Game developers (and players), get excited: Oculus Rift pre-orders go live Jan. 6, 2016 at 8 AM PT! Oddly, no price has been announced, a strange exclusion. However, the Oculus does come bundled with two games, Lucky’s Tale, and EVE: Valkyrie, at no additional cost. What’s more, Kickstarter backers will receive the new Oculus for free.
Virtual reality (VR) headsets are popping up in hordes, with offerings from Valve, Samsung, and Sony among others. HTC’s Vive headset shipped dev kits in June of 2015, and Oculus Rift dev kits have been out quite a while. As the consumer version of the Rift preps for launch, there’s a lot more VR content, from games to cinematic experiences. In a Jan.28, 2013 Gamasurta article, id Senior Product Manager Joseph Chen explained that the onus for virtual reality is on developers. Without awesome content, VR won’t thrive. Perpetuating the need for additional content is the abundance of virtual reality headsets, from the budget-oriented Google Cardboard to very reasonably priced Samsung Gear VR. Virtual reality is ready for the consumer market.
"We have to have great virtual reality content," says Chen. "That's why we're putting such emphasis on game developers."
It’s now 2016, and developers, as well as game development companies, abided by this idea. Most of the major game engines, including Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, Unity3d, and the Crytek’s CryEngine, all support VR. Poke around the Unity blog and forums, and there are loads of resources for VR developers. Will Goldstone offered a starter pack for plunging into VR on the Unity blog, and there’s a comprehensive community-sourced thread on all things virtual reality. Oculus's own site hosts a dedicated dev section, with PC, mobile, and audio SDKs, and developer-oriented blog posts.
Epic Games has a sweet roundup of subject matter experts (SMEs) discussing various VR topics, such as what virtual reality means, and building VR. SMEs include Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri, and SVP of Content and Technology at NVIDIA Tony Tamasi. Crytek’s blog features a three-part VR roundtable, with thoughts from the likes of CryEngine Creative Director Frank Vitz and Lead Game Designer Patrick Esteves.
The prominence of VR has encouraged collaboration to perpetuate virtual reality. Crytek announced on Nov. 19, 2015 a partnership with VIGAMUS Academy for VR development. In August, Crytek partnered with Basemark on a VR benchmarking tool, which should help devs maintain performance. The trend is clear: virtual reality is poised to completely revamp the way we experience media. A quick browse through the Steam catalog of games shows increased VR support for games, and this isn’t just recent releases. Older titles such as Half-Life 2. Crytek’s forthcoming Robinson is designed from the ground up with VR in mind, and should truly demonstrate the immersive capabilities of virtual reality.