Way back in January of this year OculusVR asked us to help them create a new virtual environment for their amazing new hardware device, the Oculus Rift. After meeting the crew at the Oculus office we thought it would be great to create a bright, colorful, and vibrant world demo. That’s when I suggested, “hey, we recently returned from a trip to Italy and took tons of pictures. Why not create a location based on the Tuscany countryside?” Everyone instantly fell in love with the idea and off we went.
To create the demo, we worked hand in hand with both OculusVR and Robotic Arm Software, who specializes in digital tools development, to create identical demos in both Unity3D and in a custom C++ engine that would be released to developers as part of the Oculus Rift SDK.
What was really cool about the project was just working with the headset device, which we were lucky enough to get one of the very first Oculus Rift prototypes ever created. Once you put the headset on you really feel that this could be the future of not just gaming, but many types of entertainment and simulations. As a designer of video games, my head was literally spinning as I thought of all the potential and opportunity that the Oculus Rift provides developers. What is truly interesting is what we found out while developing the Tuscany demo; everything, I mean everything, is far more intimate in the Rift as opposed to being viewed on a TV across the room. Every nuance is now noticeable, every texture detail is vivid. This created a slightly new way of level creation for us as we quickly learned that the high res textures that make up the environment are critical.
Another aspect that we found was just how important maintaining a high framerate is. When you turn your head in the Rift, the character, or camera, turns in realtime which creates a fantastically immerse feeling. The funny things is that your brain expects this to happen instantly. Any lag and your brain is going “what the heck is going on!” It’s a strange feeling to experience. Obviously, the way to combat this is to optimize the artwork so that it runs very fast, at least 60FPS. I actually think that the Oculus Rift might push new devices to have refresh rates to 120FPS or higher, as this for the first time might actually become noticeable to the user.
You can learn more about OculusVR at thier website here: www.oculusvr.com