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Immersion, Presence, and Investment.

I received my Oculus Rift Dev kit in September of 2013, so I've had it a while. Lately, since the folks at Kunos have fixed their world-scale problems, I've started playing Assetto Corsa with it. I've also for quite a while been an avid iRacer, and their Rift implementation is among the best I've seen. I play racing and driving games with a force feedback wheel and pedals and the rift, and flight sims with a force feedback stick. The sense of reality is mindblowing. When the car hits a rough patch of road, you feel it through the wheel, and this synergizes with the visual feedback of really being inside a three dimensional vehicle to produce a level of immersion that's just uncanny.

I remember VR's big moment in the nineties, when everyone said it was about to be the new thing, that it would change the world, and that it was devices like the VFX1 that would usher it in. Of course, nobody paying attention at that time really thought either the hardware or the software were there yet, except the perenially carelessly ignorant folks in the mainstream media and hollywood. For my part, I wanted a VFX1 really badly, but at the price they were asking, nobody was going to pay for an incomplete technology. The discussion about viable VR has been a long one, but the problems are manifold; latency, judder, and accurate positional tracking being among the biggest hardware hurdles. There's no way in anyone's imagination that a three pound device was going to be solving any of those problems in 1994 the way the Rift DK2 has in 2014, even if the software had been suitable, which it wasn't either.

If VR is ever going to take off with a public that, in 1994, got its news from Bryant Gumble, it's going to have to have no barriers to entry, and it's going to have to be more than a gimmick. It has to be easy to use and the presence has to put you there in a way that you aren't going to say things like 'my view is jumpy,' or 'I'm gonna be sick.'

So step one was just a case of waiting for the hardware and software to arrive that would make it possible to solve the problems, and then to throw money into integrating them in such a way that they threw up as few barriers to entry as possible. The next problem would be deciding whether the sense of presence was going to be enough for it not to just be a gimmick.

In my opinion, the Rift, aside a few UI issues, is a pretty concrete preview of viable VR that fits these criteria. I'm an advanced user, so barriers to entry are not really a problem for me, but as far as presence is concerned, when I tear through a lap at Monza or Imola with my Lotus Exos, I'm there, and it's what I've been waiting for since Geoff Crammond's original F1GP, which I modded like crazy.

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