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Displays Games Technology

Oculus Rift Raises Another $16 Million 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
Craefter writes "It seems that the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset caught the attention of investors after its showing at E3 this year. Spark Capital and Matrix Partners were able to push $16 million at Oculus VR in the hopes that the product will live up to the hype. The HD unit looks a bit more slick than the ski-goggles-with-a-tablet-glued-to-it prototype, but the device would look even more appealing if the next-gen consoles would commit to supporting it. (We all know how well the PS3's 'wave-stick' did as an afterthought.) That said, major titles like the 9-year-old Half-Life 2 and the 6-year-old Team Fortress 2 are getting full support for the device. Hopefully some developers are looking into support for the Oculus Rift as a launch feature, rather than an addition years after the fact. IA bit like the EAX standard from Soundblaster. That worked out well too."
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Oculus Rift Raises Another $16 Million

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  • I am really looking forward to the Oculus' public release, but I really hope they fix the lag in head tracking that results in motion sickness or dizziness in the users. As a guy who used to get nauseous after a few hours of Duke Nukem or Doom, that'd be a pretty major negative in determining whether I will buy one or not.

    Also, I'm glad we've finally hit Johnny Mnemonic levels of tech in real life. Bring on the talking dolphins.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alejux (2800513)
      There are a lot of things that will help reducing motion sickness. One of the main ones is perfect tracking, which means both low latency and positional tracking. These are two things that will likely be solved for the consumer version. Another thing that will help a lot, is related to the content you'll play. Games that have very unrealistic motion (I.E. super fast running and jumping) will tend to induce more sickness, while others that have more realistic motion, will be less likely to. Also, from w
      • Since motion sickness pre-exists VR there are also pre-existing solutions. If it's cool enough I predict a sharp spike in the sale of motion sickness pills, shortly to be followed with a surge in our understanding of the health effects of prolonged acute usage.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      Although I agree, your comparison,

      As a guy who used to get nauseous after a few hours of Duke Nukem or Doom, that'd be a pretty major negative

      ...suggests that it may not be a big issue for sales, since Duke Nukem and Doom were not exactly commercial failures over the motion-sickness issue.

    • Have you tried the Rift? The kickstarter dev version has low latency .. it's not a problem at all at least for me and a few others I know who tried it.

      • by durrr (1316311)

        There's a difference between trying it in some of the leisurely demo levels and playing something like TF2 with it.
        The latter is much more intensive, and I'm not sure it's entirely just tracking lag or something that's at fault here.

        • You should read what valve had to say about integrating the rift, themselves. They discovered they couldn't just read the rift's state at input processing time. They had to do it once then, then again at render time, because 2 milliseconds made a huge difference. Code makes as much a difference as the system itself. TF2 still suffers from absurd running speed syndrome(the walking heavy moves about like you'd feel a jogging speed would be), and isn't a suggested first game for that reason.

      • by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @08:08PM (#44045333)
        I tried the dev version of the rift, and I could only do it for about 10 minutes at a time before feeling like I was going to puke. I wasn't the only one either. I was actually at a rift demo party and it seemed like half the people if not more, had the same issues I did. I don't know if it was the latency that was making me sick or something else, but I would really like this thing to work better. I want to play some VR FPS.
        • What induce motion sickness in the rift, or car, or airplane is a disconnect between what your eyes see and what your body feels (or does not). The latency on the rift is low enough to actually not really matter in the equation. The only way to fix this for most is by training, however there will always be a subgroup that will never be comfortable using the rift, and short of rewiring the brain won't be fixable either.
          • by Reapy (688651)

            Isn't the problem with the rift right now that it has no positional tracking yet? From what I've read the thing most inducing the motion sickness is not keeping track of your head moving around in space, basically the rift can only act as though you are swiveling the camera around, not panning it. Since our heads move around so much normally, that not being represented in the rift is what is causing the puke factor.

            Some solutions mentioned were basically trackIR like tech and its equivalents. I recall carma

          • by Craefter (71540)

            This. Your "inner eye" just has to get used to it. I can remember the first time I saw the original Doom, looking over somebody's shoulder, I got motion sickness within a couple of minutes. Now when I want to play an FPS I know I have to get used to it over a week or so, slowly build up the time I can play before I get sick. I guess a system like the Rift wouldn't be any different. It will never be able to simulate all your senses so you just have to get used to it.

          • My wife gets severe motion sickness, which is a challenge on Pennsylvania roads. For those who aren't familiar, most non-highway PA roads are basically just old farmers paths that have been worn down and eventually paved. They tend to hug the terrain and follow creeks. Fun to drive, bad for motion sickness.

            One trick that I suggested and seems to work is pretending to drive the car. I noticed that most people don't get motion sick when they drive, only when they are in the passenger or rear seats. By pr

        • by Hast (24833)

          I find that it depends a lot on the demo you are trying.

          The included Tuscany demo is very slow paced and most people have no problem handling that. I think out of 30+ people I have demoed my dev kit to only two people have gotten sick from that. Games like HL2 is a lot worse though, and I'm not sure why. I think speed has something to do with it, but it might also be that the rather cramped settings you are playing in aggravates the problem of not tracking head position. (Basically, when you sway your head

    • by virgnarus (1949790) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:20PM (#44044629)

      The dev kit version already has latency tackled very well, so it's not really much of an issue. The HD prototype even further reduced it as well as adding the high res and removal of the screen door effect of the dev kit versions (due to low res display) that would exacerbate the issue.

      Though understand that a lot of the motion sickness comes from the sudden, jarring and quick motions that are common with games nowadays. Games and demos being developed for the Rift are being designed with slower movement in mind to alleviate strain that the eyes may have. It really comes down not so much to the Rift itself but the developers and how they decide to design their games. Rift would work a whole lot better with Halo than it would Unreal Tournament.

      • by chispito (1870390)

        Rift would work a whole lot better with Halo than it would Unreal Tournament.

        I suspect that the most successful and enjoyable VR games will be sandboxes and MMOs. I'd rather visit alien worlds for the sake of exploration than blowing stuff up.

        • I suspect that the most successful and enjoyable VR games will be sandboxes and MMOs.

          The most successful early adopter of technology has historically been the porn industry.

        • That's what I recall they covered in the SXSW Panel Discussion [youtube.com], that certain genres like adventure and exploration games are going to greatly benefit from the Rift.

        • by macson_g (1551397)
          You could join Space Marines to

          See exotic planets, meet interesting and stimulating sentient beings of an ancient culture... and kill them.

      • by am 2k (217885)

        The dev kit version already has latency tackled very well, so it's not really much of an issue.

        As someone who owns the dev kit, I have to disagree. The Unity3D-Demo they ship with it is the best one, but all the other things I've tried (including the Minecraft mod) have a very high latency, which leads to motion sickness really quickly. If you turn your head very slowly, it's ok, but natural movement is awkward.

        However, the worst is movement in the vertical axis, because there's no corresponding motion feeling. I guess you can get used to that, but I haven't used it enough yet. Some folks who have tr

        • Are you talking about the VorpX/VireIO drivers for games that don't officially support Rift? If so, I can understand why that would be a problem, since the drivers are still being worked on and are not fleshed out entirely. I hear that VireIO is the worst of the two but that's only because it's also the earliest and rudimentary.

          Btw, what computer are you using to render the games? I know framerate is a factor in it all.

          One last thing is that Palmer did mention in a panel discussion at SXSW that he's interes

          • by am 2k (217885)

            Are you talking about the VorpX/VireIO drivers for games that don't officially support Rift?

            No, but I definitely want to try those out when I have time.

            Btw, what computer are you using to render the games? I know framerate is a factor in it all.

            Yes, I'm using a MacBook Pro Retina, which is actually recommended as the mobile platform by Oculus. The lag is worse in Mac OS X than Windows, maybe that's just a beta driver issue, though.

            One last thing is that Palmer did mention in a panel discussion at SXSW that he's interested in looking at things like inner ear stimulation methods to emulate motion and position.

            Yes, that's the one thing I think could change the experience significantly, fixing those issues. Reducing lag only helps to prolong the interaction until the nausea crops up again.

            • by Hast (24833)

              My experience is that for the best experience you really need a powerful graphics card. If you get lag you will get motion sickness. (Or at least I do.)

              For that reason I think if you want to use a laptop as a real demo station you'll need a gaming laptop with a fast GPU. Ideally you'd want a desktop most likely.

              It might be worth checking how many FPS you get on your setup. I believe you want at least 60 FPS.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's exactly one of the issues that Carmack stepped in to solve.
      Google some of his articles on the Oculus, it's a great read.

    • by citizenr (871508)

      Fix? you mean you tried Oculus and it was broken? No? Then WHY WOULD YOU WRITE THAT POST? ...

      Tracking is one of the few things Oculus got right - there is no lag, no noticeable latency.

      Display on the other hand is TERRIBAD. Lets hope screenshot of door effect on HD unit is real, it looks good.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      if you can't play duke 3d I doubt you can play any game with this..
      that being said, I get no motion sickness from the rift even if used with(with the hack dll's) mirrors edge.. the lag isn't bad.

      for long playing, you don't actually want to use the head tracking that much anyways(it's better for your neck if you watch up/down with the controller(mouse)..

    • Motion sickness will require greater than 60fps. John Carmack (and others) have also toyed with the notion of having 60fps rendering, and far greater time resolution adjusting that single-frame render in accordance with head tracking.

    • Bring on the talking dolphins.

      They did that in one of our lab at work, but all they said was "So long and thanks for all the fish". The next day, the dolphins were just... gone.

  • 1920 x 1080 is not enough (960 x 1080 per eye ..not counting the lost edges). The resolution on the kickstarter dev headsets looks horrible (granted its not 1920x1080) .. but I am 1000% sure that there's no way boosting up to merely 1920x1080 is going to fix it. In my opinion, they are going to need at least 4K .. possibly as high as 8K .. and that's assuming they use some sort of a diffusion sheet to get rid of the screen door grid effect.

    • Re:HD is not enough (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Alejux (2800513) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:18PM (#44044613)
      Don't knock it off before you try it. People who tried the the 1080 version loved it (pretty much all the screen-door effect is gone). Plus, there's no point having a 4K or 8K resolution with our current level of graphics processing power, since one of the main requirements for a good VR is at least 60fps. These will come in a few years. Until then, people will enjoy the hell out of playing video games from within, instead of watching it through a rectangle.
      • by strack (1051390)
        after 1080p, the best increment in screen output would be a 120hz refresh rate.
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        actually you would like 4k resolution for the device.

        why? because it's half per eye.... I could drop down some effects for increased resolution. and it would make watching movies really fine.

      • by Krneki (1192201)

        a high-end PC can handle 4k res, this is why we have SLI.

        Consoles on the other hand ... meh, who cares for them.

    • There are plenty of clever things that can be done to mitigate the resolution issue. One of course is higher resolution. I recall a 3d simulator at an arcade decades ago that did just fine with much lower resolution.
      For example look up some of the fake 120hz schemes in use (I think true motion 120 is one of them).
      Another is of course the quality of the display units themselves, as well as any associated optics.
      4k and 8k (esp. per eye!) would be great. But I think we're a bit off from s
    • Try it before you get too locked into your position. I tried Sony's headset last year and almost forked over $800 for it. Same resolution as the current OR headsets. The main thing that kept me from buying it was the resolution. I agree that it's not sufficient. But it was close. And the consumer OR headsets will almost certainly be 1920x1080. That would be enough of a bump to look pretty darn good.

      Would more pixels be better? Of course. But what do we have on the consumer market that can drive 4k

      • I think they should be doing at least dual vertical 1080P displays (one for each eye). I don't care if it costs a bit more, or if it needs a better video card. The most important thing is that it is as immersive as possible.
      • by ikaruga (2725453)

        I tried Sony's headset last year and almost forked over $800 for it. Same resolution as the current OR headsets.

        Not same. The HMZ has two 720p displays. The current OR DK has one divided in half. Even their newest 1080p prototype, which is a 1080p display divided in half, has a smaller resolution than the HMZ if you count out the unused border pixels. Saying that the new OR is a Full HD device is like saying the 3DS resolution is 240x800.
        Anyway the HMZ and OR are two very different products. They both fall under the head mount display category, but the OR is optimized for VR while the HMZ is optimized for movies/TV

    • This one is less fun, but realistic from a point of view of FPS gamer.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxCWwa7u7uM [youtube.com]

      • by Hast (24833)

        I found that more reminiscent of Louis CK's rant on "Everything is amazing and nobody is happy". :-)

        There are some valid points though, the screen door is an issue on the dev kits. Personally I find that after a while you don't think about it too much. It feels more like watching "the real world" with a net in front of your eyes than a low resolution screen.

        That the current screen is a compromise is not really a surprise to anyone who has followed the project. They had to swap screens as they started to pro

  • First time I've seen this before. First thought that comes to mind is an application allowing two people wearing the devices to engage is some sort of electronically enhanced sexual experience.. I'm not really sure what that would entail as I haven't thought it through completely but there is something waiting to be found.
    • Finally a way for 2 lonely dudes to have sex with each other while both are looking at a VR woman. This is the end of the human race.
    • by _merlin (160982)

      If you think you could engage in passionate sex while wearing kit like this, you must have some bizarre notion of what passionate sex entails.

  • I was wondering that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ikaruga (2725453) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @07:01PM (#44044897)
    It's been a year since the kickstarter funding and the company formation. They got 2.5M from kickstarter and I suppose another 2.5~3.5 as a personal investment from the current CEO. So they basically had around 6M in the bank at start.
    Then they hired a lot of people. I think they have 20 employees in total if my sources are correct. Assuming a average of 100k/person including bonuses/insurance/etc that is at least 2M/year in expenses.
    Then there is renting, utilities and taxes. That is another 500k/year at least.
    And finally there is the actual development/deployment of the dev kit and promotion(E3 booths, CES, etc) as well as R&D infrastructure build up so there goes most of the rest of the money.
    Without this VC investment, I feared they'd sell off and/or close doors in a question of months. I just hope the VCs don't let their "expertise" go out of control.
    • What I'm interested in is whether this will expedite getting a consumer version out due to increased staffing for R&D and production, or delay it further by increasing features to be implemented into the final product. TBH, I'd be happy either way.

  • I remember Quake on the VFX1. Novel, but not practical for everyday gaming. How's this any different?

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      I remember Quake on the VFX1. Novel, but not practical for everyday gaming. How's this any different?

      because it's practical. it's that much better, even the dev unit.

  • This couldn't come soon enough. Can't wait to play Amnesia on this, and when I say play, I mean up to the first dark corridor just before piss my pants and turn off the game.
  • I have to say, TF2 is one of only a very FEW games I continuously come back to and play, over and over again. I never really get bored with it. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I get the idea an awful lot of people abandoned that game simply because they got their attention re-focused on the latest and greatest, shiny new releases.

    But IMO, Team Fortress 2 checks all the boxes for a truly fun gaming experience. The 3D shooter category only has so many basic concepts for multiplayer play, anyway. You have you

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