Oculus Unboxed – Sock Rocked

** Originally published on Project- Grey till we shut it down because we don’t know how to business**

Finally getting to use an Oculus was as surreal as it was disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, the visual display and it’s interaction and communication with my physical movements was near on flawless.  The sensation of looking at a basketball in a Spanish villa and hearing my girlfriends voice suddenly emerge from it as she insisted that I give her a turn was startling and I won’t soon forget the sudden horror I felt as I started climbing up a medieval roller-coaster and remembered I’m terrified of heights.

But it was totally worth it for the adrenaline, and as a bonus I didn’t have the health and safety concerns that I normally associate with roller-coasters. Also I didn’t have to buy an overpriced showbag. But it was disappointing because I could taste the potential, much like I did with my first 32mb colour phone, and I know that it’s still so far from where it’s going. But it’s going to be a damn pretty ride and I’ll buy every model along the way.

IMG_20130726_134639_grandeMy first impressions: obviously the bulk and the constraints of wires made it less than comfortable initially, and strapping it to my head didn’t feel very natural. But it sat very well and immediately encompassed me in the low-res, dev-kit reality. I looked up, and I was looking at a roof, I looked left, and saw a doorway. I spent a while trying to circle strafe as I pride myself on this, got tangled and nearly smashed the computer. It was so immersive that I nearly immediately forgot where I was, so directions from the others were off putting, as they seemed to come from nowhere. I’ve read that it was disorienting, but as someone who walks around in a state of constant disorientation at the best of times, this was easy to adjust to.

There was virtually no lag and it felt seamless, though using the head as a mouse, and the WASD set up for manoeuvring took a little bit to get used to. I tried the roller-coaster, which was just being still and looking around, and a model house, where you can explore. It had a garden on a cliff side, with butterflies and dappled sunlight peeking through dew soaked trees beautiful enough to make a grown man blog. When I took it off I felt sick, but I wasn’t sure if it was the balancing tubes in my ear canals being out of whack with the world, or just the sheer devastation of not being able to go home to an Oculus.

IMG_20130726_132146_grandeSuffice to say it was truly an amazing experience. Something I’ve waited for and dreamed of since a child. But it was a dev kit in the office, with no games per say, just environments to explore while standing up, balancing a keyboard and wearing what could loosely be described as a low res refrigerator on my head. Being able to play with the Oculus for a little while was like letting the fat kid lick the cake spoon and then sending him outside to eat grass.

I had to unclutch my hands and put it back on a bench and go back to the stupid normal world, knowing that it’d be a few years before I was plugging this bad boy into an X-box, stepping onto a capacitive rotating floor pedestal, and having my movement tracked by Kinect, as I fought to return glory to the Dragonborn and balance to Skyrim.

To be honest though, if I had Skyrim with the Oculus right now my life would probably be ruined.  They’d find me dead from dehydration, with a muscular neck and a god damned smile on my face.

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