GamesCom 2013: Palmer Luckey and Nate Mitchell talk Carmack, InfinitEye and HD Prototypes [Video]

At Gamescom this year I was lucky enough to be granted time with Palmer Luckey (Founder of Oculus VR) and Nate Mitchell (VP of Product) to talk all things VR. Here’s the video of that interview.

Gracious Hosts and Horrible Blunders

I’ve been fairly candid about my experiences and mishaps at GamesCom this year. My first ever shot at journalism was a challenging journey through technical mishaps and pleasant surprises. The worst blunder, unfortunately for me, occurred during my time with Palmer Luckey and Nate Mitchell at Oculus’ private business room tucked away in the corner of the Kolnmesse convention centre in Cologne, Germany.

Nate and Palmer were extremely generous with their time and patient with my limited filming experience. When the interview got started, I was pretty happy with the way things were going when, around 10 minutes in, I heard an ominous ‘click’ from the camera behind me. The camera had stopped recording seconds into the interview and the remainder completely lost. I buried the deep urge to scream “$%@!”" (and other, even less savoury things), pressed record again and after double and triple checking things were rolling we carried on. In the end, we had another interesting chat about various things and that’s what we present to you today.

The Lost Interview

What I can’t show you is the discussion around Oculus’ new content delivery and showcase website ‘Oculus Share’. We discussed what Oculus’ aims and hopes for the new platform were and Nate and Palmer stressed that the key objectives were: 1) To give developers a platform to showcase and share their work with a wider audience 2) To channel feedback for those titles back through the platform to the developers and Oculus themselves. In many ways Oculus Share is the embodiment of what Oculus have strived for since the inception of the Development Kit and the Kickstarter last year, to get the message that VR is here to as many people as possible and for those people to experiment, share and build the knowledge base for a new kind of game development.

As I’ve mentioned before, even after 12 months of flying all over the world to evangelise the Oculus Rift and the new wave of Virtual Reality the team at Oculus believe absolutely is upon us all, the enthusiasm seems entirely undiminished. Hopefully some of that comes across in the remaining interview here.

More Time with the HD Prototype

oculus-rift-development-kit-hd-1080p

In an odd twist, my appointment with CCP Games and EVE Valkyrie immediately preceded this one, so I’d unexpectedly already tried the HD Prototypes they were proudly demoing there. Having another go however was hardly something I was going to pass up. As is now standard, I was shown different segments of the Unreal Engine 4 showcase, Elemental. The demo ran on a GTX 780 and was an impressive visual canvas to demonstrate the new 1080p panel within the prototype. Again, the superior contrast and vibrancy of the screen hit me first, blacks were inky and the red and blue hues popped brilliantly. Of course, the image was far crisper then the current Dev Kit but pixel structure is still evident. That said being able to resolve that extra detail means that middle to far distance objects and scenery are rendered properly with the added bonus of enhanced depth perception too.

unreal-elemental-demo

Swapping between segments, Nate fired particle beams from my avatar’s POV and these in particular really illustrated just why more resolution is always a good thing in VR. They were rendered real enough to reach out and touch and again their place in 3D space much more capably rendered thanks to the extra pixels at hand.

Finally, we shifted to the Virtual Cinema demo and a 1080p trailer for the new Superman movie. I’ve already spent time watching 3D movies with the application and image clarity versus the DK1 was far superior, however, as far as I could tell the projected movie wasn’t 3D itself (although I could be wrong here). Frankly, as Home Theater nerd from way back,  we still need more pixels per eye to match say an equivalent 1080p projected image in the home. Having said that, as an alternative for those (like me) who had to give up such luxuries, the ability to view a movie at this sort of perceived scale is an awesome testament to the power of VR and the possible non-gaming uses we may use it for in the future.

My thanks to Palmer (who wasn’t feeling great at all when this was filmed) and Nate for their time and patience, and apologies to the Road To VR readers for not quite bringing home all the goods this time.

Comments

  1. Avatar of David says

    Asus and LG are working on new devices with displays of 2560×1600 or 2560×1440 resolution.
    It would be very cool if OculusRift guys will consider to make an optional upgrade to the HD kit for people wich can pay to have more crispy images!!!!!

  2. Avatar of Kamus says

    Great interview. It is a bit evident that a consumer version is nowhere near ready though; as they don’t seem ready to talk about any new features what so ever. I’m wondering how soon they can at least showcase some advancements.

    • Avatar of Mageoftheyear says

      I think that perhaps there are some things they are going to keep to themselves until the release, both to 1up their (potential) competitors (it is only a matter of time) and to lend the consumer version a new-lease-on-life feel. Resolution and positional tracking is something we know they’ll have nailed down for the final, but I think it’s a smart move on their part to hold back for the time being.

      We talk about the hardware a lot, but reading up on Sony’s intent to enter VR makes me think of the importance of robust software support. This is not an area that I feel Sony can simply buy its way into and OVR have had a LONG (comparatively) head-start in this area.
      If standardisation ever becomes an issue I feel that Oculus would have the consumer backing to call a lot of those shots.

  3. Avatar of Mageoftheyear says

    Thank you for the interview Paul! I was wondering why Palmer was so “off” for the first half of the interview as Nate is usually the one who has to keep an eye out just to get a word in sideways!
    You’re way too modest though, Ben & yourself have built something special with Road to VR and I hope *THEY* appreciated the coverage – honestly, the amount of material that you two provide us with is insane, don’t think we take it for granted.

    Three technical critiques;
    ~ I prefer hearing you posit the questions vs. a slide in the video. It disturbs the rhythm of the interview and makes it feel a little disjointed. If this was done for editing reasons (swapping the order of segments then I think a quick fade to frame would serve you better.
    ~ The camera went out of focus near the end. No biggie! ;)
    ~ RtVR needs intro & outro music to match that classy fade out man!
    It’d give you an opportunity to link to your other videos via annotations at the end of each video.
    On this note I know of a few composers who are gamers and would look kindly upon RtVR. Joel Nielsen is a musical magician http://www.joelnielsen.com/ and the guys behind the Star Citizen Unofficial Soundtrack are not so bad either! http://tinyurl.com/qzvaz72
    [My ideas for inspiration for this are http://tinyurl.com/nlg88zq till 2:31 in,
    http://youtu.be/xkkLlNyhIQM?t=1m39s till 2:11 in, http://youtu.be/IwgdEOJPb98 & http://youtu.be/uu0dL8_4avs?t=1m56s till 2:18 - Yeah, I'm kinda into progressive trance, but this would all benefit from more of a classical bent - which is Joel's background :P]

    Damn! What are they working on in those labs of theirs!?
    The wait for the consumer version is agonising!

    On a different subject, is it possible for you to arrange with the SVVR meetup group to have their sessions recorded for us regular folks to see? The guy who did the first two seems to have stopped, and I know neither Ben nor yourself can reach these :(
    I’m sure Karl, Bruce & Nana would be receptive towards this idea (esp Bruce). I really look forward to those sessions.

  4. Avatar of Paul James says

    Thanks for your kind words as always Mr Mage, really does make us feel the effort is worthwhile.

    RE the critiques: The AF issue was a freak occurrence towards the end that I’d have had no chance of seeing. Being a one-man camera crew sucks. :) Reasons for the vignetting was mainly due to (again) poor audio recording on my part and in actual fact made the interview for episodic and less rambly. But yes, I’d have dearly loved to have all the exchanges on video and will strive for this next time.

    The Intro / outro you may have noticed we actually have on most of our more recent videos, initially for technical reasons and lately pure absent mindedness it wasn’t included. Generally these things are left or missed as we just don’t have the time to polish as much as we’d like – ultimately content wins over all.

    SVVR coverage is on it’s way – Karl’s promised to let us know when the new videos are up so we can alert you all. As for future video coverage, if only we could help – but we’re far too remote to be of assistance. I know Karl is working as hard as he can on spreading the SVVR love as best he can.

    • Avatar of Mageoftheyear says

      You’re welcome ;)
      This site saves me a lot of time by highlighting the most pertinent VR news that I would otherwise have to hunt for.

      ~ AF: No I could tell. Nothin’ you could do about that. Except maybe arrange a groupie/minion to accompany you for all your technical needs next time :P
      ~ Audio: “Vignetting…” – damn near broke my tongue trying to pronounce that.
      ~ Intro/outro: … how did I not notice that o.O – my bad.

      Oh that’s great news on the SVVR coverage! I’m glad to hear that it’s up there on Karl’s to-do list.
      I know Ben & yourself are way too far away to cover it.

  5. Avatar of kevin williams says

    Nice interview Paul – gave a great perspective, though the body language was more interesting for me :)

    Wondering if you will be at the next London VR Meetup? Would like to chat with you about a new project in the media that I would like you and Ben’s input on.

Leave a Reply