E3 2015 Adventure Part 1: My Time in the Oculus Rift

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Over the last 20 years, video game companies have come from far and wide to the Electronics Entertainment Expo to announce all their biggest titles and technology.  It is the Shangri-La of Video Games, a mystical land filled with gamers from all over the world with their heart’s set on testing all of their favorite video game titles and the next biggest thing.  It has been one of my life’s dreams to attend this event.  

In 2015, I got that opportunity.

Like a wizard receiving his admission into Hogwarts or a kid receiving the Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory, I danced like a mad man when I received my email of admittance into E3 2015.  

With my media badge dangling around my neck like an Olympic Gold Medal, Eric from The Fathergamer Podcast and I entered the West Hall with a huge smile on my face and my heart racing in anticipation.  What awaited me was an overwhelming sense of ADD.  My brain couldn’t quite figure out where I wanted to begin.  There were so many different gaming booths to choose from, a mass of humanity lining up for each game, and not enough time to try everything out.

A common misconception with media badges is that just because you were granted one, means that you have the ability to cut in line, receive special treatment, and have a lunch provided for you. In most cases, this is simply not true.  The media badge merely gets you in the door, after that, it’s up to you as to what you’re able to do.  What I mean, is that in order to get to test all the big titles or technology, you have to do one of three things.  Schedule it beforehand, wait in a line that is around the corner, or Network.  

E3 is an understandably very social event.  It requires networking with several different developers within the industry in order to test out all the biggest products on the floor.  Furthermore, it creates new relationships and bonds and creates lasting friendships within the gaming world and beyond. Networking is exactly what it would take for us to test arguably the biggest piece of technology in my generation.

To do this, we would need the help from a woman in a land fondly known as the UK.  This woman would be the key to the locked chest that held the Oculus Rift.

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Frequent readers of Cinelinx may remember Daley Johnson as a contributor at Cinelinx.com. However, she is much more than that.  She is an avid gamer, Donkey Kong/Legend of Zelda enthusiast, and PR & Community Manager at Coatsink Software.  It is because of her that we were able to meet with the head honchos of Coatsink, CEO Tom and his brother and Project Manager Eddie Beardsmore.

Coatsink Software came out with a VR game called Esper.  In Esper, you are a telepath set in the 1970’s.  You are placed in a room designed to test the limits of your powers through various complex and mind bending puzzles. Included, is a hilarious guide helping you along the way.

Esper was so highly regarded that Oculus decided to add it to their initial 9 titles on the Oculus Rift. What is quite incredible about the team at Coatsink is, despite all of their recognition and having a game selected on arguably the biggest piece of tech in recent history, they remain humble, happy, accommodating people.  Tom and Eddie were so welcoming and enjoyable to hang out with. It really was a pleasure to meet them. They were the reason we got a chance to test the Oculus Rift.

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The Oculus booth at E3 was almost like going into a tiny apartment living room.  I would imagine it is up to scale of any apartment in New York City.  When I sat down and put on the headset, I was immediately transported into another world.  Suddenly I was in a much bigger living room than the one in the real world.  The room had a 70’s feel to it, with the sunken living room space in the middle of the room.  I could see chairs all around me and many windows showing all the shrubbery outside.  Suddenly, a menu appeared in the form of nine games.  That is when I received the XBOX One controller, I would soon use to navigate the upcoming world.  After careful consideration, I chose to play the space flight sim game Eve: Valkyrie.

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Once the decision was made, I was immediately transported into a cockpit, parked in a hangar waiting for my deployment.  While I waited, I continued to explore the world.  I looked left and right, seeing more of the ship and the hangar.  I looked up, I could see the same. However, when my attention turned to look down, I expected to see my hands gripping the XBOX One controller.  Instead, I saw hands that were not my own gripping the pilot’s wheel.  It’s hard to explain just how momentarily terrifying yet cool that feeling was.

With that realization that I was no longer in Kansas anymore, I was ready to explore this new world I was temporarily a part of.  In an instant, I was jettisoned from the hangar and sent out into the vast vacuum of space.  In front of me, was a giant planet and all around were ships I assumed to be friendly.  The controls were a little wonky at first.  I soon realized that they were inverted so it took me a moment to adjust.  However, once I did the whole world opened up to me.  I was flying around, doing backflips, shooting anything and everything.  That’s when the battle started. Several enemy ships entered the fray and suddenly I was immersed in a giant space battle, attacking all my enemies in an effort to protect my team and friendly ships.  At times, the game moved so fast it became momentarily disorienting.  I was flying all around unsure if I was even right side up.  My mission was to destroy my enemies and that’s what I intended to do.  After much interstellar carnage, my ship was suddenly destroyed and the screen went dark.  My seven minutes were up and it was time to go back to the real world.  

When I removed the headset, it took me a moment to realize I was back in the real world, without the threat of an impending battle.  It may sound like I’m fluffing the experience up a little bit but this is exactly how it all felt.  The whole experience felt so real.  It’s an incredible achievement to be able to make it so convincing and fun.

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After my time in the Oculus Rift, it was time for Eric’s.  He chose to check out Coatsink’s Esper. From what I witnessed on the screen, Esper looks incredibly fun and challenging.  Furthermore, our guide Eddie, from Coatsink, revealed that the game is much more detailed and intricate than just sitting behind a desk.  If you make the motion to look under the desk, you will actually see underneath. The game doesn’t just go through the space and into an empty abyss.  The same happened when Eric was instructed to look over the desk, he actually saw the floor and more of the world he inhabited.  This was mind-blowingly awesome to see.  The forethought of Coatsink to create more of this world for curious minds is staggering.  If you think about it, that is just the tip of the creative iceberg.  Who knows what else we will see with more time and development in the Oculus Rift.  The sky is certainly the limit.  

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Afterward, Eric couldn’t stop gushing over how incredible Esper was and made me anxious to get my hands on an Oculus just to check it out. The good news is, Esper is currently available to play on VR headsets now.  Though, I will be waiting for my chance to buy an Oculus Rift.  I do fear for what will happen to me when I do buy one.  Could these be the last articles I write?  I can’t imagine, I’ll be able to pull myself out of the Oculus Rift world.  In any case, that is worry for another day.  For now, a huge thanks goes out to Daley, Tom, Eddie, and the entire Coatsink family. You are such a brilliant team and I can’t thank you enough for all you did.

If the Oculus Rift is already this far along, I can’t imagine how it will be when it will be available to buy on market.  The future is bright and it is exciting.

Thanks for reading!  Please check out my other entries as they are released and give me some feedback!

You can also follow me on twitter @movethejoystick and Eric @fathergamer

OR you can see me on SCNS Live and hear Eric on TFGP on Cinelinx.com, youtube.com/theuntitledscns, and on iTunes.