HTC Vive/SteamVR on an NVIDIA laptop running Optimus

HTC Vive running from a MSI GS60 6QE (1080p)  with Optimus graphics (GTX 970M)
HTC Vive running from a MSI GS60 6QE (1080p) with Optimus graphics (GTX 970M)

When the HTC Vive hit the market, one of the first complaints was that it wouldn’t run on a laptop using NVIDIA Optimus graphics with 9xx-M series GPUs (970M/980M). Optimus works by using an Intel IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) to handle desktop rendering, and passes through the discrete GPU graphics to the screen for presentation with higher performance.

Unfortunately, this did not work for Direct Mode, which was implemented to significantly improve performance for standard GPU setups.

Fortunately, however, Valve has just updated SteamVR to look specifically for the dedicated GPU in the case of these laptops. In the July 5th change notes, the following entry was listed:

  • Added Optimus hints to prefer dedicated GPU.

Intrigued (as I was unable to get the Vive to run from my MSI laptop previously), I gave it a shot, and sure enough, it works! (There was some unplugging and replugging, but it did work).

While the performance doesn’t stack up to a custom portable VR build,  this is great for developers who may just need to do basic testing or proof-of-concept demos.

I hope this helps those of you who are in a similar situation.

Notes!

The Vive will show up as an extra display. You need to switch it in windows to be an Extended display instead of mirrored, or SteamVR will send you angry messages.

Direct mode doesn’t work.

Some programs may not work. (Virtual Desktop did not work for me).

Performance is noticeably less than a desktop GPU.

 

 

 

Building a VR-ready portable PC

Not interested in buying one of the pre-built gaming rigs offered by Asus because you want something more mobile for using your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive HMDs (head-mounted devices)?

Here’s a list for a build spec that will get you going with something you can carry around easily:

SilverStone “Milo” ML08B-H

A Mini-ITX form-factor case which has a great design, allowing you to mount a full-length video card in-line with the motherboard, making for a slim design. In addition, this particular model has a carrying handle for increased portability.

Continue reading Building a VR-ready portable PC

Kerbal Space Program Mods (1.1 edition)

Updated 2016-04-22 13:34 (GMT -4)

Version 1.1 of KSP has just been released, so I will be updating this page with mod descriptions and compatibility notes as I work my way through the list.

Please note, version 1.1 is a full engine upgrade, (from Unity 4 to Unity 5). Squad overhauled a lot of the code, so expect many mods to require significant updates, or changes in functionality. Some mods may be discontinued.

64-bit is now fully supported, which means that texture-heavy mods will no longer cause the game to crash on load (as long as you have enough RAM), so memory management mods should no longer be required… unless you have very little RAM and a lot of mods. 😉

Boilerplate from previous versions of the mod list:

If you’re new to KSP, or completely unfamiliar, it is a simulation game, where you take the role of director for the little green man version of NASA/ESA/Roscosmos/etc. (I wrote a preview/review of it a while back)

One of the reasons for its success is its massive mod community, which has taken the stock game and added a tremendous amount of depth in the way of new ship components, graphical overhauls, sounds, functionality (life support, flight model re-write, mining/resource gathering, etc), and other content.

 

KSP 1.1 has an API which allows save games to be brought in from version 1.0.5, as well as documentation to allow mods to bring their data forward as well. Until a mod has been updated and confirmed to keep data intact, be sure to keep backups of your saves in case of space kraken.

Below is my list of what I feel are the best and most useful mods, but also those that I feel add fun touches to the game.

Continue reading Kerbal Space Program Mods (1.1 edition)

Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim: ~4 gigapixel image

The most complicated shoot I performed on my recent trip to Europe was this image. At a glance, it is a typical photo of the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway, however if you click through, you’ll find a LOT more detail than you normally see in a photo.

This is a composite of over 800 photos, totaling over 3.9 gigapixels in resolution.

I’ll discuss the site more on the Geek Field Guide blog, and write up a how-to to make something like this yourself on this blog later.

In the meantime, take a look, and let me know what you think.

Thanks!

-W

Click me!
Nidaros Cathedral

Venus – Jupiter convergence preview

Decided to try out my new telephoto setup last night on the planets. I was in a hurry, so I shot without tripod just to see what would happen. I saw in the camera preview that Venus was a semicircle, so I declared the test a success.

Once I loaded it into Lightroom, however, I realized that the Jovian moons were visible. I’ll give it another shot tonight with a tripod and better settings.

Venus, Jupiter, and Jovian moons. 7D Mk II, 1.4x Extender III, 100-400 IS II. 896mm, 1/60 sec, f/8.0, ISO 16000.

Kerbal Space Program Mods (1.0.x edition)

Updated 2015-06-22 20:46 GMT -4 (DST)

1.0.3 has been released today (2015-06-22). This has some notable changes for physics, not the least of which is heat management. This will probably require some tweaks by the mod authors, so I’ll start updating the page once those start trickling out.

Kerbal Space Program version 1.0 is finally released to the public. I will be updating this page with mod descriptions and compatibility as I work my way through the list.

Please note, Squad overhauled many systems in 1.0, so expect many mods to require significant updates, or changes in functionality. Some mods may be discontinued.

If you’re new to KSP, or completely unfamiliar, it is a simulation game, where you take the role of director for the little green man version of NASA. (I wrote a preview/review of it a while back)

One of the reasons for its success is its massive mod community, which has taken the stock game and added a tremendous amount of depth in the way of new ship components, graphical overhauls, sounds, functionality (life support, flight model re-write, mining/resource gathering, etc), and other content.

KSP was in pre-release for a long time, which meant that updates could be significant and game-changing. Because of this, I would start a new campaign over from the beginning when a new patch came out. In the future, I plan to stay with the save file I start for 1.0, unless there is a significant game-breaking save change that requires me to start over.

My assumption at this point is a clean slate for 1.0 for mods, so I will not comment on backwards compatibility for saves started prior to 1.0.

Here’s the state of my recommended mods, and a bit about each of them:

Continue reading Kerbal Space Program Mods (1.0.x edition)

iPackThat Review & Contest

If you’re new to 3D modeling, good UV mapping is critical to getting a good result for game output. With more complex scenes, you can end up with a lot of wasted space between the polygons in your UV map.

One of the most tedious parts of doing a good 3D model for game use is making a good UV map that doesn’t waste all that space.  Producing a high-quality, efficient, UV map for a detailed model can take hours or days of work, depending on the complexity.

Enter iPackThat by Piranha Bytes, a tool that takes a ton of micromanagement off your to-do list, and smashes your polys into submission.

Continue reading iPackThat Review & Contest

Reference Photography – Air and Space Museum: Udvar-Hazy Center

Over time, I will be posting reference photography here under the Creative Commons 4.0 – Non-Commercial-Attribution License.

If you find anything I post useful, please be sure to turn off ad-blocking in your browser, or drop something in the tip jar linked above.

Thanks!

-Warren