Oculus announced that the next iteration of the Oculus SDK will be released in the coming weeks. The new version leaves games built on outdated versions incompatible. Developers will want to update their wares as soon as possible.
Oculus will be releasing the new update to the Oculus PC SDK on August 20, bringing it to version 0.7. Oculus is calling this a "major release," which includes changes to improve stability and is better suited for low-latency performance while using the recommended hardware specifications. With SDK 0.7, Oculus is doing away with Extended Mode, and instead introducing a more refined Direct Driver Mode.
Unfortunately for developers who have been working on games and experiences for some time, the new SDK will not be compatible with software built using SDK 0.5 or earlier. This includes all content built with Unity 4.x, which means a large number of experiences out there will need to be updated.
With SDK 0.7, Oculus has completely discontinued support for Extended Mode on the HMD. The company said this was done because Extended Mode suffered from additional latency issues, which can significantly diminish the experience in VR. Oculus worked closely with Nvidia and AMD to create Direct Driver Mode. Rather than inserting an additional software level between the Rift and the GPU, headset awareness has been developed directly into the GPU drivers.
Oculus said this approach avoids many of the latency issues brought on by Extended Mode. In addition, having support built into the graphics driver limits the number of conflicts between the Oculus SDK and other applications. The company noted that new graphics drivers will be needed for this to work. Presumably both companies will have updated drivers ready for August 20.
Along with the announcement of SDK 0.7, Oculus stated that it is shooting for a November release of SKD 1.0. Once version 1.0 is released, the company will guarantee compatibility between SDK releases, but until that time, it will only guarantee compatibility with the previous version. This could end up being frustrating for many developers, as they will have to continuously update their software to work with the latest releases for the next few months. Oculus said the reason for this is that it allows the company to evolve the API and software architecture rapidly as it approaches the November release of version 1.0.
Oculus acknowledged that a great number of the applications available for Oculus will require updates to work with the next version of the SDK and has committed to making the transition as simple as possible. The company stated that the current Unreal Engine integration is based on 0.6, but integration for 0.7 will ship with the SDK.
Developers working in Unity 5.x will be able to leverage the direct VR support already built into Unity. Oculus is working with Unity to update Unity 5.x to 0.7. The company said no additional work will be needed when this happens. Unity 4.x applications won't be as smooth. A plug-in will be provided that is based on 0.6.0.1. Oculus recommended upgrading to Unity 5.x, but said it will continue basic support for Unity 4.x in future SDKs for those who can't move to the new version.
Oculus recommended searching the Oculus Developer Forum for help updating your apps to version 0.7.