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Oculus's Nate Mitchell on Valve vs. Rift, Touch controller vs. Xbox gamepad, and more

Hayden Dingman | July 20, 2015
Oculus VR's VP of product explains why the Rift headset will ship with an Xbox 360 gamepad, but not the Oculus Touch VR controller.

oculus rift consumer june 11 2015

The Oculus Rift is real. It has a (semi-firm) release window. It's a product.

What a relief. That means, for the first time in two years, I can talk with Oculus VP of Product Nate Mitchell and discuss specifics. I sat down with Mitchell a few weeks ago and chatted with him about the company's upcoming consumer-ready Rift-everything from the prevalence of third-person demos to hardware specs to the problem with input methods.

Here's the full transcript.

PCWORLD: What kind of rig are you running demos on (at E3)?
Nate Mitchell (NM): That's got a [Nvidia GeForce GTX] 980 in there. The recommended specs is a 970. We went with a 980 for the show to give ourselves a little extra overhead, especially for our devs. All of this stuff will work perfectly on the 970.

Why do you think there's a push for third-person view? I played Edge of Nowhereand Kronos and both of those are third-person. One has a static camera and one has a tracking camera, but I'm surprised because 98 percent of the demos on Oculus Share are first-person.
NM: I think what we've found is...even if you go back to Lucky's Tale is that third-person works very well in VR. When we started this initially people thought it was all about first-person games. You show people Lucky's Tale and people are like "Platformers in third-person work well too." And some of these developers, like Insomniac, third-person's their M.O. Once you know it works, it's like "We want to make a third-person game. Why not make it in VR?"

We've got third-person games. We've got first-person games. Oculus Touch allows for a whole different set of first-person games because now you can reach out and see your hands. VR is definitely not restricted to any one type.

What is the range on the camera sensor now?
NM: Range is sort of a weird term. In terms of the optimal distance, it's 1-3 meters. Basically we've designed it ideally to work on your desk. You grab the sensor, you put it next to your monitor, you take a scoot back so you can lean forward, and you're good to go. If you want to stand up, you can stand up, no problem. That sensor has a tilt so you can tilt it to be higher or lower. So it's not like sit back twenty feet from your desk.

And it's not like Valve where you're expecting people to walk around?
NM: No. The Rift is designed to support a standing experience, so...

That's a change from when you started. When you started we'd ask about that and you'd always say "Sit down because it's a liability issue."


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