• Editorial: Why PSVR’s Current Library Is An Investment Towards PSVR 2
    Editorial: Why PSVR’s Current Library Is An Investment Towards PSVR 2

    Update (11/16/18): After seeing the rumors about the PSVR 2 today, we decided to republish this editorial that explores how the existing PSVR library could be greatly enhanced by updated hardware.

    Original (02/26/18): Apex Construct’s release this week once again brought about a recurring topic in its reviews: PlayStation VR’s limited tracking and Move controllers restrict what is an otherwise great experience. The 180-degree tracking makes traversing an entire virtual world much more finicky than it should be and the lack of analog sticks on the controllers make locomotion a hassle. It’s an unfortunate reality that many of us have learned to live with so as to enjoy otherwise incredible experiences like Skyrim VR.

    But, as frustrating as these issues can be, they also make me very, very excited for the future of PSVR.

    Every VR game out there right now is going to benefit from better headsets; this much is obvious. The Vive Pro demonstrates that we’ll soon be enjoying the same great content with much crisper visuals that keep us better immersed in the worlds we’re exploring. But PSVR is a special case because the room for improvement with Sony’s headset is so massive that we’re foaming at the mouth thinking about playing the VR games we already have today in three to five year’s time.

    Why? Well, on the surface, there’s the very simple stuff. Presumably, PSVR 2 would be a headset that works with a hypothetical successor to the PS4 and PS4 Pro: PS5. That’s a huge benefit right from the off; PS4’s limited processing power has been a sore point for developers porting Rift and Vive games to the platform but, should PS5 be backwards compatible, teams could have an easier time bringing their console ports up to standard with the PC version thanks to increased horsepower (even the PS4 Pro gives developers a lot more to work with, but games have to support the standard PS4 too). No more blurry textures in Arizona Sunshine, for example, or perhaps a little less pop-in in Apex Construct.

    Then there’s the basic specs of hardware itself. You’d have to assume PSVR 2’s display will be a significant bump up from the original’s functional if dated 1080p OLED screen. The further out the headset is the more viable it is that we could get a 3K or maybe even (if we’re really lucky) a 4K display fitted into the device. From day one, then, we can revisit worlds like Skyrim and Resident Evil 7 and feel much more immersed from a purely visual perspective.

    More than any other aspect, though, it’s controllers and tracking that stand to benefit the most from the hardware upgrade. With some fine-tuning, you can get a pretty good setup for PSVR right now but you still won’t be able to turn around when using the Move controllers (the camera can’t track what it can’t see) and you’ll still experience some drift even when you’re not moving. It’s also all too easy to move outside of the camera’s field of

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  • Developers Can Apply for Grants up to $500,000 Through Magic Leap’s Independent Creator Program There are 29 days left to apply.
  • Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Mobile-Based AR Game Is Launching In 2019
    Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Mobile-Based AR Game Is Launching In 2019

    Pokémon GO developers Niantic have this week confirmed that their Harry Potter themed smartphone AR game is launching some time in 2019. The game was first announced a year ago, with the release year originally stated as 2018. The game is being jointly developed with Warner Bros’ Portkey Games subsidiary, which developed the official Harry Potter mobile game, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.

    Pokémon GO, launched in 2016, is the most successful AR game of all-time. According to market research firm Apptopia, the game has over 50 million players and made over $2 billion in revenue.

    Just like Pokémon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite uses the phone’s GPS to overlay creatures on a stylized map of the real world, which the player must physically traverse. This time however the creatures are the ‘fantastic beasts’ and lively characters of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.

    The cryptic website of the game describes:

    Please resist the urge to panic. Traces of magic are appearing across the Muggle world without warning and in a rather chaotic manner. We worry it is only a matter of time before even the most incurious Muggles catch wind of it. We call on all witches and wizards to help contain the Calamity or risk the worst of times since You Know Who. Brush up on your spells, get your wand ready, and enlist immediately.

    This suggests that the game will follow the story of the Fantastic Beasts spin-off series of the Harry Potter universe, which is set in real world cities where magical creatures have gotten loose. With the second Fantastic Beats film launching today and a third scheduled for 2020, the AR game could see huge popularity, perhaps even rivaling that of Pokémon GO itself.

    Tagged with: ar, harry potter, niantic, pokemon go, Wizards Unite

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  • Editorial: It’s Time To Stop Punishing Devs For Not Including Smooth Locomotion
    Editorial: It’s Time To Stop Punishing Devs For Not Including Smooth Locomotion

    Deracine, From Software’s VR debut, came out last week and I really, really like it. For From, it’s a typically weird but also fascinatingly experimental game. Most importantly, though, it feels like something that’s genuinely enhanced by VR, scratching at substance that will one day separate this medium from the rest. In my review, I tried to articulate that in the hopes that people might look past that most mundane of complaints: that the game doesn’t have smooth locomotion.

    No such luck.

    If there’s been one trend that’s been bothering me since the rise of consumer VR, it’s the increasingly dismissive attitude of a strand of ‘elite’ VR gamers that stubbornly refuse to buy anything that doesn’t include the ability to freely walk around. Many VR games feature a teleportation system that helps people who get motion sickness keep their food in their stomachs, but it admittedly doesn’t always provide the most immersive experience. Some games also offer a movement mode more recognizable to traditional gamers which probably won’t be comfortable for a lot of players. For some, it’s the closest some can get to being fully immersed in home-based VR right now, though it’s far from seamless.

    It doesn’t matter how much spit n’ shine you’ve put into the rest of the game; if you haven’t included this one feature, your guaranteed online reaction is going to be a brick wall of navel-gazing snobbery.

    This is, quite frankly, laughably counterproductive. I understand the desire for smooth locomotion in VR gaming; it’s my preferred choice when made available, but it’s rarely been a deal-breaker. In fact, I’d argue that only allowing you to visit set points makes Deracine a more focused, concise experience. There are instances where the opposite is true (I think PSVR’s Blood & Truth could definitely benefit from free movement, for example), but that doesn’t instantly outweigh all of the other positives that a game has going for it. We need to start honing in more on a developer’s successes irrespective of how we move around in their worlds.

    Put yourself in From’s shoes. This is the developer of one of the most acclaimed action series in the gaming industry. It didn’t have to make Deracine; it could have just as easily devoted those efforts to speeding up the development of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and there’s a good chance it could have been better off for it. But you take a risk and you make something for this niche community that’s constantly calling out for bigger developers to make richer experiences on the platform.

    You polish the game to a level of visuals rarely seen in VR and you work on engaging interactions with characters that just wouldn’t have the same impact on a standard screen. You might have even broken a little new ground. But the people that ‘care’ about VR don’t care about all of that, and they don’t care your game because you didn’t include this one feature. How silly are you?

    If that was me? I wouldn’t exactly be

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  • New Cinematic Trailer for Borderlands 2 VR Showcases Maya Character Only a few weeks left until launch.
  • Unseen Diplomacy 2 Is Finally On The Way
    Unseen Diplomacy 2 Is Finally On The Way

    Unseen Diplomacy remains one of the best examples of what you can do with room scale VR. Launched alongside the HTC Vive in 2016, the game had you sneaking into a top-secret base James Bond-style, dodging lasers and crawling through vents, with rooms dynamically changing as you entered new areas. Despite being short, it was a great example of designing around room scale’s limitations and provided an immediate window into the future. We’d have loved to of seen more of it.

    Fortunately, we’re getting exactly that.

    Developer Triangular Pixels this month announced Unseen Diplomacy 2 is now in the works. The news comes fresh off of the release of the team’s long-in-development Smash Hit Plunder on PSVR. Triangular noted that both sales of its most recent release and a small grant from the UK’s South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN) had allowed it to kick off development, although it was still looking for a partner to fund the title.

    “If you know of any publisher who would like Unseen Diplomacy 2 on their platform/storefront and is willing to fund its development, then send them our way!” the developer wrote. No release window for the game has been revealed at this point in time.

    Triangular Pixels also pledged to be more open with the development of Unseen Diplomacy 2, a lesson it says it learned from working on Smash Hit Plunder.  To that end, it’s launched a survey seeking to find out more about the people that play its games.

    Tagged with: Unseen Diplomacy 2

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  • Black Friday PlayStation VR Hardware & Software Deals Arrive Early UK consumers can grab some early bargains.
  • Viveport Offering Five Games for £1 Each to Subscription Members Be quick, there are a limited number of each title.
  • Delve Into the World of Candytopia With Augmently’s new AR App About as sweet an AR app as you can get.
  • The Quest From Rift To Go: How These VR Devs Are Making Their Games Future-Proof
    The Quest From Rift To Go: How These VR Devs Are Making Their Games Future-Proof

    Releasing today, Voronium – Locust Sols is a pretty fun VR game. It’s a tower-defense experience with a strategic twist, letting you operate powerful turrets and fight back against hordes of spider-like bots. But what’s perhaps most interesting about the game from Gamalocus Studios is the platforms it’s appearing on.

    Voronium is first designed to run on the most powerful, high-end VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows VR headsets, where you can enjoy a full six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking for your head and hands. But Gamalocus’ Alexander Ribin also tells me the team has been busy prepping the game for the new wave of VR headsets, standalone devices like the Oculus Go and Oculus Quest that might not be as powerful or feature-complete as their PC brethren but offer a faster, more accessible and affordable way to get into VR. In short, Gamalocus thinks its cracked the code to cater to every type of VR player.

    “Our strategy was to make the game first for the Rift/Vive, but to use our coding skills and understanding to write it fairly efficiently,” Ribin tells me. The developer recently gave a talk about getting Voronium across the wide range of VR headsets, some slides of which are included in this article, but Ribin also explained some of the key tips and tricks to me.

    For starters, the team created stylized landscapes that were low on polygons and thus less resource intensive. This was achieved using something called the Voronoi algorithm (which explains the game’s name), which splits up the game world into different sites. “Another trick was to balance wisely between Blueprints and C++ code – all our main blueprints are inheriting from C++ classes, so we move to C++ only the very taxing functions, so we have the best balance between development speed and performance,” Ribin says.

    Crucially, though, the developer is making its aim to only cut back on certain visual luxuries in the mobile version of the game. Small effects like a smoke trail left by an incoming projectile won’t be present in the Go version, for example, though the game’s overall clean and simple visual style should remain intact.

    Ultimately the team found a process that enabled them to work full steam ahead on the PC VR version and then occasionally revisit the Go build to make adjustments.

    And, yes, Voronium is planned for release on Oculus Quest in the future. Quest is a more powerful headset than Go and has more advanced inside-out tracking, placing it somewhere between that headset and the Rift. Oculus has been promoting ways to downscale Rift games for the platform but, in the case of Voronium, it’s going to require a mix of optimizations.

    “Our strategy will be to take the Go build and add as much of the Rift features as it will sustain,” Ribin explains. “Because we have made the “Go downgrading” in a modular way, I expect this process to be fairly easy – literally tuning features up to Rift or

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  • What is augmented reality, anyway? Before augmented reality products and apps take over the world, they'll have to get out of their own way.
  • Thrustmaster Unveils Launch Date for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown Edition Joysticks The device will arrive ahead of the videogame's official release.
  • Sony’s EU Black Friday PSVR Store Sale Is Ridiculously Good
    Sony’s EU Black Friday PSVR Store Sale Is Ridiculously Good

    It seems Sony is going all out with its PSVR headset this Black Friday season. Not only is the company promoting a ridiculously good $199 bundle in the US, but it’s just launched a sale in the EU version of the PlayStation Store and the savings are massive.

    Two of PSVR’s biggest recent releases are in the sale with huge price drops. The first is the excellent Astro Bot Rescue Mission, easily one of the headset’s best games, which had had 42% shaved off, taking it to just £19.99. Given the game’s just over a month old, that’s insanity.

    The other star deal is for ace PSVR shooter Firewall Zero Hour, which has had over half its price slashed, putting it to £15.99. This is one of those games that’s best played with Sony’s PSVR Aim Controller, though, so take note if you don’t already have it.

    Elsewhere you can pick up surreal puzzler, Statik, for £6.49, the excellent Star Trek: Bridge Crew for £14.99, Farpoint for £7.99 (again, Aim controller recommended), Skyrim VR for £19.99 and Superhot VR for £11.99. If you’ve just picked up a headset in a deal somewhere then this should be your first port of call to load it with some of the best games. You can see the full list of deals here.

    All this and Black Friday is still a week away. Check back over the course of the next week as we run you through some of the biggest deals.

    Tagged with: PSVR 2

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  • Rumor: PSVR 2 To Ditch Break Out Box, Introduce New Move Controllers
    Rumor: PSVR 2 To Ditch Break Out Box, Introduce New Move Controllers

    Take this one with a big pinch of salt right now, but some interesting rumors about a hypothetical PSVR 2 popped up online this week.

    Reddit user RuthenicCookie recently made some claims about Sony’s VR follow-up, which will apparently run on the unannounced PlayStation 5 console. Usually, we wouldn’t touch rumors like these but, in the same thread, RuthenicCookie correctly stated that Sony would be announcing they were pulling out of E3 2019 yesterday.

    They wrote that PSVR 2 would be ditching the breaker box that’s located along the wire that connects the headset to the console. In the current model, this box is used to handle PSVR’s 3D audio capabilities along with its social screen features. These features will apparently be housed inside the console itself this time.

    RuthenicCookie also stated that PSVR 2 would introduce new Move motion controllers, which was to be expected given the original Moves are a little archaic in design now. Finally, the system will apparently again use a camera which will also track DualShock 5, and Sony is also apparently testing gloves to go with VR.

    Still, being right about an announcement one day out doesn’t guarantee that the rest of these rumors are accurate in any way. In fact, we’re still skeptical Sony would go with another camera-based tracking system for the headset, as the original PSVR’s one-camera setup only provides 180-degree tracking for Move controllers and often causes headsets and peripherals to drift inside an experience.

    It could be that RuthenicCookie is instead referring to the sensor-based system closer to the HTC Vive that we’ve seen in patients, though we’re still hoping PSVR 2 ultimately goes for an inside-out system. That said, most of these claims do indeed correspond with patents that have surfaced in the past year or so.

    Either way we’ve no doubt got a long wait ahead of us before we hear official details on PSVR 2.

    Tagged with: PSVR 2

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  • Nomadic’s Arizona Sunshine Experience Brings Location-Based VR To New Interactive Heights
    Nomadic’s Arizona Sunshine Experience Brings Location-Based VR To New Interactive Heights

    We’re at the point now where it typically takes a lot to really ‘Wow!’ me with VR. After covering the industry heavily for almost three years, I’ve seen and played a lot. But after I took off the headset and became reacquainted with the real world around me, one thing was clear: Nomadic made me literally say “Wow!” after it was over. I haven’t been this impressed with anything in VR since the first time I tried the technology via roomscale experiences years ago.

    What makes Nomadic so special is how interactive everything is. The experience I played was based on Arizona Sunshine, one of the most popular VR games to date that pits you against hordes of zombies. It took place inside a series of small rooms that were arranged like a maze in the real world, but skinned to resemble things like trains, helicopters, elevators, and more inside VR. It’s the closest I’ve come yet to truly tricking my brain.

    To be clear, this is old test footage. The actual experience and sets are far more elaborate now.

    Nomadic is a VR experiences company founded by people that have a history of work in Hollywood at companies like ILMxLAB on Star Wars films. What sets Nomadic apart from its competitors, such as The Void, is that it’s designed to be much more modular and adaptable. While the bulk of what makes Nomadic so special resides in its interactivity and physicality, the real brains of it all is on the software side.

    Nomadic locations are setup so that dozens of people can move through experiences simultaneously without ever interfering with one another. If you try an experience with The Void, you might have to queue up and wait for the next group to finish, but with Nomadic it’s all seamless. While you’re inside the experience a group can be ahead of and behind you and the game will adapt to the pacing in real-time to make sure you don’t run into each other.

    What’s more is that it’s not only a multiplayer experience, but the setups are adaptable as well. Environments can be re-skinned and used in novel, new ways without rearranging the props at all. And if they want to do a total overhaul, in a matter of hours they can remap the room using the modular wall system that functions a lot like cubicles.

    From a tech perspective Nomadic uses Oculus Rifts with backpack PCs all tracked via OptiTrack’s robust camera system. The actual pieces of the set itself were installed with gyros to track movement and some surfaces could even vibrate and move in sync with their VR counterparts. For example, there was one section where I walked across a plank that actually existed in real life and moved around inside the game when I touched it, or the filing cabinet drawer I opened up with an actual yellow ducky inside.

    In my demo I was tasked with seeking out a doctor in a refinery that was holed up in his

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