EverQuest Next and the Oculus Rift

Posted Thu, Aug 08, 2013 by Dalmarus

Back in June of this year, I had the chance to test out the Oculus Rift first hand at E3 in the CCP EVE Online room. The demonstration only lasted for a few minutes, but it was so awesome and incredible, that I had to write an article about it at the time to share the experience. On Tuesday, a new EverQuest Next video was released and, while the focus of it certainly wasn’t about the Oculus Rift, it did make an appearance. That has me (and a number of other people) wondering if all our dreams are finally about to come true.

EverQuest Next and the Occulus Rift

The Oculus Rift in action.

While I don’t think we’re anywhere close to the full 3D and immersive virtual reality Dennis L. McKiernan brought to life in his novel, Caverns of Socrates, I do think we’re on the precipice of a different sort. 2014 may finally be the year genuine virtual reality makes its way into the homes of millions. It may sound like something easily accomplished, but it’s anything of the sort.

The last few decades have been full of attempts to bring virtual reality to the masses, but for a number of reasons, this has never been achieved with any level of actual success. In the 80s, there were attempts to give us this in the form of hologram technology. In the 90s, there were virtual reality mall “stores” that would let you give it a try. In 1995, Nintendo even released the Virtual Boy. This was a headset with red light graphics that was heavy, awkward, and headache-inducing to the extreme. Needless to say, it was a short lived product.

Time and time again, we’ve seen the promise of a virtual reality revolution just around the corner, just to have it cut off at the knees by everything from the systems being too expensive, too bulky, or just too inferior. With the Oculus Rift, and its teased compatibility with EverQuest Next, I think we’re finally going to see what we’ve all been waiting for – a true virtual reality system in our home.

The EVE-VR cockpit.

I’ve given you the scoop on what I thought about my virtual reality experience with CCP’s EVE-VR tech prototype game, but let me sum it up quickly for those that are too lazy to read the article (I’m looking at you, Mom! Just kidding… I know you’re not lazy). In short, the game is incredible and insanely fun. The Oculus Rift reacts quickly to head movement and the eye-path-missile-locking-system works better than I could ever convey. It is an awesome leap forward from the technology that has plagued all the dreams of our past.

That’s great and all, but for now, EVE-VR is nothing but a tech demo members of CCP’s development team has been working on in their spare time. It just happened to be so damned cool that they’ve been showing it off a bit in hopes of gathering enough support to make it into something truly spectacular.

Now enter this teasing moment of the EverQuest Next video, Behind the Black Box . Right around the 2 minute and 10 second mark, Jeff Butler very clearly states he has to get back to work and dons the Oculus Rift headset. Does this mean we’re going to be able to run around a virtual reality system of EverQuest Next? I damned well f***ing hope so!

EverQuest Next and the Occulus Rift

Can you imagine this in full 3D virtual reality?

Can you imagine how incredibly cool that would be? If people thought they had been addicted before in the early days of EverQuest, they have no idea. EverQuest Next already has me extremely excited, but I think I may have to have a stroke and die from shock before I’m ready to don the Oculus Rift and start destroying parts of Norrath in search of lost dungeons below the surface of the world. The game itself begs for exploration and what better exploration could there possibly be than by doing it in a virtual reality format?

Even thinking about this has me damned near drooling on myself (sorry for the visual). Imagine being able to feel as though you are actually in the world of Norrath. We’re not just talking about playing in first person. Hell, I’m not even just talking about playing EverQuest Next with a triple screen setup you see so many flight sim fanatics with. To top it all off, we’re not even talking about playing it on a screen in 3D.

I’m talking about being in the world. Where ever your head turns, that’s where you’re looking. And your hearing and vision are completely engulfed by the gorgeous world around you. The possibilities for game experiences on that level are just too numerous to talk about.

The only down side I could see happening would be a lot of head dodging. I can’t help but lean and move the controller whenever I’m playing a racing game against some friends. Imagine instinctively throwing your head back or to the side to when you see that giant fist of an Iron Golem come rushing at you like we saw in the EverQuest Next world premier presentation. Ahhh, maybe I’m not far off the mark, now am I?

I think support for the Oculus Rift in EQN would be great but I would hope it doesn't take resources from other parts of the project.

This is a statement I hear quite often when something comes up in a project. It can be related to anything - bug fixing, new features, etc.

As someone that was working inside the studios when Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2 launched, I can assure you that something like this wouldn't take resources away. If it's a feature SOE wants to put in the game, they've dedicated the necessary resources for it - and that's just picking the best people for the job.

I know that doesn't explain it well, but unless you've been on the inside it's hard to understand how things work. I promise that's not a bash on anyone's intelligence. Game companies just work very differently than any other business I've been involved with over the past 30 years or so. Ideas come up and things get prioritized into various categories - how cool is it, how popular will it be with the player base, can it be done, is the cost of resources worth pursuing it now in comparison to something else, etc... all of this is discussed and budgeted out.

So in one way, I can see how it could be viewed as taking resources away from other parts of the project, but as odd as it sounds, it's really not.

Confusing enough? LOL ^_^

All good, I work in a software development house so I understand how it works (and unfortunately have seen how such projects either ignore innovation or are drained by it). I doubt SoE would be draining resources to investigate/support OR, I just wanted to point out that I hope they weren't :P

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