We have been following Vridge development for a while now. We are glad they just release the client for GearVR, making its head tracking a lot better. Although Vridge had a problem with image alignment leaving most users with double vision inside the headset, they updated the app rapidly to fix it. If you have downloaded the app on launch day, or before Sept 9th, you must update it from Sideload VR again.
Vridge, also known as Riftcat for the desktop server and Vridge for the mobile client, helps you stream VR games to your mobile phone. The phone (or GearVR) sensors are used for head tracking just like an Oculus Rift would do. You can get the desktop app at www.riftcat.com, and the mobile client for Android on the Playstore. For the GearVR client, you will have to get it on Sideload VR (Sideload VR is found on the Play Store).
Getting Sideload VR is quite simple; just follow the indications to generate your osig file. The osig file stands for Oculus Signature. A Gear VR app downloaded outside of the Oculus app requires it to be specifically signed for your device, let’s say it’s some kind of piracy protection (but it’s not really one). What Sideload VR does is host unsigned copies of the app that are uploaded by the developers themselves for user to try them out. Often, they are in development, so it`s not allowed to be published on the Gear VR yet. When requesting one of their hosted apps, their server recompile the file and sign it with the help of the osig file you generated, then the app can be installed and launched on your device. It is also the way developers test their own app. When compiling an app in Unity, you need the osig files of all the devices that is going to test it for Unity to sign the app. Don`t worry, at first launch Sideload VR will guide you through the few steps required. You can also get help and instructions for this on their blog.
Now let’s get back to Vridge/Riftcat. The guys behind the app have a great vision. To make something different, they tapped into their skills to make a streaming app that don`t just stream, but also make your phone act as a VR unit. Unlike many alternatives that just stream and emulate mouse with movement, Riftcat can actually emulate an Oculus Rift or a HTC Vive (with a few limitations of course). If you own a Leap Motion, you can also use it natively for Leap Motion games (like Weightless), and you can also emulate the Vive controller at some level with the help of a plugin you can download here. Unfortunately it does not fully support all the features of the controller, but it’s a good start. Emulating the actual controllers opens up many possibilities for future bluetooth contoller support.
One thing Riftcat is transparent about: don`t expect Oculus Rift or HTC Vive performance because you are not using an 800$ dedicated VR headset. They still offer a pretty good experience, especially with the GearVR sensors. You can tweak a few options to make sure the experience is optimal for your settings. I chose setting to match my phone specifications shown at the bottom of the window. You will most likely connect to your computer through the Wi-Fi network, giving you freedom of movement. We suggest 5 GHz routers, but I tried with 2,4Ghz and it was still quite effective. If you have that new Gear VR, or the older Innovator edition, you can also use the USB port for faster and more stable streaming to the headset. On my setup, my computer is wired to the router and I’m using 5 GHz Wi-Fi network for the streaming.
Riftcat is the desktop app. It comes as a free demo, allowing you to run it for 10 minutes per session. You can buy a full license for 15 euros right now and once released, it should be sold for 20. You only need to buy one license, but you can use it on any computer you want as long as you only maintain one session open at all time as it is linked to your account. Riftcat is also your apps hub. It offers about 30 experiences, games and demos you can try right away. It also lets you import your VR games from the .exe file on your computer.
If you plan on getting Vridge, be informed that Humble Bundle is having an End of Summer sale in which some VR games are really worth it. Hint : Project Cars at 10$. I’ve tried Vridge with Project Cars and Steering Wheel and it worked great. I barely had latency and could easily run around the race track. For those who experience streaming games like NVidia Shield, OnLive, or even PS4 Remote play, Vridge is at least on par with those services in term of latency. On three different session playsing Project Cars, only one had streaming artefacts and some point it was unplayable, but for the most part this is great. On games where you can just pause and wait for the stream to recover properly, it’s a small hassle. It’s still usually pretty stable. Framerate is still an issue and I would probably not go over 30 minutes sessions on games like Project Cars, but there are plenty of other games that can be sustainable, like Crystal Rift.
You can have a full list of the games on this UploadVR article. There is a little more than a week left for the sale.