The commercial release of the $599 Oculus Rift Headset is only three days away. As a result, a device that was steeped in mystery for most of its development cycle is now placing all of its cards upon the table. Price, release date, tech specs, packaging, and launch titles are now all known quantities when it comes to the Rift. That list of launch titles will be 30 in total and contains some truly awesome experiences to satisfy the eager appetites of VR’s early adopters. However, for those who are questioning just how long they will spend in Lucky’s Tale or VR Tennis Online a new product called My Dream Swift may be able to unlock the answer to your prayers: your entire steam library.
Allison Hyunh is the founder and CEO of My Dream VR, the company behind Swift, and during GDC 2016 she let me try the product personally. During my experience I discovered that not only does Swift allow you to play your steam games in VR, it also enhances them to be more immersive within that medium.
When Hyunh booted up Borderlands 2 in Swift I was presented with a full FOV displaying a frozen wasteland on the world of Pandora. To my surprise, when I turned my head the gunsight of my character followed my motion. Thanks to Swift I could look around the world and aim my rifle simply by turning my head. This, effectively, turned a static PC shooter into an immersive title with similar mechanics to a proprietary VR shooter like damaged core.
The way this is done is somewhat jerry-rigged. Swift converts the game display into a VR screen that fills the headsets field of view. It then “unlocks” the screen so that it follows your head motions rather than remaining fixed on a digital wall like the GearVR Netflix app. This, combined with head motions being mapped as right-stick inputs, means that Borderlands 2 becomes a VR title when played using Swift on an Oculus Rift.
You can also lock the screen into “cinematic mode” to play the game on what seems to be a very large high resolution screen. Swift does not offer stereoscopic 3D, however. When asked why Huynh explained that, “Our lead designer was a VR researcher. He discovered that many people are 3D blind and it would also take a lot of overhead to get it running at 90 hz. It would most likely detract from the experience.”
Despite the lack of stereoscopic 3D, Swift will allow games to run using the full power of the Rift’s 90 hz displays. This means that if the game you’re playing, and the PC it’s using, can manage to run at 90fps you’ll be able to enjoy the title at that frame rate. This effectively turns your Rift into the best monitor in your house for gaming or movie watching if your current monitor isn’t up to snuff.
My Dream Swift will integrate with Steam as a downloadable tool and will also be available as a standalone program via the My Dream VR website. Both will cost $29.99 and are available for pre-order now. Swift will officially launch on March 28, just in time for the Rift’s own commercial release.
In the future, Hyunh says she is eager to build in more environments (such as a beach or jungle setting), Netflix and Amazon Prime integrations, and social features that will be very similar to Oculus Social and should be available “soon after” Swift releases.