Virtual reality had its coming out party Thursday morning with a live-stream presentation from the Oculus Rift team. VR is coming ever closer to becoming a true platform, with games that you can stream from Xbox and PC as well as those that will run directly on the Rift itself.
VR is a fledgeling technology with its share of quirks, even though it’s been a topic in computer science and gaming circles for decades. Just like Star Trek’s holodeck, we’ve all wanted to immerse ourselves in our gaming and fantasy environments and VR holds that promise. With early reports of nausea and other motion issues, the newly-improved devices have a lot to make up for.
The Oculus team is hard at work at doing just that, with improvements to both the hardware and software to ensure a fun, comfortable experience for most gamers.
The new cloth-covered, nicely balanced Oculus Rift VR consumer headset bundle comes with integrated headphones and an Xbox One controller so that gamers can feel comfortable the first time they try VR. There are new games, a new way for players to discover them, and a $10 million commitment to foster indie developers who want to get into Oculus game creation.
Plus? There’s a new set of motion controllers, code-named Half-Moon, that will let you do all sorts of fun things in VR with your hands. Called the Half-Moon project internally (and Oculus Touch, externally), these two mirrored controllers give players both traditional buttons and familiar analog sticks, but add in hand presence, precise manipulation, a low mental load (they work like your hands do so you don’t have to think), and a way to make communicative gestures like thumbs up or pointing.
“Input is hard,” said Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Lucky, “but we got it right.”
New games are coming to Oculus, including some big ones like Eve Valkyrie from CCP Games, a space shooter that lets you see the vastness of space from inside your cockpit, Edge of Nowhere, a third-person shooter set on an alien planet from Insomniac Games, and Chronos from Gunfire Games, a VR role-playing game set in an ambient, immersive, clockwork world where your character ages as you play through the story. These games, as well as Damaged Core, VR SPorts Challenge, Esper, AirMechVR, and Lucky’s Tale, will all be available next year with the launch of Oculus.
If all goes well, and gamers who live and breathe by their gaming PCs and Xbox consoles snap up this technology, we may in fact be seeing the future of video games. Well, if you don’t get sick in them, that is.