Our Approach

Our approach on our project about the virtual reality device called the Oculus Rift will be a history of virtual reality and of Palmer Lucky, the inventor. We will interview developers and people at the Meetup group for the Rift, as well as students of Ex’pression in the Game Art and Design program. We want to get out as much information as we can about the product, because a lot of people don’t know much about it yet. We will use a lot of live shooting, so viewers can see what the Rift is like and narration. The possibilities are endless with the Rift and wrapping your head around something like this can be very complex. We want to present the subject matter in a clear, simple to follow way.

But really, what can we do with it?

“What’s The Big Problem With Developing Oculus Rift VR? Answer: It’s so awesome that developers will need to rethink the way they design games.”

There’s a great write up on the challenges of developing games for the Rift over at Fastcolabs.com. It covers modding current games vs. designing specifically for the Rift, issues around integrating the player body with that of the character, and much more! Joe Ludwig of Valve also talks about the experience of officially integrating Half Life 2 (!) with the Rift. Check it out here.

Oculus Rift as the next Wii?

When the Nintendo Wii first came out I remember being surprised at just how many non-gamers were interested in it. When it got taken out at social gatherings people of all ages and types played with and loved it. Entire families played it together, local bars had Wii bowling or Wii boxing nights.

I think the Oculus Rift stands to be even more broad in it’s appeal. This video is the best evidence to support that statement I can imagine.

But really, how does it work?

Nick Whiting has written an absolutely fantastic blog post on integrating the Oculus Rift into Unreal Engine 4. In the process he explains numerous technical details of how all of the technology actually works. From the various devices inside the Rift used for motion tracking, to why the lenses inside the Rift pin-cushion distort the screen image and how the Unreal Engine barrel distorts the game video to make everything appear normal, just about everything you could want to know is here.

It’s also exciting that this integration means all future Unreal Engine games can be easily and automatically made to work with the Oculus Rift with little more than the flip of a switch, if that’s something the developers want to do.

The blog post can be found here on Gamasutra. It comes highly recommended.

VR Cinema3D

In my last post I mentioned an app which lets you watch films from your computer on a giant screen in a virtual movie theater. You can even choose which seat to sit in. It’s called VR Cinema3D. If you want to try it out or get more info, this is where you want to go.


Update: You can find a nice little write up on the software, as well as some video showing the theater environment, over here at Penny Arcade.

PC World tries out new, higher definition Rift prototype

The current Oculus Rift development kit has a resolution of 720p. Placing such a screen so close to your eyes allows you to see each individual pixel, and more importantly, the black lines between them. The effect is like looking through the world through the mesh of a screen door. While things tend to look fine in the distance, the detail gets lost in close up objects and textures. Text is unreadable unless it’s made huge.

The final consumer product will have a 1080p or higher screen resolution. PC World was able to try out a new 1080p version at E3 and came away quite impressed.

It’s worth reading to the end of the article for impressions of using the Rift as a private, full size movie theater in which you can watch any films on your hard drive.

Omni-directional treadmill being developed for the Rift

One of the yet to be solved problems with the Rift is how to control movement. Perceiving yourself as being fully inside a game world and then pushing a button or joystick to make your legs walk forward feels a bit disconcerting.

Enter Virtuix, a company developing a sort of treadmill in which you can walk or run in any direction to control in game movement. Because the price, $400 to $600, and space required would put it outside of most consumer’s comfort range, the target market is extreme gaming enthusiasts and entertainment centers such as arcades.

The Verge has posted an article on the system which can be read here.

Google Street View on the Rift

Rumors have been swirling that Google may build official Street View support for the Oculus Rift. But if you have a Rift development kit and don’t want to wait, you can wander the streets and trails of our planet today! GitHub user troffmo5 has written a handy piece of code integrating Street View with the Rift. Give it a spin here, or for more information/instructions head on over to troffmo5’s GitHub page.