The Rift between Oculus and Hololens
2016 is looking to be a promising year for gaming enthusiasts as the long awaited arrival of virtual reality finally crawls out of the sci-fi films and into our living rooms. These are exciting times indeed, and many a gamer has exhausted all the available YouTube content about these devices, to try and accurately imagine just what kinds of fun we’ll be able to have on these technological marvels. So as a gamer, hopefully to other gamers, let’s discuss what we can expect from some of the industry’s biggest developers of virtual reality and augmented reality hardware.
Set to release in early 2016, this device and its accurate head tracking, 90 degree field of vision view, floating sound and compatibility with almost any device has gamers reeling to try it out. The lucky few who have, report endless fun, an almost fully immersive gameplay experience, a revitalization of their most played games and… rather severe motion sickness.
Oculus is particularly proud of the Rift’s ability to put you in the cockpit of games like Elite Dangerous and No Man’s Sky, and immerse yourself in the titles by seeing each of your controls and allowing you to use head tracking to look around your cockpit. Gamers have been dreaming of this kind of virtual reality since MechWarrior came out in 1989, and now it seems it’s just around the corner.
But just as we were coming to terms with our minds being blown by the imminent arrival of VR, we were treated to some news from Microsoft about their AR (augmented reality) device that had hardware enthusiasts putting off their gaming wish-lists, to see what Microsoft had to offer with their creation.
The Hololens demo created a spark of inspiration for architects, carpenters, medical practitioners and media junkies, world over. But who cares about how this tech will transform the real world? I am more interested in how I can spend some alone time with this technology blowing things up.
So far the only thing which has given us a view of Hololens’ gaming capability is the short demonstration given at The Microsoft build developer conference in April 2015. Minecraft demonstrated how the Hololens could make its entire world and all of the blocky creations therein, come to life in the player’s living room. While it is my dream to have a gateway to the nether realm as the entrance to my bathroom, I’m more interested in how the Hololens can be used for strategy games.
Imagine the Homeworld universe floating in the middle of your room, where you can select scouts and construction fleets by grabbing them out of the air, or a Diablo 3 ‘adventure’ session on your dining room table.
Turn based style games will probably undergo some major changes as well, think of the epic Pokémon battles that we never actually got to have on our playgrounds. It’s unfair.
LAN parties, just imagine! No longer will we be confined to our little area of the table in the battle, not when the whole room becomes the battlefield with each player physically moving and interacting with their units as the whole map floats in the air, plays out on the floor or conquers the dinner table.
I’m still trying to wrack my brain for a practical use for FPS games. I assume a limited and safe space would be a prerequisite to take full advantage of the Hololens’ environment mapping features, but then, perhaps there are a few good reasons why it’s not recommended that adults run the streets playing Grand Theft Auto Online in their augmented world. If you’ve seen the movie Existenz, you’ll know why.
With both the Rift and the Hololens, as well as other, lesser knows developers of VR and AR like Sony’s Project Morpheus, we are only seeing the beginnings of a new technology. In ten years the ‘wow’ factor will be gone and these devices will me smaller, more efficient, cheaper and more convincing that what we are about to get, regardless of how awesome it looks.
The market is really opening up to independent app developers which means that the application of these remarkable devices in gaming, is going to be more creative and accessible than it has ever been in the past. Think of it as the indi-app development culture levelling up.
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