This is ‘Next-Generation’ Gaming.
Back in the mid 90′s the concept of Virtual Reality was surprisingly ahead of it’s time. Players donned massive headsets and gloves to enter a virtual world filled with 3D rendered sprites wrapped in single colored textures. Back then it was unimaginable and straight out of the pages of a sci-fi book.
Nearly 20 years later, Virtual Reality is making a comeback and thanks to the advances in technology – the Oculus Rift is leading the way.
At PaxAUS the original Rift Developers Kit is available for public trial at several booths including Virtual Reality Insanity and having seen it in action personally it’s safe to say that this thing is a pretty big deal. However behind closed doors The Gamers Pad was very lucky to experience some hands on time with the new dev kit which is lighter, much more comfortable to wear and sports a full HD 1080 resolution.
When watching films on your home TV the difference between 720 and 1080 is visible but negligible. In the Rift however it makes a world of difference.
We were first taken around an ancient castle in a snowy landscape all modeled in full 3D using the latest Unreal tech demo. Doing something as basic as looking up at the sky and seeing how the snow fall towards you is about as immersive as it gets.
With controller in hand, you fly up above the castle towards a massive erupting volcano and when looking down you get a real sense sense of vertigo that you’re never going to get in a game on a traditional flat screen. This really is something for the future.
Next, we had a demo of a virtual cinema created by a community developer where users get to experience ‘going to the movies’ in virtual form. “It’s so cool, we just had to show it” – the rep said before we had a go for ourselves. The demo literally placed you in a virtual cinema watching footage from the Man of Steel trailer. For something so simple, the immersion and details were incredible. You can tilt around, looking at row of seats by your side and even check out the projector. The reflections on the chairs from the screen pretty much goes to show how detailed some community creators are. Could you watch a whole movie in Virtual Reality? Most definitely.
This is the first time the 1080 Rift has been shown in Australia and while anyone is able to order a developers kit our first question to the Oculus team was “When can I buy one (a retail version) ?”
“We’re looking at months, not years” which is very promising. We also tried to pry some information about any big developers that have shown interest in the device but they kept quiet on that one.
We also briefly discussed the potential of the Rift being compatible with consoles and were told that the device is only designed to connect to PC but there may be talks with the major console manufacturers in the future. I must specify this was hinted and not confirmed.
For years publishers have been telling us that their game is the most immersive experience to date. Based only on some simple tech demos I can comfortably say that they don’t have shit on what opportunities The Oculus Rift is going to bring to the industry.