With E3 only a couple of days away, Oculus VR decided to kick off their first press conference to discuss the upcoming release of the Oculus Rift.
Whilst a little short, the presentation was informative, highlighting some of the core features planned for the commercial release of the headset. But more importantly, we also got a preview of some of the upcoming titles in development for the hardware: both indie and AAA developers.
For those who weren’t awake to witness the live coverage, here’s a short rundown into some of big announcements that came from this conference.
Oculus Rift Overview – What To Expect
Having gone through numerous prototype models, one of the most important features Oculus has prided itself on is the intention to create a product that is comfortable to wear for extended periods. During the conference, CEO of Oculus Brendan Iribe showed off the final version of the Rift headset. With one hand, he hefted the model and commented on how light it was. From there, he discussed the ergonomics and how the company had been striving to make putting on the headset as simple as “putting on a baseball cap”.
Iribe went on to discuss how the overall balance was important and that having something sit comfortably on the brow is what they’ve been trying to achieve. From what was discussed, it would appear that Oculus is satisfied that it’s finally come up with a design that rests comfortably on the forehead, without being so loose that it could fall off.
Iribe also shared with the audience the features that we can expect in the finished product. Good tracking and precise low-latency movement have all been confirmed to be part of the finished model (earlier dev kit models had suffered in this area), along with no motion blur or “juddering” images caused by sudden head movement. Rift will include a motion sensor similar to what is used in the Wii U gamepad, allowing for better accuracy for tracking and movement; and lens adjustment will be a feature, accommodating differing strengths of eyesight.
In addition, the commercial Rift unit will include built-in headphones for 360° surround sound. Iribe said that the company is aware that some users may not want this feature however, and so the option to remove the headphones has been included.
Microsoft Partnership – Xbox One Controller To Be Shipped Along With The Rift
With Microsoft’s new OS scheduled for release late in July, Spencer announced that Windows 10 will feature native Rift support expected from day one. Spencer also announced that the standard Xbox One controller and adapter will ship alongside the Rift, allowing gamers convenient access to the Rift’s launch titles.
In a short video, Spencer went on to demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment to in-game streaming with the Oculus – allowing users of the device to watch games being streamed through their friends’ Xbox One consoles (via the Xbox app on Windows 10).
Oculus Rift Games
During this talk, CEO of CCP Games (EVE Online) Hilmar Veigar Pétursson appeared on-stage to discuss the upcoming release of EVE Valkyrie – a shooter intended to fully immerse players in the experience of dog-fighting combat in outer space.
Inspired heavily by Sci-Fi movies and shows such as Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, Pétursson discussed the inspiration surrounding CCP’s newest title, and how the developer has been working closely with Oculus to create a game “like no other” (except, presumably, all the other space combat games available).
Pétursson also shared with some of the core features of Valkyrie, as well as showing off some pre-alpha footage of the game in action (thanks to Gamespot for the video!).
After CCP, Ted Price from Insomniac (Sunset Overdrive) and David Adams from Gun Fire Games (Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition) announced their partnership with Oculus, showcasing their titles Edge of Nowhere and Chronos.
In Edge of Nowhere, you play as a man exploring the Antarctic in search of his missing expedition team. In this third person adventure, you’ll be traveling across dangerous terrain and making use out of makeshift weaponry in order to survive. From what was shown of the game, Edge of Nowhere appears to be an intriguing title that delves deep into the realms of mental disorders and the supernatural, with the main protagonist centered on exploring a ‘surreal world’ with the central gameplay focus being to survive, and to avoid descending into madness.
As for Chronos, you play as a young man on a lifelong quest to save his homeland from a great evil. His quest? To explore an ancient labyrinth and to find out the secrets to restore peace back to his homeland. In this RPG, the leveling mechanic is focused on the advancement of the hero’s age. Every time the hero fails his quest, he will be cast out of the labyrinth and forced to wait one year to try again. As you age throughout the game, you gradually become older and wiser, learning more skills and becoming ever wary of your surroundings.
As well as these two studios, Rubin went on to share a small list of the current studios partnered at the moment with Oculus. Along with Insomniac and Gun Fire, other major companies such as Ready At Dawn (The Order: 1886), Square Enix and Harmonix (Rock Band 4) have already signed up to create games dedicated to the Rift hardware. Rubin stated that the current list is partial, and we should expect announcements of many more developers signed up to support the Rift over the coming months.
Oculus Investments – $10 Million to Support Indie Developers
Anna Sweet, Head Developer of Oculus Strategy Department, went next and discussed Oculus’s intent to invest 10 million dollars into supporting Indie developers to make virtual reality games.
Having worked closely with game developers – particularly with engines such as Unity 5 and Unreal 4 – Sweet went on to discuss the importance of making these engines essential tool-sets for the Oculus.
With this investment, Sweet said that both herself and Oculus “hope to inspire” developers to discover new genres with this new technology.
Oculus Home – The Future of Digital Distribution
Nate Mitchell, Vice President of Product for Oculus VR, discussed Oculus’s brand new portal, Oculus Home.
Similar to Steam’s Big Picture mode, Oculus Home provides the base for Oculus users to see what new games are out, and what users’ friends’ are playing. What sets Oculus Home apart from the competition is the store page itself.
Unlike traditional stores, where users may only be provided a screenshot or trailer, Oculus Home provides “virtual previews” of the product prior to purchasing.
Oculus Home will also be available via standard monitors, so users won’t have to be wearing the Rift device to use the platform.
Oculus Touch – Motion Sensor Controls For the Oculus Rift
Concluding the presentation, Oculus Founder and CEO Palmer Luckey went on stage to introduce Oculus’s newest controller prototype: New Moon.
With New Moon, the aim is to create a virtual “Hand Presence” within a game world. New Moon is said to integrate precise manipulation of virtual objects, such as picking up virtual guns and manipulating those objects. The controllers will allow further social interaction with users, providing additional gestures for interaction.
The controllers will implement traditional controller inputs as well. With an analogue stick, two buttons and a trigger, the controllers are mirrors of each other. The devices are said to include senors which will detect finger poses for further enhancements. At this point, prototypes have been tested on software called Sandbox, with users interacting with virtual toys and items to test out the product.
What do you think of the announcements? Are you excited for the release of EVE: Valkyrie? What do you make of the Microsoft partnership? And do you have any feedback in regards to the controller support for the device? Be sure to leave your feedback in the comments below.