Friday 25 September 2015

Oculus Connect 2015- 5 Things You Need To Know

Chances are, if you were born somewhere in the 80's you'll remember the the attempted rise of Virtual Reality in the 90's. With every second film, TV series and game out there featuring fictional VR, usually paired up with a cyberpunk setting, it really seemed like VR would finally happen. Sadly though, for all of us out there who dreamed of having our very own Holo-Deck from Star Trek, when the 90's VR craze died out we were all left to cry into our Captain Picard pillows. But the 90's VR craze didn't die because lack of interest, no, it died because the tech at the time wasn't up to scratch. But times have changed and early 2016 sees the release of the Oculus Rift. This week Oculus held their yearly event, Oculus Connect. Here's what you need to know.


VR Minecraft

No matter how impressive VR is, without the games and experiences put in place, it's worthless. That's why a large chunk of this years Oculus Connect seemed to focus on what you'll be able to play with the device upon release. Though literally no real details were given, Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey did reveal that the Windows 10 version of Minecraft will be optimized for the VR headset. All we know so far is that this new version of Minecraft will be played with the Xbox One joypad, rather than with Oculus Touch, the motion sensors developed by Oculus. Minecraft has been unofficially playable with the Rift for some time now due to a very dedicated online community, so lets hope the official version offers players something new.


Though Oculus is more than happy helping developers move forward on new and interesting games and experiences, they're also allowing them to hold onto the past. At Oculus Connect it was announced that the Gear VR will feature a new app simply called Arcade. Though name kind of says it all, Arcade puts the word of retro arcade games at the players fingertips. Teaming with with publishers such as Namco, Sega and Midway, Oculus are bringing a whole slew of classic games to this new app. Again, details are rather thin at this point, but I can only imagine how it'll all work, complete with a smoke filled room, dimmed neon lights blazing a trail for you directly towards an authentic looking Pac-Man cabinet, and all topped off by a simple hand motion to insert a coin. Well, here's hoping it's that magical.

Bullet Train

At Oculus Connect the VR company showed off Bullet Train among other games. Bullet Train is an upcoming VR-only game by Epic Games, the company mostly know for the Gears of War series. Clearly putting Oculus touch to great use, the game is a fast, frantic and action packed shooter that, in theory, should be an incredibly immersive first-person shooter. However, colour me a little pessimistic, as the gameplay video of Bullet Train ultimately looks a little scripted and, well, clumsy. Perhaps it's a whole different story once your perched behind the lenses of the Rift, but right now it looks a bit haphazard, too fast for its own good and not exactly the perfect way of selling some Rift units. Then again, I may be wrong, but once things for certain; indie developers are creating VR experiences that are far more interesting than those of AAA developers.

Oculus Medium

This looks fantastic. Before my days of writing for CeX and the various publications I have found myself in, I studied Multimedia and Games Design. Though I eventually fell out of love with it, I always enjoyed creating characters, locations and worlds. Outside of my well worn pencil and sketchbook, my other tool of creation was 3DS MAX, a program I used to pull my art off the page and into the realm of 3D. I haven't done that work in years, but once I saw Oculus Medium I suddenly wanted to create within a 3D space again. Quite simply, Oculus Medium, by using Oculus Touch, lets you create sculptures in 3D space. It's a very basic concept, but this proves that VR is for anyone. It's for the gamer, the movie watcher, the artist or even someone who simply wants to experience the next level of intermittent.




After Oculus announced Oculus Video, a streaming service in which through partnering up with 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate they'll offer all kinds of movie experiences, they dropped something big. Finally Netflix has found its way onto the Gear VR, and it's available to download now! I only hope that Oculus let us watch Netflix in a selection of VR rooms. I want to watch The Lord of the Rings in The Shire, man. Yeah, make it so, Oculus.

Denis Murphy

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