One cannot deny that the Oculus Rift managed to make quite a name for itself in zero time. In just a year or so, the device has received such publicity that there’s hardly a gamer out there who hasn’t heard of the Oculus Rift and its magical ability to create a virtual reality where you can experience all the thrills offered by modern 3D games, but in a much livelier and more believable way.
Despite all the buzz surrounding the device, though, the Oculus Rift is yet to prove that it’s anything more than a short-lived gimmick. As with everything new and shiny, there’s an understandable interest in the Rift, a certain degree of anticipation, as if the industry’s saviour is coming to open our eyes and minds for a whole new world of entertainment. Well, while we can by no means deny the potential of the Oculus Rift, we’re just not the type to blindly welcome everything that’s different from what we’ve known so far.
But before we can make the potentially rushed conclusions that we’re bound to make in a forward-looking article like that, let’s take a quick look back at how the Rift has come into being!
In development by Oculus VR, the Rift is the brainchild of Palmer Luckey – a head-mounted display designer and enthusiast who has worked at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. After coming up with the idea of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, Luckey was more than, well, lucky… to receive the unprecedented support of gaming industry legends such as iD’s John Carmack, Epic’s Tim Sweeney, Valve’s Gabe Newell, as well as enterprising industry newcomers such as the guys from Unity Technologies, who are responsible for the increasingly popular cross-platform Unity Engine.
That said, the Oculus Rift certainly has all the industry support it needs, but what does it really do? Well, it’s obviously a clunky device that you attach to your head, effectively sticking a sizable 7” display on your face. The commercial version of the Rift will output a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, but due to the 3D technology in use, each eye of the user will practically be seeing an image with a resolution of 960×1080 pixels. The idea is to create an immersive, in-your-face experience for players, but this is where we have to ask ourselves if the experience will be good enough to make up for the tremendous discomfort of attaching such a bulky device to your head…
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article series, where we’ll take a look at the initial line-up of Oculus Rift-optimized games, as well as try to answer the question if the Rift actually has what it takes to bring a true revolution to the gaming industry!