Oculus at E3 2013

E3 is officially underway, and we’re here meeting with developers and media.

Last year, the Oculus Rift was officially nominated for Best Hardware of E3. This year, we wanted to do something special to celebrate the first anniversary of its public debut.

We generally develop features for the consumer Rift using top-secret prototypes that are kept under lock and key at Oculus HQ. But for the first time, we’ll be sharing one of these prototypes with the public: a 1080p HD Oculus Rift.

HD VR

Raising the resolution for the consumer Rift has always been one of the highest priorities. The dev kit is an incredible device that demonstrates the potential for VR. High definition virtual reality (HD VR) realizes that potential in full.

Mike and Nate working with one of the early HD prototypes.

The prototype’s 1080p display increases the number of visible pixels by more than 2x, greatly reducing the screen-door effect seen in the development kit. The brightness, contrast, and color are also improved. All of these changes come together to ratchet the sense of immersion to an entirely new level.

A screenshot of Epic Citadel (Unreal Engine 3) in the 720p development kit (left) and in the 1080p prototype (right).

The 1080p prototype isn’t a product — this isn’t necessarily the display (or even the resolution) that we’ll use for the consumer version — it’s simply a taste of what’s coming. Developers can continue building Oculus-ready content with the development kit; the Oculus SDK will automatically handle the resolution and distortion changes for the consumer version.

Chris building the set of 1080p HD Rift prototypes for E3.

HD is one of the many features and improvements we have in development for the consumer version of the Rift. We’ll continue to share prototypes like these with the community as they enter that state where we’re happy with them.

Matt putting the finishing touches on one of the 1080p prototypes.

We’ll have 1080p prototypes on hand at upcoming shows so you can try the HD experience for yourself. For many of us, trying HD VR for the first time was even better than the first trip inside the Rift. It’s truly that good, and we can’t wait to share it with you.

Unreal Engine 4 + Oculus VR

We wanted an incredible experience to showcase HD VR. Over the last few months, we’ve been quietly collaborating with Epic on the Oculus integration for UE4. With Epic’s help, we converted the UE4 Elemental demo into an explorable, immersive, and interactive VR environment.

Simply put, when you combine HD VR with UE4, you really feel like you’re stepping into next-gen gaming.

We’ve also officially joined the UE4 Integrated Partners Program, which means that the engine includes out-of-the-box support for Oculus VR. With UE4, Epic has raised the bar again with an incredible platform for next-generation game development. We’re excited to be a part it. Starting today the Oculus – UE4 integration is available to all Unreal Engine 4 licensees.

An enormous thank you to the team at Epic Games, especially Nick Whiting, Alan Willard, and Nick Penwarden, for all the help making Oculus + UE4 such an awe-inspiring experience. Nick W. wrote up a great blog post on Gamasutra about the integration process that you can read here.

The Oculus – UE4 integration and Oculus Elemental demo were two of Andrew Reisse’s final projects and they came together brilliantly. Thank you, Andrew. We miss you dearly.

VR Cinema

We have one other small surprise that we’re tossing into the show: 3D VR movies.

Lately, the team has been enjoying the VR Cinema3D app built in Unity by Joo-Hyung Ahn at UXGround. Cinema3D allows you to step inside a virtual movie theater, find the perfect seat, kick back, and enjoy your movie in immersive, stereo 3D. A few of us have already watched feature-length movies in it. The size, scale, and sense of immersion is all there. It’s very, very cool.

Imagine when those seats are packed with fellow Rifters!

If you haven’t checked Cinema3D out, you can download it here. The demo still has a few bugs, but Joo-Hyung has been releasing updates to the community frequently. This is just one example of the incredible experiences the indie community is putting together with the Oculus SDK and Unity 4.

While the development kit’s resolution is a bit low for movie watching, HD VR makes all the difference. Watching 2D and S3D movies in virtual reality is something that we’re getting more and more excited about with the consumer version of the Rift.

Quick Shipping Update

We’ve delivered roughly 99% of the Kickstarter rewards including the Rift development kits, t-shirts, and posters. Where’s that last 1%? We’re still missing a couple hundred Kickstarter addresses! If you haven’t received your reward, log in to the Oculus Order Manager and update your account information. You can always email support@oculusvr.com if you need more help.

We’re in the process of transitioning to post-Kickstarter pre-order fulfillment. Hang with us — we’ve run into a few duty/customs snags that are holding up shipments to NA/EU, but we hope to have them sorted out soon.

As previously stated, duties and taxes are the responsibility of the customer for pre-orders taken through the website (ie. all post-Kickstarter dev kits) but we’re working on minimizing delivery charges.

Thanks for your patience!

Building a Next-Gen Platform

We want to thank you again for making all of this possible. We wouldn’t be where we are without the community’s continued support. Keep your comments, suggestions, and feedback coming. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be working with you on the Rift and next-generation virtual reality. We wouldn’t want it any other way. Thank you.

Stay up to date on the latest Oculus news by following @oculus3d on Twitter or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/oculusvr.

Here’s to a great E3!

– Palmer and the Oculus team

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