VR = Virtual Reality
Before I begin I would like to say that this is the first time I have used the Oculus Rift and all of the hardware demos they had to show. For the low cost of absolutely nothing I got to go inside and play and observe all these demos at the Unity HQ.
I didn’t play too many demos, I mostly observed as there was 500+ people in a small office section and lines for everything up the wazoo. Observing was just as good as I wanted to see what people did outside of the VR, how they moved and reacted to what was going on on the screen. Some demos people were perfectly safe sitting and some even safe while standing. One demo, Jedi Training, had people standing using lightsabres blocking attacks. Repeatably the devs hosting the demo had to stop people from walking into people swinging their ‘lightsabre’ controllers. One guy was super into it yelling his warchant and even lunging forward as he blocked attacks. Most of the people I observed were pretty stationary though and just did a boring X blocking pattern. I don’t blame the players for this as it was probably the easiest way to win, it just didn’t look very Jedi to me.
WARNING: LOUD AUDIO Here is a video of someone playing the Jedi demo doing the typical X block everyone gravitated to.
Another demo was the ability to use your hands to push on things and break them apart. The calibration basically had you hold up your finger and spin a ball. With no feet work or illusion of movement, and quick hand movements needed in the demo people did not move much and had no issues hitting people in the face when trying to push buttons or messing with bike pieces.
A demo that I didn’t fully understand as it was always crowded, loud and was impossible to hear the guy talking was a Ring called the “Nod”
I saw a chess demo on the screen and the concept was really cool but the demo video on their main site kinda worries me about the latency. I certainly will not be playing Halo with it but for turn based games like Chess or Civilization I can see it being really handy.
My favorite hardware demo was the one from Tactical Haptics. This one I did sit down for and was also my very first oculus rift experience. As for the software it wasn’t much to write home about but it did what it was made to do and that was to show off the controllers. The haptic feedback controllers are made to feel like you are doing whatever you are doing in VR space. The demos they had were
- pulling on rope
- using a slingshot
- shooting pistols
The flail and sword were a little lack luster but I think that was because of the limited amount of space and not wanting to hit anything. Pulling back on the sling shot or pulling apart the rope really felt.. nice. You can really feel the tension in the pull and the firing of the pistols. I’m excited to see where controllers go in the future of VR
What is a VR demo night without a clean normal video game played on a normal console controller. But this isn’t just any game, it’s a first person survival pacman name “Dark Deception”. Run around in the maze, look down to see the map, wakka wakka wakka all the purple gems and try not to get caught by the creepy as shit looking monsters. I observed this for a while because I wanted to see someone beat it and a guy got pretty close but took one wrong turn and was taken down. The game wasn’t really shock horror but I am really scared to see a shock horror game on the Oculus. They will need sensors for your pants to tell when you are pissing them so your character in-game also pisses him/herself.
There were face recognition demos. Mostly webcam but also a cell phone app that will manipulate your face into different animals and beast. SOE has also done something like this for EverQuest 2. I personally never played around with it but this could be really useful for people who are plugging into the Matrix and really enhance the way we interact and socialize on the WWW
The rest of the demos I saw were observant VR Oculus demos, like a concert behind the DJ where you could look around or a view of inside San Fransisco on top of a moving car where you can look around.
Thoughts on the Oculus
The star of the show, the Oculus Rift. As many of you know the Oculus Rift has been bought out by Facebook and there have been many jokes about Facebook statuses and sharing moments with your friends. I for one was not too thrilled to find out about this but after thinking about it some more I realized that this is a really good direction for Facebook to move in. They have always wanted to touch on the gaming market and that’s why Farmville was so popular because Facebook provided those tools, but over time the limitations set in and people got bored of them or didn’t care about the future games as much. I personally ignore any gaming request I get on Facebook because I have plenty of real games to play. But with the Oculus Rift in their pocket they will be able to reinvigorate their gaming side and hopefully create a good market behind it as long as they don’t find someway to require Facebook for certain things to work.
My biggest gripe with the Oculus is that I have to use my glasses while using it, probably with the way the light works with our eye balls. I have yet to wear contacts and I don’t know if I ever will wear them so it kinda sucks that for most things ocular VR we have to deal with these kinds of things. The 3D glasses at theaters aren’t so bad anymore as they have been designed to fit over out glasses. But we still are putting an object over an object
The event was put together on Meetup.com. It was really awesome that Unity hosted this event in their office in SF and for everyone who put it together. Being able to hands on try the Oculus Rift and observe people using it really changed my perspective of the prospects of VR. They provided us with drinks and pizza which was awesome (although greasy food and sugary drinks around keyboards and face devices makes me cringe) and on top of all of that the whole thing was free to attend. The whole purpose of putting it together was to get the word out about VR so it can gain critical mass. The more people that are into it the more awesome software and games start to show up. I look forward to getting my hands on my own Oculus Rift some day