So I got Diplopia beta. I played it for around 40 minutes yesterday. You can consider this an informal review of the game so far.
The first impression that I have of the game after starting the executable is that it is very smooth and apparently polished. There's also no anti-aliasing so some of the edges are pixelated.
It does a number of vision tests for suppression and visual integration, and then you get launched into the game.
The two games I've seen thus far is a Breakout-type game, and another game where you're flying through space blasting asteroids with a spacecraft. The first game that I started (I didn't select to play the game, it just chose for me) was the spacecraft game. The game starts with a timer set for 20 minutes (your vision therapy session length). Your goal is to get as many points as possible by picking up items that you see. You have to figure out where they are by gauging depth and space.
After playing for about five minutes, I could tell that the game was definitely doing something to my vision. I could tell that the game was trying to force me to see in stereo. It felt like I might have made the sudden shift at any moment, although it didn't happen. It was definitely a strange sensation. It was almost like I had approached a portal through which a different world resided, and I was so close to passing through. That's the best way that I can explain it.
It's a fairly stimulating game--both the spacecraft game and the Breakout game. You can tell how it works. It forces both of your eyes to work in order to play the game by making certain elements only visible to each eye. So with the Breakout game, you have your paddle which you can only see with your left eye, and the ball, which you can see only with the right eye. In order to play and be successful at the game you must use both eyes. Because of my suppression, this game is difficult. I sort of have to guess as to where the paddle is in relationship to where the ball is. But it's very satisfying when I can whack it because it gives me instant feedback as to where things are in 3d.
It's a brilliant game. It solves so many problems at once. For one, because the Oculus Rift has a giant field of view that means that the game can exercise the peripheral vision. Another thing is that stereoscopic effects aren't produced by an active shutter mechanism, so the composite image is very bright and high quality. The Oculus Rift DK2 also has positional and orientation tracking so that the vestibular system is engaged with the game (Diplopia has made good, smooth use of the DK2's positional tracking). Finally, the games are very engaging and stimulating. They're not boring. The 20 minute sessions go by pretty quickly. It's challenging. You are really paying attention and engaging your brain in order to reach the target goals. This is what vision therapy should be!
After I did the initial 20 minute session I tried to go back to the spacecraft game that I was playing before, but couldn't. There's no choice to select the game that you play. Instead, it took me to the Breakout game, which I played around with for quite a while. One thing I noticed is that you have to be logged in before you play the game. I wonder if the guys at Diplopia are tracking you to make sure that you play the spacecraft game for only 20 minutes per day. You can't play the game if you don't have an active Internet connection. We'll find out.
For a while I was tempted to make vision therapy games (since I have an Oculus Rift developer kit), but it's hard to see how this can be improved upon. But maybe that's just a copout. Major props to James for creating such a powerful use case for VR HMDs. It's amazingly well put together for a beta. I'm going to try and contain my excitement and just see how things go for the next week. Thank you, James!!