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  • Grenfell: Our Home Is An Essential VR Documentary Launching Today
    Grenfell: Our Home Is An Essential VR Documentary Launching Today

    Last month I headed over to the ever-excellent Sheffield Doc/Fest to check out the latest in VR documentary making. As you can see in my full report, I experienced a lot of amazing projects, but one, in particular, stood out to me – Grenfell: Our Home. From today, you can watch it too.

    Just over a year ago now, the Grenfell Tower, a massive block of flats in western London, caught fire and soon the entire building was engulfed in flames. 72 people lost their lives in the tragedy that’s now considered to be one of the worst fires in the history of the entire UK. Our Home tells the stories of a handful of survivors of the incident.

    Rather than focusing only on the fire itself, though, Our Home first shines a light on life inside Grenfell before the incident. We visit family’s flats, virtually recreated based on the descriptions they give us. At one point you stand in an elevator and listen to the chatter of invisible residents surrounding you, painting a colorful picture of what life was like inside the now-derelict building.

    In another story, you visit the home of a couple that’s developing a love of growing plants. The walls of their apartment are literally drawn around you as they describe a space filled with positive energy and you soon find yourself immersed in a dense urban jungle quite unlike what you might have imagined the place to be like. It makes it all the more hard-hitting when the inevitable stories about the fire arrive.

    It’s a surprisingly effective piece, then, commissioned by the UK’s Channel 4 and created by Parable Works. It’s free to watch via the Channel 4 4VR app available on Rift, Gear, Go and Vive via Viveport. You can also find it on the All 4 website and Channel 4 News’ social media pages.

    Tagged with: Grenfell: Our Home

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  • BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe Confirms Gamescom 2018 Lineup This year's booth will feature eleven playable videogames.
  • Hands-On: Sandbox VR Delivers Fun And Adaptable Location-Based VR Gaming
    Hands-On: Sandbox VR Delivers Fun And Adaptable Location-Based VR Gaming

    When I first tried The Void’s Star Wars installation at Disney World earlier this year, it totally blew me away. I loved how intricately detailed the in-game environment was and that it was mapped to the real world so I could freely move around and reach out to touch walls, levers, and buttons on panels. It was amazing, but scaling that business to more than just a handful of locations isn’t going to be easy. It requires significant space and careful mapping.

    Sandbox VR, another, similar, location-based VR gaming space, recently opened up a location at the Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo, CA with an excellent storefront display right next to one of the main mall entrances. All they need a is a large green room and the software does the rest. The Sandbox VR website also lists locations in Los Angeles, New York, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

    What I played was extremely fun and adaptable in a way that I could see this sort of content easily scaling throughout malls, theme parks, and other locations with the foot traffic to support it.

    You can see some example footage of the experience above. Everyone that does a Sandbox VR sessions is given digital copies of this mixed reality footage. They even show you the footage immediately after you’re done using an iPad. The cameras are all set up to record and process the video seamlessly, making it extremely easy to watch and share.

    As great as The Void was, they don’t have anything like this in place which feels like a major missed opportunity. All they have you do instead is take a regular photo wearing the gear afterwards, but it lacks the mixed reality flair. The setup at Sandbox uses a mixture of HTC Vive Pro headsets, tracked rifles, backpack PCs, haptic feedback vests, and sensors on your wrists and ankles for full-body tracking.

    In terms of content, Sandbox VR currently has two experiences as of the time of this writing. The first and most popular one is a standard zombie wave shooter. The games are designed for 4-6 people (they’ve got an even larger room next to the one I played in) but we did it as a pair of just two. You’ll stand inside the box and gun down waves upon waves of undead. Some of them stumble/walk slowly, some run at you, and some of them even climb along the walls and try to incapacitate you with disgustingly long tongues.

    It’s fun and it does a good job of introducing the mechanics of using the gun controller and getting comfortable with moving around the space, but it’s pretty basic. If you’ve played The Brookhaven Experiment, HordeZ, Arizona Sunshine, or any countless other zombie shooters then you’ve already played something better to be honest. However, the second game I tried is what really blew me away.

    The folks at Sandbox VR didn’t send footage of my time in this one, but basically it’s a Davy Jones-themed cursed pirate ship adventure. You can

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  • Humble Bundle Can Help You Learn to Develop For VR Textbooks worth up to $1,072 on the topic of VR development are available on the Humble Bundle.
  • Venom and Ultron Are Bosses In Marvel Powers United VR
    Venom and Ultron Are Bosses In Marvel Powers United VR

    We’re still hoping to see a lot more playable heroes in Marvel Powers United VR when it launches on Oculus Rift later this month but, today, developer Sanzaru Games is announcing some villains we’ll be facing off with.

    Symbiotic Spider-Man villain, Venom, and robotic Avengers enemy, Ultron, are both appearing in the game. As far as we can tell these aren’t playable characters but instead bosses that will pop up during levels. Based on what we’ve already seen of bosses in the game, they’ll pose a significant threat and will require players to come together to take them down before it’s too late. They join Loki and Ronan the Accuser as threats you’ll encounter.

    Venom’s inclusion in particular gives us hope, as Spider-Man himself hasn’t been announced as a playable character yet. Hopefully this means the web-slinger is set for a big reveal in the next few weeks. I mean, you can’t have Venom in something and not have Spider-Man in it too, right? Sony?

    Ultron, meanwhile, looks much closer to his comic book form rather than the James Spader-voiced mechanical madman seen in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’d be nice if his appearance meant that some levels had us fighting his army of minions rather than the scores of Kree soldiers we’ve seen so far, but that’s not confirmed yet.

    Last week Oculus confirmed that Powers United VR is launching on July 26th for $39.99, with Black Panther as a playable character. Check back in the days leading up to launch for more reveals.

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  • Marvel Powers United VR Welcomes Villains Venom and Ultron Marvel Powers United VR is expected to be released on 26th July.
  • Location-Based VR Centres Get New Family-Friendly VR Experience First title in the for-all-ages VR series Buddy Adventures is set to launch in Summer 2018.
  • Nerf Guns Go Augmented with Laser Ops Pro Blasters Take part in Nerf battles using the power of augmented reality.
  • Echo Combat vs Space Junkies: Which Zero-G VR FPS Is Better?
    Echo Combat vs Space Junkies: Which Zero-G VR FPS Is Better?

    A few weeks ago when writing about Blood & Truth, an upcoming PSVR-exclusive spy action game, I pointed out the striking similarities to Defector, an upcoming Oculus-exclusive spy action game. Both games are due out this year and have seemingly been in development essentially side-by-side and were announced only a few months apart. That sort of thing doesn’t usually happen too often but it seems to be happening once again with Echo Combat and Space Junkies.

    Ubisoft’s Space Junkies was announced first at last year’s E3 with Echo Combat announced at last year’s Oculus Connect. Since then we’ve gone hands-on with both games on multiple occasions and have spent our fair-share of time floating around in zero-gravity while shooting guns. There are a lot of similarities here, but a few key differences as well.

    To refresh yourself on each game, here is our most recent hands-on preview of Echo Combat and Space Junkies, as well as most recent livestreams of each.

    Pre-Release Disclaimer

    Obviously it needs to be stated explicitly that this comparison is currently based off of pre-release versions of both games. We’ve only played them briefly and sessions were of alpha and/or beta versions of the games. This means that once they do finally release each game could be quite different, so just don’t expect this comparison to hold true accurately forever.

    We’ll make updates when the time comes on release for both games.

    Best Locomotion System: Echo Combat

    There’s really no contest here. Echo Combat’s movement system has been lauded ever since it was first deployed in Lone Echo, the single player space adventure, and Echo Arena, the disc-based multiplayer game that precedes Echo Combat. By pushing off of people and objects, as well as using wrist-mounted boosters, you can easily and nimbly move around the entire environment in 360 degrees.

    Space Junkies does have a similar system, but you have far less nuanced control. It’s really just a jetpack-based movement system so you can accelerate easily upwards and forward, but it’s tough to change directions quickly and you can’t grab onto parts of the environment. Ultimately they’re very similar movement systems, but Echo Combat’s is just more fluid and natural.

    Best Gun Mechanics: Space Junkies

    This was a close call. Each game has a good amount of variety with weapons, but Echo Combat only has three guns (auto pistol, shotgun, and charged sniper rifle) and virtually everyone uses the standard Pulsar auto pistol most of the time anyway. In Echo Combat you also can’t switch weapons — whatever you pick back at the spawn terminal is what you’re stuck with until you respawn.

    But in Space Junkies guns are scattered around the map just like in old school Unreal Tournament. There’s the basic pistol, a shotgun you have to pump with both hands to load it, a machine gun with ricochet bullets, a large mini-gun that has a ton of kickback, and even a grenade slingshot. It’s a ton of variety and feels like they’re only going to add more as time goes on.

    Best Additional Abilities: Tied

    Luckily neither of

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  • Ultrahaptics Announces Plugin For Unity Unity developers will soon be able to apply haptics technology to Unity VR projects.
  • Woojer CTO Talks Haptics and VR Experiences One of the team behind the Woojer haptic feedback vest talks about the product with Nina Salomons.
  • These Amazing Zelda VR Fan Experiences Let You Wield The Master Sword
    Theses Amazing Zelda VR Fan Experiences Let You Wield The Master Sword

    After playing this brilliant fan-made app we’re more anxious than ever for Nintendo to make a VR game based on The Legend of Zelda.

    Indie developer Aklar_45 created this free experience (download here), which was developed using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4. Playable on either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, it lets you wield the legendary Master Shield — complete with a Hyrulian shield — in battle against the Stallord boss from Twilight Princess. The Oculus Touch or Vive wands provide realistic controls, and you can also switch to a box and arrow.

    The boss itself is a little tricky, and almost impossible to beat without using teleportation locomotion, though you can use smooth too. You’ve got a certain number of hits you can sustain before you’ll have to try things from the start. The controls on Touch are a little wonky but good enough for any Zelda fans that need to try this out. An especially nice touch is the ability to summon ever-annoying fairy, Navi, at the touch of a button. If you like Aklar_45’s work you can donate to his PayPal here.

    It’s not the first Zelda VR boss fight the developer has made. You can also do battle with Darknut and even Ganondorf himself among others. There’s a whole assortment of bosses to fight through at the developer’s YouTube page.

    Many VR gamers have longed for the chance to pick up Link’s iconic weapon and this is about as close as you can get right now. It helps that the demo is visually stunning, besting even Nintendo’s own Zelda games. Sadly, Nintendo itself seems no closer to bringing our dreams to life in any official capacity; a VR version of Mario Kart Arcade is just about the only work the company has done with the technology, at least publically. Yesterday, we also reported that someone had made an N64 VR emulator that allows you to play Ocarina of Time inside a headset.

    Tagged with: The Legend of Zelda

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  • VR vs. The Buzzards Recent mumblings and grumblings aren't exactly positive but things aren't as bad as people are saying.
  • HTC Is Calling For Developers To Make Ready Player One Minigames
    HTC Is Calling For Developers To Make Ready Player One Minigames

    Earlier this year, to tie-in with the release of the Steven Spielberg movie, HTC Vive launched a VR portal called The Oasis. Sharing the same name as the fictional metaverse seen in both the film and the novel it’s based on, the app acts as a hub world to various minigames built by a number of developers. Now HTC wants to expand The Oasis, and it’s looking for more studios to work with.

    HTC recently put out a call to VR developers to build more content for the app. Studios can apply here with basic information and a design proposal for the their idea, which HTC will then evaluate. Who knows, you could see your own game showing up on the free service pretty soon.

    Given that the app is entirely free to play, we’re not sure exactly how HTC would compensate developers for the time and resources used to expand The Oasis, though that will surely be hashed out with any successful applicants.

    Currently, The Oasis consists of five games, including three original experiences themed after the movie and two smaller minigames that are actually just taken from Vive Studios’ own game, Arcade Saga. It’s a pretty fun experience, though we’re not exactly sure why HTC is so stubbornly sticking to expanding it months after the movie released. Perhaps it’s hoping for a second wind once the DVD release is here?

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  • University of Bristol Uses VR For New Drug Discoveries New techniques for folding molecules discovered using VR could lead to new medical applications.