On my CES trip to Las Vegas in January, I had the chance to meet up with Paul Brian, a member of the MRTV community who is building high-end 6 Degrees Of Freedom motion platforms for VR simulators like DCS! In this little article I will share my experiences trying out the chair!
I tried out two games in the chair. DCS and Dirt Rally. I myself have not yet sunk my teeth into flight simulators, I am more of a racing fan, so I was more looking forward to Dirt Rally.
Anyways, let us talk about the 6DOF motion platform first. The machine is an absolute solid piece of engineering. I might describe it as a BEAST and as Paul told me, it was built with only the best high-end materials and components that he sourced from all over the world. It is using 300mm stroke accentuators and powerful 1000W servo motors to move the platform and I can tell you that these components pack a punch! This platform is actually built for commercial applications like arcade setups or professional flight simulators for the industry/military. However, Paul is also selling these to individuals as he told me.
I used the chair with an Oculus Rift that had a leap motion sensor built into it. Paul also had a Pimax and a Vive Pro, but he is still working on integrating those into his setup. He also recently got an XTAL. So all these will work with his motion platform.
In terms of games that work: basically all simulator games on SteamVR and the Oculus Store that provide telemetry data. And all simulator games do so which makes this platform really versatile.
We started with DCS, flying an F18. As mentioned above, I am a racer not a flyer – so I had absolutely no idea what I had to expect. I sat down into the motion chair and Paul gave me some instructions about how to take off. The chair had a flying stick set up in front of me and throttle controls on the left. A HOTAS setup, but it looked not like a videogame – more like the real deal. A dream for DCS and flight simulator fans!
When I put the throttle forward, I could feel the F18 accelerating on the aircraft carrier and then taking off. It was an absolute thrill to really feel the airplane roll over the carrier and the lose contact with it as I took off. Incredible!
Flying the F18 felt just amazing. The level of immersion was simply unparalleled. And it even did not bother me that I was playing on a low FOV headset. Feeling the movement forces on your own body when flying the airplane is just something else. The 6 Degrees Of Freedom allow the platform to to move in space, as opposed to just rotate here and there like most other motion chairs. It is quite incredible.
Paul asked me to do a barrel roll by moving the stick to the left or right and keep it there. I did as was asked I could feel just what I imagine it must feel like doing a barrel roll in real life. I asked Paul if this is being used by the military and he told me that an actual pilot told him that this motion chair is 10 times better than what they use at the army right now. I believe him.
After not being able to make it back to the aircraft carrier in one piece, and I tried a few times, I was looking forward to finally play a racing simulator! Dirt Rally in VR using this device must be a dream, so I imagined.
Before we could start, Paul had to change the set up. The motion platform is built with modularity in mind, so it was easy for him to install the force feedback wheel and the pedals onto the platform.
What I experienced then was easily my best VR racing simulator ride I ever had in my whole life. When I first played Dirt Rally years ago on Playstation using a Force Feedback wheel, I already thought that this must be the pinnacle of immersion. Little did I know that YEARS later I would be strapped to a 6DOF beast of a motion chair and play the game in Virtual Reality.
We started with an intensity of 75% as what the motion force feedback is concerned. That level of intensity is what Paul had dialed in as default. With this setting, you could feel the road, but it was not yet there quite yet in my opinion. It was already good, but I did not feel it was enough.
I asked Paul to crank it up to 100%. And YES, this was exactly what I wanted. Now I could feel every single stone that my car had in its way, and it was just like driving the real thing! Since I was driving a very bumpy road, the simulator was shaking me violently. So much that at some points it nearly threw me off the simulator. It was radical! And needless to say: I loved every moment…
If you want to see for yourself how violently the chair rocked me, you can check out my video of this incredible experience here:
If I had enough space at home, as well as the funds to afford this beast, I had one in no time. If you want one, get in touch with Paul here and mention MRTV for a special discount: http://6dofmotion.com/