To all of my children of the 1990’s, do you remember the failed promise of virtual reality? Do you recall the days of going to your local mall and trying out the new VR video game at the arcade? Do you remember wearing that stupid, oversized helmet that still had the stink of the prior person who used the unit? **shudders** Anyway, in a nut shell, we the public — as well as developers — were not ready for virtual reality. Nowadays, however, the advancements in technology and gaming have giving an opening for VR to make a comeback, and the belle of the ball is the Oculus Rift VR Gaming Headset from Oculus VR.
The Oculus Rift is a soon-to-be-realsed high field-of-view (FOV), low-latency, consumer-priced, head-mounted virtual reality display. Its developer, Oculus VR — founded by Palmer Luckey and the co-founders of Scaleform –, managed to raise $2.4 million from a Kickstarter campaign. The Oculus Rift headset has been endorsed by id Interactive’s John Carmack, Valve’s Gabe Newell, former Epic Games mainstay Cliff Bleszinski, programmer and technical writer Michael Abrash, founder of Epic Games Tim Sweeney, creator of the Wing Commander series Chris Roberts, Unity founder David Helgason, among many others.
The field of view is more than 90 degrees horizontal (110 degrees diagonal), and intends to fill almost the wearer’s whole view, and the real world is completely blocked out, to create a strong sense of immersion. When ever you turn your head while wearing the device, your point of view changes as then you are able to see the rest of the virtual world depending on where you turn your head, much like in the real world. The resolution is 1280×800 (16:10 aspect ratio) which is split between both eyes, rendering the effective resolution at 640×800 in stereoscopic 3D.
I asked one of my close buddies from Texas A&M, Chris W., about his thoughts on the Rift after he posted some unboxing photos of a developers’ unit he had recently received in the mail:
“It’s very cool! The head tracking is fast, but the resolution is pretty rough still – I know they’re trying to get better screens for the consumer version. It’s pretty easy to make yourself sick when moving or spinning your character around at normal game speeds, so there’s a lot of gameplay mechanics that developers will need to consider when designing for the rift.”
Here’s to the next generation of gaming experiences Shall we toast in the real world, or with a virtual alcoholic beverage? While the former would be tastier, you can’t get drunk in the latter. Give and take.
[Thanks Oculus VR & Chris W.]