Oculus Rift playtime

I sneaked into our Oculus Rift demo room today to see what all the fuss was about. I’d heard lots of negatives about Oculus as a VR platform; the resolution is not high enough, the thing is too damn big, it’ll make you nauseous, so I was expecting to be underwhelmed.

I put the headset on. For something that looks so big, it’s surprisingly comfortable. Within a few seconds, I didn’t realise I had it on. I then faffed about for five minutes trying to play a game, and not figuring out the controls. Everything was bright and cartoonist and not realistic, yet at the same time there was a solidity to the objects I was (trying) to react with. I blundered into a demo of a 3D real time strategy game, where all I seemed to do was crash my giant robot into mountains.

And then I turned around.

That was the wow moment that convinced me I want one of these. The game I played was on a large tabletop in front of me, but when I turned I could see an entirely different room behind me. It wasn’t anywhere near photorealistic – it was like a pretty good computer animation from the last decade – but that didn’t matter. I was there, in a room full of piping and bulkheads and robots in the audience, and not in a small generic office space at all. Who cares about photorealism when it feels this real?

Possibly, that’s even a good thing. Keeping the resolution a bit lower might keep us out of the uncanny valley. I only mucked around with it for a quarter of an hour at most, so I don’t have any feel for whether the resolution becomes a problem over time (or the headset weight) but it was pretty damn impressive for that short experience.

Now if I could run Excel in Oculus, then I’d truly be sold on this.

One response to “Oculus Rift playtime”

  1. Actually you can run Excel and PowerPoint in Oculus. In Steam there is an app called Virtual Desktop, you can basically sit back and watch your screen from whatever distance to screen and size as possible. You can even load up a movie and watch it this way, it’s not bad at all, for short bursts. It kind of works, but it’s not as pin sharp as looking at a good-sized IPS screen running at 4k. I use Excel quite a bit too, and I find the perfect screen is my Philips 50″ 4K behemoth.

    Oh yes, Oculus is very impressive for the first few times you try it. I went through a phase of trying loads of games and mini-experiences, and got my other half and family members all to have a go. It certainly is worth having. That being said, there are literally no games for it that compete with triple A or brilliant indie games that you can play on your desktop. Movement is dodgy in VR, which is why a lot of games give you the forced option to teleport rather than walk. Resolution is not sharp enough, but the immersion factor is definitely there. When you put Oculus on, it’s truly a bit like stepping a bit into the Matrix.

    Some people, even scientists think we’re living in a holographic or simulated universe. It does make you wonder, if being alive is just a super high-tech version of VR, and our bodies are holo-suits.

    Am still waiting for Oculus Touch, and hopefully some great games. But so far, VR is still somewhat of a novelty, rather than a revolution.

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