News

  • Viveport Offering Five Games for £1 Each to Subscription Members Be quick, there are a limited number of each title.
  • Delve Into the World of Candytopia With Augmently’s new AR App About as sweet an AR app as you can get.
  • The Quest From Rift To Go: How These VR Devs Are Making Their Games Future-Proof
    The Quest From Rift To Go: How These VR Devs Are Making Their Games Future-Proof

    Releasing today, Voronium – Locust Sols is a pretty fun VR game. It’s a tower-defense experience with a strategic twist, letting you operate powerful turrets and fight back against hordes of spider-like bots. But what’s perhaps most interesting about the game from Gamalocus Studios is the platforms it’s appearing on.

    Voronium is first designed to run on the most powerful, high-end VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows VR headsets, where you can enjoy a full six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking for your head and hands. But Gamalocus’ Alexander Ribin also tells me the team has been busy prepping the game for the new wave of VR headsets, standalone devices like the Oculus Go and Oculus Quest that might not be as powerful or feature-complete as their PC brethren but offer a faster, more accessible and affordable way to get into VR. In short, Gamalocus thinks its cracked the code to cater to every type of VR player.

    “Our strategy was to make the game first for the Rift/Vive, but to use our coding skills and understanding to write it fairly efficiently,” Ribin tells me. The developer recently gave a talk about getting Voronium across the wide range of VR headsets, some slides of which are included in this article, but Ribin also explained some of the key tips and tricks to me.

    For starters, the team created stylized landscapes that were low on polygons and thus less resource intensive. This was achieved using something called the Voronoi algorithm (which explains the game’s name), which splits up the game world into different sites. “Another trick was to balance wisely between Blueprints and C++ code – all our main blueprints are inheriting from C++ classes, so we move to C++ only the very taxing functions, so we have the best balance between development speed and performance,” Ribin says.

    Crucially, though, the developer is making its aim to only cut back on certain visual luxuries in the mobile version of the game. Small effects like a smoke trail left by an incoming projectile won’t be present in the Go version, for example, though the game’s overall clean and simple visual style should remain intact.

    Ultimately the team found a process that enabled them to work full steam ahead on the PC VR version and then occasionally revisit the Go build to make adjustments.

    And, yes, Voronium is planned for release on Oculus Quest in the future. Quest is a more powerful headset than Go and has more advanced inside-out tracking, placing it somewhere between that headset and the Rift. Oculus has been promoting ways to downscale Rift games for the platform but, in the case of Voronium, it’s going to require a mix of optimizations.

    “Our strategy will be to take the Go build and add as much of the Rift features as it will sustain,” Ribin explains. “Because we have made the “Go downgrading” in a modular way, I expect this process to be fairly easy – literally tuning features up to Rift or

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  • What is augmented reality, anyway? Before augmented reality products and apps take over the world, they'll have to get out of their own way.
  • Thrustmaster Unveils Launch Date for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown Edition Joysticks The device will arrive ahead of the videogame's official release.
  • Sony’s EU Black Friday PSVR Store Sale Is Ridiculously Good
    Sony’s EU Black Friday PSVR Store Sale Is Ridiculously Good

    It seems Sony is going all out with its PSVR headset this Black Friday season. Not only is the company promoting a ridiculously good $199 bundle in the US, but it’s just launched a sale in the EU version of the PlayStation Store and the savings are massive.

    Two of PSVR’s biggest recent releases are in the sale with huge price drops. The first is the excellent Astro Bot Rescue Mission, easily one of the headset’s best games, which had had 42% shaved off, taking it to just £19.99. Given the game’s just over a month old, that’s insanity.

    The other star deal is for ace PSVR shooter Firewall Zero Hour, which has had over half its price slashed, putting it to £15.99. This is one of those games that’s best played with Sony’s PSVR Aim Controller, though, so take note if you don’t already have it.

    Elsewhere you can pick up surreal puzzler, Statik, for £6.49, the excellent Star Trek: Bridge Crew for £14.99, Farpoint for £7.99 (again, Aim controller recommended), Skyrim VR for £19.99 and Superhot VR for £11.99. If you’ve just picked up a headset in a deal somewhere then this should be your first port of call to load it with some of the best games. You can see the full list of deals here.

    All this and Black Friday is still a week away. Check back over the course of the next week as we run you through some of the biggest deals.

    Tagged with: PSVR 2

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  • Rumor: PSVR 2 To Ditch Break Out Box, Introduce New Move Controllers
    Rumor: PSVR 2 To Ditch Break Out Box, Introduce New Move Controllers

    Take this one with a big pinch of salt right now, but some interesting rumors about a hypothetical PSVR 2 popped up online this week.

    Reddit user RuthenicCookie recently made some claims about Sony’s VR follow-up, which will apparently run on the unannounced PlayStation 5 console. Usually, we wouldn’t touch rumors like these but, in the same thread, RuthenicCookie correctly stated that Sony would be announcing they were pulling out of E3 2019 yesterday.

    They wrote that PSVR 2 would be ditching the breaker box that’s located along the wire that connects the headset to the console. In the current model, this box is used to handle PSVR’s 3D audio capabilities along with its social screen features. These features will apparently be housed inside the console itself this time.

    RuthenicCookie also stated that PSVR 2 would introduce new Move motion controllers, which was to be expected given the original Moves are a little archaic in design now. Finally, the system will apparently again use a camera which will also track DualShock 5, and Sony is also apparently testing gloves to go with VR.

    Still, being right about an announcement one day out doesn’t guarantee that the rest of these rumors are accurate in any way. In fact, we’re still skeptical Sony would go with another camera-based tracking system for the headset, as the original PSVR’s one-camera setup only provides 180-degree tracking for Move controllers and often causes headsets and peripherals to drift inside an experience.

    It could be that RuthenicCookie is instead referring to the sensor-based system closer to the HTC Vive that we’ve seen in patients, though we’re still hoping PSVR 2 ultimately goes for an inside-out system. That said, most of these claims do indeed correspond with patents that have surfaced in the past year or so.

    Either way we’ve no doubt got a long wait ahead of us before we hear official details on PSVR 2.

    Tagged with: PSVR 2

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  • Nomadic’s Arizona Sunshine Experience Brings Location-Based VR To New Interactive Heights
    Nomadic’s Arizona Sunshine Experience Brings Location-Based VR To New Interactive Heights

    We’re at the point now where it typically takes a lot to really ‘Wow!’ me with VR. After covering the industry heavily for almost three years, I’ve seen and played a lot. But after I took off the headset and became reacquainted with the real world around me, one thing was clear: Nomadic made me literally say “Wow!” after it was over. I haven’t been this impressed with anything in VR since the first time I tried the technology via roomscale experiences years ago.

    What makes Nomadic so special is how interactive everything is. The experience I played was based on Arizona Sunshine, one of the most popular VR games to date that pits you against hordes of zombies. It took place inside a series of small rooms that were arranged like a maze in the real world, but skinned to resemble things like trains, helicopters, elevators, and more inside VR. It’s the closest I’ve come yet to truly tricking my brain.

    To be clear, this is old test footage. The actual experience and sets are far more elaborate now.

    Nomadic is a VR experiences company founded by people that have a history of work in Hollywood at companies like ILMxLAB on Star Wars films. What sets Nomadic apart from its competitors, such as The Void, is that it’s designed to be much more modular and adaptable. While the bulk of what makes Nomadic so special resides in its interactivity and physicality, the real brains of it all is on the software side.

    Nomadic locations are setup so that dozens of people can move through experiences simultaneously without ever interfering with one another. If you try an experience with The Void, you might have to queue up and wait for the next group to finish, but with Nomadic it’s all seamless. While you’re inside the experience a group can be ahead of and behind you and the game will adapt to the pacing in real-time to make sure you don’t run into each other.

    What’s more is that it’s not only a multiplayer experience, but the setups are adaptable as well. Environments can be re-skinned and used in novel, new ways without rearranging the props at all. And if they want to do a total overhaul, in a matter of hours they can remap the room using the modular wall system that functions a lot like cubicles.

    From a tech perspective Nomadic uses Oculus Rifts with backpack PCs all tracked via OptiTrack’s robust camera system. The actual pieces of the set itself were installed with gyros to track movement and some surfaces could even vibrate and move in sync with their VR counterparts. For example, there was one section where I walked across a plank that actually existed in real life and moved around inside the game when I touched it, or the filing cabinet drawer I opened up with an actual yellow ducky inside.

    In my demo I was tasked with seeking out a doctor in a refinery that was holed up in his

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  • Sony Is Skipping E3 For The First Time Ever In 2019
    Sony Is Skipping E3 For The First Time Ever In 2019

    In an unprecedented announcement today, it looks like Sony is skipping the enormous, annual E3 event in Los Angeles, CA for next year. The expo has been around for almost 25 years and Sony was one of the major players in its creation as a spin-off from CES. This is the first time Sony has not attended.

    According to Variety, they found out about this news deep within the Entertainment Software Association’s 2019 expo announcement. Not only will Sony not host a press conference at E3 2019, but they are reportedly not “showing up at all” during the show.

    In September of this year, Sony also canceled its PlayStation Experience (PSX) event that it had hosted for the past several years as well. Interestingly enough, these moves don’t seem to be happening due to anything negative. On the contrary, 2018 was one of the strongest years for the PlayStation brand ever with huge platform exclusives such as God of War and Spider-Man leading the game of the year discussions, PS4 surpassing 80 million worldwide units, and PSVR surpassing three million.

    Sony still has several major exclusive titles left to release for the PS4 before moving on to the PS5 though, including Days Gone, The Last of Us 2, Ghosts of Tsushima, Death Stranding, and Resident Evil 2 Remake. It was shaping up to be a quiet year for PSVR after the monstrous time it’s had in 2018. Whether or not Sony will go the Nintendo Direct route and host a remote, video version of a press conference remains to be seen. Reports do seem to point towards a 2020 launch for the PlayStation 5.

    Regardless, this is huge news for E3 and the show floor won’t be the same without the giant, blue booth.

    Update: The following two paragraphs provide further details from a Game Informer article:

    “As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community,” the company told Game Informer in a statement. “PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans with you.”

    When asked if Sony would push its event off-site, similar to how Electronic Arts provides a show adjacent to E3, PlayStation senior vice president of communications Jennifer Clark elaborated further saying, “We will not activate or hold a press conference around E3.”

    We’ve reached out to Sony for further comment.

    Tagged with: e3, PSVR, sony

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  • Indie Studio Monochrome to Release FPS Singularity5 in December This will be the studio's first major VR piece.
  • Viveport Is Offering Superhot VR, Arizona Sunshine, Accounting+, Sariento, and The Wizards For Just $1 Each
    Viveport Is Offering Superhot VR, Arizona Sunshine, Accounting+, Sariento, and The Wizards For Just $1 Each

    HTC’s Viveport PC VR app store is currently offering an incredible deal– Superhot VR, Arizona Sunshine, Accounting+, Sariento, and The Wizards for just $1 each.

    Viveport is unique amongst VR app stores in that it offers a subscription option instead of just regular purchasing. For $9.99 per month, subscribers can play 5 games per month from a selection of hundreds of titles.

    This offer is technically only for Viveport subscribers, but anyone can access it by signing up for the free 14 day trial.

    Superhot VR – 96% Off

    Superhot VR is a unique shooter experience where the faster you move, the faster time moves. If you keep completely still, time will freeze. It is a perfect blend of mental and physical challenge, and perhaps one of the best VR games ever made.

    Buying it at $1 saves $24 over the regular Viveport price. When we reviewed the game, we gave it 9/10, concluding:

    SUPERHOT VR is a pure, distilled, injection of unadulterated adrenaline that will get your blood pumping just as quickly as time stops in the game itself. With every movement you make, time creeps forward ever so slightly, and everything from the level design to the way it feels to dodge a series of bullets in slow-motion is orchestrated to reinforce the core ideals of the experience. From start to finish it plays out like a fantasy ripped from the screen of every action movie; an indulgent cacophony of visual and gameplay excitement.

    Arizona Sunshine – 97% Off

    Arizona Sunshine is a zombie FPS with a full voice acted singleplayer campaign and co-op multiplayer. Buying it at $1 saves $39 – this is a staggeringly good deal. When we reviewed the game, we gave it 8.5/10, concluding:

    Vertigo Games proved that even in the most saturated genre we’ve seen for VR games this year — shooters with zombies — there was still room for something fresh. Arizona Sunshine combines the narrative power of a fully-featured 4+ hour campaign mode, with the intensity of a wave-based horde mode, and then adds multiplayer to both experiences. The protagonist’s witty humor make it worth recommending on his charming personality alone, with enough depth and variety to keep people coming back for several hours. By doing so many things so well, Arizona Sunshine quickly rose to the top of the pack as the best overall zombie shooter we’ve seen yet in VR.

    Accounting+ – 92% Off

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  • The Wonder of the Universe Continues to Amaze in Spheres It’s easy to tell why Spheres is an award-winner.
  • VR Diversity Initiative Uses VR To Create Accessible Backpacks For People With Scoliosis

    Young tech enthusiasts come together to create backpacks that could be used by people with disabilities using VR technology. During one of the workshops at the VR Diversity Initiative, a summit dedicated to empowering under-represented groups in developing XR skills, participants used VR to create accessible backpacks for individuals suffering from various physical disabilities. “VR

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  • Eyes-On: Light Field Lab Built A Tantalizing Holographic Display For The 2020s
    Eyes-On: Light Field Lab Built A Tantalizing Holographic Display For The 2020s

    There’s a monarch butterfly in the dark, suspended behind the glass panel of a decorative wooden lantern about a meter away from me. I am not wearing glasses. Light Field Lab representatives say they aren’t tracking my head’s position.

    Like a practiced magician, Light Field Lab CEO Jon Karafin removes the lantern from its perch to reveal the butterfly is floating in the open air.

    “This is a complete reconstruction of the light field such that your eye focuses on the holographic object from within the holographic viewing volume,” Karafin said.

    Future vision concept art of a room scale holographic display from Light Field Lab.

    I move my head to the left and right inside the small “visual acuity” area outlined with glowing tape on the floor. This is the sweet spot. I also move my head both up and down in this area about a foot. The butterfly’s wings seem to respond with the correct parallax as I shift. I move slightly closer and backward and the butterfly seems to grow and shrink exactly as I would expect. This is what they said they would show me. The eight hours I needed to spend in a car driving to and from this demo in San Jose were not a waste of time.

    “There are other volumetric display technologies that may leverage a surface to form 2D-only pixels in space (e.g. smoke, water, screens, mirrors, moving surfaces, etc.),” Karafin said. “However, these are not holograms.”

    Real Holograms

    Karafin really baked my noodle next.

    He grabbed a magnifying lens off a tray and placed it inside the butterfly. How the fuck does a standard magnifying glass warp light from the inside of a holographic object? My eyes and brain had never had to process the way light was behaving relative to the lenses he was putting “through” what my brain perceived as a physical solid object.

    “When using the magnifying glass in front of the butterfly, it responds exactly as it would in the real world,” Karafin explains. “When you pass the magnifying glass through the hologram, you see things that only a real hologram can achieve.”

    Ok, so now the trip was worth it.

    Next Steps

    I noted deficiencies in the visuals of the display only outside the optimal viewing cone provided by the small display. Everything inside that cone — at least a meter away — looked great. I should note they also showed a moving fish that was less detailed than the butterfly, and as certain pieces of it moved closer to me I noted a bit of fuzzy softness there.

    “The amount of movement depends on how close you are to the hologram, the size of the holographic surface, and the optical prescription for the holographic waveguides,” Karafin explained.

    The field of view for the Light Field Lab display prototype is very small, but the units should be able to be stacked up like bricks for much larger panels.

    I left the room and realized I should have asked to see the demo with the lights on. Light Field Lab

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  • Witching Tower Review: Swords And Sorcery In A Gothic Adventure
    Witching Tower Review: Swords And Sorcery In A Gothic Adventure

    I played Witching Tower for the first time at the Seattle VR community’s Halloween party. At the time, it struck me as a fun adventure game with the slight problem that, due to a lack of in-game turning, everyone who played it ended up mummified with their own controller cords within the first ten minutes. The game’s producer had to hang out nearby and occasionally pause the demo so she could unwrap people, because the only way to turn around in-game was to actually turn around.

    Fortunately, a patch on Halloween added 45-degree snap turning to Witching Tower, which also removed my biggest complaint about the game. There are a few things that I wish it did differently, but in that, it feels a bit like it’s ahead of its time rather than simply flawed. If you’re looking for a challenging, spooky VR title, albeit one that’s still decidedly on the PG-13 end of the scale, this is a solid enough pick.

    You play Witching Tower as Anna Holand, a young woman with a magical gift who’s been locked up in the prison tower of a mad queen. She locked you in the same room as a friendly spirit, however, and with its help, you manage to break out of your cell. From there, you need to take on monsters, find your way past obstacles, and solve the occasional puzzle in order to escape.

    In short, it’s the sort of kid-spooky action-adventure game that was reasonably common once upon a time on the PC, but it’s in virtual reality, with appropriate concessions made to the format. You can climb walls, search through shelves, pick things up to inspect them, throw random objects around, and as you get further into the depths of the tower, fight your way through a procession of dangerous undead.

    The combat’s a tricky subject. On the one hand, every enemy in the game is fairly simple, with a basic attack pattern and a relatively narrow patrol ground. To fight them, you can equip melee weapons by yanking them off your belt, then kind of wave them in the enemy’s general direction until they die. It’s entry-level stuff, but the enemies are appropriately gross and visceral. Many of them also have a habit of jumping back after they hit you, which means it’s not just a question of wildly swinging at them until they fall over since you actually have to pursue them and move around a bit.

    That said, the combat system does feel like it’s harder than it has to be because this is a teleport-to-move game. Running away from a bad encounter or moving up to hit an enemy that just withdrew are both surprisingly difficult, which adds a touch of artificial challenge to the proceedings. The ranged combat’s also maddeningly imprecise, and while the bow feels good to use, it also requires a lot of practice before you stop shooting arrows over your target’s shoulder. It’s doubly frustrating when you’re up against enemies with their own bows, because

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