When I first tried Oculus’ Touch demo I noted that “it was the most fun I have had in VR because it was a social experience” that made the experience so incredible. Oculus has been talking a lot about the power of social experiences in VR, and what another person adds to the feeling of Presence in the scene. Oculus’ CEO Brendan Iribe even referred to a personal story about the dawn of networked gaming in the keynote at Oculus Connect as a reference point for the present:
“It reminds me of a moment, and this is going to date me a little bit, I can still remember being a kid and loading up multiplayer doom for the first time. We set up this crazy rig of computers on a pool table and I remember when we turned it on… we all agreed to meet a the center of the map. And you could see this set of pixels coming at you, and one by one each of us said ‘Yup, I see you. Yup, I see you.’
And then I leaned over to my friend’s monitor and pressed the left and right keys to strafe and could see my character moving side to side. Right then we knew 3D graphics and networking was going to change everything. That moment changed my life forever, that’s why I’m here. For me VR feels like it will be even bigger.”
With so much emphasis on networked experiences it should come as no surprise that Oculus, who has a long history of providing resources for developers, has plans to release a ‘social SDK.’
Palmer Luckey, Oculus’ founder confirmed the SDK’s existence to me in an interview at Oculus Connect. “A lot of people imagine social SDK to mean Facebook integration or something,” he said, “the reality is a lot of the core functionality of VR is inherently social.”
The Social SDK will be able to add functionality “beyond a puppet and gameplay avatar and voice chat,” says Luckey, “it is all the other things you need to be able to do.”
Basic things like putting people in the same place and moving them between virtual worlds “work fine for what we have now,” he says, “but you want people to be able to do it in a better way and you want to make the tools to do that available to everybody … it’s just wasted man-hours to have people rebuilding the same thing over and over again in different ways.”
The SDK doesn’t have a release date yet, but we will be sure to report back on it as soon as we learn more.