First off I should say that my interest in VR was very limited only due to the 90s’ experience. I’m talking about the VR setups that were in malls and sometimes even clubs back in the day.
That was until I saw an article with John Carmack he was wearing goggles that were the prototype of the now named Oculus Rift. This article is quite old now probably 2012-2013. He had left ID software to continue the development of the Oculus Rift.
John Carmack has a huge resume and if you play video games chances are you have played a game he created or a game engine he created.
Games we all know Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake III, Doom 3, Rage, Doom 4 aka: Doom 2016 not to mention he created the engines that run these awesome titles.
And did I mention he’s a friggin rocket scientist! He founded the Space program for space tourism.
The company is named Armadillo Aerospace.
With all that said this is what piqued my interest in VR I figured this guy has to be making some excellent shit!
The Oculus started off as a $2 million dollar kick starter campaign 2 years later Facebook founder purchased the Oculus for $2 billion.
The initial price point for consumers was aimed at $199 unfortunately after time and more tech the price rocketed to $600.
Which I think hurt this technology at the start. Today you can get the Oculus with the Touch controllers for $399 which is an excellent price for the hardware and experience you will get.
Not sure if this is just a summer deal or if it is a permanent price drop to get more of these awesome kits to the masses.
There is also the HTC Vive which is the VR head set created by HTC and Steam
This headset was geared for Steam and has a 120 degree view point compared to the Oculus Rifts 90 degree.
That is the only difference between the Vive and the Oculus Rift the hardware is identical in every other aspect.
The Oculus is lighter and supports Oculus Dream Deck Store and Steam VR as well.
These apps are where you can purchase the VR games available to either or both VR headsets. Vive does not support the Rift Dream Deck.
I have found that the Rift is more compatible with games than the Vive is.
They both have exclusives but again it seems that the Rift works fine on HTC games where as the Vive doesn’t play well with Rift games.
And the HTC Vive is now selling for $599 instead of the $799 price tag.
Steam VR is a very small update to the Steam app that is already installed on your PC.
If you plan on buying a VR headset for your PC make sure you have the hardware to handle it.
My PC is pretty heafty and it failed the USB 3.0 hardware verification.
Which I then had to purchase a specific PCI-E to USB 3.0 card.
I have 3.0 but the Rift is not compatible with AsMedia USB hardware & Drivers.
The headset requires 1 USB 3.0 for sound & a HDMI out for the video this connects to your video card in your computer.
I did find that the sound USB works okay with the AsMedia USB 3.0. But the tracking sensors will need supported USB 3.0 inputs.
The PCI-E card I purchased costs anywhere from $22-$30.
it’s the Inateck Superspeed 4 Ports PCIE to USB 3.0 this card is listed by Oculus to be 100% supported.
The headset uses a tracking sensor and the touch controllers use a tracking sensor so you will need 2 supported USB 3.0 inputs the gear will work on USB 2.0 but your going to have slow tracking which is something you do not want.
Once I finally got it running took me all week a few hours each day after work to get it 100% connected and games or apps installed.
If you have a free time it should be a pretty quick process connecting it up and installing drivers and software.
I have played a few games some that are not impressive and some that are mind blowing.
I found that the simplest app can be so much fun and just mind bending.
Oculus First Contact is just down right awesome. Your behind a desk with computers and a Robot that hovers around he is your VR friend and hands you discs to put in your Virtual PC to make things with it.
It’s interactive and he will have so much stuff bouncing around the room it is awesome!
Made a gun some rockets and other things as well.
Then there is VR desktop which is your PC desktop in Virtual Reality you can be sitting in the woods or in Space with planets and stars all around you.
The game I really enjoy is EVE Gunjack your in a gunner in a turret and have to blast enemy spaceships down in deep space.
Where you look the gun points then you fire with your VR touch controllers.
When entering the Turret it’s mind blowing because your so small compared to the spaceship your in and the Turret housing really makes you feel like your in it.
Then there is a game from Crytek called Robinson: The journey this is game where your off planet and you can interact and move around freely.
Crytek also has a game called The Climb this I don’t own yet but hear it is absolutely amazing as long as you are using the touch controllers.
Can also play Alien Isolation in VR. This game was already full of suspense play it in VR and it’s down right chilling and scary.
originally this game only worked with the DK kits DK stands for Development Kit.
There is a mod that now allows it to work with the consumer Oculus.
can find the mod here.
Then there is Google Earth VR this requires you to use the Touch controllers.
But is again awesome and it’s free.
This is a must check out for anyone wanting to go around the world and see areas like your actually there.
There are entertainment apps as well just kick back and watch awesomely made video’s from Disney and Discovery made specifically for Virtual Reality.
Did I mention Roller coaster rides? There are apps for those as well and some of them are really excellent.
You feel like your actually on a coaster.
I’ve barely scratched the surface here all I can and will say is it really is an amazing experience.
It messes with your mind in a good way because your seeing an environment like at the top of a sky scraper at it’s edge looking down and it’s dizzying or a Huge Dinosaur runs up to you and the spit from it’s roar is in your face and then Runs over you.
You know your in your house but what your seeing is totally different.
It has shown me how perception really is reality.
There are also multiplayer games like Star Trek Bridge Crew you and others control the Enterprise from the deck. And depend on each other to fly the ship and get out of bad situations.
The Oculus Rift is selling for $399 you get the Rift goggles and the touch controllers which include 2- tracking sensors.
It’s a great price point to get people into this great technology.
There are many free apps and games to give a try. Games start at 99 cents and go up to $50. The majority of high end games are $29.99.
The only down side I have found is the wires but it’s such a small issue that it doesn’t hinder gameplay or comfortability at all.
Behind my monitor on my desk is a wire mess anyhow what’s another 2 or 3 wires going to hurt?
I had to purchase some hardware to use the Oculus which cost me another $42
this was for the PCI-E to USB 3.0 and the Display Port to HDMI cord I needed to buy since my Video card only had 1 HDMI in which the Oculus used and the rest were Display ports which my monitor does not have.
Not to mention games I have spent around $75 total so far.
And I also purchased the Oculus Wireless remote I got that on Ebay for $24 which is normally $30.
In the end it cost around $600 for everything which isn’t all that bad considering all I got.
Only a week or 2 back $600 would of only gotten you the Headset and the Tracking sensor with Touch controllers.
I say if you have the extra cash and already have a PC that can handle it go for it you won’t regret it.
If you don’t have a PC that is capable I’d look into the PlayStation 4 VR.
The cell phone goggles are not the same thing and you won’t have same experience we get using the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive.