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  • VR Can Help You Learn How to Drum

    The evolving role of VR in streaming, music, and the craft of percussion. It may seem like no surprise that music—in the form of creation tools, rhythm games, mind-bending visualizations, and virtual performance venues—have intersected with virtual reality (VR) in a large way. Rhythm game titles like Beat Saber and Audio Shield have adherents that

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  • Feed an Emotional Fish in Tender Claws’ First AR Game Tendar It's all about feeding a fish facial expressions - sort of.
  • Cyan Ventures Will Publish VR Narrative Game Zed
    Cyan Ventures Will Publish VR Narrative Game Zed

    Myst and Riven publisher Cyan has shifted into virtual reality games, and it is moving further in that direction as the publisher of an externally produced VR game dubbed Zed.

    The Spokane, Washington-based Cyan has started a new publishing label, Cyan Ventures, to launch games that can foster creative narratives in VR and publish new titles by indie developers. The game is targeted for the PC as well as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets in the spring of 2019

    The move is part of Cyan’s ambition to exploit the new medium of VR to make storytelling games more interactive and immersive.

    “Like with Myst, we know we are on the edge of something,” said Rand Miller, CEO of Cyan, in an interview with GamesBeat. “VR has a magical feel, where it takes you to another place. It still feels like we need to push it forward. We are saying let’s take the ball and help define this medium.”

    Above: Zed is gathering memories for Charlotte.

    Image Credit: Eagre/Cyan

    Zed is from Eagre Games, which Chuck Carter leads. He is one of the world-building artists who contributed to Cyan’s early games, The Manhole and Myst. He was at Cyan in the early 1990s. He left to work at various publishers such as Activision and Electronic Arts.

    Carter worked on games such as Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun, Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun Firestorm, Emperor: Battle for Dune, Command and Conquer: Yuri’s Revenge and Red Alert 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Snoopy Vs. Red Baron, and Pac-Man World Rally.

    About four years ago, he started his own company. He pivoted through some ideas and then began working on Zed. Eagre partnered with Sky Map Games in New Hampshire on Zed.

    “It is very much designed to work in VR, and the expertise we are getting from Cyan is a good fit,” said Carter, in an interview. “The journey has been a bit long. I tried with others, but felt Cyan was a much better fit and I am thrilled to be working with Rand again.”

    Miller said the experimental nature of Zed, and Carter’s focus on building an immersive 3D world, was interesting. The game will work on Windows PCs, but it is very much designed for VR, Carter said.

    “This is more than an indie game experience,” Miller said. “I love making worlds. This is what we do.”

    Above: Can you repair a crumbling memory in Zed?

    Image Credit: Eagre Games/Cyan

    Zed is the story of a man dying of dementia, desperately trying to reconnect broken memories to make a children’s book to leave behind for his yet unborn granddaughter, Charlotte. The experience is a blend of adventure game, narrative storytelling, moving sentiment, and fanciful world exploration.

    Zed will put the user into the jumbled geography of a man’s crumbling memory in hopes of assembling enough meaningful images to create a book as a loving memento and final legacy to be remembered by. (Eagre is creating an actual children’s book to go with the game).

    “We are trying to put you into the world and the mind of this man,” Carter said. “I don’t think we have seen anything like this in

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  • Sony Won’t Have a PlayStation Stand at E3 2019 This may have a heavy effect on VR at the event.
  • HTC Accepting Vive Wireless Adapter Returns From AMD Ryzen Owners
    HTC Accepting Vive Wireless Adapter Returns From AMD Rhyzen Owners

    A note from the HTC Vive team says the company will begin accepting returns for the Vive Wireless Adapter for “Ryzen-related” reasons.

    That means if you are a buyer who is experiencing problems with the adapter using it with AMD Ryzen processor inside their PC, you should probably check out the “customer return process” on the Vive website. Here’s the note:

    We have seen and are actively looking into multiple reports of Ryzen incompatibility with Vive Wireless Adapter. Our current data shows this is occurring with a subset of Ryzen-based PCs. Our investigation will take time as we are working with multiple component manufacturers to identify the root cause.

    We will update the community as we learn more.

    In the near term, we are updating our specifications to show that certain Ryzen PCs have a compatibility issue.

    In addition, starting, 11/19, our customer service agents will honor Ryzen-related returns from our retail partners and vive.com outside of typical return windows.

     

    Tagged with: htc vive

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  • Magic Leap Details Grant Program For Indie App Developers
    Magic Leap Details Grant Program For Indie App Developers

    Magic Leap outed its Magic Leap One Creator Edition augmented reality glasses in a big way last month at its Magic Leap L.E.A.P. conference in Los Angeles, and today the company is announcing details of its independent creator funding program.

    Rio Caraeff, chief content officer at Plantation, Florida-based Magic Leap, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the global Magic Leap Independent Creator Program will focus on independent developers who head teams that are less than 10 or 20 people.

    These individual creators can apply for project grants ranging in size from $20,000 to $500,000 per team during the next 30 days. Magic Leap will screen the applications and decide how much to give in terms of hardware, financial support, marketing, or development and engineering assistance.

    Above: Rio Caraeff is chief content officer at Magic Leap.

    Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

    “We are not asking for any exclusivity at all,” Caraeff said, echoing the theme that the company wants its platform to be diverse and open. “The only obligation is that they ship something to the Magic Leap World Store within a certain time frame.”

    Caraeff said he is not saying an exact number for how much the company will spend overall on the program. When pressed, he said it will be more than eight figures, or more than $10 million, on the cash contribution part of the program itself. That doesn’t include the other in-kind contributions.

    Developers have to articulate their pitch for an app that makes use of the uniqueness of the Magic Leap glasses, which can overlay digital animations and imagery on top of the real world.

    Above: Mica is a digital human demo for the Magic Leap One.

    Image Credit: Magic Leap

    “The criteria for being selected varies,” Caraeff said. “It’s about those ideas that emphasize what is unique about the platform. Factors will include originality, diversity, make up of the team, different industries and categories. We’d love to see game ideas but it’s about everything.”

    An internal review team will look at the pitches and decide. The first deadline is December 15, but Caraeff said they will hold subsequent “classes” for developers who aren’t in the first batch of approved projects.

    Above: Sennheiser and Magic Leap One

    Image Credit: Sennheiser

    Magic Leap needs the creativity of small developers and lone creators to come up with the new ways of using spatial computing that the bigger companies might never dream about.

    He said that games would be important to the platform, as they are on every successful new technology. Magic Leap created demos like the digital human, MICA, to inspire developers to shoot high. But it also wants to take in the feedback and designs that those developers can offer.

    This post by Dean Takahashi originally appeared on VentureBeat. 

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  • The Biggest VR Releases Of The Week Of 11/11/18
    The Biggest VR Releases Of The Week Of 11/11/18

    November, as a whole, is really shaping up to be a big month for new VR releases. There have been some solid new games and plenty of surprising new experience apps to try.

    If you’re playing catch up, you can check out last week’s list here and our full list of everything dropping in November right here.

    Crow: The Legend, from Baobab
    Price: Free (Rift, Go, Gear VR)

    Synopsis from our review:

    A lot of people talk about how VR is an empathy machine, but when the snow comes and you just made life harder for a bunch of cute little animals it can force you to feel not just for them but the seasons themselves. I found it so much fun to change the seasons, do you think that’s why the seasons change? I felt that question while wearing the headset, but it wasn’t until writing this article I figured out how to put it into words.

    Therein is the true magic of Crow: The Legend.

    Runes: The Forgotten Path, from StormBorn Studio
    Price: $24.99 (Rift, Vive, Windows VR)

    Were a fan of The Wizards? Then you’re probably gonna dig Runes: The Forgotten Path. Similarly, it’s a single-player magical action adventure game. One thing that sets Runes apart from other games of this type though is that it’s more heavily based on hand movements creating “runes” than others.

    You can read our old preview from mid-last year here.

    Age of Sail, from Google Spotlight Stories
    Price: Free (Rift, Vive)

    Synopsis from our review:

    Directed by Oscar-winner, John Kahrs, Age of Sail is a 12 minute VR short that you can see as a 2D movie or inside a mobile VR headset, but it’s best viewed via a Steam download on Rift and Vive. It’s a piece about the changing of the guard and finding a place for yourself in the new world, two topics that it explores with an on-the-nose metaphor and a touch of warming affection.

    Megalith Beta, from Disruptive Games
    Price: Free (PSVR)

    Megalith is now available for free in Open Beta for everyone with a PSVR. You can download it right now from the PSN Store. The beta period is expected to last for “a couple months” and will contain access to two of the five planned “Titans” or hero characters. Every week the rotation of access will change so that all Open Beta players have access to the same assortment at any given time.

    Read more in our our preview.

    Echo VR, from Ready at Dawn
    Price: $9.99 (Rift)

    Echo Combat provides a new twist on the zero-gravity gameplay first seen in Echo Arena and Lone Echo. You’ll take part in online battles in which you’ll seek to gun down other players as you throw yourself across arenas, protecting objectives and looking to destroy enemy targets.

    The game’s going to launch with an assortment of new maps and weapons. Oculus also revealed that it’s bumping team sizes from 3v3 to 4v4 and confirmed that the game will feature a new progression system in which you’ll gain experience in public matches to unlock new cosmetic customization options. Oculus says Ready At Dawn will continue to support the game

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  • 10 Best Mods And Custom Maps For Pavlov VR
    10 Best Mods And Custom Maps For Pavlov VR Shooter

    Pavlov VR continues to provide the quintessential FPS experience for players who want frantic, classic game types such as Team Deathmatch and Search & Destroy in a modern-day military setting. While not as hair-raisingly intense or competitive as its distant cousin — Onward, which it is so often compared to — it does constitute a fluid, fun FPS for both friends and competitors alike.

    Hearkening back to the mechanically creative attitude of Garry’s Mod, Pavlov VR also stands out for its open support of user-made maps and mods; some of which have introduced features such as day/night cycles and entirely new game modes. Furthermore, if you do decide to check out Pavlov VR for its asking price of $9.99 on Steam, then the following is a list of mods that you absolutely should not miss out on.

    Dust 2

    A classic map from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dust 2 fits perfectly into Pavlov VR’s gameplay pacing — which is not conceptually different from Counter-Strike’s pacing at all. This isn’t just a fantastic port, it’s also a fantastic first map for new players to learn Pavlov’s mechanics in. As in the original Dust 2 map, this Pavlov VR iteration is set up with the game’s bomb-defusing Search & Destroy mode in mind.

    Office HQ

    Another instantly recognizable classic from Counter-Strike, the Office HQ is a decently large map that’s versatile and perfect for any of Pavlov’s game modes. Its contrast of open horizontal space cut off by long hallways that are compromised by weaving office boardrooms leave plenty of opportunity for different kinds of play. This makes it a heavily balanced map for competitive players to round off in.

    Facility

    Ported in as a classic map from Rare’s GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64, Facility is a series of tightly woven corridors and shooting galleries that make for intense door-to-door skirmishes. It’s bananas to get a full room of people into this map for a free-for-all Deathmatch, since the bullets don’t really stop flying until the match is over. A word of warning: spend very little time in the central hallway or on the stairs. As other players spawn in small rooms adjacent to those primary thoroughfares, it’s easy to get caught in crossfire from all directions if you’re out in the open for too long.

    Ziba Tower

    Ziba Tower is another ported map, this time from Battlefield 3. Unlike many other maps in Pavlov VR, the Ziba Tower penthouse feels exceptionally clean with attention paid to small aesthetic details. It even has multiple swimming pools for you to dip your feet into. In contrast to Facility, Ziba Tower is much more spacious and can feel quite lonely without a full lobby of players or AI bots. Granted, I particularly enjoy Ziba Tower’s use of vertical space — making for really interesting Team Deathmatch sessions rife with tactical firefights between vantage points.

    Practice Range

    The Practice Range is perfect for new players who want to try out all of Pavlov VR’s weapons without feeling the pressure of enemies firing back. Even as an

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  • Preview: Singularity5 – Glossy Exterior Hides a Hollow Core Has that tech demo air to it needs more substance.
  • ‘Ralph Breaks VR’ Hyper-Reality Experience Is An All-Out Assault On Your Senses

    Break into the internet in the latest location-based VR experience from ILMxLAB & The VOID.  A direct tie-in to Ralph Breaks the Internet, the sequel to Disney Animation Studios’ 2012 smash-hit, Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph Breaks VR will be available at select VOID Experience Centers beginning November 21st. Developed in collaboration with ILMxLAB, The VOID, and Walt

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  • Oculus Is Now A Division Of Facebook Technologies
    Oculus Is Now A Division Of Facebook Technologies

    Oculus VR LLC is no more.

    The company which was started in 2012 by Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Nate Mitchell and others is now part of ‘Facebook Technologies LLC’, a subsidiary of Facebook which handles hardware efforts, including Oculus and Portal, Facebook’s new video calling displays.

    The change “went into effect” in September of this year, according to Facebook. The 5th Oculus Connect VR developer conference was held Sept. 26 and 27 with no on-stage appearances by the founders of the startup, which was bought by Facebook in 2014. A few weeks later, word leaked of a restructuring that apparently included former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe departing the team.

    Facebook issued the following statement to us this week:

    “This is an update to the legal name and as you said, Oculus remains a division of Facebook Technologies. There’s no change or impact on the Oculus brand or business. This update gives us a single legal entity that can support multiple Facebook technology and hardware products, including Portal and Oculus. It went into effect in September, ahead of the Portal launch.”

    In its Q3 2018 earnings call, Facebook’s CFO listed VR & AR as one of the reasons why they expect to spend 40% – 50% more in 2019 than they did in 2018.

    The absorption of Oculus more deeply into Facebook is not a surprise. Here’s a rough timeline outlining the process:

    Mid 2016: ‘Oculus from Facebook’ branding introduced.

    Late 2016: Facebook removes CEO role from Oculus and announces the hiring of Hugo Barra in early 2017 to run VR efforts.

    April 2017: Facebook becomes the default account system when setting up an Oculus headset.

    May 2018: Oculus Research is rebranded as ‘Facebook Reality Labs’.

    September 2018: Oculus becomes a division of Facebook Technologies.

    Before the Oculus acquisition, Facebook had a reputation for giving acquired companies unprecedented autonomy relative to other tech giants. While Instagram and WhatsApp’s founders recently resigned, both companies still exist as independent legal entities as subsidiaries, not divisions. So why treat VR differently? Our best guess is that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees VR & AR as core to Facebook’s future as a company and he wants tighter control.

    It’s important to note that Facebook hasn’t made any changes to the Oculus account system. A Facebook account is still not required to use Oculus headsets.

    Tagged with: facebook, facebook technologies, mark zuckerberg, oculus

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  • Editorial: Why PSVR’s Current Library Is An Investment Towards PSVR 2
    Editorial: Why PSVR’s Current Library Is An Investment Towards PSVR 2

    Update (11/16/18): After seeing the rumors about the PSVR 2 today, we decided to republish this editorial that explores how the existing PSVR library could be greatly enhanced by updated hardware.

    Original (02/26/18): Apex Construct’s release this week once again brought about a recurring topic in its reviews: PlayStation VR’s limited tracking and Move controllers restrict what is an otherwise great experience. The 180-degree tracking makes traversing an entire virtual world much more finicky than it should be and the lack of analog sticks on the controllers make locomotion a hassle. It’s an unfortunate reality that many of us have learned to live with so as to enjoy otherwise incredible experiences like Skyrim VR.

    But, as frustrating as these issues can be, they also make me very, very excited for the future of PSVR.

    Every VR game out there right now is going to benefit from better headsets; this much is obvious. The Vive Pro demonstrates that we’ll soon be enjoying the same great content with much crisper visuals that keep us better immersed in the worlds we’re exploring. But PSVR is a special case because the room for improvement with Sony’s headset is so massive that we’re foaming at the mouth thinking about playing the VR games we already have today in three to five year’s time.

    Why? Well, on the surface, there’s the very simple stuff. Presumably, PSVR 2 would be a headset that works with a hypothetical successor to the PS4 and PS4 Pro: PS5. That’s a huge benefit right from the off; PS4’s limited processing power has been a sore point for developers porting Rift and Vive games to the platform but, should PS5 be backwards compatible, teams could have an easier time bringing their console ports up to standard with the PC version thanks to increased horsepower (even the PS4 Pro gives developers a lot more to work with, but games have to support the standard PS4 too). No more blurry textures in Arizona Sunshine, for example, or perhaps a little less pop-in in Apex Construct.

    Then there’s the basic specs of hardware itself. You’d have to assume PSVR 2’s display will be a significant bump up from the original’s functional if dated 1080p OLED screen. The further out the headset is the more viable it is that we could get a 3K or maybe even (if we’re really lucky) a 4K display fitted into the device. From day one, then, we can revisit worlds like Skyrim and Resident Evil 7 and feel much more immersed from a purely visual perspective.

    More than any other aspect, though, it’s controllers and tracking that stand to benefit the most from the hardware upgrade. With some fine-tuning, you can get a pretty good setup for PSVR right now but you still won’t be able to turn around when using the Move controllers (the camera can’t track what it can’t see) and you’ll still experience some drift even when you’re not moving. It’s also all too easy to move outside of the camera’s field of

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  • Developers Can Apply for Grants up to $500,000 Through Magic Leap’s Independent Creator Program There are 29 days left to apply.
  • Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Mobile-Based AR Game Is Launching In 2019
    Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Mobile-Based AR Game Is Launching In 2019

    Pokémon GO developers Niantic have this week confirmed that their Harry Potter themed smartphone AR game is launching some time in 2019. The game was first announced a year ago, with the release year originally stated as 2018. The game is being jointly developed with Warner Bros’ Portkey Games subsidiary, which developed the official Harry Potter mobile game, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.

    Pokémon GO, launched in 2016, is the most successful AR game of all-time. According to market research firm Apptopia, the game has over 50 million players and made over $2 billion in revenue.

    Just like Pokémon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite uses the phone’s GPS to overlay creatures on a stylized map of the real world, which the player must physically traverse. This time however the creatures are the ‘fantastic beasts’ and lively characters of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.

    The cryptic website of the game describes:

    Please resist the urge to panic. Traces of magic are appearing across the Muggle world without warning and in a rather chaotic manner. We worry it is only a matter of time before even the most incurious Muggles catch wind of it. We call on all witches and wizards to help contain the Calamity or risk the worst of times since You Know Who. Brush up on your spells, get your wand ready, and enlist immediately.

    This suggests that the game will follow the story of the Fantastic Beasts spin-off series of the Harry Potter universe, which is set in real world cities where magical creatures have gotten loose. With the second Fantastic Beats film launching today and a third scheduled for 2020, the AR game could see huge popularity, perhaps even rivaling that of Pokémon GO itself.

    Tagged with: ar, harry potter, niantic, pokemon go, Wizards Unite

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  • Editorial: It’s Time To Stop Punishing Devs For Not Including Smooth Locomotion
    Editorial: It’s Time To Stop Punishing Devs For Not Including Smooth Locomotion

    Deracine, From Software’s VR debut, came out last week and I really, really like it. For From, it’s a typically weird but also fascinatingly experimental game. Most importantly, though, it feels like something that’s genuinely enhanced by VR, scratching at substance that will one day separate this medium from the rest. In my review, I tried to articulate that in the hopes that people might look past that most mundane of complaints: that the game doesn’t have smooth locomotion.

    No such luck.

    If there’s been one trend that’s been bothering me since the rise of consumer VR, it’s the increasingly dismissive attitude of a strand of ‘elite’ VR gamers that stubbornly refuse to buy anything that doesn’t include the ability to freely walk around. Many VR games feature a teleportation system that helps people who get motion sickness keep their food in their stomachs, but it admittedly doesn’t always provide the most immersive experience. Some games also offer a movement mode more recognizable to traditional gamers which probably won’t be comfortable for a lot of players. For some, it’s the closest some can get to being fully immersed in home-based VR right now, though it’s far from seamless.

    It doesn’t matter how much spit n’ shine you’ve put into the rest of the game; if you haven’t included this one feature, your guaranteed online reaction is going to be a brick wall of navel-gazing snobbery.

    This is, quite frankly, laughably counterproductive. I understand the desire for smooth locomotion in VR gaming; it’s my preferred choice when made available, but it’s rarely been a deal-breaker. In fact, I’d argue that only allowing you to visit set points makes Deracine a more focused, concise experience. There are instances where the opposite is true (I think PSVR’s Blood & Truth could definitely benefit from free movement, for example), but that doesn’t instantly outweigh all of the other positives that a game has going for it. We need to start honing in more on a developer’s successes irrespective of how we move around in their worlds.

    Put yourself in From’s shoes. This is the developer of one of the most acclaimed action series in the gaming industry. It didn’t have to make Deracine; it could have just as easily devoted those efforts to speeding up the development of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and there’s a good chance it could have been better off for it. But you take a risk and you make something for this niche community that’s constantly calling out for bigger developers to make richer experiences on the platform.

    You polish the game to a level of visuals rarely seen in VR and you work on engaging interactions with characters that just wouldn’t have the same impact on a standard screen. You might have even broken a little new ground. But the people that ‘care’ about VR don’t care about all of that, and they don’t care your game because you didn’t include this one feature. How silly are you?

    If that was me? I wouldn’t exactly be

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