Credit: Maddy Coley
Down at the office we have one of the Oculus Rift Developer Kit Virtual Reality headsets. Being a company builder, I'm not entirely sure why we have it but, hey, it's shiny.
It's unlikely that you've been living under a rock, so suffice it to say that you're aware of the 2nd coming of VR - the first was nearly 20 years ago, when it was touted to be the next big thing. It'll come as no shock that this was pure hype. And until a month ago, I thought the OR was also hyped up.
First time problems
With a new shiny toy in the office, I of course has to conveniently stop by our Cloud office to discuss some exceedingly important topic and, wow, look, there's the Rift sitting on a table. Fancy that!
Oh god, the disappointment. I was not impressed, I thought it was awful. The quality of the displays was atrocious, it took me back 20 years to the blockines of games like Street Fighter. It also felt supremely laggy - turn my head and you could feel the Rift working to update the display.
So what changed my mind?
Elite:Dangerous to the rescue
Rewind now about 3o years and we come to when a most awesome game was released on the early home computers. It had, get this, 3D graphics! Over the years there have been a couple of sequels and then last year, a Kickstarter campaign for a fourth version. I was one of the backers paying the priviledge to get early access as an alpha tester.
Elite:Dangerous has Oculus Rift support so just for fun and to try an awesome alpha, I borrowed the OR and took it home.
Wow. I mean, just wow.
Yes, the graphics are still pixelated like the 90s. Yes, there is still the lag but somehow it doesn't seem as bad.
But, but, wow.
It might just be that cockpit-based space games are where the Rift is strongest. I can't really describe what it was like to fly past stations and larger spacecraft, chase enemies and, finally, see them blown to bits. In fact, I hadn't scored a single kill until I used the Rift.
I also found a great way at reducing the motion sickness caused by the lag:
Vital piece of Virtual Reality equipment
2nd coming: 2nd version!
And then there was the recent announcement of the second Rift SDK kit. This was what I was waiting for - the resolution is now full HD across the two eyes (each eye gets half the horizontal resolution) along with improvements in eliminating lag.
The 2nd version also comes with positional tracking, so by using a camera it can determine the position of your head within 3D space. What does this mean? Move your head forwards, as if to get a little closer to look at something, and the Rift will detect that and your camera would move.
So this was what I was waiting for: a higher quality and less laggy headset, hopefully bringing me less motion sickness and more kills!
And, then, over the past few weeks, Ocululs VR opened up pre-order for the second devkit. I paid in minutes.
VR is the next big thing
I personally doubt it; I'm not sure what in my day to day life would change throug having VR, at least, not in the form of a bulky headset. I'll use it to gain the immersive experience, but this immersion excludes you from the real world around you - gaming in VR will never be a social activity.
But I think for solo gamers it'll be the right accessory.