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Featured Oculus Rift: The Future of Sim Racing?

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Ryan Ogurek, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. Ryan Ogurek

    Ryan Ogurek
    Editor / Automotive News Staff

    Oculus Rift DK2.jpg
    This past week, I had the opportunity to try out the newly released Oculus Rift DK2 (Developers Kit 2) with Project Cars, and one thing was immediately clear. This is the real deal, it really is going to change not only sim racing, but gaming among many other aspects of technology. But in terms of sim racing, does it really meet the requirements of the serious sim racer?

    Those who tested the DK1 were all left amazed by the movement and real life feel the 3D creates, but as for sim racing it raised a few questions and concerns. Would the resolution be high enough to see far away details such as turn markers? Will the 3D give good enough depth perception to properly judge a turn? Will it strain your eyes or cause motion sickness? How real will the movement feel and will it react quickly enough?

    After giving it a try, for me at least, those questions are no longer of any concern. The resolution has been upped from the DK1's 720p display to a 1080p display for the DK2. The CV1 (Consumer Version 1) is predicted to have at least a 1440p display, if not 4k. Even with the 1080p display it is clear enough to not only drive well, but to totally forget that you are playing a game. Yes, it can be a bit fuzzy in the distance, and small details such as gauges can be a bit hard to read, but as soon as you start driving, you simply don't care. You really don't even notice. You are so taken back by the lighting and the 3D that the small details just don't matter. The first few minutes, feel quite odd really, almost gives you the feeling in your stomach you get when you are on a roller coaster, but after a few laps your eyes adjust and there is little strain. I even found myself leaning into the turns and looking down over the crest of hills.

    This is not 3D as you have experienced it before. There is not certain things that jump out at you, there is not things that look far away. There is a world around you to which everything has a depth and a distance. The Oculus truly makes you feel that you could reach out and touch something, and at some point you are likely to try do to exactly that. What is most amazing about this is the fact that as soon as you put your hands on the wheel, it really feels like the arms in game, are your real arms. When you look down at the in game shoulder, you know it is exactly where your real shoulder is. The effect this accuracy has on your brain is significant. Despite less than photo quality graphics and resolution, it really is easy to forget you are wearing a virtual reality system. Any lag that exists between real and in-game movement, is negligible, and really not noticeable at most times.

    One of the most amazing aspects of this all is, apart from being transported into another world, the perspective you suddenly gain on the tracks you have been driving all these years. The incline of the hills is easily readable, and at the top you feel your view goes on forever. All in all, it's an amazing experience everyone should try, sim racer or not.

    So to answer the question, does it really meet the requirements of the serious sim racer? Yes, it does. I can confidently say, OV1 will be undeniably better than any monitor or projector setup possible. In my opinion, DK2 already is. Combined with the beauty of Project Cars, this makes for a truly stunning experience. The rain, the sun glare and rays of light, it all makes for an experience that leaves you wanting more, and feeling a bit less like "Sim" just isn't real enough.

    Oculus CV1 is expected to be released for sales sometime in 2015, and cost somewhere around (and possibly under) $300. While that may not be a large amount, remember to save up for the new graphics card to go with it.

    If you would like to have your products reviewed and featured here on RaceDepartment, please email us at ryan.ogurek[at]racedepartment.com
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2014
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  2. I just wonder how quickly this will ruin my eyesight. It can't be good to stare at a screen that's inches away from your eyes for longer sessions. I really like the Oculus, but this is a concern to me.
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  3. I believe that this product is going to shake up the market, I'm look to see if there are going to be huge drop is display products :coffee:
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  4. Dan Allen

    Dan Allen
    I am the Pastor Maldonado of RaceDepartment.

    Can't wait for the consumer versions of the OR. Hopefully it'll be affordable too!
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  5. I'll agree that something about VR does an amazing job of convincing your brain into believing its real even when you know quite clearly its not. The UE4 Rollercoaster demo makes my stomach drop every single time I go down the hills even though I'm telling myself its not real and there's no g-force or movement. Its a strange effect for sure.
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  6. Gaming I imagine is the first stop of this exciting new technology..
    I fully expect the rift to shake up the world we live in :thumbsup:

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  7. Galin Dimov

    Galin Dimov

    Thanks for the write up Ryan. I was close tu purchasing the DK2 but the resolution is still too low so waiting for the CV1 :thumbsup:
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  8. I've had my DK2 for a couple of weeks now. I'm not sure from your post if you have one or not, but the lenses change the way the light hits your eye.

    For example, due to my Lasik Surgery I cannot focus on close objects without reading glasses, yet this is not an issue in the oculus. I've been playing Live For Speed for hours at a time, (4 hour session last night) with little discomfort. I'm not a Doctor, and I had the same concerns going into the Rift but I'm quickly getting over my fears and the Nausea!

    I've had a really hard time going back to playing on a monitor, its just not the same anymore. Now I just wish Assetto Corsa, iRacing, and Game Stock Car would release a DK2 compatible version!

    I think 1440 will be enough for the CV1, the biggest issue I have is Horizontal FOV. It just needs to be Wider and it will be perfect. The future is here!
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  9. If you have an opportunity and the $... It is worth the investment as the CV1 will more than likely be a year out. Not sure how many DK2 will still be manufactured and if they plan to make another run of them. But the immersion is pretty incredible. There are still some things you need to make this a really good experience. I believe to have a great experience you do need to have a high end Graphics card. I have a GTX 760 and the frame rates are somewhat low in Pcars I only get 40 to 50 and so I am ordering a 780 ti to get the 75+ that is needed to see it in the recommended view. (Which sorta confuses me as my 27" Samsung 950D 1920/1080 monitor looks just fine with all games/sims, and runs at 120hz.)

    It is something you have to try to believe.

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  10. I would agree that the FOV needs to be wider and the resolution still needs to be higher, and the headset a little lighter too. I would also like to see the cables run from the sides of the unit like a high end set of headphones instead of across the top of my head, but DK2 certainly shows the potential for VR is there.
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  11. I have the 760 as well (overclocked Version), but don't have access to pCars unfortunately. As I understand it (and I'm no Scientist) stereoscopic mode requires the video card to render the scene Twice from slightly different angles. So basically the video card is running TWO instances of the game. Thus lowering FPS.

    Edit: Also the Oculus Rift SDK is still in it's infancy really with many tweaks and optimizations still to come. pCars from what I've heard is still also needing a lot of optimization. I'm not sold on needing a new Card just yet. 1440 version...? Probably.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
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  12. If u have a DK2, but do not have Project Cars access right now, i suggest to try LFS. I have it since years, but never really liked it, the physics of the cars is not for my taste, and on monitor it looks crap... But on oculus, it is amazing, and they made a very good implementation...u can lean out of the car, u can stand up in a cabriolet and above your windshiled u can take a look of your car hood... i love it... hoped to get back oculus support in AC with the patch today, but nothing...shame Kunos
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  13. Nice review Ryan - thank you.

    I've had the DK2 for one week now and I can clearly see that it will be the way to go in the future - especially for cockpit-based games such as Racing, Space and Flight sims. While racing, the sense of presence is amazing and you feel so much more connected to the car. It takes a while to be able to focus on driving due to being distracted by the car interior details and the environment. I found myself having some scary moments the first time the AI-controlled cars came flying past as I was stopped on the track gawking at the interior views of my car. Note to self - pull off track to gawk, text or make phone calls!

    I believe that the DK2 will not only enhance our racing experience but, also improve our ability to judge speed, distance, corner-entry, spatial awareness and more. Yes, the resolution needs to be increased significantly but, once that happens. Owning an Oculus Rift will be a "no-brainer" provided you have the hardware to run it.

    BTW, I run Pcars with medium settings on a GTX780 very well. So far I have run with up to 10 AI in the rain with no FPS drop at all and I think I can increase some of the graphics settings more without any problem. I have to do further testing to see what is manageable but, so far - very, very good.
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  14. The most important questions is not whether you can see the corner, how is the deoth perception or even the motion sickness aspect. It is all about whether you can feel the car. Is driving with oculus really you driving or is it just taking you for a ride. I haven't tried one myself but when the consumer version comes out I'll wait little and see what people say after having used it for months. There is insane amount of hype with lots of wow and awesome but very little actual "that makes me want to use it for months and months" instead of getting tired of it as a gimmick after few days...

    I have not read any studies if using screens close to eyes is harmful over long periods of times. However there already exist tech that allows people to use oculus to fix "Strabismus and Amblyopia":

    I don't think there are studies that show that watching computer monitors is harmful. There are some side effects and some of them are not caused directly by the monitor but the environment (bright monitor in dark room etc.). Different people also react differently.

    I don't think computer monitors really can be used as an example for how using virtual glasses effect our eye sight. There may or may not be problems and they may or may not be something very different and it may take some time to figure out the problems. Oculus themselves sure won't tell us.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  15. I haven't tried any other Driving Games in the Rift except for Live for Speed, but if the rest of them look as good (hoping even better) as LFS then I'm never driving without it. I imagine LFS's low graphical quality helps in this regard as I can Frame Limit at 75hz and get super smooth motion. It really is like sitting in a car and driving it. The Depth is perfect as far as I can tell. The Sickness was very slight in LFS at first and is now gone. The Roller Coaster demos made me want to barf at first but I've become resistant very quickly.

    Like an above poster said, it can be quite convincing. I spun out driving the Formula 1 in LFS in the middle of the track and stalled sitting sideways. I looked left to see the AI cars coming full speed and my stomach tightened up involuntarily just before I was T-Boned by the brilliant AI.

    I actually find that the First Person Shooter types, take the longest to get used to. The faster the running the worse it is. I can barrel roll and do loops in Flight sims all day, but 15 minutes of Half-Life gave me a raging headache.

    All in all VR takes your brain a few days to get used to. Luckily the excitement of trying all the different demos and all when I first got the OR pushed me through the motion sickness. I always woke up feeling fine, and now I don't get sick anymore.

    TL;DR - Oculus Rift is an amazing experience that does not feel "Gimmicky" at all in Driving and Flying games. Very real feeling. Jury is still out on First Person Shooter Types and 3rd Person games.
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  16. Quite a few comments about people getting over the motion sickness after a short time. But what about people that are actually prone to motion sickness? Do any of you suffer it when NOT using the OR, and if so, how does the OR affect you?
    I suffer it a bit, and I use the Real Head Motion Plugin which completely cures it for me. I really hope to buy an OR but I would hate to spend the money if it causes sickness problems that cannot be overcome.
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  17. I hope to see some company developing a good motorcycle simulator and implement this technology ┬┐Could you imagine playing that with an OR? This product is going to make a huge difference in the game industry in general. Thanks for your review Ryan :thumbsup:
  18. I don't see the OR as a gimmick at all. Once the current latency issues are resolved and the resolutions reach a higher level, I won't want to race with standard monitors again - ever, it's that good. I don't know if the OR is going to improve my lap-times but, it will absolutely improve my enjoyment and immersion in racing-sims. You just can't imagine what it's like until you try it for yourself.
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  19. I am not prone to motion sickness but, I do get a little "woozy" at times if things are not running smoothly with the rift. To those who are prone, I would suggest waiting for the tech to mature a bit before trying it or certainly, before buying it.

    In order to reduce or eliminate motion sickness, maintaining the minimum stable FPS (currently 75) to match the refresh rate is a must. As a rule, if you can run a game at 100 FPS or better on a monitor, then it should be able to maintain 75 FPS on the DK2. The CV1 will have higher resolution (1440) and higher refresh rate of 90. Turning down graphic settings to achieve that right now isn't a problem with the relative resolution of the DK2 being quite low.

    Currently, there are other settings and even some programs that can affect the smoothness and when that happens, it will have negative effects. Taking frequent breaks can help ease you into VR but, how much any individual will be affected is hard to say without trying it.
  20. Sk3ptik0n

    Premium Member

    Well, hopefully by 2016 the next model will bypass the eyes completely and plug directly into your brain. By then, if you are right, a large percentage of simracers will be legally blind but will have a silly smile on their faces.
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