As we teeter on the brink of modern virtual reality, developers are hard at work coding the imaginary worlds we’ll one day step foot in. Ironically enough, they’ve largely been building virtual experiences using traditional tools – you know, a mouse and keyboard.
For the past year, Epic Games has been working on bring its Unreal Editor inside the virtual world. Instead of developers building games the traditional way, Epic’s new approach allows them to strap on an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive and build the game fromwithin the game.
Epic founder Tim Sweeney told The Verge that things like a sense of scale don’t translate well between flat screens and VR. Props, for example, may feel normal in a traditional PC game but may look overly large or small in an immersive environment.
The VR Unreal Editor looks and acts much like its flatscreen counterpart but with the ability to roam free and edit on-the-fly using hand motions and gestures. For example, one can physically “grab” an object and move it around or use a two-handed pinch-and-zoom technique like on a mobile device to adjust its size. For more complicated tasks, developers can bring up a handheld version of the flatscreen interface which is kind of like having a tablet with you at all times.
Epic says it’ll showcase its VR Unreal Editor in greater detail at the Game Developers Conference on March 16. We’ll also learn more about Unreal’s release plans at that time.
Today is the big day for those looking to save a bit of coin on the purchase of an Oculus Rift and a PC to power the experience as Amazon, Best Buy and the Microsoft Store are now accepting pre-orders for Rift bundles.
Pricing starts at $1,499 for the Asus G11CD-B11 bundle which includes a desktop powered by a quad-core Intel Core i5-6400 processor alongside 8GB of memory and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card. If you recall, the recommended specs from Oculus VR call for an Intel Core-i5 4590 or greater, at least 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or better.
In terms of pure processing power, this entry-level Asus bundle just barely meets the recommended hardware specs.
On the opposite end of the price spectrum is the Alienware Area 51 bundle. For $3,149, you’ll get a desktop loaded with Intel’s Core i7-5820K processor (six cores, 12 threads), 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GTX 980 video card. This configuration also comes with a 128GB SSD and a traditional 2TB hard drive.
Each bundle also includes an Oculus Rift VR headset, sensor, remote, an Xbox One controller and two games: Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie Founder’s Pack.
As of writing, the only three PC makers participating in the Oculus Ready PC programare Asus, Dell and Alienware (Dell’s gaming-minded subsidiary). That’s likely to change moving forward, assuming of course that Oculus sticks with the program.
If you have the time and / or know-how to build your own system, that’s probably the best route to go as you can get the exact combination of hardware you’re after. Another option is to simply upgrade your existing machine if it doesn’t quite meet Oculus’ recommended specs.