Today I finally got to see the virtual reality demo at Valve Software. And it completely blew me away.
The standard I had been used to was what I had seen before — experiences on the order of the Oculus Rift, which people in our field have been seeing for many years, and which is far inferior.
What is different about this demo is that they have all the little details right, and this is an area in which all the little details really matter. As you move your head, the world moves around you as though you are really there, with none of those little delays that tell your subconscious that what you are seeing is fake.
On the contrary, wherever I looked, it simply felt as though I was in the place I was looking at, whether those objects were creatures, walls and floors, mountains or spaceships. Which was pretty remarkable, because some of the places I “visited” were utterly fantastical.
The very last “place” was a journey through a giant abstract world from the Demo Scene — beautiful and mysterious and utterly alien, yet somehow completely real. It was this demo, more than the more practical ones (e.g.: you are in a machine room, and you can stick your head inside the machine to see how it works), which really filled me with awe about the possibilities — the sense that our experience of possible universes is truly limited only by our imagination.
But perhaps the most important thing was the absolute confirmation that the details really do matter. In this demo, unlike all the others I have seen, a threshold has been crossed, and I have seen another world.