Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

That New Oculus Rift Thing…

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 13, 2014

Many years ago, I went to a short-lived “Virtual Reality Arcade” and played Dactyl Nightmare against some of my coworkers. The framerate was horrible, and the visor could cause a headache without even being turned on, and the vertigo was vomit-inducing. However, for all those problems, it was kinda cool.

rift_shotLast year, I got to play (briefly) with the original developer release of the Oculus Rift.  It was far better technology, although I still felt sick after ten minutes. But while cool, I guess I’m getting old and set in my ways. The complete replacement of sound and vision with “Virtual Reality” doesn’t sound like such a fabulous thing anymore. Maybe it’s just no longer novel. Maybe I’ve just lowered my standards and convinced myself that I’m perfectly happy staring at an HD display for my gaming needs. Or maybe I just feel sick too dang easily.

But the newest prototype, dubbed “Crystal Cove,” sounds pretty exciting. It sounds like they are addressing most of the issues I had with the original. Positional tracking is something that might seem unimportant until you’ve actually tried the thing. That might be part of the nausea reflex – when your brain is getting fooled by the complete replacement of visual stimuli, it expects the virtual world to behave a particular way based on your actions. When there’s a disconnect, it’s jarring on both a conscious and subconscious level.

Higher visual quality and greater responsiveness are, of course, huge wins as well.

I’m kind of ambivalent. Supporting the device really means more than just calling their API. To take advantage of it, games need to be built around it. Fully playable without taking your hands off the controls is key.  You can’t look down to see if your finger is over the right button. And, ideally, your game should be short and quick, as long sessions with the headset on can be really rough on people.

But then I think of walking down a fully immersive dungeon corridor, sword and shield in hand, hearing the heavy breathing of some great monster around the corner, and daring to peek around the corner…

So what are your thoughts on this? Is this the next great breakthrough of gaming technology?  Are you planning on getting one? If you are interested in the device and could have one wish for a current or upcoming game to support it, what would it be (older games w/ graphic overhauls are allowed)? If you really aren’t interested in it, why not?

Filed Under: Tech - Comments: 11 Comments to Read

  • McTeddy said,

    Honestly, I don’t have any interest in it. In theory, it’d be great… but I can’t see it actually turning into anything I’d enjoy.

    Some of my most immersive experiences came from the DOS or NES days. It wasn’t the graphics that won me over… but the game play or my imagination. As graphics improved my imagination no longer plays a role… and the game play has pretty much plateaued.

    I can’t see any real game-play difference between playing on a big HD screen or a magical headset. With this in mind, I just expect more of the same with a higher price tag.

    I once dreamed of a holodeck for my gaming… but as I get older I realize Picard had the right idea. Hanging out with the greatest minds in history holds more appeal to me than shooting zombies. All I do these days is shoot things (Or stab/fireball them).

    Unless the new VR tech holds a truly new experience, I’m satisfied with current tech.

  • Xenovore said,

    Yeah, if you get motion sickness easily, it’s probably not for you. (Although anecdotal evidence suggests that Occulus Rift is way better in that regard than previous VR solutions.)

    Me? I’m a huge fan of 3D games — my most immersive experiences have been in games like Left 4 Dead, Farcry 2, Crysis, Borderlands, and Skyrim — so I’m totally stoked for the Occulus Rift. For one thing, I would love to have better depth perception; with a standard flat screen, there are occasions when you have to do some silly panning to estimate depth/distance to an object. Another thing, decoupling the view direction from movement direction is huge.

    My only concern is resolution, but as we see with the introduction of so-called retina displays, that is rapidly being resolved and can only get better.

    Regarding price tag: Occulus Rift would be way cheaper than an equivalent HD screen; $300 vs $1000 (as a rough estimate)?

    Truly new experience? Well, I can think of quite a few things that become possible with better depth perception alone, let alone independent head tracking. There are certainly more possibilities with Occulus Rift than with standard screens! I mean, the current trend is pixelly 2D retro 8-bit ripoffs; do we really need more of those? Occulus Rift raises the bar, at least.

  • Brian Hacking said,

    I’m stoked about all three big players. I’ve got an oculus Dev kit, I’ve pre purchased the CastAR and I’ll be buying the Avagent Glyph as well. I’ve heard of people that have used the new crystal cove prototype and have not had simulator sickness where before they weren’t able to play for ten minutes at a time without getting sick.

    In really looking forward to the resurgence of vr.

  • CdrJameson said,

    Was fairly indifferent, but do like the sound of VR support in Elite: Dangerous. Excellent for ‘virtual cockpit’ use.
    Do worry about the not being able to see the keys.
    Will end i[ eoyj dp,ryjomh ;ole yjos

  • McTeddy said,

    The trend I notice is that the more we progress with tech, the more expensive games get to make. The more expensive they are to make, the more marketed to the masses they need to be. The more mass market it is, the less I tend to enjoy it.

    I’m odd and don’t derive enjoyment out of Story*, mindless progress or shooting things in the face. I fully understand that some people are different… I’m just bored with the majority of gaming. The trends of the last decade aren’t my cup of tea.

    And yes, there is always room for more 8 bit graphics. 🙂

    * It CAN work in games but I prefer a story that supports game play… not the other way around. Too many games play like a movie broken up by gameplay sections.

  • Xian said,

    I tried one of the old VR headsets at SIGGRAPH in 1996. Induced headache within minutes. I would like the try the OR to see how far the technology has came in 18 years.

    I do see a lot of potential. One of the most amazing rides I ever went on in an amusement park was a little cart on a track, putting along about 5 miles an hour. It went into a tunnel and they started flying pictures by you at 100 MPH – a roller coaster, an airplane diving into the Grand Canyon, and such where even your peripheral vision was seeing them and you felt like you were going that speed. I was holding onto the bar for dear life, even though I was barely moving. I even felt my stomach lurch when it took the initial dive into the Canyon.

    Coyote has touched on one key point – controls will have to be altered or easily usable without looking at them. I guess I could control a gamepad without looking, but the traditional keyboard and mouse might be more challenging.

  • Kurt said,

    It’s definitely the next big gaming tech if they can fix the nausea.

    Experiencing games inside the rift is different to a regular screen. The rift gives a different pace to games. Everything is interesting, whereas with a regular screen you rarely stop to look at much before rushing through it. Even bare corridors are interesting.

  • alanm said,

    Dunno, I’m not holding my breath for this.

    I think it’ll be a big thing for some types of games. FPSs. Flight sims. Maybe sports and driving games. Porn. Maybe even adventure games and action RPGs.

    I don’t think it’ll do anything to improve setting and pacing in games or help designers create balanced and engaging rule sets.

  • Xenovore said,

    @McTeddy: I pretty much agree with most of your points there; we don’t need more iterations of Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Assassin’s Creed, and their ilk; with their railroading level design, quick-time events, and excessive cut-scenes. But I will take something along the lines of Arma (without the crap interface, of course), or Everquest Next, or The Repopulation. I.e. 3D games that let me create my story.

    But no, we absolutely do NOT need more crappy, pseudo 8-bit games. I’ve got the emulators; if I want that I’ll go back and play the real stuff: Archon, Alternate Reality, Zelda, Secret of Mana, etc. — not some wanna-be crap. (I’m fine with innovating on the designs of old games, but deliberately making the art look like pixelated crap? Unacceptable.)

    Any any rate, I think the Occulus Rift opens up a lot of possibilities, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.

  • McTeddy said,

    Okay… I won’t lie… Arma would probably be a buy for me too. I’ve always had a thing for games that actually kill me when I get shot. (Oldschool Rainbow Six was my childhood, or at least young-adulthood)

    But yeah, I’ll wait and see what they do with it. I’m not holding my breath, but we shall see.

  • Chris said,

    I really am quite excited about the future of this technology. I’ve read several articles on Oculus where the user was amazed at the experience. Playing Half Life with Oculus is supposed to be incredibly immersive. I have not committed to buying myself one yet, but I’m keeping a very close eye on developments and prices and developer support.