• Editorial: Xbox Is Well-Poised To Dominate VR Next Generation
    Editorial: Xbox Is Well-Poised To Dominate VR Next Generation

    For years now, we’ve been waiting with bated breath to see if Xbox will throw its hat in the VR ring. Microsoft itself entered the market last year with a line of PC-based headsets developed with partners, but the Xbox One works with no VR headsets while Sony’s PlayStation 4 pairs with the PlayStation VR headset. This is despite Xbox boss Phil Spencer once saying the new Xbox One X console would be capable of “high fidelity VR”. This late in the game, it’s pretty much a certainty that Xbox won’t enter the VR fight this generation.

    But what about the next one?

    The PS5 and next Xbox are looming in the shadows right now; Spencer confirmed work had begun on “the next Xbox consoles” at E3 this year, while Sony’s plans to skip next year’s show seem to suggest something big is on the way. We’ve spent quite a bit of time dreaming up what a potential PSVR 2 on PS5 could look like, but, the more we look at Microsoft’s side of the console wars, the more the stars seem to align on a killer Xbox VR headset. Here’s why.

    The Technical Foundations Are In Place

    True, Microsoft may not have a consumer VR headset to truly call its own, but the Windows-based devices from Dell, Samsung and others are all based on a reference design it created. This design offers solid inside-out tracking, meaning users don’t have to set up external sensors in order to have positional tracking in VR. In fact, we liked the Samsung Odyssey VR headset so much we awarded it our Best VR Hardware prize last year.

    That’s a good start, but it’s also important to remember that any potential Xbox VR headset is likely still years out. That’ll mean big improvements on current headsets like increased display resolution and field of view are even more viable for the kit, as is potential integrated wireless support. Back in 2017, Microsoft representatives said they believe console VR should be wireless.

    The technical specifications of the next Xbox will also play an important role in the quality of a VR experience, though. Sony’s PSVR has a lot of great internally-developed games but some third-party titles like Arizona Sunshine and others had to make clear cutbacks to fit onto the PS4 hardware. Other major games like Fallout 4 VR and L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files, meanwhile, simply haven’t come to the system. That’s why it’s important for both the next Xbox (and the next PlayStation) to surpass current PC systems and ensure they can keep up with the next generation of VR. With any luck, Microsoft is building its next consoles with that in mind.

    Microsoft Just Bought Some Of VR’s Best Developers

    Back at E3 2018, Microsoft announced that it was acquiring Hellblade developer Ninja Theory. Big news for the wider gaming industry for sure, but also an interesting development for VR. At the time, the UK-based developer had released one VR game, a likable on-rails shooter named Dexed. But, post-acquisition news, Ninja

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  • VR Horror Paper Dolls to See EU Retail Release in December This continues Perp Games' rollout of PlayStation VR titles in stores.
  • Limina VR Weekender Comes To London Next Month
    Limina VR Weekender Comes To London Next Month

    There’s an intriguing new VR festival in town for London VR enthusiasts (or anyone else) next week.

    The Limina VR Weekender is set to run on Decembers 1st and 2nd (a Saturday and Sunday) at the Picturehouse Central near Piccadilly Circus. This isn’t your usual assortment of Superhot VR and Arizona Sunshine demos; it’s a VR arts festival that will shine an entirely different light on what the tech is capable of.

    The festival includes three different playlists of VR experiences, each focusing on different themes. For The Wild, you’ll explore nature in an entirely new way with films like Longing for Wilderness, Sanctuaries of Silence, Wilderness: An Immersive Journey Into Patagonia and The 500. Future and Fantasy, meanwhile, will give you a window into tomorrow with I Saw The Future, Celestial Motion and Fantasynth. Finally, Begin Again takes a look at people starting over with Step to The Line, Sea Prayer and the astonishing Grenfell: Our Home.

    Tickets are £10 and spots have to be booked ahead of time. If you’re at all interested in VR outside of gaming you should definitely give it a look.

    Tagged with: Limina VR Weekender

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  • Interactive Live-Action VR Film Afterlife Coming in 2019 It'll support Oculus headsets at launch.
  • Underground Survival Experience Echoes VR is Heading to Kickstarter The funding campaign is due to launch next week.
  • Precision OS Secures $2.3 Million Investment for VR Orthopedic Surgical Education The software allows practising surgeons to perform simulated medical procedures.
  • Preview: Arca’s Path – Marble Madness Rolls into VR Dream Reality Interactive’s first VR title pays homage to classic ball-based platformers.
  • VR Porn is cheaper than ever so don’t miss this deal! Not all VR Porn is created equal, and to access the best content available on your VR headset you're going to end up paying for it. That's because when it comes to VR porn you're going to want the highest quality possible beamed directly at your eyes. With that in mind, we've got the deal for you because BaDoink VR is running a Black Friday deal you don't want to miss! A 30-day subscription to BaDoink is usually available for $35.45, but today that same subscription is available for just $5.95! That's an 80% savings on the usual price, and if after 30 days you don't want to keep that subscription you can drop it without any issues. If you already know that BaDoink VR is the service you plan on getting your VR Porn from in the conceivable future you can also pick up a yearly membership with a 45% savings this weekend!...
  • Somersaults and Sideflips Are Coming to Action FPS Sairento VR The update is reportedly 'coming soon'.
  • Scraper: First Strike Review – Wave Shooter Hidden Under the Promise Of An RPG
    Scraper: First Strike Review – Wave Shooter Hidden Under the Promise Of An RPG

    In Scraper: First Strike you take on the role of mute protagonist Casey Maxwell, a hoverpod pilot who is relentlessly called upon to serve the plot for no other reason than, “You’re our only hope!” As such, you’re thrown from objective to objective without much of a motivation other than being told to do so. The narrative context boils down to these robots are bad, and we’re good, so we’re here to stop them. And you never get secondhand insight into Maxwell’s perspective other than him being a ragdoll for the plot. The few NPC characters you meet only appear to serve binary roles that motion you to move from one rote task to another with no additional interactivity, which would be fine if they were dynamic and appeared frequently enough to make you care about them. But they aren’t and they don’t. As a result, not once do you truly feel like the world comes together as a believable place, which is even more noticeable in VR.

    With a beginning that directly drops you into the center of its narrative, both literally (you land on a dropship) and conceptually, it’s beyond difficult to identify with the world or its conflicts. Even past the cliffhanger ending, the story simply does not pick up in time for its beats to impart anything resembling an emotional or intellectual impact. Its heroes are heroes for no other reason than the plot commands it, and its villains are equally trite. Meanwhile it constantly refers back to, and doggedly expects you to have read through Scraper: The Rise of Cifer, the full-length prequel novel written by Ryder Wyndham; where virtually all of the game’s world-building has been swept into.

    And while Scraper does offer a codex and conveniently scattered bits of lore at different terminals, they do not add up to more than pieces of forgettable flavor text where the vast majority of players will have no tangible narrative foundation to build upon.

    Unfortunately, Scraper’s lack of a compelling story is not eased nor forgiven by its presentation.

    You play the game from inside of your hoverpod, which is essentially a moving chair with a window that everything important happens outside of. And instead of feeling like you’re maneuvering a vehicle, handling the hoverpod feels far more like you’re playing a regular 2D game with the added benefit of being able to swivel your head around and see outside.

    You use your thumbsticks to move around and while the comfort options are robust, Scraper can’t seem to decide whether you need to be in VR or not. Unlike a game which does vehicle controls much more decisively — such as Vox Machinae with its fully physicalized steering and acceleration toggles — Scraper posits a glaring identity issue that gets directly in the way of its own design.

    At best, the auxiliary control functions within the hoverpod’s cockpit allow you to access user-interface implements like inventory menus and tooltips that you can grab and move around — on the rare occasions you

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  • Blizzard Rumoured to be Developing a Warcraft version of Pokémon Go It seems AR gaming might be catching on.
  • Game of Thrones Author: Current VR Is ‘Like The Theater Before Shakespeare’
    Game of Thrones Author: Current VR Is ‘Like The Theater Before Shakespeare’

    Game of Thrones is coming back soon-ish! Yay! But before we return to the world of Westeros and Essos, author George R. R. Martin has another universe for us to check out, and you can do so in VR.

    Syfy just launched a series of 360-degree tie-in videos to its new series, Nightflyers, which is based on a sci-fi horror novella written by Martin and released all the way back in 1980. Written and directed by showrunner and executive producer Jeff Buhler, the series consists of three videos that focus on different characters and elements of the world.

    Sadly, Syfy is one of the rare YouTube channels that blocks its content based on location, so you may not be able to watch if you’re outside the US. Otherwise, you can grab your VR headset (now including Oculus Go), boot up YouTube and you’re away.

    In fact, Martin himself spoke a little about VR to Syfy, saying he loved the tech but was waiting for it to evolve. “The technology is not mature and we haven’t really figured out how to tell stories for it,” he said, “but I think, 20 years from now, 30 years from now, maybe sooner, it may replace television and film and other things as a totally immersive sort of art form that you can, not only, you know, like read a book or watch a television show, but you can live an adventure.”

    He spoke of a possible future in which an audience immerses itself in and interacts with a world and maybe even affects the outcome of a story. “But I think we may be like the theater before Shakespeare, you know?” Martin continued. “There were plays before Shakespeare, but it was the Elizabethan theatre that really made the theatre come alive. And of course, movies began with little, real things of trains arriving at the station and then eventually we got up to Star Wars.”

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  • Oculus Made It Easier For Unity Devs To Port Rift Games To HTC Vive
    Oculus Made It Easier For Unity Devs To Port Rift Games To HTC Vive

    Facebook’s Oculus released a new update to its Unity integration package to make it easier for developers of Rift-only games to port to HTC Vive. The new “cross-platform development support” was added in version 1.31.0. The release notes state that this is an experimental feature, and that it “may change or be removed”.

    The Situation Until Now

    What makes modern game engines like Unity so useful for both developers and end users is that they support many platforms with the same project and code — eliminating development time to “port” a game from one platform to the other. The lofty goal of Unity is to let you focus on actually making your game and let the engine itself worry about platform differences.

    However in reality, things aren’t quite so simple — especially in the VR space. Unity supports the Oculus API and SteamVR API with no effort from the developer required, but this support is fairly limited to essential features. So Oculus and Valve each provide Unity packages on top of these APIs — the Oculus Integration and SteamVR Plugin. These packages contain scripts, prefabs, resources, example scenes, and extra APIs to allow developers to have more than just the barebones VR support that Unity’s engine provides.

    The problem is, the SteamVR Plugin does not directly support the Oculus API, and Oculus Store requires submissions to have direct Oculus API support to be approved. If a developer wanted to release on the Oculus Store for Rift and Steam for Rift and HTC Vive, they had to use both packages, or the generic Unity XR framework which is generally considered inferior to both. Using both packages takes extra development time and adds extra complexity to the project.

    The New Update

    The change in the new Oculus Integration release is that its core features now support the SteamVR API, instead of just the Rift’s Oculus API. From a development perspective nothing changes except that these prefabs and APIs will set and return values for a HTC Vive instead of just for a Rift.

    The features supported so far are:

    Camera: the OVRCameraRig prefab used to handle the virtual cameras for the user’s eyes and gameobjects for the user’s controllers fully supports the HTC Vive

    Tracking: the API calls to get the velocity or angular velocity of the headset will work for HTC Vive

    Input: the API calls to get the button states, thumbstick positions, and trigger depression of the Touch controllers – for HTC controllers the trackpad is treated like a thumbstick, and the app button (above the trackpad) is treated like the top Y/B buttons on Touch (controls mapped to the A or X button need to be changed)

    Haptics: the same APIs for haptic feedback on Touch now works on HTC controllers

    Guardian/Chaperone: the API to retrieve the user’s Guardian boundary and playspace will for HTC Vive users retrieve the Chaperone boundary and playspace

    Avatars: Oculus Avatars will work on SteamVR, but non-Oculus users will have to select from a predefined list instead of creating their own (this was actually enabled a while

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  • Oculus Rift+Touch For $315 / Oculus Go For $162 Via Black Friday Friend Referral
    Oculus Rift+Touch For $315 / Oculus Go For $162 Via Black Friday Friend Referral

    UPDATE: the friend referring does not need to own the specific headset you are buying

    If anyone you know has an Oculus headset, you can currently get an Oculus Rift for just $314.10 or Oculus Go for just $161.10. The Go price is USA-only, but the Rift price can be attained in any of the 22 countries the Rift ships to.

    How? Facebook’s Oculus is currently running a Black Friday sale on Rift and Go, bringing the prices down to $349 and $179 respectively. That’s a good deal already, but recently Oculus also added a 10% off referral program for Rift and Go.

    The good news? They stack. That’s right, the Black Friday discount and 10% off from referral can both apply together, bringing the prices down to $314.10 and $161.10 respectively.

    So how does it work? All you need is someone in the US who already owns an Oculus headset. This could be a a real life friend, or just that person from a Discord you’re in who always talks about their shiny new VR headset. Tell them to sign in to this page on the Oculus website, select the headset you want from the dropdown list, enter your email address, and click send. The person referring can do this up to 3 times.

    You’ll then receive an email with a 25-character promo code. Simply expand the ‘Have a promo Code?’ box in the top right of the basket and paste in the promo code you received. You should then see 10% off applied on top of the current Black Friday discount.

    As stated above, Go referral codes are strictly USA-only, but the Rift codes will work for any of the 22 countries which Facebook ships the Rift to. The person sending the referral code however has to be in the USA, or at least have a US IP address. That means Europeans can get a Rift for €359.10, Canadians for C$404.10, and Australians for AU$476.10. All you need is a friend in the US with a Rift.

    This is the lowest price the Rift and Go have ever been sold at. Amazon sold the Rift for $399 with a $100 Amazon Gift Card on Prime Day in 2017, but that lasted for only an hour or so. The Black Friday weekend deal ends on Monday, so you’ll need to take advantage of this double deal before then if you want these prices. We highly recommend that you do so.

    Tagged with: Black Friday, oculus, Oculus Go, oculus rift, VR sales

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  • Resolution Games’ Narrows Lands On Oculus Go And Gear VR
    Resolution Games’ Narrows Lands On Oculus Go And Gear VR

    Resolution Games’ most recent VR adventure, Narrows, is making the jump from Daydream to Oculus Go and Gear VR.

    Narrows is a swashbuckling pirate game fitted with several minigames. You’ll take on enemy ships with the command of canons, stop rival fiends coming aboard with your sword and plot a course across the seas with a giant map. As you gather loot you’ll be able to customize your ship in an effort to become the true scourge of the seas. The game originally launched on Daydream earlier this year. We’ve always thought it was pretty neat.

    The news comes shortly after Resolution Games announced that it has raised $7.5 million in a recent round of funding. The company is set to use the money to expand its efforts in both VR and AR, which include the recently-released Angry Birds game on Magic Leap and the popular VR fishing game, Bait!.

    Narrows, meanwhile, costs a modest $8.99.

    We’re looking forward to seeing what the studio cooks up next.

    Tagged with: Narrows

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