One of the coolest things I saw at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year was the Rift, virtual reality goggles from developers Oculus. Oculus takes the science of vision and applies it to virtual reality gaming in an arena that will be intimately familiar to any fan of iOS gaming.
I play a lot of video games, and one of my all-time iOS favorites is the award-winning Infinity Blade II. It also is one of the most visually stunning games on the iOS platform, featured by Apple at multiple product unveilings to demonstrate the graphic capabilities of its iOS software. So it was a treat to come across the Oculus Rift booth at CES, where I was effectively transported into the sprawling world of the Citadel where the Infinity Blade saga is staged.
Epic Games has developing its game, Epic Citadel to work with the Rift, which allows you to feel like you are actually there in the world of Infinity Blade, navigating in complete 3D space. When I put the Rift headset on and looked over my right shoulder, there was a village square with a knight in armor stomping toward me. When I looked over my left shoulder, I saw a cart of produce in the village market. Looking down, I saw the ground hovering about 5 or 6 feet below my vantage point, and when I craned my neck back to look up, the slowly falling snow seemed to land gently on my face as the sun shone down into my eyes.
Using a console-type game controller, I was able to move my character through the environment, looking up, down and all around as I "walked" along. The detail was true to what one would expect from Epic Games and the Unreal Engine, even though the developer's prototype I was trying out was relatively low-res compared to what is to come. Nonetheless, the dimensional perspective attained by using this virtual reality, 360-degree view, motion sensor eyewear was simply stunning.
The gameplay was similar to the iPhone version where you can navigate through the Citadel, but can't interact with the environment very much. But that's ok, it will come. It won’t be long before we have a virtual reality version of something along the lines of Infinity Blade II, where we can battle and move through space, as immersed in the world around us as if it were actually real.
In my opiniton, it is very significant that Epic Games is supporting Oculus by developing its stellar game software to be compatible with the new gaming device. It hints at great things to come, as other prominent game development houses recognize the tremendous potential of a VR gaming headset like the Rift. Can you imagine what an intense visceral experience it would be to play such graphically-intense titles as Modern Combat 4, New York Zombies 2, Prince of Persia, The Avengers, and of course, Infinity Blade in a format where you were able to look around as if you were there and it were all real? Welcome to the future of gaming folks!
A journalist using the Oculus Rift, and the screen in the background displaying the double-vision equivalent of what each eye sees.
Stay tuned for my interview with one of the developers of the Rift, where we talk about the future of iOS gaming and how the VR experience delivered by the Rift will become a prominent player on the gaming scene very, very soon.