At GDC 2013 I met with the good folks from Sixense, makers of the Razer Hydra controller. They put me into the Oculus Rift and loaded up the Tuscany demo (built in Unity). This particular version of the demo has full Razer Hydra support, thanks to Sixense. Scattered around the space is a myriad of physics-driven objects to interact with — and damn is it fun! The combination of the Oculus Rift and the Razer Hydra is potent and incredibly immersive. The Tuscany demo, infused with support for the Razer Hydra, is hands-down the most fun I’ve had in virtual reality yet.

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If you intend to develop for the Rift and haven’t jumped on the Razer Hydra bandwagon yet, I highly advise that you do so (don’t miss their current sale).

Interacting with the Tuscany demo using the Razer Hydra was not only natural — it was fun! Reaching out and touching objects with your own virtual hands is miles more immersive than using a keyboard and mouse. You can do things with the Rift and the Hydra that you simply can’t do with a monitor and traditional input.

The moment that really sold me was when I tossed a basketball up into the air above my head (see 3:35 in the video). I threw it in a way that the trajectory of the ball would have it landing somewhere slightly behind me. My natural reaction was to look at the ball as it was coming down, lean back, and grab it — and that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t have to think to myself, ‘how do I need to move the controls in order to do what I want to do,’ I simply followed the ball as it flew through the air, reached up behind me, and plucked it out of the air.

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I was blown away the moment I caught the ball and realized what had just happened. The immersion that comes from the Rift and the Hydra is extremely impressive and vividly promising. The barriers that separate humans and computers are falling away before our very eyes.

A Visit to Tuscany

There was more to the Oculus Rift Tuscany Razer Hydra demo (we’re going to need a shorter name) than the basketball. There were plenty of objects: books, chairs, logs, barrels, etc. Interacting with things felt incredibly natural.

Picking up a book and bringing it close to your face to see detail was really cool. With a book in my hands I couldn’t help but want to open them to see the pages inside — something Sixense says they would have added given more time. Also exciting was the ability to hold out your finger using one of the Hydra’s buttons and trace a line from the cover art on one of the books; the accuracy is quite impressive (0:45 in the video).

Maybe it was that I was tossing heavy barrels hundreds of feet like a superhero, but throwing objects was immensely fun. At first I was releasing objects just a bit too soon, but eventually I got the hang of it and was launching objects clear off of a cliff into the sea below. I nailed the underhand volleyball serve on my first try which was quite satisfying (7:11).

You can easily grab two objects at the same time, or pass and object back and forth between your hands as you manipulate it. There are clear implications for gameplay here: being able to do something with one hand while doing something entirely different with the other hand is natural and useful. Examples that come to mind include holding a flashlight in one hand while pushing open doors with the other, holding a magnifying glass while inspecting an object, hooking two interlocking pieces of something together to form a key or other useful object, or loading shells into a shotgun.

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The Tuscany Razer Hydra demo is absolutely the most fun I’ve had yet with virtual reality. Soon, game developers will be wrapping these new natural interactions in compelling narratives and enticing gameplay and I can’t wait to step into those experiences. This is an extremely exciting time to be a gamer!

Sixense tells me that they intend to release this demo to the public in due time — more on that as we hear it.

Discuss this over in our forums.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Flavio

    That’s amazing!
    *jaw dropped

  • jayoh

    anyone know if, when or where we can get this to try?

  • WormSlayer

    That is awesome, exactly how I imagined it would be when I bought a Hydra for Rifting! :D

    Who made this? Is it an official OculusVR demo? Where do we get it?! lol

  • Paul James

    This is Sixense’s own demo and it is completely awesome. They clearly ‘get’ how games in VR should work and obviously have a vested interest in making the best interfaces for their controller.

    We hope to have more on this in the future.

  • EdZ

    Sixense have confirmed that they will be releasing this demo to the public:

    • Paul James

      Nice one, many thanks for the heads up.

  • Michael

    easily the best V.R dynamic demo I’ve seen to date..
    The Hydra’s simply the best accessory to compliment the Oc.

    Sure hope they make this dynamic experience available for download ?

    • Michael

      yup I just read that yes in fact they will release the Sixense Tuscany demo.. AWESOME !!

      So what if any additional dynamics would you like to see if they were to add some more to this amazing demo..
      Personally I’d love to experience rope .. eg. tie a knot throw a length of rope over a tree branch secure it & then swing from it like tarzan !! :)

  • Andreas Aronsson

    This. Is. Awesome. All new Rift and VR info is getting me all hyped up again. Devkit cannot come soon enough @,..,@ also, I definitely need to get summa dat Razer Hydra.

  • Michael

    ha-ha I hear ya..

    I’ve spent this entire weekend glued to this laptop searching the net for any vids, articles etc.. I can possibly find related to the O.R The Hydra & any other 3rd parties gearing up to back the Oc in one way or another…

  • Ryan

    Amazing demo! Thanks for sharing. I have a Hydra and a Rift, can’t wait to try this out!!!

  • Denny

    This is a great demo and so exciting!

    For The Gallery: Six Elements (on Kickstarter) we’re showing very similar interactions

    We’ll be doing a major update showing something much more impressive this week! Catch it here:

    • Andreas Aronsson

      Very exciting Denny! :D Looking forward to the update!