• ‘First Man’ WebAR Experience Takes You To The Moon and Back

    The upcoming Ryan Gosling film receives a WebAR experience that uses the actual Moon to function. Universal Pictures First Man tells the story of the legendary Apollo 11 mission in which astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history as the first human beings to set foot on the Moon. For NASA and their brilliant team of engineers,

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  • The Elder Scrolls: Blades Could Be Oculus Quest’s Biggest Hit Or Greatest Missed Opportunity
    The Elder Scrolls: Blades Could Be Oculus Quest’s Biggest Hit Or Greatest Missed Opportunity

    I think Ian said it best in his pre-Oculus Connect 5 predictions piece last week: a low-cost standalone VR headset that could run both Beat Saber and Superhot could dominate the VR market in the years to come. Well, we know Oculus Quest has Superhot, we know it’s a reasonable $399 and there are plenty of hints that Beat Saber is on the way. But what about a game that could go even further than that? Something with wider appeal that could really convince naysayers that this was a worthwhile gaming console? At first, I thought it could be Star Wars: Vader Immortal.

    Then it hit me; it might actually be The Elder Scrolls: Blades.

    Despite its stunning visuals and breadth of content, Bethesda’s big new mobile game wasn’t met with an explosion of hype when it was revealed at E3 last June, largely due to the resistance to mobile gaming from those that prefer to play on consoles. Our ears pricked up, though, when we heard that the game was also coming to VR headsets. Specific devices weren’t confirmed, but Bethesda’s Todd Howard did show an image of an HTC Vive, promising cross-platform multiplayer, and explaining that he wants to release it on as many platforms as possible.

    Now, again, Blades on PC VR sounds great though we’re not sure it’ll live up to the excellent port of Skyrim that just about anyone with a headset has already bought and it still comes with all the complications that have stalled the market from growing at this early stage. That said, the idea of exploring an all-new Elder Scrolls adventure on Quest with six degrees of freedom (6DOF) inside-out tracking providing realistic sword and shield combat as well as truly satisfying spell-casting is an exciting one. The chance to face off with your friends running the game on mobile nearby only sweetens the deal. We went hands-on with the mobile version at E3 to take a look at how the core game plays.

    This is a series that’s so feverishly popular that Bethesda announced the sixth mainline installment before its even properly shown the game that’s coming before it. All signs point to Skyrim VR having sold well, and Elder Scrolls is the ultimate fantasy adventure, so Quest may represent the easiest way to virtually visit the sprawling universe yet. It’s got to be a no-brainer, right?

    Except there’s one problem.

    Earlier today, we asked Bethesda if there are any plans for the game on Quest. As expected, the company declined to comment past reconfirming the previously-announced mobile versions launching this fall. Perhaps Bethesda is playing its cards close to its chest, but it’s also a very real possibility that we never see Blades on Quest due to a larger struggle between Oculus and Bethesda’s parent company, ZeniMax Media.

    As you may or may not know, Oculus and ZeniMax are currently enthralled in a lengthy legal battle. The latter accused Oculus of stealing technology when John Carmack, formerly of the Bethesda-owned id Software, moved over to the

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  • Cybershoes Completes Funding Goal in 2 Hours And there's still 29 days to go.
  • Review: In Death Repetitive, unforgiving, yet difficult to stop playing.
  • Fantasy Adventure The Witching Tower VR Delayed It has been delayed by three weeks.
  • Mixing Realities, True Haptics And Photorealistic Humans: 5 Big Takeaways From Michael Abrash’s OC5 Keynote
    Mixing Realities, True Haptics And Photorealistic Humans: 5 Big Takeaways From Michael Abrash’s OC5 Keynote

    As always, one of the highlights of this year’s Oculus Connect developer conference was the staggeringly detailed keynote talk from Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist at the newly-renamed Facebook Reality Labs. Abrash’s team is paving the future of VR and AR for Oculus, developing breakthrough technologies that could someday make headsets even more immersive than they are right now. For this year’s talk, he provided an update on just how far the team has come in the past two years.

    Specifically, Abrash revisited predictions he made for VR in 2021 back at Oculus Connect 3 in 2016. His talk then included a look at the future of aspects like display, audio and haptics alongside estimations of when we’d get our hands on improved versions of each. Last week, he went over each of those estimations and assessed how they were holding up. It was a lot to process, so we’ve run down five main takeaways from his insightful talk.

    Displays, Foveated Rendering And Virtual Humans Are Developing Quicker Than Expected

    Abrash summed up his talk by suggesting that his predictions were pretty much “on track”, though some areas have made much more progress than others. Reassuringly, he stuck by most of them.

    For example, one of the most intriguing segments of Abrash’s OC3 predictions concerned displays. He estimated that, five years from 2016, we would see a VR headset with a 140-degree field of view (FOV), variable depth of focus, and a 4k x 4k panel resolution with 30 pixels per degree density. Well, things are looking good in this area.

    At F8 earlier this year, Facebook introduced its Half Dome headset prototype. Though still very much a work-in-progress, the kit featured varifocal displays and a 140-degree FOV. “Half Dome achieved two of my three display predictions three years early,” Abrash admitted, further adding that implementing 4K displays with 30 pixels per degree would be “straightforward”.

    Going into more detail, he explained that Reality Labs had made “significant progress” in varifocal displays (which provide accurate blur based on the proximity of virutal objects to your eyes) using an AI-driven renderer called Deep Focus.

    Work in foveated rendering, which uses eye-tracking to fully render only the area of the display the user is looking at and thus save on computational power, is also on track thanks to the help of a deep learning tool that fills in missing pixels.

    Virtually real humans have also come some way using an early system known as codec avatars, a “novel machine-based learning approach” that could one day “revolutionize how we communicate and collaborate.”

    There are other technologies pushing past Half Dome, too. Abrash spoke of Pancake Lenses, which will allow  much sharper images at resolutions that go beyond 4K,  and could even support a FOV of around 200 degrees and more compact headsets (though he did note the latter two couldn’t be achieved in the same device). Even these are likely to be surpassed by waveguide displays currently in development for AR devices, however (more on that in a bit).

    But Eye-Tracking, Realistic Audio And

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  • Global Launch of AR Running Title Run An Empire Announced Seize control of territory in AR by running around the neighborhood.
  • Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner M∀RS Eligible For PlayStation Player’s Choice Award PlayStation Blog opens Players' Choice poll for September 2018.
  • The Business of VR – A guide for startups and investors SeedingVR's Jason Ballor goes in to why you should invest in VR - and how crowdfunding can benefit projects.
  • Polyarc: Oculus Quest Offers ‘Streamlined Experience Getting Into Moss’
    Polyarc: Oculus Quest Offers ‘Streamlined Experience Getting Into Moss’

    Polyarc’s Moss has made a habit of coming to as many VR headsets as possible, but its upcoming version for the new Oculus Quest headset is unique in that it will be the first time the beloved VR game has appeared on mobile hardware. That means Polyarc will no doubt have its work cut out for it optimizing the experience. Fortunately, it looks like that work has already started.

    Speaking to Windows Central, Polyarc CEO Tam Armstrong confirmed that the developer is already working on the Quest version of Moss, though it isn’t playable yet. “We think that experience where you can really get into the game and enjoy it will be nice and streamlined,” Armstrong said. “Hopefully it will be a nice streamlined experience getting into Moss, and people will enjoy playing it.”

    With its standalone form factor and six degrees of freedom (6DOF) inside-out tracking, Quest does indeed represent an easier way to jump into VR. That said, one talk in particular at last week’s Oculus Connect developer conference made it clear that studios will have to make a lot of concessions to fit their Oculus Rift games onto Quest, though the results can still be impressive. Armstrong seems unphased by the challenge, though.

    “I think we’ll make adjustments, but Moss was purposefully designed to be highly constrained,” he said. “The way the camera works, the way the lighting works, we feel like there’s going to be work to do of course, like there was moving to any of the other platforms, but it’s nothing that we’re extremely concerned about. We’re much more excited about having that portable six degrees of freedom, which is very motivating.”

    We did ask Polyarc if Moss would support gamepads on Quest, though the team declined to comment for now. The kit, which launches in spring 2019 for $399, comes with two Touch controllers, but wider gamepad support is not yet confirmed.

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  • VR Documentary Zero Days Scores News And Doc Emmy
    VR Documentary Zero Days Scores News And Doc Emmy

    One of VR’s most striking documentaries just won itself an Emmy.

    Zero Days VR, the 2017 experience that itself was based upon the larger Zero Days documentary, just won the award for Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary at last night’s 39th News & Documentary Emmy Awards. The experience beat out other entries like Time’s Finding Home piece and We Are Witnesses from The Marshall Project.

    Developed by Scatter with the help of Oculus Studios, Zero Days VR shines a virtual spotlight on the issue of cyber warfare, recounting the story of the Stuxnet virus in a visually innovative way. As we hear from experts we see the virus do its work in the invisible ‘cyber realm’, creating a striking visual style. The 360-degree trailer above gives you an idea of what to expect.

    VR is no stranger to the Emmys. Over the past few years experiences like Henry have walked away with awards throughout the institution’s various ceremonies.

    Zero Days is available on Rift, Vive, Gear and Go for $4.99.

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  • Review: Twilight Path A mostly relaxing puzzle experience that doesn’t quite hit the spectacle of the studio’s debut.
  • VR vs. The Carmack Takeaways (Part One) This year for his post-Oculus Connect column, Kevin E gives his thoughts on the things that stood out for him in John Carmack's keynote.
  • Exorcist VR’s Remaining Chapters Hit PSVR Next Week
    Exorcist VR’s Remaining Chapters Hit PSVR Next Week

    Good news for PSVR games that like to scare the bejesus out of themselves; the final installments of The Exorcist: Legion VR arrive on the headset next week.

    Episode 4 and 5 of the horror series, which originally launched on PC VR headsets earlier this year, will land on Sony’s headset on October 9th. The fourth chapter, Samaritan, has you exploring a failed quarantine zone in Haiti, while the last, The Tomb, puts you in a final showdown with the demon Paszuzu.

    Since the final episode’s launch on PC a few months back we’ve gone on to review the full five-part series and we think it’s one of the best horror VR experiences going. “The slow-building tension is expertly paced, each and every scare feels visceral and dangerous, and the sheer sense of terror you feel while methodically exploring the richly detailed environments is staggering,” David Jagneaux said in our review.

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  • VR Awards Announces First Annual Investors Lunch VR Awards is partnering with companies including AWE, Super Ventures and Digital Catapult to launch VR Awards Investors Lunch.