I’ve had my Oculus Rift DK2 for a month now. Here’s what I’ve found!
About a month ago, I finally got my Oculus DK2 in the mail. I’d waited for three months for the newest batch to be manufactured in China and ship out, so it was late October when I finally got the beast in the mail. It came in a handsome cardboard box direct from Oculus VR headquarters in Irvine—here’s an unboxing video:
The Oculus comes in tangle of cords. There’s the main headset, which requires connections to both HDMI and USB. Then there’s a positional tracking device, which attaches to the top of your monitor so that the computer can tell where your head is and relay back the right information. The positional tracking gear connects both to the Oculus and then to your computer via another USB connects—yep, the whole setup requires two USB ports and 1 HDMI connection on your machine. On my MacBook Pro, that’s every port available.
Then you need a pair of external headphones, meaning that when you’ve got the Oculus on, you’re in a tangle of wires. It’s not a huge problem, but it does mean that you shouldn’t get too over-excited and yank your head around or move around quickly, because you’ll likely pull the cords out of your computer or send it flying.
The Oculus comes with the basic “Tuscany” simulator, which lets you experience being in a villa in Tuscany. It was developed by Oculus VR itself, it’s very detailed, and it’s by far my favorite app I’ve seen for the Oculus so far—in fact, it’s been the favorite app of everybody I’ve demoed to Oculus for (about a dozen people), and the only one that’s consistently held people’s attention without disorienting them. There’s just a level of detail that I haven’t seen matched on the Oculus Share download store, where you can get hold of the free apps that independent developers have created for the machine so far. Most of them are very, very crude and experimental, and while they may be high-concept—walking on the moon or Mars, or meditating in a forest, for instance—the execution hasn’t *quite* caught up yet.
Here’s the Tuscany simulator, or at least what it looks like in 2D (and on a DK1, not DK2, although it doesn’t look that different):
That brings us to a new hurdle, however: The Oculus, to my dismay, doesn’t *quite* work on a Mac, and I’d like some help on this if anybody can offer their insight. OK, it works about 90% (I’m running a 2012 Retina MacBook Pro with 16 MB RAM and a SSD.) However, the Oculus apps can display various levels of judder—a kind of frame jerkiness when looking side to side—that, while it doesn’t break the experience, is a little annoying and prevents full immersion. Reading reports online, it seems this is a common issue with using the Oculus on the Mac.
This meant that I spent a lot of the Thanksgiving break tried to get Boot Camp or Parallels running on my MacBook so that I could run Windows on it, and play Alien: Isolation as recommended to me by Duncan Trussell. However, since I’ve got that SSD I mentioned, I’ve only got 256 GB *total*, and a Windows partition would probably take 60 of that at least, and likely a lot more, potentially crippling my Mac.
Argh. Well, that means my next potential step is buying a cheap gaming PC off of Amazon—like, for instance, this one, from the cheesily-named “CyberpowerPC,” which my friend Adam remarks sounds like the local bad guys in a B horror movie. Does it really need to come to that after shelling out $400 for an Oculus (including tax & shipping)?
In the meantime, I’ve been making my way through the apps on the Oculus Share store. I’m limited here too, because most of the best stuff is PC-only. Arghhh!
Of what I’ve seen, my favorite so far (outside of Tuscany) is “AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaCULUS!!!,” which simulates jumping off of a space elevator towards Earth. It’s pretty amazing. Video here:
I do have to say, my Oculus time has been limited, largely because I haven’t seen anything that doesn’t fall into the “novelty” category. At least for Mac, there’s nothing really available that does anything beyond hint at the potential that the Oculus may one day have. There’s nothing here that I’d skip real reality for—nothing fully immersive, with enough of a storyline or addictive gameplay to be anything close to a killer app.
That’s yet to come. In the meantime, I’ve been demoing the Oculus for as many people I can, from lots of different walks of life. In general, everybody likes Tuscany, and nobody stays in it for more than 5-10 minutes before they feel like they’ve “got it” and taken it off. Only one or two people (both men!) experienced nausea or Sim Sickness–but it lasted for over two hours(!) for one of them!
Below, my friend Keika takes a look:
More thoughts soon!