June 21, 2015

VR girlfriend

Over at Ace's, this week's gaming post begins with a couple of trailers for upcoming VR girlfriend games (or maybe just different development stages of a single game). GoGM says, "I refuse to believe that this is the same VR Japanese schoolgirl waifu sim I was promised last year" and links to the previous one.

The newer one is in English and features a beautiful blonde woman, likely in her early 20's. You're with her outdoors at a beach cottage.

The previous one is in Japanese and features a high school girl, likely age 16. You're with her in her bedroom.

Which neatly summarizes how they view the respective audiences, don't you think?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Entertainment at 11:58 AM | Comments (17) | Add Comment
Post contains 115 words, total size 1 kb.

1 The disparity between our graphical prowess and everything else is just getting more and more astonishing. A VR experience that makes you "feel like she's right there by you"... ok, sure, let's deduct some points for this just being marketing bibble-babble, but based on people's reports from their experiences with the latest iteration of this technology, it probably is something really different from anything you can get anywhere else. You can probably almost feel the wind in your hair...

... and the way you interact with her is still nothing more than glorified point-and-grunt. Yes and no. One whole stinkin' bit. Two in the last scene where you got four choices. If you put your mind to it, your entire interaction with "her" might describe one 24-bit color pixel's worth of interaction. You know, those things the computer is shoveling out at approximately a quarter of a billion per second. (Estimated with 1920x1080 times 2 for both eyes at 60 fps.)

The mismatch between our ability to generate information vs. understand and process the information is just... unbelievable.

Posted by: Jeremy Bowers at June 21, 2015 02:30 PM (qPsU5)

2 We can do a fabulous job of simulating a body, and a lousy job of simulating a mind. They've reduced the number of bits so dramatically, because the sim can't really respond to you on a free-form basis, all it can do is execute pre-written scripts.
Kind of disappointing, even Racter was better at faking a conversation than I gather a dating sim to be.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at June 21, 2015 02:34 PM (L5yWw)


What you really need is VR gloves, which can sense their position relative to the headset and detect the fingers and thumbs.

But of course, as soon as you put those in the system, the first user is going to use them to grope the girl.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 21, 2015 02:48 PM (+rSRq)

4 You say that as though it were a bug, rather than what's been driving the development of VR.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at June 21, 2015 03:40 PM (L5yWw)

5 a lousy job of simulating a mind.

To be fair, a number of human beings have the same problem.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 21, 2015 07:16 PM (jGQR+)

6 Keep in mind that a modern desktop computer or game console has processing power somewhere between a honeybee and a goldfish, so convincing simulations of human minds are seriously hard work.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 22, 2015 03:43 AM (PiXy!)

7 Tell that to my old copy of Racter, it might argue with you. 
I don't think they're trying to simulate a mind, here. These dating sims don't generate behavior and graphics on the spot, they are the video equivalent of "write your own story" books. If they gave you more than a couple options at each branch, the combinatorial explosion would exceed the storage capacity of the media they're distributed on.
If they actually were generating the graphics in real time, simulating enough of a personality to make the users happy, (Bimbo level) wouldn't be too much of a challenge. 

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at June 22, 2015 01:31 PM (L5yWw)


Not necessarily. At one of the World Fairs (I think it might have been 1964) one of the attractions was a movie adventure which stopped every few minutes with a decision about what the hero should do next. The audience would vote (choice 1, choice 2) and then the movie would pick up and follow that choice.

I think it stopped something like 8 times that way. So they ended up with ridiculous numbers of alternatives to film, right?

Nope. Turns out the no matter which choice the audience made, it ended up at the same point for the next pause. So in fact, there were only effectively two movies, one consisting of all the "left" choices and one consisting of all the "right" choices.

But the only way the audience would notice is if they attended twice or more.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 22, 2015 02:56 PM (+rSRq)

9 Ah, the old "magician's choice".  Friend to gamemasters/dungeonmasters everywhere.  (You track the evil overlord into the mountains... but he's not there!  He's in the swamp!  If you tried the swamp first, he'd be in the mountains... either way, you're running the whole dang module.)   

Even the "choose your own adventure" books wrapped back on themselves quite often... the decision trees only looked like family trees if you had an awful lot of cousins marrying each other.  For the same obvious reason as the movie... a book only has so many pages.

Posted by: Mikeski at June 22, 2015 03:28 PM (/KkcU)

10 I figure the VR girlfriend genre is going to look a lot like Skyrim with download-on-demand decision trees. No doubt there will be vendor-screened scenarios that keep them out of jail, and unofficial archives that will let you tweak the bodies and rules to Have It Your Way. They don't need the CPU power to make her smarter than a dog if her actions are limited to the depth and variety of On Golden Blonde.

And yes, there are a lot of "adult" Skyrim mods...


Posted by: J Greely at June 22, 2015 05:02 PM (fpXGN)

11 I look forward to the first Key Visual Novel in VR.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 22, 2015 05:37 PM (+rSRq)

12 You don't have to recycle things quite that much. Just have a pack of scenarios that play out through a wide band of affection levels, with not all decisions having a strong influence; whether you have pickles on your sandwich is probably not going to change how much she likes you tomorrow. Throw in a handful of events. You've got your script together. If you're worried about things repeating, just put in a deteriorating mechanic, where if things aren't going well, they go bad, she loses interest, Game Over Man.

The point behind dating sims is not to accurately model a woman. If you could do that, conceptually speaking, you probably wouldn't need a dating sim! In fact, one of the appeals of the dating sim is precisely that it's fairly mechanical in its application of logic to relationships - "do good/nice/interesting things, get the girl". Might be hard in context of the tolerance of what the game wants you to do, but what it won't be is erratic...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at June 22, 2015 08:54 PM (pWQz4)

13 "Men don't want virtual women that behave realistically, they want virtual women that play by the rules."


Posted by: J Greely at June 22, 2015 10:04 PM (ZlYZd)

14 That's the reason I find the anime "The World God only knows" so deeply offensive. The story is entirely based on the conceit that real girls act like the ones in dating sims, and that Our Hero, having become a champion player of dating sims, can suddenly become a world class lady killer in the real world. Horseshit.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 23, 2015 05:41 AM (+rSRq)

15 TWGOK's saving grace is that the characters play their parts completely straight, but the story never takes itself seriously for even a second.  It's not great art, but at a few points it had me cracking up.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 23, 2015 08:25 AM (PiXy!)

16 Did somebody say "VR Gloves"?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 23, 2015 09:01 PM (+rSRq)

17 "VR bodysuit".  You can't have that complete anime-waifu experience if you don't feel the impact when you meet The Late-For-School Sprinting Girl with the Piece of Toast in her MouthTM. Bonus points awarded if she can actually knock you on your butt.  

Posted by: Mikeski at June 24, 2015 06:14 AM (/KkcU)

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