Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Review of the Oculus Rift

After some minor setbacks I finally got the Oculus Rift up and running and I have tried quite a number of different programs and tools. One of my favourites has to be the RiftCoaster demo. This is basically a demonstration of a roller coaster. I recommend standing up for this one. It's a rush that will quickly get you hooked in the world of the Oculus Rift. I've had numerous friends try the RiftCoaster and I've seen very different reactions from some people. Most people rock a bit back and forth as it causes some mild balance issues. The most extreme I've seen is where one friend clung to the wall for dear life, whilst another friend completely collapsed on the ground (if you're reading this, you know who are).

After spending a week trying to get my PC back up on it's feet. I had some horrible issues with an old hard drive, which meant I had to completely re-install Windows 7. On the plus side, now I've a nice unburdened clean system ready for some Oculus Rift action.

So far I've tried the following programs with the Oculus Rift with various experiences

Despicable Me 2 using VRPlayer
1) Tuscany Demo (this is the first thing everyone tries)
3) VRPlayer (print screen on right)
4) TriDef 3D
5) Perception 3D
6) Half Life 2: Episode 1
7) Dreadhalls
8) Eve-VR (video linked below)
9) Portal 2 using TriDef 3D

The Eve-VR youtube video is pretty impressive. Although it's best to select highest quality video, enlarge to full screen and keep your head still. For obvious reasons, you won't be able to look around like it's a proper world. It's just a video.

Now for Oculus Rift's largest problem: Motion Sickness. Full description from the Oculus Rift website in the link. It is an effect of tricking the mind that you are seeing a 3 dimensional object when in fact you are not. I have had varying degrees of motion sickness myself. I have found there are a number of tricks that you can do to reduce the effect. Using the OculusConfigUtil, which can be obtained from the Oculus Rift Developer site mentioned above, will help you configure the IPD settings. This is basically changing the distance between the two images, thus making life easier for your eyes and your brain. This has increased my game time from 5-10 minutes to greater than 30 minutes.

Other odd effects I've noticed have been a very dry mouth (probably because I gape at the beauty of it all, like some sort of ape catching flies) and a sensitivity to light (maybe turn down the brightness). With regards playing some of the games using the Oculus Rift, as my eyes are covered with the device, it's often difficult to find the keyboard and mouse as well as the right keys. I'm glad I have a wireless keyboard and mouse, but I've heard an Xbox gamepad solves this problem.

The future of the Oculus Rift is amazing, used in conjuction with other devices like the Razer Hydra (previously known as the Sixense TrueMotion) will allow you to play completely immersive games like Teddy's HydraDeck Demo as seen in the youtube video on the left.

The Razer Hydra can be purchased bundled with Portal 2, which it fully supports for a truly magnificent gaming experience. Although I'll have to save up a bit more for this to try it out.

Ender's Game Battle Sequence
As a final note, I saw Ender's Game there at the weekend and all I could think about was how the scene on the right would look incredible as a game for the Oculus Rift. I've always thought a game based on Ender's Game would be incredible and the Oculus Rift is the perfect platform for such a game.