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Game/Industry News

A Step Into the Virtual World with Omni

Digital rendition of the Omni

Digital rendition of the Omni

This is about my third time going into virtual reality gaming and I have to say this is definitely the best experience I’ve had with it. Never before have you been able to actually fully represent your real world actions and have it displayed in a game all in real time. I would also like to note that this was on a prototype version and not the retail version to be given out to backers or customers so there are still tweaks to the platform and ring that will be made. The Omni also isn’t the only thing required to have this experience it was with the assistance of Microsoft’s Kinect with the Nyko Zoom add-on paired with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The Kinect will track your motion and send signals to the game that you’re moving and the tracks on the Omni’s platform designate the direction and the harness positions you upright so that you don’t fall over or slip in the low friction tracks and finally the Rift is used to aim.

The Virtuix Omni™ is the first virtual reality interface for moving freely and naturally in your favorite game.

While hooked up to the full set I felt highly immersed in the game and was more natural than I originally thought it would be. The official demo guy for Omni made it seem really easy though, but he told me that he did it at Comic-Con and here at QuakeCon and put in about 30 hours of game time with it and took him about 5 minutes to get used to it. I only got less than 5 minutes with the machine and began getting the hang of it. So the learning curve isn’t very difficult at all, just make sure that you’re following all the proper stepping and standing procedures and in no time you’ll be running in place and maneuvering through the virtual world like a pro. I had to go through a strict tutorial before stepping onto the platform, because without knowing what to do before hand you’ll try to move around and have it not work out very well at all. When stepping I had to make sure my heels made contact and that I made a full steps each time so that it recognized my movement properly. I found myself slipping a lot as well, but that was due to me getting used to the slick platform.

Learning how to walk!

Learning how to walk!

The demo I played was a section of Half Life 2 when I was in a train yard and I had to take down a group of soldiers. The first few steps were easy and even running was very easy, just keep your body upright like it normally would be when running. The hardest part was stopping more than anything and that took me a while to figure out. I know it sounds obvious, but if you don’t stop properly then you may just continue moving forward and run into an enemy or in my instance a fence. Also I forgot that my gun isn’t tracked so I aimed my gun to shoot them, and then remembered that I had to look at where I was shooting. The demo guy says he holds the gun up to his face and moves it around with his head for a more natural feel and it seems to actually work better too. After dying for about the third time I managed to get the hang of shooting and moving, but not shooting and moving together. I would run and stop and shoot and stand still while getting shot at until the enemy was dead. When I tried the Oculus Rift last year I played Doom 3 BFG and it worked perfectly and I didn’t have any issues seeing enemies or anything, but this time with Half Life 2 I had a really hard time seeing the enemies and Leo told me afterwards that the enemies were quite visual on the screen he saw I guess my glasses interfered with the game or perhaps they weren’t on correctly. Regardless I’m going to blame that issue on myself and not on the equipment. This gave me a lot of trouble with my aiming and ultimately made me suck hard core at the game. After getting blown up by a grenade (again) they stopped my time with the Omni and even though I kept dying, I wanted to continue on and get better because this is really fun and changes how you experience the game.

Quick Facts

  • Outer diameter of only 48″
  • Weight of about 110 lbs.
  • You can walk, run, jump, crouch, and sidestep and map movements from a keyboard to the Omni
  • The Omni consists of low friction surfaces with radial grooves
  • Any PC game that uses a keyboard will work with the Omni right out of the box
  • Retail version will be able to fold up for easy storage
How the Omni is going to look in your (or my) living room.

How the Omni is going to look in your (or my) living room.

Honestly the Omni is a revolutionary piece of technology and so amazing to experience. If you like to be immersed in your games then definitely make sure you get one of these, because there just isn’t anything else like it. I wish I could play this on a game like Skyrim, because the exploration in the game will be so much more amazing. You’ll be able to trek up to High Hrothgar in Skyrim and understand the exhaustion that it instills on your hero scaling that massive mountain and being able to turn your head and peer over the beautiful landscape and also looking up to the top of the mountain and understanding the actual scale of it all. You just can’t get that kind of experience with a keyboard and mouse or a controller at that. You can also use the Razer Hydra in tandem with it for an even greater feel of immersion. This is also something for that will give you a good workout when playing for extended periods of time. For my short demo of the machine I didn’t really feel the effects, but I’m sure of putting multiple hour sessions in will put it’s toll on you if you aren’t fit. This can also be a great way to get some fitness training in as well with going through a daily job in the lands of New Vegas or Tamriel and instead of avoiding dogs in a real life jog, you’ll have avoid dragons and trolls but that is the life of a gamer. The potential with this is amazing and I can’t wait for some developers to specifically create a game for use with the Omni, because while you can attach it to most games there isn’t anything quite like playing a game on the platform it was solely designed for. Some might even say this is technology from the future, or so thought a kid at QuakeCon who approached one of the members of the team and swore that he came from the future and brought back this technology for us. Funny enough it almost seems true, because before this people have tried making giant treadmill in order to give this experience and instead Omni simply uses some plastic with grooves in it and makes it much smaller and vastly more cost effective. Similar to the Oculus Rift’s price, the Omni will be going on sale for about $500 and will be doing pre-orders as soon as next week if I’m not mistaken. I’ll be sure to post an update as soon as we know more details. Although you can sign up for updates on their official site as well and follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

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About Anthony Carbone

Main Operator for Gamer's News Network

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  1. Pingback: Films that Show the Pros and Cons of Virtual Reality Gaming | Gamemoir - August 13, 2013

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