What are you playing on the oculus rift…

So it has been a few month now that my Oculus Rift Dev Kit has arrived, and nowadays the most common question in context of the OR that i get is “What are you playing on the Oculus Rift?” I’m going to try to answer this in this Post.

First of all, i did not get the dev kit to spend playing stuff on it. I knew there wouldn’t be many games with support when i ordered it, and i’m not disappointed. And while i have actually played a few games & demos (more about those below) the main purpose of buying a Rift was to learn more about it. I’m a software developer, and even if building stuff for the Rift is not my Job, i wanted to learn more about this impressive technology. So about 70% of the time that i’ve spend with my Rift i did not play games.  That is why i bought a dev kit, and did not wait for a consumer device.

I find it funny when people come to me who have tried my (or someone else’s) oculus rift, try to explain to me that the oculus sucks because of its low resolution, or that the screen-door effect makes it unusable.
Guys, seriously, if you care about resolution, wait for the consumer version, that is the one build for you. The dev kit is so developers have something they can work with, while the consumer device is still in development. The idea is that the Oculus Ready Games will be there, and ready to play shortly before the consumer version is out.

Enough of the ranting, as i already mentioned, not all of the time i’ve spend with theOculus was learning, and i actually want to answer the original question as well.

A note on motion sickness: a lot of people have reported problems with motion sickness (or just feeling bad when under the Rift), some after a very short amount of time, others after an hour or so. Personally i got lucky, i’ve had the rift on for 3 hours and more consecutive, and did not have any problems. Some of the demos, when badly calibrated, feel a bit weird to me, but nothing made me feel sick. I tried a few things out with people who tried my Rift, and reactions where quite differently. One thing quite a few people agreed upon is that games in which you sit in a cockpit, while sitting in your chair in RL work the best and are the most harmless sickness wise, while the worst thing is if your screen is lagging and if the control direction is off a tiny bit. 

EVE: Valkyrie – I bought my Devkit after i had a chance to try out EVE: Valkyrie at the EVE Online Fanfest in Reykjavik. I blogged about that in April. So this was the first impression i got of the oculus rift (which back then was the same model as my dev kit model), and i must say, so far this was the best integrated, most fun game i’ve played on it. I’m hoping that CCP will invite EVE Players who own an Oculus to an Alpha at some point.

War Thunder: probably the game that i’ve played most on the oculus yet. War Thunders integration is sort-of working. It is huge fun to step in a plane (especially with a HOTAS system, i wouldn’t want to fly it with mouse and keyboard while under the Rift).
That said, it still has a lot of Problems: the Menu’s to get to a game are HUGE, and by that i mean you have to put your neck back and far up to see the top of the menu. The advantage of that is that all items in the menu are actually readable (if you look in that direction), but it is not really compfortable. The second problem is that when flying, you don’t get the messages that are usually at the bottom of your screen (who killed who etc.), the chat (which is rarely used for anything important), and worst – your speed, altitude and ammo information.
In those planes that have a cockpit (some planes don’t have one yet) you can at least try to read it from the instruments in the cockpit (which means you need to know how to read those), and i guess that will be a viable option with the higher resolution of the consumer version. But in total this puts you in a huge disadvantage over others.
Last, the oculus view seems to drift, after a round or two i usually have my center-view somewhere to the left of from where it started – not a real problem, i can use the coolie hat on my joystick to manually move my view direction a bit – but annoying.
Still it is fun to play with a rift, and i’m looking forward to see Gajin improve its support.

Team Fortress 2 – Probably the only released game with a good and enjoyable support of the Rift. I don’t like TF2 as a game too much, so i haven’t played it a lot, but the implementation of the Rift support is mostly solid (tutorials font size is unreadable on dev kit, but consumer should be ok), and no one of the people who tried it with my rift had any complaints.

VTFNecropolis – thats a demo based on UDK, which is basically one map of some fine first person shooter gameplay. I like to use VTFnecropolis as one of the demonstrations i’m using if someone wants to try out the Rift – it is a beautiful looking level, you can have some action with the bots, and its timing / calibration seems to work ok for most people. But in the end its a one-level-demo nothing you want to play over and over again

Tuscany Demo  – probably the most common known Oculus demo, a map in unity with a house on it that you can walk around and have a look. I don’t find it too impressive, but in demonstrations its a must since everybody has heard about it, and since most people seem to enjoy it. Also quite well adjusted in timing/calibration.

Ocean Rift – another demo, which puts you on the floor of the ocean, you can walk around and look at a few fishes, sharks etc. very nicely done, bit boring after a while, but a good one to start a demonstration with, since it does not overburden the first-time-rifter with stuff like taking care of controlling much etc.

Museum of the Microstar – yet another demo, this one puts you in a fictive museum over the history of power sources from fossil fuel to a micro star. While the idea is great, and it gives a few nice other use cases of the oculus (visiting museums, educational software etc). This one is one of those that gave most people sickness problems. The timing is not exactly right, and if you fall down (which happens) you end up totally screwing over the calibration.

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaCULUS / AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome  – i hope i spelled this one right. its an indygame (that you can get through Steam for example) and basically the sequel to “AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA a reckless disregard for gravity”. You are a base jumper who jumps from a high building and tries to make it safely to floor level while greeting your fans and giving your haters the finger. Certain Stunts give you more points. The game is quite fun, and the oculus makes it better – but for me the abstract graphics kinda don’t allow me to immerse into that world. Still one you want to try out (Google for AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaCULUS to find the oculus ready demo).

Strike Suit Zero – to me the most awkward approach to VR with the Oculus. Its a third person giant-robots-in-space shooter. The awkward part? its 3rd person, which is a bit weird with a device like the oculus, and having to look towards your ship/robot to see the heads up display feels even more weird.
That said, its 3d effect is great. I hope they will implement a cockpit view or something else that allows for a first person view.

There are a few more demos i’ve shortly run (but that are too much to name now),
and there are a few games that don’t support the Oculus, but work with Stereoificator or Perception (dll injected opensource tools that add oculus support). I’m not going to go into detail what games i tried there (since those are multiplayer games and i don’t want to be banned from them, (to inject the dlls you have to disable / circumvent the hack protection of some games, since this is one of the vectors you could use to gain unfair advantages like seeing through walls etc.).

I hope i could give you a short overview (of games that i have played and) of the state of games / demos which are currently available for the Oculus Rift.

Personally i can see a lot of potential in this, and i’m looking forward to see the consumer version, and some of the games that are in development and have not yet released a demo.

PS: my own development is going forward, i’m having the right shaders and double cameras in my engine now (not using unity, but my own MonoGame based one), but its far from being something to show (the head tracking is not working yet, the engine is currently not rendering the skins of the objects within it (unrelated to rift), and the sizes (and the distance between the two eyes) are not correct yet (the getting the sizes right part is a bitch atm (since i have not cared about how much is a meter in my projections before), if you don’t it just looks weird)

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