Resurrected Entertainment

Oculus Rift VR

June 27, 2013

Thanks to a generous friend, I had a chance to play around with the Oculus Rift last night. It was a little difficult to find a machine which worked completely with the Oculus hardware, but on the third try I struck pay dirt. The machine actually did work on the first computer, but the frame rate was choppy which made the experience a little more headache inducing than the designers intended — I don’t know what caused the choppiness but I suspect the HDMI driver on the laptop may be the culprit. The last machine did not have a choppy frame rate but did produce a blur when looking around, which I attribute to the refresh rate of the device. I downloaded the Oculus Beta for Half-Life 2 and played a couple of levels. It was fun but due to the resolution of the Oculus screen, it made it difficult to read text and see the pull-down menu for weapon selection in the game.

I found the device was a little on the heavy side to play comfortably for more than an hour or so. It comes with straps which help to support it on the left, right, and top of your head. These straps and the additional padding that was added really help with the comfort level, I am not sure I would have lasted 15 minutes without them.

The device provided a really nice illusion of depth and often found myself wishing I could reach out and touch the things I was seeing. A glove often used in virtual reality movies, and the less sexy versions used in real life, would provide the ideal input device but all those cables would certainly make a mess and you really feel a need for mobility while being immersed in your 3D world. Navigating with a keyboard is cumbersome unless you are a touch typist with an appropriate keyboard; if you could see the screen when needed, it would help a lot in this department (it would at least allow you to position your fingers correctly). I was thinking some sort of external camera would be very handy which could act as a window into the outside world. It would also be nice if the device could function in normal “2D” mode and the “3D” mode when required. Looking at the desktop through the headset is simply not usable, but if the device could be switch programmatically, then we have a working solution. Just make sure to provide support for dimming the screen and programmatic fade-in-and-out transitions to make it easier on the eyes.

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