After my recent graduation from university, I've been spending most of my hours toying with this device, the Oculus Rift. In a team of four we are developing games for the new virtual reality.
|Current workstation: a wall of computer screens.|
Owning an oculus also means playing it a whole lot. I've explored underwater, seen the earth from space and had everyone in Half-Life 2 stare me straight into the eye. So far my favourite of all VR games has been Proton Pulse. I've beaten the giant face boss about four times by now and had friends play it many more.
|Alex playing Proton Pulse in the Rift.|
There are lot of things that game does right with the Oculus Rift:
1. No walking means no stillness illness. A huge problem with the Oculus is the nauseating feeling of your eyes telling you you're moving when your body isn't. By simply not having to walk, this uncalibrated sensation is no problem at all.
2. Space perception as a game mechanic. What the Oculus does really well is the perception of space and depth. When you are in a tunnel, you feel like you are actually in one. So when Proton Pulse places its blocks further and closer away, you can tell the distance it is from you and react accordingly. (Also when they decide to twist the tunnel it is awe-striking.)
3. The Oculus as the controller, looking as the game mechanic. The thing about 3D space is that you can tell when an object is flying straight towards your face. By simply looking at it, you bring the paddle up to stop it from hitting you. Simple, intuitive, no explanations needed.
4. Unrealistic realism. Another problem with the first Developer Kit version of the Oculus Rift is the wire mesh sensation. Due to the screen not being in HD, realism is shattered through pixels. Proton Pulse doesn't try to look real, it sits happily in an 80's world of pulsing and pixelated lights that through it's consistency becomes immersive.
Let's not forget the amazing music of Proton Pulse that keeps you on your feet and dancing with the Oculus.
Based on these observations I have decided to work on a little side project in Unity with the help of Adrian May. It is a first person SuperHexagon type game where you must escape closing in walls. Five minutes into building it we found the walls made really cool patterns when viewed from above.
A lot of my hours are now spent building models for the main game and I'll be keeping this blog updated on my side of the ups and downs. The Oculus Rift is an amazing piece of technology and what is even cooler than jumping in VR is to be a part of its construction.