For a long time now I’ve been a big fan of non-traditional ways of interacting with computers, and technology as a whole. I think that for me the moment I started to really think about what shape the future of computers would take was when I first stood in front of a Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360. It was laggy, I was too tall for it to capture my whole body In a single frame while standing within a reasonable distance of the TV, the games were sub-par realizations of what must have been innovative ideas, but it was magical. Having a full body capture device that reacts not only to gestures and movement, but voice as well was a representation of everything I had imagined technology could be when I was a child. The first time I used my Oculus VR headset recreated that magical sense of wonder and astonishment perfectly. I’ve tried several apps since that first night, but today I’m just going to talk about the 3 that stood out the most during that first session.
The first VR app that I tried also happened to be the one that did more to open my eyes to the potential markets that VR can touch than any other I’ve used since. Surge Is a VR music video. I can’t confirm this, but it may be the first of the genre, and I say genre because while this isn’t something I heard of before running the app, this is something I believe will become mainstream once the VR market booms and we see devices in the average household. What I imagine is that when you buy an album or song online, for an extra cost you can get the VR experience application. This video doesn’t do the experience justice, but it might give you an idea of what I’m talking about:
Pixel Ripped is a 2D platformer mixed with first person gameplay. The premise is that you are a young child in school with a boring teacher, and all you want to do is play your gameboy. The objective is to beat the level on your gameboy without getting in trouble with your teacher, but there’s so much more to this charming game than that. They recently got greenlit on steam so I look forward to playing the complete game.
Vox Machinae is a very polished first person mech simulator. One of the core problems with VR is motion sickness; which is most commonly triggered by perceiving movement while your body is staying in place. Several of the first person games I tried which featured movement had issues with the speed of the character or the rate of acceleration. Moving too fast to quickly or having a movement speed which would be a sprinting speed for a normal person was incredibly difficult to adjust to and caused issues with my immersion. When I first launched Vox I thought I’d experience something similar seeing as we were adding jumping, flight boosters, and quick dodging to the mix. I was pleasantly surprised to not only have no adverse effects, but for the experience to feel incredibly natural. I believe the perspective of being in the cockpit creates something for the user to focus on, so the sensation isn’t really different than when driving a car. All that being said, the game itself is quite fun to play and I really want to play it in an arena setting with other players.
Thus far my experiences with VR, specifically Oculus Rift, have been overwhelmingly positive and I’m looking forward to seeing what innovations developers can come up with next, and I’m not only talking about games, but music videos, audio books, video recordings, and other potentially crafted VR experiences.