• OC5: Superhot VR On Oculus Quest Feels Like The Way It Was Always Meant To Be Played
    OC5: Superhot VR On Oculus Quest Feels Like The Way It Was Always Meant To Be Played

    Every time I’ve played Superhot VR in the past, it has always been a bit bittersweet. On the one hand, the game’s levels are slick, clean, and wide open in a way that few VR games are. On Rift, Vive, and PSVR I can lean and move around enemies or reach out and punch them and watch them shatter into a hundred crystalline pieces. It feels amazing. But since the game requires you to physically move in order for time to move, it’s as if the world beckons you to more freely explore. I want to run around freely. But you’ve still got a wire connecting you to a PC or game console in all other versions of Superhot VR — that’s not the case when playing on Oculus Quest.

    It didn’t take long for that to sink in during my hands-on demo at Oculus Connect 5 yesterday and once I started to take full advantage of the headset’s capability, it felt amazing and freeing in a way VR hasn’t really yet.

    Obviously this isn’t the first example of wireless positionally tracked VR. I’ve used the TPCast add-on, the Vive Wireless Adapter, and even the Pico Neo. But those first two examples still need you to be within range of your PC and the latter has a content problem. When Oculus releases Quest next year, it side steps both of those concerns. I was playing a Rift-caliber VR game on a headset that was entirely standalone. It felt like magic.

    Honestly, Superhot VR on Oculus Quest quite frankly feels like the way the game was always meant to be played.

    In the video above you can see me moving around the wide open space without issue. For the first minute or so I was hesitant, but when I noticed how well the tracking worked, I threw all caution to the wind. I picked up bottles and tossed them at enemies, grabbed guns out of the air, reached behind my hand to throw a shuriken across the map. I did everything I’d have done if I were playing on Rift, but without the burdens that a PC-powered VR headset carries.

    In my hands-on impressions of the Oculus Quest I wrote about how every now and then the tracking faultered, such as if I moved my hands out of vision for a while then brought them back slowly, or if I tried to grab something out of view. That was very rare and it wasn’t frequent. As you can see in the video at the top, I could reach back to throw an object without losing tracking, even when my hand passed behind the headset’s cameras.

    I’ve got a feeling that, if developers are willing to take the time to port games down to the Quest’s Snapdragon 835 chipset, we could be opening up a whole new class of VR gaming. Games that previously suffered from movement restrictions and PC-tethering can be re-experienced in brand new ways, just like Superhot VR.

    For VR users that already have a three-or-more

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  • Preview: Dead & Buried Arena – Oculus Take a Shot at Warehouse Scale VR Is Oculus finally ready to push into location-based VR?
  • OC5: Oculus Talks Quest Controller Tracking Limitations
    OC5: Oculus Talks Quest Controller Tracking Limitations

    Oculus Quest, the latest VR headset from Facebook, enables full six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking for both head and hands using the company’s new inside-out system called Insight. This brings the standalone headset closer to Rift-quality tracking than ever before, but it’s still not perfect.

    Gabor Szauer, Developer Relations Engineer at the company, spoke a little about the tracking limitations of Quest (and, more specifically, its controllers) at a talk called ‘Porting Your App To Oculus Quest’ at Oculus Connect 5 yesterday. Quest is fitted with four wide-angle sensors at the corners of its front faceplate that deliver a wide field of view (FOV) for your controllers, but they don’t cover the area behind the user and may get lost if you stretch your arms far off to the side. Szauer called for developers to keep this in mind when porting games.

    “This doesn’t sound like a big deal but you have to keep in mind that your field of view is not infinite, it’s actually attached to your face,” Szauer explained, showing the above slide that displays the headset’s tracking limitations. “There is some more obvious design considerations like if you’re reaching behind your head to grab something, you’re going to lose your controllers. Those are actually not too bad, if you’re only going to lose your controller tracking for a second or two you can usually fake it pretty easily.”

    ‘Faking it’ might mean some simple prediction algorithms that will allow you to carry out quick tasks behind you. It’s more of a cheat than anything else, but it’s worked for other inside-out systems like that seen on Windows VR headsets. “But some of the situations you get into aren’t so obvious,” Szauer continued, stretching out his arms to either side to imitate holding guns. “Like, let’s say I have two guns and there is a really, really loud sound coming from my right so I look over. All of a sudden, my left hand just left the field of view.

    “For the most part it’s not going to be an issue but it is something to keep in mind.”

    Szauer also warned that some interactions that would have users holding one controller over the other could occlude one’s tracking, which is another thing to be aware of.

    We won’t really know how much of an issue this could be until we’re using Quest ourselves on a day-to-day basis. The headset’s coming in spring 2019 for $399.

    Tagged with: Oculus Connect, Oculus Quest

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  • OC5: Oculus On Iron Man In Marvel VR: ‘The Door Is Not Closed’
    OC5: Oculus On Iron Man In Marvel VR: ‘The Door Is Not Closed’

    Marvel: Powers United VR‘s roster of playable heroes ended up being a pretty decent selection of spandex-wearing super people. But well all know there was one major omission from the Oculus Rift exclusive – Iron Man.

    At Oculus Connect 5 this week Steve Arnold, Head of Oculus Studios, talked to us about why Tony Stark didn’t make it into this summer’s release, and if we’ll see him added in later down the line.

    “Everyone wants to play as Iron Man,” Arnold said. “Whenever you deal with Marvel there’s always a give and take on which characters you’re going to get. They’ve been a fantastic partner so far, but there is no Iron Man presence today as you know, but I do hope to see him at some point in the future. The door is not closed. We do think a representation of Iron Man in VR would be just amazing. It’s almost the perfect character for it.”

    We agree with Arnold; Iron Man would be the perfect character to include as DLC (which developer Sanzaru Games says is coming for free). Marvel already has flying characters included, and using Touch controllers to wield Stark’s repulsor blasts and using head-tracking to lock on missiles could feel incredibly intuitive. In fact, the idea is so promising that Twisted Metal developer David Jaffe had been prototyping Iron Man’s very own VR game, though it sadly never came to fruition.

    Plus, Marvel could definitely use some more unique characters, as the lack of variation between some heroes was one of our biggest complaints about the game.

    Tagged with: Marvel Powers United VR, Oculus Connect

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  • Run Screaming Through Your House Playing Face Your Fears 2 on Oculus Quest With wireless freedom comes untethered scares.
  • Oculus Quest Hands-On Impressions: This Could Be The VR Headset For Everyone
    Oculus Quest Hands-On Impressions: This Could Be The VR Headset For Everyone

    Facebook promoted its Oculus Connect 5 conference that kicked off yesterday as a look at “the future of VR.” After spending all afternoon trying four different demos on the upcoming Oculus Quest standalone 6DOF headset, I feel inclined to agree. Quest is due out in Spring 2019 for $399 and aims to deliver a “Rift quality experience” with full positional tracking and two Touch controllers without the need for wires or a powerful gaming PC to run it.

    Before I cover my actual hands-on impressions, let me be clear: the Quest is not a standalone Rift. The Quest is also not a more powerful Go. As frustrating as it may be, Quest really does sit somewhere in between. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 835 chipset which is a few generations beyond Go, but it pales in comparison to some of the $1,000 gaming PC rigs people can build to power their Rifts. The controllers are very similar, but don’t expect Quest to entirely replace all Rifts next year or anything like that.

    Oculus Quest Headset Design and Specs

    In terms of physical design, Quest looks a lot like a Rift. We know it’s 1600 x 1440 per eye for resolution and has the same lenses as Go, but we don’t know the field of view yet but it felt about the same as Rift and Go. We’ve heard  72Hz mentioned in a session at OC5 as the refresh rate, compared to 90Hz for Rift. Anecdotally I will say it seemed to be about the same as the Rift in all meaningful ways, although the overall visual quality of the apps was a bit lower. But at the end of the day I can’t really know for sure without comparing them side-by-side. It’s reportedly powered by a Snapdragon 835 chipset and will feature 64GB of storage (for the $399 model) with over 50 launch titles.

    The front of the device is smooth and rounded, not flat like Go. There are two velcro tightening straps on either side near your ears with a single thin strap across the top of your head — just like Rift. My glasses fit inside the unit just fine with a small light leaking nose gap. It didn’t seem to smash my face as much as the Rift does, which is relieving. It felt a bit heavier than the Go in the front, but that’s honestly to be expected with so much more power housed inside the unit.

    Speakers are hidden inside the head strap, similar to Go, with improved audio performance. In all four of my demos the sound was crisp and clear, although at the end of the day if you’re using VR alone at home you’ll probably just want to plug in your own headset for the best audio experience.

    On the underside of the headset, below the lenses, there is an IPD adjustment knob, similar to Rift, and a volume button, rather than volume controls on top like Go. There’s also a USB-C port for charging as well as

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  • OC5: Here’s Dead And Buried Running Side-By-Side On Rift And Quest
    OC5: Here’s Dead And Buried Running Side-By-Side On Rift And Quest

    Oculus Quest, Facebook’s new VR standalone headset, is set to bolster its library with a host of ports of Oculus Rift titles when it launches next year. But, running with mobile hardware, can Quest really hope to achieve anywhere near the level of visual fidelity seen on the Rift?

    As Developer Relations Engineer Gabor Szauer showed at Oculus Connect yesterday, it can get pretty darn close. Szauer ran a session titled ‘Porting Your App to Project Oculus Quest’ in which he detailed various optimizations made to one of Rift’s premier shooters, Dead and Buried, that allowed the team to squeeze the game onto Quest. This was the result:

    Not bad, right? Now, obviously, Oculus itself has intimate knowledge of both PC and mobile development on its hardware, not to mention the limitless resources of Facebook to make these ports happen. It’s also true that Dead and Buried isn’t the most demanding Rift game (a sort of port is on Go, too). Still, Szauer’s tips for porting games should give developers a lot of help.

    For starters, the developer cited a key component of any optimization system: baking the app’s lighting. This essentially means lighting is a static feature within an environment rather than an intensive dynamic system that sucks up processing power. The less Quest has to remember, the more it can focus on things that really matter.

    Other tips were very much along the same lines. Szauer suggested developers merge objects in a room. Dead and Buried, for example, features 915 objects on Rift but just two in the Quest version which, yes, will mean you can pick up everything in a room, but it will give Quest a much easier time letting you walk around in it.

    Another major factor is texture compression. Szauer showed examples of where texture qualities on characters and environments had been lowered ever so slightly. The difference to you and me is hardly noticeable but, as Szauer said: “Where we can’t really tell, the GPU can most certainly tell.

    “This is kind of a trend you see in all the assets,” he continued. “Less textures, fewer polygons, preferably just one material so the whole thing can just render in one draw call.”

    Games like Moss, Superhot and Robo Recall will likely also be calling upon these tricks for their announced ports for Quest. We’re going to be really interested to see how they turn out.

    You can see Szauer’s full talk below. Hes’ got plenty more tips. As for Quest, it’s out next spring for $399.

    Tagged with: dead and buried, Oculus Connect, Oculus Quest, oculus rift

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  • OC5: Turtle Rock Games Is Developing Face Your Fears 2 For Quest
    OC5: Turtle Rock Games Is Developing Face Your Fears 2 For Quest

    At last year’s Oculus Connect, VP of Content Jason Rubin revealed that Gear VR’s Face Your Fears, a game with several scary showcases for the platform, was one of the company’s “biggest success stories” yet. Yesterday, we found out that a sequel is on the way.

    Face Your Fears 2 was somewhat quietly announced during yesterday’s Connect 5 keynote, being shown in a demo reel for Oculus’ new standalone VR headset, Quest. Since then Turtle Rock Studios, the makers of the original game, have confirmed that they’re working on the new iteration. It’s even on display at Connect this year with its own spooky booth, as seen in the pictures below.

    Face Your Fears 2 is at #OC5 being played hands on for the very first time! Check it out if you’re here… and very, very brave.

    — Turtle Rock Studios (@TurtleRock) September 27, 2018

    The footage on-stage had a crow fly at the user’s face, which didn’t look pleasant at all, but that’s kind of Face Your Fear’s objective. The original game featured relatively short sequences designed to play on people’s fears in often cruel ways, selling expansions on the Oculus Store. It made for a great way to showcase the power of VR, even on three degrees of freedom (3DOF) headsets like Gear VR and Oculus Go.

    It looks like Face Your Fears 2 is shaping up to be a launch title for Oculus Quest next spring. No word yet on if it will also coming to Gear and Go.

    Tagged with: Face Your Fears 2, Oculus Connect, Oculus Quest

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  • OC5: Ready At Dawn, Insomniac And More Are Experimenting With Oculus Quest
    OC5: Ready At Dawn, Insomniac And More Are Experimenting With Oculus Quest

    Oculus Quest, Facebook’s new standalone VR headset, is promising over 50 games for launch next year, and a list of developers shown at this week’s Oculus Connect conference gives us some idea of what’s on the way.

    Hugo Barra, Facebook’s VP of VR, revealed a look at a handful of developers that have been experimenting with Quest and its six-degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking over the past year. On-screen behind Barra was a list (seen above) that included Lone Echo (and Lone Echo II!) developer Ready at Dawn Studios, Rock Band VR creator Harmonix, and Dragon Front studio High Voltage Software.

    There were also some developers with already-confirmed Quest games, like the Superhot team and Polyarc, the developer of Moss. Other VR staples include Arizona Sunshine‘s Vertigo Games, Sprint Vector‘s Survios, and Wilson’s Heart‘s Twisted Pixel.

    Note that this doesn’t necessarily confirm these developers will definitely have Quest games ready for launch. Barra described these team’s work as “exploring what’s possible and what they can build on Oculus Quest.” Still, practically every developer on the list has at least one Rift, Go or Gear game that we’d love to see ported to Quest (Echo VR please), so we’ll keep a close eye on them.

    Barra’s words also led into a video that revealed yet more developers that have been playing around with the device, including Insomniac, the studio behind the upcoming Stormland (or, for most people, those guys that just made that great Spider-Man game) and Tender Claws, the makers of the ever-excellent Virtual-Virtual Reality.

    Quest is arriving in spring 2019 for $399. Expect full impressions of our hands-on time later today.

    Tagged with: Oculus Connect, Oculus Quest

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  • OC5: Oculus Quest Uses Snapdragon 835 Processor
    OC5: Oculus Quest Uses Snapdragon 835 Processor

    Oculus had a lot to say about its new standalone VR headset, Quest, at the opening keynote for Oculus Connect 5 yesterday, but one thing it didn’t really mention was the processor powering the device. We now know it’s a Snapdragon 835.

    Oculus confirmed as much following the kit’s reveal in San Jose. The 835 isn’t the latest processor from Qualcomm (it’s used in Samsung’s Galaxy S8 but was replaced with the newer 845 in this year’s Galaxy S9), but it is a step up from the 821 found in Oculus’ other, lower-cost standalone, Oculus Go. It’s also used in other standalone devices like Google and Lenovo’s Mirage Solo.

    Go, though, is still able to run a wide range of Gear VR apps given that its older hardware is entirely dedicated to VR performance and not being partially applied elsewhere as it would on a smartphone. We can expect the same to be true of the 835; it won’t be as strictly powerful as an S9 but all of its horsepower will be going on VR alone. That might be one of the key reasons why Oculus is going to be able to get games like The Climb and Robo Recall onto the device. Still, don’t expect these games to make it to Rift unscathed in some way, be it visual downgrades or reduced enemy numbers, and we doubt more intense games like Lone Echo will be able to make their way over.

    We also know Quest offers 1600 x 1440 resolution per eye, which is basically the same as Go, and it sports built-in audio too. It’s also got full six degrees of freedom (6DOF) control using the new Oculus Insight inside-out tracking system.

    Quest is going to be launching in the spring of next year for $399. We’ve been hands-on with it at Connect this year so expect a full rundown of the experience later today.

    Tagged with: Oculus Connect, Oculus Quest

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  • Preview: Face Your Fears 2 – Why’s it Always Spiders? Face Your Fears heads to Oculus Quest, almost missing the point.