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Virtual Reality- Yay or Nay?

LiveForTheLaunch

Well-Known Member
After watching Jerry's fabulous mini-documentary about New Revolution at Magic Mountain, it got me thinking about virtual reality coasters in general and wondering what others think about it. I have never been on a virtual reality coasters so I could be completely wrong, but my opinion prior to riding one is that they should keep virtual reality for dark rides and keep the traditional coaster experience the way it is. I don't feel like the regular coaster experience is lacking anything or losing appeal to the general public to the point where they had to install headsets to make it more "modern" or whatever they were going for.

So what is your opinion on the virtual reality technology they're starting to use on coasters?
 

Casio

Member
I did Alpen Express at Europa Park with the headsets last week; there was no issue with cleanliness, although no park will have higher standards than Europa. I'm no doctor or biologist, but I can't imagine it's particularly less sanitary wearing one of these things than it is holding onto a lap bar/restraint that other people have touched and then going and eating park food with your hands. That doesn't mean it will gross people out more though, it's obviously a major complaint looking at Facebook comments.

As for the ride itself I wasn't particularly impressed. Granted Alpen Express is a pretty tame ride, and I didn't get to ride it without VR, but the whole thing was a bit tepid. It didn't seem to make it more or less intense, it did give the illusion of travelling very quickly though, I guess because of the feeling of the wind. The video is very poor; it's a bizarre Mario kart style race through a mine and then a gorge and eventually you end up on the back of a dragon and land in a castle. The graphics are bad and the whole rendering was quite fuzzy. Ultimately it just felt like a simulator, except with the 360 degree vision, which is neat. One thing that does work well is the handling of the crowds: by charging €2 per ride it limits the number of people who want to ride it, and also limits the number of headsets that need to be cleaned. More than half of the train is filled with non-VR riders, so throughput isn't affected at all. This will probably be a much bigger problem on solely and purpose built VR rides.

I can imagine that it would work well on a purpose built coaster or dark ride, especially for a theme where physical sets are completely impractical and the graphics wouldn't be too tricky to make realistic (eg. space travel). Tying the headsets into the theme would be easy as well (part of a space suit or military goggles). Hopefully that's what Derren Brown's Ghost Train will provide! (I have no realistic hopes of that...)
 

GuyWithAStick

Captain Basic
I think it'll work if it's done correctly.

From what I hear, the actual coaster experience with the VR is pretty good, assuming all goes well. But with Galacticair and The New Revolutions, the operations and functionality are pretty bad.

I think one of the main reasons VR coasters aren't working is because the ride can't handle the loads of people it has to work for. At IAPPA/Fun Spot, the VR on Freedom Flyer worked out really well, because it was an exclusive experience. If all VR coasters were either an upcharge, or only available on certain days/times, or even rows, then it'd work. It'd give less staff more time to get the VR to work between cycles.

One of the main reasons I think VR isn't working is because it's marketed towards the wrong platform and audience. Video games won't work that well, as it's not providing much to the gameplay(and it doesn't work with anything non-linear). It doesn't work on coasters, as the operations are ****. In the words of Daniel Hardcastle(aka NerdCubed), VR will hit off with TV, specifically sports. In fact, WWE has started recording matches and entrances in 360* video. Imagine watching a wrestling match, or a baseball or football game in the audience at different points instead of at home. You can watch the matches as if you're there.

Another area I think VR will do great in, although an odd one, is home retail and home designing, specifically for remodels and new home construction. With each design for the home, you can actually walk around the house with the different designs, to see how it looks like after it's done. I know a lot of neighbors aren't happy with their house design, so this could be a deciding factor for the final choice.

Again, VR can work really well, as long as it works, and or is in the correct audience.
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
It's a fun gimmick, just as the namtaB and Swarm backwards promos. But a lasting attraction that amusement parks should seek out? I don't believe so. A major attribute to amusement parks are exciting, real world experiences - I visit to escape digital screens, not seek them out!
 

BigBad

Member
I like what Hyde said about escaping digital screens, but I also think that VR could be a lot of fun on a coaster. The point of the wing style is that there's nothing above or below you in order to simulate flight. With VR, you can get this without the engineering challenges of a wing train (maybe go floorless to get feet dangling) while making the layout completely unpredictable.

Here's an idea. Flying coasters are quite uncomfortable for me, but I like the idea of simulating flying in the Superman position. Set up the VR to tilt the world 90 degrees. When I'm sitting upright in the station, the VR makes it look like I'm looking down. As I go over the drop, the goggles make it appear that I'm plummeting head first.

I don't think the animation would be so hard. In fact, I think it's would require nothing more that pitching the world forward 90 degrees. There might be some issues with forces, though. As an extreme example, imagine a launched sit-down coaster. You feel the force against your back, but if you're flying in that prone position on flying coasters, you feel a launch against your butt or you'd feel the force against your back pushing you down towards the ground.

Anyway, yes, I think that VR could be cool, particularly if the coaster isn't in a nice location.
 

ECG

East Coast(er) General
Administrator
I agree that it should be optional and only available for those in the rear seats (like the one Ian & I did at IAAPA) to help with throughput and allow people who don't want the VR experience to still be able to enjoy the coaster. The only problem I have with the VR is the outdated graphics, but that's to be expected since they are using phones that can't handle more realistic renderings.
 

Joey

Well-Known Member
It's ****.

Fundamentally.

I'm not convinced VR as a personal entertainment device is any good, but let's just start out by clarifying that of those who've actually tried it, I've seen nothing but praise (for home entertainment). It's worth noting that this praise is almost always followed by a disclaimer that they realise it's a niche and it's not going to revolutionise gaming or media consumption just yet. I, personally, don't care for it from the never having tried it perspective - it doesn't appeal. I didnt, and still don't, care for 3D either. I don't like to have **** on my face and actually feel like it ruins immersion in an environment by putting something in between your physical body and the physical space. Physical. Space. That's kinda crucial. Like wtf is the point in a theme park without physical space.

Home entertainment VR is pricey and not without faults that appear to make public usage a good idea. It requires space - I watched a thing about 360 movies where someone's sat on their couch, but hey guess what, all the stuff is happening behind you. You have to physically commit to it. Is that really what people want from home entertainment? I know I don't. There's also the issue if eye strain and blah, but anyway... Public VR...

There are SOOOOO many issues with public VR though, that I don't even know where to even begin.

The most important though is something I've not seen anyone else mention yet, so I will... VR is a very isolated, personal experience. Like, you couldn't make media consumption any less social if you tried. Theme parks, and all other public attractions, are... Social places. Inherently. Fundamentally. That's what makes them special. You take that away and you destroy the genre. The earliest amusement parks were discussed as places where people could enjoy each other's physical spectacle - watching other people have fun, hearing other people have fun. This is what theme parks are for. A friend who rode Galactica mentioned how no one screams and how weird that was. Less weird, more depressing, IMO.

I'm sure there is a place for VR in the attractions industry, but I think it's more suited to museums, honestly.

I've gotta go now but I'll be back to discuss other reasons why VR sucks later.

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Lofty

Social Media Team
Staff member
Social Media Team
For fun, for use at home and gaming - YAY.
For theme parks and immersive experiences - MASSIVE NAY.
 

JoshC.

Active Member
I haven't tried any sort of VR yet, so it'll be interesting to see how my opinion changes after trying it. However...

I'm open to the idea. As technology improves and VR becomes more and more of a thing, I think it is only natural for the theme park industry to consider it as an option. Provided it is of sufficient quality and used effectively, it could make for a great experience.

But I guess this is wherein the problem lies - is VR at a sufficiently high enough quality to be used in theme parks, where the quality of 'real' theming and even screen-based rides is so high? At the moment, I doubt it. And based on reviews I've heard so far, I would say that is true. And also, is it being used effectively at the moment? So far, it's been tacked onto a few coasters, which is not really an effective use for VR. A cool once off? Yes. An effective, long-term use? No. It would be best used in simulators / dark rides / some flat rides even, so it'll be particularly interesting to see how DBGT goes down at Thorpe...

But even if it's used effectively and is of good enough quality, I'm still unsure. Maybe it will have a place as a side-attraction at some parks. Maybe it will be an easier way to get a headline attraction in. But it could still just be a passing fad which, in a few years, is just a piece of history.

Most importantly though, I think when I ride rides, I like to just get a more 'real' view. Like I always enjoy rides with people than by myself. And with VR you pretty much cut that out. So even if VR attractions are really awesome and everything, it probably won't replace the feeling of a non-VR one for me.
 
IMO they could be an interesting new take and I might actually enjoy it if executed correctly. Europa Park handled it very well but looking at Six Flags's presentation, it looks cheap. If the animation, sanitation, and comfort are good, then I don't really see an issue with it.

Edit:
VR on coasters need to be chosen wisely. If they add VR to an already popular coaster, they **** it up. Dark rides would be perfect for this sort of thing but big scale coasters, meh...
 

Joey

Well-Known Member
Ok, more on VR...

Operational issues aka... Damage to throughput per hour.

People have absolutely zero concept of urgency and how their individual faffing about adds valuable seconds into the queue length. At the best of times. Loading rides is already a sea of last minute scramble with bags, glasses and shoes. Guests not understanding how their restraints do up, panicing about some special snowflake non-issue so obscure you'd not comprehend, spending so long faffing with hiding their bag their restraint is shut and locked, only for the entire train to require them to be raised and rechecked. And then of course, the inevitable panicing of those who's restraints have risen. I've witnessed restraints need checking 3 times in a row because following getting someone too large off, two people freaked out about bars raising. What about parents arguing that their kid is gonna wait on the platform. What about all the pieces of paper guests throw at staff to deal with last second. What about bags being taken on the ride and restraint lowered, needing to be raised. What about people too large to ride. What about guests delaying things further by complaining about how long it's all taking.

They don't need **** VR headsets on top of all this. Not only will they literally slow down dispatches for obvious reasons, they'll present a host of other stuff you hadn't imagined. People's discomfort, blurry vision, people arguing that because you're allowed the headset, their bag is no different, has £1000 in it, and so is coming with them.

I cannot see how VR is operationally feasible, unless on a multi station, multi train ride, with so many headsets and so many staff the cost negates the experience.

And that's the next thing... Experience. I watched Europa's and that's the one most people claim is decent and it looked worse than that canyon coaster simulator from the 90s. They cost too much to be anything other than a major addition to install and operate, but can't fulfill the throughput required of a major addition or live up to experience requirements. (Yet? Ever?)

The visuals are poor. On all of them. And that's assuming they're working properly. I commended Galactica for using an abstract theme easy to render, but even here people are complaining of empty space, awkward, poorly rendered objects that suddenly vanish like old polygons on an early PlayStation game, and... Well, just that nothing happens. Everyone seems to think the lift is cool, but I guess that's because so much is going on there to look at.

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Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
Joey has been exactly on point so far. Isolation, discomfort, operations are all fantastic reasons why VR is a stupid **** idea.

Another thing, that has been touched on before, but I'd like to expand on is: What's the point?

I can appreciate that a coaster can offer G-Forces that would be hard to achieve any other way (I imagine that VR on a coaster feels very different to those fun-fair simulator type rides), but I feel like it fundamentally misses the point of a coaster. Completely.

Surely the point of coasters is so that you can see the world around you? You can do all sorts of crazy things:
-race through a forest at breakneck speeds (Beast or Outlaw Run, for example)
-twist and turn through a fantasy landscape (Nemesis or Taron, for example)
-watch the world disappear from you on a launch (TTD or Superman, for example)
-being thrown from your seat as you fly through a large wooden structure (El Toro or Prowler, for example)
-flip upside down in lots of crazy ways (Smiler or X2, for example)
I mean, I could probably go on, but it's a bit too early in the morning for me to be very creative with my examples. :lol:

You get the point. Coasters are about experiencing the world around you. Otherwise, why bother? Let's just invest in some fancy simulators and stop building massive structures at great expense. I really just can't see the point. The only saving grace (and I use this example very cautiously) is that they haven't done it to a "good" coaster yet. I quite like Air, but I don't really ride it that often, so I can probably live without riding it while the VR is compulsory, but I do think it's a shame they've added them to Revolution (SFMM). That was a really pleasant coaster - meandering through the trees and the straight drop into the loop was a nice visual experience.

What's the point in removing the whole point of a coaster in the first place? This doesn't even include the fact that doing all of this with your friends/family is an important social experience, and the fact that it must make a mess of all the operations.

I don't think I could be more in the "Nay" camp if I tried. I think it looks **** awful.
 

Jordanovichy

Credit Whore 2016
I like it as a gimmick, it's fun but the point in a coaster is the coaster experience. I think it works on a coaster like Alpen Express, I enjoyed it, it's family friendly but I'm not keen on seeing it on other coasters, I'm yet to try Galactica but I think it will ruin fabulous Air </3 especially as you now don't even get a choice not to have it! As most people have said, keep it for gaming and home entertainment, even dark rides, but coasters are for coasting, in a way, they're their own virtual reality, so why ruin with that making it so you can't see!?
 

Jarrett

Most Obnoxious Member 2016
I've yet to experience it (Emily and I will get to in August and again in December) but honestly, I love the idea. However, this could just be the engineer in me that just won't say no to new technology, but I love the idea and I can't wait to take it for a whirl.

The thing I love about it is that visually, your experience is now literally limited only by what a screen can render. If you can see it on a movie, you can see it on a coaster now. Those "fantasy coasters" people would make in NoLimits or RCT3 with no intention to be realistic could now be made a reality, and to me that's amazing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_9e4GYNegE[/youtube]
This is one of my favorite ever RCT3 projects and it always saddened me that I could never even hope of experiencing something like it. Now it's possible!

Now let me do what I do best and nail Six Flags; everything VR shouldn't be they're doing. It's not an excuse for lacking real theming (at least in the queue and station and surrounding area), it isn't there to turn your roller coaster into some stupid PC gaming experience, and it doesn't belong on rides that have no other selling point (historical significance, a world-class layout, ect.) I agree that it should be highly encouraged but not compulsory (maybe assign certain rows as VR and non-VR?), but beyond that, it should be used as an optional encouraged additional experience to a coaster that might otherwise be utterly useless. Coasters like Trailblazer, Dahlonega, Firehawk, SDC Wildfire, T3, Cedar Creek Mine Ride, and other coasters that just have nothing going for them without that extra zing.

Now the whole "it removes the social aspect of the ride" complaint, guess what? You go out to watch movies with your friends and don't talk through them. You come out at the end and throw your trash away and talk about the hour experience you all just enjoyed in silence ignoring each other. How is doing the same for a three minute experience any different? That being said, microphones on Galactica you could use to hear what your buddies are saying through the "radio" in your "space helmet" would really add an extra dimension to the ride.

Right now, the focus needs to be on getting the right balance of the real ride and VR in the ride's branding and intention and making the headsets better. If I could ride a B&M flyer diving through a volcanic power plant, I would die a happy man.
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
You make valid points Jarrett. I don't agree with them, but they're valid.

Only thing I object to is this:
Jarrett said:
Coasters like Trailblazer, Dahlonega, Firehawk, SDC Wildfire, T3, Cedar Creek Mine Ride, and other coasters that just have nothing going for them without that extra zing.
Wildfire? :lol: You're kidding right? That coaster is pretty fun, but it's setting is the best bit of it!


All the rest, sure (although anything with major headbanging would be out - so forget T3), but not Wildfire.
 

Jarrett

Most Obnoxious Member 2016
^Honestly, Wildfire kind of let me down. The terrain interaction was nothing compared to the rest of the coasters at SDC, it had the least spectacular view of them (seriously, Outlaw Run overlooking Table Rock Lake and the other coasters crushes Wildfire's), and it honestly had more head banging than T3.

(Not to say T3 was at all pleasant. I didn't hit my head on the restraint, but it was still awful. And getting whacked in the back of the head on the rollover and seeing stars </3)

Wildfire would probably be a bit more optional than the others, but the reason I brought it up was that it would be an easy conversion. It already has theming, it needs a gimmick to stand out, and it could maybe use some new paint while they're at it. But sitting inside your flying machine as it smashes through trees and dives into caves in the Ozarks would be phenomenal. Might even propel this "just okay" B&M to something just as good as Powder Keg or Thunderation.
 

trav1089

New Member
VR is the second biggest pile of **** only surpassed by Six Flags America, which funnily enough has a VR coaster of its own. Load times are 4+ times as long and the VR technology is awful.


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trav1089

New Member


Just timed the load times of Superman at SFA. 6:51 from when the gates opened until dispatch. Then a further 3:28 for the ride, and the unload until the gates opened for the next riders. 10:19 total for one load.


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