An Initial Foray into Second Life with the Oculus Rift

SLURL rendered for display on the Oculus Rift

The Ahern welcome area rendered for display on the Oculus Rift

If you want to stick your Rift-kitted head into Second Life or OpenSim and have a look around, well now you can. I’ve added some basic Oculus Rift support to CtrlAltStudio Viewer Alpha: you can look around and move about but there is no UI. Full Rift support including UI will come when Linden Lab release their viewer with Rift support in the not too distant future. But in the meantime you can now at least enjoy the sights of your favourite virtual world locations.

Use the viewer as normal to get to where you want to go, then toggle into “Riftlook” mode (“3D” toolbar button or Ctrl-Alt-3) and don your Rift headset. Move your head to look around and use the arrow or WASD keys to move about. “Forwards” is the direction your Rift was pointing when you toggled into Riftlook. It makes most sense to use it while sitting down.

Download links and operation instructions are provided in the release notes. Please note that this is an experimental “alpha” version and as such has various rough edges and limitations. However, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Comments (38) Leave a comment

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  4. blazespinnaker

    Awesome! Mind blowing!

    Two issues I’ve run into: The lighting differences between two eyes can be a bit distressing at times.

    Second issue: It’d be very desirable to have a mode where you move forward depending on where the rift is pointing. The reason I say that, is I use my smartphone to send key strokes depending on IMU detection of walking in place. This way I can move about SL standing up and turning with my body, which can be significantly less nausea inducing.

    1. David Rowe Post author

      I agree, the lighting differences between the eyes is not good! This is something I’m working on right now.

      Your smartphone use sounds awesome. Do you have more information on this? And I would prefer standing also; a stand-up mode option is definitely required.

  5. Wade watts

    Fantastic work!!
    I’ve already spent about 8 hours rifting in SL with your viewer and have to say I am completely mindblown by how amazing it is:^)
    (is there any way to change the display resolution to the rift to 1080 rather than the 1200 default?
    I have a beefy rig and fancy trying the downscaling option)
    Thanks again. Really brilliant work man.

    1. David Rowe Post author

      I hadn’t heard about downscaling 1080 with the Rift until you mentioned it and I found a short forum thread on MTBS3D. It would be an interesting experiment to try though what improvement are you hoping to see? Unfortunately it’s not possible to configure this in the viewer at present. Something for me to think about.

      1. Wade watts

        Cheers for the reply! I’ve just noticed that most other rift demos (mostly in unity) the downscaling when duplicating the desktop at 1080 results in a much better image in the rift.
        I know it’s still 1280*800 but seems to add an additional aliasing effect which makes the experience much much smoother.
        I’ve tried a few workarounds but the viewer keeps defaulting to 1280.
        Anyhow.. Keep up the good work,
        And thanks again for blowing my mind with your viewer!

        1. David Rowe Post author

          That’s interesting your experience with downscaling 1080. I’ll have to try it myself with some Unity demos.

          Currently, for each eye’s 640 x 800 frame the viewer renders an undistorted image at 1100 x 1375 which the barrel distortion OpenGL shader samples from to produce the distorted image displayed on the Rift. Pixels at the centre of the Rift image are pretty much 1-to-1 with the big image, and as you move out from the centre the pixels from the big image are effectively squished in. Perhaps something similar to what you’re saying is that it would be good to render an even bigger image to sample from; that would be interesting to try.

          Yes, the current viewer will stubbornly insist on running 1280×800, I’m afraid. Mind-blowing comes free of charge.

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  8. blazespinnaker


    One question – if you have multiple rifters on a sim, when they look at each other, can they see where their gaze is directed? ie, when I turn with the oculus rift does it update where I’m looking in world?

    Is there a sim where rifters can hang out? Can we try using voice instead of typing?


    1. David Rowe Post author

      Yes, your avatar’s head moves along with your Rift so that its gaze matches yours — left and right, up and down. At least to a certain extent: the gaze may not match so well if you turn through large angles compared with the direction your avatar is pointing.

      Yes, you can use voice chat. You toggle your microphone on/off using your middle mouse button or other key you configure in Preferences > Sound & Media > Voice Settings.

      There has been some talk about a Rifters’ hangout. Best keep your eye on activity in the Oculus Rift group in Second Life.

  9. Griff Golding

    I am having great fun finally seeing this work! I have been waiting to try this for so many years! Thank you so much for putting this out there for people to play with.
    I am a programmer interested in messing with this. Are you interested in contributions from other programmers? If so, what is the best way to coordinate? Do you feel like using CodePlex features like Discussions or Issues?
    I am glad to hear that you are already aware of the crash while zooming with the mouse. First-person point of view can be fun, but I also often move the camera around independently of my avatar. One cause I am seeing is a stack overflow from calcCameraPositionTargetGlobal and calcFocusPositionTargetGlobal calling each other endlessly.

    1. David Rowe Post author

      I’m definitely interested in contributions from other programmers. Let’s meet up in Second Life to discuss. My SL name is Strachan Ofarrel.

      And yes, that stack overflow was the cause of the crash when trying to get into 3rd person. I found and fixed this last night. The fix will be in the next release, slated for this coming weekend.

  10. AntoineR


    Thanks a lot for your work, I’m really impatient to explore SL with it!

    But I haven’t managed to make it work yet. The Toggle 3D button is gray. Clicking on it or typing CTRL+ALT+3 won’t toggle the stereoscopic view. Am I missing something?


    1. AntoineR

      I have managed to turn it on, didn’t configure the preferences correctly. Going to try it right now, thanks again!

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  12. Chaoss

    This viewer more or less works, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with it and will be spending quite a bit more. Second Life has to be one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had with my dev kit so far.

    May I make a few [hopefully] easy to implement suggestions until Linden Labs come along with their official support.

    1: The ability to see chat, in an ideal world the ability to see what you type as well. But if that’s not easy then at I at least want to see if someone is trying to talk to me. This would mean I don’t have to keep removing the Oculus Rift just to see if someones said something. Make it clean and simple for now!

    2: Restrict the mouselook in VR mode to left+right only, currently if you look up or down in mouselook with the mouse it throws off the head tracking completely.

    3: the ability to see a basic pie menu in VR mode, this way we can ‘sit’ or ‘teleport’ and use various objects. Remove the ‘advanced’ options such as appearance or buy for now.

    Now onto bugs

    1: holding alt and trying to decouple the camera from the avatar in VR mode crashes the viewer, this IS ideal except in the case when you want to see your own avatar from the front.

    2: In deferred rendering mode (advanced lighting) sometimes the lighting doesn’t draw correctly between both eyes.

    3: We are missing a ‘neck model’ so when tilting ones head, it doesn’t move the view but pivots it on the spot, in real life (and in most of the Oculus Rift SDK’s) the pivot is at your neck and not your eyes. this helps exagerate the 3D effect with head micro movements.

    1. David Rowe Post author

      Thank you for your valuable feedback. I agree that chat is a very necessary feature for a social virtual world! Interesting idea of even just displaying chat coming in as a first step. I’ll have to look into the text chat issue. An alternative which works now and might suit some people is local voice chat: with voice chat enabled, on the toolbar microphone button you can tick the “lock” option then in Riftlook use your middle mouse button to toggle your microphone on and off. You can set an alternative microphone toggle key in Preferences > Sound & Media > Voice Settings.

      Yes, moving your mouse while in Riftlook currently can be a bit “dangerous”. Mouse operation will probably get sorted out in conjunction with other changes. Like a basic pie menu in Riftlook is a good idea, thank you.

      The crashing when decoupling and using the decouple camera needs to be fixed. I never guessed that people would try to do this, but I should have. Alphas are good for finding this sort of thing out.

      The inconsistent lighting between eyes is a known and sometime distracting problem that needs more work. And the head/neck model is on the todo list.

      Thanks again for your feedback.

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  14. Sparkaphat Doobie

    This is awesome news! I am going to try to find someone who can do a Linux version.

  15. Thoys

    Works great! Still saw some alpha disappear when i looked the other way, but that might be the common alpha bug/or my settings.

    Basics is there, Keep up the good work!

  16. Rai Fargis

    Okay, I just spend some time on 3 of my favourite sims. It works, its great to finally see these buildings with that sense of scale. Every tree is an awesome experience. Avatars seem more like persons than ever.
    The view however is distorted, because the picture is not adapted to the way the lenses of the Rift change the picture. I am aware this is an Alpha build but I hope you will fix it soon. Thanks for now! Great work. <3

    1. David Rowe Post author

      Rai and I got it working: an update to the OpenGL shader file that does the Rift distortion was needed. If other people have this problem — images being displayed side-by-side as undistorted rectangles for no reason — I can e-mail the file with instructions.

      1. Dalek Hax

        Can you DO a “side-by-side undistorted rectangle” option for those of us with misbehaving nvidia setups who might want to try plain old SbS on passive monitors? ;-))))

  17. TheBlack Box

    Well done.
    Thanks for your work.

    I got the Rift Dev-Kit. But not using Windows. Will there be a Linux build as well ?

    1. David Rowe Post author

      I unfortunately don’t have Linux building skills. However, the source code is available online and if someone does a Linux build and would like to share it, I can make it available as a download for others.

      There may be a Mac build becoming available soon.

        1. David Rowe Post author

          In the source repository you’ll sees a “Virtual-Reality” branch. This is the branch that this alpha was built from, in particular was built at changeset d189b7e67889 – “Enabled Rift sensor prediction”.

  18. Rai Fargis

    Awesome! I am going to try this with my devkit now! Thanks so much, you are the best!

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