Oculus VR » General http://www.oculus.com Oculus VR, a technology company revolutionizing the way people experience video games. Mon, 22 Sep 2014 07:49:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Oculus Connect 2014 http://www.oculus.com/blog/oculus-connect-2014/ http://www.oculus.com/blog/oculus-connect-2014/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 17:34:40 +0000 http://www.oculus.com/?p=6148 We’re thrilled to welcome nearly 1,000 developers from around the world to Oculus Connect, our first developer conference.

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If you’re not at the event, you can join us for the remaining keynotes live on www.twitch.tv/oculus. Michael Abrash will be speaking next starting at 10:30am PST, and John Carmack will follow him at 11:30 PST. You can see the full show schedule at www.oculus.com/connect.

Crescent Bay Prototype

We’re really excited to introduce a new feature prototype, Crescent Bay.

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Crescent Bay is the latest prototype headset on the path to the consumer version of the Rift. Crescent Bay features new display technology, 360° head tracking, expanded positional tracking volume, dramatically improved weight and ergonomics, and high-quality integrated audio.

These enhancements allow for a level of presence that’s impossible to achieve with DK2. If you’re here at Oculus Connect, you’ll be able to try Crescent Bay today.

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Along with the new hardware, we’ve created original demo content, which we’re calling the “Crescent Bay Experiences,” developed in-house by our content team specifically for Oculus Connect.

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The Oculus Content team in Seattle, not shown: Seneca, Tom, Kenneth, and Tyler.

The demo is designed to demonstrate the power of presence and give you a glimpse into the level of VR experience you can expect to see come to life in gaming, film, and beyond.

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This is still incredibly early hardware.  There are plenty of technical challenges left to solve for the consumer Rift, but Crescent Bay is truly the best virtual reality headset we’ve ever built.

Unreal Engine 4 & VR

Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) continues to be one of the best engines for virtual reality development. Epic has dedicated huge resources to optimizing UE4 for the Rift and making it incredibly easy to build awe-inspiring VR experiences.

Almost every major Oculus prototype announcement has been accompanied by a new Unreal Engine demo, like Elemental VR, Strategy VR, and Couch Knights. For Crescent Bay, Epic put together an brand new experience called Showdown.

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Everyone at Oculus Connect will be able to try Showdown running on Crescent Bay. Nick Whiting and Nick Donaldson, who both worked on all of the VR demos at Epic, will also be giving a talk later this afternoon at 3:30 PST entitled Learnings from UE4 Engine Integration and Demos

Oculus & Unity Partnership

Unity has one of the most active developer communities building for the Rift, and today we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve partnered with Unity to make Oculus an official platform and build target.

This means that Unity will now fully support Oculus and the Rift with a dedicated add-on that includes stereo imaging optimizations, 3D audio support, and other features specifically for virtual reality.

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Best of all, Oculus will be now be supported in both the Free and Pro versions of Unity.

We’ve seen a huge amount of incredible content built with Unity and Oculus over the last two years, including ground-breaking projects like Lucky’s Tale, Titans of Space, SUPERHOT, and DarkNet. We hope the partnership enables more developers to leverage Unity’s toolset to build the next generation of virtual reality games and experiences.

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Oculus Audio

Audio is essential for delivering immersive virtual reality. Along with the integrated audio in Crescent Bay, we’re working to build the hardware and software that developers need to create high-fidelity VR audio experiences for the Rift.

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People locate objects in the world using cues that arise from the interaction of sound with the scene, combined with the body of the listener (HRTFs) and head tracking. A great audio engine for VR has to reproduce these cues to fully convince the human perceptual system.

As part of our audio initiative, we’ve licensed RealSpace3D’s audio technology, a software stack developed over 10 years based on technology from the University of Maryland. RealSpace3D’s tech enables high-fidelity VR audio with a combination of HRTF spatialization and integrated reverberation algorithms.

If you’re at Oculus Connect, Brian Hook, our lead audio engineer will be discussing the unique challenges presented by audio in virtual reality, including achieving presence in sound design and performing 3D audio spatialization. RealSpace3D’s team will also be present to answer questions on their technology.

We’ll have more news around audio in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Developer Sessions

We have a whole day of developer sessions lined up from the Oculus team and some of the brightest minds in the industry. If you’re at the show, you can view the entire schedule here: www.oculus.com/connect. We’ll be posting the developer sessions online after the event, and we’ll let you know as soon as they’re online.

Thanks again for making this possible.

– The Oculus Team

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Introducing the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition http://www.oculus.com/blog/introducing-the-samsung-gear-vr-innovator-edition/ http://www.oculus.com/blog/introducing-the-samsung-gear-vr-innovator-edition/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 13:48:42 +0000 http://www.oculus.com/?p=6079 We’re excited to announce the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition, a new mobile virtual reality headset using the Galaxy Note 4, created by Samsung and powered by Oculus.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve been collaborating with Samsung on the future of mobile virtual reality. The project actually began as an experiment to see if great VR was possible on next-generation mobile hardware. Oculus CTO John Carmack and the mobile team at Oculus were able to blow everyone away in an extremely short amount of time, quickly proving that we were on to something special.

The culmination of that work is Gear VR Innovator Edition, an add-on to the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4, using the phone’s GPU/CPU to power the device and the Quad HD low-persistence 5.7 inch 1440p AMOLED screen as the display. One of the best aspects of mobile VR is the completely untethered, easy-to-use experience: you connect the Note 4 to the headset, you put it on, and you’re in. That level of accessibility, combined with Oculus software to easily launch and transition between VR applications without taking the headset off, really makes the experience magical.

The Gear VR’s initial release is an ‘Innovator Edition’. It’s an early-access, beta-version of the device for developers and enthusiasts rather than a final consumer product. Content creators can experiment and build totally new experiences while users explore the bleeding edge of mobile VR as it’s being pioneered.


John Carmack sporting the latest Gear VR Innovator Edition at Samsung Unpack

John Carmack and the mobile team here at Oculus have spent the last year spearheading this effort. That time was split between developing a new Oculus Mobile SDK and optimizing Android and the underlying GPU drivers for virtual reality. Several of the key improvements include:

  • Allowing custom calibrated sensors to talk to a dedicated kernel driver
  • Enabling real time scheduled multithreaded application processes at guaranteed clock rates
  • Context prioritized GPU rendering, enabling asynchronous time warp
  • Facilitating completely unbuffered display surfaces for minimal latency
  • Supporting low-persistence display mode for improved comfort, visual stability, and reduced motion blur / judder

The Gear VR is powered by the new Oculus Mobile SDK, and also uses variations of the Oculus Tracker and firmware built into the headset for extremely accurate, ultra low-latency 3DOF tracking. It’s impossible to deliver a high quality mobile experience without this kind of deep end-to-end hardware, software, and firmware optimization. As a result, we’ve been able to achieve sub-20 millisecond motion-to-photons latency, roughly equivalent to the most highly optimized experiences on DK2.

The Innovator Edition is also launching with four new experiences built by Oculus: Oculus Home, Oculus Cinema, Oculus 360 Videos and Oculus 360 Photos.


Screenshot from Oculus Cinema

  • Oculus Home is a simple interface for connecting to the Oculus Store, where you can discover, download, and launch VR content.
  • Oculus Cinema is a virtual movie theater, where you can playback your favorite 2D and 3D movies in a variety of theater environments.
  • Oculus 360 Videos and Oculus 360 Photos are experiences that allow you to playback panoramic content in VR.

These are effectively beta versions of these applications, and we’ll continue to update them as we go. We’ll share more details on all of the projects as we draw closer to the product’s launch.


Screenshot from Oculus Home

It’s still early days for mobile VR. Some of the key challenges include a lack of 6DOF positional tracking, limited CPU/GPU bandwidth with today’s hardware, thermal management, power consumption, and overall ergonomics, but we’re making progress quickly and the Innovator Edition is only just the beginning. Still, the experience on the device today is pretty astounding.

The magic of a completely portable and wireless VR headset is easy to underestimate until you have experienced it. We don’t have the raw horsepower of a high end gaming PC (yet), but there are valuable compensations that make it a very interesting trade off, and many developers will thrive on the platform, especially as it improves at the rapid pace of the mobile ecosystem.

At it’s very core, virtual reality is about being freed from the limitations of actual reality. Carrying your virtual reality with you, and being able to jump into it whenever and wherever you want qualitatively changes the experience for the better.

Experiencing mobile VR is like when you first tried a decent desktop VR experience — There is a sense that you are glimpsing something from the future. This is science fiction made real, and it’s only just the beginning. – John Carmack, Oculus CTO

You can learn more about the Gear VR Innovator Edition at http://www.samsung.com. The headset will be available to developers and enthusiasts starting this fall. The Oculus Mobile SDK will be available publicly on the Oculus Developer Center before the end of October. We’ll let everyone know when it’s online.

We want to emphasize that the mobile project doesn’t change our plans for the Rift or our commitment to (and love for) the PC. We’ll continue to push the boundaries of performance and presence on the Rift for PC, while making VR available to the widest audience possible entrance at the lowest barrier to entry by leveraging the strengths of mobile as a platform.

We encourage developers who are already working with the Oculus Rift to try the Gear VR for themselves as soon as they have a chance. We believe mobile is a key part of VR’s future, and we’re looking forward to seeing what you build with the device!

It’s been an adventure keeping this project under-wraps for so long, and we’re thrilled to finally share it with you. Now that the word’s out, we’ll have more mobile VR news in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

– The Oculus Team

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DK2s Now Shipping, New 0.4.0 SDK Beta, and Comic-Con http://www.oculus.com/blog/dk2s-now-shipping-new-0-4-0-sdk-beta-and-comic-con/ http://www.oculus.com/blog/dk2s-now-shipping-new-0-4-0-sdk-beta-and-comic-con/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 03:15:31 +0000 http://www.oculus.com/?p=6010 DK2s Now Shipping

DK2s have started shipping out to developers in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and we expect to have over 9,000 DK2s in developers’ hands by the end of next week. We’re working out a minor snag for Oceanic customers, but we hope to have the issue resolved soon.

Customers in the first batch of pre-orders should receive a payment notification once the order has been processed by the distribution center. Thank you for your continued patience as we build more kits and move them around the world as quickly as possible!

New 0.4.0 SDK Beta

As part of the new development kit release, we’ve published a major update to the SDK that allows developers to take full advantage of DK2. After over a year in development, this is the largest software release at Oculus yet.

The most significant improvement is the addition of low-latency 6DOF positional tracking, enabling all new types of games and experiences. We’ve also introduced an Oculus display driver, which streamlines access to the Rift’s screen. This enables direct rendering to the Rift, rather than treating the headset as a separate monitor (although it still allows for legacy mirroring/extending if desired).

You can download the Oculus SDK v0.4.0 Beta from the Oculus Developer Center at developer.oculus.com. Note that this initial release is Windows-only, but it includes the Unity and Unreal Engine 4 integrations. The OS X release is well underway and coming soon.

If you have a Rift application or experience built for the original Rift development kit (DK1), you’ll need to integrate the latest SDK and/or engine integrations before it can run on DK2.

The SDK is still very much in beta, and we’ll be updating it quickly following this initial release. You can read the full release history and known issues on the Oculus Developer Center: https://developer.oculus.com/?action=hist

We’re really looking forward to seeing what you create using DK2 and the latest SDK! If you have suggestions, recommendations, or concerns, please let us know on the Oculus Developer Forums.

Oculus @ San Diego Comic-Con

If you’re at Comic-Con this week, be sure to check out the incredible Rift experiences at the show, including Legendary’s “Pacific Rim – Jaeger Pilot” demo using Unreal Engine 4:

We’ll see you in the Metaverse!

– The Oculus Team

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Oculus Connect Applications Open and GDC 2014 Video http://www.oculus.com/blog/oculus-connect-applications-open-and-gdc-2014-video/ http://www.oculus.com/blog/oculus-connect-applications-open-and-gdc-2014-video/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 20:30:41 +0000 http://www.oculus.com/?p=5986 Oculus Connect Applications Now Open!

We’ve started accepting applications for Oculus Connect! The registration form is located at the bottom of the main page at https://www.oculus.com/connect.

Attendees will be the first to learn about upcoming Oculus technology, with sessions and workshops led by Oculus engineers and industry pioneers. Developers at the event will also have opportunities to receive design and engineering feedback directly from the Oculus team in hands-on labs.

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The event will also feature keynotes from our very own Brendan Iribe, Palmer Luckey, John Carmack, and Michael Abrash.

“Now is a special time. I believe that VR will have a huge impact in the coming years, but everyone working today is a pioneer. The paradigms that everyone will take for granted in the future are being figured out today; probably by people reading this message.” – John Carmack, Oculus CTO

Applications are being considered based on a variety of factors. We wish we could host the entire community, but physical attendance is limited and, as a developer conference, active developers will be given priority.

If you haven’t already applied, take a moment to do so now at https://www.oculus.com/connect! We’re reviewing applications starting Sunday, July 20th at 11:59pm PT and we’ll send out the the first wave of invitations later that week. Applications submitted beyond Sunday night will be considered for the waitlist.

Thank you to everyone who’s already applied. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you there. And remember, if you can’t make the show, we’ll be livestreaming the keynotes. More details on the livestreams to follow closer to the event.

Oculus @ GDC 2014 Video Recap

With the launch of DK2, GDC 2014 was a special moment for VR, so we brought our production crew along to capture the event as it happened.

We were thrilled to meet so many members of the community and introduce them to DK2. Whether you were you were there or not, here’s a glimpse of that week from the show floor at the Moscone Center in San Francisco:

A huge thank you to Tim Hyten and his crew for their stellar work helping to produce the video.

It’s an incredible, unique time to be a part of this industry. Thank you all for being a part of it!

– The Oculus Team

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Announcing Oculus Connect, RakNet Open Source, and E3 2014 Awards http://www.oculus.com/blog/announcing-oculus-connect-raknet-open-source-and-e3-2014-awards/ http://www.oculus.com/blog/announcing-oculus-connect-raknet-open-source-and-e3-2014-awards/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 07:03:04 +0000 http://www.oculus.com/?p=5921 We’re thrilled to announce Oculus Connect, a developer conference that brings together engineers, designers, and creatives from around the world to share and collaborate in the interest of creating the best virtual reality experiences possible.

In the last two years, we’ve seen more virtual reality content built than in the last two decades, and that’s a direct result of incredible work by the community. With virtual reality’s momentum at an all-time high, this is a unique moment for the developer community to come together to take the virtual reality to the next level.

Oculus Connect 2014 takes place Sept 19 – 20 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. Attendee applications will be available on the Oculus Connect website, www.oculus.com/connect, starting on July 10th and attendance confirmations will go out the following week. We’ve reserved a block of discounted rooms at the Loews for registered guests.

Attendees will be the first to learn about upcoming Oculus technology, with sessions and workshops led by Oculus engineers and industry pioneers. Developers at the event will also have opportunities to receive design and engineering feedback directly from the Oculus team in hands-on labs.

Oculus Connect will also feature keynotes from Brendan Iribe (CEO), Palmer Luckey (Founder), John Carmack (CTO) and Michael Abrash (Chief Scientist) on Oculus, virtual reality, and the future of the medium. The full session list will be announced as we draw closer to the show.

You can get the full details on the official Oculus Connect website, www.oculus.com/connect. While the conference is open to the public, be aware this is a developer-centric event. Attendance is limited, but we’ll be livestreaming the keynotes for developers around the world who can’t make it to the show.

If you’re an Oculus developer interested in helping to build the future, we’re looking forward to meeting you in person Sept 19th!

Oculus Acquires & Open Sources RakNet

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve acquired RakNet, one of the leading networking middleware systems in the games industry. We open-sourced it starting today under a modified BSD license (the same license Facebook uses for its open source projects) from the Oculus GitHub repo: https://github.com/OculusVR/RakNet.

For those unfamiliar with RakNet, it is a comprehensive C++ game networking engine designed for ease of use and performance. The tech is tuned for cross-platform, high-performance applications that operate across a wide variety of network types. Key features include object replication, remote procedure calls, patching, secure connections, voice chat, and real-time SQL logging. The technology has been licensed by thousands of indie developers, as well as companies like Unity, Havok, Mojang, Maxis and Sony Online Entertainment.

We’ve known Kevin Jenkins, founder of Jenkins Software and lead engineer on RakNet, for years, and we’ve used RakNet internally at Oculus for various networked systems and tools. After working with Kevin for a few months, we were all excited by the idea of open-sourcing RakNet to the community.

If you’re interested in checking out (or forking) RakNet, head over to the Oculus GitHub repo at https://github.com/OculusVR/RakNet. We’re looking forward to seeing where the community takes the project next!

Rift Wins Best Hardware at E3 2014!

The Rift won the Game Critics Awards’ ‘Best Hardware at E3’ for the second year in a row! This is the official awards for the show, made up of game critics and journalists from across the industry.



We were thrilled to see the Rift nominated among such an incredible group of games, products, and hardware, and we’re humbled to have it win the ‘Best Hardware’ category. We couldn’t have done it without the development community delivering a peek at the next-generation of VR gaming.

Thank you again for all your support!

– The Oculus Team

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Oculus Agrees to Acquire Carbon Design Team http://www.oculus.com/blog/oculus-agrees-to-acquire-carbon-design-team/ http://www.oculus.com/blog/oculus-agrees-to-acquire-carbon-design-team/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 16:46:28 +0000 http://www.oculus.com/?p=5863 We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire the Carbon Design team, one of the premier industrial design and product engineering teams in the country, with over 50 awards to their name. As part of the deal, the team will officially become a key component of the product engineering group at Oculus, operating from the Carbon studio in the Seattle area. They’ll also be working closely with the Oculus R&D team based out of Redmond. We expect the deal to close by the end of summer.

Carbon Logo

The Carbon team brings their expertise around building great feeling, great looking consumer products like the Xbox 360 controller. We’ve been working with Carbon for nearly a year on multiple unannounced projects.

“A few seconds with the latest Oculus prototypes and you know that virtual reality is for real this time. From a design and engineering perspective, building the products that finally deliver consumer virtual reality is one of the most interesting and challenging problem sets ever.

This is an entirely open product category. With consumer VR at its inception, the physical architectures are still unknown — We’re on the cutting edge of defining how virtual reality looks, feels, and functions.

We’re incredibly excited to be part of the team and we’re looking forward to helping design the future.”

- Peter Bristol, Creative Director at Carbon Design




A handful of Carbon’s past projects.

As a company, Carbon Design has a 20 year history of taking consumer, industrial and medical products from concept to completion. Carbon approaches products with a design-driven methodology rooted in quality engineering, ergonomics, deep user insights, and rapid iteration. All of this adds up to an incredible skill set to deliver ground-breaking new virtual reality products.

Please join us in welcoming the Carbon team to Oculus!

If you’re interested in joining Oculus in Irvine, San Francisco, Seattle, or Dallas, we’re recruiting! You can see the latest job posts at www.oculus.com/careers.

– The Oculus Team

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Jason Rubin Joins the Team and Oculus at E3 2014 http://www.oculus.com/blog/jason-rubin-joins-the-team-and-oculus-at-e3-2014/ http://www.oculus.com/blog/jason-rubin-joins-the-team-and-oculus-at-e3-2014/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.oculus.com/?p=5796 Jason Rubin Joins Oculus

We’re thrilled to announce that Jason Rubin, co-founder of Naughty Dog and games industry veteran, has joined Oculus as head of worldwide studios!

Jason is a former game programmer and director, best known for his work on the Crash Bandicoot® and Jak & Daxter™ series at Naughty Dog, a team that helped pioneer high-frame-rate 3D console games in the earliest days of PlayStation®. Jason has shipped over a dozen games across multiple console generations, working with some of the best game developers in the world.

“There have only been a handful of times in my life where I saw something that I knew would change everything. The awe-inspiring tech Oculus is building is a portal into an incredible world that my daughter will one day consider to be normal. The moment I put it on, I wanted to help define that future.

After decades of game innovation on traditional screens, the longtime dream of true presence inside a virtual world is finally here. Virtual reality requires an entirely different approach; from systems and protocols to game design and storytelling, everything is being reimagined from the ground up to deliver experiences that are entirely new and magical.

The team at Oculus has been working to push the boundaries of what’s possible with hardware and software. I’m excited to bring together a new division dedicated to building high-quality VR content that helps define the platform and inspire others to do the same.

Thanks to the Oculus community for making this all possible and for having me as part of the team!”

Jason will be heading up the Oculus first-party content initiatives in Seattle, San Francisco, Menlo Park, Dallas and Irvine. If you’re interested in working with Jason and the talented and growing development team, let us know by checking out open roles at www.oculus.com/careers.

E3 2014 Starts Today

We’re at E3 this week, talking virtual reality and next-generation gaming with some of the best game developers from around the world.

The second Rift development kit (DK2) represents a significant step toward true consumer virtual reality. It opens up all sorts of new possibilities for game designers and content creators, and we’re thrilled to unleash it upon the community when it begins shipping next month.

The very first glimpses of what’s possible with DK2 are playable in our booth here at E3. We’ve been working closely with a few developers with pre-production kits, and we’re excited to showcase some of the incredible games they’ve been building with the new headset.

If you’re at the show, swing by the Oculus booth (West Hall #5222) to check them out!

SUPERHOT is a unique first-person shooter game where time moves only when you move, making each level a deadly puzzle fueled by fluid time mechanics and relentless foes. It’s one of the most fun experiences we’ve seen on the Rift.

“The project started out during last year’s 7 Day First Person Shooter game jam, where we decided to make something that really stood out in the genre – a title that felt satisfying, while not requiring superhuman reflexes. Something like a game of real-time chess, except that all the pawns are out there to murder you.” – SUPERHOT Team

SUPERHOT’s Kickstarter campaign is actually live right now at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/375798653/superhot, so if you like the game, contribute to making it a reality!

Lucky’s Tale is a new made-for-VR adventure by the team at Playful. Introduced in last week’s blog, Lucky’s Tale is a “delightful platforming adventure game” designed exclusively for the Rift that reimagines the genre from the ground up.

Lucky’s Tale is premiering for the first time here at E3 2014, so be sure to swing by the booth and check it out on the Rift!

Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation™ is a new survival horror game set in the Alien™ universe. A terrifying experience, particularly in virtual reality, Isolation is all about survival.

In the E3 Rift demo, you’ll use every tool at your disposal to escape from a ruthless Alien in the wreckage of your spaceship. Underpowered and underprepared, you’ll scavenge resources and improvise solutions; not just to succeed, but to survive.

EVE: Valkyrie is the highly anticipated multiplayer, space-dogfighting shooter being developed by CCP and co-published by Oculus. Valkyrie, running on the Rift HD Prototype, was a contender for Game of Show at last year’s E3. It returns, but with an all new style, running on the graphical horsepower of Unreal Engine 4.

These are just a handful of the ground-breaking experiences the community is developing today. We have 190+ games on Oculus Share with more being added every week, all of which were developed using the original development kit — We can’t wait to see what the world does with DK2.

We’ll see you at the show!

– The Oculus Team

©2014 – Oculus VR, Inc. All rights reserved. Oculus and Oculus Rift are trademarks for Oculus VR, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owner(s).

Alien: Isolation, Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 TM & © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Twentieth Century Fox, Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and their associated logos are registered trademarks or trademarks of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Alien: Isolation game software, excluding Twentieth Century Fox elements © SEGA. Developed by The Creative Assembly Limited. Creative Assembly and the Creative Assembly logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of The Creative Assembly Limited. SEGA and the SEGA logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of SEGA Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Jason Holtman, New Hires, Lucky’s Tale, and E3 http://www.oculus.com/blog/jason-holtman-new-hires-luckys-tale-and-e3/ http://www.oculus.com/blog/jason-holtman-new-hires-luckys-tale-and-e3/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 15:42:19 +0000 http://www.oculus.com/?p=5744 Please welcome Jason Holtman, Oculus’ new Head of Platform!

A driving force behind Steam since its earliest days, Jason brings incredible experience building entertainment platforms for both users and developers. At Valve, Jason was a pioneer in the digital distribution revolution that’s taken place over the last decade.

“When I was a kid, I loved arcades. I converted most of my allowance into quarters and couldn’t wait to get to the mall on Saturday. For me, it was all about Battlezone — Simple, bright line geometry, enemy tanks, and mountains off in the distance. That feeling when you grabbed the dual joysticks and pressed your face to the viewfinder was transformative. It was unlike anything else you could play.

Battlezone, although simply rendered, made you believe that you were in that world and that there had to be something beyond those mountains.

Battlezone is widely regarded as one of the first VR games, and looking back, those mountains still excite me. I want to fly, walk across alien landscapes, and nose around the Great Pyramids. And that’s the most telling thing about VR: the possibilities are obvious, immediate, and endless.

So, I’m humbled to become a part of this team. I’m not one of the pioneering scientists or engineers in virtual reality, but I am one of the people that can’t stop grinning every time I see something new inside the headset, and I’m looking forward to helping shape the transformative experiences that inspire the next generation of developers.”

Jason will be spearheading the business development and partnership side of the Oculus platform working closely with Marshall, head of platform engineering, and David, head of worldwide publishing, with a focus on building the world’s best developer and player VR ecosystem. We’re thrilled to welcome him to the team.

Building the Dream Team

The Facebook deal supercharged our recruiting efforts, and we’re always looking for the absolute best and brightest in the world. It’s been a while since we announced any new hires in the blog, so we thought we’d include a handful (or two) of the incredible people who have joined the team since March:

  • Neil Konzen, former engineer at Valve and one of the original Microsoft employees
  • Brian Hook, former engineer at RAD (Telemetry) and the original author of 3Dfx Glide
  • Adrian Wong, former lead systems engineer at Google[x] (Glass)
  • Ian Field, former engineer at ARM and co-inventor of Cortex-M
  • Raul Corella, former head of supply chain at JawBone, Monster, and Leap Motion
  • Laura Fryer, former GM of Epic Seattle and WB Seattle
  • Paul Pedriana, former lead engineer at EA
  • David Moore, former engineer at RAD (Granny)
  • Kenneth Scott, former art director at 343 Studios (Halo 4)
  • Seneca Menard, former technical artist at id Software
  • Paul Pepera, former environment artist at Valve and 343 Studios
  • Brian Sharp, former engineer at Bungie
  • Aaron Nicholls, former engineer at Valve, 343 Studios, and Microsoft
  • Matt Alderman, former engineer at Valve and ArenaNet
  • Cass Everitt, former GPU architect and engineer at Nvidia
  • Ross O’Dwyer, former at head of development support at Havok
  • Douglas Lanman, former research scientist at Nvidia Research and MIT Media Lab
  • …and many, many more: Scott Boyce, Gayan Ediriweera, Michael Berger, Khoi Nguyen, Aaron Toney, Bruce Cleary, Anusha Balan, Sagy Wiessbrod, Christopher Taylor, Soh Tanaka, Matt Mojica, Hyo Jin Kim, Steve Arnold, Dan Moskowitz

Team volleyball and BBQ at Crystal Cove State Park

We’re hiring for all roles in Irvine, Dallas, Seattle, and Menlo Park. If you’re interested in being part of the team, check out the Oculus Careers page at oculusvr.com/careers.

Publishing Lucky’s Tale

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve partnered with Playful to publish Lucky’s Tale, a new made-for-VR adventure designed exclusively for the Oculus Rift. The full details behind the title will be revealed next week at E3, and attendees will be able to check out a playable demo of Lucky’s Tale in the Oculus booth next week.

Playful’s founder, Paul Bettner (who’s best known from his work as co-creator of Words with Friends) was one of the original $5,000 Kickstarter backers who believed in the Rift from the beginning. Paul actually visited the original Oculus office in October of 2012 when we were still just a small team hand assembling prototypes — We’ve been collaborating with Playful on software, hardware, and VR research ever since.

“We love VR. We founded Playful because of VR, and we’re thrilled by Oculus’ breakthrough progress bringing VR to life. It’s a dream come true to partner with their team to create truly native, made-for-VR games.”
- Paul Bettner, Founder, Playful

We’re excited to be officially involved with this project, and we’re looking forward to seeing them refresh one of our favorite genres.

Oculus in the News

If you get a chance, pick up a copy of this month’s Wired, featuring Palmer on the cover and an in-depth, 18-page article about Oculus inside.

The story is the result of months of interviews by Wired’s Peter Rubin who’s been tracking the Oculus team, getting the behind the scenes of the DK2 launch, the backstory of how Palmer’s prototypes came to life, and how Oculus is bringing consumer VR to the world. It’s a great brief history of Oculus so far, revealing a few new tidbits.

You can read the full story online at Wired.com here: http://www.wired.com/2014/05/oculus-rift-4/

We also recommend checking out Michael Abrash’s recent CMU talk on “Why VR Isn’t (Just) the Next Platform” but perhaps the last. The talk provides a great overview of presence, along with a deep-dive on DK2’s tracking techniques from Dov Katz for the engineers out there:

E3 and Beyond

Over the past month, we’ve been all over the globe, sharing DK2 with developers and artists at TriBeCa Film Festival, SVVR, Nordic Games Conference, Unite China, Unite Korea, and other community meetups. If you have a VR gathering planned, let us us know about it at events@oculusvr.com!

Next week, the team is heading up to E3 in Los Angeles. We’ll be showing the second Oculus Rift development kit (DK2) running some of our favorite games and experiences at Booth 5222. If you’re at the show, stop by the West Hall and say Hello!

If you’re a developer planning to show a VR game at E3, please let us know at developer@oculusvr.com. We’d love to stop by and try your latest VR creations.

We’ll see you at E3!

— The Oculus Team

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Introducing Michael Abrash, Oculus Chief Scientist http://www.oculus.com/blog/introducing-michael-abrash-oculus-chief-scientist/ http://www.oculus.com/blog/introducing-michael-abrash-oculus-chief-scientist/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 17:11:04 +0000 http://www.oculus.com/?p=5283 The Path to the Metaverse

I'm tremendously excited to join Oculus, and when I think back, it's astonishing how unlikely the path to this moment is. I've told most of the parts of this story before, but never all together, and the narrative, now spanning twenty years, just keeps getting more remarkable.
 

Image credit Steve Grever, PC Perspective
Palmer, Michael, and John @ QuakeCon 2012

Sometime in 1993 or 1994, I read Snow Crash, and for the first time thought something like the Metaverse might be possible in my lifetime. Around the same time, I saw the first leaked alpha version of Doom. I knew John Carmack from exchanges on the M&T bulletin board a couple of years earlier, when both John and I were learning how to write 3D graphics code, so I sent him mail saying how blown away I was.

John replied that his mother lived in Seattle, and maybe we could get together next time he was in town. Eventually he came by to visit, and we had a good conversation, in the course of which he asked if I'd like to come work at Id; being in the middle of shipping the first couple of versions of Windows NT, I politely declined.

In late 1994 or early 1995, John let me know he was going to be back in town, and asked if I wanted to have dinner. We met at Thai Chef in Bellevue. I knew he was going to try to hire me, and I knew I was going to say no. But he didn't get around to doing that until after he had talked for a good two hours about how he was going to build cyberspace, and by that time it was hard for me to imagine doing anything else. John was as good as his word, and Quake was the start of a world of connected gaming that thrives to this day.

Quake was seminal and high-impact – it's amazing what a team of ten mostly untrained twenty-somethings in the Black Cube in Mesquite, Texas, managed to accomplish – but it wasn't the Metaverse. It was still, in the end, images on a screen, not Hiro Protagonist literally fencing for his life. And so John and I went our separate ways, John to continue to refine what he had created, and me to wander through a series of interesting projects that, in the end, always left me wishing for the pure focus, intensity, and impact of those two years working with John.

Fast-forward fourteen years. I'm at Valve – which started its existence by licensing the Quake source code – looking for the next big platform shift, and I conclude that it's augmented reality. Thanks to Valve's unique structure, I'm able to start working on that, along with several other interested people, including Atman Binstock, who I recruited over coffee at St. James Espresso in Kirkland; Atman is thinking about moving to Paris and writing a debugger, but finally decides to join up. John, meanwhile, is poking at virtual reality, seeing if it's finally feasible. He sends me mail on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Quake's release, saying that he has a feeling that something really big is just around the corner, something bigger than anything that's happened so far. He's talking about VR.

Then two things happen at about the same time. On one path, Palmer develops his first VR prototype, John and Palmer Luckey connect, Oculus forms and its Kickstarter is wildly successful, DK1 ships, and John becomes Oculus CTO. Meanwhile, I read Ready Player One, strongly recommend it to several members of the AR group, and we come to the conclusion that VR is potentially more interesting than we thought, and far more tractable than AR. We switch over to working on VR just as Palmer's homebrew project is morphing into Oculus.

From that point, both VR paths have been pretty well documented, Oculus's in this blog, in the press, and all over the Internet, and Valve's in my blog and talks. The end result, a year and a half later, is a VR system that can create a sense of presence – the feeling, below the conscious level, that you really are someplace. This is an experience that no one except a few researchers using awkward, hugely expensive equipment had ever had, but within the next couple of years it should be available in a comfortable form factor at a consumer price. In the space of two years, a relative handful of people at two companies, none of them VR experts at the start, somehow managed to resurrect VR from the trash heap of technologies-that-never-were and make it the most exciting technology around.

What VR Could, Should, and Almost Certainly Will Be within Two Years, Steam Dev Days 2014

That wouldn't have happened if Palmer hadn't developed his prototype. If John hadn't been investigating VR at the right time. If they hadn't run into each other. If I hadn't been looking for a new platform. If Palmer hadn't met up with the right people to form Oculus and build DK1. If the community hadn't been so overwhelmingly supportive of VR and the Kickstarter. If Atman had decided to go do a debugger instead. If a team hadn't assembled at Valve, done a bunch of hard work to show that low persistence, excellent tracking, and a well-calibrated and well-tuned system enabled presence, and shared that knowledge with Oculus. If I hadn't come across Ready Player One at the right time. Heck, if I hadn't come across Snow Crash all those years ago, or the Doom alpha, or known John from the M&T bulletin board, or if I hadn't known Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington from my days at Microsoft, in which case I would have had no reason to help them license the Quake source code…

You get the idea. We're on the cusp of what I think is not The Next Big Platform, but rather simply The Final Platform – the platform to end all platforms – and the path here has been so improbable that I can only shake my head.

The final piece of the puzzle fell into place on Tuesday. A lot of what it will take to make VR great is well understood at this point, so it's engineering, not research; hard engineering, to be sure, but clearly within reach. For example, there are half a dozen things that could be done to display panels that would make them better for VR, none of them pie in the sky. However, it's expensive engineering. And, of course, there's also a huge amount of research to do once we reach the limits of current technology, and that's not only expensive, it also requires time and patience – fully tapping the potential of VR will take decades. That's why I've written before that VR wouldn't become truly great until some company stepped up and invested the considerable capital to build the right hardware – and that it wouldn't be clear that it made sense to spend that capital until VR was truly great. I was afraid that that Catch-22 would cause VR to fail to achieve liftoff.

That worry is now gone. Facebook's acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory. The resources and long-term commitment that Facebook brings gives Oculus the runway it needs to solve the hard problems of VR – and some of them are hard indeed. I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can.

It's great to be working with John again after all these years, and with that comes a sense of deja vu. It feels like it did when I went to Id, but on steroids – this time we're working on technology that will change not just computer gaming, but potentially how all of us interact with computers, information, and each other every day. I think it's going to be the biggest game-changer I've ever seen – and I've seen quite a lot over the last 57 years.

I can't wait to see how far we can take it.

- Michael

www.oculus.com/careers

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Oculus Joins Facebook http://www.oculus.com/blog/oculus-joins-facebook/ http://www.oculus.com/blog/oculus-joins-facebook/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 21:35:41 +0000 http://www.oculus.com/?p=5266 We started Oculus with a vision of delivering incredible, affordable, and ubiquitous consumer virtual reality to the world. We’ve come a long way in the last 18 months: from foam core prototypes built in a garage to an incredible community of active and talented developers with more than 75,000 development kits ordered. In the process, we’ve defined what consumer virtual reality needs to be and what it’s going to require to deliver it.

A few months ago, Mark, Chris, and Cory from the Facebook team came down to visit our office, see the latest demos, and discuss how we could work together to bring our vision to millions of people. As we talked more, we discovered the two teams shared an even deeper vision of creating a new platform for interaction that allows billions of people to connect in a way never before possible.

Today, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve joined forces with Facebook to create the best virtual reality platform in the world.

At first glance, it might not seem obvious why Oculus is partnering with Facebook, a company focused on connecting people, investing in internet access for the world and pushing an open computing platform. But when you consider it more carefully, we’re culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step.

Most important, Facebook understands the potential for VR. Mark and his team share our vision for virtual reality’s potential to transform the way we learn, share, play, and communicate. Facebook is a company that believes that anything is possible with the right group of people, and we couldn’t agree more.

This partnership is one of the most important moments for virtual reality: it gives us the best shot at truly changing the world. It opens doors to new opportunities and partnerships, reduces risk on the manufacturing and work capital side, allows us to publish more made-for-VR content, and lets us focus on what we do best: solving hard engineering challenges and delivering the future of VR.

palmer_john_brendan

Over the next 10 years, virtual reality will become ubiquitous, affordable, and transformative, and it begins with a truly next-generation gaming experience. This partnership ensures that the Oculus platform is coming, and that it’s going to change gaming forever.

We’ll see you in the Metaverse!

– Palmer, Brendan, John and the Oculus team

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