Ladies and gentlemen, we now have a new competitor in the game of VR.
Considering the technology has yet to establish itself for the gaming scene, VR has drawn the attention of some heavy hitters, including the Oculus Rift (which has been bought by Facebook for a cool $2 billion), Sony’s Morpheus, and now, the Vive, the joint project of HTC and Steam. The future is looking good for VR headsets, but how long until the “future” comes now?
We’ve all known that VR was coming, but it’s sort of become a bit of a running joke. It’s seemed that year after year, the Oculus evolved in it’s beta, but has yet to have a release date. One of those “always a bridesmaid” sort of gimmicks. It wasn’t until Sony released it’s news of the Morpheus that I started believing that I might actually get a VR set of my own, in it’s retail form. Now, Steam and HTC are promising their headset before the end of the year, and my body is completely ready.
Now, Valve has promised a lot more information in this years GDC, but for now, this is what we know. There are currently two models of these bad boys, a developer set, and one for retail. The developer edition is going to have to 1200×1080 lenses, each refreshing at 90hz. These lenses are set up in a way to will deliver 360 degrees of vision. The developer rig also has a port for headphones, although it sounds like the retail set will come with it’s own audio solution. This is the part I’m most concerned about. I sort of have a thing for my audio, so if any corners are cut on sound, I’m gonna be a sad panda. But for now, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
The Vive is set up to be used in conjunction with a Steam VR base station. You’ll pair these up in your room, and they will track your movement in 3d space, giving you the ability to walk around and explore whatever world you are in. The headset has it’s own accelerometers, laser positioning, and gyro sensor, so accuracy is the name of the game. They are claiming to be precise to within one tenth of a degree in a 15×15 foot room. This is quite exciting.
But walking around and viewing the world is only half the battle, am I right? Well, HTC has their solution for that. Players will use a pair of HTC controllers, complete with their own motion tracking, to interact with objects in game. I don’t know about you, but putting all of these items together is making me want to read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One again. (PS, if you haven’t read this book, do yourself the enormous favor and get to it immediately, you’re welcome).
The Game Developer’s Conference is taking place this week, so there should be a boatload of news and first hand experiences coming down the pipeline. I cannot wait to see what people think. Be sure to check back for more information as it becomes available.