The goggles come down slowly and my eyes open to the new world. Oculus Rift should just be another gimmick but I have trouble believing that will be the case.
As soon as they came down, I was sitting in my spaceship courtesy of EVE Valkyrie. My flight engineer, or really in this case the lovely staff member assisting scores of people out to try the Rift, handed me the controller and then lowered the headphones…
The illusion was complete.
The feel of the Oculus Rift was very nice. Light without feeling flimsy or like I could not turn my head as fast as I wanted for fear of flinging them from my face. With the headphones on and insulating me from the omnipresent roar that passes for background noise in Gamesom, I was not just trying a product, I felt like I had my own little reality to play with. There was some discomfort at the very start while my eyes tried to focus on where they knew screens existed but could not resolve. A moment or two of blinking and then we were ready for launch.
It is little things like that where the experience is quick and easy that help make products rather than break them. The easier the experience for the average user and the easier it will sell to that users friends. I don’t count anymore as I consider myself converted. They can count on me parting with (a reasonable amount of) my money for the product.
Eve Valkyrie is not the only game sporting Rift compatibility here at Gamescom. War Thunder asks you to take to the skies. World of Diving invites you beneath the waves. Indie titles and clever experiments are scattered about offering themselves as both games on the Rift and as peripherals.
Valkyrie though was the one I wanted to try and I count myself lucky it was around for me to do so. Though admittedly it left me wanting more and slyly checking the wait times at War Thunder for another flight experience. It makes me excited about CCP and the evolution of the EVE universe. Project Legion will be making its way to us, and possibly, hopefully along with the close air support that could be offered by Valkyrie. Failing that, I suppose I could live with just being able to soar through the starts of New Eden. It seems that the world we’ve been shown can support the dueling fates of fleets and ground armies, and now this vision of the Rift and Project Morpheus’ ability to put you in the hot seat turn you (ideally) into a hotshot.
The entire experience, though short, was an absolute treat. I know intellectually that it is the whole point of the Rift but the ability to turn your head, check over your shoulder or look at your feet and always be immersed in the beauty of the game you are trying is honestly special. Give me a decent price on the Rift and throw Valkyrie out there on PC? Yes please. Failing that, Sony and Morpheus wait in the wings…pardon the pun.
I have never really been an EVE man but that ease of access would be enough to get me to fly the (un)friendly skies.
Pitch, Yaw, That… Yoke.
If there was one thing flawed with my experience, apart from the brevity of it due to convention pressures, it’d be the fact that I was using a game controller. Xbox in this case but it does not matter who makes the console. Why? It’s still ultimately that, a console controller.
Hiding in the middle of a retro games exhibition Hall 10 were two concept technologies for the Rift.One was a clever pneumatic chair arrangement with handlebars. I am not certain it was a racing game but it’s a safe bet. The other was a table, again with pneumatics, waiting for the player to lay down and strap in. Rocketman, it seems, was ready to give you the flight experience with a little additional sensory input. Jerking and jinking the player we saw strapped in appeared to be getting the sort of Superman experience that just needed a Lois Lane to complete the comic book story line.
This is what was missing for me in New Eden. I’m not asking for a full cockpit (though I would not say no) but a control interface would be nice. Sure a controller is good and familiar, but I did not strap on the headset for the same old. I was not there for familiar.
It begs the question of peripherals. Already there are examples. www.cyberith.com is offering a kickstarter for the Virtualizer which can let you run, crouch and move yourself on a plate to do the same in the game. Package that with a Rift, something they had in use at the booth, and you have a little virtual reality machine. You have gone from a really immersive audio visual experience to the dreams of people like Ernest Cline in Ready Player One.
How long after we get the Rift until we can expect to see an explosion in the peripheral peripheral market? You buy a Rift for your computer to get that added support from games and then end up buying gear to support your Rift.
Is this something that is being considered by the big blue juggernaut, Facebook?
Facebook, Facescreen, Facegoggle.
The Occulus Rift will easily add to some experiences where you want to be alone. People do not play Skyrim for so long because of a social component, they want to get deep into the world. The separation of you not from your senses but from reality is inviting for those times and games that already draw you into other worlds for adventures.
Where it will shine though, that will be with the likes of EVE. Not games that have been made to work for the Rift, but games that have been made for the Rift. In the same way that Hollywood is experimenting with 3D to give more complete experiences (and higher ticket prices admittedly), I am looking forward to the games industry seeeing the Rift as more than a fun experience.
It is a new world vision, I put on the headset and I saw the future.Related: EVE Online, Gamescom, Oculus Rift, Technology