It has been a little over 5 years since the start of this blog, even though I has been a stereoscopic 3D enthusiasts for much longer, the reason for the existence of the blog was Nvidia’s 3D Vision. I was really excited when they have announced it and when the first 3D Vision-ready monitors started appearing on the market I was eager to get one as I really did see the potential that the technology had for gaming. And back then since it was something really new and exciting I decided to share my experience, knowledge and other useful information with other users that were just starting and this is how this blog was born.
Now, five years later we are seeing a deja vu as the situation with 3D Vision is pretty much the same as with the Nvidia Stereoscopic 3D Drivers that were available before the birth of 3D Vision. Nvidia did create a market and strong demand for products at first, however they slowly start to neglect things and in a few years they kill the market. This is exactly what is happening with the 3D Vision now as Nvidia hasn’t done almost anything new in many months. The latest bigger things were the announcement of the G-Sync monitors, some with 3D Vision support, that however were greatly delayed to market. The other more recent thing is the addition of “3D Compatibility Mode”, but the more important thing – supporting and pushing game developers to integrate Stereo 3D support in games has been long gone. It is not about fixing games after they have been released, but integrating proper stereo 3D support while they are being developed.
The stereo 3D gaming community can do the fixing with the help of tools like Helixmod wrapper, however even the game modders are giving up on 3D Vision as instead of helping them Nvidia seems to be doing just the opposite. This is really discouraging and if Nvidia does plan to abandon 3D Vision like they did with their old Stereoscopic 3D Drivers, then they should at least open the project and not kill it completely. The people in different stereoscopic 3D gaming communities that are using 3D Vision have asked numerous times that Nvidia works on something or improves another thing in order for 3D Vision to become better and easier to be used, but we have not seen any results. This is really discouraging and many people have just decided that it is enough for them, some of you might of thing this for me as well due to the last few months with no updates here…
I have not given up on stereo 3D and 3D Vision, at least not yet. I was just busy with other things and have decided to get some rest from 3D, not that very much was happening with 3D Vision anyway, and the Facebook and Oculus deal was a bit of surprise and I wanted to see what will come out of it. So far it seems that things are still good and I’m about to get my hands on the pre-order of the DK2 hopefully next week, so all is not lost. However Oculus Rift is not something that can replace 3D Vision, these are two different things, and even though some of their features and functionality do overlap they are still not the same thing. VR with 3D support is an interesting new concept, but for really good results you need content developed especially for the device, meaning that you not only need a good hardware, but good software support as well. At least here Oculus is doing much, much, much better than Nvidia as Oculus Rift is their only product, unlike Nvidia that has many products and technologies and cannot focus solely on 3D Vision. So interesting times could still lay ahead of stereo 3D technology, so we’ll have to wait and see..
The Oculus team has announced that they have “joined forces with Facebook to create the best virtual reality platform in the world” in their blog, but the truth is that Facebook is going to be buying Oculus for approximately $2 billion USD. According to the official press release the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014. The reaction to this news by the community is mostly negative and you can easily figure out why. Initially Oculus was a gaming oriented VR-capable device and most if not all people that have backed up the project have done so because of that promise. Now with Facebook buying the company as it clearly sees the potential in VR in the future, the things will undoubtfully move away from the gaming side and will most likely focus on the use of the VR hardware for the next level of social platform or what you may easily call Facebook 2.0. Even with The Facebook CEO reassuring that gaming will continue to be the main goal of the project for now, people still feel cheated:
Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won’t be changing and we hope to accelerate. The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there’s a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform. We’re going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this.
But this is just the start. After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home. This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.
Yes, VR does have a lot of potential and apparently Facebook knows that and the fact that Oculus was way ahead in achieving really immersive and affordable VR experiences, way ahead of competition, so they have acted in doing what is the best thing if they wanted to get into VR now. Facebook certainly can afford to do a deal like that and has the financial resources to really do something great with VR technology, however the most serious concern is that they will use all of that only to integrate the technology in Facebook. Things could’ve been better if another company with more interest into gaming such as Microsoft or Sony has made the deal with Oculus instead of Facebook. Sony has just recently announced their alternative of Oculus that seemed a lot like a copy of the Rift, but not yet to technologically advanced, but now they may actually get ahead of Oculus if gamers decide to back up their product instead of Oculus Rift. We’ll see how the final Sony product will compare to the new Oculus Rift, but it will may not come as a surprise if Sonny announces that their Project Morpheus will become a new top priority for the company.
Now, looking at the Oculus Rift just from a gamers’ perspective is probably not right anymore, even Oculus is not talking about the Rift as a gaming only device, but as a VR platform with many possibilities. The fact that Facebook may kill most of them in order to bring users to the next level by integrating Virtual Reality experiences in their social network still remains highly possible, even when Mark Zuckerberg says that they will not kill the original idea and the team at Oculus will remain the same. We’ll see how this will turn out, if it will be for good or for bad. The fact is that Facebook is a social media and their interests are mainly there, not games, or not games in the way that people like to experience with the Rift. Instead of providing the best VR experience that consumers want, Facebook may actually deliver the “best experience” the way the want it to be and force you to either accept it this way or not use it at all.
I have personally pre-ordered the new Oculus Rift DK2 the moment it was announced without even thinking twice about it, however if the deal with Facebook was announced before the pre-order was put on the website I might have thought about it before hitting the order button…
Oculus has announced the DK2, the second development kit for the Oculus Rift, already available for pre-order at $350 USD and shipping in July. The second development kit features many of the key technical breakthroughs and core elements of the consumer Rift including a low-persistence, high-definition display and precise, low-latency positional head tracking. The new DK2 isn’t going to be identical to the upcoming consumer version of the Rift, however it will be very close to what you should expect from the final consumer model. All the content developed using DK2 will supposedly work with the consumer Rift.
The new DK2 uses a low persistence OLED display to eliminate motion blur and judder, two of the biggest contributors to simulator sickness. Low persistence also makes the scene appear more visually stable, increasing the potential for presence. The new high-definition 960×1080 per-eye display (Full HD OLED screen split into two) reduces the screen-door effect and improves clarity, color, and contrast according to Oculus.
The new Oculus DK2 is supposed to also come with integrated precise, low-latency positional head tracking solution using an external camera that allows you to move with 6-degrees-of-freedom and opens up all sorts of new gameplay opportunities like peering around corners, leaning in to get a closer look at objects in the world, and kicking back on a virtual beach. Precise positional tracking is another key requirement for comfortable virtual reality; without it, an enormous amount of your real world movement is lost. Time to pre-order… total cost was $486 USD with the shipping to Europe and taxes added to the price of the unit.