I might be totally wrong here, but I wanted to get a thought I had out there.
I read alot of people who have started project before they got their rifts, and I did the same. But I want to raise a finger here, its incredibly difficult to imagine the strenghts and weaknesses of the headset before you have it on your head. I scrapped my pre-rift project totally because it didnt work at all as good as I imagined.
Yeah, I had a couple chances to try the rift at my friend's house and that changed everything I was doing. The whole thing worked great on a monitor and like crap on the rift, but I'm glad I caught on to that at the time so I didn't waste time on the wrong things.
You could design for basic map layout and building meshes to realworld scale. Work on the basics like sound, level flow and direction. Game mechanics could be worked on but still would need changes for experiencing through the Rift. Never take control away from player. Any cutscenes should be limited to 3d space like watching a screen or something similar. Since you look around with the Rift, think of maps as realworld spaces and don't neglect to design for vertical viewing space.
Menus and UI should be designed for viewing in 3d space with head-tracking enabled so expect to change that after getting a Rift.
Textures and meshes need special attention that you could only really optimize with the Rift. Draw distances are terrible at such a low resolution so don't bother with LOD and all that much till you get the consumer or a possible HiRes DevKit. If designing to target the DevKit think about closer game mechanics and objectives and forget about usable smaller text. If wanting to design for the consumer Rift remember not everyone could run at a solid 60fps at 1080p so have a fallback to lower resolutions scaled up to the 1080p Rift.
Not to resurrect an old thread, but this information might be relevant to people!
For those who are still waiting for their Rift or want to get into Rift development but obtaining one in the near future is slim, stay vigilant! Neither I nor my teammate in the recent VR Jam had a Rift for any development (and to be honest, we still don't have one). I'm not going to post the link to our game thread because this post isn't about promoting my game, but about encouraging those who are interested in VR and game development but don't have the means to do so yet to continue developing.
Keep at it! Try new things! Try using the mouse to look to simulate where your head might be. Try to think outside the box, as using a Rift will basically leave you outside your body. Try experimenting with cool visuals that you think will really trip people up in VR. Try experimenting with 3D sound and use headphones - the experience will translate over nicely.
When your done, post it on the forums! I sure people would be more than willing to give your game a try, regardless if the VR is good or not.
I'd argue that depends on your game design experience and if your good at empathizing/creative thinking. For an adept game designer it wouldn't hold you back (nor should it hold anyone back, at the very least you can ask for feedback and advice from the community).
My plan is to develop without the rift until the CV1 is released. I don't have the 300 bucks to spend on a dev tool that I may not fully make use of (I have a bad habit of starting projects and abandoning them). Most of my work is going to be in the game systems anyway, or at least it seems that way. I can fix up the rest later when I get the CV1. If I make such good progress that all I have left to do is rift tuning, I'll share it with folks here who I'm sure would be happy to try out any demos 😉