, October 7, 2016

Dev update #23 - After the storm

What happened 

On October 4th an update was released to SteamVR. It included changes in direct display driver component which is utilized by VRidge. The changes weren't documented/reflected in OpenVR interface. We've seen those changes in SteamVR's beta channel and after it started flickering there (few weeks ago) we posted the issue to SteamVR forums. An unfortunate series of events caused this changes to go into live SteamVR channel anyway. 

The result was preeeeetty bad. Everyone experienced flickering in random intervals making VRidge totally unusable with SteamVR. Less than 1 hour after the changes went live we contacted SteamVR team through more channels to ask for help.

The SteamVR team was very responsive but it takes some time to update the live system. We were amazed that they pushed the update with a fix into their live stable channel on such short notice (everything was fixed in less than 24 hours). Some companies attempt to wall themselves off from 3rd party support and modding but Valve is doing the complete opposite with this kind of open attitude. We always recommended OpenVR/SteamVR for aspiring VR developers when they asked us how to start VR gamedev and we will continue to do so. It's nice that some companies care about VR's future overall. 

What we learned

It's hard to have a system working 100% of the time when it relies on multiple 3rd party components (SteamVR, GPU drivers, Windows version, OS components, router config & rules, Android OS flavors, phone chipsets, Direct3D, etc). It is difficult, but there are still ways to mitigate the critical situations like this.

We will add some sort of emergency alert to the desktop client so we can notify about the possible compatibility issues. Sometimes all you need is to update some 3rd party components (like video driver) and everything starts working again. We can write this kind of important updates on our blog/facebook/twitter but over 90% of our users stay in client without checking the social media. A simple way to push a message to the client from our servers with a link to a detailed article can do wonders. Many other companies already have something like this (Battle.net or LoL launchers come to my mind). 

We will also follow SteamVR's beta updates more closely now. If there's a chance of this kind of stuff happening again we'll start preparing alternative fallback ways. There is a way to capture SteamVR game surface with a slightly increased latency that could have worked even after the Oct 4th changes. Degraded performance while we are working to fix it "the right way" is better than app not working at all.

What we were doing in September

We've been working on behind-the-scenes modules and refactoring some code. This is in preparation for future Android 4.x version and iOS. This also allows to see clearer performance picture which is very helpful to locate Android performance problems (Samsung jitter mostly).

We were updating part of the platform so we can add more servers. Currently all our online service are running on single machine which works well enough but it sometimes need maintenance/updates or simply just fails due to some unforeseen event. Having one more gives us some more breathing space. 

What's next

It's been a while without a feature update. There are a few unsolved problems that we are prioritizing now - Samsung jitter issue and motion controller black screen. Planned features are fake VR (playing regular flat games in VR), sound streaming and iOS version. We want to squeeze in an updated video encoder (H265/HEVC, double the performance of current one) somewhere in the meantime.

We know that some of you really want to know when we'll add those but giving ETAs often causes devs to go out of our way to meet the deadlines instead of doing things "the right way". This can work short time but over a longer period it leads to spaghetti code and long terms bugs that are hard to fix. All we can say is that our current short term priority is Samsung jitter & motion controller black screen and we really hope to see progress on these in October.

36 comments:

  1. The motion controller black screen issue that you are referencing, is that the leap motion black screen issue, if so thats fantastic as thats the only thing stopping me playing at the moment.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, that black screen issue is also the same with the PS move service. I have done a lot of testing with the PS move developers to try to isolate it, and what we managed to narrow down was that it is triggered by a high CPU usage. It would only happen when CPU usage is at 95%+. Unfortunately this doesn't isolate where the issue is, but at least what triggers it.

      I have since upgraded to an i7 6700k and generally I'm never going over 50%, so I have never had the issue appear since on the exact same setup.

      In your case, I would suggest to try to limit CPU usage as much as possible. Close any processes that are not needed (internet browsers, windows defender, etc) If you open device manager, and it's using CPU... then close it if it's not critical for gaming. Lastly, if you can overclock your CPU a little, it will certainly help to delay it a bit further.

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  2. The H265 update would be incredible! This would really take Riftcat to the next level. USB tethering may become a thing of the past with that update?

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  3. Double the performance? That would be amazing

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  7. Very glad to be supporting such a great team. Thank you for all you do and hope you can keep up the amazing work :)

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  8. I'm using with Elite dangerous and work well apart for centering. Centering of screen always float to left o right.
    If i use ther shortcut to center view (alt ctrl shift r) the view not reset in center. It's annoing.

    Other thing. Is possible to use the FreeTrack also for center the view? Using like a static point in manner to stabilize the view. I had to reset like every minute :-(

    It's unplayable cause of this.

    I'm using a lg g3 and gtx 1070.

    Thanks for any help and for your work

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    Replies
    1. Forgot. Also get many times artifact and delay in streaming. I tried all options also decrease the resolution. Tried in wifi 5ghz and tethering. Same thing appened.

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    2. What is your bitrate? The lag shouldn't be an issue unless you set render scale or bitrate too high. As for the tracking re-center, I'll fwd the question to my colleague.

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    3. Can you try to do room setup again and make sure that base orientation is set correctly when you are asked to center position? If that does not help, let us know :)

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  9. So, I just installed VRidge on mobile and PC. The setup worked, it seems, as SteamVR is able to see VRidge as the headset (it even tracks in the quick room config tool). However, I am getting the Compositor not running 400 error. I thought it was an old issue and had been fixed. Are we still experiencing that error normally or is this something to do with my setup, perhaps?

    Let me know if I can share anything with the devs to sort this out.
    Looking forward to the full version if this works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haven't heard about 400 error in a while. Send us (support@riftcat.com) following logs vrserver.txt, vrmonitor.txt, vrcompositor.txt logs which are located in Steam/logs (by default: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\logs). and we'll see what's up.

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  10. I recently upgraded to a i5 6500 and Quicksync is much better at encoding than my radeon 7970. Running 1440p on gearVR/S6 is a joy. Text in elite dangerous is now readable and project car is crisp. As documented headtracking on a samsung phone is very jerky but once it is fixed and H265/HEVC is implemented I think this setup will be as close to an actual rift as it can be.

    The future is exciting. Thank you for the great software.

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  11. Phone (VS985) sometimes black screen, and why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How often does the sometimes happens? Is it, by any chance, after 10min of gameplay? Nonetheless you can send us logs (see the link below) and we'll check what might be causing this. https://support.riftcat.com/hc/en-us/articles/208781529

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  12. Did something change lately? A few days ago I was only able to play using 5Ghz, when using 2Ghz it was unplayable. But I'm changuing routers and had to use a 2Ghz connection again and.. to my surprise, now I can play no problems. I just changed the bitrate feom 95 to 40 but is very playable.

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    Replies
    1. If there is not much inteference and bitrate isn't too high (95mbps would definitely not be playable), then it is very possible to play on 2.4GHz wifi.

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  13. Thanks, I'm considering buying a much more powerful (1200AC) router, what is EXACTLY what gets better? the bitrate improves resolution? reduces lag? and its a more powerful router better than a regular one? (say a 750AC).

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    Replies
    1. Unless your router is far away or you have multiple devices connected at once you probably don't need more powerful one. Higher bitrate improves quality, but there isn't huge difference visible between 30mbps and 100mbps. Lag will not really get reduced. That is assuming you are already using 5GHz band.

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    2. I'd also like to mention that AC router is the best you can get for RiftCat/VRidge so the 750AC you have is more than enough.

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  14. oh well, no answer. I bought a 750, half price, I hope is not a mistake. But it would be good to have this question answered anyway, maybe it will help another person

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    Replies
    1. I don't think you will see a big difference in real life unless you PC can encode at that speed. Also few phones can achieve the full bandwidth of a 1200AC router (860Mbps). Your 750AC gives you 433Mbps which is about the same speed an bleeding edge S7 can download at.

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    2. Keep in mind, the number of devices connected to the wifi of that router will make a difference too. More devices = more CPU usage = more lag/packet loss. A more powerful router will simply handle more devices at once and give better performance.

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  15. Understood. I might try the bigger router. This is the second one I get, both 750AC from different brands, none can't reach the full speed of my broadband connection, they just have a stronger wifi signal at 2.4 and I use their 5ghz exclusively for riftcat.

    ReplyDelete
  16. 2 Quetions :)
    1/ why it's laggy!! Not smooth. Image too big with lines
    2/ should install revive into each game folder, and keep dragging the game exe to it !!??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. Are you using 2.4GHz or 5GHz wifi? If the former then there might be some lag. Regarding the Image being too big (not sure about the lines, would need a screenshot) you can click the Cogwheel in VRidge while playing and lower Scale.
      2. Unfortunately currently that is the only way of launching games through Revive.

      Delete
  17. Hi.
    When I run serious sam vr, steamvr shows as responsive. There is game screen on the monitor running very slow 1 or 2 fps and nothing on phone. All other games are OK.
    Help!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi.
    When I run serious sam vr, steamvr shows as responsive. There is game screen on the monitor running very slow 1 or 2 fps and nothing on phone. All other games are OK.
    Help!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What GPU do you have? Recommended one for Serious Sam VR is GTX 1070.

      Delete
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