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'Half-Life 2' gets virtually real with unofficial Oculus Rift and Razer Hydra motion tracking

'Half-Life 2' gets virtually real with unofficial Oculus Rift and Razer Hydra motion tracking

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In most video games where guns are involved, you're always aiming where you look. Now, with the help of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headgear, the Razer Hydra motion controller, and a couple of software mods, early adopters can move their head and arms independently in the immersive dystopian virtual reality of Valve's Half-Life 2.

Building on the Vireio Perception software driver — an independent project which specially formats images from a variety of popular PC games to fit the Rift and other 3D screens — one Nathan Andrews has been working on a mod for Half-Life 2 that disconnects your gun hand from the rest of your character's body, so to speak. Originally, he attached a Hillcrest motion tracker to a plastic gun toy so he could have a prop to aim, but this week, he's released an early version that supports the Razer Hydra instead.

The peripheral lets you hold onto two sticks which report their position and direction in 3D space compared to an electromagnetic orb that sits between them, and which is theoretically capable of quite a bit more than simple aiming. Sounds like with some more sophisticated software and an omnidirectional treadmill, Half-Life 2 could provide quite the virtual reality experience.

While Oculus has repeatedly told us that the current Rift developer kit isn't really ready for gaming, and Half-Life 2 developer Valve itself hasn't been completely convinced that VR is the future of games, it seems like there's already a community springing up to try to fill in the gaps.