When it was first released, virtual reality programming was cutting edge technology but the development of glasses-free 3D programming gave gamers a new way to play. Now thanks to Oculus Rift, old school VR technology may be back in a much improved fashion that is definitely worth taking a look at.
Developer Palmer Luckey recently shared this new style of VR at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. The Rift gained attention when Luckey posted news about his project online in a forum read by John Carmack of Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein 3D fame. Carmack asked for test unit and was so impressed showed off the prototype at the E3 gaming convention.
How does the Oculus Rift work? Prototype testers say the Rift looks like a pair of ski goggles on the outside. It’s on the inside where the technology is very apparent with two lenses that point to a single LCD display screen. Two separate images are shown on the screen but your eyes see a stereoscopic 3-D image. Now here’s where the technology gets interesting. Inside the goggles are accelerometer and gyroscope sensors that are keyed into a PC game. When the user turns their head, their VR vision moves very smoothly 360 degrees. Testers did note that there was a very minor latency problem but the developers are working to eliminate that.
The Oculus Rift works like any PC peripheral, you plug it into your PC and start playing. Although the Rift does require a pretty beefed up gaming PC system, by the time it hits the market for full release, the system requirements will likely be less expensive. The developer team wants to create a product for everybody, not just super gamers. Testers used a game controller to move forward or backwards while staying seated. Your view in the game is changed by simply turning your head. The goggles are lightweight and comfortable; making it easy to forget the gamer has them on. Testers found the VR experience with the Rift to be so realistic they had a tendency to move their entire body when playing. One thing the development team has found and is working on is the ability for the headset to translate a player’s move when leaning to see around a corner. There is also a slight problem with disorientation or mild motion-sickness that the team is working on to smooth out as well. This is not a problem to be taken lightly.