Science and Tech
The Future of VR Solidifies at Oculus Connect

Devin Connors | 29 Sep 2014 16:30
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Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers

Steve Ballmer would have been right at home at Oculus Connect. I was among a group of about three dozen or so press and bloggers, but the lion's share of those in attendance were developers working on VR content, or looking to put some skin in the VR game.

The developer lounge at Oculus Connect was a never-ending rotation of bite-size virtual demos, from the light cycle arena of TronVR, to the Myst-like world of Xing, to sitting in Café Âme, looking at your robotic persona in a glass reflection - and seeing your head move, perplexed, because of position tracking. Every demo sold me on the VR experience more and more.

Smaller developers are where VR has the potential to be a long-lasting success, but the lack of noise on the big publisher side is concerning, to say the least. We have Valve and its Source ports, and CCP with its fantastic EVE: Valkyrie, but that's it (outside of Sony's plans). Big publisher support is going to be important in the future, but such a vibrant indie ecosystem cannot be ignored here. It's something consoles have lusted after since broadband came to the game-playing boxes, yet it's popped up around Oculus in less than 18 months.

But content is a big part of Oculus' internal plans, too. "[Oculus has] been working on a lot of things, including singular game experiences," said Palmer Luckey while we chatted in the press room during the conference. "We have a lot of other projects internally. You will see real, actual first-party Oculus content." When I pressed him about Carmack working on a game, now that he's nearly done with his Gear VR objectives? "I can't comment on who's working on particular teams, but... it's important."

And now you know why Zenimax is so cross about the Oculus-Carmack relationship.

The table is set for Oculus. The hardware is better every time I strap a new model to my face. The software, if Gear VR is any indication, will not be holding that hardware back anytime soon. The developer community, however indie, is ready and waiting. And big partnerships with the likes of Samsung show that serious money, time, and resources are in play here, even if Microsoft hasn't yet made its VR intentions clear (assuming they even exist).

VR's biggest problem hasn't changed a bit since I first put the ski goggle and duct tape prototype on my head back in 2012: You need to try it to really understand. I think Gear VR, however limited its rollout, will help with this problem - no wires and no PC required will help spread the Oculus gospel. So take my word for it, however overly enthusiastic you think my word may be. If VR isn't a flop, it's going to change the world. There is no middle ground scenario here.

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