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Oculus Rift Oculus Rift Development Kit Review and Giveaway Oculus Rift Development Kit Review and Giveaway The Oculus Rift has finally arrived, and is making heads turn (literally) all over the gaming community. No longer are we confined to to peering through a flat window into the gaming worlds we love... Read More is going to change gaming, forever – the hype hasn’t just fizzled it, it’s been sustained for the past year and only growing. The age of VR is now upon us; immersive experiences are where the cool kids are heading. My illustrious gaming editor Dave disagrees with me (you can hear our argumentative banter every week on Technophilia, Wednesdays at 4pm UK time) – but he’s wrong, and spends most of his time playing 20 year old games anyway. Here for your consideration are 5 rock-solid reasons we already know the Rift is going to change computing, forever. I’ll sum it up for you first: Carmack, porn, hardware, drivers, and community. These 5 things almost guarantee success when the consumer units finally roll in next year.

John Carmack joined the team

Carmack is the daddy of first person shooters and 3D graphics. Seriously. The genre that now dominates most of the video games market was created almost by this individual and his team at iD Software, in their legendary game – Quake. There were pseudo 3D engines before it that gave a hint of the coming FPS revolution, but Quake made it all viscerally real. Quake put 3D first person shooters onto the map and changed gaming forever.

John has been contributing to the Rift since the beginning now, but in an unofficial sense. Arguably, the Rift’s rapid rise to fame was in part due to his involvement, lending credibility to Palmer Luckey, the VR hobbyist from the MTBS forums who spent his days seeking the holy grail of VR immersion. As of August, John Carmack joined the Oculus Rift team officially as Chief Technical Officer.

Hardware Ecosystem

Some products are just cool in and of themselves, but the mark of true hardware success is when other manufacturers start developing new devices and accessories for it, unofficially.

The Virtuix Omni The Next Step in Immersion Virtual Reality - Razer Hydra & The Omni The Next Step in Immersion Virtual Reality - Razer Hydra & The Omni Now that the Oculus Rift is in the hands of developers and enthusiasts (read my extensive review of the Oculus Rift), work on the consumer version is well underway. New games are being developed, existing... Read More is one example; a VR platform designed to work with the Rift, and set to launch next year without it’s current reliance on Kinect for motion sensing.

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Sixense – makers of the Razer Hydra Razer Hydra Review and Giveaway Razer Hydra Review and Giveaway Say the words "motion controller" to any serious gamer, and they'll screw their face up and scream gimmick. The WiiMote, Playstation Move, Xbox Kinect - none of these have made any real difference outside of... Read More – have found renewed success for their ailing PC motion controllers in light of the Oculus Rift release. The Hydra is now the de-facto controller to use when gaming with the Rift, with a wireless version due to launch next year too, with full positional trackers that clip onto your body.

3rd Party Drivers

The slow pace of official support by various games is frustrating, but when people love a product so much, you can bet they will hack support together somehow. With a beta-release of Rift-mode from the industry standard TriDef 3D drivers, there are now no less than three third-party driver systems you can use to Rift-enable games; Vireio Perception and VorpX being the other two.

The upshot of all this is that using a variety of mods and HUD adjustments, you can now play Skyrim rather well with an Oculus Rift. Yep – goodbye real life, it was fun while it lasted.

The Community

More than anything, there is a huge community around the Rift. A map of Rift owners allows those awaiting shipment to contact existing owners and hopefully score a demo to whet their appetite.

This month, the first VRJam Rift hackathon is going on, so expect lots of great content from there. r/Oculus is thriving; and RiftEnabled has a rapidly growing list of demos and games to try out.

So yeah – I can pretty confidently say that the Oculus Rift is going to to take the world by storm when consumer units hit next year. I’m not saying that every game from now on will be released with Rift support – not every game is appropriate, obviously. But for exploration games and shooters – anything first person – staring at a flat screen just isn’t the same as the feeling of being immersed in a world. The Rift is not only going to enhance existing genres, but create whole new ones based solely on the idea of experiencing something foreign – virtual travel, just as Total Recall predicted, perhaps? We have a revolution around the corner, and it’s clearly visible.

It’s got porn

Like any good geek, the adult industry has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to new technology – and it’s believed that whichever technology the adult industry backs is a good indicator of success in the long run. In the great videotape wars of the 80s, some say VHS won out over the technically superior BetaMax (I should know, I had one) for the simple reason that VHS had porn and Betamax didn’t. The same happened with HD-DVDs and BluRay back in 2007. For a long time, Sony took an anti-adult stance with BluRay technology, refusing to help adult companies distribute their products onto the discs; the battle fought on with neither side showing a clear winner, despite BluRay being technically superior. By late 2007, Sony caved, and the first adult BluRays were made. The next year, BluRay had won and HD-DVD was officially killed off. Were adult movies the tipping point?

Want to know more? VR Sex Blog will keep you updated (very NSFW).

Of course, if Futurama is to be believed, VR dating will probably bring about the end of civilization as we know. Oh well.

Have you managed to get your hands on a dev kit yet, or had a chance to demo it somewhere? What’s been your favourite Rift experience so far, or are you just unimpressed?

  1. Jason
    September 9, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I think the oculus rift will sell alright but it's not the "ZOMG REVOLUTION" that some zealots think it will be.No matter how awesome it might be I'm just not keen on strapping a device to my face. I'll wait for the holodeck to come around,and if I die before then I'll probably be in the 4th dimension having a blast anyways.

  2. Robert B
    September 6, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    I must have been living in a cave or something but until I read about the Oculus Rift in your article I had never heard of this device. However I had always thought that when VR glasses were first talked about a few years ago I thought that it would be great technology for computing and may in the long run perhaps could be as significant a development as when the first PC's were developed. Who would have thought that in 30 short years there would be millions of people world wide that would have a PC sitting on their desktop with a large percentage of them all hooked up to the internet. I think in another 30 years the same may be said about VR glasses like the Rift and other VR technology not discussed in this article. Yes the 5 reasons you listed will be the initial benefactors as well as the driving force that will propel VR to the masses but there are a lot of unspoken uses that will come after they have become more mainstream and many more uses that have not even been thought of yet. Some areas that will not be too far behind that will add further reasons to VR glasses being a must have tool and some of them are more powerful influences than general consumerism. The first industries that probably were the first to adopt VR even in its early limited capabilities is the Engineering world, another early adopter of this technology was and is the US military. These two if the truth be told were probably the real engine behind the continued improvement that has allowed the advances in VR technology to the point where there is a large segment of the population who can actually afford to purchase a consumer version of this technology where before only large corporations and the governments could even consider using it. It is like the world used to be prior to the invention of the PC, computers were huge and required whole air conditioned rooms and cost millions of dollars so the only players were very large Corporations, large Universities and at first the US Government and the OS that ruled the world back then was Unix and was priced in the 1000's of dollars per process per year. It was priced so high because they knew that they were at best only going to sell a few hundred seats of their OS so had to pay for the R and D and every thing else required to run a business. It was a time when the cost of acquiring a computer and its OS was so high that most of the software that ran on them was for the most part given to you for free. Then when the PC hit the scene in the early 80's the limited vision of the Unix vendors caused them to stick with the old way of thinking and pricing so even though Unix could have been easily tailored to run on this new type of computer no consumer would ever pay 1000's of dollars every year just for the privileged of running Unix so it opened the door for all the newer OS's with Dos probably the first successful PC OS and the rest is as you would say history. Who would have thought that in just 30 years most of the worlds population would be running an OS called Microsoft Windows and who would have thought that most Unix uses would have been taken over by a free OS called Linux. I think the impact of VR technology will eventually be spoken of in the same light in a few years from now. As more and more of these VR glasses get out there you will see an explosion of other non gaming uses for this technology, both the gaming technology as well as the hardware. I predict that eventually most companies as well as education will adopt this for use in personnel training, everything from learning how to drive a car, fly an airplane, fix anything, and even be a major way for Doctors to learn their craft will be done with the use of VR technology. I do not limit this just to VR glasses because there is another technology not mentioned in this article that will not be too long for introduction in the consumer markets and that is the use of VR suits that translate tactile feelings from the VR world to the real world. There is going to be a lot of advances in VR once it becomes a commercial success to devices that have not even been thought of to VR glasses that in the not too distant future will be no bigger than an average pair of sun or reading glasses. When this happens then VR glasses will become as wide spread as cell phones are today.

    • James B
      September 9, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Epic comment. Though, I disagree that military led any of the VR developments. If anything, it hindered it by keeping everything at ridiculously high prices for what is essentially simple technology. Oculus put off-the-shelf components together at affordable prices; that was the real innovation. I would say what actually triggered this was the introduction of crowd-funding platform Kickstarter - without that, I really doubt Oculus would have ever been funded by games publishers or otherwise. VR was a joke - and its only the empowerment of consumers that made this a viable reality.

    • Robert B
      September 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      I do not entirely agree with you comments, the US Government and Military very seldom ever invent anything so they do not set prices. It is the people who invented the technology who marketed it to the Govt that kept it at very high prices because they knew that the Govt would pay it. I bet that it has been long enough now that many of these people's patent protection is running out and is the reason that a lot of the components for making VR glasses exists. Also there has been other unrelated advances in LED technologies over the years that have led to a re-purposing of the smaller screens for use in VR. Had it not been for the willingness of large corporations and the Government to pay the high prices to implement VR when it was first invented VR tech development would have been very slowed. I am not meaning to take anything away from the developers of the Oculus Rift or their investors but they did not invent the technology and if they had they would be the ones selling it at high prices to recoup all the R@D that was necessary for the invention of the technology. I do not understand you comment that VR was a joke, did you say that because it was so expensive that even though you would have like to use it the price was so high that you could never afford it? VR was never a joke in its practical applications just very expensive. I has been used in training situations, in visualization and as a design aid in engineering for a number of years now. It is only now that finally people like the Oculus Rift people have developed something that the average person could afford if they think they could make use of it. If the Oculus Rift is a financial success in the market place then it will be only the beginning of VR glasses that will become available in the consumer markets.

  3. Mel
    August 24, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Do we really need something else to turn people mad? How many days of fps using that till someone wants a real machine? Not good at all.

    • MakeUseOf TechGuy
      August 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      Playing video games doesn't make you want to kill people.

      Also, pro-tip: if you don't want people buying guns, don't sell them. Crazy huh?

  4. Matt S
    August 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    In a sense the Rift probably will change computing forever, because it's hard to imagine we won't eventually play game through VR, even if we might not play all games that way.

    But in regards to the Rift specifically, it probably won't storm out of the gates. It is a peripheral, and so it falls into the same catch-22 as any other such device; not everyone will have one, so many developers won't work on compatibility, and since only some software is compatible, less people will want to buy the Rift.

    I don't think any peripheral has overcome this issue, so the Rift folks really have their work cut out for them.

    • James Bruce
      August 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      That would be true if it weren't so easy to add support for the Rift: unity is basically drag and drop, and Unreal SDK isn't hard either. Then you have the third party drivers which should fill in the gaps.

      Once the next Skyrim is built to support Rift, they've totally won..

    • Arron W
      August 23, 2013 at 12:18 am

      James has got it right - with a console, you need to change a lot of core engine components - less so with the new generation having similar architectures, but there's a lot of work.

      This however, doesn't take much work to add on at the end. A bit like the old wiimote, it can be tacked onto anything, or written immersively with the technology in mind. The difference is though, even just tacked on, Occulus Rift still shines pretty well. Well enough I'd say, for it to be pushed. I think we'll see a lot of people refusing to adopt it out of principle, but there's enough who will try it to let it grow to be a steadfast part of the mark.

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