Oculus Rift Configuration Guide – Simulation Gaming

Introduction


The Oculus Rift is one of the hottest gadgets on the tech market right now. Sure the hardware isn’t ready for consumers just yet, but we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on the Oculus Rift DK2 (Development Kit 2). We already reviewed the basic hardware and features of the Oculus Rift, but also I want to take a more in-depth look into some of the experiences available on the rift; starting with Simulation style games.

Many of you will have an image of plug and play features that allow you to strap an Oculus Rift to your face then start gaming, unfortunately that’s currently not the reality. Setting up games for the Oculus Rift can be a hit and miss experience, hopefully I can help smooth out a few of these issues for you. This article is as much a review for those thinking about investing in the technology, as it is an Oculus Rift configuration guide for those who already own it.

Simulation-style games are a big market for PC gaming, so I’ve picked out a few of my favourites (that also have VR support). Of course, Star Conflict isn’t exactly a common sim-game, but there aren’t exactly rules excluding it.

  • Star Conflict
  • Assetto Corsa
  • Life for Speed (LFS)
  • Euro Truck Simulator 2

Helping me in my gaming adventures, I will be using the follow extra hardware.

Essential Oculus Rift Setup Advice

If you experience judder or low fps, drop your games graphics settings down to low. If the game runs smoothly at this point, you know it’s your graphics settings and not the DK2 hardware. If you have judder at low settings you know the problem is with a different part of your setup. It’s often also good to start games with AA and AF disabled, enable them later if the game is running smooth. I can’t stress enough how much easier it is to just get the basics working first then build from there.

Go into your GPU configuration software, this will typically be Catalyst Control Centre or Nvidia Control Panel. Set all major graphics options to “let the application decide”. This is especially important for AA and AF settings. For most games you will need V-SYNC as “let the application decide”, but some games don’t detect this properly. If your game is experiencing judder, force VSYNC on and try again, else force off and try again. Some games have their own ways of handing VSYNC and conflicts can and will occur.

If your game is still not running smoothly, go to the GPU control panel, switch your desktop display to 75Hz (if it supports it). If you can’t do this at your current resolution, this will likely drop your monitors resolution lower to one that will support 75Hz (my monitor drops to 1280 x 1024). This will prevent VSYNC from confusing the DK2 as both the DK2 and your desktop will now be running at the same refresh rate (75Hz).

Multi GPU configurations have also been known to cause stutter, albeit in very rare circumstances. If nothing else works, try running the game on a single GPU.

Be sure to adjust your IPD, lens distance and lens type accordingly prior to use. These can make a vast improvement to the overall visual quality, but they will not have any effect on the frame rate of your game, just the overall visual quality.

I find that it is worth disabling GeForce Experience and AMD Gaming Evolved software. These programs are tailored to adjust your graphics settings to get the best performance and quality, which may overwrite the settings you’ve used to configure your games for the DK2.

All testing was done with the Oculus 0.4.3 SDK. Please make sure you have the latest graphics drivers and all updates installed for your games prior to trying to replicate any settings in this article.

Speedlink Phantom Hawk Flight Stick Review

Introduction


Over the last few weeks I’ve been diving into the world of flying games, with everything from War Thunder to Star Citizen: Arena Commander taking up my time. While mouse and keyboard do a pretty reasonable job for flight sims, it’s a far cry from the real deal and can be a little cumbersome at the best of times. Control pads such as the Xbox 360 controller are a nice middle ground, they provide dual analogue sticks that are great for arcade style flying, but they lack the controls needed for more sim-friendly flying. This leaves only one option, a flight stick and that’s exactly what I’ll be testing today.

There are countless flight sticks out there to choose from, from several manufacturers such as MadCatz, Cyborg, Speedlink and more. It doesn’t take long to realise that if you want to get to grips with a realistic flight stick, you need to spend a fair amount of money. This is why I’ve chosen to put a budget friendly model through its paces, the Speedlink Phantom Hawk. It’s relatively cheap, with prices around £25 from most retailers, so I’m not expecting industry leading performance here. I am however eager to find out just how good it really is, despite its low price tag.

“Transform your desktop into a cockpit – the PHANTOM HAWK joystick makes flight simulation a true experience and adds authenticity to challenging missions. With throttle controller, three control dimensions and eight-way Coolie Hat sets you up for the races, spectacular dogfights and accurate rescue flights.” – Speedlink

It’s got all the major features you could hope for in a flight stick; an analogue stick, 8-way hat switch, throttle control, vibration feedback, D-Pad and 12 programmable buttons.

Features

  • Ergonomically designed flight stick with hand rest for right-handed use
  • Coolie Hat for an eight-way all-round visibility
  • Perfect grip on all surfaces thanks to especially strong suction discs
  • Progressive throttle controller
  • Twelve freely assignable digital fire buttons
  • Force vibration for the ultimate gaming experience
  • 4-way digital D-pad
  • Cable length: 2m
  • Dimensions: 185 × 185 × 240mm (W × D × H)

The packaging is nicely designed, with images and specifications clearly displayed around the box; handy for those looking at this item in a retail store.

In the box you will find everything you need; the controller, a driver install CD and a quick install guide.

Mad Catz Announces Saitek X-55 RHINO H.O.T.A.S. System for PC

Mad Catz have announced today that the Saitek X-55 RHINO H.O.T.A.S. (Hands On Throttle and Stick), a product designed and developed to give flight simulation enthusiasts the most realistic flight experience at an affordable price, and it is expected to ship to consumers in early 2014.

The X-55 RHINO is styled after modern fighter jet control systems and was built from the ground up to deliver a multitude of customizable options never before seen in an H.O.T.A.S. system. Whether flying a modern fighter, single- or multi-engine aircraft, or even a retro single-seat plane, the X-55 RHINO supplies all the control surface options required to achieve the exact level of aerial performance aspiring pilots demand. The X-55 RHINO features enhanced 16-bit hall-effect sensors in the axes, four swappable springs for the joystick so you can dial in your preferred stick tension, and twin lockable throttles with a friction adjustment knob that can be set on the fly.

“Our Saitek brand strives to replicate reality and deliver a great experience to the flight simulation community,” said Darren Richardson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz. “We believe the X-55 RHINO accomplishes these goals and is another example of our ability to deliver outstanding products to passionate consumers.”

Given that Mad Catz and of course Saitek are world renowned for creating some of the greatest flight stick and gaming controllers in the world, I really can’t wait to see this one in action. From a light cruise in MS Flight, to a chaotic game in World of Warplanes, this controller could be a lot of fun.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/5HkR7Z6Qvhs[/youtube]

Thank you Saitek for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Saitek.