• Madrid Noir: Prologue Is Like A Charming Pixar Short In VR
    Madrid Noir: Prologue Is Like A Charming Pixar Short In VR

    If there’s one thing that everyone loves about going to the movies to watch the latest Pixar film, it’s got to be the shorts. These mini-movies that appear before the main feature are often filled with as much love, laughs and innovation as the film they’re shown in front of. Madrid Noir: Prologue brings those fuzzy feelings into a VR headset.

    Produced by No Ghost and directed by James Castillo, Madrid Noir was awarded the Best Debut VR Experience prize at this year’s Raindance Film Festival, and it’s easy to see why. Though it offers only a taste of what will hopefully be a more fleshed out experience, I was utterly charmed by its short story, which introduces us to a private investigator named Manolo and his reluctantly-adopted dog, Paquita.

    Madrid Noir Prologue – Teaser from No Ghost on Vimeo.

    Speaking to UploadVR, No Ghost’s Lawrence Bennett explained that the film had be devised as a love letter to Castillo’s hometown of Madrid. “As a good friend of the studio James bought the character concepts and story pitch to No Ghost and we immediately fell in love with them,” Bennett said. “Having a shared background in animation we wanted to create something that featured high end and expressive character animation that could communicate the story without the need for narration or character voicing.”

    And the Prologue is indeed expressive. Set in the lull of early evening, Manolo treks his way back to his apartment, berated by Paquita, who simply wants to play ball, at every turn. The detective’s weary eyes tell you all you need to know about the kind of day he’s had, as does his slumped body language. You can’t help but wince as Paquita starts to push his buttons as he drags himself around a 360-degree stage, which is beautifully realized as a virtual theater production.

    I also can’t help but notice just how easy Madrid Noir is on the eyes. A mix of vibrant colors bring both scenes and characters to life with welcoming warmth. “No Ghost has a bit of a historical obsession with mixing 2D and 3D styles, and Madrid Noir was a perfect platform for that,” Bennett adds. “Creating shaders that appear hand painted and mixing them with realistic and volumetric lighting was key to realising this look.”

    This is a VR production, though, and naturally I’m interested to hear what Bennett thinks the platform brings to the piece. “We had a simple story in our hands, and we felt that if we made it in 2D we wouldn’t be able to create such a strong relationship between the characters and the audience,” he explained. “Because you exist in the same world that they exist, anything that happens to them happens to you too and that’s a very special thing that VR can do that no other medium can.”

    Rewatching the brief clip above, it’s certainly true that Madrid Noir has a more immediate impact in VR, though I’d like to see it go deeper. It’s fascinating to watch these characters come to life, but

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  • Deracine’s Hidden Easter Egg May Hint At Bloodborne 2
    Deracine’s Hidden Easter Egg May Hint At Bloodborne 2

    Well, if nothing else, VR may one day be remembered as the platform used to tease Bloodborne 2.

    Fans think that an easter egg found in From Software’s new PSVR exclusive game, Deracine, is, in fact, a hint about a possible sequel to its other PlayStation-published series, Bloodborne.

    A doll next to Rozsa’s bed early on in the game can be seen doing the ‘Make Contact’ gesture that players can perform in the action RPG. Pick it up and hit the description button and you’ll get a paragraph that reads:

    “A doll of the stone girl Fiona, who appears in the unfinished tale. When a person has a bad dream, Fiona appears and helps them flee.”

    Fiona might not be a name we’re familiar with (though, notably, the NPC character used to level up in Bloodborne was a nameless female doll), but the mention of an ‘unfinished tale’ might suggest that Bloodborne 2 is on the way. From Software currently has Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in the works, but it’s more than possible that a sequel to its PS4 hit is also on the way.

    If true, it’s a pretty cool way to hint at a sequel, though we say Deracine itself is very much worth playing in its own right.

    That said, we highly doubt any such sequel would offer VR support, though From producer Atsuo Yoshimura did once say he’d like to see another of the developer’s series, Dark Souls, come to VR. We can but keep dreaming for now.

    Tagged with: Bloodborne 2, Deracine

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  • Beat Saber PSVR Release Date Confirmed, Exclusive Content Detailed
    Beat Saber PSVR Release Date Confirmed, Exclusive Content Detailed

    Beat Saber developer Beat Games today announced the release date for Beat Saber PSVR.

    The game is set to arrive on Sony’s headset on November 20th. It’s going to feature a PSVR-exclusive campaign, five new and exclusive songs and a practice mode.

    Beat Saber has a release date! The #PSVR rhythm game arrives on 20th November and brings a PS4-exclusive campaign, new songs, modifiers and more:

    — PlayStation Europe (@PlayStationEU) November 8, 2018

    Beat Saber is an action rhythm game of sorts in which the player wields two wannabe lightsabers. You pick a track and then slash notes corresponding to the color of your saber that arrive in time with the beat. The game’s proved to be something of a hit for the VR industry, selling over 100,000 copies in less than a month.

    Need more Beat Saber? Be sure to check out our guide on installing custom songs.

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  • Smashbox Arena Developer BigBox VR Raises $5 Million Investment
    Smashbox Arena Developer BigBox VR Raises $5 Million Investment

    Shasta Ventures is leading a round of investment in Seattle-based BigBox VR, the makers of Smashbox Arena and the upcoming battle royale game POPULATION: ONE.

    The $5 million round includes additional funding from GSR Ventures and Pioneer Square Labs Ventures, with Shasta’s Jacob Mullins taking a seat on BigBox VR’s board of directors. BigBox VR co-founders Chia Chin Lee and Gabe Brown say they’ve raised a total of $6.45 million in funding to date.

    We haven’t tried POPULATION: ONE yet but the title is an ambitious one with what BigBox is calling “FreeMotion.”

    “We love all the VR multiplayer games out there. Being both VR fans and developers gives us a chance to create a super polished game that takes in everything that we’ve learned so far. With our next game, we want to double down on the sense of freedom and social experience that only VR can deliver,” Chia Chin Lee wrote in an email. “POPULATION: ONE will be the first FreeMotion game. What this means is players can go anywhere in a giant map, climb anything they see, and fly into battle to surprise enemies. On top of this, players can build walls for quick cover in the middle of a firefight. Players can choose their own play-style within a large, open world.”

    We have yet to climb a tree and build a tree house to snipe someone in POPULATION: ONE but that certainly sounds like an interesting mashup of features compared with some of the battle royale efforts we’ve seen. The company plans to release tools eventually so that users can create content and sell it in a marketplace, and Lee wrote “we have a clear roadmap for consistent content releases, events, and tournaments that will build a strong community.”

    Smashbox Arena is currently available for around $20 while POPULATION: One is in private beta.

    Tagged with: BigBox VR

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  • It’s Here Today: Integrating Virtual Reality Into Business Robert Johnson, Concept3D's Vice President of Sales, discusses how VR is not just the future but the present.
  • Jeff Minter’s Polybius Is Finally Coming To SteamVR
    Jeff Minter’s Polybius Is Finally Coming To SteamVR

    Last year Llamasoft, a developer known for its trippy arcade games, released Polybius on PlayStation VR (PSVR). The game is a sort of remake of an industry legend, an arcade cabinet that was so brutal in its display of neon-drenched shoot’em up action that it was removed from some places. Good news for PC VR users that like an acid trip, then; the game is coming to SteamVR later this year.

    A Steam page for Polybius is now online, confirming a Q4 2018 release window (so, in other words, within the next few weeks) and listing Oculus Rift support. No, there’s no Vive support listed, though Minter reasoned on Twitter that the developer only has access to Oculus hardware. Still, given that it’s appearing on SteamVR, the game will likely run unofficially inside both Vive and the Windows VR headsets, and full gamepad support should mean there won’t be any control discrepancies, either.

    The Steam page also says that a VR headset is required to run the game, though Minter confirmed this is not the case; you can play it on a standard screen too.

    Polybius is a tunnel shooter in which the player controls a small vehicle that blasts down a neon assault course, shooting everything in sight. Earlier this year we labeled it as one of the 100 VR games you really should be playing, so it’s great to see it finally come to PC. That’s especially true considering Minter last April revealed that Llamasoft hadn’t yet ‘made a penny’ out of the game. Hopefully those fortunes will change with the latest release.

    Tagged with: Polybius

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  • Arca’s Path Kicks Off Dev Diary Series Ahead Of Launch

    Want to know more about VR marble maze, Arca’s Path? Look no further than this new developer diary.

    Members of developer Dream Reality Interactive are on hand to introduce you to the world of its first commercial VR game, in which you steer a ball through increasingly tricky levels using VR’s head-tracking functionality. The game doesn’t require a controller of any sort to play, you simply need to sit back, relax and enjoy the obstacle course ahead of you.

    We’re looking forward to Arca’s Path; it seems well-positioned to be the type of game you show family members in your new VR headset this Christmas. Look for the game to launch on pretty much every headset under the sun (that’s Rift, Vive, PSVR, Windows VR, Go and Gear) on December 4th.

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  • HTC Vive, McLaren Tease F1 VR Racing Experience
    HTC Vive, McLaren Tease F1 VR Racing Experience

    It looks like HTC and McLaren’s VR F1 collaboration will be arriving in the west pretty soon.

    At the ChinaJoy event earlier this year HTC debuted a partnership with the motor company, putting visitors in the virtual driver seat of a McLaren F1 car. Attendees were able to compete for the fastest lap time in order to earn a spot in the finals of a competition taking place at the McLaren Technology Centre in the UK next January. The grand prize is a place on McLaren’s eSports team.

    Why just be a spectator? Coming soon. @HTCVive

    — McLaren (@McLarenF1) November 8, 2018

    Today, though, McLaren itself tweeted the above video of what looks to be that very experience, complete with the message ‘Why just be a spectator?’ and the promise that the experience is ‘coming soon’.

    Naturally, we have questions. Will this experience be released on Viveport and/or Steam for everyone to get a shot at racing an F1 car, or will it be a location-based tournament? Will there be more to the app than a single track?

    Looks like we’ll have to wait to find out more.

    Tagged with: htc vive, McLaren

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  • Dream-like Experience Where Thoughts Go: Prologue Emerges This Week It originally debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival before winning several awards.
  • Oculus Quest’s Fan-Based Cooling System Detailed
    Oculus Quest’s Fan-Based Cooling System Detailed

    An Oculus patent application revealed a detailed look at what is likely Oculus Quest’s cooling system.

    Standalone VR headsets generate significantly more heat than PC-based headsets because the CPU and GPU are within the headset, not inside in a PC. At Oculus Connect 5, Oculus confirmed that Quest uses “active cooling with a fan inside”.

    At the launch of Oculus Go, the company’s lower end 3DoF standalone offering, founder Palmer Luckey posted a teardown image of the headset. It revealed that it had a heatpipe cooling system which uses the frontplate of the headset as a heatsink, taking heat away from the user’s face and spreading it over a large area.

    Cooling is an often ignored aspect of a computing device that directly relates to performance more than one might assume. Go’s cooling system allows it to dissipate heat far better than a smartphone. This means that while it uses the same Snapdragon 821 SoC as a Galaxy S7, it actually has “significantly more performance”, because the S7 would reach its maximum temperature and have to reduce CPU & CPU speed (called “thermal throttling”), whereas the Go can sustain its speeds for as long as needed. Given that even passive cooling allowed the Go to be “significantly” faster, active cooling could elevate the Snapdragon 835 in the Quest and Focus further.

    Oculus sees the primary purpose of Quest as gaming and expects it to compete with the Nintendo Switch, and active cooling may help make this possible.

    Tagged with: Oculus Quest, Standalone VR

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  • Researchers Develop VR Haptic Feedback System Using Custom Quadcopters

    Are custom-build drones retrofitted with touchable surfaces the future of VR haptic feedback? In a recent scientific publication entitled VRHapticDrones: Providing Haptics in Virtual Reality through Quadcopters, researchers from LMU Munich, TU Darmstadt, Wellesley College, the University of Duisburg,-Essen, and the University of Regensburg offer a solution to body-free VR haptic feedback in the form

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  • The State of Virtual Reality in Cambodia Guest writer Martin Lansard, CEO of Cambodia-based firm Aniwaa explains how VR is playing a role in a country determined to move forward.
  • Precision OS Offers In-Depth Surgical Training In VR

    The immersive education platform offers students in-depth surgical simulations complete with real-time feedback. Failing fast and failing often are the best ways to become proficient at a craft. Trial and error is the foundation of education, with people learning most efficiently by identifying past mistakes and resolving not to make them again. While the mantra

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  • Electrical Nose Stimulation Could Let You Smell Anything In VR Without Chemicals Or Refills
    Electrical Nose Stimulation Could Let You Smell Anything In VR Without Chemicals Or Refills

    Researchers at The Imagineering Institute in Malaysia have demonstrated a technique that would allow smells to be transferred and sensed over the internet. The ‘Digital Smell Interface’ works by direct electrical stimulation of the smell receptor nerves deep in the nose.

    Last year, we published an editorial on why smell is so difficult to bring to VR. All previous attempts, such as Vasqo, have used chemical powders which are released in a specific combination just below the nose. The main problems with this type of approach are that the chemicals need to be refilled frequently (which is expensive and annoying) and the systems can only replicate a limited number of smells.

    The electrical approach taken by TII means that there are no chemicals to refill, no powders in the air, and almost any smell could theoretically be replicated. In fact, smells could be a digital file or even transferred over the internet, just like visual and auditory information today. This could let you literally smell the roses in a virtual garden, or bring a medieval world to life with the pungent smells of the time.

    The researchers say that the current used is only a few miliamps, so there is no pain or safety issue involved. Right now, what makes this approach impractical for consumers however is that it requires the placement of rods with electrodes on the end up your nostrils. For some VR enthusiasts, this is a more than acceptable price to pay to smell the virtual world, but most consumers are unlikely to want to put rods in their nose just for VR.

    For smell to become part of mainstream VR, a way to apply the current in a less invasive way (perhaps wirelessly) must be found.

    Tagged with: research, smell

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  • Rebellion Release the First Dev Diary for Arca’s Path VR Ahead of Launch Enter the studio's competition to win a copy.