I built myself a PC some time ago to run Hauptwerk, especially the Rotterdam organ, which meant a very quiet case and cooler, an I7 4790K and 32GB RAM. When I stumbled over the Microsoft Flight Simulator, I also built in a decent graphics card (Geforce 1070 with 8GB). On the advertising pages of the graphics card driver was information about VR games, so in the aftermath I had an eye on it. More or less unplanned, I decided to buy an Oculus Rift in late November, together with The Climb.
Virtual Reality Experience
The first conclusion: VR is just cool. When I was in Trier for the Christmas shopping, I was really wondering why the customers in the media markets do not carry these things out on a pallet-wise - instead, it seems that the VR glasses have not yet reached the mass market. The Oculus Rift is already pretty mature and affordable with 449 €, a good monitor costs about the same amount. During the setup, I blocked myself first a few days because I did not find the HDMI output on the graphics card and thought it had four display ports. Only after the newly ordered HDMI on Displayport adapter did not work, I've read through the description again and found that behind the third same-looking plug of the graphics card actually hides a HDMI. The setup was pretty straightforward and the introduction is just cool: the touch controllers are presented as the virtual hands, they are exactly where your hands should be and do exactly what your hands do - grab, point ... and everything in 3D.
Rift and Glasses
After three weeks of use, however, there is a downer: If you're a wearer of glasses like a real nerd, there are problems. Normally, I am no longer aware of this handicap, I put my glasses on first thing in the morning, last at the night and that's why I did not thought of it before. It says on the Oculus site that glasses would work to a certain size. The size of mine is no problem, they fit under the VR glasses well and in principle even beween lenses and face. I also found the link to vr-lens-lab.com , but there the availability was limited to 8 dioptres, but I need 8.5. They say that you can ask for other values, but for my request I have not received an answer yet. In addition, there is no imprint, and the whois query leads only to a hosting company in the Bahamas. So not very trustworthy if to be paid in advance. So now to "in principle". It means that one should take care that glasses and lenses should not touch, but how can you check that? The only clue was a sensation on the nose that could have come from the friction of glass on glass. Due to the reflections in the lens it was also not able to see if there are scratches. But I also hoped that the friction of smooth glass on smooth glass has no consequences .. unfortunately now the certainty: the two layers of tempering are already gone and there are dull spots. Oh Crap. I could have imagined that my glasses would not be pressed so close to my eyes that the eyebrows smeared the inside naturally. Because nothing can be found in the web, I wrote to the Oculus support if you can exchange / repair the lenses. Although the glasses of my glasses were only two and a half years old, but they were already pretty scratched. Somehow I have over the years more or less scratch-resistant ones, at least you can still put it in the "write-off" book. Now I just have to go to the optician first, see if the values for the glasses are still correct, then try it again with vr-lens.de correction lenses for the Rift (this time from a German optician), then have the my glasses changed and repaired the rift. I thought. The Oculus support is also a write-off, practically non-existent. Although there is someone who answers you nicely, but they do not do anything. They can or will not repair anything, and so the rift is just a disposable item after even light damage and for that too expensive. This is a fat, thick minus point.
After the VR experience has worked so well, my curiosity is always to what extent you can still optimize the system. In this case it means: 360° tracking and maximize the playing area. There is no real information in the net and from Oculus, there is only the info that the two front sensors should be as far apart as possible (3 meters). In the end, the result simply depends on what the setup routine barely accepts. After an evening of experimenting with the orientation of the sensors, I ended with sensors at the three corners of a rectangle of 2.7 x 2.9 m (and thus just under four meters in the diagonal), so only 270 cm between the front sensors, more is simply not accepted.
What is also worth mentioning: the necessary extension of the cables. The third sensor comes with an active 5 meter USB2.0 cable, which is long enough. To extend the cables of the Rift, a distinction must be made between the USB cable and the HDMI cable. Although it is written everywhere that it is USB3.0, but this seems to be a fake information: In the Control Panel, the connection is specified as a 2.0 hub and so it is not critical, even with a 3-meter USB2.0 cable. With the HDMI cable, the Rift is a bit fussy, because not everyone works and now I know why there are 5 € and 15 € cables. The latter is certified and triple shielded and works, the former not.
First, it has to be said that Facebook / Oculus is quite messy with the prices. I have nothing against special offers, but that goes too far. I bought the Rift for 449 € and The Climb for 49.99 €, but now both were available for 419 and 9.99 !! €. In other words: I got ripped of 70 € and I can not stand that. As a merchant, I know for sure that a price is nothing chiseled in concrete, but with such an up and down a company loses the credibility totally. Again, the support is a total failure. On top of that is that you can not even resell your bought licenses due to the closed system if you are pissed off because they are personal. This is a second very big minus point. The only tip I can give you: Always keep an eye on the special offers. The Rift notes for example at the moment on Oculus again for 449 €, but MediaMarkt sells it for 399 €. And the daily deals on the apps are pretty much rotating. Just be careful, as Daily does not count from midnight, but sometime in the afternoon. Here is the list of apps I've tried so far:
- Oculus First Contact: The introductory program starts automatically after the Touch Controller tutorial and is already an experience for those who have never had anything to do with VR: You are in the caravan, can touch the things and interact with them ... for getting to know really great
- Oculus Dreamdeck consists from five virtual locations and is more a less only a demo for viewing. Not really worth the disk space.
- Mountain Goat Mountain - only a port of a mobile phone jump (without run) game, but is addicting in 3D. You can really look ahead where the best route is.
- Mission:ISS is also a nice hour for free. Here you learn how to move by grabbing and pulling in a weightless environment.
- Robo Recall is available as a free add to the touch controllers and is really fun - simply a shooter. The inmersion, the feeling of being really there, is huge and was the reason why I upgraded to 360° tracking. Even though there are only three locations with three levels each, you can play them over and over again to master more challenges which will unlock better gear.
- The Climb Also very well made. I have climbed in real and even if one disregards the fact that in real life, you pay attention in the first place where to put your feet and a rest point is characterized by the fact that you can relieve your arms completely at best (in the game is even free-hanging in the overhang, ouch ..) but the feel with the touch controllers is although very realistic. The optics too. Only now I would not pay 49.99 €, that was too much.
- The Wizards That was a bargain from the Daily Deals for 9.99. Not as mature as early access, but quite promising, depending on how much content is still coming. The idea of being able to fire spells depending on your hand movements definitely has something.
- FlyInside FSX - strictly speaking, this is not part of the Oculus universe, but it is definitely worth considering. Who has dealt with the Microsoft Flight Simulator X - it gets in VR a whole new dimension. Is also still in development and crashes from time to time, because the output of the FSX (which somebody at that time almost prophetically has generated in 3D) is combinated with overlays and fed into the Rift. They are still working on it and it is just cool. For that you accept the lower resolution, because it is an effectively larger image rendered (somewhere mentioned something like 3600 pixels) to create the VR and that is only possible with less detail. I'm not so demanding at the frame rate, for the the VR I need about 50 (recommended 70) fps. In 2D you just need less total pixels and less fps so you can have a much more realistic picture on the monitor. The experience is still much more intense in VR and for some there will certainly be motion sickness (for me only while crashing the plane, i have to close my eyes then). You have really the feeling to sit in the plane (oh man are they small) and if you want to look over the dashboard to the runway, then you can do just that. If you are flying with the glider in the thermals, you also appreciate the generous field of view of the Rift, because at least I look more peripheral than straight ahead and the keyhole effect is not a too big.
The three big minus points - ability to wear glasses, repair options and price system policy clearly pull down the final result. Technically, VR is a great experience and in the current form also fulfills the purpose. It will probably take a few years until the computer performance and TFT miniaturization has doubled that you can double the dpi (and quadruple the total pixels), then that's another evolution if you no longer see the pixel grid. Until then I would buy the Rift again and I will do an update here if I have the corrective lenses. And I'm still waiting for Dirt Rally back in the deal, for 12.99 this is also a purchase, but I need a steering wheel and pedals for it. In real life I'm not such a big driver, so why not get try it in the VR? It will also change a lot in the game market when the "big" titles are written specifically for VR. Until then, pretty much every genre that has long been believed to be dead takes on a completely new dimension, literally and proverbially. That there is not so much content right now is not that bad for me at least, because I have the chronic INTJ time problem (overflowing ToDo-list) anyway and therefore my time drifting off to virtual spheres is limited.