Oculus Waives Shipping Fees for All Past Orders

The Oculus Rift may have won the race to be the first VR headset to be available to consumers, but it hasn’t been so easy for Oculus due to the boom in interest for the VR headset. The Rift began shipping out to consumers on the 28th of March, but many preorder customers are still yet to receive any notification that their device will be shipped to them. Now Oculus VR has admitted that they have been struggling to meet demands for the Rift, with CEO Brendan Iribe taking to Twitter to state that the first batch of Rifts was “going out slower than we orig(inally) estimated.” This was backed up by an email sent out to waiting customers, citing an “unexpected shortage” as the reason that many were still waiting.

We’ve been working through an unexpected component shortage, and unfortunately, that issue has impacted the original shipping estimates for some early customers. We’re working hard to get up-to-date ship windows, and you should expect to see your order status updated on oculus.com by Tuesday, April 12th.

In order to make it up to customers who had pre-ordered one of the headsets, Oculus stated that they will be disregarding any delivery charges for all orders that have already been placed. It’s not all delays, though, with many customers having received their Rifts on time, one even being delivered by Palmer Luckey himself! Hopefully, Oculus will be able to sort out this issue before their main rival, the HTC Vive makes it to market when both sides will have a fight on their hands.

Oculus Founder Delivers First Consumer Unit in Person

The founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, decided that he would deliver the very first consumer version of the Oculus Rift VR headset himself. The lucky recipient? Ross Martin, an indie developer from Anchorage, Alaska, who was the first person to pre-order the consumer Rift, which will be arriving at the houses of the remaining customers starting on Monday.

The decision by Luckey to deliver the Rift had been a move that he desired for a long time but was only able to realize at the last moment, due to the obvious issues with the founder being out of the office just days before the product’s release. “This didn’t come together until the last second, I’ve had a bunch of things that I’ve wanted to do over the years, and I was pretty adamant,” Luckey told Polygon. “I said hey guys, I’ve been working on this since 2009, we’ve been working on Oculus since 2012, I’ll be damned if some random delivery guy is going to get the satisfaction of delivering the first Rift. That’s mine.”

Meanwhile, Martin, who documented his feelings on the experience on Twitter, first posting an image of the golden ticket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  He continued to state that in further tweets “So grateful to Palmer Luckey and Oculus for coming all the way to Alaska,” and “You guys are super cool!” Leading up to the release, Martin had no idea that he was the first to order the Rift and when he received the call that it would be delivered early and in-person, he simply believed that all pre-orderers had gotten the same treatment. “I would never think that someone doing it by hand would be the first,” he said.

It is great to see that despite the Rift taking so long to come to market and moves that have been considered unpopular, such as their acquisition by Facebook, that Luckey and Oculus VR treat their customers well.

Oculus Rift Launch Games and Prices Revealed

With the long-awaited release date of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset just around the corner, Oculus VR has finally announced the pricing for the entire launch-day lineup of games. The news was reported from Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2016, with Oculus making the big reveal on the third day of the event.

The rift’s launch will be accompanied by thirty games that will officially support the headset from day-one. The list of games includes a number of well-known and popular games that will be integrating full integration for the headset, including Project Cars and the already revealed Elite: Dangerous. The prices are as varied as the games themselves too, ranging from $59.99 for the EVE Valkyrie Founder’s Pack down to a number of more budget $9.99 titles. This means that the value of the pre-order offer that included a copy of EVE Valkyrie saves any early buyers a decent sum.

The variety of games that are launching with the Rift is similar to the rest of the PC gaming industry, with established AAA titles billing high while smaller indie titles aim for more buyers at a far more modest price point. Having the honour of being one of the thirty Rift release titles should help those smaller developers along too.

The full listing can be seen below:

  • ADR1FT – $19.99
  • Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games – $4.99
  • AirMech: Command – $39.99
  • Albino Lullaby – $9.99
  • Audio Arena – $9.99
  • Project Cars – $49.99
  • Chronos – $49.99
  • Darknet – $9.99
  • Dead Secret – $14.99
  • Defense Grid 2 Enhanced VR Edition – $29.99
  • Dreadhalls – $9.99
  • Elite Dangerous: Deluxe Edition – $59.99
  • Esper 2 – $9.99
  • EVE Valkyrie Founder’s Pack – $59.99
  • Fly to KUMA – $14.99
  • EVE Gunjack – $9.99
  • Herobound SC – $9.99
  • KeepTalking and Nobody Explodes – $14.99
  • Lucky’s Tale – Bundled
  • Omega Agent – $14.99
  • Radial G – $24.99
  • Rooms – $14.99
  • Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe VR – $9.99
  • Smashing the Battle – $19.99
  • Vanishing of Ethan Carter – N/A
  • Vektron Revenge – $9.99
  • VR Tennis Online – $24.99
  • Pinball FX2 VR – $14.99
  • Blaze Rush – N/A
  • Windlands – $19.99

Elite: Dangerous Confirmed to Have Official Oculus Rift Support

Today, the Founder and CEO of Frontier Developments, David Braben, formally revealed in an interview with Ars Technica that popular space-sim, Elite: Dangerous, will have official support for the Oculus Rift. Elite: Dangerous was one of the first major games to include support for the Rift’s development kits, so this revelation is not entirely unexpected, despite the game lacking direct compatibility with later versions of the Oculus Rift SDK.

“We’re going to be on the Oculus store,” he revealed. “We’re supporting [the Oculus Rift runtime] one point naught and the consumer release at launch, which is March 28.” While Elite: Dangerous had already been patched to include support for SteamVR, making it possible to enjoy the game on your VR headset of choice, including the Rift DK2 and Vive Pre headsets, Frontier had not made any clear announcements on their stance for VR support going forwards.

What this means is that as well as Elite: Dangerous being available on the Oculus Rift storefront from day 1, including native support for the 1.0 runtime and SDK, Rift support for existing versions of the game purchased from Steam or Frontier themselves will be added via a free patch. This will provide an identical VR experience across all versions of the game (and even across headsets, such as the HTC Vive.)  When asked which headset he prefers to use personally, Braben’s only answer was a huge smile and that “Both parties have treated us very well.”

No doubt players will have a VR headset of choice in the future, but this official adoption of Oculus Rift support will surely bring attention to the soon-to-be-released headset. No doubt it will be argued which of the two is better in the near future when both devices are released, all we can hope for is that the players are the real winners in this!

Oculus Rift Preorder Date Finally Announced

 

Fans looking forward to the Oculus Rift have been kept waiting a long time, but finally, Oculus VR has announced that pre-orders for the Rift will be opening on Wednesday 6th of January. While Oculus VR has announced the pre-order date for the device, however, they’re still keeping a lot of important facts under wraps, such as the release date and device’s price. From previous comments by Oculus VR, the Rift is supposed to be shipping in Q1 of 2016 and the price being as much as over $350, we’ll have to wait until Wednesday to find out whether Oculus will hold true to this.

The Oculus Rift has been through a lot of ups and downs since it was originally funded on Kickstarter back in 2012. Backers of the project who had pledged over $300 were able to get their hands on an early development version of the Rift, which later became known as Development Kit 1 (DK1). DK1 units were shipped to the backers in early 2013, with a limited run of the device also being available on sale for $300 at around the same time. Since then the hardware has undergone multiple changes, with a Development Kit 2 version shipping in July 2014. DK2 touted almost double the individual eye resolution of DK1, as well as entirely new features such as positional tracking, separate from simple directional tracking. Most controversial in the Rift’s history has to be Oculus VR’s sale to Facebook, upsetting many backers by selling the crowdfunded startup for $2 billion in early 2014, which attracted the ire of many backers and influential figures in the gaming industry.

After so long, many wondered whether the Rift would ever really go on public sale, or whether it would continue to release more and more advanced development kits. With the Rift still unreleased, Oculus VR already has their eyes to the future, with plans for a “Rift 2” already in the pipeline for as soon as 2 years after the release of the Rift.

Are you looking forward to the chance to finally get an Oculus Rift for yourself, or will you be waiting for more details before committing to a purchase?

Oculus Touch Release Delayed

Originally planned to be released in the first half of 2016, Oculus VR have announced that they have pushed the release date of their unique VR controller, the Oculus Touch into the second half of 2016 with pre-orders being made available closer to the release date.

In a blog post on the topic, the Facebook-owned company revealed that the delays to the touch were to allow them to refine the design and incorporate new features into the controller. They wish to make use of advances in ergonomics to make the Touch more comfortable and natural. Other changes should increase the reliability and allow for improvements in hand-pose recognition.

Delaying the public release of the Touch will also allow for Oculus to increase their amount of pre-production runs, which should hopefully allow for more games to support the controller at its release as well as allowing Oculus to get feedback on the controller and its software support.

Overall, Oculus believe that the delays to their controller “will produce an even better product, one that will set the bar for VR input.” They went on to say that they “promise Touch will be worth the wait.” Thankfully for those awaiting the release of the Oculus Rift, its release date will be unaffected by the delays to the Touch.

Oculus Founder Thinks Cables Are a Major Obstacle for VR on PC

It looks like virtual reality might not become as popular on the PC as we have initially anticipated, at least according to Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey. Palmer had a few interesting things to say about the future of VR and about cables, which seem to represent the biggest obstacle in its path to popularity on the PC.

Obviously, the “Mobile VR” part refers to devices such as the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Cardboard, both of which rely on smartphones to provide the display and the needed rendering power. The same cannot be said for the Oculus Rift, which needs to be connected to a rather powerful PC in order to function properly. Even though Mobile VR headsets have an advantage because they can operate independently and wirelessly, wired headsets are able to provide a more immersive and advanced virtual reality experience. The thing is, the user can get tangled up in cables very easily, which is probably why Oculus has often described VR as a “seated experience.” Luckey explained that regular users won’t have someone near them at all times to help out with cables, and I have to admit that he has a point there.

“It is important to design both hardware and software with those limitations in mind. Real users won’t have cable servants. And I say this as someone who has spent many hours as a cable servant, dancing cables around users to keep them immersed!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTAu6GUr6Ms

Samsung Adds Milk VR to the App Line Up for the Gear VR Headset

Samsung hasn’t got much on the Gear VR headset right now, which is why the company has just added its Milk VR service to the Oculus-powered VR head-mounted display.

Milk VR will be delivering a regular amount of 360-degree immersive content to Samsung’s wearable headset, content that will span many different genres – including music, sports, action and lifestyle. Samsung will continue to update the offerings in Milk VR, instead of having consumers download individual experiences separately.

All of the content within the Milk VR app can be downloaded, or it can be adaptively streamed, whichever you choose. Samsung’s goal with Milk VR is to have the perfect spot for your new and exciting content, providing yet another reason to purchase the Oculus VR-powered device for your Galaxy Note 4 smartphone. Samsung has launched the Milk VR application as a “technical preview,” which is fine since the Gear VR is still considered a “innovator edition”. If anyone has a Gear VR, let us know what you think of the new Milk VR application!

Source: Android Central.

The Best Oculus Rift Experiences You Can Enjoy Right Now

Introduction


Oculus Rift is easily one of the coolest pieces of technology that I’ve ever owned. I personally own their DK2 headset, which is certainly not ready for general consumer consumption, but that doesn’t mean to say it can’t still be a lot of fun. I’m not the only early adopter out there and I’m sure I won’t be the last, especially given that the consumer model could be another year away from release.

Oculus demos, games and other types of software are steadily streaming onto the internet, many of them completely free of charge. Most developers haven’t even had their DK2 headset any longer than I have, but many of them have already produced some truly stunning experiences.

This article is obviously best suited for those who already own an Oculus Rift, or at least those who have ordered one and are eagerly awaiting its delivery. If you would love to know more about the technology, then you can check out our featured review here, or our game review/DK2 setup guide here.

Apple Job Vacancy Suggests Virtual Reality Development

Virtual Reality (VR) is widely considered to be the next frontier for technology companies. With touch-screen technology being perfected and implemented within various devices and 3D displays becoming increasingly common, the next piece of Sci-Fi tech awaiting to escape the confines of fiction is doubtlessly VR.

Various forms of this technology – which would allow users, via a headset, to be surrounded and situated within a virtual world – have been in development for some years but has yet to reach beyond prototype stage. With internet technologies quickly accelerating and virtual locations like online casinos and movie-streaming websites becoming more popular, there has never been a better time for VR to become a reality. Imagine being actually surrounded by the glowing slot-machines of Supercasino – which can be viewed here – or being fully immersed within the climatic battle at the end of The Avengers via Netflix. There is a growing market for this technology and an equally expanding variety of websites that could implement it. Considering this, it is unsurprising that the race to releasable VR technology has heated up significantly in recent years.

Various VR projects , from Google Cardboard to Sony’s Project Morpheus, have been announced and subsequently stalled. However, today hopes for the practical realisation of this technology were again raised with the discovery of a telling job advertisement on the US’s Apple website. This advertisement outlined a new role, for a software engineer, that would involve the creation of apps integrated with VR technology. The need for the development of compatible apps not only suggests that Apple is developing VR technology but that it is nearing completion. Furthermore, the jobs requirements, of the prospective employee, were familiar to anyone interested in VR. The needed familiarity with VR components as 3D Graphics programming and Virtual/augmented reality development being particularly telling.

This inadvertently announced development is the first piece of information regarding Apple’s entry into the VR arena since last December. During this month, an Apple patent for a head-mounted goggle display, from 2008, was revealed. This device, which is suspected to look like ski goggles, would be designed to allow people to be immersed within media – such as films, televisions shows etc – whilst travelling. If this design ever became physical, it would be directly competing with the Oculus Rift and Samsung’s Gear VR.


The way for Apple to surpass these rivals would be for its variation of VR to be able to neutralise the intrinsic nausea that other prototypes have caused to human test subjects. The full integration offered by VR, which is essentially its primary selling-point, confuses the brain’s perception of motion and therefore can lead to a form of sea sickness. Whilst this does not effect everyone, its threat of occurring has been sighted as one of the main stumbling blocks in bringing VR to the mainstream market. Therefore if Apple can solve this problem, the future VR market would be there for the taking.

The Oculus Rift Killer is Here: 3DHead

This is “kinda like Oculus, it’s totally immersive” the video opens, showing off 3DHead.

I don’t even know what to say, but you really need to just watch the trailer, above, to get into it. This looks like satire, smells like satire, and is satire. This is a parody of the Oculus Rift in a way, with some great acting toward the end – no, really. Here’s a list of what the 3DHead is ‘capable’ of:

  • Fully Immersive – Head Tracking
  • Play PC Games No Mouse No Keyboard
  • Tracks Arm & Body Movement
  • Plays All 2D & 3D Games
  • Internet Ready With Internet TV
  • 2K Resolution Picture
  • Connect To Win/Mac, Sony PS, XBOX
  • Comes With 3D Detachable Tablet
  • 3D & No Glasses Required

Source: YouTube.

Samsung Gear VR On Sale Next Month for $199

Samsung has just announced that it will be selling its Gear VR headset next month, priced at $199. Keep in mind you’ll need the Galaxy Note 4, also made by Samsung, for it to work – but it will provide you with a 2560×1440 display, leap frogging the 1920×1080 panel found in the Oculus Rift DK2 unit.

Oculus VR collaborated with Samsung on the Gear VR, so this isn’t some second-grade VR experience. What’s going to hold people off, is this combo is close to $1000 – especially if you weren’t set on purchasing the Galaxy Note 4 in the first place. For those who were going to pick up the Galaxy Note 4 as their next smartphone, a $199 investment for a VR headset is not a bad deal by any means.

Source: Engadget.

“Three Glasses” Oculus Rift Alternative Hits Chinese Market

Imitation is the highest form of flattery and the Oculus Rift technology from Oculus VR is no exception. While Oculus are hardly the first to come to market with VR technology, they are the ones who have made it a more household name within the technology world. Copy cats are bound to crop up from time to time, which is no bad thing, especially if it helps boost innovation and competition.

Three Glasses from Shenzhen’s Jingweidu Technology Co., Ltd., is already taking pre-orders for their D1 Developer Edition. It’s priced at 1,999 Yuan, which roughly translates to $327 US. The headset will begin shipping in late December and should Jingweidu stick to that date, it will beat many VR rivals to market by a huge margin.

It features a 124 degree FOV, a 1920 x 1080 display, 75 Hz refresh rate and weighs 280 grams. This means it has a wider field of video thank the DK2, while also being 160g lighter. The company recommends the device is used with a high-performance computer for gaming, although lower specification machines will suffice for watching movies.

A range of peripherals such as headphones, a steering wheel and controllers have also been produced as extra accessories for the device.

No word on performance or quality, but the future of the hardware really depends on how much research the company have done into the SDK side of things. We look forward to the early reviews once the hardware becomes available.

Thank you Hypergrid Business for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Hypergrid Business.

Oculus VR Is Now Officially Owned by Facebook

Remember when the internet went crazy back in march because Facebook decided to splash out on Oculus VR for a hefty $2 billion? Well you should because it was pretty big news! Facebook paid Oculus VR $2 billion in two ways, a chunk of $400 million in cash and the other as 23.1 million shares of Facebook valued at $1.6 billion .The process of Oculus VR being acquired by Facebook is now complete and they own everything, which is either really good or really really bad.

“We’re looking forward to an exciting future together, building the next computing platform and re-imagining the way people communicate”.

That was a joint statement from Oculus VR and Facebook, lets just hope Facebook don’t mess this up and ruin everything with such a unique and game changing product.

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate”

Mark Zuckerberg said that back in March just after he made the offer to Oculus VR. In April, the Federal Trade Commission approved the deal. Right now, people are waiting for their Development Kit 2 (DK2) units to arrive, sporting a 1080p low-persistence screen, and much more.

Thanks to TweakTown for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of TweakTown.

First Trailer Released for The Rift: U.R.I.D.I.S.

The first trailer for ISART Digitals upcoming VR compatible air combat game The Rift: U.R.I.D.I.S. has just been released. The game features in-game footage of the upcoming Oculus-Rift friendly title and it look absolutely awesome! Although I may be feeling a little bias in that respect since I’m waiting on my DK2 to be delivered.

Gameplay looks pretty tight in the trailer, lots of fast paced action and high speed manoeuvres, with dog fights focusing on twitch reactions for shooting and navigation. Flying through a rocky canyon with a conventional camera in gaming can be tricky at best, but having the situational awareness that the Oculus provides may prove a huge tactical advantage.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/euB08NJUMfY[/youtube]

The Rift: U.R.I.D.I.S. put you right in the pilot seat of an air craft, relying on your cockpit dash and HUD for information as you hunt down your enemies. The game does look pretty cool and while there is no release date just yet, it’s clear they’re making good progress, so we’ll be keeping an eye on this one over the coming month and will report back if we hear anything new.

Thank you VR Focus for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of VR Focus.

First Batch of Oculus Rift DK2 Delayed!

My daily routine today consists of getting out of bed, putting the kettle on, making a coffee and starting work, but I don’t type a single word until I’ve check my email to see if my Oculus Rift development kit has shipped, but it hasn’t. Now it seems I’m not the only one left disappointed by a “pending” message on the Oculus order page.

Shipments of DK2 were supposed to be making their way to developers around the world, but now it seems that Oculus VR have put a short hold on the stock. Oculus have “decided to hold the initial shipment of DK2s until the middle of next week so that [they] have an additional week to polish and QA the new Oculus SDK.” Oculus want their software and everything else to be 100% ready to rock when developers get the hardware, and I can’t blame them, there are still a lot of hurdles for Oculus to cross and it needs to be perfect.

“We’ve been working on this update for over a year, with a focus on making the Rift easier to use and develop for. There are multiple major improvements including overhauled device and display handling, and we want to make sure the new SDK ready for integration by thousands of developers when DK2s start arriving at doorsteps. Sorry to make everyone wait another week. We wouldn’t delay if it wasn’t important.” said Oculus.

Keep in mind that while there has been a delay, there is nothing wrong with the hardware, they’re ready to ship and the hold up should only last another week before the first batch of DK2 hardware is shipped.

Thank you Segment for providing us with this information.

 

“Lowest Cost Possible” For consumer Oculus Rift

In a recent interview with Ars Technica, CEO Brendan Iribe spoke out about Oculus Rift, Facebook and on comments made my Mark Zuckerberg. Not only has he said that the company (Oculus) expects the Rift to sell “north of 1 million units” when released, but that Zuckerberg wants to unit to be as affordable as possible.

While we already know that Facebook has a sizeable war chest in terms of financial backing, their money isn’t expected to have much, if any, impact on the consumer model of the rift or its design, especially since development was already well underway before they signed a massive cheque to buy up the company. The main difference there is that Facebook will be taking a cut from the profits and looking to use the technology to secure other deals with content providers. However, it’s those profit margins that Zuckerberg is least concerned about, stating that he wants to ignore margins wherever possible to drive down the Rift’s costs for consumers, and “I do too” added Iribe.

“at the same time, we were planning to run a business, hopefully a break-even [or] profitable business off of this, not a money-losing business (Oculus). Mark is much more in the mindset of ‘Let’s get this to scale with the best quality product at the lowest cost possible.'”

Let’s be honest, Facebook has a healthy bank ballance already, so it makes sense for them to take a smaller cut on Oculus Rift, at least at first to help the product succeed, rather than push it into the realm of the enthusiast, and ignoring the average consumer by jacking the price up.

With everything from games, to a David Attenborough documentary being made for the Rift, I can’t wait to see the final product. Facebook and Oculus are still elusive about the consumer model release date, only going as far to say they “will be disappointed” if it’s not released by the end of 2015.

Thank you ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of ArsTechnica.

Tryout Out Oculus Rift At… Chuck E. Cheese!

Oculus Rift has proven to be a very popular bit of technology, despite the fact that the retail edition is yet to be announced. That hasn’t stopped people from medical professions, the military, gamers, movie lovers, modders, hackers, engineers and more finding innovative ways of using the technology and now it looks like it’s the turn of Chuck E. Cheese.

The trial begun this week in Dallas, Texas, although San Diego, California and Orlando, Florida are expected to follow at some point later this month and will run for a trial period of six weeks.

Kids today have unprecedented access to game consoles and tablets,” said Roger Cardinale, president, CEC Entertainment, Inc. “Our challenge is to deliver an experience not available at home, and there is no doubt virtual reality does just that. Oculus Rift technology is the next frontier in the gaming industry, and we’re thrilled to be able to say it’s part of the Chuck E. Cheese’s lineup.”

With 571 Chuck E. Cheese stores over 48 states and eight more countries, the company can do a lot for Oculus Rift, for starters they can buy a few hundred headsets, but it’s also a great way for gamers to go try out the headset in the coming weeks, especially for those who are still on the fence about the technology or have yet to try it out at all.

Having used both DK1 and DK2 Oculus Rift headsets, I highly recommend you get  down there are try it out, forget all the “oh but they’re owned by Facebok now” nonsense and go enjoy some awesome technology.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TweakTown.

Flap Your Arms And Fly Free With Birdly & Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift is no stranger to innovation, having inspired many crazy gaming mods and developments over the last two years, but the latest work to come from a team of students at Zurich University of the Arts may be the maddest one we’ve seen yet. Birdly is a special installation that combines the 3D virtual reality headset of the Oculus Rift with a custom-built “bird” interface.

The Birdly is equipped with a fan at the front that changes the speed as you flap your arms into the hydraulic assisted… erm, thing. The flappy table thing measures your movement and translates that into the 3D simulation, which is then fed back to you via the first and of course the fan at the front to give you a sensation of flying. Elevation and speeds can be controlled by leaning forwards and back, flapping your arms, gliding and leaning. If you look closely, the user not only has to flap the arms, but can also rotate the tips of the wings using his hands.

No only does this simulation give you the visual aspect via Oculus Rift, the physical workout via the flappy table device and the sense of speed from the fan, but it’ll also provide you with olfactory senses too, as you fly over different landscapes in the simulation you’re treated to different smells, awesome.

[vimeo width=”800″ height=”450″]http://vimeo.com/91069214[/vimeo]

This looks like a lot of fun, but it also looks like a seriously brutal workout on your arms. I suspect those hydraulics are quite easy to maneuver, but a couple of hours on this thing will no doubt be more fun that lifting weights.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Gizmodo.

Oculus VR Snap Up Valves Michael Abrash

While many reacted badly to Facebook buying up Oculus VR earlier this week, both companies could do with some good news, and now it looks like they have it. Plucked from the ripe tree that is Valve, home of lord Gaben, Oculus VR have bagged themselves a new Chief Scientist in the form of Michael Abrash.

Abrash has a rich history in the gaming world, having worked with everything from id Software to the Xbox, but most importantly he was a key figure behind the research and technologies for Valve’s VR headset, giving him key experience that can help Oculus take things to the next level.

Oculus VR now have a considerable cash flow at their disposal, they can throw money at problems to get the staff and research they need to make a great product. Sure it’s at risk of Zuckerberg making a Farmville game for it, but as long as the company is retaining its ability to act independently and makes sure moves such as securing key industry experts to improve its development, then it should still be an awesome bit of hardware.

Thank you Tweak Town for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Tweak Town.

Facebook Drops Oculus Rift Bomb, Internet Fights Back!

Facebook have swooped in to pick up some serious hardware real estate this week, shelling out a staggering $2bn for virtual reality headset creators Oculus. While this new source of financial support is great news for Oculus and their Oculus Rift VR headset, many of the financial backers, consumers and even a few games developers are not happy and the fallout is hurting both Facebook and Oculus in a big way.

For starters there has been a wave of cancellations for Oculus Rift pre-orders, so much so that the pre-order cancellation page has hit the top of reddit’s /r/gaming and after a while even made the front page. Of course this is hollow as we don’t have numbers for real cancellations, but the evidence certainly stacks up that there are a lot of angry people out there in relation to the sale of the company, so many comments sections full of stuff that I simply cannot repeat here… It’s pretty much all too offensive for publication.

Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey took to Reddit to put peoples concerns to rest (see quotes below), unfortunately I don’t think many people are listening as all they hear is “facebook! facebook! facebook!”, which is ironic as it’s on Facebook that most of these ex-Oculus fans are doing most of their complaining.

“There are a lot of reasons why this is a good thing, many of which are not yet public. There is a lot of related good news on the way. I am swamped right now, but I do plan on addressing everyone’s concerns. I think everyone will see why this is so incredible when the big picture is clear.”

“It is an acquisition, but we will be operating independently. Our ongoing relationship really is more like a partnership.”

“We have not gotten into all the details yet, but a lot of the news is coming. The key points: 1) We can make custom hardware, not rely on the scraps of the mobile phone industry. That is insanely expensive, think hundreds of millions of dollars. This deal specifically lets us greatly lower the price of the Rift. 2) We can afford to hire everyone we need, the best people that fit into our culture of excellence in all aspects. 3) We can make huge investments in content. More news soon.”

“Oculus continues to operate independently! We are going to remain as indie/developer/enthusiast friendly as we have always been, if not more so. This deal lets us dedicate a lot of resources to developer relations, technical help, engine optimizations, and our content investment/publishing/sales platform. We are not going to track you, flash ads at you, or do anything invasive.”

“Almost everyone at Oculus is a gamer, and virtual reality will certainly be led by the games industry, largely because it is the only industry that already has the talent and tools required to build awesome interactive 3D environments. In the long run, though, there are going to be a lot of other industries that use VR in huge ways, ways that are not exclusive to gamers; the current focus on gaming is a reflection of the current state of VR, not the long term potential. Education, communication, training, rehabilitation, gaming and film are all going to be major drivers for VR, and they will reach a very wide audience. We are not targeting social media users, we are targeting everyone who has a reason to use VR.”

“This acquisition/partnership gives us more control of our destiny, not less! We don’t have to compromise on anything, and can afford to make decisions that are right for the future of virtual reality, not our current revenue. Keep in mind that we already have great partners who invested heavily in Oculus and got us to where we are, so we have not had full control of our destiny for some time. Facebook believes in our long term vision, and they want us to continue executing on our own roadmap, not control what we do. I would never have done this deal if it meant changing our direction, and Facebook has a good track record of letting companies work independently post-acquisition.”

Pre-orders being cancelled, a poorly timed reveal and a lot of heat and backlash from the community is not good for any product. Fortunately for the hopeful (like myself), the cash injection has secured the future of the product for some time and I’m not going to cancel my pre-order any time soon.

Developer Notch has stated Facebook “creeps me out” and said that Minecraft will no longer be coming to the Rift, at least in 1st party support form, there are already mods out there, but they’re sub-par in terms of overall quality. I expect a couple more developers will follow suit, but perhaps time will see them return if the company can prove that it will act independently and not morph into a Farmville accessory as many people are currently fearing.

I’m not sure this is a bad thing for the hardware or Oculus or even consumers, but once again only time will tell who is right and I really do hope I am right. We have a comments section below for good reason, get venting your thoughts on this one as we would love to know your what you think about this deal.

Oculus Rift Support For Zombie’s ‘Daylight’ At IndieCade

Epic Games and Zombie Studios are ready to scare the pants off of IndieCade attendees with the first ever Oculus VR demonstration of “Daylight” at the Culver City-based festival of independent games on October 5-6.

Developed for PS4 and PC by Zombie and published by ATLUS, “Daylight” is a procedurally generated psychological thriller in which no two experiences are the same. “Daylight” is also the first Unreal Engine 4-powered commercial game to support Oculus VR, and attendees will be able to test their bravery to see how long they can survive the demo, exclusively at the Unreal Engine booth inside the IndieCade Village.

Epic is also thrilled to host Compulsion Games, who will have numerous stations dedicated to “Contrast,” the only game where you can freely shift in and out of shadow. Contrast is set for release on November 15 for PC (Steam), PS3, PS4 (both via PSN) and Xbox 360 (through XBLA).

Lastly, “Infinity Blade III,” the epic conclusion in the blockbuster video game trilogy from Epic’s award-winning ChAIR Entertainment, will be playable on iPad at IndieCade as well.

We wish we could make it along to the show and check this out, having had a few goes on Oculus Rift we can’t wait to try out more games on the hardware, but as far as I am concerned, the more games that support the device, the easier it will be for me to justify buying an Oculus VR headset.

Thank you Epic for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Epic.

Custom UDK to Ship with All Oculus Rift Developer Kits

Oculus VR, Inc. has announced that it will provide a custom, Oculus-ready version of Epic Games’ Unreal Development Kit (UDK) to every developer who has purchased the Oculus Rift development kit. In addition, all Unreal Engine 3 full source licensees will receive the Oculus – UE3 integration code free of charge. These new offerings mark Oculus’ entry into Epic’s premier UE3 Integrated Partners Program (IPP). The deepened partnership between the two companies is designed to support all Unreal Engine developers wanting to take their games to a completely new level of immersion.

“Developers have used Unreal Engine technology to create some of the most memorable games in history,” said Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games. “We view virtual reality as a massive technological step forward, and are arming all developers with the tools to create game experiences that represent the future. Our partnership with Oculus will bring the highest quality experiences to virtual reality games.”

Epic Games and Oculus have been collaborating since the launch of Oculus’ Kickstarter campaign to improve and optimize the integration with UE3. The custom Oculus-ready version of UDK, the free edition of UE3, will include the Epic Citadel tech demo, a medieval castle and village which developers can explore in virtual reality with the Rift.

“We’ve said from the start that independent developers were as important to us as AAA developers,” said Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus. “The Unreal Engine and UDK have proven time and again that they are premiere engines for all game developers. Our relationship with Epic shows our commitment to give every developer the chance to create the next amazing game experience.”

The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset that allows users to step into the game. It provides an immersive, stereoscopic 3D experience with a huge field of view—110 degrees diagonally—and overcomes the latency problems that have plagued previous VR gaming headsets, where movement in the game lags behind movement of the player’s head. Developer kits for the Oculus Rift, which game developers can use to create Oculus-ready VR applications and interactive content, will begin shipping to backers at the end of March 2013.

The custom, Oculus-ready version of UDK will be available from the Oculus Developer Center the first week of April.

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