From the many activities and awesome stuff we’ve got going on at tretton37, one is virtual reality. We are a bunch of guys particularly interested in this subject and willing to experiment with various equipment and software around it.
The spotlight of the industry on VR has come back in the recent years as these gadgets gain more and more popularity in the community (especially emphasized since Facebook acquired these guys last year). I have always, since I was a little kid fascinated by the opportunities that they provide.
Now one of those nice gadgets has arrived. Actually, it has been there for a while now, but I’ve been too preoccupied to pick it up at home and play around with it. But now I finally got it. The Oculus Development Kit (DK2).
While we are at this subject, I just want to mention that there is some other VR hardware available, such as: Samsung Gear VR, Steam VR, Leap Motion, and Sony Project Morpheus. But, we got this one, as everyone in our group believed that it is the most suitable for us to try.
So, aside from the initial “wow”, it looks nice effect, I had to try it out. I have had tried it out before in our office, but it already had been set up and I just turned it on and hit a bunch of buttons to enjoy the view. This was different. I actually would need to set up everything from scratch.
The guys from Oculus did a pretty good job at documenting everything so if you go to their website there are documents with instructions you can download to get things going.
The very first thing you need to do is to install the runtime. At the time of writing this the latest version was 0.6.0.0-beta. But that didn’t work with my device(I have no idea why. In their support pages I found an answer saying that this is happening on processors that do not support SSE 4.1, which is basically pre-2010 even though I have a MacBook Pro with Windows, from last year).
With little fiddling around and getting frustrated from the message “Service has crashed”, I downloaded the previous version of the runtime and installed that one. This time it worked. After the installation of the drivers(which on my computer installed automatically when I inserted the usbs) and the runtime, a tool appears in the system tray called “Oculus Configuration Utility” (OculusConfigUtil) where you can set it up. With the 0.6 version it kept disconnecting when I was trying to run the “Show Demo Scene”. But, with version 0.5.0.1-beta, it worked like a charm (just remember: you must uninstall everything prior to installing a new version, so if you plan to fiddle around with different versions like I did have this in mind).
So, next to try was the SDK. You have to download the matching SDK for the runtime version that you have installed, of course. So, I did that, and first thing I went straight to the “World Demo”, ran it, and ka-boom there it was, right in front of me 🙂 my new friend Oculus in full effect.
Well, You can move forward and all directions and for a demo it is fantastic, but I had to know more. There is an introduction application that you can download that is has a pretty good intro to what the Oculus can do. You can find it here: http://share.oculus.com/app/welcome-to-oculus, and while you’re there you can download lots of other apps and enjoy trying it out. There’s all sorts of stuff people make, and some of them are really fun.
Next up on my challenge was to determine how I can make my own stuff for it.
After doing (not so) thorough analysis, for me personal it came down to two platforms: Unity and Unreal Engine. They both have their strong and weaker areas, and different pricing strategies. But for a personal beginner like me the price doesn’t make the difference as I will not get rich from it. Unity has a really good scripting platform and you can script in C#, which is a huge advantage for .NET developers. But I chose Unreal Engine to start with as it is being said that it has better graphics than Unity. It is C++ based, but that is not a deal breaker for me, since I was a C/C++ developer in the past, and I hope I still remember many things. For now I just enjoy myself with what the others have done and started doing some really basic stuff in Unreal Engine.
Who knows maybe, just maybe me and VR hit it off into something more serious 🙂
Until next time…Happy coding my friends.