Virtual reality is easily one of the most exciting frontiers in gaming and technology right now. We stand on the cusp of entering a whole new universe which we can explore not with a mouse and keyboard, but with our eyes, ears and – when the hardware is released – hands. But while long time fans of companies like Oculus are on tenterhooks awaiting the pre-order date for the first consumer headset, there are still plenty of exciting VR developments happening day to day.
Thanks to the release of developmental kits over the past couple of years from Oculus and more recently HTC/Valve, game and experience developers across the globe have been crafting small VR worlds for some time now. Some of them are baby steps into the virtual void, with people learning how to craft these sorts of experiences, but others are far more fully featured.
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It's those diamonds in the rough that I want to take some time showcase for you guys. I've spent a lot of time over the past year trying all manner of demonstrations and games that work – to varying degrees – within my Oculus Rift DK2 headset to see what's out there, and there are some that are really worth showing off.
So for this first step into KitGuru's look at the state of virtual reality, I want to take you inside the brain of a musician, to show not only one of the most beautiful Rift demos available today, but also the potential for education that VR holds.
Of course what you see within the Rift is a little different than what's on a 2D display. The textures aren't as crisp there (though the frame rate is higher due to video compression) and you have to deal with a screen door effect (SDE), whereby the lines between pixels are visible due to the user's proximity to the panel. But the feeling of presence is stupendous and Kite and Lightning really knows what it's doing when it comes to making something look pretty in VR. Keeping the neuron firing segment in darkness was a move that eliminated the SDE almost completely and really aided in making for an awe inspiring moment in VR.
But it's the fact that you can lean through the MRI scan to look at different parts of the brain that is really exciting. Eye candy is one thing, teaching people how the brain operates with a ‘working' brain in VR is another thing entirely.
For those that want to try the demo out on their own headsets, it's available on Oculus Share here.
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KitGuru Says: Imagine a serious version of Surgeon Simulator. Something like that has the potential to teach anyone basic surgery. Since every other game assumes we're going to be surviving in a post-apocalyptic world, that's probably a good skill to learn.