UPS delivered my Rift as I was walking out the door last night for lacrosse practice. A couple of hours later with workout, shower, and dinner completed, I begin the methodical unboxing, downloading of software, and connection of the two USB 3.0 and one HDMI cables required by googles and sensor. A repeatable BSOD occurs during the Oculus setup routine and and a quick Google search finds that this is due to the USB display drivers installed on my system. Bummer. I normally use this secondary display rotated to portrait orientation to show PDF manuals and navigation charts. Will use a tablet from now on I suppose.
Setup complete, the fledgling VR user is presented with various scenes that progress in complexity. Rather quickly it becomes apparent that you are embarking on a journey from which you will not likely soon return. Without giving away more spoilers than necessary, suffice it to know that the little alien dude really got my attention.
Enough plodding around. It’s an hour before midnight and with tomorrow’s stand up time of 6AM, let’s see how a F-5E3 looks in VR. I shut down the Oculus software, and then launch DCS World 2 dot something, which of course causes Oculus software to reload. Then the persistent application prevents me from running DCS, until I go into Oculus’s General settings and turn on a switch that will allow running software from an unknown source. That completed, I launch DCS again and stumble through the DCS settings menu for display, which allows me to chose a VR preset. Looking much better. Hindsight being what it is, perhaps I should have done this before connecting the VR gear.
I load a mission that begins with a takeoff from Nellis in the F-5E-3 and arrive at the point of clicking Fly. No matter how carefully I click, nothing happens. The problem is that when you reach this screen either during the launching of the sim or by navigating menus, other applications come to the front rendering keyboard and mouse input useless. You don’t know this unless you lift the Rift headset. I ALT-TAB back to DCS and am able to Fly by pressing the Pause key. I might be missing a step here, but setting the game to Full Screen did not solve this issue. More research needed.
At this point you are greeted with what can be best described as brain candy, because the hereto before now “eye candy” expression becomes clearly inadequate. Not only does everything take on a 3 dimension visual presentation, but as @Chuck_Owl described in his Oculus article, the sense of scale and detail is spectacularly improved. Switching to an external view, I noticed that my TM Warthog is inop. Lifting the goggles again and ALT-TABing to TARGET, I see that the profile load is hung. By trail and error, I later determine that the TARGET profile needs to be loaded before the Oculus software. Go figure. While restarting everything, I took the opportunity to raise the pixel density setting to 1.5 on the DCS -> Settings -> VR tab, and turn on the mouse.
Opinions on mouse vs. headset pointer greatly appreciated.
Next on the list of discoveries is that DCS sound will not come through the headset ear pieces unless you go into Windows Playback devices and set the Rift as the default.
With HOTAS problem solved and PD raised to 1.5, I finally get airborne in the Tiger II. Running down the Vegas strip I comprehend just how sense of scale and depth is created by having three dimensional objects passing in every direction. Never before have I felt so much like I was actually piloting an aircraft - except while actually piloting one.
Being very much a stick, rudder, and visuals kind of guy, the knee jerk - honeymoon starts now - gut reaction is that this is pretty spectacular and a seminal moment for simulations.
All is not perfect. Even with the PD increased, I am pretty sure that I am going to have my virtual butt handed to me when the shooting starts due to loss of resolution (especially at distance). Perhaps there is more to VR tuning than pixel density. Maybe an upgrade to my GTX 980. But as wonderful as the experience is, and I can’t see myself going back, distant objects are still fuzzy and cockpit gauges and labels can be hard to read in a normal sitting position.
Before calling it a night at 1:45AM, I take a spin in the Mirage and realize that not only am I enjoying the outstanding effort of the cockpit graphic artist, but that the HUD works pretty well in VR too. With a new appreciation of this aircraft I look forward to trying them all.
To be continued…