Kickstarter Projects Get Creative With Oculus

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Ever since the Oculus Rift first hit Kickstarter back in 2012, people have been asking, “But what are we going to do with this thing?” As it turns out, lots of other Kickstarter projects can help answer that question. Creators have used Kickstarter to help them develop games, interactive films, and accessories for the Rift and other VR platforms. Now that the consumer version of the Rift is out in the wild, it’s a perfect moment to highlight that work. Here are some of our favorites that are available now or coming soon, followed by some great VR-related projects that are live on Kickstarter. 

PAST PROJECTS

Clouds 

Its creators say it’s “somewhere between a documentary, a videogame, and data visualization.” All we know is it looks really cool and feeds your head. Fly through trippy wormholes and encounter 40 artists, designers, and hackers who are building a web of new ideas about digital creativity. Available now. (Also, some of the same folks are making Blackout, due out later this year, which lets you eavesdrop on the minds of strangers on the New York subway.)

Elite: Dangerous 

The buzz around this massively multiplayer space game was huge long before it was selected to be one of 30 games in the Oculus Store on launch day. The Guardian calls it “vast, beautiful, and intimidating.” Engage other players in dogfights, go on trading runs, or just poke around. With 400 billion star systems to explore, you’re unlikely to get bored anytime soon. Available now: Site, Steam.

Albino Lullaby 

This horror-adventure game set in a Victorian town that clings to underground cliffs is also among the 30 Rift launch titles. “This is a sick place, full of sick allusions and sick jokes,” says Polygon. Sold! The game’s first chapter is out now: Site, Steam.

The Apollo 11 Virtual Reality Experience 

This project aims to give students the experience of being part of the first moon landing in 1969. And it’ll likely have appeal beyond students: one backer showed a demo version to his dad, who cried tears of joy. Due out in early April.

Nevermind 

Erin Reynolds’ horror game uses biofeedback to take you inside the minds of trauma victims. The game uses your webcam or a heart monitor to track your heart rate, and if you get stressed or scared, things get harder. Available now for Mac and Windows; the Oculus-friendly version will be out soon. Site, Steam.

Classroom Aquatic 

This is the classic cheat-your-way-through-an-exam-in-a-school-of-dolphins game reimagined for VR. Wait ... what? While some Oculus titles allow you to experience things you’ve always dreamed of — like landing on the moon — this curious creation plunks you down in a scenario you’d never dream up in a million years. Despite, or perhaps due to, its unlikely premise, it’s apparently a blast. The final game will be out in the next couple of months, but you can try a demo right now: Site, Steam.

The Ark 

When the filmmakers started work on this VR documentary, there were seven northern white rhinos left on the planet. Now there are just three. The film puts you right beside the rhinos in Kenya and at the San Diego Zoo, where scientists are working on a “genetic rescue” program for the species. The Ark will have its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival’s Storyscapes zone in April, where people will experience it inside a replica of a rhino crate, straw and all. Plans for a wider release are in the works.

Obduction 

Cyan made the classic game Myst back when the cutting edge of gaming technology was CD-ROMs. Obduction, their latest game, will be Oculus-ready, and will no doubt have the same air of mystery and love of puzzles. Due out in June.

Virtuix Omni 

This natural motion interface allows players to control game characters by walking, running, jumping, and crouching, adding a new layer of physical reality to navigating virtual worlds. You might even get some exercise. Currently in beta testing with select backers, the Omni can be preordered and is expected to ship later this year.

LIVE PROJECTS

Speed Levitch Presents: The MidTown Rush Hour Tour in VR 

Legendary New York City performer and tour guide Timothy “Speed” Levitch’s brilliant, stream-of-consciousness musings have been featured in Bennett Miller's Emmy award-winning documentary The Cruise and Richard Linklater's Waking Life. Now, we'll be able to enjoy his philosophical take on the city's organized chaos as if standing beside him in the midst of a traffic jam.

S.E.N.S. VR: A VR Game in A Graphic Maze 

Scale is fluid in this black-and-white game based on a French graphic novel. There are arrows to guide you on your trip through the maze, some huge, some small … and some hidden.

Ossic X 

These multi-driver headphones do for ears what Oculus does for eyes. Going well beyond stereo, they allow for precise placement of sounds in virtual 3D space. This means that game soundscapes can be much more realistic, creating the sense that explosions, voices, or music are coming from specific locations.

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