Thoughts On Microconsoles

I’ve been thinking about microconsoles.  When the Ouya, Gamestick, etc were first announced I thought it was a really interesting phenomenon coinciding with the emergence of mobile gaming, mobile graphics, streaming, app stores, and the indie games boom.  I’ve also insisted for a long time that there’s a ton of untapped potential for these sorts of devices in terms of local multiplayer using both the tv and everyone’s phones and tablets.  I still do think that there’s some things inherently more interesting about this sort of platform.

All I’ve really wanted from the “big players” in consoles for a while is just for one of them to steal the app store model and allow a more democratic form of development on their platform.  PC and mobile have been getting tons of interesting content using the app store model that the barriers to entry on consoles simply don’t allow.  To top it off, in theory, the microconsoles themselves are lower cost devices to begin with, reducing barriers to entry for the mainstream gamers that mostly know gaming through their phone, to start gaming with a controller in front of their TV.

In practice however, it seems like there are several problems with this, stopping microconsoles from really taking off.

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Thoughts on the Oculus Rift

I recently had the privilege of testing out an Oculus Rift.  I felt compelled to write up my first impressions.  I’ve been meaning to start a personal blog to write about whatever for a while, and this is as good a place to start as any.  Feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you want to skip the intro stuff.  My name is Chris, and I’m a graphics programmer.  I will use this space to write about whatever I’m thinking about that I feel merits sharing and discussion, regardless of topic, but there will be a bias towards computers/programming, music/metal, and fictional media since that’s what occupies a lot of my headspace.  I’ll probably write up a proper intro at some point, but for now, on to the Rift!

I got to try a demo setup of the Rift Dev Kit 2 at work two weeks ago.  This first demo had some issues; certain demos had some kind of weird flickering when you moved your head, and some had some kind of RGB color separation.  Later on I got to demo the Rift again on a setup without these issues and it was an even more amazing experience, but even with these issues I was still impressed.

The first demo I tried was the Oculus World Tuscany demo.  It’s basically a Unity Engine test demo where you walk around and look at some okay art assets.  Normally it’s something I wouldn’t even bother to download, but with the rift, it’s fuckin’ cool.

The first thing I noticed was the head tracking.  The word I would use for it is “immaculate”.  Every other virtual reality type experience I’ve tried was missing this.  I played some sword fighting game at Disney Quest something like a decade ago between the weight of the headset and the touch of lag, it felt like I was playing a virtual reality video game.  While I’m hoping that the consumer headsets are a bit lighter, the Rift doesn’t really have this problem; it’s like being transported to a place.  I felt like I’d become a ghost when, seconds after putting the Rift on, I held my hand in front of my face and saw nothing.

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