The virtual reality revolutionary discusses VR controllers and why the Touch won’t be shipping with the Rift on day one

Palmer Luckey: Oculus Touch is only the beginning

The Oculus Touch is only the beginning for true virtual reality control, says Oculus founder Palmer Luckey.

The dual motion controllers, complete with haptic feedback and traditional inputs such as an analogue stick, buttons and triggers, were revealed during a special pre-E3 Oculus event last month.

Speaking with Develop as part of our virtual reality feature to be published later this week, Luckey said the company’s goal for the Oculus Touch was to create something that lets people interact with virtual worlds in the same way they interact with the real world. This includes motions like grabbing, throwing, examining, poking and even making hand gestures.

“Touch is only the beginning of what we all want VR to eventually be, but it does let players interact with games in ways that no other controller allows,” he said.

When mimicking reality, there could be situations where such control inputs aren’t actually suitable for some game genres though, such as an RTS, for example.

Luckey responded however that the Touch would incorporate traditional controls, like an analogue stick, buttons and triggers, so developers can make “hybrid experiences” that combine VR with proven genres and control schemes.

“Tracking position and orientation of the controllers also means you can simulate mouse-type controls by pointing the controller,” he explained.

“We have already seen some interesting VR strategy games that treat the playing field like a giant board game – it lets you interact with the game in cool ways, like, for example, picking up units and moving them to their destination.”

Given its potential then, why is Oculus not shipping the Touch controllers with the consumer Rift next year? The company has instead opted to sell each headset with an Xbox One controller – very much a traditional console gamepad.

Luckey claimed developers have proven over the past two years that it’s possible to make great games in VR using such a controller. But more to the point, perhaps, he said the majority of games available at launch and through 2016 will have been designed for traditional gamepads from day one, rather than the Oculus Touch.

“Furthermore, game developers want to know that every person who buys a Rift has the right hardware to play their game, and the Xbox One controller bundle is the best way to accomplish that rather than having it as an accessory,” said Luckey.

“Making Rift developers successful is one of our top priorities, because it means more great VR games down the road.

“It helped that gamepads have decades of understanding behind them, and many genres have been shaped and defined by the tools gamers use to play games. Contrast that with 1:1 motion controls, which have very limited history – it is going to take time for developers to figure out what works best, and it does not make sense to force every Rift buyer to purchase something that is going to be of limited use in the immediate future, especially when it comes to Rift buyers who have little interest in motion controls – race simulation lovers with steering wheels, flight simulation lovers with sweet HOTAS setups, etcetera.”

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