EVE Fanfest: Oculus Rift / EVR, or submerging in a virtual world.

So, if you are following EVE Online related media, or gaming media in general, you might have heard about the oculus rift game ccp presented on the EVE Fanfest, called EVR. Alot of articles surfaced right after CCP revealed that game, and i assume there will be more blogs about it too. Personally i took the chance to try it, and was quite positively surprised and impressed.

Now if you ever tried one of the VR goggles they had in the 90s, you might remember how heavy and slow those where, how you just had simple geometric forms in 3d. Well oculus rift is different. Its ultra-light, and features a 720p (in the current developer version, in the full product version its supposed to be 1080p) display, with quite fast sensors. Its also quite small.

At EVE Fanfest they had 12 devices setup so players could try them out in 5 minute 6vs6 pilot matches. From the “outside” this isn’t impressive at all, you basically saw a row of 12 pcs with 12 chairs next to ’em and 12 good looking girls supposed to help the players to strap in. The Players ’emselves look kinda funny, some just sitting there starring to no-where, others using their whole body to move arround.

Right before our round started we had some ccp guy explain the basic controls of the game to us (playing on some XBox Controller). So when the previous group was done with their game, we where allowed to go to the chairs.
Now i’ve seen VR Games before, i remember the clumsy helmets of the 90s, and i expected it to be mostly a nice gimick to a short lasting experimental game.. boy was i wrong.

The woman who took care of the players who got assigned chair 8 (in this round: me) helped me to sort out getting the gear on my head and calibrating it. Right after i put the oculus rift on, reality started to split. Still calibrating the rift with her, i was already trying to grasp that new situation arround me. Suddenly i wasn’t Peter the EVE Nerd in EVE Fanfest anymore, i was Peter the fucking minmatar fighter pilot, i could see my body, i could see the cockpit, the fighter itself was within a carrier, which i could also see.
The woman assisting me asked me if everything worked, and when i confirmed all visuals, she helped me put on the headset so my sound would shift from fanfest to fighter craft as well.
The last thing i heard before totaly losing myself in the game world presented was the assistants beautiful voice telling me to win this game for her, to go out and kill, which kinda gave me a bit of a knight-ish feel. However on the other hand it totally freaked me out, because while she said that her hand touched my shoulder, and my brain of kinda was not sure if there is a hand now or not.

This is probably the most weird thing about it, i was quite fast to accept the new virtual situation around me to be real, but then having sensory feedback from out of the world accepted as real, its really hard to describe how that feels. I assume you can get used to it, but i’m kinda sure its easier if you just stick to playing vr games without having many other people arround you.

The Game itself was quite simple, pilot your fighter, try to not slam into an asteroid, hostile missile or laser fire, while applying the later two to your hostiles.
After the 5 minutes the game took i was totally submerged into the world of the game, i had stopped thinking about fanfest, back home, or the real world itself, my thoughts where mostly focused on the flying / shooting job. When the Signal came that the game was over i immediatly removed the headphones from my head, so i could hear what was going on at the outisde, and to prevent freaking out in the case the assistant would have taken ’em of.

i ranked 4th out of my own team (of 6) and 5th out of the whole group (of 12) in my first game – not to bad considering that most people who where in that round did already have a few rounds.

EVR + Oculust Rift are an awesome toy, and i think it would be amazing to see full games which, like EVR are focused on the experience that oculus rift can give, rather than enhancing existing games half-heartedly.
But the success of such games will depend largely on the success of oculus rift, and by that it will depend on the price they will have the final devices for.

personally i just ordered an oculus rift dev kit, so i can start building my own games for it.

Thanks to the devs @ ccp for making this demonstration, you really inspired me, and thanks to my beautiful assistant during the game, you made it even more fun!

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