Today marked the first day of the Oculus Connect 2 developers conference in Hollywood. OC2 baby. Excited to get our hands dirty with the Oculus Touch controllers, we arrived unfashionably early and made a beeline for the Toy Box demo.
Hands on the Oculus “Toy Box”
The Oculus Toy Box is a testing ground for developers. A blank canvas for them to build and hone objects and interactions. For the rest of us, it’s a really fun place to play.
After I was briefed on the Touch controllers and the program loaded, I was standing across the table from an iridescent blue outline of an Oculus employee. When they told me Michael would be helping me through the demo, I thought she was talking about a computer. But the Toy Box is a social experience in actual reality. My guy, Michael, was a few booths down from me in the Dolby Ball Room. He was my immersive spirit guide, standing across from me, literally glowing, and showing me how to interact with objects.
We started off in an empty room with all kinds of stuff on the table. Blocks, balls, ping pong paddles, giant lawn gnomes around the perimeter and a giant tetherball hanging between us. My spirit guide taught me how to make fists and smash things. He showed me how to smack the tetherball and break things. I knew I was going to like it there.
After my new play space was sufficiently smashed, we started hitting ping pong balls back and forth. Suddenly the room changed around us, the toys regenerated and started floating up from the table. We were now in zero gravity, trying to keep the balls down with the paddles instead of up.
The room shifted again. Instead of toys, the table was an arsenal of weapons. Around us was a carnival style shooting range. I was picking off ceramic bunnies with a wrist rocket like Dennis the Menace. My ray gun skills were a bit rusty and spirit guide had far better control of the miniature tanks. My boomerang game was on point, though.
Once again the room reset and in front of me was a zippo lighter and a bunch of fireworks. Spirit guide showed me how to fire up the lighter with a flick of the wrist. I used it to light a sparkler. While I was waving my sparkler through the air, he said “Hey Eric, can you hold this for me?,” handing me a flaming quarter stick of dynamite. It blew up in my hand. We laughed. I fired a roman candle at his face.
It was like being a reckless little kid without any supervision or consequences. Anything goes in the Oculus Toy Box. VR is fun.