Countless developers have recognised a creative and commercial opportunity in the Oculus Rift – but how many don the goggles when they get home?
Frontier’s David Braben is one. He doesn’t get motion sick, and plays Elite: Dangerous with a 5.1 speaker set-up rather than headphones, because that way the sound rotates with your ship rather than “with your head”.
“It does make a difference because you can hear the engines behind you and the guns going off,” he told PCGamesN. “You can hear yourself being hit right across the canopy. It’s that sort of level of immersion which does make a difference.”
That said, he isn’t sure the Rift is a mass market device.
Braben was “surprised” by the Rift’s stratospheric rise, which culminated in Oculus’ sale to Facebook.
“Do I think it adds to gaming? Yes. It depends by what you mean by mass market,” he said. “Is the Saitek x52 a mass market controller? Probably not because it’s too big and expensive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a wonderful controller and that it adds to the experience. We will support lots of nice things.
“Do I think 3D TVs are massively mass market? Probably not, but it’s nice for some people to have it and it wasn’t very hard for us to support. We’ve got our own engine which means we can do our own thing.”
Asked if it had been relatively simple for Frontier to support 3D in Elite: Dangerous, Braben replied: “Yes and no.”
“We were already prepared for 3D, because one of the problems for example was the textures all have to be stereo, otherwise everyone can see it’s all a lie,” he explained. “But because we were already thinking of things like that, it was alright. So it didn’t take a lot of engineering time to support 3D, or Oculus.”
And the console manufacturers – they’re keen to get their hands on Elite too, right?
“Maybe,” finished Braben. “Yeah, maybe. I’ll leave it at that.”
The Elite: Dangerous alpha gained VR support months ago, and the game’s been in excellent state as a dogfighting-centric premium beta for a few weeks now. Are you one of its £100 early access players?