Posted by Rampant Coyote on April 9, 2014
An omni-directional treadmill for virtual reality games is now available for pre-order at Omni Natural. They are supposed to start shipping in September, and require special shoes. I have a real tough time imagining how playable an existing FPS would be with this system — but it could be an interesting way to get exercise with a custom game.
That doesn’t include a “virtual reality” game controller. Or of course, the goggles. Oculus Rift is the most well-known choice, particularly after they are in the process of being bought out by Facebook. But Sony is entering the game for the PS4 with Project Morpheus. I don’t own a PS4 and don’t currently have plans to do so, but that could change.
Microsoft, sadly once again proving to be behind the power curve this decade, has stated that they have been working on Virtual Reality headsets as well. Hopefully whatever they come out with will not only kick some serious butt, but be usable on PCs as well as Xbox.
One concern I’d have with the Omni Natural treadmill is that I’m doubtful the 360 degree turning would be compatible with the camera-based positional tracking system for version 2 of the Oculus Rift, and the camera for the PS4 for Project Morpheus. After using original Oculus Rift last year, I was surprised at how the lack of positional data screwed me up. In the course of ten minutes, I went from thinking that positional information was optional and possibly an overkill to believing that it was absolutely essential.
Moving to big screens, the Amazon Fire TV was released a few days ago. While it’s ostensibly focused on being a “Roku Killer” for streaming TV, it’s secondary role is for gaming – an Ouya-killer. Now, I’m still an Ouya fan, and I still play my little cube almost every week, and I still love it and love the company, though I have my doubts as to its survival likelihood over the next couple of years. Who knows? It may prove to have been simply ahead of its time. I haven’t looked at the Fire TV yet to compare the systems side-by-side, but I’m told the interface for Amazon’s device is very slick and polished, providing at least a better customer experience. Game-wise… well, I don’t know that the tech is going to make a serious difference between the two. I expect performance is pretty similar. However, the game controller for Fire TV is sold separately, so I don’t know how great a platform it will be for “core” gamers… whereas the Ouya seemed to be oriented more for core gamers, but has met with limited success.
Google also just announced “Android TV” – hopefully a comeback after their failed “Google TV” – which includes gaming.
None of these devices is a guaranteed hit. If I were a giant game studio, needing to sell a million or more copies of a game just to break even, I might steer clear of these new platforms. But, if I were an indie (and, hey, I am!), I’d be seriously considering all the emerging opportunities out there!
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