3D Artist

Oculus Rift interview: the new virtual reality headset for 3D gaming

News & Features

Inventor of the Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey, sheds light on the challenges his next generation virtual reality headset will present for 3D games artists

Oculus Rift interview: the new virtual reality headset for 3D gaming

Having just confirmed that the company will be attending Siggraph this year, Oculus VR, which began in founder Palmer Luckey’s parent’s garage in 2011, aim to create the world’s best virtual reality headset designed specifically for highly immersive gaming. The Oculus Rift is the company’s first product, a virtual reality headset set apart by it’s stereoscopic 3D rendering and wide field of view, as well as the fact that it is set to be the only consumer-priced technology of it’s kind currently available, so that anyone will be able to simply ‘plug in’ to a game’s virtual environment.

With game companies including Valve, Epic Games and Unity  supporting the Oculus Rift, we talk to Luckey about what the new headset could mean for 3D games artists.

Oculus Rift interview: the new virtual reality headset for 3D gaming

Can you tell us a little about why you embarked on the Oculus Rift project?

Because I wanted to take games beyond where they have been stuck for so long, and allow people to feel as if they have actually stepped inside their games.

How does the Oculus Rift work? How do you ensure it’s providing the most immersive gaming experience possible?

The Rift uses a wide field of view 3D image and low latency head tracking that creates a virtual world that reacts the same way as the real one, allowing the player to look around inside the game as if it were reality.  Low latency head tracking is extremely important.  Without it, your view lags behind your movements, and your brain knows that what it is looking at is not real.

What new challenges does the Oculus Rift present to 3D artists? Are they required to do more work in order to make games compatible with the device? 

In most games, players move through the environment without really checking out their surroundings.  In a 3D VR headset like the Rift, people tend to take more time in examining their environments, checking out many small details. Combined with the fact that players can get very close to things, it becomes clear that higher resolution objects and textures are a priority in VR, as are techniques to make surfaces look less flat like bump mapping.

Would you say there is more pressure on 3D artists to increase the visual fidelity of their work given that players will be experiencing it in such an intimate manner?

Absolutely. The more attention that players give to 3D models, the more fidelity needs to be given to them.  This is especially true for things that will often be in the near field of the player, like player body models and weapons.

What do you see in the future for Oculus Rift? Are there applications outside of gaming that it could be useful for?

Virtual reality has been used in fields like medicine, emergency response training, education, and CAD design for years.  The Rift takes technology that used to cost tens of thousands of dollars and makes it available for only hundreds, so all of those fields can pursue wider adoption of VR technology.  It also opens it up to fields where it was never remotely feasible to use VR, like consumer telepresence and 3D movie watching.  VR is unique in that it lets you simulate almost any medium imaginable, so the possibilities really are endless.

Check out the Oculus VR official website at http://www.oculusvr.com to find out more or to pre-order the Oculus Rift Development Kit and access the Oculus SDK.