• Sony Is Skipping E3 For The First Time Ever In 2019
    Sony Is Skipping E3 For The First Time Ever In 2019

    In an unprecedented announcement today, it looks like Sony is skipping the enormous, annual E3 event in Los Angeles, CA for next year. The expo has been around for almost 25 years and Sony was one of the major players in its creation as a spin-off from CES. This is the first time Sony has not attended.

    According to Variety, they found out about this news deep within the Entertainment Software Association’s 2019 expo announcement. Not only will Sony not host a press conference at E3 2019, but they are reportedly not “showing up at all” during the show.

    In September of this year, Sony also canceled its PlayStation Experience (PSX) event that it had hosted for the past several years as well. Interestingly enough, these moves don’t seem to be happening due to anything negative. On the contrary, 2018 was one of the strongest years for the PlayStation brand ever with huge platform exclusives such as God of War and Spider-Man leading the game of the year discussions, PS4 surpassing 80 million worldwide units, and PSVR surpassing three million.

    Sony still has several major exclusive titles left to release for the PS4 before moving on to the PS5 though, including Days Gone, The Last of Us 2, Ghosts of Tsushima, Death Stranding, and Resident Evil 2 Remake. It was shaping up to be a quiet year for PSVR after the monstrous time it’s had in 2018. Whether or not Sony will go the Nintendo Direct route and host a remote, video version of a press conference remains to be seen. Reports do seem to point towards a 2020 launch for the PlayStation 5.

    Regardless, this is huge news for E3 and the show floor won’t be the same without the giant, blue booth.

    Update: The following two paragraphs provide further details from a Game Informer article:

    “As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community,” the company told Game Informer in a statement. “PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans with you.”

    When asked if Sony would push its event off-site, similar to how Electronic Arts provides a show adjacent to E3, PlayStation senior vice president of communications Jennifer Clark elaborated further saying, “We will not activate or hold a press conference around E3.”

    We’ve reached out to Sony for further comment.

    Tagged with: e3, PSVR, sony

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  • Indie Studio Monochrome to Release FPS Singularity5 in December This will be the studio's first major VR piece.
  • Viveport Is Offering Superhot VR, Arizona Sunshine, Accounting+, Sariento, and The Wizards For Just $1 Each
    Viveport Is Offering Superhot VR, Arizona Sunshine, Accounting+, Sariento, and The Wizards For Just $1 Each

    HTC’s Viveport PC VR app store is currently offering an incredible deal– Superhot VR, Arizona Sunshine, Accounting+, Sariento, and The Wizards for just $1 each.

    Viveport is unique amongst VR app stores in that it offers a subscription option instead of just regular purchasing. For $9.99 per month, subscribers can play 5 games per month from a selection of hundreds of titles.

    This offer is technically only for Viveport subscribers, but anyone can access it by signing up for the free 14 day trial.

    Superhot VR – 96% Off

    Superhot VR is a unique shooter experience where the faster you move, the faster time moves. If you keep completely still, time will freeze. It is a perfect blend of mental and physical challenge, and perhaps one of the best VR games ever made.

    Buying it at $1 saves $24 over the regular Viveport price. When we reviewed the game, we gave it 9/10, concluding:

    SUPERHOT VR is a pure, distilled, injection of unadulterated adrenaline that will get your blood pumping just as quickly as time stops in the game itself. With every movement you make, time creeps forward ever so slightly, and everything from the level design to the way it feels to dodge a series of bullets in slow-motion is orchestrated to reinforce the core ideals of the experience. From start to finish it plays out like a fantasy ripped from the screen of every action movie; an indulgent cacophony of visual and gameplay excitement.

    Arizona Sunshine – 97% Off

    Arizona Sunshine is a zombie FPS with a full voice acted singleplayer campaign and co-op multiplayer. Buying it at $1 saves $39 – this is a staggeringly good deal. When we reviewed the game, we gave it 8.5/10, concluding:

    Vertigo Games proved that even in the most saturated genre we’ve seen for VR games this year — shooters with zombies — there was still room for something fresh. Arizona Sunshine combines the narrative power of a fully-featured 4+ hour campaign mode, with the intensity of a wave-based horde mode, and then adds multiplayer to both experiences. The protagonist’s witty humor make it worth recommending on his charming personality alone, with enough depth and variety to keep people coming back for several hours. By doing so many things so well, Arizona Sunshine quickly rose to the top of the pack as the best overall zombie shooter we’ve seen yet in VR.

    Accounting+ – 92% Off

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  • The Wonder of the Universe Continues to Amaze in Spheres It’s easy to tell why Spheres is an award-winner.
  • VR Diversity Initiative Uses VR To Create Accessible Backpacks For People With Scoliosis

    Young tech enthusiasts come together to create backpacks that could be used by people with disabilities using VR technology. During one of the workshops at the VR Diversity Initiative, a summit dedicated to empowering under-represented groups in developing XR skills, participants used VR to create accessible backpacks for individuals suffering from various physical disabilities. “VR

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  • Eyes-On: Light Field Lab Built A Tantalizing Holographic Display For The 2020s
    Eyes-On: Light Field Lab Built A Tantalizing Holographic Display For The 2020s

    There’s a monarch butterfly in the dark, suspended behind the glass panel of a decorative wooden lantern about a meter away from me. I am not wearing glasses. Light Field Lab representatives say they aren’t tracking my head’s position.

    Like a practiced magician, Light Field Lab CEO Jon Karafin removes the lantern from its perch to reveal the butterfly is floating in the open air.

    “This is a complete reconstruction of the light field such that your eye focuses on the holographic object from within the holographic viewing volume,” Karafin said.

    Future vision concept art of a room scale holographic display from Light Field Lab.

    I move my head to the left and right inside the small “visual acuity” area outlined with glowing tape on the floor. This is the sweet spot. I also move my head both up and down in this area about a foot. The butterfly’s wings seem to respond with the correct parallax as I shift. I move slightly closer and backward and the butterfly seems to grow and shrink exactly as I would expect. This is what they said they would show me. The eight hours I needed to spend in a car driving to and from this demo in San Jose were not a waste of time.

    “There are other volumetric display technologies that may leverage a surface to form 2D-only pixels in space (e.g. smoke, water, screens, mirrors, moving surfaces, etc.),” Karafin said. “However, these are not holograms.”

    Real Holograms

    Karafin really baked my noodle next.

    He grabbed a magnifying lens off a tray and placed it inside the butterfly. How the fuck does a standard magnifying glass warp light from the inside of a holographic object? My eyes and brain had never had to process the way light was behaving relative to the lenses he was putting “through” what my brain perceived as a physical solid object.

    “When using the magnifying glass in front of the butterfly, it responds exactly as it would in the real world,” Karafin explains. “When you pass the magnifying glass through the hologram, you see things that only a real hologram can achieve.”

    Ok, so now the trip was worth it.

    Next Steps

    I noted deficiencies in the visuals of the display only outside the optimal viewing cone provided by the small display. Everything inside that cone — at least a meter away — looked great. I should note they also showed a moving fish that was less detailed than the butterfly, and as certain pieces of it moved closer to me I noted a bit of fuzzy softness there.

    “The amount of movement depends on how close you are to the hologram, the size of the holographic surface, and the optical prescription for the holographic waveguides,” Karafin explained.

    The field of view for the Light Field Lab display prototype is very small, but the units should be able to be stacked up like bricks for much larger panels.

    I left the room and realized I should have asked to see the demo with the lights on. Light Field Lab

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  • Witching Tower Review: Swords And Sorcery In A Gothic Adventure
    Witching Tower Review: Swords And Sorcery In A Gothic Adventure

    I played Witching Tower for the first time at the Seattle VR community’s Halloween party. At the time, it struck me as a fun adventure game with the slight problem that, due to a lack of in-game turning, everyone who played it ended up mummified with their own controller cords within the first ten minutes. The game’s producer had to hang out nearby and occasionally pause the demo so she could unwrap people, because the only way to turn around in-game was to actually turn around.

    Fortunately, a patch on Halloween added 45-degree snap turning to Witching Tower, which also removed my biggest complaint about the game. There are a few things that I wish it did differently, but in that, it feels a bit like it’s ahead of its time rather than simply flawed. If you’re looking for a challenging, spooky VR title, albeit one that’s still decidedly on the PG-13 end of the scale, this is a solid enough pick.

    You play Witching Tower as Anna Holand, a young woman with a magical gift who’s been locked up in the prison tower of a mad queen. She locked you in the same room as a friendly spirit, however, and with its help, you manage to break out of your cell. From there, you need to take on monsters, find your way past obstacles, and solve the occasional puzzle in order to escape.

    In short, it’s the sort of kid-spooky action-adventure game that was reasonably common once upon a time on the PC, but it’s in virtual reality, with appropriate concessions made to the format. You can climb walls, search through shelves, pick things up to inspect them, throw random objects around, and as you get further into the depths of the tower, fight your way through a procession of dangerous undead.

    The combat’s a tricky subject. On the one hand, every enemy in the game is fairly simple, with a basic attack pattern and a relatively narrow patrol ground. To fight them, you can equip melee weapons by yanking them off your belt, then kind of wave them in the enemy’s general direction until they die. It’s entry-level stuff, but the enemies are appropriately gross and visceral. Many of them also have a habit of jumping back after they hit you, which means it’s not just a question of wildly swinging at them until they fall over since you actually have to pursue them and move around a bit.

    That said, the combat system does feel like it’s harder than it has to be because this is a teleport-to-move game. Running away from a bad encounter or moving up to hit an enemy that just withdrew are both surprisingly difficult, which adds a touch of artificial challenge to the proceedings. The ranged combat’s also maddeningly imprecise, and while the bow feels good to use, it also requires a lot of practice before you stop shooting arrows over your target’s shoulder. It’s doubly frustrating when you’re up against enemies with their own bows, because

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  • Procedurally Generated Bow FPS In Death Dated for PlayStation VR Release Master those bow skills in this roguelike shooter.
  • Oculus Rift’s Store Finally Supports DLC
    Oculus Rift’s Store Finally Supports DLC

    Oculus has now added beta support for DLC to its app store for Rift. The mobile store (Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR) received support for DLC shortly after the Go launch in May, when the company stated that Rift support was “coming soon”.

    DLC has actually been available on the Oculus Rift store since early 2017, but only for the game Rock Band VR. This however was a custom solution for the game, which was a major title in the months following the Oculus Touch release, rather than a platform feature. This week’s update makes it a general feature for any Rift developer to use.

    The feature is not only for paid DLC, but can also be used to lower the initial download size by only downloading the core or start of the game, then downloading the rest “on the fly” when it’s needed. This is more useful on mobile platforms where space is limited or standalone headsets where waiting for a download in VR is boring, but it could have some use for extremely large games on PC too.

    Steam has had DLC support for over a decade now, and the lack of it on the Oculus Store had prevented several developers from bringing their games to it. With DLC support now in place, these developers can finally bring their DLC dependent games to Facebook’s platform.

    Tagged with: dlc, oculus rift, oculus store

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  • Bow And Arrow Roguelike Shooter In Death Coming To PSVR This Month
    Bow And Arrow Roguelike Shooter In Death Coming To PSVR This Month

    In Death is one of the year’s surprise breakout VR hits with its devilishly satisfying difficulty and addictive roguelike-inspired gameplay loop. Now, later this month, the bow and arrow-focused shooter will make its debut on PSVR, specifically on November 27th according to a new PlayStation blog post.

    Similar to The Persistence, a PSVR exclusive horror roguelike shooter, In Death is a bit different every time you play. As you progress through the layers of a celestial chapel and various other locales, you face dangerous enemies that are hellbent on killing you. Armed with a bow, various unlockable arrows, and teleporting abilities, you have to fight them off and progress deeper and deeper into the afterlife.

    What makes In Death so clever is that is shuffles the layouts, enemies, and more each and every time. And the further you get into the game the harder it becomes as you unlock new enemy types and challenges for subsequent playthroughs. There’s a ton of content, it feels great to play (at least on Rift it does) and the difficulty curve is punishing (but fair) from start to finish.

    “In Death features procedurally-generated levels and random enemy spawns meaning each run is unique and unpredictable,” writes Reynir Hardarson, Co-founder & Creative Director at Sólfar on the PS Blog. “This is a high stakes permadeath style combat experience, with no save points during your run of each chapter of the game, only offering a continue point if you successfully complete a discrete chapter. We’ve created an achievement-based progression system that unlocks new power ups for your bow in the form of randomly generated special arrows and health boosts that you can loot from enemies.”

    For the PSVR version, it sounds like the entire game is getting ported over. It will be playable with both PS Move controllers or with DualShock 4 using the lightbar motion tracking, similar to how games like Firewall Zero Hour and Farpoint are playable with the gamepad.

    In Death hits PSVR on November 27th. Read our review of the PC version for more details!

    Tagged with: In Death, Solfar Studios

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  • Numenera: Beyond Tactics Is VR’s Take On A Tabletop RPG
    Numenera: Beyond Tactics Is VR’s Take On A Tabletop RPG

    Hugely popular tabletop role-playing game Numenera is the latest to explore bringing its world into a VR headset, though not quite in the way you’d imagine.

    Despite the name, Numenera – Beyond Tactics is not a direct virtual adaptation of Monte Cook’s RPG. Handled by developer Boneyard VR, the game takes the world and lore of the fantasy experience and builds a new, turn-based tactical game on top of it. In it, you take a group of heroes into battles against opposing sides, whilst also managing resources outside of combat. You’ll pick up virtual figurines, move them into battle and roll dice to decide crucial outcomes.

    I got a brief look at an early version of the game and, while there’s a lot of work to be done on it, my initial impressions were promising. It’s lacking in a tutorial right now and a lot of the UI is still to be filled in but there are some great core mechanics in place like picking up a figurine and seeing how far you can move it, then seeing the number of steps taken when you place it where you want it to go. It’s like a board game come to life, which is something VR does especially well.

    Look for Numenera – Beyond Tactics to hit Rift, Vive and Windows VR headsets via Early Access in 2019. Bone Yard is encouraging anyone interested in the game to head to its Discord page and start building a community around it.

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  • Tendar Is A Surreal New AR App From The Makers Of Virtual Virtual Reality
    Tendar Is A Surreal New AR App From The Makers Of Virtual Virtual Reality

    What did the makers of the exquisite Virtual Virtual Reality do next? Something completely different.

    Launched today on Android smartphones, Tendar is an AR app that brings the developer’s surrealist imagination into the world around us. In it, you look after Guppy, a virtual fish that wants to explore the big wide world with you. But you’re not simply making sure it gets fed on time and sending it off to the bathroom; Guppy is destined to evolve based on the everyday interactions you have out in the world. Check it out in the trailer below.

    Weird, right? We’d expect no less from the makers of a game in which you slap toast on a sentient slab of butter. But Tendar looks like it could shine the same satirical spotlight it placed upon VR in VVR, only this time on AR and AI instead. Guppy will learn about the facial expressions you make when interacting with him for example, and the app can also detect and scan over 200 real-world objects that you’ll then be able to place in his virtual fishbowl.

    Doing so will expand his knowledge of the outside world and help him evolve with his own unique personality based on what you’ve taught it. But it may come at a cost, as the game’s press kit reads: “beware that sentience may lead to a full blown existential crisis!”

    Tendar is free to download. There’s no word on an iOS release just yet.

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  • Within Transforms Ordinary Spaces Into Extraordinary Stories With AR App Wonderscope The app is free for iOS users and comes supplied with one story.
  • Crow: The Legend Review: An Essential Native American Story About The Seasons
    Crow: The Legend Review: An Essential Native American Story About The Seasons

    Crow: The Legend is the third VR project from startup Baobab after Invasion! and Asteroids!. A complete departure from the first two, this one is based on a Native American legend featuring an all-star cast of voice talent including John Legend and Oprah. With Baobab’s first title planned for adaptation into a feature length film, CEO Maureen Fan has big plans for this tale too.

    You can experience the story for free on Oculus Go, Oculus Rift and Gear VR. I tried Crow: The Legend with Touch controllers and that seems to be the definitive experience.

    Baobab toyed with interactivity for VR visitors in previous projects, but as “The Spirit of the Seasons” on Rift each visitor discovers that a simple wave of their arms can change the weather and the seasons at key moments in the narrative. Wouldn’t it be fun to wave your arms and cause snow to appear in the environment around you? It absolutely is, and that feeling is essential to the magic of what director Eric Darnell and the team behind Crow: The Legend are able to accomplish.

    As the personified creatures of the forest — a turtle, skunk, owl and moth — struggle to figure out how to handle the sudden cold, the beautiful rainbow-colored crow appears and decides to help. I wasn’t too familiar with this legend before experiencing Crow. If you are unfamiliar with the tale and own Rift, I recommend trying Crow now since this is free.

    Darnell aimed to let people make flowers grow, snows fall and winds blow with a wave of their hands, and later on in the story soaring through the universe you conduct a song among the stars like a a conductor leads an orchestra. The aim was for this interaction to be so intuitive it is effortless, focusing the viewer on what matters. I found the effort to be an incredible success.

    A lot of people talk about how VR is an empathy machine, but when the snow comes and you just made life harder for a bunch of cute little animals it can force you to feel not just for them but the seasons themselves. I found it so much fun to change the seasons, do you think that’s why the seasons change? I felt that question while wearing the headset, but it wasn’t until writing this article I figured out how to put it into words.

    Therein is the true magic of Crow: The Legend.

    Final Recommendation: Must See

    Crow: The Legend is available now for free on Oculus-powered headsets for a timed exclusivity period, though it should come to other platforms eventually.

    Tagged with: baobab, Crow: The Legend

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  • Tvori Gets 360 Video Exporting, Here’s How It Looks
    Tvori Gets 360 Video Exporting, Here’s How It Looks

    VR animation app Tvori is making it even easier for people to watch its content inside headsets.

    An update to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive app, which aims to make animation and storytelling accessible for all, adds in the ability to export videos in the 360-degree format, both in mono and stereo. That means you’ll be able to shoot a story using the app’s accessible set of tools and then easily upload it to far-reaching platforms like YouTube. 360 video isn’t quite the same as immersing yourself inside a full 3D world with positional tracking, but it’s a lot easier to get into.

    To help showcase what’s capable with this new update, Tvori’s developers have been working with the community to create short VR experiences. One of those is Lightning, which was created entirely by one fan, Jeremy Casper, that taught himself to use both the app and Oculus Medium. There’s a teaser trailer for it below.

    Sterling Osment, meanwhile, made Captain Blue Screen, which was originally a 2D short but is getting a 360 degree version with the help of this new update.

    The update should be live now for anyone that owns Tvori. The app itself is available for $19.99.

    Tagged with: tvori

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