JoypadAndMe attended the Play Expo event in Manchester this October along with the guys from A&J’s gaming café in Liverpool. One of the attractions that was there that both Myself and Jaymes desperately wanted to get their hands on was the immersive technology called Oculus Rift. We got a chance to talk to Joe Chen from Oculus about it.
Beforehand I managed to get a chance to try out the device and I can safely say that it is all it lives up to be. putting on the headset throws you into a computer generated world like no other device can. I personally tried out the device with the driving game called IRacing. It took a couple of seconds to adjust from one perspective of the outside world to the new perspective of the game. After a couple of seconds it begins to feel natural and your brain engages in what you are seeing. Looking around the cockpit lets you see everything. Moving your head from side to side lets you see all around you. looking down focuses on the steering wheel and your hands which you forget aren’t actually your hands at times as they move exactly like your own would on the wheel and when changing gear. Looking up lets you focus on a rear view mirror giving you complete visuals around you and letting you feel far more in control than a normal controller/screen would ever give you. The really strange part of the experience was that although I was sitting on a completely normal aluminium chair with no special additions to it, when driving I swear I could feel the seat leaning and rumbling at different times. The headset was actually fooling my brain into feeling sensations elsewhere.
It’s very hard to acuratly describe the sensations that you experience during the use of the Oculus Rift and what you actually see. Its something you have to try to find out. Since the announcement of the Oculus Rift many of our team here at JoypadAndMe have been dying to get their hands on it but its been a long wait to finally do so. The events where the Oculus Rift has been have seen huge queues. Even at Play Expo the queues were at times upwards of two hours but this wasn’t going to stop us this time round.
One thing I was concerned with beforehand was the ability to get the most out of the device while being someone who wears glasses. The use of a headset with glasses can be an awkward affair sometimes and certain wearers have little luck with technology such as 3D etc. Using the Oculus Rift put pay to any concerns. The headset goes over the glasses fine and although there is a bit more pressure over them due to the extra weight it feels comfortable and stable while working perfectly. There was no blurring or failed perspective because of the use of glasses.
A one point I asked one of the representatives to take a couple of photos on my phone. As I pulled the phone out of my pocket and handed it to her I suddenly became aware of the fact that although I could feel the phone in my hand, I couldn’t see it and that I was seeing and concentrating on the hands I could see on the steering wheel in the game and that the level of immersion was so great that it was making me forget that I was ‘inside’ a game. It took a couple of seconds to come back to the real world so to speak.
Speaking to Joe Chen from Oculus VR after trying out the device we mentioned about the perspective shift from real life to the game perspective and he replied that they have set the perspective at a longer distance which in time should make it so that the use of glasses with the Oculus Rift will not be needed. At the moment the perspective is set at a longer distance so that it works great for most people it doesn’t work quite as well for short-sighted people due to the normal perspective distance that is used but this is in the process of being adjusted. The oculus Rift device fools the brain into looking further that it would normally do. The brain knows that you are putting on a device so it initially sets its perspective at a short distance to focus but the Oculus Rift then fools the brain into resetting that distance to what you would generally use for everyday distance. Once the Oculus Rift does this then the rest is easy! It certainly works and in hindsight you can tell that this is what’s happening as this is why you have to take a few seconds to adjust to the device as your brain and eyes are re assessing what is going on and then readjusting.
Talking about the choice of games in use for the Oculus Rift, Joe said that he was blown away with the fact that they could choose what games to work with as developers are virtually lining up to be used with the Oculus Rift device. This gives them the ability to pick and choose what will be best to try out different aspects as well as show off just what the device can do. They picked games like Hawken and IRacing to show off the immersion that the Oculus Rift can give from a cockpit perspective.
Joe went on to say that he was very happy with the reactions that has got from everyone both at the Play Expo as well as other events such as the Eurogamer Expo. The fact that people were as eager to see the Oculus Rift as they were for the next generation in consoles was really impressive.
We tried to press Joe for a retail release date, He stated that it would be within 2 years but he couldn’t for obvious reasons give any firmer details on when exactly that will be. What I can say is that after trying out the Oculus Rift, I cant wait to see a retail version and just what it can offer for the home gaming market.
To those that have heard of the Oculus Rift and think that it will be another one of those ‘fad’ devices that will fall away from the public eye soon let me say this, I too at one point thought this as well but after seeing it in action and especially after trying it out and seeing the reactions of others who have done the same, I can safely say that this is an amazing piece of kit that holds some amazing possibilities for virtually every aspect of the gaming world and far beyond.
We want to say a big thanks to Joe Chen for taking some time to chat to us and helping to deepen our love of the Oculus Rift and what it may hold for us in the future.