Monday, 20 October 2014

Investigating Oculus Rift support in Unity

Our team may start looking at potentially using Oculus rift to provide a more up to date and cool user experience for our project. Even though nothing is set in stone yet, unlike Unity, I have never used or worked with an Oculus before so I thought some research was in order. I started looking into our options. In terms of software and hardware in a technical context.

I registered as a developer on the Oculus site ( to gain access to their developer documentation and the SDK documentation. I am only scratching the surface for now but thus far I will be able to set up and run the provided Unity demo projects provided with an Oculus Rift dev kit. In theory at least.

A few potential issues have popped during my study and I'll be listing them below.

Excerpt from the 1.1 Requirements section of the OculusUnityIntergration guide:
  • You must have Unity Pro 4.5 or later installed on your system to build the Unity demo.

Additional technical issues known taken from the OculusUnityIntergration guide:

4.4 Known Issues
4.4.3 Editor Workflow
If you plan to run your application in the Unity editor, you must use extended mode. A black
screen will appear if you run it in direct mode.

The "Build & Run" option (CTRL + B) is not recommended in any driver mode. We recommend you build a standalone player without running it and then run the AppName_DirectToRift.exe fi le produced by the build.

This could potentially make debugging builds a hassle, as I'd have to constantly rebuild and deploy a build to see how it looks. But it won't be the end of the world.

While the point mentioned in 4.4 is not a serious concern, investigation will be required to see if we will have access to a Unity Pro license as the current pricing is $1,500. 

It is due to this that I'll start looking into suitable alternatives, such as using a different hardware, game engine, work-around or using a different presentation method. For example using a multi-display set-up for our prototype rather than the Oculus Rift.

These are all essentially 'Plan-Bs' and is dependent on the team.  I will be trying to get through the remaining Oculus documentation, including:
  • Oculus VR Best Practices Guide
  • Oculus Developer Guide - SDK Version 0.4
I am also aiming to watch the 2014 Oculus Connect conference which I unfortunately missed out on, from youtube (Link here).

Unity research

I have spent the majority of my time researching unfamiliar areas as I feel pretty comfortable working with the current released build of Unity (4.5.4f1). 

This is due to a few different projects I am working on and have worked on in the past (more info about those can be found in my personal dev blog or my terribly buggy game jam entry here).

So to summarise, this week I will be attempting to:
  • Finish research on Oculus Rift technical documentation
  • Look for potential alternatives to Unity as a back up plan (look at UE usability)
  • Watch 2014 Oculus Connect conference
  • Attempt to gather information about the university Games Lab and access an Oculus Rift