News

  • Sci-Fi London Film Festival 2019 Returns in May With a Selection of 360 & VR Shorts The festival will also be hosting the secretive #HACKSTOCK: 5.
  • Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harington Plays An Intolerable VR Character On SNL

    Jon Snow can’t keep his mouth shut in this VR-related sketch from last nights SNL. Anyone familiar with video games probably has a story or two about a particularly infuriating NPC (non-playable character) that severely dampened their gaming experience. Perhaps an annoying quest-giver constantly hounding you about menial objectives or a cumbersome side-character that keeps

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  • Boneworks Feels Like The First Next Generation VR Game
    boneworks logo stress level zero

    Boneworks from Stress Level Zero feels like the first game of PC VR’s second generation.

    The small team based in Los Angeles previously developed Duck Season and Hover Junkers. In Boneworks, they are applying years of refinement to physics, locomotion and object handling systems. You can feel the effort every second inside their virtual world.

    A recent demo of Boneworks from Stress Level Zero co-founder Brandon Laastch shows interactions tuned to a degree I’ve never seen before. First I held, loaded and fired a one-handed pistol. I dropped the gun, grabbed a bigger one, racked it with my other hand and started firing. I decided to steady it with my second hand for better control and it just worked. I also grabbed an axe with one hand and steadied it with the other.

    During my demo, Laatsch told me to release my index finger from the right hand of the axe. My virtual hand loosened its grip, letting me find a better spot to grip for maximum hacking power. I also took a few swings of the crowbar before resorting to just good old-fashioned robot punching. Boneworks even enables throwing objects and then “force” grabbing them back to your hand just by making a fist with your index and middle fingers. Magazines are attached to my body. I look down and see them there for easy reloading. Larger guns store on my back for later so my hands are free to grab more things in the world.

    I turned my body to the right, pushed the thumbstick forward on my controller and started exploring the demo level.

    “Thus far, VR content has asked gamers to lose some core features of gaming in exchange for some new exciting ones,” Laastch explained in an email. “With Boneworks, we want to show gamers and developers that a VR player controller can exist that maintains all action/adventure genre staples while adding incredible agency due to precise tracked controllers. By removing as many ‘two steps forward, one step back’ examples and only presenting the expected experience plus a ton of new exciting gameplay, we can massively interest gamers and developers in VR gaming.”

    What I’ve described about Boneworks might sound simple — other developers do some of these things with their software — but not to the degree and the level of execution on display here. There are still plenty of interactions in many VR games which are huge barriers. In Boneworks, it seemed like those barriers are practically gone. What that leaves a player with in their virtual world is a sense of empowerment.

    “It is the job of the software to blend user input into an expected, responsive, and visually pleasing result,” Laatsch wrote. “For twenty-plus years, gamers have been shown increasingly high fidelity first-person animations in AAA games. In order for VR to go massively mainstream, the end visual result of the hands – both inside and outside of the headset – need to match the fidelity of hand-keyed first-person animations. By doing this, we remove a

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  • The VR Job Hub: Blackwall Labs, Alchemy VR, Pebble Studios & KageNova Ignore Brexit and look at all these jobs in sunny England.
  • Worlds Largest Earth Day Event Will Use VR & AR To Empower People Across The Globe

    Immersive storytelling will have you looking at environmental issues in an impactful new way. 2019 will be an important year for Earth Day. Climate change, ocean pollution, and animal extinction are rising at a rapid pace. Planet Earth is in big trouble, and it needs powerful and innovative ways to spread environmental awareness to educate

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  • IKINEMA Updates Motion Capture Solution Orion, Improving VR Character Animation Creating characters that move realistically is about to get easier.
  • How Iron Man VR landed on PlayStation VR
    How Iron Man VR landed on PlayStation VR

    For Ryan Payton, the moment of truth is drawing near. A few years ago, he convinced Jay Ong, the head of Marvel Games, to entrust him with Iron Man.

    Payton’s studio, Camafloj, finally revealed what it was doing this week with Iron Man VR. They have been trying to perfect Iron Man’s flights of fancy in the three-dimensional spaces of virtual reality. I tried it out, and the experience is immersive. You point the PlayStation Move controllers, with your palms down and pressing buttons so that you can fire your thrusters and move upward in VR.

    You can point a palm at an enemy and fire your Repulsor Beams. The motions are a lot like the fantasy of being Iron Man, and that’s the way Payton wants it. I talked to him at a recent Sony event about making the Iron Man of his dreams and bringing it to the world. The game debuts in 2019 on PlayStation VR.

    Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

    Above: Ryan Payton is head of Camoflaj Studios in Seattle.

    Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

    GamesBeat: How did you get connected with Marvel?

    Ryan Payton: I was a journalist way back in the day. One of the folks I used to work with was Bryan Intihar, one of my best friends. Eventually, he became creative director on Spider-Man. Around the time they announced at E3 2016, he introduced me to Jay Ong, the head of Marvel Games, in the Marriott lobby, where all biz dev happens at E3. From there it was a snowball effect. I knew I’d love to work with Marvel and it seemed like they wanted to work with us on a VR game.

    One thing led to another, and next thing I knew we were working with Marvel on Iron Man VR. We eventually created a partnership with Sony, and they’ve been extremely supportive. They’ve always been about wanting to enable developers like Camouflaj to make not just an experimental game, but a full-fledged real game for PlayStation VR. That’s what we’ve been doing for the past two-and-a-half years.

    GamesBeat: What had you done before that? Have you done anything else in VR?

    Payton: Our first foray into VR was actually doing a VR port for our first game a company, which was called Republique. We did a game called Republique VR, which was a launch title for Oculus Go. We were working on that with a small team while the majority of the team — it’s a 50-plus person team up in Seattle — was working on Iron Man VR. If you include contract help at the moment, we’re well over 60 people on the game right now.

    GamesBeat: What sort of story did you come up with? Is it related to the movies?

    Payton: Iron Man VR is a completely original story, built from the ground up. We obviously take some inspiration from the comics of the films, but it’s an original story. That’s one of the things we first started off with, working with Bill Roseman, the creative director of Marvel Games. How can we create an

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  • PokerStars VR Adds Sit & Go Tournaments In Latest Update There are even more ways to play.
  • Nintendo Labo VR Will Support ‘Breath Of The Wild’ & ‘Mario Odyssey’

    Nintendo announces VR support for two of its biggest properties. In a video released yesterday via the official Nintendo Twitter account, the company announced that support for Nintendo Labo VR would be heading to both Super Mario Odyssey and Zelda: Breath of the Wild in the form of a free update April 25th, just two

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  • EGX Rezzed 2019: Great for Gamers, Just not VR Fans Lots going on but the VR content was sparse.
  • Ubisoft has Plenty of Updates Planned for Space Junkies, Including PlayStation Move Support There are plenty of features in development.
  • Here’s How You Set Up Guardian On Rift S And Oculus Quest, And What Happens After
    Here’s How You Set Up Guardian On Rift S And Oculus Quest, And What Happens After

    The lastest Public Test Channel release of the Oculus PC software adds driver and software support for the upcoming Oculus Rift S headset. By looking at the code, we can see the new Guardian setup process- as well as what happens after.

    Guardian is the boundary that keeps you from bumping into walls in VR. It marks the edges of your playspace in VR.

    Painting Lines In AR

    On the first Rift you set up Guardian before putting the headset on by walking around the room with a Touch controller. A top-down view of the boundary was shown on the monitor as you draw it.

    On Rift S and Quest this process is different with the onboard cameras. You now set up Guardian with the headset on. You see the real world in black & white and use your Touch controllers to point and “paint” the Guardian lines onto the real ground — essentially an augmented reality view:

    If you need to expand the boundary you don’t need to redraw. You can just draw another line outside the current lines and it will expand:

    Calibrating Floor Height

    To set the floor position on the original Rift, you entered your height and stood up straight. From your height and the headset location it calculated the floor position. This was done because in the default Rift sensor placement the sensors cannot see the floor.

    Since Rift S and Quest cameras can see the floor when you simply looking down, the floor height is now set by touching the controller to the ground:

    Passthrough Auto Activation

    The setup of Guardian is not the only change. When you move your head out of your Guardian area the headset will fade back into the black & white camera “passthrough” view, letting you see the wall or furniture you’re about to bump in to.

    This could increase situational awareness in VR and make room scale a safer experience.

    Introductory Tutorial

    When setup is complete, you’re taken to a new introductory experience for Rift S which explains the basics of VR and the Touch controls:

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  • Data Suggests Oculus Rift S IPD Range ‘Best’ For Around Half Of Adults
    oculus rift s

    Oculus Rift S uses a single display panel and fixed lenses. Unlike the original Rift and upcoming Oculus Quest, it does not feature mechanical lens separation adjustment.

    This means Facebook’s newly announced Rift S fits a smaller range of interpupillary distances (IPDs). Facebook confirmed to us the range of IPDs which “best” fit into the Rift S. By comparing this range with the largest publicly available dataset of IPDs we can find, we’ve gotten a picture of how many adults fit within it.

    What is IPD?

    IPD stands for InterPupillary Distance. It refers to the distance between the pupil of your left and right eye.

    Some VR headsets like the original Rift and HTC Vive allow you to mechanically adjust the distance between the lenses so they match (at least roughly) the distance between your eyes. Others have fixed lenses, like most Windows MR headsets and more than four million PSVR headsets sold so far.

    If a headset’s lens separation is too different from your IPD, research indicates some people could experience blur, eyestrain, distortion and it might even make some people feel sick. You would also see the virtual world at the wrong scale, but software IPD adjustment can compensate for that.

    Rift S IPD Range

    Facebook confirmed to us the range of lens separation adjustment for Quest is 58–72mm.

    For Rift S and Go, the lenses are fixed at 63.5mm. This means Quest is “Best for users between 56mm and 74mm” and Rift S and Go are “Best for users between 61.5 and 65.5mm,” according to Facebook.

    We looked up recorded IPD ranges to better understand how these headsets will fit the range of face shapes and sizes around the world. The largest public dataset with IPD measurements we know of is ANSUR II. ANSUR is a dataset collected by the US Army of 93 measures of over 6000 of their active and reservist personnel. One of those measures is interpupillary distance.

    Histogram from The OPEN Design Lab

    We downloaded the data and used it to show the “best” IPD fit of the Oculus headsets based on the percentage of the people in the dataset they cover. The median IPD is 63.5mm, but we should note IPD correlates with age and sex. The subjects of this dataset are all adults, so it is not representative of children. Also, because the dataset contains more men than women we separated it by gender:

    The data shows Quest’s mechanical IPD adjustment makes it “best” for 99% of men and 93% of women, but the fixed lenses of Rift S are “best” for just 46% of men and 43% of women.

    Design Trade-Offs

    A Facebook representative noted the provided range is just for the “best” experience, and offered the following:

    “Perception and comfort will vary person to person and depend on anatomy, and some people may have a higher tolerance for the experience (for example, if they fall outside ‘best’ range, they could still use and enjoy the headset).”

    We’ve spoken to people with IPDs outside the “best” range who tried the

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  • HTC Vive Celebrates Third Anniversary by Launching Viveport Video There are plenty of deals going on as well.
  • Falcon Age Offers Combat-Free Mode After Fan Request
    Falcon Age Offers Combat-Free Mode After Fan Request

    Here’s a cool little story for those that are more interested in experiencing VR than being challenged by it. Outerloop Games’ Falcon Age will feature a combat-free version of its campaign when it launches on PSVR next week.

    The developer revealed as much in a recent tweet. The team explained that, over the course of showing off the game at events in the past year, they’d noticed some players didn’t want to take part in the combat. In Falcon Age, you raise a loyal feathered companion and, eventually, take it into battle against a race of industrialized robots. However, since making these observations, Outer Loop has added in a version of the campaign where you don’t have to fight anyone.

    While showing the game off at events we noticed some players wanted to enjoy their time with the falcon, story, hunting, and crafting. We decided to add a mode that was combat optional called Imprint mode. Enemies don't see you or your falcon in this mode. #falconage pic.twitter.com/gDCeRjgGmT

    — Falcon Age out April 9th (@OuterloopGames) April 3, 2019

    Named Imprint Mode, this version of the game offers the full story, but enemies will never notice your presence in the world. If you still want to smash them to pieces then go ahead, but you won’t be under threat at all. And, yes, it will still be possible to get the game’s platinum trophy in this mode.

    It’s a nice touch, especially as VR looks to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Falcon Age, in particular, has always intrigued us more for the dynamic between player and companion than it has the more traditional gameplay, so we’re encouraged to see this mode added in. In a week in which the wider gaming community has been debating the prospect of Easy Modes in games that pride themselves on challenge, this deserves to be talked about.

    Falcon Age is out on April 9th. We’ll have a full review of the game next week.

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