If you’re like me (and I apologize in advance if you are), you were an early adopter of the awesome Oculus Rift SDK (I don’t apologize for this because it’s incredible). You bought the dev kit for the purpose of research and development. Awesome right? Yeah, until you remembered you’re running a 2009 Macbook Pro with 256mb of VRAM (or similar outdated hardware). Short of the simple (but effective) “Tuscany Demo”, there hasn’t been much else to do with your awesome new VR tech.
Or so you thought… One of my favorite first person shooters of all time is now Rift compatible thanks to programmer Dominic Szablewski. id Software’s Quake was notable at the time for it’s 3D polygon graphics coupled with intense 60 FPS action. Thanks to a modern day source port of Quake and the Oculus Rift SDK, gamers can now experience Quake as if they were in it’s weird, Lovecraftian world.
I’ve played the original Quake extensively, and playing it in virtual reality is very immersive, especially on the Hard and Nightmare difficulties. It’s a not a game that plays nice, so most of your time is spent barreling down corridors killing horrendous enemies on sight which is really where the immersion kicks in. You kill a grunt in front of you and hear a chainsaw to your right, your turn your head and blast him away. It’s visceral, even with Quake’s outdated graphic circa 1996. Another great thing about Quake was it’s level design. Interesting architecture featuring bridges, pedestals and secret areas. All of this you can now take in simply by looking around. Again, quite awesome. To be honest, you will probably get very motion sick, especially if you aren’t used to VR. The game is quite fast and requires a lot of quick turns. But hey, this is the bleeding edge of gaming technology. You gotta be able to take good with the bad.
To sum it up, I don’t recommend the Rift SDK for people with old Macs and slow computers (like me); however if you are a budding game developer or a hardcore tech enthusiast it’s obviously worth getting. If you’re computer is slow, it will limit you considerably, however, there is still a lot to do. The dev kit is Mac compatible, and let’s face it, not everyone has a brand new computer. Maybe while having fun with an good old game, you might get the inspiration to make a new VR game that doesn’t require a $500 graphics card.
This article includes resources gathered from our in-house investigative reporter, George Eleftheriou.