Over the last year, I’ve been hearing a lot about the Oculus Rift. I still remember the first time I played a VR (Virtual Reality) Football (Soccer) game where the balls bounced of my body when I was acting like a Goalkeeper. It was like magic and I couldn’t believe that I could play a game without touching any kind of hardware.
Fast Forwarding 12 years, Oculus Rift (OR) seems to be the defacto gadget discussed whenever speaking about gaming and VR. I have been waiting for a while for some reviews and I finally found a good review of the dev kit version.
I am currently very wary of 3D technologies as there seems to be no standard and hence all of them seem to have some downfalls, the main one being nausea.
Since OR takes that to another level that was one of my primary concerns and it seems that is a major issue for now. Also, another interesting challenge as quoted about loading screens in the article is “Just imagine how odd it would be if you turned your head in the real world but your vision remained the same as before. In practice, this feels like being stabbed in the brain at the same time as the world spins out from under you.” which is something I had never even considered. It just seems impossible to imagine how something can disorient so much. Another good example of things being too real is “Basically, the closest I could get to Alyx before running into her hit box was at around two feet away. But as I stopped as if I had hit her physically, my brain interpreted the signal as, “Oh, if you ran into her, you must be super close—and if you are that close, your perception is wrong. She’s not far away, she’s just tiny!” So for the rest of the game my mind interpreted every human character as being two-thirds the size of a normal human.“. So it seems that the challenges are not only with the 3D technology but also with framerate, syncing, 3D modeling and texture design.
The point to be made here is that when we are in Virtual Reality, the keyword is not Virtual, as we inherently know that what we are seeing is not real. Hence, we can make do with and process the fact that we are fighting zombies, flying alien ships or even listening to a dystopian big brother known as GLaDOS. They keyword is Reality, as we are now in a world where even in a game, we expect a human person to be an appropriately sized 3D model with detailed textures. We expect the physics to compare to those on Earth unless we are explicitly told that we are in an anti-gravity chamber and even then it may be a disorienting experience wherein the physics values need to be changed to what the general masses can get used to.
The OR seems to be at the forefront of a new digital technology world, especially with what 3D printing can already achieve. I predict that the OR or a successor will do great things for VR, similarly to what the Microsoft Kinect did for gesture recognition and control.
As an avid gamer, I hope they iron out some of the kinks soon, coz I just cant wait to play a full VR simulated game of Counterstrike, Age of Empires and GTA!