I almost didn't go to Oculus Connect. It was a busy time for me and I was undecided right up until just about the last minute. Leading up to the show I was having some low level worries about VR's current implementation that had me in a bit of a crisis.
Part of these worries concerned Oculus as a company. They've grown so big, so fast. How could a group as small as the original core Oculus team possibly survive the ministrations of Facebook and Samsung? I also wasn't convinced that the show would be terribly successful. It was the first time that Oculus was hosting something along those lines. I met up with Blair Renaud (@anticleric) at the airport by chance and grumbled a bit to him about how I wasn't sure how well the developer demos would be run. Part of me was worried we'd be thrown into a room with some power outlets and told "Great to see you! Thanks for coming. Go to it!! We'll be back at 8pm to see you out."
Gear VR looked like a tough promise to deliver on. DK2 has had issues right out of the gate and it seemed pretty tough for Oculus to pull off something halfway decent out of the gate on mobile.
What made me decide to go despite these concerns was a need to see for myself what was what. The internet can be a great source for opinion and a terrible source for information,
You absolutely need to leave your office sometimes and reassess. So I did.
Here are some brief thoughts:
- Oculus Connect was a tremendous success. Very tightly run. Not only was it a chance to rub shoulders with people across a wide set of industries, the crew at Oculus made themselves extremely accessible. If you wanted to talk to Brenden Iribe, John Carmack or Michael Abrash to get a question answered you simply needed to walk over to them and introduce yourself. I know this was greatly appreciated by the developers on hand.
- Gear VR exceeded expectations. I learned going into the show that my worries about Gear VR were shared by a number of developers. It was easy to get a chance to try Gear VR at the show and everyone that I spoke to had nothing but extremely positive things to say about it.
- The event is aptly named, it is rare to see such a broad range of interests and talents come together in a single place. Everyone was very friendly and eager to talk about VR and their own projects. If you want to network and be on the bleeding edge of the current state of the industry, you need to be there.
- There are a lot of great write ups out there describing the event if you want to learn more, I recommend you head over to Anarchist VR and read Bobby Boyd's post on the event. I had the good fortune of sharing a drink or two with the crew from Anarchist VR, they are right in the thick of it and full of some very interesting ideas about practical applications for VR.