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Oculus Rift creators announce global VR game jam with $10k top prize

Oculus VR

Marvellous things are being done with Oculus’ expensive headwarmer, if not every day, than at least once a week. We should know – we write about them all the time. But there’s a problem: more effort has been expended in the name of knowing what it feels like to have a headcrab tickle your teeth than in developing new, original concepts built specifically for VR.

That’s why Oculus and IndieCade are hosting a worldwide VR Jam, with a promised prize pool worth more than $50,000.

“We look at almost every Oculus-ready game, demo, and experience that the community shares,” write Oculus on their Kickstarter page. “It’s awesome to see all of the made-for-VR content that has begun defining the platform.

“That said, many developers have focused on experimenting with VR ports of pre-existing games. Now that we’ve shipped over 15,000 development kits worldwide, we wanted to create an opportunity for the community to come together to jam on ideas for new, made-for-VR games that can only be built with the Rift.”

The team behind the best new VR project will win a $10,000 cash prize, an invitation to Oculus HQ, and the opportunity to demo their game at the IndieCade Festival in LA through the first weekend of October.

The Jam itself will begin in just over a week’s time, on August 2, and run for three weeks. Team sign-ups are already open over at the Oculus site.

The competition is open to anybody who thinks themselves capable of innovation in virtual reality design, though clearly the current expense of the Rift developer kit is the biggest barrier to entry. To that end, the organisers will set up ‘Playtest Hubs’ in various cities around the world where teams can plug in and share their creations. LA and New York locations have already been announced, with more to follow.

Oculus will also open a dedicated VR jam forum on their Developer Center site, which will no doubt prove invaluable for troubleshooting builds and overcoming technical teething issues.

Oddly, the Jam will be divided into two groups of entrants – a “handful” of previous IndieCade developers, and everybody else. Prizes will be awarded separately, but the rules will be the same for each: a jury will select 10 finalist games, and cash will be awarded to the eventual top three.

In descending order, those top three teams will bag $10,000, $5000 and $3000. All will exhibit their creations at IndieCade and have their work promoted by Oculus.

To get started, you’ll need the UDK software found here. And I guess the rest of us will sit back and wait for the binocular-vision videos to flood in. What would you like to see emerge from Oculus’ concerned effort to inspire 3D oddness?