2D games in 3D via VR, Virtual Desktop and Vorpx

In my continuing quest (no pun intended) to find the best 3D for your VR headset, I’ve been taking a good look at Vorpx, a paid product that has been consistently improved over the last few years. It is my application of choice for applying 3D to my 2D games. It is a paid product, and well worth every cent if you love 3D.

Vorpx has many configurable options, which can be a bit overwhelming at first. Ralf created this to work with converting popular first person games into fully fledged VR titles, including head tracking. For specific first person titles, this works extremely well. For me I find it hard to go back to a title I know I’ve played in a particular way (2D), and I don’t like to spend too much time playing around with Field of View (FOV) and Head Tracking settings. I’ll add a caveat here too that not all 2D games are supported, but the ones that do support some form of VR or 3D are clearly stated on the Vorpx website.

Where Vorpx really shines though is the ability to provide either amazing Geometry 3D, or very impressive Z-Buffering to provide 3D in your games on your VR headset. The Z-Buffering technique used is quite similar to ReShade’s version as previously discussed in a previous blog post. I find the Vorpx configuration for Z-Buffer to be better, because it seems have less artefacts and weirdness going on, particularly within the game menus.

The Vorpx configure menu

What’s the difference between Geometry 3D and Z-Buffering 3D? I’ll do my best to provide a simple explanation:

Z-Buffer (Normal and Adaptive) 3D:
Keeping this simple the Z-buffer technique normally splits the image in two (natively it looks similar to a half sbs 3D movie), and adds an extra dimension (Z axis) using a sophisticated algorithm to calculate near and far objects. Normal Z-Buffer allows you to tweak the 3D strength (quite easy in Vorpx) and has no Depth of Field. Adaptive Z-Buffer adds the Depth of Field element. Which one you decide to use comes down to personal preference. While the 3D isn’t as good as Geometry the great trade off is that it has much less impact on performance.

Geometry 3D:
This 3D process requires a lot more horsepower to run, both CPU and GPU. It effectively runs two game images simultaneously (much like standard VR). Due to this though, keeping a modern game in the same resolution is almost impossible, as your frame rate will plummet. As a comparison I tried both Z-Buffer and Geometry 3D in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Running at 2560×1440 resolution (I like to try and get 60fps when I can) I first applied the Z-Buffer technique. The results were quite good, and I only noticed a 3-8 fps drop. Moving on to Geometry 3D was a different story. Yes, the 3D was clearly better, but the framerate dropped to half (about 30fps).

When using the 3D options in Vorpx it really comes down to personal preference, and also it does depend on what VR Headset you are using. For the record, I’m using a Oculus Quest with Virtual Desktop to stream the image. As a guide though I recommend trying Geometry 3D first, and if you don’t get a minimum of 30 fps, then the Z-Buffer technique would be a better option. For fast games, or games requiring those extra fps (racing games, fast paced first person shooters) I would just start with Z-Buffer.

When using the Quest and Virtual Desktop, there are some distinct advantages in using Vorpx over ReShade. Because you can set Vorpx to use SteamVR this you can just launch a game with Vorpx running (and the appropriate profile) and it will then display the 3D via Steam VR. The advantages for this in Virtual Desktop is that your bandwidth setting improves dramatically, because a higher bitrate is automatically applied for anything in Steam VR. This definitely helps with image quality over ReShade, which still uses the Desktop bitrate in Virtual Desktop. It also means less fiddling with turning the 3D mode on and off, as Vorpx looks after this for you.

Before I get into some of the detail, if you just want to see what some of these games look like, you can download my pre-configured profiles.

Once Vorpx is installed:

  1. Go to Vorpx Configure.
  2. Click on the Cloud Profiles option.
  3. Search for Grocs in the Profile Author section.
  4. Import a profile for a game.
This is the Cloud Profile section – where you can download additional settings from other users.

In order to get the best frame rate possible, in my experience there are a few settings you will want to change in Vorpx for playing purely 3D (don’t turn these off if you are playing in full VR mode). For this next part, it would be best to have your VR headset near your PC running Vorpx, as we’ll be using the keyboard and mouse a little bit.

A couple of important points. Stay in VD Desktop mode until Vorpx injects itself into the game you are wanting to convert to 3D. You should see a Vorpx watermark at the bottom of the game window to indicate Vorpx has injected itself successfully. Then you can switch to Virtual Reality / SteamVR mode in Virtual Desktop, or another means if you are using a different headset.

If you want to keep your Virtual Desktop refresh rate to 60hz – install the latest 1.5.2 Virtual Desktop beta and set the 60hz mode from the Virtual Desktop application settings. This means your capping the frame rate to 60 fps if v-sync is on in the game.

The main two keys you’ll want to use are “Delete” for opening the Vorpx options, and “Alt-F” for showing the game and headset framerate in Vorpx. Tapping the Delete key will bring up the Vorpx menu. I’ll apologise in advance for the low quality picks here. I’m still working out how to cast most effectively from my Quest. Use your mouse to navigate between the Vorpx menus.

Configuring Vorpx for Cinema Mode and 3D on your Virtual Reality Headset.

Main Settings – change to Cinema Mode for normal 3D. This means you don’t have to worry about FOV or Head Tracking customisations.
For normal Cinema 3D, this next setting is vital in Display Settings. Direct Fluid Sync should be off here. What Fluid Sync does is cap the framerate to your VR headset’s hz. So for the Quest, it would cap at 36fps x 2. Turning Fluid Sync off means you can get your 60fps. Do not turn this off if you are planning on using the VR mode though.
Next is the VR controller emulation section. If you are using a gamepad you can set the Controller mode to off. If you are planning on using your Touch or other controllers, you can emulate either the keyboard and mouse, or a gamepad.
Another input section that is very important. If you are using a gamepad, then set the Xbox Controller override to off. That way the controller will work natively.

Tweaking these settings above will mean you’ll be in much better shape for Cinema and 3D.

Vorpx is an amazing application that provides a lot of features for your VR Headset. For me though, it really does shine in providing a 3D effect to so many games. It should be noted that not all games support Geometry 3D, while most games will support Z-Buffer in some form.

Any questions or comments, please feel free to add below.

Reviewed on the Oculus Quest with Virtual Desktop and Vorpx.

3 replies »

  1. Actually, JT is incorrect – It is his ‘quest’ to find the best solution for the oculus and 3D solutions – I have to love him for that 🙂

    (Comment from his wife – who enjoys reading his blog posts, listening to him gaming, watching movies with JT when he isn’t tinkering, and hearing all about his golfing prowess when he gets home from a round.)

    Liked by 1 person

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