Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Dev Update #56 - Streaming Enhanced Beta - Part 1

RiftCat 2.6 Beta - Part 1

We did a huge internal rework of VRidge streaming possibilities, squeezing more performance from our streaming technology. 

To test the Beta features, learn how to join Beta channels reading THIS guide.

In this Beta release you should have a significant improvement to the streaming latency, quality and stability. VRidge should also handle much higher streaming bitrates.

This is a part 1 of this Beta release. We have one more thing in preparation for this update package which will be updated to the Beta channel in the upcoming weeks.

Improved picture compression quality.
Error correction has been added that should compensate for small packet loss. This allowed us to push for higher bitrate with lesser chance of artifacting. On average, picture quality should be 20% better. We also tweaked encoding settings that should improve quality further on nvidia cards.

Improved color accuracy, especially in dark scenes.
We changed the way color palette is mapped during compression. Transmitted picture stream is now color-identical with original rendered picture. Previously contrast was a bit off which resulted in generally reduced visibility in darker scenes.

Reduced latency on Nvidia cards.
On average we reduced encoding path by 5-10 ms. This means that in 50% of cases, it will be one frame faster than before.

Reduced latency of Oculus Quest controllers.
Oculus Quest controllers are now using better prediction during rendering and sampling which reduced perceivable latency to near-native levels. This has effect on other controllers but Quest benefits the most from these changes.

Implemented multiple ways to reduce mid-stream artifacting.
Along with error correction, we added a better frame loss detection which should correct lost packets faster than before.

Known limitations

First few seconds of stream may be unreadable in certain cases. This should resolve by itself in 1-5 seconds.

Minor changes

  • Oculus Quest controllers should have more accurate positional placement.
  • PC builds are now 64-bit only.
  • Updated enet networking library.

Advanced configuration options

There are new options in VRidge.cfg file that can be edited by hand using any text editor.

"Video.ECC.MinPercent": 5,
"Video.ECC.MaxPercent": 30,

Configures minimum and maximum amount of error correction packets. It will dynamically adjust ECC percent between Min and Max, based on frame loss.

"Video.ECC.FixedPercent": null,

When not null, it will override ECC percent to a fixed amount.

"Video.Encoder": "NVENC",

Now starts the new Nvidia encoder, old one can be switched on by using LegacyNVENC instead of NVENC.

"Video.Nvenc.IntraRefresh.Duration": 15,
"Video.Nvenc.IntraRefresh.Period": 360,

Configures how "keyframes" are spread over the stream. Example above means that a keyframe is issued every 360 frames and is fragmented over 15 consecutive frames.

"Video.Nvenc.Invalidation": true,

Configures NVENC to use reference frame invalidation which lets encoder know that some frames were lost in transport and should not be used as references for predictive frames (less artifacting).

"Tracking.Controllers.PoseAge.Api": 0.03,
"Tracking.Controllers.PoseAge.Default": 0.06,
"Tracking.Controllers.PoseAge.Quest": 0.0,

Configures how old (in seconds) the controller data is compared to rendering time. Changing this value will affect prediction (perceived latency vs overshoot and judder)

Stay tuned for more

As always, we are awaiting your feedback to this Beta release at support@riftcat.com. Also, keep tracking our dev blog for news about part 2 of this update.

Have fun with improved VRidge quality!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Dev Update #55 - GameWarp release!

It's finally LIVE. We have released VRidge update 2.5 which is now available to everyone. It contains GameWarp feature and several other improvements that we made over the last months.

Deployment status:
Platform Version Status Link
PC 2.5 Deployed Link
Google Play 2.5 Deployed Link
iOS App Store 2.5 Deployed Link

GameWarp - prepare for a new VR adventure!

You can now use GameWarp feature to play non-VR games in your VRidge PC VR setup. GameWarp will turn the in-game visuals into SBS (side-by-side) view for you to see in your VR headset. Your head movements and VR controller buttons will also let you control the game.

Using GameWarp is easy - simply press the "Play GameWarp" button in the top bar play menu of RiftCat client.

For more detailed tutorial, simply watch our instructional video:

VRidge was planned to have a higher price since the beginning of its development but we didn't want to just increase the VRidge price and call it a day. We wanted to provide value in exchange of the cost increase. That's why we have decided to make GameWarp a paid expansion feature to VRidge. 

This way, we can make a "soft" price increase of our services while at the same time - keep the VRidge base function in the same affordable cost range so anyone can start with inexpensive PC virtual reality.

Current pricing details are as follows (prices in EUR / USD depending on your region):
Unlocking VRidge - 14.99 EUR / USD
Unlocking GameWarp (requires unlocked VRidge) - 9.99 EUR / USD
Unlocking VRidge + GameWarp in a bundle: 19.99 EUR / USD

Users that have already purchased VRidge will receive a special 50% discount code for GameWarp purchase via email so they can benefit from the bundle purchase discount, too.

VRidge changes

VRidge itself also received some improvements so your experience should now be better!

Better quality for Daydream devices
Daydream phones will have better picture quality due to more uniform resolution scaling.

Gamma correction slider
Display too dark? Simply increase the gamma of your stream with a convenient slider! Works both with VRidge and GameWarp streaming.

Better detection of laptops dedicated GPU 
If you are using a gaming laptop, there is an integrated graphics card available and a dedicated one. VRidge sometimes launches on the weaker, integrated GPU making the experience much worse. VRidge should now do a much better job at detecting such cases.

Fixed controllers detection for Vivecraft
Controllers of Oculus Quest, HTC Vive Focus and other VR headsets will now work in Vivecraft. Playing Minecraft with VRidge will be possible once again to the full extend.

Tilt Brush will work correctly for everyone.
Let loose of your imagination in Tilt Brush. Paint anything you'd like using Oculus Touch, HTC Vive Focus or other controllers. Tilt Brush now works correctly.

Moonlight streaming will no longer be capped at 30 FPS.
If you are a Moonlight user, expect much smoother experience. Due to some mistakes on our side, Moonlight streaming was capped at 30 FPS. Now it will stream correctly.

Fixed AMD RX 5000 series green lines issue.
AMD RX 5000 series GPUs should now work correctly with VRidge.

Final notes
Thank you guys for your Beta testing. With your feedback, we were able to drastically improve GameWarp experience from its initial Beta release. We hope that this release will allow you to rediscover your favorite games in virtual reality.

Don't hesitate to still provide us feedback via support@riftcat.com! Sharing the information about the new release is also highly appreciated. Have a nice VR time!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Dev Update #54 - 2.5.2 Beta Update

RiftCat 2.5.2 Beta - Release candidate
We have deployed another minor patch to Beta channel that should address some reported issues.

To test the Beta features, learn how to join Beta channels reading THIS guide.

  • GameWarp settings can now be saved as profiles
  • Option to stream 3D games with in-game SBS option.
  • Discrete GPU should be selected more reliably for VR streaming. GameWarp should now work if VRidge is launched on integrated GPU on laptops (it will be attempted automatically unless overridden by global settings).
  • Green lines instead of stream on AMD RX 5000 series.
  • Memory leak during pointer image change.
  • GameWarp crashing when device goes to lock screen.
  • GameWarp crashing on launch with FreeTrack active (race condition).
  • StreamView not working with GameWarp.
  • GameWarp being too shaky on Focus (requires Focus build 2.5.2)

Feedback highly appreciated.
This update makes VRidge 2.5 version and GameWarp almost ready for release. As always, we are awaiting your feedback at support@riftcat.com. Hopefully we'll be able to bring you the final version before the end of the year!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dev Update #53 - 2.5.1 Beta Update

RiftCat 2.5.1 Beta - GameWarp fixes
We have deployed a patch to our Beta channel that aims to improve the GameWarp experience.

To test the Beta features, learn how to join Beta channels reading THIS guide.

User Experience Improvements
We have realized that we did a very poor job of informing our users how to launch GameWarp and how to turn on Input simulation. 

We made several changes to the RiftCat launcher UI to improve that aspect a little bit.

Mouse pointer will now be captured
When using GameWarp, your game will now properly display the mouse cursor so you can precisely aim in your head even in RTS games (because why not!)

FPS limit will now be respected during capture
Games exceeding 110% of desired FPS will skip frames at regular intervals. For best smoothness, try to limit the game itself (for example, through in-game V-Sync or RivaTuner) to match your phone refresh rate.

Bug fixes and tweaks (GameWarp and other)
  • Moonlight Mode and recenter hotkeys will now be working again.
  • Controllers will now deactivate faster in SteamVR on shutdown.
  • Gamewarp will no longer stop working when game switches between fullscreen and windowed mode.
  • Gamewarp GPU load during capture and streaming is greatly reduced compared to 2.5.0.

We are still waiting for feedback.
This update should bring GameWarp closer to full release but we still need your feedback on how we can improve upon it even further. Don't forget to tell us what you think about it or if you'll encounter any issues. As always, we are waiting for your message at support@riftcat.com

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Dev Update #52 - RiftCat 2.5 Beta Available

RiftCat 2.5 Beta - GameWarp introduction
Hi RiftCats!

We are excited to announce a new Beta version of RiftCat which brings several important improvements and fixes. We also have a new huge feature that should encourage you to revisit some of your favourite games.

As always, our Beta changes are deployed to our special Beta channel that is different that you may encounter when using VRidge normally. To test the Beta features, learn how to join Beta channels reading THIS guide.

GameWarp Beta
We have developed a feature that will let you use your VR equipment to play non-VR games. GameWarp will stream any normal game into your mobile VR headset and convert the image to VR format.
It will also allow you to control your mouse movements with your head so you could immerse yourself completely in FPS games. Additional support for VR controllers will let you bind all VR controller buttons to the respective keyboard + mouse commands.

Wanna play The Witcher 3 immersed in VR with your Oculus Quest with a standing experience? Now you can!

To start using GameWarp, simply start it from the PLAY menu, juz below normal SteamVR startup button.

GameWarp feature is also highly customizable. All options can be found under GameWarp integration config. You can find it on the integrations list.

GameWarp is a feature that we have plenty of ideas how to expand on. We hope that we will be able to fix all issues detected during the Beta and gather a lot of feedback.

Known issues in this Beta version:

  • GPU usage is higher than required. This may significantly affect framerates on GPU-bound games.
  • Mouse pointer is not visible in streamed frames.
  • Capture rate may exceed 60 FPS and bitrate won't be interpreted properly if FPS is not 60.
What's new
We have introduced a few new elements to VRidge experience as well:
  • Better picture quality on Daydream phones because of more uniform resolution scaling.
  • Configurable gamma correction - with a slider in the VRidge settings and during live streaming.
  • Extra check to verify openvrpaths.path integrity.
  • Extra call to select high performance GPU on laptops with intergated+discrete GPU combo.
Bug Fixes
This update also brings a lot of very important bug fixes that should make VRidge a much better product. Vivecraft & Tilt Brush should work with controllers correctly now:
  • Incorrect alignment on certain Daydream phones with top notch got fixed.
  • Controllers will now work in Vivecraft.
  • Tilt Brush should work properly.
  • Moonlight streaming at 30 FPS maximum got fixed.
  • Fixes for session initiation problems in certain networks with local DNS.
  • Fixed a crash on PCs with 2 same-model GPUs not in SLI/Crossfire.
Other changes
There several other changes too:
  • Mobile builds should now be 64-bit by default.
  • Updated NVENC card whitelist to include few new variants of GeForce and Quadro cards.
  • Updated .NET Framework target to 4.7.2.
  • Updated Daydream SDK to 1.190.
  • Updated OpenVR SDK to 1.7.15.
  • Updated Steam installation link to use https.

We really await your feedback!
Every new version of VRidge brings new features and bug fixes but there is still a lot of work to do. We need your feedback to know on what should we focus on, what works and what are the anticipated features. 

If you'll join the Beta tests, please send us your feedback and any bug reports at support@riftcat.com. Your cooperation is invaluable to us as VRidge software wouldn't be possible if not for your awesome support. 

We hope that new GameWarp and Beta changes will bring you a lot of fun. See you in VR!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Dev Update #51 - Oculus Quest release.

We have decided that it's time to go out of Beta for Oculus Quest. All changes that were available at the Beta channel will now be deployed for everyone.

We tried to get VRidge into an official Oculus Quest store but due to their content requirements we will have to keep our current installation process described here. We did our best to make the process as easy as possible so it shouldn't cause too many troubles.

We hope that VRidge for Oculus Quest will provide you with hours of awesome experience :)

Your RiftCat client should automatically update. No mobile update is required to get the new changes.


Button mapping for Oculus Quest
All button mappings should now be correct. Oculus Quest experience shouldn't differ from normal Oculus Rift S experience when in comes to hand tracking and input.

Controllers 3D model

Whenever you will use Oculus Quest with VRidge, your controllers will now appear as Oculus Rift S controllers in 3d space. Their physical appearance is basically the same as those of Oculus Quest so your experience with VRidge should be more comfortable.
iOS USB Tethering
With updates RiftCat client, you will now be able to connect iOS phone via USB cable. To learn how to connect VRidge for iOS via USB, read our guide.

Languages update

We have deployed Serbian language (thank you for your translation effort!) and updated existing languages with your fixes. Thank you for all of your contribution.

Minor changes:

  • Added Oculus Quest installation instructions to connection screen.
  • Improved headset type detection within games for better input and 3d model recognition.

Enjoy the new update! As always, let us know if you'll have any issues with updated version. You can reach our support team at support@riftcat.com

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Dev Update #50 - Oculus Quest Beta version and iOS update.

Hello RiftCats!

We have an update for you which we hope will make your VRidge experience even better. To make use of these changes, you'll need to use RiftCat Beta client. To learn how to try out the Beta version, simply follow this guide.

VRidge (Beta) for Oculus Quest

As many of you already know, we have released an Oculus Quest version of VRidge as a Preview version. You can see how it works in action by watching this video:

The installation of Oculus Quest version is a bit clunky but we have written a guide to help you install VRidge Beta for Oculus Quest with relative ease:


If you already had VRidge Preview version for Oculus Quest installed, simply rerun the script described in the above article to update.

What's new

Controllers in SteamVR will now be visible as Oculus Touch controllers.

We are using Oculus Touch model to represent your hands in VR when using Oculus Quest. They have very similar shape and using them provides us the following benefits:
  1. Game developers that created PC VR games often had Oculus Touch controllers in mind when creating their games - ensuring that games will work reliably with this controller mapping.
  2. Oculus Touch controllers have 3D model which is fully animated (you can see button presses in VR).
  3. Oculus Touch controllers are physically similar to Oculus Quest controllers which allowed us to adjust them accordingly.
We hope that with this controller mapping you will play the games close to the native PC VR experience :)

Keybindings improvement and fixes

You should now be able to freely operate SteamVR games by using Oculus Quest joysticks. Also, we have fixed an issue with right joystick pressess not registering in SteamVR.

All buttons should now work properly.

VRidge for iOS

We didn't forget about iOS users - we have several improvements for you too.

What's new

USB tethering should now work with iOS

We have received many requests to make iOS version of VRidge work with USB cable. We have found the root cause of why it didn't work in the first place and now if you'd like to use VRidge tethered you can easily do so.

QuickSync encoder fixed for iOS

iOS version had issues with QuickSync encoder. It should work properly now when using it as streaming encoder.

Required iOS version lowered to 11

Some of you asked us to enable VRidge installation on lower version of iOS than 12. We thought that due to the most recent AppStore requirements it won't be possible but we found a way! If you have an older iOS version, give VRidge a try.

Various fixes and improvements for stability

VRidge for iOS received a multitude of minor fixes which should make it much more stable.

Final words

This update should bring iOS and Oculus Quest version to a state of which we are really happy about. We will continue to bring you improvements but as of now it should bring you a lot of fun time in VR.

Also, if you thought about making a video or streaming VR games with VRidge. We made a small article on how our little StreamView tool can help you. Read about it here: https://support.riftcat.com/hc/en-us/articles/360005933460

See you in VR!