on Apr 8, 2014
I should note that a great deal of the information from today’s column about the Oculus Rift came from the Dev Days presentation “What VR Could, Should, and Almost Certainly Will Be within Two Years” by Micheal Abrash. That was a talk given by Abrash back in January, before he left Valve to join the Oculus team. I highly recommend watching it if you’re interested in VR.
I’m really excited about VR. I’ve actually downloaded the Oculus SDK and read the docs. Both look pretty solid. I can see Carmack’s hand in it. The API has a tight and intuitive interface that makes it easy to set up a scene and track the camera. If you’re going to develop for VR, using the SDK won’t be a challenge. (Rendering twice as many frames at 60fps without dropping frames? THAT’S the stuff that’s going to keep you up late at night.)
I can’t test it (I don’t have a Rift myself) but it makes for an interesting read. What’s clear is that VR-based games are going to have a huge number of new human interface concerns to worry about. Extensive reading and a complex HUD is bad. Lots of abrupt, rapid motion is bad. Full screen distortions are bad. Grabbing the camera to show the player something is REALLY bad. VR is not something we can just hack into an existing game. To really take advantage of VR we need to build a game around it.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.