When I first found out about Oculus Rift, I was stuck in two minds. On one hand, the idea of a virtual reality head-mounted display (HMD) unit that I could play modern games with sounded cool for obvious reasons, but on the other hand, it was hardly a new concept. In fact, there have probably been dozens of head-mounted VR devices released in the past 20 years, all promising to change the way we interact with virtual worlds.
So what makes the Oculus Rift special? Well as it turns out, a bunch of stuff, at least from where I’m sitting. Here are five reasons I’m actually legitimately excited about this piece of hardware.
To date the company behind Oculus Rift has raised around $91 million for the project. That’s a lot of scratch, and it means a few things. Firstly, it means that the concept, as well as this specific version of it, is impressive enough to make a lot of people throw money at it.
Secondly, it means that the developers have a decent resource base to prop up what is one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken in the video game industry.
These guys endorse it
When it comes to name dropping, Oculus VR pretty much takes the cake. Firstly , id Software co-founder John Carmack was so impressed with the project that he took on the role of Oculus VR’s chief technology officer.
Also, these guys have all publicly endorsed the device:
Gabe Newell: CEO Valve
Cliff Bleszinski: Former designer at Epic Games / general industry loudmouth
Tim Sweeney: Founder of Epic Games
Shuhei Yoshida: President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios
CCP Games: Creators of EVE Online
Masahiro Sakurai: Director of Super Smash Bros, Kirby series
Markus “Notch” Persson: Creator of Minecraft
Chris Roberts: Creator of Wing Commander, Star Citizen
It could change gaming
Having spoken to and read articles by people who have actually experienced the device for themselves, it’s not that difficult to believe that Oculus Rift may actually make good on years and years of HMD promises. If it can deliver a truly immersive visual experience, then it’s difficult to imagine how it won’t eventually replace flat screen gaming.
This compilation of peoples’ reactions to the Rift pretty much sold it for me:
The guy driving the entire project, Palmer Luckey, may be the hugest VR geek on earth. He’s credited with having the world’s largest personal collection of HMDs, and is a long-time moderator of Meant to be Seen (MTBS) 3D’s discussion forums.
Luckey’s vision from the outset was to create a new head-mounted display that was not only more effective than anything on the market, but also a device that would be inexpensive and aimed at gamers. It was one of his first prototypes that caught John Carmack’s attention, and it was good enough to result in the industry veteran joining the project on a senior level.
Current and future projects
If Oculus Rift can deliver on its promise, then it will become the most immersive and engaging video game platform created to date. By radically altering the mechanism by which we engage with virtual worlds, the Oculus Rift will present wholly unique prospects and opportunities. The device doesn’t even have a firm release date, and there are already some really interesting projects in the works:
The idea of exploring this 1:1 scale model of Middle-earth using Oculus Rift was recently a trending conversation on Reddit.
Gender-swapping simulator (don’t watch this at work!)