Oculus Rift Configuration Guide – Simulation Gaming

by - 7 years ago

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Introduction


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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.

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Star Conflict


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Star Conflict is currently my favourite example of how much fun the DK2 can be for gaming. Not only because the developers have done a great job of implementing support for the hardware, but also because the game is free to play. Of course, just like any other free to play game, there are micro-transactions build into the game. However, if you’re only interested in the occasional space battle, you’ll easily be able to enjoy the vanilla offerings.

This is one of the few DK2 games that has put in the extra effort to give you a full VR ready user interface, menu system and more. The lobby is a 3D environment with all your statistics, matchmaking and even the options menus being laid out in a format that is well suited to the DK2. This means you don’t have to take off the headset between games and can stay fully immersed in the game world.

Star Conflict comes with a range of modes such as PVP and PVR. The core concept boils down to flying around a pre-determined area of space, full of obstacles such as space stations, floating rocks and more, while you have dog flights with your enemies.

Star Conflict Features

  • Survival PVP and PVE gameplay in outer space
  • Numerous locations to travel through Jump Gates
  • Complete quests, collect resources and craft new epic modules
  • Fight hordes of invaders from the deep space and other players

Unfortunately, there is no cockpit view just yet, so the games VR camera is mounted on top of the ship in a kind of turret position. This sounds a little strange, but works incredibly well. Aiming your guns with your controller of choice is cool as you can look to the wings of the ship and see them rotating as you control them; very cool! The sense of scale and depth in SC is impressive, doing tight turns and barrel rolls around the surface of a massive asteroid to come full circle behind your enemies is a blast; such maneuvers are very easy when you have the situational awareness that the DK2 provides.

Control Tests

The game fully supports the Xbox 360 controller, while also detecting a PlayStation 4 controller (via USB cable) as a “Wireless Controller”. The game is very controller friendly, as it’s easy to configure a primary and secondary button for each function, while also supporting all the Axis that either controller has to offer (with the exception of Gyroscope on DS4).

Flight sticks are fully supported and easily setup just like any other controller.  The dual control settings allow you to configure extra buttons to your keyboard or other peripherals should your flight stick have a limited number of controls.

Keyboard and mouse support is still the most accurate play style (IMO) for this game. However, you may want to consider a decent quality flight stick with a good layout as finding keyboard buttons can be a little tricky while wearing the Oculus Rift headset.

Oculus Configuration

Setting up DK2 is very easy in Star Conflict. Login to the game and bring up the options menu, there is a special OculusRift tab available. Here you can simply tick “Enable Oculus” and you are good to go! You may need to restart the game if prompted. Simply set the OculusConfigUtility to “extended” mode and set your DK2 as the primary display in the windows display configuration window. Leave the OculusConfigUtility open and re-launch the game via steam.

Additional Oculus Configuration

You can change interface scale, supersampling and low persistence options from the games menu. Interface scale is a matter of personal preference, I leave it at default. Supersampling is a great way to increase the fidelity of the game, but only increase this is you have high-end graphics hardware. Low persistence should be left enabled at all times.

If some issues persist, please return to the general tips on the first page of this article.

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Assetto Corsa


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There are a few AAA racing games that support Oculus Rift, many of which are still in beta or unreleased (such as Project CARS). Assetto Corsa is still in the development stages, but the developers were kind enough to provide us with one of their early access codes. They have of course reminded us to mention that there is still a lot of work to be done on the game.

The game comes packed full of premium quality content, with a wide range of racing tracks from around the world (see list below) and fully licensed cars from a variety of disciplines. Right now, this is one of the most varied and polished DK2 racing experiences available to play right now. Unfortunately, the developers haven’t had much time with the DK2 to integrate VR menus and options screens, so getting the game up and running can be a trial and error experience.

Circuits available in Assetto Corsa

  • Drag strip
  • Drift test circuit
  • NurburgringGP circuit
  • Imola “Enzo & Dino Ferrari” circuit
  • Magione circuit
  • “Autodromo di Monza” circuit
  • Monza historic 1966 circuit
  • Mugello circuit
  • Silverstone
  • Silverstone International
  • Silverstone National
  • Spa Francorchamps
  • Trento Bondone hill climb
  • Vallelunga circuit
  • Vallelunga Club circuit

The came contains a high-end physics engine and officially licensed cars from Abarth, BMW, Classic Team Lotus, Ferrari, KTM, Lotus cars, McLaren, Mercedes, Scuderia Glickenhaus, Pagani and Tatuus.

Control Tests

The game supports keyboard, mouse and custom control configurations. It’s perfectly playable with an analogue controller, but sim racing fans will no doubt be eager to try out a steering wheel. The game comes with pre-set profiles for popular wheels such as the Fanatec series, Logitech G25 and G27, Thrustmaster 430, T500RS and more. All other controllers or wheels can benefit from customisable buttons, axis, range, deadzones, degrees of rotation and more.

There’s full support for custom mapped H-Shifters, you can also use a keyboard or another external device for extra commands should your controller of choice have limited customisable buttons.

The game supports custom controller profile saving and loading. Perfect for having a DK2 setup and a normal gaming profile for your controllers.

Oculus Configuration

As I mentioned before, setting up the DK2 in Assetto Corsa can be fairly tricky. I first suggest you enter the game in standard 2D with the Rift powered off. This will allow you to easily configure the games settings.

Resolution should ideally be set to 1920 x 1080 at the highest Hz (typically this will be 60Hz for most of you) possible. You actually need it at 75Hz for the rift, but this option may not be available while the headset is powered off. Rendering mode should be set to Oculus Rift.

  • Fullscreen Rendering on
  • Vertical Sync on
  • Framerate limit off
  • Anistropic Filtering off
  • Ani-Aliasing Samples off
  • World Detail medium
  • Shadow Resolution medium
  • Post processing effects disabled

Only increase in game quality of AA, AF, world detail, shadow resolution and other settings if game performance is very good, decrease again if higher settings cause performance drops. It’s easier to work up-to high quality settings than to work backwards. Get the basics right and the game running smooth first.

Now you’ve dialed in some graphics and control settings, you can save and quit the game. Start up the OculusConfigurationUtility and power on your Oculus Rift. Set the DK2 into extended mode and set the DK2 as your primary monitor. Launch the game again and move the game window to your desktop screen. This is all in 2D and you won’t see anything on your Rift just yet. Go back into the options menu and change the display resolution to 1920 x 1080 @ 75Hz for the Oculus Rift to work properly. You can now go pick a track and car to start the race. When the game loads your game should appear on the DK2 display. Simply put the headset on a play.

Additional Oculus Configuration

If the performance is poor, adjust your graphics settings lower accordingly. If the performance is smooth and judder free, start by increasing the anti-aliasing settings and world detail until you can get the game looking as detailed as possible without impacting overall performance. It may take some time, but it is worth it.

If some issues persist, please return to the general tips on the first page of this article.

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Live for Speed (LFS)


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The core game of Live for Speed can be downloaded for free, giving you access to a couple of track and three cars. There are two premium packages available to unlock more cars and tracks, which I highly recommend you do. There’s a good range of tracks and cars (see the full list below), but there are some in particular that stand out for playing in VR. The game features VR compatible menus, which are like viewing a huge menu screen on an IMAX type display, so it’s fairly easy to navigate settings, track selection and more without removing the DK2 headset. In-race, the game has ghost style menu overlays, allowing you to change settings without leaving the virtual cockpit of the car.

  • Blackwood
  • South City
  • Fern Bay
  • Autocross
  • Kyoto Ring
  • Westhill
  • Aston

The open wheel cars are beyond entertaining to drive. The camera sits you nice and low in the open wheel cars, allowing you lean your head around to see the wheels of the car, check your mirrors and more. It feels so good as the Oculus feels like you’re wearing a racing helmet, only further adding to the immersion. The graphics aren’t the best, but they polished enough to give you a pleasant experience and the game provides an impressive sense of speed.

  • XF GTI
  • XR GT
  • Formula BMW FB02
  • XR GT Turbo
  • RB4 GT
  • FXO Turbo
  • LX4
  • LX6
  • MRT5
  • UF 1000
  • Raceabout 06
  • FZ50
  • Formula XR
  • XF GTR
  • UF GTR
  • Formula V8
  • FXO GTR
  • XR GTR
  • FZ50 GTR
  • BMW Sauber F1.06

Control Tests

LFS has extensive controller customisation, unfortunately it can also be a rather complicated process to set up and configure; it may take you some trial and error. You have to custom configure each of your controllers and I found that keyboard, mouse, controllers and steering wheels were all fully compatible and all axis were detected with no issues. You must define which axis are active then apply the axis to the function you require. You can fully adjust sensitivity, dead zones, turning ratios and more, so you should be able to set up your favourite control with extreme precision (with a little effort).

The control pads worked relatively well, but the game has clearly been designed to work best with a wheel. I highly recommend you use a wheel for this game, only use a control pad if you have no other option.

Oculus Configuration

LFS isn’t too graphics card intensive, so an Oculus capable rig shouldn’t have much trouble pushing the graphics settings to their maximum (within reason). The game has native Oculus support, simply load the game with the Oculus Rift turned off and go into the graphics settings. Select “3D”, here you will see there is an option for Oculus Rift. Select that option and double-check that the resolution is correct; ideally 1920 x 1080 @75Hz. The game should ask you to restart the game, select yes and it will quit to desktop. Make sure the Rift is in extended mode and configured as display 2. Turn on the rift and star the OculusConfigUtility tool. Restart the game and you should be good to go!

If the game fails to load on the DK2, simply quit the game and configure the Oculus Rift as your primary display.

Additional Oculus Configuration

I have seen some judder issues in this game when you first start a race. These issues seem to smooth themselves out after about 30 seconds usage, so don’t be too hasty to quit if settings don’t look ideal.

The graphics settings can sometimes get mixed up when you restart the game, be sure to check the resolution tab when the game is running on DK2. It needs to be set at 1920 x 1080 75Hz for smooth operation.

If some issues persist, please return to the general tips on the first page of this article.

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Euro Truck Simulator 2


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Euro Truck Simulator is one of those games that doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but it has proven a bit hit with PC gamers. This is especially true since the Simulator series are often in the multitude of seasonal Steam sales. The game comes with native DK2 support and it’s a game that is well suited to VR. The developers have added 3D VR friendly menu screens that are a little tricky to navigate due to resolution issues, but it’s certainly better than no VR support on the menus.

The actual game benefits greatly from the DK2 as the headset allows you to look around your truck cabin at various dials, your dashboard SAT NAV and more. The interiors of the trucks are nicely detailed and most importantly of all, having free look and positional tracking allows you to look and lean around the cab to better view your mirrors. When performing tricky reversing maneuvers you can literally lean out of the window of the truck and look behind you; this is awesome for reversing into tight spaces.

Resolution issues are a little more obvious in this game than some of the other simulation games I’ve mentioned. This isn’t as highly polished a game as some of the others I’ve tested; the textures and assets aren’t the best, but the overall experience is still very good.

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Features

  • Transport a vast variety of cargo across more than 60 European cities.
  • Run your own business which continues to grow even as you complete your freight deliveries.
  • Build your own fleet of trucks, buy garages, hire drivers, manage your company for maximum profits.
  • A varied amount of truck tuning that range from performance to cosmetic changes.
  • Customize your vehicles with optional lights, bars, horns, beacons, smoke exhausts, and more.
  • Thousands of miles of real road networks with hundreds of famous landmarks and structures.

Control Tests

ETS2 doesn’t have the best control configuration ever, I couldn’t get the Xbox 360 controller to operate smoothly for steering, making the game near impossible to control at the best of times. The DS4 controller worked very well for steering, but the analogue triggers were only detected as buttons, however this was fixed with a 3rd party app (Xpadder). Steering wheel was certainly the best option here, as being able to make long slow turns and lane changes on the multitude of motorways the game features is vital; something that proves tricky and tedious with an analogue stick.

It is advisable you configure your controller properly before proceeding with the Rift setup, it’s much easier this way.

Oculus Configuration

Setup of ETS2 can be a little tricky, as it does tend to suffer from stuttering with alarming frequency at first. To configure the game for Oculus you first need to go into Steam, right-click the game in your library and open up the properties window. You need to navigate to the “Betas” tab and select “oculus – Experimental support for Oculus Rift”. Navigate back to the General tab and click “Set Launch Options” and add the tag “-oculus” without the quotation marks. Click ok and close the properties windows.

Make sure the OculusConfigUtility is loaded, turn on the rift and set it as the secondary display in extended mode and start the game (make sure you’ve followed the settings above correctly). The game should now launch on to the rift. The return to desktop 2D mode, remove the “-oculus” tag from launch options.

Additional Oculus Configuration

The game is a little tricky to get running smoothly, if you do experience judder I would suggest dropping the overall graphics settings down to see if that improves performance. If that doesn’t help at all, then you will need to try to force V-Sync on or off in your graphics card control panel. If that doesn’t work, then launch the game with the DK2 set as your primary monitor.

Important! This game seems to suffer from stutter regardless of settings for around 30 seconds of gameplay, which clears up by itself. When testing your settings, try to keep playing and see if it improves before quitting and adjusting your settings again.

If some issues persist, please return to the general tips on the first page of this article.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Star Conflict
  3. Assetto Corsa
  4. Live for Speed (LFS)
  5. Euro Truck Simulator 2
  6. View All

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