• Magic Leap’s Latest Experience Is An Interactive Fairy Tale

    Funomena’s latest game lets you plant holographic gardens in your own mixed reality playspace. As with all immersive hardware and platforms, the success (or otherwise) of Magic Leap will hinge on whether it can attract creative developers to make awesome content to bring its technology to life. That’s why it’s so exciting to see people

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  • New Dark Eclipse Update Adds More Characters and Player Bonuses to PlayStation VR Title The update is free and available now.
  • Seeking Dawn Gets Laundry List Of Updates As PSVR Port Is Now ‘Playable’ Internally
    Seeking Dawn Gets Laundry List Of Updates As PSVR Port Is Now ‘Playable’ Internally

    Seeking Dawn was one of the most heavily-marketed VR games of the year and even though it didn’t quite live up to expectations, it still delivered a lengthy, feature-filled campaign with full co-op support and one of the most visually striking VR worlds we’ve seen yet. Luckily, Multiverse didn’t stop working on it after it officially launched.

    In addition to releasing a free-to-play version of the game that includes co-op recently, the developers have released a slew of other updates and fixes. Specifically last month a big 2.0 update came out with a new Master Mode that includes weapon upgrades, difficulty adjustments, and three entire brand new zones to explore. There’s also now a buff/debuff feature related to eating food, general balancing, new enemies, and various optimization fixes.

    That 2.0 update is easily one of the largest we’ve seen for a VR game to date post-launch and is a great sign for the developer’s ongoing support.

    On top of this, Multiverse is also making strong progress on next year’s PSVR port for Seeking Dawn. Junior Ferreira, Digital Media Manager for Multiverse, reached out to UploadVR recently with the following update on the PSVR version:

    “Thanks to the hard work from our fantastic dev team, we finally have a new playable Seeking Dawn PSVR demo. At the same time, we are working closely with Sony and trying our best to push out the PSVR version for our players, who have been waiting for it for so long…We are so excited to finally be able to share the progress we’ve made regarding PSVR, and can’t wait to share more with you and our fans.”

    Unfortunately that’s all we know so far, but hopefully the PSVR version will launch with all of these updates included from the start. We’re especially interested in seeing what the control schemes are like in Seeking Dawn given how fluid and robust the options are on PC VR platforms like Rift and Vive. The PS Move controllers, while capable of supporting games like Borderlands 2 VR, are far from ideal.

    Let us know what you think of this news down in the comments below and check out our full review for more details on the game.

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  • Scale-1 Portal to Launch Therapy for Dizziness and Balance Disorders at CES 2019 The therapy is through a new application called MoveR.
  • Is Asynchronous SpaceWarp 2.0 Releasing Soon?
    Is Asynchronous SpaceWarp 2.0 Releasing Soon?

    The changelog for the latest update to Oculus Medium mentions the app now supports ASW 2.0. Medium is a VR sculpting tool for the Oculus Rift made by a team at Facebook while Asynchronous SpaceWarp (ASW) is a technology built into the Rift drivers which compensates for low framerates on underpowered PC hardware.

    When you’re not meeting (or near) 90FPS in VR, ASW kicks in automatically. ASW forces the running game/app to render at 45FPS, then generates a synthetic frame in between each real frame extrapolating from image and the headset tracking data for a total of 90FPS. Half the frames are “real” and half are “synthetic”. Whenever your graphics card has enough free resources to achieve 90FPS normally, ASW automatically disengages and you return to true 90FPS.

    Valve added a similar feature for the HTC Vive in SteamVR last month.

    ASW 2.0 was announced at Oculus Connect 5 in late September. It still uses the color information of the frame, but now uses the depth information too (provided by the app if the developer chooses). The new algorithm, powered by this depth information, should offer the same benefits of ASW 1.0 but now with fewer artifacts.

    Oculus did not give a release date nor even a release window for ASW 2.0. We’ve reached out to Facebook for any clarification on the release timeline, but Medium’s changelog simply states Medium “utilizes” the technology and it is not clear precisely what that means. One possibility is that it may simply mean that they now submit a depth buffer, but it might also hint that ASW 2.0 will be releasing soon. We will keep you updated with any further updates related to ASW 2.0.

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  • WayRay Launches True AR SDK & Reality Virtually Hackathon Sponsorship

    The Swiss based company announces a partnership alongside Reality Virtually Hackathon with prizes up to $5,000. When I think of futuristic HUD (heads up display) technology, the first thought that comes to mind is almost always Tony Stark AKA Iron Man and how Hollywood has imagined AR displays through his advanced helmet. Switzerland-based company WayRay

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  • Vestige Review: An Unflinching Portrayal Of Love And Loss
    Vestige Review: An Unflinching Portrayal Of Love And Loss

    VR is no stranger to tough subjects, but few experiences tackle the weight of death and grief with as much grace as Aaron Bradbury’s searingly harrowing Vestige.

    This is a tale of love and loss based upon a real account from Lisa, who lost her husband Erik at a young age. Lisa’s memories of the couple’s time together bleed into view like lucid dreams; real photography is pieced together with streaks of light that both illuminate the pair’s life while still leaving the gaps that stop you from getting the full picture. That’s kind of how the brain works, isn’t it?

    Vestige initially recalls Dear Angelica with its romanticized tour of a life well lived, though it soon does away with the more fantastical elements. Lisa’s heartbreaking narration, which has a painful croak in the throat at all times, draws you in with its sincerity and the piece’s sensational synthetic soundtrack wrestles with overwhelming joy and grief in equal measure.

    It’s impressively assured in how to handle VR, sometimes uncomfortably so. In one particularly draining sequence, Lisa begins to describe memories of the hospital. Here those vibrant lights erractically scramble and screech with piercing aggression and the camera begins to pull you closer to the darkness even as you want to physically back away from it. It’s as hauntingly honest a portrayal of unbearable loss as you’ll ever see, a virtual manifestation of Lisa’s pain so visceral in nature that the temptation to rip your headset off sets in straight away. But Vestige rewards your endurance with a bittersweet reminder of the power of memory and how lucky we are to be able to make them.

    That’s what makes this short trip through despair worth it; a tough lesson in holding onto what you have, what you love, and making every moment count. Don’t miss it.

    Final Say: Must See

    Vestige is available now on Oculus Rift for $4.99.

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  • Borderlands 2 VR: The Rights and the Wrongs VRFocus offers a detailed look at what Borderlands 2 VR got right, and where it went wrong.
  • Facebook Open Sources ‘DeepFocus’ VR Research
    Facebook Open Sources ‘DeepFocus’ VR Research

    Facebook is releasing public code and formally open sourcing its DeepFocus research into ultra-realistic visuals for VR headsets.

    The DeepFocus approach to rendering visuals would produce “natural blur” by way of a neural network architecture that maintains “the ultrasharp image resolutions necessary for high-quality VR,” according to the company. Facebook Reality Lab is the new name for Facebook’s Oculus research teams working on VR and AR concepts that could take years to realize commercially. One such project related to DeepFocus was revealed earlier this year — the Half Dome varifocal hardware prototype which physically moves the panels of a VR headset to produce visuals that would seem to solve the “vergence-accommodation conflict” which plagues current designs. This “conflict” is between where the eyes are pointed and where the lenses of the eyeballs are focused and it can limit the amount of time some people can wear a VR headset without feeling some kind of discomfort.

    At the Oculus developer conference in September, Facebook Reality Labs Chief Scientist Michael Abrash talked a bit about some of these research efforts.

    A research paper presented at SIGGRAPH Asia this month details the DeepFocus approach and explains how it can be applied not only to a varifocal architecture like Half Dome, but it also “supports high-quality image synthesis for multifocal and light-field displays.” From today’s Oculus blog post:

    . . .though we’re currently using DeepFocus with Half Dome, the system’s deep learning–based approach to defocusing is hardware agnostic. Our research paper shows that in addition to rendering real-time blur on varifocal displays, DeepFocus supports high-quality image synthesis for multifocal and light-field displays. This makes our system applicable to the entire range of next-gen head-mounted display technologies that are widely seen as the future of more advanced VR.

    Half Dome is one of the most interesting hardware projects Facebook’s research teams revealed publicly. Unfortunately, though, the effort didn’t make an appearance at Oculus Connect 5 in September with co-founder Brendan Iribe’s exit from the company revealed just a few weeks later. Amid a report his departure was related to the future direction of PC-based headsets, we wondered if the open sourcing of this related project might indicate Facebook ceased its research into Half Dome.

    According to a Facebook spokesperson, research is continuing with Half Dome and DeepFocus, and this open sourcing effort is intended to “accelerate development in this area to benefit the industry as a whole.”

    “Facebook Reality Lab is pursuing many ‘feature prototypes’ to explore the potential future for VR immersion – Half Dome is one of those,” according to the spokesperson. “The Display Systems Research (DSR) team at FRL continues to develop advanced display technologies, including DeepFocus, to explore the visual frontier of VR/AR. Half Dome and many other feature prototypes are constantly under development at FRL.”

    According to the Oculus blog post today, researcher Salah Nouri “joined the project to help demonstrate that DeepFocus could actually run on Half Dome and render real-time blur on present-day processors at a resolution fit for VR.” From the post again:

    Nouri was able to demo DeepFocus and Half

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  • Prey’s VR Support Is A Polished, Underwhelming Escape Room Campaign
    Prey’s VR Support Is A Polished, Underwhelming Escape Room Campaign

    Bethesda’s previous VR efforts have been as ambitious, if not always as successful, as VR gaming gets. By pouring through its back catalog the publisher has given us takes on Doom, Skyrim and Fallout 4 to revisit inside headsets with ports that ask players to overlook a few awkward inevitabilities in return for massive worlds to explore. The trade-off, many would argue, is worth it, but with Prey’s VR content Bethesda takes a more familiar route.

    Instead of adapting all of Arkane Studios’ 2017 (rather brilliant) first-person shooter into VR, Prey’s new Typhoon Hunter update adds a much smaller VR ‘campaign’ consisting of three escape room-style missions that take anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes to solve each. These levels strip back much of the original game’s core mechanics, like combat and free movement across a semi-open world, in favor of some relatively simple puzzle solving. It’s basically another one those smaller experiences like Gran Turismo Sport or Rise of the Tomb Raider‘s VR extras.

    They’re fun excursions into the wider world of Prey, even if they’re relatively uneventful and quickly forgotten. Each mission takes place before the main campaign, tying into characters and environments that you’ll have encountered the first time around.

    I’m usually not one for VR puzzle games, but Prey’s puzzles felt a little too easy even for me. The first environment, for example, really only needs you to just find objects and documents that will give you the answers, whereas the final level can be solved in almost no time at all. They are varied, at the very least, but escape room fanatics will be disappointed at the challenge on offer here.

    One could argue, though, that this is less about solving puzzles and more about experiencing the game’s expertly-crafted atmosphere with a headset on. It is indeed a joy to revisit some of these areas in VR and it benefits from the level of polish Arkane put into the main game. It’s rare to find environments that are this detailed and, frankly, believable in VR. You can pick up most objects and there is at least one of the original game’s most recognizable moments (neuromod installation) recreated, but it’s also hard to deny that the absence of many of the game’s central mechanics leaves it all feeling a bit lifeless.

    There could have been so much more to it, too. Prey’s most infamous enemies, mimics, take on the shape of objects in a room and then spring out at you when you least suspect it, and the game’s deep combat system, which is clearly influenced by BioShock, would have been fun to explore in VR. Add in side-quests and an intriguing story and you have something that would have been really interesting to revisit inside a headset. Instead, you’ll only be able to see all of the enemies and weapons behind glass in an appreciated if unremarkable virtual museum.

    There’s also some weird choices made in the design. If you bring your hand to any surface your virtual self won’t follow

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  • The 2018 Buyer’s Guide To The Best PSVR Accessories And Games
    The 2018 Buyer’s Guide To The Best PSVR Accessories And Games

    The Holiday season for 2018 is finally upon us and with it comes lots of deals, a shopping frenzy, and plenty of new toys and gadgets under the Christmas tree. If you picked up a new PSVR headset on Black Friday last month or have plans to get one this holiday season, then we’ve got you covered with our buying guide full of recommendations for the PSVR headset, its top accessories, and the best games on the device so far after over two years.

    We’ve separated the guide with nice, big headers so it should be easy to navigate!

    PSVR Headset Buying Guide

    Sony’s PSVR headset is now officially two years old! Over those two years hundreds of games have hit the platform and its earned the rank as the most popular non-mobile VR device on the market with over three million units sold. That’s a big achievement. Despite the limited tracking and relatively under-powered hardware in comparison to expensive gaming PCs, the PSVR is a great platform full of creativity.

    Which PSVR Model To Get?

    You may not realize it, but there are actually two models of the PSVR headset. We covered both in our full, in-depth PSVR headset review. The original model (CUH-ZVR1) has a cord extending from the headset down to a breakaway connection with volume controls, mic mute, and a power button inline along the cord itself. There is also no HDR-passthrough, meaning if you want to play games with HDR settings on your PS4 Pro and 4K TV, you have to unplug the processor unit to do so.

    However, the newer model PSVR headset (CUH-ZVR2) is the new standard model in all modern bundles and packages. This device has the volume, mic, and power buttons on the headset itself underneath the visor and along the headstrap, as well as a single long cord that goes all the way from the headset to the processor unit directly. Finally, this device does allow for HDR-passthrough, so you don’t need to unplug the PSVR to use HDR settings on your PS4 Pro and 4K TV.

    Visually and in terms of performance/tracking these devices are identical. If you don’t have a 4K TV or a PS4 Pro then you have zero reason to upgrade, but if you do own those more advanced pieces of tech then you might want to for convenience. If you are just now looking to buy a device, now you know the difference.

    You Need The PS4 Camera

    Regardless of which model or bundle you buy, you need to make sure you have the PS4 Camera otherwise you cannot use the PSVR at all, whatsoever. You can have either the old, original PS4 camera (shown above, it’s rectangular) or the newer circular model — they’re literally identical in terms of technology and performance. Whichever comes with your headset is fine, or if what you bought does not include a camera then you must also buy one.

    PSVR Bundles

    There are lots of great PSVR bundles out there. Most recently are the two bundles shown above, which include either

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  • Steppingstone VR Uses Multi-Platform Electromagnetic Propulsion To Fight Sim Sickness
    Steppingstone VR Uses Multi-Platform Electromagnetic Propulsion To Fight Sim Sickness

    Steppingstone VR thinks its new approach to VR locomotion might be the one to solve simulation sickness.

    The company is working on a motion platform that uses electromagnetic propulsion to physically move players around as they stand/sit on a platform. You can see it in the early prototype video below; the platform gets its power supply from a specialized floor, a little like bumper cars, allowing it to quickly adapt and move in response to the player’s input in VR. The sensations of physically moving that the player feels should help to combat sickness in games with smooth locomotion such as Skyrim VR.

    But this is just the first step (sorry) for Steppingstone VR. Over emails, CEO Samy Bensmida tells me that the consumer version of its product aims to include multiple moving platforms that users will be able to step onto. Tiles will move backward as you step onto them, in theory allowing you to physically walk around a massive game world without ever leaving the center of a space. You can see a similar concept in the video below, though Bensmida explains that this system uses wheels, whereas Steppingstone’s electromagnetic propulsion will allow it a greater deal of autonomy.

    “You will walk all day long in Skyrim with your legs, no harness, and get all the congruent inertial cues,” Bensmida said.

    And, yes, as expensive as it looks, Bensmida says the product is “100% consumer” with the aim of streamlining it to be viable for homes. Based on the prototype, there’s a lot of work to be done to get Steppingstone towards anywhere near something we’d consider making space for it and we’d still be concerned about the safety of navigating multiple moving platforms when essentially blindfolded in VR.

    Still, Bensmida seems confident the team will pull it off, and is preparing a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to help it get there. It’s currently estimated to utilize a “consumer safe” 12V voltage and the campaign will likely run for around $150,000.

    Would you put down electromagnetic flooring in your house if it meant complete and utter VR immersion?

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  • LBVR Specialist mk2 to Integrate Secret Location’s Vusr Venue for Global Content Delivery The collaboration will help mk2 streamline its VR Pod content management.
  • Rovio and Resolution Games are Working on Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs The title is scheduled for launch in 2019.
  • Media Molecule’s Dreams Beta Goes Wide In January On PlayStation 4
    Media Molecule’s Dreams Beta Goes Wide In January On PlayStation 4

    Some early fans of Media Molecule’s Dreams will be getting access to the creation platform this week while a wider beta kicks off in January.

    The first invites go out on Dec. 18 to folks who signed up for Media Molecule’s newsletter (you had to sign up before Dec. 7) while sign-ups for everyone else “will go live on January 4th. Those who sign-up will be invited to join the beta in waves during the week of January 8th and though we cannot guarantee space for everyone, we will try our best.”

    While we’ve heard in the past that VR support will be included with the full launch of the PlayStation 4-based creation software, an FAQ for the beta reiterates that VR support won’t be included in the beta at all.

    “We’ll have more details about VR for Dreams closer to launch,” the FAQ explains.

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