Developer, web designer, indie game enthusiast, and I am actively pursuing game development. Along with that, I do a (soon to be) bi-weekly radio show with my roommate called Seeking Infinity. We talk about games and game design, play some cool VG tunes, and generally have a good time. Give us a listen! Entertainment guaranteed or your non-money back! Zero Hour Productions is my portfolio site and general repository for stuff. It will even be my game company some day!
Thanks to the arrival of our Oculus Rift dev kit, I've had the past week or so to experiment with it for more than a few minutes at a time. Like my thoughts immediately post-PAX, I can (re-)confirm how awesome it is.
First, some backstory:
I have to be pretty careful about my PC game and hardware selection, the largest reason why is that I use Linux almost exclusively at home. Compound that with setups that Linux is not exactly well- or positively-known for (like multi-display setups and HDMI audio...or sometimes, audio, period) and the field narrows. That's also why Valve's foray into SteamOS (a Linux derivative) is so exciting.
And it's also a pretty big reason as to why I'm excited about the Rift, too. While I can't claim a very broad test - a lot of Rift-enabled titles are Windows-only - the stuff I have tried is very compelling. And that the Rift has a cross-platform SDK, testing and setup utilities just further seals the deal.
First, let's get an obvious candidate out of the way - Minecraft. There is a significant mod out there required (titled, appropriately, 'Minecrift') based on 1.6.4. Even setting aside the head tracking not working for me (almost certainly a setup issue on my end), just having the VR portion is a significant change. Sure, there's 3D displays without a head-mounted device and all that, but nothing really beats eye-level display - true 3D! It took a bit to get used to where I was, in relation to the world, but the transition was brief and mostly painless. Focusing on objects at varying distances is a noticeable strain, compounded by the ever-present HUD, but it is totally worth it. I actually jumped (more than usual) when a creeper exploded near me.
The other title I played extensively as a test-run is a small game produced for the Seven-Day FPS game jam (#7DFPS) called 'Discoverie'. This is mostly an exploration game, where you walk around, collect a few things, and generally take in the world. There is a very minor 'shooter' component, where you're given a crossbow to defend yourself. Now, let me disclaim, this is not a polished game by any stretch (if 'seven-day' is any indication), but that the Rift was successfully integrated in such a short period is heartening. And the world itself - a very voxel-ish, blocky style - automatically looks better given the VR treatment. Looking up and down has never been more fun.
First-person-type games are clearly an obvious 'win' for VR, but the reality is that any game where you can take 3 axes of directional control off a player's hands is a huge plus. Even just side-scrolling or top-down games where you can move the camera around a central point would benefit. To that end, I am excited to think about our own in-development game(s) in terms of VR. Given the actual market saturation for VR is exceedingly low, it probably won't make the cut for a long time, but it's at the very least a neat add-on. And there's nowhere it can go but up.
That's not to say there aren't some limitations. In both of the tests above, I was relegated to a chair, in front of a keyboard and mouse (I could have opted for a gamepad), so there's some definite strides to be made in 'immersion' on that level. But this is definitely a step (haha) in the right direction. I am not ashamed to game with a peripheral attached to my face, especially one of this caliber.
If, by chance, you also possess a Rift, and are looking for some things to try out, take a look at RiftEnabled - not comprehensive, by any stretch, but a good place to start. I would also be remiss to not mention, again, Enemy Starfighter and Aztez, and though I have not yet been able to test Rift support in it yet (Windows-only, for now), Strike Suit Zero.
That's all for now.
Zero Hour Productions
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