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.
Well, I believe that these things are all going to end up being fused, and I believe that the movement of the user experience since the dawn of the computer age has been toward interfaceless systems. The idea is that in the same way that in operating your body, you don't have to wrangle with a UI, in the time of Alton Ely, VR and AR and their user interfaces will be fully integrated. Nobody will have devices. It'll all be full immersion, with all the implications and consequences that entails.
To get from the VFX1 to Herobrine, the stages are thus:
1. Viable VR hardware with software capable of fully capitalizing on it.
2. Presence. Are you there? Is the world a place you inhabit, or are you just looking at it through a portal?
3. Investment. Now that you're there, you're invested only as much as you don't have to worry about your real world concerns. This is a key theme in Donnerjack by Roger Zelazny. In the case of Herobrine, this is full investment. He does not know the outside world exists. Minecraft is his sole experience, and as such, constitutes a universe.
Obviously, Herobrine is not putting on a VR headset and headphones, but I'm just examining the philosophical underpinnings here. Alton Ely, in The Glimpse has augments. He hears, sees, smells, tastes, and feels the internet with nothing between it and him. There's nothing worse than an interface, particularly if it's something as cumbersome and nonsensical as a console controller, which looks like it was designed by a team of octopuses trying to build something a llama could use.
No, provided we get there, full immersion requires that there be no interfaces in the future, and so there are none in The Glimpse.