Wot I Think: Oculus Rift DK2

The possible future is here, delivered by a nice man from UPS after a challenging five-month wait on my part. The first gen Oculus I’d been using had sadly morphed from toy of tomorrow into insufferable antique in the time it took for my gen 2 Oculus pre-order to process, and I’d almost forgotten why I was once so charmed by the whole concept of VR headsets.

The Oculus Development Kit 2, which I’ve been using for just under a week now, is an excellent reminder. My excitement is back, and I have a raft of new games, mods and experiments with which to assault my now bone-dry eyeballs. At the same time, I’ve been a little underwhelmed by this new-gen prototype.

I should start by saying this version of Oculus is not aimed at consumers, but is primarily intended to be a development kit for software makers. I am not (quite) one of those, but I am a man who struggles to resist new technology. I have an inkling that I am not alone in this.

Perhaps I’d let my generation two expectations get the better of me, but the main thing is that I’d hoped for more from the resolution increase. We’ve gone from DK1’s 1280×800 to 1920×1080, and more importantly from 640×480 per eye to 960×1080 per eye. The ‘per eye’ res is what really matters, given the whole tech works by compositing two images into one. The main proble with 640×480 is that was unusable in terms of text readability and user interfaces, apart from the occasional experiment which used comically gigantic, screen-devouring fonts.

The raised res is enough to make the difference from illegible text to just about readable, which is a game-changer of sorts, but game worlds in general don’t look as dramatically sharper as I’d hoped, and the visible pixel grid remains a big distraction. I still feel like I’m watching everything through a pair of old tights. It’s a flashback to my bank heist days.

I shouldn’t understate the improvements to readability, though. While there’s some squinting involved, unlike before I am now able to fully play Elite Dangerous with a VR headset on. Glancing top left or top right to make a menu pop up remains one of the most pleasing implementations of the VR concept, and now I can work out whatever they’re telling me too, which is vital for selecting targets and destinations. It’s not entirely comfortable to read, but I’m confident that careful implementation by devs – larger or more contrasting fonts – will get DK2 as far as it needs to be in that regard.

The new head tracking camera – which clips to the top of your monitor or anywhere else suitably face-height – even means I can simply lean in to ‘move’ closer to the text in Elite too, which though it might make me appear like a vicar adjusting his bifocals to better scrutinise Deuteronomy, does make me feel more connected to the game. It’s such a simple movement, but such an effective one. Leaning forwards, this thing we do so many times a day, is new to games. And it makes so much sense for games. It puts me in the game.

There is more general prettiness too, more discernible dials and lights and stars in the distance. There’s blur and that damn pixel grid and wobbly edges, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. It’s without doubt superior to DK1, but I’m still left thinking I should have waited a while longer, for the next prototype if they ever offer it for sale, or the consumer model. A little more resolution is what we need still, I’m afraid. Even so, I’m going to spend a lot of time playing Elite this way, and not just dicking about randomly in space.

(However, it’s worth mentioning that the camera’s current software causes problems with Elite at the moment, and there’s a vaguely torturous process required to temporarily disable it. Easy enough once you know how, but it took me an hour of misery to get to the bottom of it. Hopefully updates from the Oculus runtime and Elite’s beta will fix this in time).

I’ve also had some fun with ZVR Apocalypse, a demo of a very promising Oculus-powered zombie shooter that’s currently singing for its supper on Kickstarter. While the basic shambler-shooting is too familiar to fully activate my thrill glands, what does work me is how it’s been made for VR from the ground up.

The 3D effect of a zombie who you’ve let get too close looming in to much some face is excitingly (and gruesomely) close to tangible – oh god it’s right there, next to my skin, and ew, it’s hideous – while it also uses the DK2’s camera to bring about head-controlled aiming.

To some extent this feels wrong, because my head is not my hands so there’s some dissonance in terms of waving a gun in the right direction by waving your face in the right direction. On the other hand, snapping my eyeline to get a bead on a deadhead has both a physicality and a naturalness to it that shuffling a mouse around a desk never could.

With three days on the clock on $19k left to raise I suppose it’s not looking great for ZVR Apocalypse – the perils of targeting such a niche audience – but I hope they manage to do something. They seem to be really thinking about how the hardware can be used as a bedrock of playing a game, rather than just as a fancy accessory on top of them.

Head-directed aiming is definitely something I want to see OR games play with, and I’m extremely impressed by the accuracy of the DK2’s little tracking camera. It will lead to great things I think, though I’m not overjoyed by having two more cables in play (one USB, one to rig it to the Oculus) for a device that’s already a megasuid of wires.

Speaking of the physical aspect of DK2, to some extent it’s not a huge move on. It’s certainly not a beautiful object. Plastic Facebox remains the most appropriate description, but let’s not forget that this a devkit, not a consumer product. They have done some tidying up on the cabling side though – there’s no longer a smaller plastic box that daisy chains the headset to the PC, and instead the cables are directly connected.

The external power supply is now optional rather than mandatory too, and only used if you want to plug a USB device – e.g. gamepad or headset – into the Oculus. This is one of those little things that makes a big difference, in terms of being one less thing to worry about when you want to rig the device up after a period of disuse. I left my DK1 to gather dust too often because the setup process involved plugging in far too many wires.

It’s a neater setup for sure, though some desk uglification is unavoidable. Long term, a wireless device is the gold standard of course, but I suspect that’s long way off still.

In terms of comfort, it’s really the same deal as before. You’ve basically strapped a tablet to your face, and there’s too much plastic and foam involved to possibly forget that you’re wearing it. I don’t know if that’s every going to be surmountable, but I’m very keen to see what Oculus can do when their interest is in as aesthetics as much as it is tech.

Most disappointingly, I’ve experienced some motion sickness in some games, which I’d hoped had been resolved in the move on from squinty old DK1. To some extent that’s going to be about the software – devs are going to get better at this, working out what works and what doesn’t, what FOVs fix the problem and what degree of motion brings it on. Right now, the DK2 isn’t a magic bullet for dizziness issues, but I do feel like it’s only going to be a short-term problem. Like I say, it varies hugely depending on what I’m using it for – in general, I’ve been able to wear it for much longer than I ever could the DK1, even to the point of watching a full movie on it. There is a slight sense of lag and judder to anything I use it for, however.

The optional ‘direct access’ mode which enables software to use the headset without having to set it up as second monitor is also pretty flaky right now, so there’s a degree of faff with display settings whenever I want to use it. It’d bamboozle many, I suspect. Improved software is going to be vital if Oculus wants widespread adoption.

It’s odd. I don’t regret buying a DK2, but what it’s done is less to floor with me with new hotness and more do just enough to keep me dabbling with VR games. I’d reached the point with the DK1 where strapping on my facebox and trying to play things whose UIs I couldn’t read had become a chore rather than a pleasure, and the DK2 basically restores a good chunk of the initial joy and wonder. There’s such strong familiarity: it’s not yet taking me to new places. I’d probably be a whole lot more starry-eyed if I hadn’t used DK1 extensively first, of course.

I reckon that, as I dabble more, and find more games that are playable rather than merely viewable, I’m going to feel more enamoured of Facebox 2.0. Alien Isolation’s out soon and supports the DK2, which will be a big old test of the current tech. I’m hugely excited about potentially terrifying myself to death with it, presuming the game pulls off its central promise as well as working well with DK2.

Right now though, my thoughts have already turned to the Oculus generation after this. We’re going to see some great things for DK2, but if you’re not a developer and you’re at all tempted by one, I do have to advise waiting longer still.

Important proviso – both Oculus’ own software and that of third party games and applications is not yet final. Anything mentioned here is subject to MORE CHANGE THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE at any point. Not to worry though, I will be running regular updates in the returning Tunnel Vision column.

86 Comments

  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Crescent Bay sounds miles ahead of this unit already.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      It is. DK2’s aim was to get a representative prototype into dev’s hands so they could start making games. Carmack was distracted with Gear VR behind the scenes, and now I guess he’s full steam with Oculus. Crescent Bay is a massive leap forward.

      • Axess Denyd says:

        I don’t think Carmack was “distracted” by mobile VR. That’s his main focus and, as I understand it, the reason he went to work full-time for Oculus in the first place.

        I’m not terribly interested in mobile VR at this point, but I think it’s safe to assume that Carmack knows something (many, many somethings) that I don’t.

        • Martel says:

          I’d also argue that the biggest thing VR will need to be successful is widespread adoption across many different industries so that software, aesthetics, etc are driven by more than one company. So spreading things out a bit when those are still in their infancy can only help in the long run.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Can’t wait to get one of these and get a flight sim going in it. I can only hope that the new BMS maintainers of the old Falcon flight sim can get Oculus support working, or that someone releases an Oculus-to-TrackIR compatibility layer.

    Speaking of which: Head-directed aiming is already a thing in that sim, since it’s already a thing in real life. It’s awesome to be able to target an AIM-9X Sidewinder off-axis while turning in a dogfight just by looking at your enemy (which you’re probably already doing).

    • Synesthesia says:

      omg yes yes yes yes yes

      yes

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        So far you can go and rift around in Prepar3D, DCS World and War Thunder. P3D requires a free 3rd party plugin, DCS works out of the box, and War Thunder also. DCS is by far the best of the three, though P3D could really shine if you have forked out for scenery and aircraft. DCS being free and modules being cheap helps a lot with this, and will soon be getting a big graphics overhaul for the ground assets. Quite essential given how many of DCSW aircraft tend to excel in the Air to ground role.

        For anyone with a rift, DCS and the Huey module, one of the guys over at the Eagle Dynamics forums uploaded an amazing VR Joyride in the Huey, and its effing cool. Hit F4 then F1 to over ride the head tracking and use your own. An already cool feature of DCS just became even more amazing because you can actually sit in the cockpit with some great pilots.

  3. Clavus says:

    After my DK2 arrived (2nd batch) I was a little underwhelmed too, mostly because the SDK wasn’t up to snuff back then. Whether demos worked properly was a kind of a lottery. However they’ve fixed a lot of those issues by now with the 0.4.2 SDK at the time of typing. I think the thing that truly rekindled my love for VR again was the new Windlands demo (grab DK2 version here: link to indiegogo.com). When everything works perfectly and you’re transported to another world, a sense of wonder strikes you that is unlike anything I’ve felt in gaming before.

    Anyway, the DK2 is by no means the end of the road. The new Crescent Bay prototype they showed this weekend is reported to be as big of a jump from DK1 to DK2, with a 1440p display, improved optics (making the infamous screendoor effect negligible), 360 tracking and onboard audio. They’re really giving it their all and I can’t wait to see the consumer version.

  4. Hideous says:

    “and ew, it’s hideous”

    Hey that’s not very nice :(

  5. Kefren says:

    “Long term, a wireless device is the gold standard of course, but I suspect that’s long way off still.”

    I have no problem with wireless devices existing, but there should also be a wired version for people that can’t be bothered with charging, batteries (and, if you worry about eco-issues, the extra toxic waste involved in short-lived electricity stores). I only use wired attachments for my Xbox 360 and PC – they’re reliable and faff-free.

  6. Axess Denyd says:

    They say that the Crescent Bay is to DK2 as DK2 is to DK1, so I would expect consumer version (aka CV1) to be much better than the DK2.

    From reports I’ve been reading, people say that they cannot pick out individual pixels on the Crescent Bay — they only got to use it for a limited time in cherry-picked demos, though. They’re being strangely tight-lipped about resolution, though I don’t think a screen exists that is much higher than 1440p in that physical size, so I have a feeling it might be a specially-modified (for high refresh) Note 4 screen. Interviews I heard with people who tried the Gear VR also reported not being able to pick out a pixel grid. Apparently one of the biggest things about Crescent Bay is the new lenses, which they were *also* tight-lipped about, but seem to be more rectangular?

    I just hope they get the CV1 out soon, and I really, really hope that they come up with a good solution for glasses wearers–I wouldn’t mind a lens adapter going inside, like some military-grade eye shields use. When I had a chance to use a DK1 and DK2, I could not tell the difference in visual quality because I used them sans glasses, and my vision is that bad. (technically you can wear glasses in either one but it’s a tight fit, and I didn’t want to risk scratching lenses on a Rift that I do not own). The DK2 desk demo/calibration test was still amazing, though–just very, very blurry for me.

    • celticdr says:

      The Crescent Bay screen is obviously the same screen as the Samsung Note 4, which has a total res of 1440 x 2560 pixels, 5.7 inches (~515 ppi pixel density).

      I say “obvious” because the DK2 screen is the Samsung Note 3 screen and Oculus have partnered with Samsung, plus Samsung are the only ones making phablet screens at 2k resolutions atm.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Thats actually been ruled out. John Carmack stated they could not overclock the note 4 screen to necessary refresh rates, so it’s more likely to be a custom screen. In fact Carmack made a pointed, open plea to other screen makers to get in touch. His frustrations with Samsung were quite open which makes for an interesting future.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      When you had a go on the DK2, did you try both sets of lenses? There’s a shorter set (labelled B) that should allow you to fit a set of glasses in as well.

  7. chiablo says:

    Oculus Rift dev kits are like android phones. As soon as you buy one, they immediately announce a new model that causes buyer’s remorse.

  8. Vandelay says:

    I was such a naysayer to the whole VR revolution initially, but the more I hear, the more I want to try it. It sounds as if it isn’t quite ready yet though.

    Crescent Bay sounds good, but each new release seems to have been met with hype that dissipates once people spend longer with it (DK2 received similar hype, I’m sure.) I expect that another version or two will be produced before we hear anything of a consumer version, so likely a 2016 release, unless they get a move on and aim for Christmas 2015.

  9. LionsPhil says:

    Leaning forwards (to see things closer), this thing we do so many times a day, is new to games.

    I’m…pretty sure that works with my regular monitor too?

    I mean maybe the Rift is also adding some multiplier to the movement, but that would make it less natural. Elite is simulating a flat display mounted some distance in front of you. A real monitor is a flat display mounted some distance in front of you.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      hehe true, but the difference is the stereo and the felt sense that your head is actually in that space (its 1:1 by the by, unlike TrackIR). You aren’t moving your head towards a picture of a dial, you are moving it towards the ACTUAL dial. So hard to describe because there aren’t good words for it, but it is a “felt” thing. The impulse to really touch things, the amount of times you accidentally reach out for a control or to grab hold of the edge of a cockpit. Monitors do not trigger any of that. Its an amazing sensation.

      One of the very best feelings was in Live For Speed, when I decided to stop in the middle of the track and actually take a step to one side of my chair. The DK2 tracked me all the way until I was standing on the tarmac of Blackwood. But that was the thing – I was actually STANDING on the tarmac of Blackwood. Its the headsets ability to genuinely make you feel like you just went somewhere else that really makes it stand apart.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        How often have you whacked your hand on the desk or suchlike when instinctively reaching for things in VR? ;)

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          You kind of learn after a while. My big one is leaning in to read gauges or switch labels in DCS, and headbutting my joystick or throttle with the front of the Rift. I intend to buy a cockpit at some point (Obutto or similar) which will solve it, but for now they are on my desk :D ED need to put the zoom function back in for the rift…

          Something I do a lot is to look over the side of a cockpit and feel like I am going to fall. My arm is resting on the arm rest of my chair, and my brain just decides this is the edge of the cockpit. As you can usually clip through the cockpit glass in DCS, if I lean on the arm it feels like I am about to fall out of the plane :)

          The rift NEEDS an accurate skydiving sim. 3rd person following view in DCS sets off a full-on fear of heights response when you suddenly look down, exactly like a skydive.

          • Premium User Badge

            phuzz says:

            Volo airsport is a base jumping sim with VR support. I’ve not tried it yet because I think it might give me motion sickness.

    • Zenicetus says:

      No, it’s different because leaning forward changes the FOV and magnification (you “zoom” in), which doesn’t happen just leaning closer to your monitor.

      I don’t have a Rift, but I’ve used TrackIR for years, which does the same thing. If I’m dialing in a new heading on a HSI cockpit instrument in an airplane, I just lean in, and the view magnifies as if I was moving my head closer in a real cockpit. Leaning closer to a monitor without TrackIr doesn’t magnify the gauge and change your virtual head position like that.

      • P.Funk says:

        Actually as someone who plays DCS with a TrackIR I can say that typically it doesn’t change the FOV, it merely instructs the game to move the camera position within the game forward when you lean. Changing FOV is a different story. If you change FOV you don’t actually need to lean, you’re just zooming. Human eyes don’t zoom so we have to lean forward, but as a convenience in DCS when I want to lock my Mavericks on a pesky SA-19 I lean in to the MFCD to put that image in the middle of my screen, I could do the same with zoom but it’d be different.

        Subtle difference, but worth noting. There are people who tie FOV to their TIR Z axis, but I think they’re naff.

        • Slazia says:

          Why do people think human eyes don’t ‘zoom’? It seems like many people are under the impression that we are unable adjust our eyes to focus on objects close to us or far away. In a game, we are usually stuck to wide vision mode – peripheral vision. When playing DCS for example, it’s impossible to see objects even at short distances at the default zoom. Zooming in and out reflects the eye’s ability to focus on objects.

          • Ed Burst says:

            ‘Focus’ and ‘zoom’ are two different things.

          • Slazia says:

            Yup, but it basically amounts to the same thing in a game. If you play DCS for example, at default zoom you cant make out anything in the distance unless you have an extremely large and high resolution monitor. You have to be extremely close to pick out men or vehicles. In real life, your eyes focus and you automatically pick out these details. So basically, you’re using the zoom in game to give you better definition to make up for low resolution and screen sizes of computer hardware.

          • P.Funk says:

            What you’re describing is still not zoom, instead what you’re doing is outlining the mechanisms that players use to cope with the fact that our monitors are incapable of providing proper visual acuity. The deficiencies are on several levels.

            Nevertheless, zoom is changing FOV. Human eyes do not alter FOV last I checked, though our use of FOV in a game like DCS acts in place of our other natural abilities.

          • His Divine Shadow says:

            In fact, the ability to simulate focus is the next huge thing that VR needs to handle to advance from ‘realistic’ to being practically indistinguishable from reality (or at least I think it is). Currently in VR everything is always in focus, i.e. it cannot have depth of field, which is an extremely important part of the experience. It can probably be added by tracking the eye movement, but I’m not sure if it can be made responsive enough this way. Another approach is to use ‘lightfields’ instead of simple 3-sample RGB pixels for rendering and displaying, like those new Lithro cameras do. Then the eyes will be able to focus naturally, same way they do in reality. That requires pretty serious advances in technology though.

    • Geebs says:

      Human eyes don’t have a zoom – Well then how do you bring a small object into sharp focus?

      …these days, you buy a newer Rift.

    • P.Funk says:

      My comment is actually that it isn’t terribly new if you look at the list of games supported by TrackIR.

      However I forgive Alec as no doubt unless Tim Stone is writing the article there’s a 100% chance RPS has no clue about anything sim related, which is where this has been a thing for quite some time.

      And before anyone tells me TrackIR isn’t a 1:1 ratio, I’ll reply with it can be you nit, and I suspect when Oculus is released many people will do the same thing as TIR to avoid neck strain even if they can literally look over their shoulders.

      • It's not me it's you says:

        Short of a few superhumans, I can just about promise you they will not, as that’d be the fastest way to vomit town. The effect of the Rift is not a monitor strapped to your face, but your optical inputs being sufficiently fooled that your brain, on some base level, accepts what’s shown to you as a reality. In the current dev kit, that illusion breaks frequently but the idea is plainly visible.

        If you were to accelerate head movements as you describe, bad things would happen.

        And yes, I have a DK1 and a DK2 and have spent time in games and toying with the SDK.

        • P.Funk says:

          Oh I don’t know, the brain can be trained quite well to adapt. Fighter pilots endure 9 Gs without vomiting where others would. In years of using TrackIR I’ve chuckled at many complaints people have, for instance that its hard to keep your eye position and that your head will naturally want to move around creating more movement than you perceive in real life, but after sometime its easy to just hold your head more still, or adapt your muscle memory to move differently. Its not like it takes a lot of effort to NOT whip your head around.

          Even a 4:5 ratio would make multi hour over-shoulder looking sessions easier to deal with I think. Given the added peripheral vision the Oculus adds we shouldn’t need nearly as much head movement to see most of the game world anyway, unless we’re dealing with one of those horror games that’ll no doubt keep the players spinning in circles.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Hi PFunk. The potential downside to a changed ratio is indeed either nausea or the weird sensation of someone squeezing your brain. You tend to get this in Vorpx when you haven’t set the head tracking sensitivity right. If you move your head and experience more movement than usual, it is fairly unpleasant. You can adjust but it’s never preferable to1:1.

            Current implementations of timewarping seem to be doing something similar where you get a slight ‘run on’. It’s not nauseating, just unpleasant.

            Another option is bodily turning in a swivel chair if your neck gets sore.

  10. CookPassBabtridge says:

    If you are looking for deeper gaming experiences, I cannot recommend DCS World heartily enough to DK2 users. I have not played Elite, but I do have several hundred gigabytes of other games and demos I have bought and downloaded, and holy feck nothing comes close to DCS. The moment I loaded it up and sat in the A-10C, and turned around to see my wings and underslung weaponry, a sense of exhilaration, awe and amusement came over me. I did an evil power laugh, an actual MWAHAHHAHHH, such was the sensation of really being at the controls of this amazingly powerful piece of equipment.

    Heights FEEL high. Going inverted plays with your brain in all the ways going inverted should. Having AA fire coming up at you causes the exact same desire to hide, to protect your vulnerable, sad little fleshy appendages from the unfriendly flying metal on any account. Crashing makes your brain flip out. Most importantly, you feel like you are genuinely learning to fly and operate an expensive military vehicle. Just learning to hover and land in the Huey was one of the hardest and most rewarding gaming experiences of this year for me, and the rift transforms it over a 2D experience.

    And that barely scratches the surface. I am yet to try Air to air refueling, with the arse end of a massive tanker floating about in front of my face. I am yet to fly in close formation. In fact I have had so much fun just FLYING in this game that I haven’t even started on weapons or missions.

    To someone who has not tried the rift, its very hard to expain exactly what is so compelling about it. To a flight sim enthusiast, I would say “Imagine someone gave you the keys to a US Airforce base. Imagine you could go up to any plane, even that shiny, advanced composite, multi-billion dollar sensor laden one, climb the ladder, open the cockpit and physically sit in that aircraft. Slide into the seat. Look down and imagine how that would feel, gauges and controls a foot from your face, the textures or glass, matte black paint and subtle glow of night illumination in the dials. What the rift does is add the kinesthetic layer to the visual and auditory ones, especially amplified by having HOTAS. Its something you feel, and in all honesty at least in terms of flight sims its very hard to go back to a normal monitor, even with TrackIR.

    IMO it is the singular best experience available for DK2 right now, even in its early state.

    • Axess Denyd says:

      I am definitely looking forward to trying that once the CV1 is released.

      …along with War Thunder and IL-2. I loves me some WW2 flight sims.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Then you will be pleased to hear DCS is working on WWII aerodynes as well :)

    • P.Funk says:

      The DCS experience will live and die on the visual acuity in the consumer product. The A-10C is a ground pounder and it need to be able to see targets on the ground (no you pillocks, the TGP is not super duper) and until you can pick out little brown smears that are barely visible right now on a proper monitor it will be basically the immersive handicap available to a DCS player.

      I am excited for that day though. I’ve seen someone who built a G chair, basically a chair that tricks the body into thinking its experiencing positive and negative Gs based on the output of the game. Mix that with a DK and it should be alarmingly real.

  11. MMajor says:

    I am looking forward to the Totem more than the rift personally.
    link to kickstarter.com

    • DonkeyCity says:

      Sounds great on paper, but there’s a lot of vaporware in the VR realm right now.

  12. waltC says:

    Anything mentioned here is subject to MORE CHANGE THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE at any point.

    I’ll add my own proviso to your proviso…;) Change is a characteristic that can be both good or bad, positive or negative, never forget.

    I think that by and large the device is something we imagined and then discarded back in the 90’s mainly because it is so necessarily complex and cumbersome that the wearing of the device itself does much to upend the “suspension of disbelief” that is critical to its success. The test, of course, is not just how one feels after the first fifteen minutes, but after the first hour of play, etc. Prognosis doesn’t look good much past the fifteen-minute, gee-what-a-novelty timeline, I’m afraid. Other issues loom…more serious issues…aside from the motion-sickness symptoms, and yet at least peripherally related. Two “good” eyes are required, of course, and people with unequal eyes (for varying reasons) who have little trouble with the standard rgb monitor format might be completely unable to make use of the Rift VR technology (or any stereoscopy-based technology.)

    • Clavus says:

      Prognosis doesn’t look good much past the fifteen-minute, gee-what-a-novelty timeline, I’m afraid

      If the demo’s good, you can play for a very long time in these things and completely lose track of time. I’ve lost hours in Windlands. VR is in its own league of gaming really.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      To paraphrase John Carmack, the Rift makes converts on contact, and that means that contact is needed in the first place. When you put it on, when you fire up even the demoscene (the small scene that lets you establish camera bounds), it is the felt sense that hits you. I’ve yet to see any commentator adequately capture it, because I don’t think there are words that describe such a physical experience. “Presence” is just the word you come to use once you know what it feels like. It communicates nothing to someone who has not experienced it.

      I would say try one out. In terms of it being a novelty, all i can say is I got my Rift at the end of August, and have used it every day since then. I have more hours in it than Fallout 3, which was one of my first epic-time-invested titles. That addresses two things – one, its not a novelty, and two, sickness subsides the longer you use it. I was bad for the first 3 days (stop if you feel rough), then my brain “got it”. I don’t feel bad now. Longevity will be driven by software – as I said, I have 160+ hours with my unit, and most of that has been spent in DCS. Its a complete experience, and thats what VR needs. Small demos and experiments cannot hold attentions.

      Regarding eyesight, you can wear glasses in the rift, and some even find that by choosing a different lens set can see well without specs. If you have two different prescriptions in each eye, you can choose different lenses per eye. That’s just for the DK2. If you only have one eye, then you are SOL.

      Like any tech, the rift is going through the expectations curve, from messianic breakthrough tech, to disappointment at not-life-changing-status, through to consistent performance. As someone who is old enough to have tried both, the Rift is way in advance of the 90’s offerings. If you can, give it a go, there’s demos going on all over the place.

    • Axess Denyd says:

      Two “good” eyes are required, of course, and people with unequal eyes (for varying reasons) who have little trouble with the standard rgb monitor format might be completely unable to make use of the Rift VR technology (or any stereoscopy-based technology.)

      No more than my lack of stereoscopic depth perception keeps me from making use of the *rest* of life. Especially since there is positional tracking now, you can get depth cues through parallax using small head movements that are more awkward on a keyboard.

    • DonkeyCity says:

      I’ve used the DK1 and DK2 far more than 15 minutes, and it’s still beyond-thrilling. There are novelty one-off experiences, certainly, but it’s changed the way I want to play games entirely. Playing on a flat screen now feels kind of archaic, even if the visuals are gorgeous. The sense of tangibility and immersion is beyond anything I’ve experienced. VR still has a long way to go and has many weaknesses in UI and controls and processing requirements, but it’s certainly more than a novelty – there is no level of visual fidelity that will ever make gaming on a flat screen amazing again, as far as I’m concerned.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      The motion sickness is very dependent on the game for me. HalfLife 2 makes my feel slightly ill after about half an hour because Gordon runs just a bit too fast. Most of the demos for the DK2 are ok however, because in most of them you move slowly, or your POV is sat down in something.
      Faceted Flight is fine most of the time, except when you do a loop I found.
      I’m not sure if this is something that can be solved with hardware, or just with careful game design.

  13. DanielBrauer says:

    I was under the impression that the Alien: Isolation Rift prototype was just that, and that Creative Assembly hadn’t announced any plans to release the game with Rift support. Do you have any more information about this?

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      That’s what I read too. PLEASE PROVE US WRONG I MUST HAVE IT IN THE RIFT! *ahem* Thank you.

  14. Cei says:

    Meh, TrackIR does all the head tracking stuff without the vomiting. I honestly think that this may become Oculus’ biggest problem over time.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Quite the opposite. The cure for any sim-sickness IS time. Roughly two days to a week seems to be the average for the DK2 if you experience it at all. If you feel bad, stop, and don’t push through. Eventually you will put it on and not even realise you ever felt bad. As Alec said though, game design is paramount. Flight sims never made me feel bad, made-for-monitor first person shooters are just the worst. The software is evolving alongside the hardware. The persisting complaints over at the Oculus boards are the FOV, resolution and SDK issues, all of which are being worked on. Very few cite nausea as being a show stopper for much more than the first few days.

      I have both TrackIR and the DK2 and my TIR just sits lonely in a box now, as awesome as it is, it can’t hold a candle.

      • Harrington says:

        Can I just say I adore the fact that we live in a world where the term “sim-sickness” can be employed?

      • Ed Burst says:

        Good design may be what’s really needed to reduce or eliminate sim sickness (not to be confused with The Sims sickness). SS is fairly mild in vehicle simulators. It’s pretty severe for most people if you try to play a traditional FPS where your character makes abrupt movements, climbs ladders, etc. We’re going to need games where you move slower / more smoothly than before.

    • Knightley4 says:

      For me it’s not all about head-tracking. TrackIR won’t give you the sense of scale, which feels awesome. Though i’ve only tried DK1 for a few minutes and then took DK1 HD for a few minutes longer from our testers.

      I think at the release, with proper implementation from gamedev’s side the dizziness will be a really minor problem. Like some unlucky people that still have this issue with Half-Life 2.

      I really don’t know what would be the biggest problem for Oculus Rift’s popularity. So far everything i’ve worried about seems to be more or less fixed in Crescent Bay – weight, resolution, 360° positional tracking… Lack of games with the native support maybe? But i guess we’ll see some announcements with CV1 reveal.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Yeap, on the issue of scale, four words:

        Titans of Space.
        Neptune.

        :0

    • DonkeyCity says:

      Personally, I’ve never had even a hint of sickness with the Rift. I used a modded iPad pseudo-VR thing that was kind of neat, but very nausea-inspiring, but had simply no trouble with either Rift DK. I’m sure some people will, but that particular threat seems to have been both largely solved and largely overstated.

  15. Phier says:

    As a LONG time Nvidia 3d user I’m just happy that 3d gaming isn’t dying. After using the Nvidia system I can’t play games like Mount and Blade any other way. The problem is that few devs actually tweek for 3d and all it normally takes is a couple of tweeks (there are unoffical tweeks for a lot of games out there you can DL).

    Things like this with bigger media attention will keep the devs attention, at least for a while.

    • fish99 says:

      Same here, I’ve had 3D Vision for the last 5 years or so, and when a game doesn’t work well with it, I’d almost rather not play it than play it in 2D.

      Currently going through a second playthrough of Skyrim in 3D (with helix stereo fix) and it adds a whole bunch of immersion. Just an awesome experience IMO, and the Rift has the potential to go way beyond that with a realistic scale and much better sense of presence.

      Dark Souls 1&2 were both great in 3D too, same with the Batman Arkham games.

  16. PopeRatzo says:

    I look forward to VR gaming, but it won’t be with one of these “Oculus Rift by Facebook” gizmos.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I’m no fan of facebook either, but so far I’ve not seen any hint of any of it with my DK2.
      I can imagine that they could make a bookface account mandatory to download the software at some point, but at the end of the day, it’s hardware, so there’s limited ways they can screw it up.
      I suppose if I am eventually forced to have a facebook account then we’ll just have to see how much they like a fake profile with bogus data being set up.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        The facebook involvement is almost certainly more centred on GearVR than the Rift. GVR is ‘powered by Oculus’ and was the thing John Carmack came onboard to work with.

        It very much feels like the Rift is a separate project, though I can imagine a FB login being used for movie streaming as this is likely to be common across platforms.

  17. Janichsan says:

    Most disappointingly, I’ve experienced some motion sickness in some games, which I’d hoped had been resolved in the move on from squinty old DK1. To some extent that’s going to be about the software – devs are going to get better at this, working out what works and what doesn’t, what FOVs fix the problem and what degree of motion brings it on.

    The only real solution for motion sickness would be a way to stimulate the sense of balance in concordance with the visually perceived motion.

    Otherwise, the discongruity between the movement that the eye sees but which the equilibrium organ does not register will always lead sooner or later to motion sickness (to an individually differing extent of severity).

  18. Jenks says:

    I’m finding it harder and harder to not order these prototypes and wait for the finished product.

  19. Gog Magog says:

    GET THE DICK (2)

  20. DXN says:

    I am going to sleep now. I will only awaken once fitted with a fully-finished VR solution and I can live in the Matrix forever.

  21. Radiant says:

    Everyone I love will at one time or another moon me if I dare to strap this to my head.

    Also this gives off such a huge camp xray prisoner vibe it gives me the creeps.

  22. Shazbut says:

    Question for anyone who’s tried one of these:

    Is it like what I’m seeing through my eyes right now (except computer generated) or is it like looking at a big hovering cinema screen in the distance surrounded by blackness?

    Is there depth perception? Is it like…real life?

    • Unknown says:

      If the demo is halfway decent, the simulation will be full 360 degrees. It’s not like looking at a screen at all.

    • modeus says:

      Yes, beautiful, beautiful depth perception.

    • Axess Denyd says:

      There’s even a game specifically for improving depth perception in people who lack it:
      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      I already bought it even though I don’t have a Rift.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Agree with above, it depends on the game for the strength of the 3D. It aims to look like reality, as opposed to hyper-reality like a 3D movie. After a while your brain tends to treat it as real and things being “over there”. A good example is in half life 2, where there is much more of a sense of having to project a bullet over a distance rather than clicking on mens heads.

      In terms of the screen, no the rift does not feel like looking at a screen at all, the closest thing is like having a shallow scuba mask on your face through which you are looking at reality. Other VR headsets suffer with lower FOV’s and do give the impression of staring at a monitor in a box, the Rift does not. Having said that IMO the FOV needs to be increased well into the peripheral vision, to the point where it can pass the “crucifix test”. Basically, look forward and hold your arms out in a crucifix. Still looking forward, tilt your hands up. In reality, you should be able to at least visually ‘sense’ your hands move, even if you can’t see them in a lot of detail. In the rift, your hands would be hidden behind black. If you could virtually bring them forward by about 30 degrees, you would only just start to see them.

      The edge of the rift pretty much sits at the limit of the end of normal vision and beginning of peripheral, its hard to explain. As pointed out though, when you turn your head, the rest of the world is there. Look behind you, and… you look behind you. Seamless, 1:1 movement.

      • Shazbut says:

        Thanks everyone. I am wetting myself with anticipation

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Glad we could contribute to your self piddling fervour :D

  23. Ejia says:

    I assume you can’t use eyeglasses while wearing this thing? I probably won’t need mine, though, since I have astigmatism and can read near things fine without them.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      You can use glasses, though some have a concern about scratching the rift lenses. You can also experiment with using different eye cups as some people find they can use the rift without glasses by chooisng the right lens. IMO the ideal for CV1 would be to be able to submit your prescription when you buy it and get tailor made lenses.

    • DonkeyCity says:

      I’m pretty near-sighted and have worn my glasses in both Rift developer’s kits – I have small frames, but they fit inside the Rift with no difficulty and do not particularly hamper my experience. If anything, I think it made the VR experience somewhat better, because I’m already used to turning my head more than my eyes to look around, and the in-focus FOV of my glasses is far lower than the FOV of the Rift.

      • Alec Meer says:

        I’ve got fairly large glasses and it’s just too uncomfortable to wear them with DK1 or DK2. I switch to my contact lenses to use it (unfortunately the contact dry my eyes out badly when using screens, so can only do that for so long).

        If I wasn’t a) a wimp b) saddled with a big mortgage I’d probably do laser eye surgery.

  24. racccoon says:

    link to point link to rockpapershotgun.com
    The first photo shows the glasses you’ll be wearing after your tired of using the oculus & the damage that’s been done by it, is far too late to repair your eyes because you’ll now need Bi FOCALS . lol
    + this may happen as well link to tachyontv.typepad.com

  25. frogulox says:

    “…some desk uglification is unavoidable”

    Yet irrelevant to the faceboxed user :p

  26. Christian says:

    Could you also please tell us what kind of hardware you used to power the Oculus (CPU, GPU etc.) and how the performance was (e.g. lag, FPS etc.)?

    I’d really love to have one of these in the future when they’re ready, so an estimation of what kind of power I’d need would be useful…

  27. goettel says:

    Being able to read interface elements, if necessary using the positional tracking to move in closer is the biggest deal of DK2. There’s plenty to improve, though, my biggest gripe being the FOV actually being somewhat smaller still than DK1. We need a FOV sufficient to completely fill out peripheral vision for all users. It doesn’t seem to be a focus for CM/DK3 though, which is a bit disheartening. I’ll stick with DK2 until the FOV gets a lot of lovin’

    Whining aside though, the experience on offer now, with the acceptable resolution and the natural movement offered by positional tracking simply can’t be had anywhere outside of a military grade VR pod, and I doubt many gamers wouldn’t be at least impressed when first experiencing the ED cockpit. After a few seconds in I knew: there’s great days ahead, and ED alone makes the DK2 purchase worthwhile, to me.

  28. DanMan says:

    Head aiming worked in Blue Thunder so it must be good, right?

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      For FPS I really like half life 2’s VR implementation of free aiming with mouse combined with view turning when the cursor reaches the sides of the screen. While not perfect it is immersive and rather fun. Being able to move your head around and have a full look at the weapon in Gordons hand is cool too after years of a fixed perspective

  29. Premium User Badge

    BlueTemplar says:

    We’ve gone from DK1′s 1280×800 to 1920×1080, and more importantly from 640×480 per eye to 960×1080 per eye.
    No, DK1 has 640×800 per eye :
    2*640×800=1280×800
    2*960×1080=1920×1080 … also called “Full HD”… as it that meant anything : UK had the first ‘high definition television’ broadcasting in 1936 at 377 lines, France had a 816×737 broadcasting standard from 1949 to 1984 (which is not much lower than the current 1280×720 “HD”), afterwards changing to the European 576 lines standard.

  30. BeaconDev says:

    You mention Alien:Isolation is Rift-compatible, but the article you linked to (and everything else I’ve read ’till now) seems to suggest that feature won’t actually be available to us at launch. Any ideas?