John Carmack And Gabe Newell Excited About This Virtual Reality Gaming Headset

A guy with the terrific name Palmer Luckey wants to finally make a great virtual reality gaming headset. Some guys behind some terrific games think you should help fund it.

This is the Oculus Rift, a VR headset that we heard about in June at E3 when Doom co-creator and master programmer John Carmack started talking up Lucky's headset. Carmack had a makeshift version, which he used to show an updated version of Doom 3. I tried it, and it was impressive.

So, given that it's the year 2012, the next logical step is that there's a Kickstarter to make the Oculus Rift a reality. Spare $US250,000, internet folks?

As you'll see in the Kickstarter project video, Carmack continues to support the tech, as do Valve's Gabe Newell and Michael Abrash and top folks at Epic and Unity, both of whom say their industry-leading graphics engines will work with it.

Watch the video for some demonstrations of the Rift's supposed superiority over other VR headsets. Luckey is promising negligible latency, 3D and a panoramic field of view. I saw all of this myself when I tried it at Carmack's behest back at E3. It's cool. Why does such well-made tech that is verbally supported by such important gaming people need a Kickstarter? Supposedly, it's to help fund development kits or at least speed the creation of them. A commercial version, for regular games, is, the Kickstarter post indicates: "a ways down the road."

This Kickstarter was launched this morning, a day before the kick-off of QuakeCon which is the official, open-to-the-public convention for Carmack's id Software and parent publisher Bethesda. Id's new version of Doom 3, the BFG Edition will support the Rift and is slated for release this October. The Rift is already one-third pledged towards the $US250,000 goal.

Oculus Rift: Step Into the Game [Kickstarter]


    This sounds awesome!

    the key is to have it respond spatially, not just the angle your head tilts. If the standing height matches and you can duck etc and the latency is low, it should all come together for a spew free experience. Some kind of Kinect 2 integration to make all this possible?

      Integration with Kinect would be the next step.
      Initially this would be about field of view. Take a game like ARMA 2 for example where spacial awareness is key, and you can move your character in one direction, while "free-looking" in another. Most FPS games do not support this. I think BF3 does but only when in vehicles. Being able to see all around you while aiming somewhere else is a huge advantage. Also the wider field of view gives you proper peripheral vision, which you just don't get on a flat monitor.

    Obviously since this article was written it has received some huge interest because it is now 2 times over pledged! Have to keep watch on this one.

    It's funded, but it's $300 for an early prototype of the device... Was hoping you could pledge for a few one, but it's good this got some interest because I'd like to try VR one day.


      Its $300 for the SDK and Doom3 BFG you dont get any hardware from what I understand.

        Yeah, you get the full kit - just have to build it yourself, like the ol'days...

    Thought this looked awesome in that Carmack vid. Can't wait to see it come to life.

      Actually turns out I'm wrong about that you do get a headset in the dev kit, I backed it.

    The tech seems interesting but looks a little ridiculous.

    If it takes off I hope they can condense it down into something the size of a pair of sunglasses someday.

    How much does it weigh? Looks kinda bulky and I do understand why, but could say spend a few hours in Skyrim without your head and neck starting to ache? That would be my only concern really. I wish I had the cash to back this though.

      Looks quite light to me. That whole shell would be thin plastic with some circuit boards in it. Personally I would mount the shell to a gaming headset so that the weight in across the top of your head. And that way the strap wouldn't get in the way of the headset.

        The kickstarter says it weights 0.22kg

          I mightn't know much about what numerical weights mean in terms of feeling, but that seems incredibly light.

            Well I think most Snow Goggles are around 300g. So this would be lighter than most goggles.

          0.22kg seems quite reasonable, I personally could deal with that. I imagine the weight might be shaved down after all this prototyping, if only by a few grams it would still make a difference over a few hours of gaming. If the head strap were similar to a welders helmet head strap it would certainly make it easier to cope.

            Custom straps ahoi. Having Headphones connected to the main support could spread the weight more evenly, too...

            I just weighed one of my N64 controllers (inc. cable) and it came out as 222g. So if you tie one of those to your head I guess you'll know what it's like :

    the CEO of Valve, a lead developer of Guitar Hero, and many other huge people in the gaming world could not fork over 250 grand? and now you ask the people that buy their games to give money? wtf is wrong with this world.

      If Valve was so convinced it'd work, you'd think they would support it fully internally lol. $250,000 is barely anything for developing a game considering an iPhone game costs $300,000 to develop..

    Cant wait for this to become a reality - Imagine Halo 5 with :-)

    they're asking for funding because they want to know how genuinely interested people are, ie "put your money where your mouth is". I'd fork over to support the vision but I've already got an HMZT1 and my experience put me off being an early adopter. Granted the lack of headtracking was the biggest flaw, and games throwing your view around (Arkham Asylum) in a way not at all like real life were a real problem. I wonder if the HMZT1 had much lower latency, headtracking and only the ability to use games custom made (and tested on sickly folks) for it whether it would have been a "keeper". I still believe in it and will buy one when it's all working together nicely. Carmack is TOTALLY on track though, I take my hat off to him - he also (eventually) wants to optically/depth cam track the headset so it is genuinely accurate, not relying on the floaty onboard tracking tech we have today. That will give us the full movement/ducking/tilting that is vital for reality simulation.

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