Full immersion emulation

Christian Gauger-Cosgrove captainkirk359 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 1 16:22:10 CST 2017

I'm replying to the "top level" original message just to put some
other comments in on "full immersion" emulation, without trampling
over the discussions that are going on about the sound experience.

On 1 March 2017 at 14:14, Charles Anthony via cctalk
<cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:
> Part of the iconic mainframe experience is the cold room sounds; for early
> Multics installations (and other systems) the sound of the Selectric
> operator's console.
Don't forget what a machine room and the equipment looks like.

If one wanted to go "full immersion" it might be an idea to acquire an
HTC Vive and develop the it as a simulation VR experience. Then you
get the sights and the sounds. With the Vive (and not the Oculus Rift)
you also get the room scale VR "stuff" and hand tracking controllers.
You can add in more things than just the sounds of the terminal, you
can include mundane tasks like swapping disk packs, swapping tapes,
and using the various consoles and buttons on the devices.

Just to point out this kind of simulation of an location with "things
to do" has been done in VR. May I present to the list, for your
delectation: "New Retro Arcade: Neon" <https://youtu.be/Os7mSxvF9TU>
It's a VR recreation of an arcade.

Naturally, there's all kinds of hurdles to deal with in creating a
simulation like that. First of all VR (at present) needs beefy
computers (Do you have a high end gaming graphics card on a modern up
specced PC? No? Then no VR for you!) and the VR hardware itself isn't
cheap. Next there's the development time investment, and while the
Vive's hand controllers do let you manipulate things in the VR
envrionment they're most assuredly not what you'd want to use for
typing at a simulated keypunch, printing terminal, or video terminal.
(Though you can just use your PC's keyboard for that. And for machines
that have mice (workstations, anyone?) you can also use the mouse too;
light guns/light pens can be "done" with the hand controllers.

Then there's the topic of *cost* you could release it for free, but
there's a lot of work that has to go into the thing. Selling it for
cost well, the market is limited so you'd probably not really make
anything (I'd sure as hell buy it... if I could afford a beefy PC and
VR hardware).

And let's not get anywhere *near* the topic of including the software
to run on the simulated hardware with the program. Though, if it was a
simulator of an IBM System/370 ("Who wants to reimplement Hercules in
a game engine? No one? Smart move...") you could throw in MVS or
OS/360 since they're both in the public domain. You could provide the
software as just the "naked" simulator, with the user needing to
acquire disk/tape images on their own initiative, but now you've
reduced the number of people from outside of the already "expert"
community of us classic computer hobbyists who would be able to use
the software.

One could also make such a simulation in a regular 3D game engine and
then bolt on VR support later. That's a much larger "market" in terms
of people who could run it, though it wouldn't be nearly as immersive
as a VR experience. Though it would still be fun to try. (Look up "My
Summer Car" it's an indie game where a main is putting together and
then driving a beat up junker of a Datsun 100A.)

Anyways, I'm rambling.

Christian M. Gauger-Cosgrove
Contact information available upon request.

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