Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: Codemasters

Digging in a Little Deeper into the DiRT

Over the past few weeks I have had the chance to play the early access "DiRT Rally" title from Codemasters.  This is a much more simulation based title that is currently PC only, which is a big switch for Codemasters and how they usually release their premier racing offerings.  I was able to get a hold of Paul Coleman from Codemasters and set up a written interview with him.  Paul's answers will be in italics.

Who are you, what do you do at Codemasters, and what do you do in your spare time away from the virtual wheel?

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Hi my name is Paul Coleman and I am the Chief Games Designer on DiRT Rally. I’m responsible for making sure that the game is the most authentic representation of the sport it can be, I’m essentially representing the player in the studio. In my spare time I enjoy going on road trips with my family in our 1M Coupe. I’ve been co-driving in real world rally events for the last three years and I’ve used that experience to write and voice the co-driver calls in game.

If there is one area that DiRT has really excelled at is keeping frame rate consistent throughout multiple environments.  Many games, especially those using cutting edge rendering techniques, often have dramatic frame rate drops at times.  How do you get around this while still creating a very impressive looking game?

The engine that DiRT Rally has been built on has been constantly iterated on over the years and we have always been looking at ways of improving the look of the game while maintaining decent performance. That together with the fact that we work closely with GPU manufacturers on each project ensures that we stay current. We also have very strict performance monitoring systems that have come from optimising games for console. These systems have proved very useful when building DiRT Rally even though the game is exclusively on PC.

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How do you balance out different controller use cases?  While many hard core racers use a wheel, I have seen very competitive racing from people using handheld controllers as well as keyboards.  Do you handicap/help those particular implementations so as not to make it overly frustrating to those users?  I ask due to the difference in degrees of precision that a gamepad has vs. a wheel that can rotate 900 degrees.

Again this comes back to the fact that we have traditionally developed for console where the primary input device is a handheld controller. This is an area that other sims don’t usually have to worry about but for us it was second nature. There are systems that we have that add a layer between the handheld controller or keyboard and the game which help those guys but the wheel is without a doubt the best way to experience DiRT Rally as it is a direct input.

Continue reading the entire DiRT Rally Interview here!

Oculus Rift "Full Rift Experience" Specifications Released

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Displays, Systems | May 15, 2015 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus vr, nvidia, amd, geforce, radeon, Intel, core i5

Today, Oculus has published a list of what they believe should drive their VR headset. The Oculus Rift will obviously run on lower hardware. Their minimum specifications, published last month and focused on the Development Kit 2, did not even list a specific CPU or GPU -- just a DVI-D or HDMI output. They then went on to say that you really should use a graphics card that can handle your game at 1080p with at least 75 fps.

oculus-dk2-product.jpg

The current list is a little different:

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 (or higher)
  • Intel Core i5-4590 (or higher)
  • 8GB RAM (or higher)
  • A compatible HDMI 1.3 output
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 (or newer).

I am guessing that, unlike the previous list, Oculus has a more clear vision for a development target. They were a little unclear about whether this refers to the consumer version or the current needs of developers. In either case, it would likely serve as a guide for what they believe developers should target when the consumer version launches.

This post also coincides with the release of the Oculus PC SDK 0.6.0. This version pushes distortion rendering to the Oculus Server process, rather than the application. It also allows multiple canvases to be sent to the SDK, which means developers can render text and other noticeable content at full resolution, but scale back in places that the user is less likely to notice. They can also be updated at different frequencies, such as sleeping the HUD redraw unless a value changes.

The Oculus PC SDK (0.6.0) is now available at the Oculus Developer Center.

Source: Oculus

Oculus Rift Shipments Suspended to China

Subject: General Tech, Displays | July 5, 2014 - 04:11 AM |
Tagged: oculus vr, oculus rift, Oculus

The popular VR headset development kit, Oculus Rift DK2, is no longer available for order in China. The reason, according to their subreddit, is due to "extreme reseller purchases". In other words, because too many were purchased with the intention of selling them at a markup. They, then, ask enthusiasts to wait for the consumer version. These are for developers to develop.

oculus-dk2-product.jpg

Reselling product happens frequently. You see it at big sales, when a retailer sells product near (or under) cost to lure people into their stores. Unless they have a quantity-per-purchase limit, that is enforced, you will see the occasional person buying obscene amounts. Some will even tell the cashier that they intend on reselling it elsewhere.

Oculus is "looking into alternative ways to make sure that our development kits are getting into legitimate developer hands in China". Also, they claim to have not canceled all orders in China., because, "that would be messed up".

Yes, Oculus, that would be.

The Oculus Rift DK2 is still available in the other regions.

Oculus VR Grabs Google Glass Electrical Engineer

Subject: General Tech, Displays | May 18, 2014 - 03:19 AM |
Tagged: oculus vr, Oculus, facebook, google glass

Who would have thought that John Carmack would have opened the flood gates of talent to Facebook. Apparently, not only was he the first in a long list of people to join Oculus, a large chunk of his coworkers at id Software followed him over (if a Glassdoor review is to be trusted) in Februrary. Their latest grab is Adrian Wong, former senior hardware engineer for Google's Glass Explorer program.

Okay...

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Didn't see that one coming...

Clearly, something is happening at Oculus VR. This acquisition by Facebook is giving them a warchest to grab as much top talent as possible. Ironically, without Oculus, I doubt that most of these hires, if any, would happen. Without knowing the internal structure of Facebook and Oculus, it is hard to predict how much benefit the parent company can gather, but the acquisition could be paying for itself in raw talent.

The Oculus Rift DK2, announced at GDC, is currently a $350.00 pre-order and expected to ship in August.

Source: TechCrunch

Oculus VR becomes John Carmack's top priority

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2013 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: oculus vr, john carmack, id software

He will remain a contributing coder for Armadillo Aerospace and he will not be leaving Id Software but John Carmack will now be spending most of his time as the CTO of Oculus VR.  He has been instrumental in the design of the Oculus Rift since the very beginning and has been a major force in the development of virtual reality for decades.  This move should help the development of Oculus' products accelerate and become even more impressive than the development model that Ken and Ryan had a chance to try.  Even if this slows down the development of the next instalment of Quake or Doom, many would say it was as small sacrifice when you consider the promise which Oculus holds for the future of displays.  Catch the fallout in the comments at Slashdot and catch our coverage of his keynote from Quakecon right here.

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"In a surprising move that in retrospect makes a lot of sense, Oculus VR has announced that John Carmack will be joining the company full-time as CTO. Carmack also tweeted that his time division would be 'Oculus over Id over Armadillo. Busy busy busy!'"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

GTC 2013: Oculus VR Reveals Future of Oculus Rift at ECS

Subject: General Tech | April 1, 2013 - 05:37 AM |
Tagged: virtual reality, oculus vr, oculus rift, GTC 2013, gaming

Update: Yesterday, an Oculus representative reached out to us in order to clarify that the information presented was forward looking and subject to change (naturally). Later in the day, the company also posted to its forum the following statement:

"The information from that presentation (dates, concepts, projections, etc...) represent our vision, ideas, and on-going research/exploration. None of it should be considered fact, though we'd love to have that projected revenue!"

You can find the full statement in this thread.

The original article text is below:

Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, took the stage at NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference to talk about the state of its technology and where it is headed.

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Oculus VR is a relatively new company founded by Palmer Luckey and managed by CEO Brendan Iribe, who is the former CPO of cloud gaming company Gaikai. Currently, Oculus VR is developing a wearable, 3D, virtual reality headset called the Oculus Rift. Initially launched via Kickstarter, the Oculus Rift hardware is now shipping to developers as the rev 1 developer kit. Oculus VR will manufacture 10,000 developer kits and managed to raise $2.55 million in 2012.

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The developer kit has a resolution of 1280x800 and weighs 320g. It takes a digital video input via a DVI or HDMI cable (HDMI with an adapter). The goggles hold the display and internals, and a control box connects via a wire to provide power. It uses several pieces of hardware found in smartphones, and CEO Brendan Iribe even hinted that an ongoing theme at Oculus VR was that "if it's not in a cell phone, it's not in Oculus." It delivers a 3D experience with head tracking, but Iribe indicated that full motion VR is coming in the future. For now, it is head tracking that allows you to look around the game world, but "in five to seven or eight years" virtual reality setups that combine an Oculus Rift-like headset with a omni-directional treadmill would allow you to walk and run around the world in addition to simply looking around.

Beyond the immersion factor, a full motion VR setup would reduce (and possibly eliminate) the phenomena of VR sickness, where users using VR headsets for extended periods of time experience discomfort due to the disconnect between your perceived in-game movement and your (lack of) physical movement and inner-ear balance.

Oculus VR Emerging Companies Summit_GTC2013 (6).jpg

After the first developer kit, Oculus is planning to release a revised version, and ultimately a consumer version. This consumer version is slated for a Q3 2014 launch. It will weigh significantly less (Oculus VR is aiming for around 200g), and will support 1080p 3D resolutions. The sales projections estimate 50,000 revision 2 developer kits in 2013 and at least 500,000 consumer versions of the Oculus Rift in 2014. Ambitious numbers, for sure, but if Oculus can nail down next-generation console support, reduce the weight of the headset, and increase the resolution it is not out of the question.

Oculus VR Emerging Companies Summit_GTC2013 (9).jpg

With the consumer version, Oculus is hoping to offer both a base wired version and a higher-priced wireless Rift VR headset. Further, the company is working with game and professional 3D creation software developers to get software support for the VR headset. Team Fortress 2 support has been announced, for example (and there will even be an Oculus Rift hat, for gamers that are into hats). Additionally, Oculus is working to get support into the following software titles (among others):

  • AutoDesk 3D
  • TF2
  • DOTA 2
  • L4D
  • Half-Life
  • Warface
  • Minecraft
  • Fortnite
  • UT3
  • Hawken
  • Crysis

During the presentation Iribe stated that graphics cards (specifically he mentioned the GTX 680) are finally in a place to deliver 3D with smooth frame rates at high-enough resolutions for immersive virtual reality.

Left: potential games with Oculus VR support. Right: Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe at ECS during GTC 2013.

Pricing on the consumer version of the VR headset is still unkown, but developers can currently pre-order an Oculus Rift developer kit on the Oculus VR site. In the past, the company has stated that consumers should hold off on buying a developer kit and wait for the consumer version of the Rift in 2014. If the company is able to deliver on its claims of a lighter headset with higher resolution screen and adjustable 3D effects (like the 3DS, the level of stereo 3D can be adjusted, and even turned off), I think it will be worth the wait. The deciding factor will then be software support. Hopefully developers will take to the VR technology and offer up support for it in upcoming titles into the future.

Are you excited for the Oculus Rift?