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Developer kit for the Oculus Rift - the first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games.
Developer kit for the Oculus Rift - the first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games.
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Announcing Oculus Connect, RakNet Open Source, and E3 2014 Awards

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We’re thrilled to announce Oculus Connect, a developer conference that brings together engineers, designers, and creatives from around the world to share and collaborate in the interest of creating the best virtual reality experiences possible.

In the last two years, we’ve seen more virtual reality content built than in the last two decades, and that’s a direct result of incredible work by the community. With virtual reality’s momentum at an all-time high, this is a unique moment for the developer community to come together to take the virtual reality to the next level.

Oculus Connect 2014 takes place Sept 19 - 20 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. Attendee applications will be available on the Oculus Connect website, www.oculusvr.com/connect, starting on July 10th and attendance confirmations will go out the following week. We’ve reserved a block of discounted rooms at the Loews for registered guests.

Attendees will be the first to learn about upcoming Oculus technology, with sessions and workshops led by Oculus engineers and industry pioneers. Developers at the event will also have opportunities to receive design and engineering feedback directly from the Oculus team in hands-on labs.

Oculus Connect will also feature keynotes from Brendan Iribe (CEO), Palmer Luckey (Founder), John Carmack (CTO) and Michael Abrash (Chief Scientist) on Oculus, virtual reality, and the future of the medium. The full session list will be announced as we draw closer to the show.

You can get the full details on the official Oculus Connect website, www.oculusvr.com/connect. While the conference is open to the public, be aware this is a developer-centric event. Attendance is limited, but we’ll be livestreaming the keynotes for developers around the world who can’t make it to the show.

If you’re an Oculus developer interested in helping to build the future, we're looking forward to meeting you in person Sept 19th!

Oculus Acquires & Open Sources RakNet

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve acquired RakNet, one of the leading networking middleware systems in the games industry. We open-sourced it starting today under a modified BSD license (the same license Facebook uses for its open source projects) from the Oculus GitHub repo: https://github.com/OculusVR/RakNet.

For those unfamiliar with RakNet, it is a comprehensive C++ game networking engine designed for ease of use and performance. The tech is tuned for cross-platform, high-performance applications that operate across a wide variety of network types. Key features include object replication, remote procedure calls, patching, secure connections, voice chat, and real-time SQL logging. The technology has been licensed by thousands of indie developers, as well as companies like Unity, Havok, Mojang, Maxis and Sony Online Entertainment.

We’ve known Kevin Jenkins, founder of Jenkins Software and lead engineer on RakNet, for years, and we’ve used RakNet internally at Oculus for various networked systems and tools. After working with Kevin for a few months, we were all excited by the idea of open-sourcing RakNet to the community.

If you’re interested in checking out (or forking) RakNet, head over to the Oculus GitHub repo at https://github.com/OculusVR/RakNet. We’re looking forward to seeing where the community takes the project next!

Rift Wins Best Hardware at E3 2014!

The Rift won the Game Critics Awards’ ‘Best Hardware at E3’ for the second year in a row! This is the official awards for the show, made up of game critics and journalists from across the industry.

We were thrilled to see the Rift nominated among such an incredible group of games, products, and hardware, and we’re humbled to have it win the 'Best Hardware' category. We couldn’t have done it without the development community delivering a peek at the next-generation of VR gaming.

Thank you again for all your support!

-- The Oculus Team

Oculus Agrees to Acquire Carbon Design Team

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We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire the Carbon Design team, one of the premier industrial design and product engineering teams in the country, with over 50 awards to their name. As part of the deal, the team will officially become a key component of the product engineering group at Oculus, operating from the Carbon studio in the Seattle area. They’ll also be working closely with the Oculus R&D team based out of Redmond. We expect the deal to close by the end of summer.

The Carbon team brings their expertise around building great feeling, great looking consumer products like the Xbox 360 controller. We’ve been working with Carbon for nearly a year on multiple unannounced projects.

“A few seconds with the latest Oculus prototypes and you know that virtual reality is for real this time. From a design and engineering perspective, building the products that finally deliver consumer virtual reality is one of the most interesting and challenging problem sets ever.

This is an entirely open product category. With consumer VR at its inception, the physical architectures are still unknown — We’re on the cutting edge of defining how virtual reality looks, feels, and functions.

We’re incredibly excited to be part of the team and we’re looking forward to helping design the future.

- Peter Bristol, Creative Director at Carbon Design

 

 

 

 

A handful of Carbon’s past projects.

As a company, Carbon Design has a 20 year history of taking consumer, industrial and medical products from concept to completion. Carbon approaches products with a design-driven methodology rooted in quality engineering, ergonomics, deep user insights, and rapid iteration. All of this adds up to an incredible skill set to deliver ground-breaking new virtual reality products.

Please join us in welcoming the Carbon team to Oculus!

If you’re interested in joining Oculus in Irvine, San Francisco, Seattle, or Dallas, we’re recruiting! You can see the latest job posts at www.oculusvr.com/careers.

– The Oculus Team

Jason Rubin Joins the Team and Oculus at E3 2014

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We’re thrilled to announce that Jason Rubin, co-founder of Naughty Dog and games industry veteran, has joined Oculus as head of worldwide studios!  

Jason is a former game programmer and director, best known for his work on the Crash Bandicoot® and Jak & Daxter™ series at Naughty Dog, a team that helped pioneer high-frame-rate 3D console games in the earliest days of PlayStation®. Jason has shipped over a dozen games across multiple console generations, working with some of the best game developers in the world.

“There have only been a handful of times in my life where I saw something that I knew would change everything. The awe-inspiring tech Oculus is building is a portal into an incredible world that my daughter will one day consider to be normal. The moment I put it on, I wanted to help define that future.

After decades of game innovation on traditional screens, the longtime dream of true presence inside a virtual world is finally here. Virtual reality requires an entirely different approach; from systems and protocols to game design and storytelling, everything is being reimagined from the ground up to deliver experiences that are entirely new and magical.

The team at Oculus has been working to push the boundaries of what’s possible with hardware and software. I’m excited to bring together a new division dedicated to building high-quality VR content that helps define the platform and inspire others to do the same.

Thanks to the Oculus community for making this all possible and for having me as part of the team!”

Jason will be heading up the Oculus first-party content initiatives in Seattle, San Francisco, Menlo Park, Dallas and Irvine. If you’re interested in working with Jason and the talented and growing development team, let us know by checking out open roles at www.oculusvr.com/careers.

E3 2014 Starts Today

We’re at E3 this week, talking virtual reality and next-generation gaming with some of the best game developers from around the world.

The second Rift development kit (DK2) represents a significant step toward true consumer virtual reality. It opens up all sorts of new possibilities for game designers and content creators, and we're thrilled to unleash it upon the community when it begins shipping next month.

The very first glimpses of what's possible with DK2 are playable in our booth here at E3. We've been working closely with a few developers with pre-production kits, and we're excited to showcase some of the incredible games they've been building with the new headset.  



If you’re at the show, swing by the Oculus booth (West Hall #5222) to check them out!


SUPERHOT is a unique first-person shooter game where time moves only when you move, making each level a deadly puzzle fueled by fluid time mechanics and relentless foes. It’s one of the most fun experiences we’ve seen on the Rift.

“The project started out during last year's 7 Day First Person Shooter game jam, where we decided to make something that really stood out in the genre - a title that felt satisfying, while not requiring superhuman reflexes. Something like a game of real-time chess, except that all the pawns are out there to murder you.” - SUPERHOT Team  

SUPERHOT’s Kickstarter campaign is actually live right now at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/375798653/superhot, so if you like the game, contribute to making it a reality! 


Lucky’s Tale is a new made-for-VR adventure by the team at Playful. Introduced in last week’s blog, Lucky’s Tale is a “delightful platforming adventure game” designed exclusively for the Rift that reimagines the genre from the ground up.  

Lucky’s Tale is premiering for the first time here at E3 2014, so be sure to swing by the booth and check it out on the Rift!  

Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation™ is a new survival horror game set in the Alien™ universe. A terrifying experience, particularly in virtual reality, Isolation is all about survival.  

In the E3 Rift demo, you’ll use every tool at your disposal to escape from a ruthless Alien in the wreckage of your spaceship. Underpowered and underprepared, you’ll scavenge resources and improvise solutions; not just to succeed, but to survive.

EVE: Valkyrie is the highly anticipated multiplayer, space-dogfighting shooter being developed by CCP and co-published by Oculus. Valkyrie, running on the Rift HD Prototype, was a contender for Game of Show at last year’s E3. It returns, but with an all new style, running on the graphical horsepower of Unreal Engine 4.  

These are just a handful of the ground-breaking experiences the community is developing today. We have 190+ games on Oculus Share with more being added every week, all of which were developed using the original development kit -- We can't wait to see what the world does with DK2. 

We’ll see you at the show! 

-- The Oculus Team

©2014 - Oculus VR, Inc. All rights reserved. Oculus and Oculus Rift are trademarks for Oculus VR, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owner(s).

Jason Holtman, New Hires, Lucky's Tale, and E3

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Please welcome Jason Holtman, Oculus’ new Head of Platform!

A driving force behind Steam since its earliest days, Jason brings incredible experience building entertainment platforms for both users and developers. At Valve, Jason was a pioneer in the digital distribution revolution that’s taken place over the last decade.  

“When I was a kid, I loved arcades. I converted most of my allowance into quarters and couldn’t wait to get to the mall on Saturday. For me, it was all about Battlezone -- Simple, bright line geometry, enemy tanks, and mountains off in the distance. That feeling when you grabbed the dual joysticks and pressed your face to the viewfinder was transformative. It was unlike anything else you could play.

Battlezone, although simply rendered, made you believe that you were in that world and that there had to be something beyond those mountains.

Battlezone is widely regarded as one of the first VR games, and looking back, those mountains still excite me. I want to fly, walk across alien landscapes, and nose around the Great Pyramids. And that’s the most telling thing about VR: the possibilities are obvious, immediate, and endless.

So, I’m humbled to become a part of this team. I’m not one of the pioneering scientists or engineers in virtual reality, but I am one of the people that can’t stop grinning every time I see something new inside the headset, and I'm looking forward to helping shape the transformative experiences that inspire the next generation of developers.”

Jason will be spearheading the business development and partnership side of the Oculus platform working closely with Marshall, head of platform engineering, and David, head of worldwide publishing, with a focus on building the world's best developer and player VR ecosystem. We’re thrilled to welcome him to the team!  

Building the Dream Team

The Facebook deal supercharged our recruiting efforts, and we're always looking for the absolute best and brightest in the world. It’s been a while since we announced any new hires in the blog, so we thought we’d include a handful (or two) of the incredible people who have joined the team since March:   

  • Neil Konzen, former engineer at Valve and one of the original Microsoft employees
  • Brian Hook, former engineer at RAD (Telemetry) and the original author of 3Dfx Glide
  • Adrian Wong, former lead systems engineer at Google[x] (Glass)
  • Ian Field, former engineer at ARM and co-inventor of Cortex-M
  • Raul Corella, former head of supply chain at JawBone, Monster, and Leap Motion
  • Laura Fryer, former GM of Epic Seattle and WB Seattle
  • Paul Pedriana, former engineer at EA
  • David Moore, former engineer at RAD (Granny)
  • Kenneth Scott, former art director at 343 Studios (Halo 4)
  • Seneca Menard, former technical artist at id Software
  • Paul Pepera, former environment artist at Valve and 343 Studios
  • Brian Sharp, former engineer at Bungie
  • Aaron Nicholls, former engineer at Valve, 343 Studios, and Microsoft
  • Matt Alderman, former engineer at Valve and ArenaNet
  • Cass Everitt, former GPU architect and engineer at Nvidia
  • Ross O’Dwyer, former at head of development support at Havok
  • Douglas Lanman, former research scientist at Nvidia Research and MIT Media Lab
  • ...and many, many more: Scott Boyce, Gayan Ediriweera, Michael Berger, Khoi Nguyen, Aaron Toney, Bruce Cleary, Anusha Balan, Sagy Wiessbrod, Christopher Taylor, Soh Tanaka, Matt Mojica, Hyo Jin Kim, Steve Arnold, Dan Moskowitz

Team volleyball and BBQ at Crystal Cove State Park

We’re hiring for all roles in Irvine, Dallas, Seattle, and Menlo Park. If you’re interested in being part of the team, check out the Oculus Careers page at oculusvr.com/careers.  

Publishing Lucky’s Tale

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve partnered with Playful to publish Lucky’s Tale, a new made-for-VR adventure designed exclusively for the Oculus Rift. The full details behind the title will be revealed next week at E3, and attendees will be able to check out a playable demo of Lucky’s Tale in the Oculus booth next week.   

Playful’s founder, Paul Bettner (who’s best known from his work as co-creator of Words with Friends) was one of the original $5,000 Kickstarter backers who believed in the Rift from the beginning. Paul actually visited the original Oculus office in October of 2012 when we were still just a small team hand assembling prototypes -- We’ve been collaborating with Playful on software, hardware, and VR research ever since.  

"We love VR. We founded Playful because of VR, and we’re thrilled by Oculus’ breakthrough progress bringing VR to life. It’s a dream come true to partner with their team to create truly native, made-for-VR games.” - Paul Bettner, Founder, Playful

We’re excited to be officially involved with this project, and we’re looking forward to seeing them refresh one of our favorite genres.  

Oculus in the News

If you get a chance, pick up a copy of this month's Wired, featuring Palmer on the cover and an in-depth, 18-page article about Oculus inside. The story is the result of months of interviews by Wired’s Peter Rubin who’s been tracking the Oculus team, getting the behind the scenes of the DK2 launch, the backstory of how Palmer’s prototypes came to life, and how Oculus is bringing consumer VR to the world. It’s a great brief history of Oculus so far, revealing a few new tidbits.  



You can read the full story online at Wired.com here: http://www.wired.com/2014/05/oculus-rift-4/ 

We also recommend checking out Michael Abrash's recent CMU talk on "Why VR Isn't (Just) the Next Platform" but perhaps the last. The talk provides a great overview of presence, along with a deep-dive on DK2’s tracking techniques from Dov Katz for the engineers out there:  

E3 and Beyond

Over the past month, we’ve been all over the globe, sharing DK2 with developers and artists at TriBeCa Film Festival, SVVR, Nordic Games Conference, Unite China, Unite Korea, and other community meetups. If you have a VR gathering planned, let us us know about it at events@oculusvr.com!

Next week, the team is heading up to E3 in Los Angeles. We’ll be showing the second Oculus Rift development kit (DK2) running some of our favorite games and experiences at Booth 5222. If you’re at the show, stop by the West Hall and say Hello!

If you’re a developer planning to show a VR game at E3, please let us know at developer@oculusvr.com. We’d love to stop by and try your latest VR creations. 

We’ll see you at E3! 

— The Oculus Team

Introducing Michael Abrash, Oculus Chief Scientist

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The Path to the Metaverse

I'm tremendously excited to join Oculus, and when I think back, it's astonishing how unlikely the path to this moment is. I've told most of the parts of this story before, but never all together, and the narrative, now spanning twenty years, just keeps getting more remarkable.

Image credit Steve Grever, PC Perspective

Palmer, Michael, and John @ QuakeCon 2012

Sometime in 1993 or 1994, I read Snow Crash, and for the first time thought something like the Metaverse might be possible in my lifetime. Around the same time, I saw the first leaked alpha version of Doom. I knew John Carmack from exchanges on the M&T bulletin board a couple of years earlier, when both John and I were learning how to write 3D graphics code, so I sent him mail saying how blown away I was.

John replied that his mother lived in Seattle, and maybe we could get together next time he was in town. Eventually he came by to visit, and we had a good conversation, in the course of which he asked if I'd like to come work at Id; being in the middle of shipping the first couple of versions of Windows NT, I politely declined.

In late 1994 or early 1995, John let me know he was going to be back in town, and asked if I wanted to have dinner. We met at Thai Chef in Bellevue. I knew he was going to try to hire me, and I knew I was going to say no. But he didn't get around to doing that until after he had talked for a good two hours about how he was going to build cyberspace, and by that time it was hard for me to imagine doing anything else. John was as good as his word, and Quake was the start of a world of connected gaming that thrives to this day.

Quake was seminal and high-impact – it's amazing what a team of ten mostly untrained twenty-somethings in the Black Cube in Mesquite, Texas, managed to accomplish – but it wasn't the Metaverse. It was still, in the end, images on a screen, not Hiro Protagonist literally fencing for his life. And so John and I went our separate ways, John to continue to refine what he had created, and me to wander through a series of interesting projects that, in the end, always left me wishing for the pure focus, intensity, and impact of those two years working with John.

Fast-forward fourteen years. I'm at Valve – which started its existence by licensing the Quake source code – looking for the next big platform shift, and I conclude that it's augmented reality. Thanks to Valve's unique structure, I'm able to start working on that, along with several other interested people, including Atman Binstock, who I recruited over coffee at St. James Espresso in Kirkland; Atman is thinking about moving to Paris and writing a debugger, but finally decides to join up. John, meanwhile, is poking at virtual reality, seeing if it's finally feasible. He sends me mail on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Quake's release, saying that he has a feeling that something really big is just around the corner, something bigger than anything that's happened so far. He's talking about VR.

Then two things happen at about the same time. On one path, Palmer develops his first VR prototype, John and Palmer Luckey connect, Oculus forms and its Kickstarter is wildly successful, DK1 ships, and John becomes Oculus CTO. Meanwhile, I read Ready Player One, strongly recommend it to several members of the AR group, and we come to the conclusion that VR is potentially more interesting than we thought, and far more tractable than AR. We switch over to working on VR just as Palmer's homebrew project is morphing into Oculus.

From that point, both VR paths have been pretty well documented, Oculus's in this blog, in the press, and all over the Internet, and Valve's in my blog and talks. The end result, a year and a half later, is a VR system that can create a sense of presence – the feeling, below the conscious level, that you really are someplace. This is an experience that no one except a few researchers using awkward, hugely expensive equipment had ever had, but within the next couple of years it should be available in a comfortable form factor at a consumer price. In the space of two years, a relative handful of people at two companies, none of them VR experts at the start, somehow managed to resurrect VR from the trash heap of technologies-that-never-were and make it the most exciting technology around.

What VR Could, Should, and Almost Certainly Will Be within Two Years, Steam Dev Days 2014

That wouldn't have happened if Palmer hadn't developed his prototype. If John hadn't been investigating VR at the right time. If they hadn't run into each other. If I hadn't been looking for a new platform. If Palmer hadn't met up with the right people to form Oculus and build DK1. If the community hadn't been so overwhelmingly supportive of VR and the Kickstarter. If Atman had decided to go do a debugger instead. If a team hadn't assembled at Valve, done a bunch of hard work to show that low persistence, excellent tracking, and a well-calibrated and well-tuned system enabled presence, and shared that knowledge with Oculus. If I hadn't come across Ready Player One at the right time. Heck, if I hadn't come across Snow Crash all those years ago, or the Doom alpha, or known John from the M&T bulletin board, or if I hadn't known Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington from my days at Microsoft, in which case I would have had no reason to help them license the Quake source code...

You get the idea. We're on the cusp of what I think is not The Next Big Platform, but rather simply The Final Platform – the platform to end all platforms – and the path here has been so improbable that I can only shake my head.

The final piece of the puzzle fell into place on Tuesday. A lot of what it will take to make VR great is well understood at this point, so it's engineering, not research; hard engineering, to be sure, but clearly within reach. For example, there are half a dozen things that could be done to display panels that would make them better for VR, none of them pie in the sky. However, it's expensive engineering. And, of course, there's also a huge amount of research to do once we reach the limits of current technology, and that's not only expensive, it also requires time and patience – fully tapping the potential of VR will take decades. That's why I've written before that VR wouldn't become truly great until some company stepped up and invested the considerable capital to build the right hardware – and that it wouldn't be clear that it made sense to spend that capital until VR was truly great. I was afraid that that Catch-22 would cause VR to fail to achieve liftoff.

That worry is now gone. Facebook's acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory. The resources and long-term commitment that Facebook brings gives Oculus the runway it needs to solve the hard problems of VR – and some of them are hard indeed. I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can.

It's great to be working with John again after all these years, and with that comes a sense of deja vu. It feels like it did when I went to Id, but on steroids – this time we're working on technology that will change not just computer gaming, but potentially how all of us interact with computers, information, and each other every day. I think it's going to be the biggest game-changer I've ever seen – and I've seen quite a lot over the last 57 years.

I can't wait to see how far we can take it.

- Michael

www.oculus.com/careers