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Oculus Rift will create new experiences and genres, says Inition

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Oculus Rift will see new game experiences and genres emerge, according to 3D graphics application developer Inition.

Co-founder Andy Millns discussed the potential of the virtual reality headset - which offers head tracking and glasses-free stereoscopic 3D - at a recent showcase at the Digital Shoreditch Festival.

Oculus Rift demo by Inition

© Inition

Trying out Oculus Rift.



Following a successful Kickstarter drive that raised over $2.4 million (£1.58m), Oculus Rift has been praised for its ease of use and affordable cost (around £300/$455).

As a result, the headset has been backed by major developers, including id Software, Valve and CCP.

"The really interesting thing is about how developers will embrace [the technology]," Millns told Digital Spy.

"What type of new genres of games and entertainment will come about, such as 360-degree video? How will you navigate around in these worlds?"

Millns also said that new experiences will emerge that are designed specifically for the device. Traditional fast-paced first-person shooters, for example, might not be a good fit.

Oculus Rift demo by Inition

© Inition

Trying out Oculus Rift.



"[A design consideration is] particularly on how you navigate, for something like first-person shooter games, for example," he said.

"I think the pace of moving around will be slowed. People will want to take in more atmospheric experiences. It's going to be really interesting.

"Obviously some games have been adapted to run on Oculus Rift, but I think the most successful ones are those that are developed with it in mind."

Videos online have revealed innovative prototypes for the headset, including a guillotine simulator (below) and using an omnidirectional treadmill with Team Fortress 2.



Inition designed their own prototype, named Virtual Vertical Challenge, and showcased it at the festival.

With a Kinect camera tracking the player's location, they have to walk across a thin ledge that is elevated slightly off the ground. In-game, the player is walking across a plank of wood situated between two high-rise buildings.

Mills was keen to stress how easy it is to develop for Oculus Rift, allowing it to be implemented in 3D software very quickly. The demo took just over one week to create.

"There's very little barriers to produce an orientation-tracked 3D experience," he explained.

"You can pretty much take something you've already developed - a 3D environment - plug in [the headset], and it pretty much handles the handling and 3D for you."

Oculus Rift demo by Inition

© Inition

Inition showcases a vertigo demo using Oculus Rift



He added: "This technology is so cheap, and so easy to develop for. It's a no-brainer... So it's all about how [developers are] embracing it to create some fantastic experiences."

While implementing it is straightforward, the challenge comes through how the software is designed.

Ensuring that elements such as player height and the position and depth of the user interface are just right will become more important than ever.

"In terms of the physical dimensions and space and the way you navigate [they] become really important," Millns explained.

"So, for example, having the floor at the right height. If the floor felt slightly too high, you suddenly notice it. You wouldn't notice that if it was on the screen.

Oculus Rift demo by Inition

© Inition

Inition showcases a vertigo demo using Oculus Rift



"The way you move around is really important to get right. If you move people in unusual ways, they feel queasy; they're not in control of the experience, which can be quite disconcerting."

While there is so much potential with designing for a first-person experience with Oculus Rift - Millns said developers could even factor in unusual movements and heights to trick and confuse users - the lack of standardisation is also an "intimidating" prospect.

Existing input devices, such as controllers and keyboards, won't work for every type of game, and every home setup will be different.

"The issue is for home whether you'll be seated or stood up," said Millns.

"If you need to look, turn and travel the other direction, and you have to spin around 180 degrees, how does that work? Does everyone have to swivel their chair round?

Oculus Rift VR headset

© Oculus

The consumer Oculus Rift headset will have a sleeker design.



"I think it's those questions that people are still working out. I think it's down to people developing the experiences that work with current navigation methods."

Controllers and keyboard and mouse set-ups both have limitations in 3D space, but Razer Hydra was cited as a better-suited interface.

Millns is keen to see the introduction of pressure-sensitive gloves for physical feedback when interacting with a 3D world, and hopes to experiment with heat lamps and wind machines for added immersion.

Set for release next year, Oculus Rift offers stereoscopic 3D and motion-tracking for an immersive experience, and is currently in the hands of thousands of developers worldwide.

Oculus Rift is available for developers now, and will receive a consumer version sometime in 2014.

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