Rift & Nausea & Gaming & Nausea & Porn & Nausea

Back in October of 2013 I made the mistake of watching Gravity and being swept up in the immersive camera work, stunning visuals and overwhelming experience of being lost in space. This lead me, in March of this year, to purchase a Rift, with the intent of building out a game in this universe.

Surely in an industry where walking simulators are becoming a viable sales point, and Carmack is willing to jump ship for the future of gaming – there is a niche for a game about being lost in space, with depth perception.

There were a couple things I didn’t count on – namely, Nausea, nausea and more nausea – but I’ll come back to this.

The Rift

There are a number of places that will do a great technological tear down of the Rift, and seeing as this is the second development kit – I wont waste your time by breaking it down in such terms.

The gist of the devices is that it is a 1920x* screen, split vertically, with the intention of providing each of your eyes a slightly different perspective on your digital world. The device has a number of IR LEDs built into it that a camera and some gyro’s monitor, in order to provide input into the digital world. The game accepts this input as camera input and modifies the camera – creating a feedback loop of sorts. You look where you want, the camera in the world reflects your changes and suddenly you have yourself immersed into a digital 3D world.

Setting up the rift is a 10 minute process, one cable here, another there, a power connector here, some desktop rotation madness and then poof – nausea!

oh cool I can plug my thrustmaster into my goggles lawl!

Nausea

I have been told that I am making too much of a big deal out of the nausea, but the reality of the matter is the experience is really REALLY immersive. You get pulled into your virtual reality world and your brain goes fucking bonkers. I could feel weird shit happening within the confines of my skull, and could swear I smelled fire & burned stuff. The nature of the VR devices is amazing, and their intention is admirable, but – quite unfortunately – it can’t be divorced from the facts of our experience.

Things are so bad that the folks at Oculus have authored blog posts, the dudes on Reddit discuss it at a nearly daily rate, and game forums follow those up with direct complaints about the games that offer VR experiences.  It is overwhelming at times and lead to me being quite dizzy for 3 whole days – mind you, this was after a total of about 2 hours of time using the device.

I decided that it would be a good idea to gauge my response to the situation by giving my lovely wife a go. She lasted a full minute and a half in the Oculus VR sample world and less than 8 seconds in the unity sample that comes along with it before throwing up multiple times. Admittedly, she has problems with Minecraft, and we haven’t quite identified the FOV for her to be comfortable there, but something about 3D, spacial awareness and VR are leading to both of us having considerable issues.

Games

In November, Carmack decided to leave ID, which is a bit of an omen, and worth every bit of wonder. He has the pulse of the industry under his two fingers and where he goes amazing things result. From what I have pieced together, he believes that VR is going to be the future of entertainment, let alone games – I only hope that it wont cost us each $400 USD to be able to go to next years movie night.

UE4, my chosen platform of development and all around enjoyment, was released with VR SDK support built in, and to this date if you want to test out any UE4 title you really just have to open the console, type stereo on and prepare to be nauseated. Its amazing, really. With no further work on your part, your game will convert itself into a cutting edge product and allow your audience of gamers to gain perspective and nausea of their own!

ITS WONDEROUS!

I had a pretty neat idea for a game where you play the Sandra Bullock character in Gravity. You are on a space station that has been damaged by Russians being the all around assholes that they are and you have to survive. It is not entirely fleshed out, as the technical limitations of the project and the rift are not yet clear to me, but it may turn out to be a really interesting experience.

Adding in VR, where you can gain perspective on all of the amazing shit going on around you would be a major win, if only I can get over this nausea.

Porn

One of the most promising fields to be interested in VR is the adult entertainment industry, because really who doesn’t want to picture some of these actors on top of us without so much imagination being required?

If there is any truth to the claim that porn is the reason for bluRay and VHS dominating, I expect to see a significant amount of time to go into optimizing the VR devices for use in 3D film. If nothing else, it would be an excuse for us to back away from the actors. We didn’t need HD porn, don’t need SuperHD porn and definitely dont need 4k porn. Get real folks.

Porn is apparently gaining a lot of traction in the VR space, oddly more than standard film… you should probably look into it.

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