I (See) Robot: Hawken To Support Oculus Rift VR

By Nathan Grayson on August 29th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Hey, not cool! I was staring intently at that building and going 'Oooooooooo'.

Hawken is one of those things I get visibly excited about when I describe it to people. I flail and gesture wildly such that no glass of water or small, desk-adorning cactus within a 100 meter radius is safe. Somewhat coincidentally, that’s almost exactly what happens when I teleport my brain into Palmer Luckey’s mad virtual reality fantasy realm with Oculus Rift – only, you know, for entirely different yet equally devastating reasons. So I suppose it only makes sense that the two literal home-wreckers would end up walking down the aisle hand-in-hand.

So it sounds like Adhesive’s pretty dedicated to putting the Rift front-and-center when Hawken launches on 12/12/12. Granted, this is a company that seems quite determined to explore every possible avenue on the path toward The Future Of Gaming. Among other things, Hawken’s also launching early on cloud gaming heavyweight Gaikai and, er, debuting a live action series in early 2013.

This decision, however, seems like a far better fit. Hawken’s now the second game to officially support the Rift – with Doom 3 BFG being the first. And it’s not a bad choice, either. Hawken’s world looks to be a brilliant realization of junked-up, dirt-and-oil-encrusted sci-fi, and I definitely dig the idea of simply looking around in it. Also, it sounds like your head movements will, in fact, correspond to the pilot’s and not the mech’s, so it won’t just feel like some tacked-on, highly ineffective alternate aiming option.

That said, Hawken’s not like other mech games. Its lumbering behemoths move like impossibly armed-to-the-teeth ballerinas, so I don’t imagine there’ll be too many (non-lethal) opportunities to stop and – for one brief, fleeting moment - believe you could smell the roses. Personally, I’ll be incredibly excited when someone finally develops a game with the Rift in mind as a key part of the experience. Maybe it’d just be something like Dear Esther, or perhaps it could be something most of us would never even think of otherwise. Either way, the future’s really, really exciting. And only partially because it has giant robots.

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41 Comments »

  1. Shivoa says:

    I can’t wait for the consumer version (or maybe the second gen if they don’t get a 1080p panel into the first gen release or if the tracking is slightly dodgy and sounds like gen 2 will be a quick iteration with position as well as angle tracking) of the Rift.

    Always good to see developer unafraid of taking the PC’s massive advantage in open standards and running with it, be that stereoscopic, VR, TrackIR, or the even more niche stuff (Novint Falcon anyone?)

    • Sic says:

      I’m in the same boat.

      After listening to Carmack’s key note, and knowing a bit about display panels myself, I simply can’t wait until the Rift gets the panel it deserves. I think this is going to be much bigger than people think. With proper OLED screens in the Rift, people are going to be blown away.

    • sophof says:

      Yeah, it is doubtful the first iteration is going to be of a very high fidelity in any of those areas. However, I feel that if it is able to at least supply a much nicer experience than what we have seen thus far I will buy the first gen anyway, if only just to support the idea.

      Let’s just say that this thing is the first gadget in ages that has me truly excited ;)

    • thesmileman says:

      I have demoed the Rift twice for extended periods of time and I can tell you immediately notice the low resolution and then 30 seconds later you all but forget about it. The experience is so real feeling you brain almost instantly compensates for the resolution. Don’t get me wrong a better display would really add polish to it but it is not a reason not to get it.

      As to the tracking it is very very good.

    • heartlessgamer says:

      You have to take your concept of resolution out of the equation. The panel within the rift is not a flat screen. 1080 means almost nothing. The resolution actually has to vary across the entire display just as your eyes operate in real life. The center of the panel is densely packed with pixels, but is lower resolution on purpose the farther on the peripheral it gets.

  2. Hairball says:

    It would be nice if it supported FreeTrack and TrackIR too, which should be easy if it’s supporting that.

  3. SirKicksalot says:

    I’m going to play this just because it’s from some Project Offset developers.

  4. JackDandy says:

    You know something? This all seems very nice and cool, but with the movie, webseries, special controller thing, and now this, I can’t help but feel like they’re stretching themselves a bit too thin.

    Hoping it will work out for the best though.

    • thesmileman says:

      Actually it is Epic doing the work on get the Unreal engine to support The Rift. Obviously they are doing something for the custom cockpit but considering I am sure the mechs support free look the work is almost all done by others.

  5. Mr. Mister says:

    Who was it that said Hawken devs were conspirating alongside dentists, with all the trembling?

    Because now you can add anti-dizziness pills manufacturers to the mix.

  6. etusa says:

    Great news. Is Rift gonna be PC only? If it gets huge, that’ll ‘force’ studios to do even more immersive game enviroments; who wouldn’t want to be the first to release the first truly immersive and superior game enviroment. It’ll be huge cash.

    Something like skyrim with rift and developement focused on PC sounds pretty good.

    • quintesse says:

      No, it’s not PC-only, in fact it doesn’t require much of anything besides having DVI or HDMI out and a USB port. What it does need is enough processing power to do the required view transformations.

  7. derbefrier says:

    That’s gonna be fun. As long as its not too expensive I will get one to play around with.

  8. HisMastersVoice says:

    How do you actually turn with Rift? Head movement? Mouse movement? Seems like either way could prove problematic for a twitch shooter, where sharp turns are a norm.

    And how do you use more than a few keys when you can’t see the keyboard?

    • Mr. Mister says:

      (superbious voice) “What? You need to see the keyboard? What a noob, I bet you also need to turn the monitor on to complete a Tetris level.”

      • Lev Astov says:

        They had an AMA on Reddit yesterday and this came up. The thought is that many people will need to see the keyboard, so they are developing for a 360 controller. That way you’d look with your head, move with your left thumb, and steer with your right thumb.

        In a panic, I asked if they were still giving thought to keyboard and mouse, and they confirmed that the demo games can also still be controlled conventionally, so us hardcore mousers are still covered.

        • HisMastersVoice says:

          Ha, that’s what I thought, as I’ve not seen Oculus being used with a kb/m so far and mostly standing up for some reason.

          What good will all the immersion do you if you can’t hit stuff (as I cannot for the life of mine use a pad to aim)?

          • quintesse says:

            The standing up, from what I’ve understood from Carmack’s video, is because it makes the experience somehow more “real”.

            And for a controller you might think of something like the Razer Hydra. But the future will tell what will be the perfect controller to combine with the Rift.

          • Mr. Mister says:

            @quintesse

            Well, maybe it would feel more real in DOOM where the main character is actually standing up, but a Hawken pilot is actually well sitten on his cockpit… isn’t he?

          • thesmileman says:

            I demoed the Rift twice and the reason people stand up is because it is better to be at the same height as the character on screen otherwise is a a bit off feeling. Also it is neat to see yourself move around. I tested doom BFG and you could use the keyboard but it is a little difficult as you can’t see the keyboard.

    • Snuffy the Evil says:

      Now’s a good time to start learning Braille.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Head tracking which supposedly has almost no lag (I’m not sure if the tracking is amplified or not, but I presume this can be set to the user’s preference). I think they’re planning on putting in cameras (on the outside) to capture hand/arm movement, too, for the first commercial product. Who knows, they might partner with Leap Motion someday.

      For the moment, it won’t be a problem to use WASD controls with most games, providing you can touch-type/blind of course, which you really should because it’s very easy and very convenient. Even if you can’t, it’s really not that hard to keep track of a few keys (try it with your eyes closed).

    • Derppy says:

      Want to learn to use a keyboard without looking? Get one of these http://www.daskeyboard.com/model-s-ultimate/

      Absolutely fantastic mechanical keyboard and with investment as big as 129$ (blue cherries) or 135$ (brown cherries), you don’t exactly want to leave it to collect dust just because you are having trouble locating the keys at first.

      To stay on topic, I think VR is truly the future, but I’m very skeptic about the quality of the devices we can currently build. If the screen is going to be an inch from your eye, you need an insane PPI for the image to look sharp and for a truly natural and immersive feel, it would have to cover majority of your field of view, even the peripheral vision.

      However, if a great device actually comes out, combine it with head tracking and the immersion in games is taken to a whole new level. You’d be “inside” the world, seeing it around you as you physically look around.

      And now imagine playing a game like Amnesia with that.

  9. mrmalodor says:

    Haven’t we done this already? Didn’t we have silly VR goggles for games in the 1990s? Didn’t the companies stop making them and go out of business?

    Gamers want good games, not gimmicks with over the top names (Oculus Rift??? LOL, come on!).

    Nobody wants to wear a cumbersome, heavy piece of crap on their head just to play a game. People are even moving away from TrackIR due to the crap-wearing requirement and all TIR requires is just a cap with IR LEDs. The future is software like FaceTrackNoIR, which requires nothing but an average webcam and adequate room lighting.

    We’ve done the VR thing, it’s dead. Beating dead horses is not a nice thing to do.

    • Snuffy the Evil says:

      We did, but (as John Carmack said in an interview posted here a while ago) display tech has only recently advanced enough to make it actually feasible.

      Besides, I have no idea what you’re on about with the TrackIR. Anecdotal evidence and all, but everyone I know with one is absolutely in love with it. It makes a world of difference in flight sims and I personally can’t even imagine going back to a hat stick. In my experience, FaceTrackNoIR is clunky and unresponsive in comparison. Sure, you don’t need to wear anything but your average webcam is, well, average and the TrackIR clip is small, lightweight and only requires headphones; I’m willing to bet most of you already own a pair.

    • sophof says:

      I honestly don’t understand people like you? You sound like you want such things to fail and then invent arguments, why?

      Are you seriously suggesting that for instance display technology hasn’t progressed since the 90s. That it is inconceivable that now it has progressed enough to make small lightweight field of view filling displays. Even though chances are you could be viewing this on a light ipad with a resolution of 1gazillion pixels?

      Not to mention all the other requirements for good VR, that were certainly not met more than 2 decades ago and are now within reach.

      How can one be not excited by the prospect of VR? You never imagined yourself sitting in a mech or airplane ingame and just having to look around to look around?

      Calling VR a gimmick appears to me to be a lack of imagination of its possibilities.

      • EPICTHEFAIL says:

        Because no matter how excited you are about it, it is still a gimmick. It is only cool until your brain starts noticing that there isn`t any actual movement going on, and you go from thoroughly enjoying yourself to clawing it off of your eyes in a blind, vomit-induced panic in 30 seconds flat (may or may not be hyperbole). VR for gaming, especially PC gaming, is too impractical for anything other than, say flight sims and space sims. Anything else is just a bad idea to use for longer than a few minutes (ie. the span of a press demo). I am not denying that it has its (very cool) uses, but they are few and far between for most gamers.
        The Hawken implementation is great. the Doom 3 one? Not so much.

    • Lev Astov says:

      We did have silly VR goggles in the ’90s, but they were just that, silly. Now the tech is approaching where it needs to be to make it actually useful to a gamer, such as a 90° field of view and soon a decent resolution.

      The ones in the ’90s sucked; I tried them. I have every reason to believe the Oculus Rift (silly name aside) will not suck nearly as much.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Why are you comparing a bunch of input devices to a display device?

      Yes, this takes head movements into account, but that’s not something that has an effect on gameplay. This is a different way to see games, not a different way to play them.

    • thesmileman says:

      It is ridiculously light and I have used the demo which was much heaver for 30 minutes and you don’t notice it’s weight.

  10. Snuffy the Evil says:

    Personally I’m waiting for Il2 or Arma 2/3 support before I jump on board. Not to disparage Doom 3, Hawken or any of the guys actually working on the Rift but I don’t think the (admittedly few) current titles would really do the thing justice considering there are titles out there where proper 3D would be extraordinarily beneficial.

    On the other hand, the Rift hasn’t even been released yet so I’m still optimistic!

  11. Malarious says:

    Honestly, what I want from the Oculus Rift is some sort of novel OS environment. With the high FOV, I’d like to be able to watch a movie, and if someone messages me on IRC, look to the right and check out their message. Like a multi-monitor setup, I suppose.

    It seems like, if it’s done well enough, the Oculus Rift could completely eliminate the need for TVs and monitors (at least for solitary antisocial people like me), and I’d love to be able to lie down in bed, watching movies or browsing the internet, in any position that’s comfortable. I know there are VR headsets like the Oculus Rift sans head tracking, and I’ve seriously considered buying one, but the price has kept me away, and with the Rift on the horizon, it doesn’t make much sense to invest in a potentially inferior product.

    I’m just imagining a future where we all come home from our 9-5 jobs, returning to our tiny bachelor apartments. We sit down, put on our Oculus Rift 6.0s, entering entirely different worlds to escape from the monotony of our daily lives. To anyone else, we’re sitting there, staring at a wall — but to us, in our minds, we’re having the time of our lives.

  12. Shooop says:

    This is a very good thing because what kills most great ideas that need more perfecting is the lack of support.

    The more early adopters the better chance it’ll have of taking off and shaking up a stale industry.

  13. Lemming says:

    The rift is unique and exciting enough to warrant its own console in my book – far more than motion controls (beyond the Wii for your grandparents) ever did.

    PC support is fantastic, but the world’s first console that doesn’t require a TV (and connected wirelessly to the main unit?) would be big news indeed. Imagine if its console also had a built in 4G streaming service as well? You’d knock out home and handheld console gaming in one device!

    I’m hoping they haven’t sold the rights to the device completely and are keeping that possibility alive.

  14. Therion_I says:

    VR > 3d x 100!

    Can’t understand why it died a death in the 90s. Maybe people misunderstood what VR was, thinking they’d be able to step into a new world like in Lawnmower Man, and were disappointed by the crappy arcade VR machines with the weird floating levels and pterodactyls. Personally I thought the bright orange and black headsets were cool as cucumbers! I’d love to see a retro Rift for us who remember the old arcade machines :)