Rift Core 2.0 Dev Diary #2: Origins

Oculus Blog
Posted by Brandon Dillon
December 21, 2017

In our first Rift Core 2.0 Dev Diary, Oculus Head of Rift Nate Mitchell took a deep dive on the next chapter for Rift. Today, Rift Core 2.0 Product Manager Brandon Dillon takes us on a journey from genesis to fruition.

Rift Core 2.0 was inspired by Oculus Touch. Shipping Touch was a big milestone for the Rift Team, and it had a huge influence on how we thought about interfaces and the Rift platform experience overall.

There were two things we knew we wanted to do immediately following Touch’s release: rebuild the system UI specifically for Touch, and build an overall platform experience that started to feel more like a computing platform—purposefully built for VR.

With that broad goal, we started prototyping. We kicked things off with an internal Rift Jam. Everyone on the Rift Team was invited to pitch prototypes we could build, and then we spent a week building as many of the prototypes as we could.

An interaction prototype for Touch-based UI.

One of our early experiments in Touch-based Home customization.

An early prototype of the x-ray rendering technique we built for merging system UI with arbitrary 3D scenes.

We built 13 Rift Jam prototypes in total, and we learned a lot about what we wanted the Rift software experience to be like. There were a few principles that became important to us:

  • You should be able to access the full capabilities of the system from anywhere
  • You shouldn’t be cut off from all of the capabilities of your PC while you’re in VR
  • Home should be a space that belongs to you

And that’s how Dash was born. We wanted to centralize all of the platform features into one interface that you could bring up inside of any VR app, without moving to a different environment. And we wanted to build Oculus Desktop—a tightly integrated component of Dash that gave you access to all of your PC apps while you were in VR.

Importantly, this also gave Home the ability to open up. Because it no longer had to be specifically designed to accommodate the system interface, it could become a space people could personalize as they saw fit—and also a place where we could explore VR manifestations of platform.

Once we had a clear understanding of what we wanted Dash and Home to become, we started building prototypes for specific features to try out different interaction modes and interface paradigms. We ran through a lot of experiments, often with running team playtesting and UX research sessions, so that we could learn what was most intuitive and effective.

An early exploration of decorating a VR scene from an inventory of items.

One of our first experiments in window management for Oculus Desktop.

With prototypes in hand and a lot of initial findings about what worked and didn’t, we set out to build the real thing. This included both a lot of visual development and a lot of engineering work to fully integrate the design and technology we wanted.

An animatic that led to Dash’s ultimate look and feel.

An animatic for the inventory system used for Home.

The Rift Team unsurprisingly spends a lot of time in VR, and we could tell we were getting somewhere. It was starting to get really fun to personalize our homes, and Dash was becoming a more and more useful and frictionless way to drive both VR and conventional PC apps. We reached a point where we really wanted to get the entire Rift Core 2.0 experience into the hands of the community, so we launched the beta that you can opt into now.

This is just the beginning. We have a bunch of things we’re excited to expand upon and improve, and we look forward to seeing what the Rift community does with it—be sure to send us your suggestions!

Thanks for coming along on the journey with us. We’ll see you in Rift.

— Brandon and the Rift Team