• The Biggest VR Releases Of The Week Of 11/04/18
    The Biggest VR Releases Of The Week Of 11/04/18

    Oh my. It’s a very good week to be a VR owner. Whether you like puzzles, horror, story, creativity or more, there’s something that’s got you covered this week.

    Or, if you’re playing catch-up, you can find last week’s releases right here. Want to know what else is on the way this month? We’ve got November’s upcoming releases ready and waiting too.

    Tetris Effect, from Enhance Games
    Price: $39.99 (PSVR)

    Yes, we know, it’s just Tetris in VR. But Tetris Effect brings the visual splendor of Enhance Game’s Rez Infinite to a timeless classic, in the process creating a surprisingly seductive take on it. New twists are there to satisfy hardcore fans, and different themes for each of the levels give you something amazing to discover around every corner.

    Deracine, from From Software
    Price: $29.99 (PSVR)

    Dark Souls developer From Software’s PSVR debut has proved to be a divisive one this week, but we loved it. You play as a faerie that befriends the children of a boarding school, playing games with them and generally causing mischief. It’s weird, ham-fisted and somewhat archaic, but there is magic to Deracine’s mysticism.

    Transpose, from Secret Location
    Price: $19.99 (Rift, Vive, Windows, PSVR)

    The developers of Blasters of the Universe and The Great C return with an entirely different experience. Transpose is a brilliant puzzle game in which you create echoes of yourself to strategically solve challenges together. It’s a great twist and it makes for one of VR’s better brain teasers.

    Syren, from Hammerhead VR
    Price: $19.99 (now on PSVR)

    A humble horror experience that released on PC VR last year finally makes its way to PSVR. Syren is undoubtedly an indie experience, but its short story in which you trek through an underwater facility trying to avoid detection from mechanical monstrosities has some highlights that are definitely worth seeing.

    Tin Hearts, from Rogue Sun
    Price: $19.99 (Rift, Vive)

    Described as VR’s very own Lemmings, Tin Hearts has you clearing and creating paths for toy soldiers that march around the rooms of a house. You have to use your wits to find objects that will help them clear gaps and safely navigate other perils. It’s in Early Access right now with more levels on the way.

    Nothing to be Written, from BBC
    Price: Free (Go)

    A fantastic VR experience to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the end of WW1 this week. It shines a spotlight on the field postcard, an automated means for troops to send quick messages home when out in the trenches, producing some memorable and harrowing visuals in the process. If you have a Go check this out.

    Tagged with: Deracine, Tetris Effect

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  • Oculus Patents Use Of Light Field Cameras for Eye Tracking
    Oculus Patents Use Of Light Field Cameras for Eye Tracking

    Facebook’s Oculus patented an eye tracking technique which uses light field cameras inside the headset. Most previous eye tracking systems used a regular or infrared camera combined with an IR illuminator to keep the eyes lit.

    A light field camera differs from a regular camera in that it also captures the direction that light is travelling. This directional information can be used to understand the depth of the image, and thus 3D shape of the eye, instead of just the color and brightness. By knowing the 3D shape of the eye, the system can find out where the pupil is relative to the eye itself, and thus a more accurate estimation of the user’s gaze direction than with just the apparent 2D shape of the pupil.

    Eye tracking can greatly enhance the feeling of “social presence” in multiplayer VR, but its most promising use case is foveated rendering. Foveated rendering is when only what you’re looking at is drawn at full resolution while the rest of the scene in your peripheral view is rendered in low detail. This works because human vision is only high detail in the very center. To see this for yourself, look at some text in the room you’re in right now then look just a few feet to the side of it and try to read it again.

    Foveated rendering should one day enable much higher resolution VR headsets without requiring an expensive top of the line graphics card. Finding a way to make it work reliably is crucial to the future of VR.

    At Oculus Connect 3 in late 2016 (video above), Oculus Chief Scientist Michael Abrash discussed the challenges of developing an eye tracking system good enough for foveated rendering. He stated that for foveated rendering to be invisible to the user, “virtually perfect” eye tracking would be needed. If eye tracking fails even for a fraction of a second, the user would see a dramatic reduction in visual quality. Even today, no company has yet shipped this quality of eye tracking in a consumer product.

    In late September this year at Oculus Connect 5, Abrash stated that he expects this quality of eye tracking to be ready within four years (by 2022). Perhaps this estimate is dependent on having a real-time 3D view of the eye using a light field camera, as described in this patent. If true, it would make eye tracking more expensive to integrate than many had hoped, but would likely result in a dramatic improvement in reliability.

    Tagged with: eye tracking, foveated rendering, oculus, patent

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  • ARHT Introduces Real-Time Holographic Lecturers At London Business School

    ‘Hologram’ lecturers will soon beam to universities for the first time, starting with Imperial College London. The UK-based business school is working with Toronto-based holographic media company, ARHT, to bring speakers from all over the world directly into their lecture halls using a projected hologram as a form of teleconferencing. ARHT describes it as “holographic

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  • Deracine: Where To Find All Eight Coins And What You Get For Them
    Deracine: Where To Find All Eight Coins And What You Get For Them

    Deracine, the new game from Dark Souls developer From Software, is a pretty straightforward puzzler. However, there is one ‘side quest’ in the game that tasks you with finding eight coins hidden in the nooks and crannies of the game’s secluded boarding school. Gather them all and you can put them in a special box that, when unlocked, gives you a reward.

    Whilst the game does give away the location of the first coin, the rest are all pretty tricky to find. With that in mind, we’ve put together all of their locations in one place both in video and written format. Take note that these coins are missable. you can only get them in levels where their corresponding rooms are open and, if you reach a point where they aren’t, you’ll have to start over again. Also keep in mind that when you pick up a coin, make sure to go and drop it in the box there and then. If you transition to another level without doing so, you’ll have to find it again later on. The box can be found on the ground floor in the small room to the left of the bottom of the stairs.

    As for what you get? Well, if you don’t mind spoilers we’ll tell you that it’s actually a third ring, one that signifies friendship between faerie and humans. You put it on your little finger on your left hand. Sorry, it’s not another Bloodborne 2 teaser, but it does add some interesting layers to the story if you look closely at other character’s hands.

    Coin #1 – Head to the inner garden and take a left at the door. There’s a tree tucked away at this end of the garden. Warp to it and circle around to the back. You’ll find a coin hidden inside a hole in the tree.

    Coin #2 – Find the library at one end of the bottom floor of the house (in front of the Headmaster’s office). Go to the wall lined with bookcases and ladders. You can warp to the top of the tallest ladder. Once there, lean to the right a bit and the coin can be found just behind the side of a shelf.

    Coin #3 – Head up to the clocktower. Look up and you’ll find you can warp up to the beams. Circle around to the back of the beam connecting to the roof. The coin is resting on the floor there.

    Coin #4 – On the library side of the second floor there’s an always-locked door with a note on it. The coin is nestled in the small gap between the door and the floor.

    Coin #5 – Once you’ve completed the herbs quest and can return to the inner garden, head back to where you got the herb from the dog, under the deck to the far right. This coin can be found where the dog used to be.

    Coin #6 – Once you can gain access to the roof head back to the stairs leading

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  • The VR Waifu Problem In which VRFocus explores what the deal is with all these virtual dating simulators, and why they are so awkward.
  • Tetris Effect VR Review: A Transcendent Take On A Classic
    Tetris Effect VR Review: A Transcendent Take On A Classic

    Go run a bath. Make it warm, get some salts, maybe some candles, put your speakers by the door and dim the lights. Play this, close your eyes, and sink into the water. Oh and, grab your Gameboy (don’t drop it) and boot up Tetris.

    That’s about as close as you’ll get to the transformative wonder of Tetris Effect in the real world.

    Tetris Effect is developed by the same studio that brought you 2016’s Rez Infinite, a transfixing assault on the senses that did a marvelous job of losing you in its sensual world. This is much the same story, just with the timeless game of falling blocks slotted right in the middle of the action. In the game’s central piece, a campaign named ‘Journey Mode’, you hard drop your way through nearly 30 levels, grouped in stages. Beat a level and you’ll progress straight onto the next one in the given stage until you reach its end.

    Each level has its own theme, complete with an entirely different style of visuals, soundtrack and sound effects. One moment you’ll be enjoying peace and tranquility under the ocean before suddenly being thrust into the busy bustle of a US metropolis.

    You know the substance is already there, thus the style is allowed to shine. Effect’s first level tells you all you need to know, employing a rousing title track, ‘I’m Yours Forever’, that has a sort of transcendent beauty. When paired with the atmospheric, pulsating visuals that bleed into view as you play, you’re completely at its mercy. It’s capable of reaching down through your body and placing a strong, firm grip on your heart. If you allow it, Enhance won’t let go.

    At times it will lull you it into a soothing sense of security, encasing you in a bubble of graphical splendor before ripping you out of it and into something much more demanding. The rate at which blocks fall constantly adjusts in sync with these changes as if it were some sort of cruel dictator of your heart rate. The game’s Expert Mode can go from manageable to, frankly, impossible so I’d recommend casual players approach Normal with the mindset of enjoying the game and getting to experience its divine surrealism. It’s easy to miss the eye candy Enhance has prepared, otherwise.

    I did find moments of intense strain in some levels, though. As joyful as it is to lose yourself in some of Effect’s more peaceful themes, there’s an unavoidable stress on the eyes in some of the harsher environments that made it difficult to focus on the core game itself. They’re few in number but, for me, they were a definite distraction to an otherwise cohesive whole.

    As for that more competitive strand that the hardcore craves? This has some interesting new twists, like a special ability to temporarily pause time as you build up a meter. This can be used to rack up combined points that go well beyond a Tetris (clearing four lines at once). Doing so requires an intimate

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  • Singles Day shows China’s global retail power Chinese customers spend billions on Nov. 11. Why, and what does it mean for the global retail marketplace?
  • Beat Saber’s Exclusive PSVR Content To Come To PC ‘At A Later Date’
    Beat Saber’s Exclusive PSVR Content To Come To PC ‘At A Later Date’

    Following backlash surrounding the reveal of exclusive content for the PSVR version of Beat Saber yesterday, developer Beat Games has reassured PC players they’re not being forgotten.

    In tweets yesterday the developer noted that it wanted PSVR players to have ‘something new’ to experience when the game launched on the platform on November 20th. That includes a brand new campaign mode and five new music tracks. However, the official Beat Saber account later confirmed that these features are indeed a timed exclusive on PSVR, and will come to the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows VR versions of the game “at a later date.”

    Dear Rift & Vive players, new sabers, modifiers and practice mode will be added to PC version much sooner in upcoming updates, while campaign and 5 new tracks will come to other platforms at a later date.

    — Beat Saber (@BeatSaber) November 8, 2018

    As the tweet notes, the PC version will also be getting long-anticipated updates like new sabers and modifiers “much sooner”, as well as the practice mode that will also be debuting in the PSVR version.

    Responding to one fan, the account wrote: “Get ready! Now we are back in PC development!”

    That’s all well and good but, demanding folk that we are, we’re now super interested to find out if Beat Saber will be coming to Oculus Quest when it launches in spring of next year. That’s already been hinted at, but we’d sure love some confirmation soon.

    Tagged with: Beat Saber

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  • Life In 360°: Last Lap Kevin E is running out of time, so it's time to make good on a Formula 1 promise.
  • ‘Shadow VR’ is a $399 Oculus Quest Competitor Using HTC’s Viveport Store
    ‘Shadow VR’ is a $399 Oculus Quest Competitor Using HTC’s Viveport Store

    At HTC’s Vive event the company announced the ‘Shadow VR’ standalone headset from Chinese company ‘Shadow Creator’.

    The Shadow VR headset should become the first standalone consumer VR headset with 6DoF controllers, beating Oculus Quest to market by over six months. It runs the mobile version of HTC’s Viveport VR app store, and launches “worldwide” Nov. 11 for $399.

    The headset uses a 1440p (2560×1440) display, the same resolution as the Oculus Go and Lenovo Mirage Solo. The lenses are fresnels with a claimed field of view of 110°. The system on a chip (SoC) used is the same Snapdragon 835 used in the Vive Focus and Oculus Quest.

    HTC tells us that Shadow VR is equipped with 6DoF controllers which Shadow Creator developed on its own. The controllers were, however, not shown (not even a render), and no details were given on the controller tracking system other than that it uses “ray tracing”, whatever is meant by that. HTC is working on 6DoF controllers of its own for the Vive Focus, but these are apparently different.

    Because the headset runs HTC’s Viveport (the mobile version) it should have all the same apps and games as are available for the Vive Focus, and all app purchases should transfer between the devices. Most content currently on Viveport mobile, however, is made around the Vive Focus’ 3DoF controller, so it’s not clear how much of the store’s content will take advantage of Shadow VR’s 6DoF controllers.

    HTC is not involved in the hardware of Shadow VR but it does run on the Vive Wave platform, so HTC would take the store cut from all Viveport sales. This is the same strategy that Google is taking with the Lenovo Mirage Solo Daydream standalone VR headset, which only has one 3DoF hand controller (with developers being able to request a special 6DoF add-on kit).

    Chart Based On Information Available As Of November 8th 2018

    We’ve reached out to HTC to see if we can get any more information about this headset and we’ll update this post if we learn more.

    Tagged with: shadow vr, Standalone VR, vive wave

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  • Niantic’s ‘Ingress Prime’ Brings A Sci-fi Twist To Location-Based AR Gaming

    Join pick a side and join the battle for control of previous Exotic Matter in this modern revival of the 2013 location-based AR game. In 2013, San Francisco-based software company Niantic launched Ingress, a cutting-edge location-based AR mobile game that had players choose one of two factions and battle others in a geocaching game of

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  • Hands-On Impressions With Vive Focus 6DoF Controllers Dev Kit
    Hands-On Impressions With Vive Focus 6DoF Controllers Dev Kit

    At an Enterprise-focused HTC Vive press event in San Francisco, CA today we learned about the western release of the Vive Focus across North America and Europe, as well as the price point. But those will only release with a single 3DOF motion controller similar to the ones that come with the Oculus Go and Daydream View. HTC has opened dev kit applications for 6DOF motion controllers like the ones that come with the upcoming Oculus Quest headset (or the ones already out with the Vive and Rift) and HTC had a pair of those controllers available today for demos.

    Hands-On With 6DoF Vive Focus Controllers

    My demo was with Vive Sync, a professional collaboration platform. I’ll save details on the particular app for a separate story because I want to focus on the controllers themselves here.

    To be clear, this is a developer kit. They aren’t finished and there is no timeframe on commercial availability at all. Now with that being said, I was very impressed.

    Since Vive Sync is primarily a meeting app there wasn’t a whole lot of movement required. The ideal use case is just standing around, pointing, and talking, so I had to invent some movements to test the controllers and their tracking. First, rapid movement.

    There was definitely some latency. If I were trying to play Beat Saber, for example, on this device with the 6DOF dev kit controllers, I think I would have had a ton of trouble. This might be fixed in time, but right now it felt almost as if my in-VR hands were a half second behind when moving very quickly. I never tried the Oculus Quest dev kit (Santa Cruz) but I’d imagine those controllers improved as well over development, as is usually the case.

    Where they impressed me is with the accuracy of the positional and rotation tracking. No matter where I held the controller (even when I grasped the tracking ring itself) they never lost tracking. The only time it was an issue is if I put them behind my head or behind my back and then quickly put them back in front of my body. After a second or so delay they would be located again.

    As a test of something I have done often in VR apps I tried reaching behind my back to teleport around. Vive Sync didn’t have smooth locomotion, just teleporting, so while I was speaking with a developer he asked me to back up so he could show me a 3D model inside the meeting environment. So, I instinctively reached behind my back, pointed, and clicked the trackpad to teleport like I’ve done in a million VR apps before and it worked just fine. To test this out more, I grabbed the laser pointer tool from the interface, reached behind my back, and could still point the laser through my VR body accurately. I don’t think I could accurately reach behind me and down to a table to grab something, but I also haven’t tried it.

    One area the

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  • Vive Focus Standalone Launches In North America And Europe
    Vive Focus Standalone Launches In North America And Europe

    HTC’s Vive Focus standalone is launching in North America and Europe starting today with a pitch toward enterprise.

    The headset is selling for $599 with a single pointer-like hand controller capable of simple gesture-sensing. Enterprise-centric features like a kiosk mode to turn the headset into a “fixed-purpose device” and batch configuration of multiple Focus headsets from a single microSD card were pitched with the headset’s worldwide launch. The headset is also being sold for $749 with the “Vive Focus Advantage” program offering a device management system and “premium service.”

    We’ve known the Vive Focus specifications for a long while now, but at least we’ve got confirmation now that the U.S. version of the headset has the same features as the device which launched earlier this year.

    The focus on business uses for the headset outside China is an interesting one as the company is facing stiff competition for consumers in the United States from the Google-powered Lenovo Mirage Solo, as well as the $200 Oculus Go headset from Facebook which features a similar pointer-like hand controller.

    Tagged with: Vive Focus

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  • Social VR Platform ‘High Fidelity’ Announces Its First VR Festival

    The FUTVRE LANDS VR festival will feature contests with cash prizes, giveaways, and a live musical performance by a Grammy-nominated artist. Founded by Second Life founder and former CEO Philip Rosedale, social VR platform High Fidelity is hosting its first festival event held entirely within their virtual metaverse. Launching November 17th as part of Virtual

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  • HTC Vive’s Ready Player One: Oasis Receives Elite Gunter Pack DLC The DLC pack adds hours of gameplay with new levels, environments, bosses and more.