outerra oculus rift virtual reality planet fly

Soon you could be roaming your own virtual reality Earth. Outerra is an in-development ‘world rendering engine’ which is literally capable of rendering a geographically detailed world — your own personal planet. The engine uses an impressive combination of real-world data and procedural terrain generation to create detail all the way from the perspective of an orbiting satellite, down to the blades of grass at your feet. The developers of Outerra ordered an Oculus Rift developer kit early-on and plan to support the HMD.

Outerra is a unique 3D rendering engine, a world rendering engine capable to seamlessly render whole planets from space down to the surface. It can use arbitrary/varying resolution of elevation data that it further dynamically refines using fractal algorithms. The fractals try to mimic natural processes, generating fine, believable terrain with high resolution. The world is also being dynamically textured and populated with vegetation using predefined land type material sets and the computed terrain attributes.

The engine’s scale is truly amazing. We’re talking about a 1:1 virtual reality Earth — like Google Earth on steroids. The engine is capable of rendering even larger planets if the developers are so inclined. Here’s Outerra in action:

Combining Outerra and the Oculus Rift would literally give you your own immersive virtual reality Earth around which to frolic. Lonely? Yes. Awesome? Also yes.

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We’re happy to learn that the Outerra developers have purchased an Oculus Rift developer kit and are investigating integration. It’s likely that they’re waiting on their dev kit like the rest of us, but that hasn’t stopped them from doing some preliminary work.

Just a few days after the Oculus Rift Kickstarter launched back in August, one of the lead developers began testing anaglyphic stereoscopic 3D in Outerra, noting that “side-by-side [3D] will come as well in order to support Oculus Rift.”

Currently the virtual reality world supports a manually adjusted field of view, as well as three different types of distortion — a necessary component of rendering games for the Oculus Rift. With these systems are already built into the game, it could be a quick matter to integrate Oculus Rift support.

Outerra and Oculus Rift virtual reality world

Now before I hype you up, let me make it clear. Outerra is still in alpha. Yes there’s already a demo where you can roam the Earth. Yes you can drive a truck (and fly a plane if you purchase the alpha). Yes you can fly from space right down to a cozy shoreline. But at this point there’s no real gameplay. However, the developers are continuously developing the engine and regularly deploying updates. The concept for the game based on the Outerra engine sounds pretty cool too:

Anteworld is a world-building game on a massive true-to-life scale of our planet. Returning aboard an interstellar colonizer ship built in the Golden Age of Mankind, players arrive on the planet earth to discover civilization and humanity vanished. They will have to rebuild the civilization – exploring, fighting, and competing for resources while searching for clues to the disappearance of humanity.

Things might not have to be lonely on the desolate planet for long. The developers say that multiplayer is in the works, which means you could find yourself among the first pioneers in history to colonize a virtual reality Earth.

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I’ll be watching Outerra closely; I’ve got a feeling that the next few patches for the game will be quite pertinent to the Rift.

Did I mention that you can live out your Lord of the Rings fantasies with the Middle Earth version of Outerra?

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  • BeFe

    Truly amazing! Reminds me a little on the game Flight Unlimited in wich I just loved to enjoy the feeling of flying around in an amazingly realistic looking terrain (at least from above). This in combination with the rift makes me even more impatient.. feel like a child waiting for xmas.

    besides.. thanks for all the quick and predictively reports.. keep it up!

    • Paul James

      Thanks for the kind words BeFe, we do our best. :)

  • deadering

    This blew my mind, to put it quite bluntly. This reason I was looking forward to Minecraft was to explore the virtual environments and to just go on adventures. This is a whole other realm of exploration!

    • Ben Lang

      I’m in the same boat. I’ve been wanting Minecraft with the Rift for a long time — Outerra takes things to a new level and I was very happy to learn that the developer is working on support!