UPDATE: Oculus Rift is not, as reported below, John Carmack's creation. The Id co-founder tweeted last night to confirm that "I have no direct ties with Oculus; I endorse it is a wonderful advance in VR tech, but I'm not "backing it".
The virtual reality headset John Carmack was showing off at E3 is now on Kickstarter. Named Oculus Rift, it has already raised three times its $250,000 goal since the project went live yesterday.
The project pitches Oculus Rift as the first truly functional and affordable VR headset, which "takes 3D gaming to the next level." The headset "is designed to maximise immersion, comfort, and pure, uninhibited fun, at a price everyone can afford."
Given Carmack's involvement it's little surprise that the project has, at the time of writing, raised $777,130 from over 3,000 backers. Some of the most respected people in the industry have also thrown their weight behind Oculus Rift, including Gabe Newell, who in a quote on the project page is full of praise for Oculus founder Palmer Luckey.
"It looks incredibly exciting," The Valve president says. "If anybody's going to tackle this set of hard problems, we think that Palmer's going to do it. So we'd strongly encourage you to support this Kickstarter."
Also on board are Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski ("I'm a believer"), Unity Technologies CEO David Helgason ("This will be the coolest way to experience games in the future"), and Michael Abrash, former colleague of Carmack at Id and now one of Valve's more prominent thinkers, who recently revealed the company's work on wearable computing.
Oculus Rift will be bundled with a copy of Doom 3 BFG, Id's revamp of its 2004 shooter and the first Rift-compatible game. Kickstarter reward tiers begin at $10, though the serious stuff is reserved for those pledging larger amounts. $275 will net you an unassembled Rift prototype; $300 gets you early access to the developer kit. The SDK is a work in progress, but Oculus plans on integration of Unreal Engine and Unity, opening up a host of possible platforms including PC and mobile.
Those paying $5,000 or more - three people have done so already - get all rewards plus a visit to the Oculus lab. One of the three is Markus "Notch" Persson, who tweeted last night to reveal he had pledged $10,000 and that there was a good chance Mojang's games would be supported - and let's be honest, a headset-controlled Minecraft is quite the prospect.
It's a remarkable turn of events coming just months after the headset's E3 debut. Carmack admitted the prototype was "literally held together with duct tape" and it certainly didn't seem like it was mere months away from becoming a serious proposition.
For more, we recommend PC Gamer's video of John Carmack's VR headset. David Boddington played Doom 3 BFG using the device, and came away resoundingly impressed, describing it as "unlike any other gaming experience I've had".