News

  • From PC To Standalone: Apex Construct Studio Goes In-Depth On Quest Development
    Apex Construct Quest Screenshot

    Oculus Quest solves a lot of VR’s biggest issues. It removes the need for expensive PCs, cumbersome wires and external tracking. But there are inevitable trade-offs, the biggest of which being power. Quest’s mobile hardware (powered by a Snapdragon 835 chip) just isn’t as powerful as a PC or even a PS4. Without having extensive time with the device itself, we ultimately don’t know how big the differences between PC VR and Quest games will be, though we’ve had some small indications in the past few weeks. The only people that really know what the platform is capable of are the developers working on it.

    So we asked one of them all about it.

    Fast Travel Games is working on a port of its popular debut title, Apex Construct, for Quest. It’s a game that’s already withstood the comparisons between PSVR and PC VR but, with Quest, that gap only widens. Apex Construct has big, open levels with the occasional vista and plenty of interactive items. As you can see in the new screenshots released today, the game holds up pretty well visually. Fast Travel got a kind of headstart on Apex for Quest last year when it showcased a demo of the game running on mobile hardware, but the team says this ended up being a very different job to that. Read on for an in-depth look at its work.

    On The Process Of Optimizing 

    Kristoffer Benjaminsson, CTO: So this time around we kind of did it the right way. We went through all the hurdles to get the assets in a way that would support running on a mobile device. We took some heavy decisions early on about what to scale down on. And to some extent we kind of scaled back too far. But at the same time we were struggling with the performance but it’s not due to textures or shaders. It’s mostly about the amount of stuff that we are drawing.

    So it’s been a it’s been a heavy ride. Most of this stuff, at least to begin with, was automated. I mean we had a lot of systems in place for the PS4 and the PC versions that we modified and kind of reran and reran and reran to kind of simplify and optimize things to get going. And now we’re down to the creative. You know, what can we hide when and where and all the tricks in the book.

    Erik Odheldahl, Creative Director: The idea is to keep the gameplay identical from the PC and PSVR version really. So all the logic is there. We basically tried to try and cram the same game–.

    KB: It is the same game. I mean yes when you compare screenshots and you compare video you would definitely see that things are missing but from an immersion point of view from a gameplay perspective it is the same.

    Andreas Juliusson, Marketing and Communications Manager: We actually we made I think five major updates to the initial launch in early 2018 on PC and PlayStation

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  • Bigscreen Beta’s New Filters Add More Fun and Comfort The app is giving users greater control.
  • Bigscreen Update Adds 8-Bit, CRT And Night Mode
    Bigscreen Update Adds 8-Bit, CRT And Night Mode

    The social VR app Bigscreen is adding a few new visual options in The Filters Update and one of them is designed with the intent to make your transition out of VR a bit smoother once you’re ready to remove your HMD.

    The Bigscreen developers see that some people spend many hours in their application and, with that understanding, the team is adding a Night Mode option in The Filter Update. The new mode reduces blue light in an effort to reduce eye strain. Blue light also suppresses melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, so Night Mode might improve the quality of sleep for those spending a lot of time in the Bigscreen beta.

    The Filters Update is also adding some new setting options and presets for different types of content users access in the Bigscreen beta. The new settings are brightness, sharpness, contrast, and saturation. Lowering brightness can help with the lens glare common in Oculus Rift and HTC Vive HMDs, while sharpness/contrast could improve text legibility and saturation affects the density of color. The new presets manipulate these various settings to create the ideal combination for movies, text, or sports. There’s also a black & white preset, which could also be a useful accessibility option for some.

    There are two other options coming in The Filters Update that will add special effects to content viewed within the Bigscreen beta. The CRT Filter, which is inspired by the classic cathode ray tube TV technology in old, adds moire and barrel distortion so your modern games get an old school look. The 8-Bit Filter gives a similar nostalgic downgrade to your games, giving them a pixelated style.

    As far as the future of the Bigscreen beta, the developers have been preparing for Oculus Quest. Bigscreen earned our 2018 award for Best Ongoing Support For A VR App and will be a solid addition to the Quest’s library. Currently, the program is available for free on Rift, Vive, Windows VR, Go and Gear VR.

    Tagged with: bigscreen, Night Mode

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  • Outings Looks Like Microsoft’s Answer To Google Earth VR For MR
    Outings Looks Like Microsoft’s Answer To Google Earth VR For MR

    Microsoft just launched a brand new app for its Windows VR and HoloLens headsets, but you’d be forgiven for missing it.

    Outings was released quietly onto the Microsoft Store yesterday. It’s a new take on Microsoft Garage’s mobile app of the same name, released in conjunction with a new software development kit (SDK). A quick glance invites comparisons to Google Earth VR. The app visualizes certain locations as 3D assets and allows you to explore them. You can, apparently, soar across the globe like in Earth, though this time it’s presented as a 3D tabletop. Maybe that’s to appease flat earthers?

    Outings comes equipped with detailed information about landmarks and areas of its chosen cities. Those include New York, Seattle, Boston and Vancouver. We don’t know if its library of content is as expansive as Google Earth, though.

    More importantly, Outings is meant to showcase what can be done with the new Maps SDK. This allows you to pull data gathered from Bing Maps straight into Unity apps. It’d be perfect for, say, building a weather app with 3D visualization on HoloLens, or perhaps letting someone with a VR headset explore downtown Seattle.

    Unfortunately, as Outings is only on the Microsoft Store, you won’t be able to see this with a Rift or Vive. Other Microsoft-made apps like Halo: Recruit are yet to surface on the likes of SteamVR, so we wouldn’t hold your breath for this either. If you do have a headset, you can pick it up for free. It’s definitely something we’d like to try with HoloLens 2.

    Tagged with: google earth vr, Outings

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  • Arizona Sunshine: Rampage is Nomadic’s Latest Location-Based VR Experience It'll be available later this Spring in Orlando.
  • Feelreal Smells the Sweet Joy of Kickstarter Victory The campaign has smashed past its goal on the first day.
  • SplitX XR Summit 2019 Returns to Croatia in May The lineup of speakers is steadily growing.
  • Return Of The Obra Dinn Developer Could Explore VR With Next Game
    Return Of The Obra Dinn Developer Could Explore VR With Next Game

    Lucas Pope, the developer behind Papers, Please and The Return of the Obra Dinn, made an appearance at the 2019 BAFTA Games Awards where the latter game was nominated in six categories and walked away with wins for artistic achievement and game design. Many eyes will be on his next work and, during an interview, he revealed that it could possibly be a VR game.

    In a conversation with Game Central while at the BAFTA Games Awards, Pope stated that he’s interested in virtual reality, but hasn’t spent any time on it just yet. “It’s just one of those things in the back of my mind that seems interesting,” he said.

    The virtual reality gaming ecosystem is riddled with story-driven experiences that blend in intriguing puzzle elements, like Aspyr’s sci-fi mystery Torn. Shifting into VR would offer Pope a fresh platform for him to exhibit his knack for weaving an interesting tale throughout games that require close attention to detail.

    The Return of Obra Dinn, for instance, is a meticulously crafted experience that pushes players to investigate the scenes of a ravaged ship to figure out what caused the curious disappearance of the merchant vessel. The game takes place in 1807, where a ship called Obra Dinn set sail in 1802 and reappears five years later having never reached its rendezvous point. It sails into port with visible damage and no crew, and players play the role of an insurance investigator that must figure out just what happened to the long lost ship, the crew, and almost 200 tons of goods it carried.

    A similar experience could translate well to virtual reality, where players can maneuver freely to scrutinize and explore layers of a setting to a higher degree than non-VR games. While it would be interesting to see the mind behind two award-winning games create a VR title, it may be awhile before Pope releases something. It took the solo dev 4.5 years to finish The Return of Obra Dinn and, though he’s hoping to make something smaller in scope than that title, he would be diving into VR for the first time and will have to learn some new development techniques.

    Tagged with: Lucas Pope, The Return Of The Obra Dinn

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  • Our First Look At The US Army’s Controversial HoloLens AR Headset

    According to CNBC, this modified version of the HoloLens 2 will be used on and off the battlefield. During November of last year, it was reported that Microsoft would be entering a $479M contract with the United States military to supply the Army with 100,000 modified HoloLens headsets. That following February, A group of Microsoft

    The post Our First Look At The US Army’s Controversial HoloLens AR Headset appeared first on VRScout.

  • Vacation Simulator Is An Endlessly-Charming Trip Through A VR Paradise

    Trade in your cubicle for a snorkel in this delightful follow-up to the 2016 smash hit. Available now. When Owlchemy labs released its freshmen effort Job Simulator back in 2016, I don’t think the team was fully aware of the impact their deceitfully-simple game would have on the budding VR industry. Widely-regarded as one of

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  • F8 2019: Keynote Time And Schedule Revealed For Facebook’s Developer Conference
    F8 2019: Keynote Time And Schedule Revealed For Facebook’s Developer Conference

    Facebook’s developer conference gets underway on April 30 starting with a keynote at 10 am Pacific.

    This is a time you should probably mark on your calendar for major VR and AR updates. We expect announcements related to Oculus Quest and Rift S. The two new VR headsets from Facebook are slated to launch this “spring” for $400 each, though Quest is a completely self-contained system while Rift S requires a costly PC to operate.

    There is apparently no keynote on the second day of the F8 developer conference. This makes it very likely we’ll get major updates on the company’s VR and AR efforts during the April 30 keynote. You can check out the full schedule here. Below are some of the VR and AR sessions which will be held during the event.

    All times are Pacific:

    April 30

    12:30 pm: Storytelling Across Pioneering Platforms

    In the newly formed landscape around augmented and virtual reality, storytelling is becoming more personalized, immersive and interactive. How are creators adapting storytelling forms across these two very different pioneering formats? In this panel discussion, discover what top creators have learned so far and what they’re excited about in the future. Speakers: Yelena Rachitsky / Facebook

    1:30 pm: Spark AR Outlook: Inspiring Creation and Exploration

    Join us for a sweeping look at Spark AR Studio, ranging from powerful new creation features and capabilities, to improved controls for managing and distributing AR experiences across Facebook’s family of apps. In this session, we will also discuss how the Spark AR platform is quickly evolving and opening up exciting new uses cases for businesses and consumers. Speakers: Michael Slater / Facebook, Matt Hanson / Facebook

    3:40 pm: AR Music

    Join us as we demonstrate and discuss how new audio understanding tools enable creators to expertly pair AR effects with sound to open up fun and meaningful new ways for people to express themselves and connect with others through music. Speakers: Tom Goldsmith / Facebook

    4:30 pm: Getting Things Done: The Measurable Value of VR for Enterprise

    Join the Oculus for Business team to hear how virtual reality is helping companies around the world drive greater employee engagement, increase ROI, and improve efficiency through training, collaboration and much more. You’ll get an exclusive first glimpse at our latest developments, as well as expanding opportunities for developers and brands. Speakers: Isabel Tewes / Facebook, Andrew Mo / Facebook

    May 1

    2:00 pm: Unlocking the Future of WebXR

    In this session, we’ll share how Facebook, Oculus, and React 360 are empowering web developers and content creators to build more engaging and immersive WebXR experiences. Learn how to seamlessly extend your reach from VR ecosystem to the mobile Facebook feed. Speakers: Jacob Rossi / Facebook

    2:05 pm: Spark AR for Places and Spaces

    In this session, see different methods and uses cases for AR experiences that are connected to real-world locations, environments, or objects. Attendees will review a mix of Spark AR-enabled activations, including entertainment venues, museum exhibits, and retail shopping, and the value these executions can unlock for businesses and consumers. Speakers: Campbell Orme / Facebook

    2:25 pm:

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  • Falcon Age Takes Flight on PlayStation VR, Launch Trailer Released Name, dress and feed your falcon in this buddy adventure.
  • Valve Index: Five Things We Want From Steam’s New VR Headset
    Valve Index Leak

    Thanks to some slip-ups, we already know a little more about Valve Index than we should. We know, for example, that it’s shipping in June with pre-orders going live in May. We also know there are integrated headphones, DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.0 connections, and that it ships with the Valve Index controllers.

    But there’s still a heck of a lot more to learn about the Index. With so much in the shadows, we’ve come up with a wishlist for the kit.

    Upgraded Specifications

    Any new VR headset on the market is always going to be poured over specs-wise. But Index’s mysterious spec sheet is of particular interest. It will signal whether this is the next big leap for VR headsets or if it’s perhaps more of an incremental update like the new Oculus Rift S. With that headset potentially expanding the market, we’re hoping Valve is instead prepping to push the boundaries of high-end VR.

    We’ve heard from sources that Index has an upgraded field of view and a resolution similar to that of the HTC Vive Pro. We’ll be eager to see the final stats set in stone, though. Only then will we know what the next few years of PC VR looks like.

    Better VR Controls

    One of the decidedly less mysterious aspects of Index is its controllers. They were popping up online long before we got word of Index itself under the Knuckles codename. They feature new finger-tracking sensors that may bring your hands into VR with a greater degree of accuracy. They also use a strap fastened around your hand that allows you to let go of the controllers when you’re not holding anything. These are pretty promising new features.

    The question is, do Valve’s long-awaited controllers raise the bar above current VR input devices, and by how much? That’s a question we won’t be able to answer until we’ve finally got our own hands on a pair. Still, we’re hoping for a noticeable step forward, however small. The Index Controllers could be more evolution over revolution, but that would be fine with us.

    VR Gaming That Makes A Statement

    Yes, yes, we all know what we really want; an HEV suit, a crowbar and an army of headcrabs to whack. But simply sticking the Half-Life name over a VR shooter and throwing it out to the masses isn’t enough.

    What we want to see from Valve’s Index games is a fundamental grasp of the language of VR and a clear vision of where it’s going in the future. VR development has come a long way, but it’s still a wild west in desperate need of a development touchstone. Half-Life changed the gaming industry for good. Half-Life VR can’t just retrace its steps; it needs to forge a new path. What that is and what it looks like? I have no idea, but I’m not Valve.

    No pressure, then.

    A Fair Price

    This might be the biggest ask of all, especially if we had our way with the rest of the headset. But, at $799 in 2016, PC

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  • Hands-On: Dancing With Space Channel 5 VR Kinda Funky News Flash
    Hands-On: Dancing With Space Channel 5 VR Kinda Funky News Flash

    When Space Channel 5 released on the Dreamcast nearly 20 years ago, it introduced fans to a weird and unique world that has managed to stay with them ever since. While Ulala has been a staple for Sega in a variety of other racing and mash-up titles, fans of the Space Channel 5 series will finally be able to get dancing again, as Space Channel 5 VR: Kinda Funky News Flash! will be releasing later this year.

    After donning a PSVR headset and checking it out at PAX East last month, I can safely say that fans of the series will feel right back at home once they get their hands on it.

    Space Channel 5 VR once again puts you in the shoes of a reporter, but this time it isn’t Ulala. Instead, you’re a new recruit who is following the iconic reporter around. Once you drop into the game, you’re given a brief tutorial by Ulala on how to play the game, and it’s here where you learn how everything functions in VR. In order to move, you simply gesture in the proper direction along with the music, and you’re good to go.

    You’re also able to move your body side-to-side and up and down to complete various poses, and thanks to the added functionality of VR, you’re able to charge up attacks by lifting your hands up as you’re playing. The controls are all intuitive, and everything felt really smooth as I learned the ropes on how to get my groove on.

    After the tutorial ends, things quickly go wrong, and you’re suddenly in the middle of an alien invasion that you must fend off. Much like the original game, Space Channel 5 VR tasks you with defeating aliens through dance, but unlike the original, you’re much more active this time around. Instead of simply watching people dance and pressing buttons along with the music, you’re on your feet and actively moving alongside Ulala.

    Similar to other dance titles, Space Channel 5 VR is mostly played by making you strike various poses and nail certain arm movements in time with the music. You can either watch Ulala dance or check out a screen that shows you the upcoming moves to help you out. Moves get more and more complex as you continue playing, although things never felt so difficult that they were impossible. The general flow of gameplay seems similar to the Oculus Rift and Quest title, Dance Central VR.

    The original Space Channel 5 was fun in its own right, but the inclusion of VR takes things to a whole new level. You’re still listening for the call of Ulala and the in-game bell that tells you when to move, but thanks to VR, everything feels way more engaging as you play.

    Dodging with your actual body and sending out attack beams against aliens feels way more rewarding when you’re actually on your feet and moving about. Just like the Dreamcast title, the soundtrack in Space Channel 5 VR is filled with incredible

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  • Review: Vacation Simulator The series has lost none of its charms.