Driveclub Tech Demo Offers First Look at Racing Games with PlayStation VR

22450978711_c5a64d504c_c– Lamborghini chase, October 24th, 2015, courtesy of torque99.

With all the hype around Gran Turismo Sport from Paris Games Week, we can’t forget about Driveclub, which remains a popular game that continues to receive strong developer and community support.

Although it wasn’t announced on-stage, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida confirmed the game will support the new PlayStation VR headset that’s currently slated for release sometime in the first half of 2016.

Better yet, Evolution Studios had a hands-on demo for behind closed doors, offering members of the media their first looks at how PlayStation’s new technology works with racing games. The demo shown runs at 60fps all while maintaining the original resolution, and features the BAC Mono running the route of one of the base game’s India circuits.

The increase in frame rate comes at a distinct cost as Paul Rustchynsky of Evolution Studios explains – costs in the form of the on-track car count being reduced from 12 to 8, trackside details as well as the weather and cloud system being dialed back, in addition to the rear-view mirrors being disabled altogether. The latter is something Evolution Studios wishes to address before a final release.

Even with these rather costly optimizations the game runs smoothly at 60fps which is then ‘upscaled’ to 120fps when transmitted to the VR headset. Meaning, while the game itself is running at 60fps the sense of movement and responsiveness look and feel twice as smooth through a commonly used technique known as ‘asynchronous time-warp’.

Driveclub’s VR tech demo is just that – a tech demo – however, there is a possibility it could become something more as Driveclub continues to receive updates over time as Rustchynsky discussed with Eurogamer.

“We’ve got plans for the next six months. We’re going to be releasing more content, more updates and more features. We’ll keep that going. DriveClub VR? At the moment it’s just a prototype. We don’t know what we’re going to do with that just yet. If it gets good reception here – which I think it will – I think that could turn into something more than just a tech demo.”

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Comments (25)

  1. imn2gsus

    @panjandrum this is where I got my suspicion that it won’t be stereoscopic. Thank you for teaching the correct term. Tweening is what this is apparently from the article. If that’s true the ps4 would render 60 frames and “guess” at 60 in between to get 120, although maybe the playstation vr hardware is capable of doing the “guessing.” I must say I was excited for vr for driving games but this has me rethinking; I’m losing the number of cars and beautiful detail and I have to have frames inserted that aren’t rendered in game so I don’t throw up all so I can be more immersed. I might be just fine without vr.

  2. panjandrum

    @imn2gsus: Adding frames between frames is not called upscaling; it’s called “tweening” and is occasionally used to create a fake frame between two differing frames, where (for example) you would have frame a & b, which are different, so you blend frames a & b to create a frame between them. Duplicating a rendered frame exactly and then increasing the fps gains zero perceived frame-rates increase, so there really isn’t any point in that.

    I’m fairly sure playstation VR is stereoscopic: Otherwise we wouldn’t bee seeing a frame-rate drop (or, at least a very tiny drop due to processing overhead for the motion sensing etc.). Looking at Wikipedia (I realize might be incorrect), the Playstation VR appears to be specifically designed for stereoscopic gaming…

    1. Fgame

      There wont be much motion delay as the VR runs at 120fps perceived not 60fps. Wherever you point your head there will be 120fps of motion, so no nauseating lag.
      In the Eurogamer reference I read that the VR will also give alternative frames even when the game wants to give a rendered frame, the perceived motion frame has priority over the physics based rendering of the game itself, all done in order to make the motion as real time as possible. The new frames being dictated by the sensors in the VR headset.

  3. imn2gsus

    @panjandrum upscaling frame rates is inserting in between frames, this is the very definition of upscaled frame rates. Upscaling resolution adds in fake pixels to get from a lower resolution to higher resolution (i.e. 720p to 1080p). Also this is not steroscopic. Playstation VR is a 5.7 inch screen right in front of your eyeballs. 3d steroscopic gaming seems to be over for the near future for consoles (xbox one, PS4 and Wii U don’t have any titles to my knowledge).

  4. JohnScoonsBeard

    Project Cars will also be supporting this. I’m certainly interested in it but I don’t see an easy solution to using a button box or a keyboard (many driving functions can be mapped to the keyboard) which are both supported on the PS4 as well as PC. Maybe the need to map extra stuff to the keyboard is reduced when using VR? Look left, right, up, down and back buttons will be freed up for extra mapping. Buttons on the wheel will be easy enough to know where they are. For those with gear sticks there might be problems quickly getting your hand on the knob (ooh errr).

    1. Johnnypenso

      Personally I’m not worried about finding my gear shift with the VR headset on. I have no trouble now finding my knob without looking at it… Lol. But you raise a good point about the button boxes for finding the alternate buttons on the gear shift for example. I suppose it won’t be as big of an issue for those with a dedicated cockpit setup and lots of experience using it but that is definitely far from the majority of users.

  5. panjandrum

    That’s interesting that they are trying to run VR at 60fps (you can’t “upscale” to 120fps, that doesn’t make any sense. All you could do is add fake frames…) It’s generally accepted that unless you have at least 90fps there is a considerable rate of “motion sickness” caused by the system lagging behind your movements. (For those who don’t know; stereoscopic gaming has been around for years. I’ve been running a stereoscopic projector for gaming for a long time and it’s pretty great – especially in games like Fallout 3, DAO (software exists to convert these in real-time and run them stereoscopically). But even without the “VR” of a head-mounted-display with motion-sensing, it’s definitely something that those without strong-stomachs want to watch out for if the frame-rate drops. Something about having the stereoscopic rendering really messes with the balance-centers at low FPS…

  6. sirjim73

    Lets do the asynchronous time-warp again…

    Personally, I think if they can eventually get the price of the VR down to something more manageable to most people it will do well. But then, its not planned to be much more expensive than the main PS4 wheels I guess.

    My concern is with the major reduction on the graphics side and whether the VR will be enough to compensate for that for most people. I guess until I’ve actually tried one its impossible to know how I would feel.

    Look forward to hearing more in 2016.

  7. Benny44

    I just can’t see VR becoming that big. I certainly won’t be buying it anytime soon. Maybe I’ll be wrong. I just have no desire to try this

    1. R1600Turbo

      Horror games in VR are the best thing ever. Basically anything first person will be epic considering how powerful todays systems are. Finally we can put VR to good use, and I personally believe it’s going to blow up.

    2. Samus

      Well personally I can’t even play first person games normally without getting motion sickness so I can only imagine how much worse this is going to be for people like me.

    3. Benny44

      I think the biggest issue is not the technology and how it is going to work, but it is the isolation you require. I have real life responsibilities, so there is no way I can sit for hours at a time 100% engrossed in a game. There are probably only a few hours in a week where I can even just sit for that long.

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