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.