I'm a professional game developer from Wakefield, England, working as a senior programmer for Rebellion North.
I'm a married father of five and I a also sometimes do Retroburn stuff.
Martin 'Bytrix' Caine
Father. C++ Games Programmer. Cyclist. Guitarist.
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Tuesday, May 14th 2013 / Gaming

Day Three With The Oculus Rift - Observations

Yesterday I decided not to play with the Rift after work as I'd felt a bit ill all day and didn't want to make it worse, so to cover my third day with the Rift I think I'll share a few observations I've made during my first two days using the device.

To start with, I'd advise anyone using the rift to sit on a solid chair, or at least try and seat yourself in a fixed position while using the Rift. When first trying out a few games in VR my kids were clamouring to see and kept moving my swivel chair around while I was sitting on it. This really did not feel good, having my body move but not having the world move felt very wrong and made me nauseous. You should try and limit your body movement and just use your controller/keyboard/mouse and your head to look around to avoid any disconnect between what you're seeing and your body movement.

Make sure you calibrate before doing anything else! Using Team Fortress 2's calibration really made a huge difference and I was running around, jumping, and shooting and felt pretty good afterwards.

The next thing I've noticed is how most of the games I've tried use very little of the available screen space on the Oculus. I'm not sure why this is as the Oculus World demo clearly fills up almost the entire screen when rendering. TF2 and HL2 for example only seem to use about the central 70% of the screen with the top and bottom 15% left black. When viewing the screen as in the images below this looks much more squashed than the Oculus World demo. The third party Vireio driver also doesn't seem to warp the image to the full screen and only uses about 50% of the available height. I don't know if this even makes any difference but I would've thought that using a more 'full' view as the Oculus World demo does would provide a more optimised experience. Check out the screenshots below for comparisons of how the image is warped to fill the Oculus' view:

Later this week I think I fancy trying Doom 3. I read that some modders have managed to add in the code to the open-source Doom 3 code to properly support the Oculus. I'll also give Positron a whirl but I seriously think I might only last 30 seconds before the game makes me puke. I can imagine it being pretty intense in the Rift. If I can confirm it works correctly though I'll release a Rift demo and see how other people find it.

[edit] Something I forgot to mention was the quality of the screen. The resolution of the screen is something many people have complained about since it's 1280x800 meaning each eye effectively has a 640x800 screen. Considering what I've shown above, most games aren't even using this full resolution and are more like 640x700. I don't think the resolution is too bad though, you have to remember that any stereoscopic rendering is doubly taxing on your graphics card since it has to render the scene twice and doing so at 1080p or higher might not be possible for the average PC. The problem for me is that I keep noticing the black lines between each and every pixel on the screen. Since the screen is so close to your eyes (and is magnified by the huge lenses) you can clearly make out the grid containing the screen pixels. There are clear black lines separating every coloured pixel on screen and I can only imagine that if the screen were of higher quality and had some interpolation or otherwise had no visible gap between pixels then the experience would be that little bit more immersive.

If you found this post helpful please leave a comment below:
planetarian / 2013-06-14 02:30:20
This is a late comment, but I just wanted to mention something -- rendering the scene twice really shouldn't be that much more taxing on your GPU and whatnot. It's rendering the scene to the same number of pixels either way (actually fewer), meaning that each half of the screen is doing half the number of render passes and whatnot as compared to a fullscreen single-image mode, so it really should not doing much more work, if any (and may possibly be doing less due to the empty portion of the screen).
planetarian / 2013-06-14 02:31:18
...that said, shutterglass 3d IS doing twice the rendering, as it has to render in 120hz. Not the case here =)
jdub1981 / 2013-08-10 21:45:59
received my rift last week. Half life 2 is flat out awesome for the first 10 minutes. Then the nausea starts. Anytime you go up stairs or do anything that has change altitude in game wreaks havoc on the brain it seems.

Resolution is problematic but downsampling from a resolution of 1920 x 1200 helps a lot and can hide the gap between pixels better. This is not the consumer version so gotta remember that.