VRChat The Movie: Coming Soon!

Machinima (/məˈʃiːnɪmə, -ˈʃɪn-/) is the use of real-time computer graphics engines to create a cinematic production…Machinima-based artists, sometimes called machinimists or machinimators, are often fan laborers, by virtue of their re-use of copyrighted materials…

Machinima (Wikipedia article)

Well, you knew this was going to happen sooner or later: a full-length feature movie shot entirely in VRChat, complete with in-jokes that only diehard VRChatters would get! (Actually, I’m sure it’s not the first movie shot in VRChat, but I’m pretty certain it’s the most ambitious machinima project in VRChat to date.)

Here’s the three-minute teaser trailer for VRChat The Movie:

The cast and crew involved in the creation of this cinematic masterpiece participated in a live discussion panel held at the recently concluded VRCon 2021 (the actual content starts at the 26:45-minute mark for some strange reason in this livestream of the event):

The project even has a page on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)!

How I Received—And Why I Turned Down—an Offer to Review the Pimax Vision 8K X Virtual Reality Headset

The Pimax 8K X virtual reality headset

It was exactly a week ago that I got the following email message, out of the blue:

Dear Ryan

Greetings from Pimax Technology Inc. I hope you are doing well.

My name is Scot Shen, and I am the marketing analyst from Pimax Technology Inc. Pimax is a technology company specializing in virtual reality hardware products, and our goal is to create a better immersive gaming experience for the majority of gamers. We would like to invite you to do a review on our product and post an article [to] ryanschultz.com If you are interested, we will send our products to you to experience.

At first I was flabbergasted, then suspicious (was this a scam?), then quite flattered, and I said yes. But then, after thinking about it over the past weekend, I wrote back to tell Scot that I had changed my mind, and would not be writing a review after all.

So why did I turn down a golden opportunity to test and write a review of this ultra-high-end headset?

In the end, there were three reasons that I decided not to have Pimax ship me one of their sample high-end VR headsets from China to try out and review. First, they wanted me to write my review within 7 days of receiving the device, which I felt was really too short a time to do a proper review (even though the paper I was supposed to sign, scan, and email back to them said that I had 30 days to do my evaluation).

Second, Pimax wanted to read (and presumably, approve) my review prior to my publishing it on the blog. Now, I pride myself on being an independent blogger, who presents the unvarnished truth and calls a spade a spade when I see it, and that particular stipulation made me a little uncomfortable. (Note that I do write sponsored blogposts for Sinespace, for which I am paid; however, I do not shy away from criticism when it is warranted, even with Sinespace! Also, I sometimes share a preview version of a blogpost with someone from the company I am writing about, to catch and correct any factual errors before I publish.)

But the third and biggest reason I said no was this: I simply did not want to go through the hassle of removing my Valve Index hardware, installing the Pimax hardware and software, testing it, and then uninstalling everything again (and probably still leaving bits and pieces of software on my PC). I finally have everything set up just the way I like it, and I really, really don’t feel like fiddling with it (at least, until I decide to throw out my ratty old sofa and set up a room-scale VR environment in my living room, which is still my plan at some future point).

A younger man might have jumped at the opportunity, said yes, and leaped with glee and alacrity through all the hoops, but I am far from a younger man. In fact, I was a bit surprised that Pimax approached me. Although my blog has grown in popularity, and more and more often lately, companies are approaching me to write about their platforms and products, I still don’t consider myself a virtual reality “influencer” (gah, how I despise that term!). I write mainly about a specific, niche subset of virtual reality called social VR, and frankly, I am the very furthest thing from a gamer—which is the target market for this device, as mentioned in the first email I received from them. Somebody’s not doing their research here, folks.

Pimax seems to be conducting a vigorous grassroots campaign to encourage people to write reviews about their Vision 8K X Virtual Reality Headset, which is admittedly a very expensive product (US$2,056.95) from a company which has received some rather scathing reviews for its poor customer service.

I leave you with a unbiased 20-minute review of the Pimax Vision 8K X conducted by Sebastian Ang of MRTV (who compares it with the Valve Index, which I own):

I’m actually quite content to let the truly hardcore, bleeding-edge virtual reality hardware vloggers and bloggers (like Sebastian) fuss and fidget with all the latest bells and whistles. And this will remain primarily a blog about social VR—not VR hardware. (Sorry, Pimax!)

Pandemic Diary, September 13th, 2021: Back to School—Welcome to the New Normal

Today, for the first time in several weeks, I am working from my office in the science library. Our library opened September 7th, 2021 to students, faculty, staff, and the public, offering individual study space only (no access to the print collection on the upper floors). Everybody still has to wear a 3-ply facemask and comply with social distancing regulations, although I can take off my facemask when I am in my own office with the door closed.

On August 19th, 2021 the University of Manitoba announced that all faculty, staff, students, and even visitors to campus will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Individuals aged 12 and over are required to have their first dose by September 22nd, 2021 and their second dose by the end of October 2021. It’s not clear what penalties those who refuse to get vaccinated will face; they might be required to undergo weekly testing, or they may be barred from classes (in Manitoba we have implemented a proof of vaccine immunization system, both a cellphone app and a plastic card). Access to restaurants and other public spaces has been restricted to vaccinated people only.

Over the next few weeks, instead of standing in front of a classroom of students to give presentations on how to use the University of Manitoba Libraries effectively and efficiently, I will once again be delivering my slides online and remotely, via Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, or Zoom, either from home or my office. (I am going to have to schlepp my portable webcam and my microphone headset between locations.)

I spent an EXTREMELY frustrating hour and half this morning trying—in vain—to get the microphone on my work computer to work, going through two different webcams (my own and a colleague’s) plus my microphone headset. Nothing worked. Finally in desperation I rebooted my computer, and finally it worked! If it hadn’t, I would have had to drive back home and do today’s training session for some food science students from home instead of the office.

Welcome to the new normal, folks.

The good news is that nearly 80% off Manitobans are fully vaccinated:

The bad news is that there are pockets (mostly within Manitoba’s Mennonite Bible belt) where vaccine uptake remains stubbornly low. Some Low German Mennonites have even moved from Canada back to Mexico and Central America, just to avoid vaccination! (Winnipeg Free Press; the website has a paywall, so here is an archived version of the article).

Even worse, anti-vaccine protestors at hospitals in Winnipeg and across Canada are impeding access to healthcare services. I have completely lost all patience with these people, and I sincerely hope that the Winnipeg Police Service arrests and charges these COVIDiots. ENOUGH ALREADY. I am so angry.

Because I am so busy with training requests this September, my pace of blogging will slow a little bit this month (I will try to blog in the evenings and on weekends, but no promises!). Stay safe, stay healthy, and GET VACCINATED if you have not already done so.

person getting vaccinated
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com