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Butterflies and bullet trains: Oculus Rift's emotional demos will kick you in the heart

Hayden Dingman | Sept. 28, 2015
The emotional new Oculus Rift experiences revealed at Oculus Connect will make you feel happy, sad, and badass.

This was my one disappointment of the day. Medium is neither as intuitive nor as fleshed out as Tilt Brush. The Oculus Touch controls are overcomplicated and often left me struggling to remember how to execute my vision, whereas with Tilt Brush on the Vive I felt like I could hastily sketch out a couple of mountains, some grass, a sky, a few flowers, and a bird within mere minutes.

And, I must add, the lack of walk-around VR on the Rift is part of the problem. The Vive makes Tilt Brush easy by encouraging you to bend down, walk around your 3D drawing, reach out to the sides, et cetera. With Medium, you’re constantly fighting the Rift’s poor sensor range. Reach down too far and the Rift loses track of your hands. Move too far back and it loses your hands. Draw a line out to the side and it might lose your hand.

I ended up standing mostly stationary, instead rotating my creation by “grabbing” it and twisting it through the air. And that system works fine, but it feels a lot more like working in a traditional 3D modeling environment than, for instance, shaping clay.

Will it be useful to artists? I have no doubt—or, even if Medium doesn’t catch on, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before other artistic/creation software hits the Rift. But today it mostly left me wanting to mess around with Tilt Brush some more.

Bottom line

oculus touch
The made-for-VR Oculus Touch controller is integral to experiences like Medium.

I’ll tell you what: Oculus certainly appears to have the most virtual reality experiences ready for a consumer hardware launch. And they’re quality experiences—while Henry, Bullet Train, and Medium still feel more like proofs of concept than full-fledged software, we’ve come a long way from the demos I used to mess with on the original dev kit.

It’s arguably the Rift’s saving grace. Valve and HTC currently has better hardware with the Vive, but has showed next-to-nothing as far as games and software is concerned—and we’re only two months away from the Vive’s launch. Oculus, on the other hand, has competent hardware with a lot of compelling content in the wings.

History says that the one with the better content wins, regardless of relative power. The Xbox 360, the PlayStation 2, and the Super Nintendo all won out over more powerful competitors. I bet Oculus is crossing its fingers hoping that trend continues with virtual reality.

 

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