It’s not often we get to talk about new, readily available hardware. While the gaming world holds its breath for the next iterations of the Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox consoles, a very fascinating project has found its place among the heated discussion on where we as gamers go from current-generation hardware. And, as if we couldn’t talk about E3 2012 enough, that’s exactly where the Oculus Rift made its debut – and has since been made a truly massive Kickstarter project, backed by some of the biggest names in gaming.
The Oculus Rift is a yet prototype virtual reality display with a whopping 100+ degree field of vision, which truly puts players into the world of the games they play. The small company was formed out of founder Palmer Luckey’s garage, with its flagship project demo unit being assembled with high density displays, smartphones, and a serious enthusiasm for practical VR interaction.
“Games are something I’m really passionate about, and even more than playing games, I’m passionate about bringing games to the next level.” – Palmer Luckey
That passion has caught the attention of some of the biggest names in the gaming industry. On the Kickstarter page dedicated to the Oculus Rift, a video sits at the header, containing statements from Id Software’s John Carmack, Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinski, and several influential forces in gaming. These are also people who are famous for being intensely passionate for bringing gaming to the next level – so when they say it’s the real deal, we pretty much have no choice but to believe it.
Id Software has already made the first move in making Doom 3 compatible with the Rift, with Epic Games following at a close second, integrating the hardware into their upcoming Unreal Engine successor. Even Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson says his indie development house Mojang will support it, and he pledged $10,000 to back it.
The hardware appears to be lightning fast, removing the element of latency between hardware and display as players turn and move their heads around within a virtual space. Demos of the technology can be seen, albeit briefly, utilizing Doom 3‘s control scheme, but altering it to allow for the Rift to do its handy work.
Various attempts have been made at capturing the great unicorn that is truly interactive, virtual reality gaming – and, aside from the recent resurgence of 3D technology, they have all but failed. While there is certainly a cause for concern amongst those who have not yet had the chance to test out this prototype, everyone who has tried it has been nothing short of blown away.
So, what say you, ranters: are you anxious to take the plunge into a possible third dimension that completely envelops your field of view — or are you skeptical that the supposed future is already here today?
For more information on the Oculus Rift, including how to back the project, visit its Kickstarter page — which has already racked up more than a million dollars in less than a day! Their do-it-yourself prototype is expected to start shipping in November of this year, though currently slated for PC and mobile only.
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