(Ping! Zine Issue 60) – A new way of viewing virtual reality is upon us: In April, the company known as Oculus was busy shipping dev kits of its new gaming device to funders who backed the project via Kickstarter.
The product is a headset. You place it over your eyes, tie a strap in the back and you’re immersed in a virtual world that makes gaming more realistic than ever.
Oculus’s goal with getting the Rift into the hands of developers was so that they could start integrating support for the device into games and engines, company Founder Palmer Luckey signaled through a video posted on the company’s Kickstarter homepage.
So what makes the Oculus Rift so special in the area of virtual reality? “With an incredibly wide field of view, high resolution display, and ultra-low latency head tracking, the Rift provides a truly immersive experience that allows you to step inside your favorite game and explore new worlds like never before,” explains Oculus via its Kickstarter page.
In fact, support for the device’s development was so high – it reached funding of $2,437,429 dollars when its fundraising deadline hit in early September of last year.
Everyone who’s had the chance to test out the headset has expressed amazement on how darn real it makes things feel. “With an incredibly wide field of view, high resolution display, and ultra-low latency head tracking, the Rift provides a truly immersive experience that allows you to step inside your favorite game and explore new worlds like never before,” notes Oculus via its Kickstarter page.
And while there are plenty of videos circulating on the web showing device testing (just do a YouTube search) – none are surely enough to give any viewer a real sense of how amazing Rift actually is. You’ll just have to wait to get your hands on one.
Reaching New Heights
Not only is the Rift a “groundbreaking device” by itself – people are getting even more creative with it. What if you mixed it with one that’s just as amazing but in a different way? A YouTube video recently showcased the Rift working with a Virtuix Omni treadmill; meaning the user wasn’t only seeing in virtual reality but was also having to physically move to control their in-world gaming environment.
The Omni treadmill is no ordinary treadmill and looks nothing like one either. “Applications of omni-directional movement in virtual reality stretch far beyond gaming: training and simulation, fitness and exercising, virtual tourism, virtual tradeshows and events, virtual meet-ups and multi-person adventures, virtual workplaces, virtual museums, physical therapy, VR architecture, VR concerts, etc. The possibilities are limitless. Virtual reality is the future,” read a paragraph describing the treadmill via virtuix.com.
Another creative way in which the Rift is being used is with one of the industry’s top selling games right now: Minecraft.
A fan recently developed a mod called Minecrift which allows the game’s integration with the Oculus Rift, according to a report from Engadget. While Minecraft’s graphics are nowhere near realistic, it surely makes living in a world of blocks better than ever.
Meanwhile, the rift could have potential in another key genre: Horror. The concept was recently expanded on in an intriguing article penned by The Verge.
Making scary things ever more realistic is a guillotine simulator called Disunion. In a virtual world, the user gets into kneeling position, slightly moves their head around to view the spectators in a medieval-like setting, faces their executioner then chomp, their head rolls around as they view everything through the view finder. While some testing it out found it comedic, it surely has the potential to scare.
Another title, called Among the Sleep, is a super scary game. It comes from Krillbite Studio and like the Rift, it also relied on Kickstarter for funding. In it, users assume the role of a two year old child. Once being put to bed, mysterious things start to happen around the house. The game is expected to arrive for PC and Mac later this year.
Bigger developers are also beginning to take notice of the device. Accorder to a May report from The Verge, tech giant EA has been considering integration for the Rift with popular engines for games such as Battlefield 4 and Dragon Age III.
With all this said, perhaps you’re wondering how much one of these headsets will go for when it finally reaches general availability for the market. While the price and release date are unknown, here’s what we do know: Currently, an Oculus Dev Kit will set you back $300 USD; not a bad price for a device that promises to bring virtual reality to a new height.