A Conversation with Oculus VR Founder Palmer Luckey
September 3, 2013 Page 1 of 6
Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus, is sure that he's got some tricks up his sleeve to perfect the Rift headset ahead of its official 2014 launch. At Gamescom, Luckey excitedly told Gamasutra that he has some ideas about improving his head mounted display -- though he didn't specifically divulge what they might be.
Luckey is well aware he might face competition soon, but he's also confident that his tech will keep his startup ahead of the curve. And following from his GDC Europe talk, he explains what it takes to make a game look and feel right in VR -- warning developers that they may have to unlearn genre conventions that have served them well for decades now. He also explains why he's excited by mobile as well as PC applications for the Rift.
Things have really come along -- suddenly you've attracted an incredible CTO. What's the immediate future for Oculus?
Palmer Luckey: The immediate future is to continue to working on the consumer version of the Oculus Rift and continue pushing toward that as fast as we can. The tracking, the optics, the display, as much as we can, before the consumer release.
As John Carmack is coming in as CTO, what is he concentrating on?
PL: He's really focusing on a lot of different things. He's working on improving our SDK, he's doing a lot of the work around mobile right now, and optimizing and seeing what we can build on mobile.
And part of it is when you optimize for mobile, if you can get it to run on low-spec mobile hardware, then it's easy to get it to run on low-spec PC hardware. So optimizing our SDK and demos around that helps on PC and on mobile.
But really, he is an incredibly smart guy. He is a wizard of hardware, software, graphical pipelines and everything in between. So he's really instrumental in a lot of the stuff that we're working on.
Have you said exactly when the consumer release is going to be, or is it more of a ballpark?
PL: We haven't. Sometime next year is a good ballpark. We've been telling people it'll be multiple months, not multiple years. The thing is, we don't want ship something that's not finished, or tie ourselves to a deadline and then either, (A) push things to make a deadline and then ship an inferior product, or (B) have everyone say, "Oh, they're late" when really we just want to make sure we do everything right.
I know you've been working pretty closely with some software developers. I've played EVE Valkyrie.
PL: It's awesome.
How do you feel about having software ready? I know you don't have direct control over it because you're not making games yourselves.
PL: I think we're going to have a lot of software ready, because there are a lot of game developers from indies to triple-As that we've been talking to -- some of them publicly, some of them are working behind the scenes -- we're not worried about content at all. There are so many people that are working on VR games. We've already seen a lot of really cool indie demos. But even a lot of triple-A developers are excited about the possibilities of VR and porting their games over.
One of the most interesting things about your GDC Europe talk is that you said that while in the beginning, we'll probably see a lot of FPS games because it maps well as an interaction paradigm --
PL: I hate the word "paradigm!"
It makes sense, though, in this context.
PL: Yeah, it does. The one time I've used it and it made sense.
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