• Epic Games Is Giving Away 500 Magic Leap One AR Devices To Developers
    Epic Games Is Giving Away 500 Magic Leap One AR Devices To Developers

    Epic Games is making its Epic MegaGrants fund a little more enticing. Today, the company said that it’s partnering with Magic Leap to award 500 of the Magic Leap One augmented reality glasses to developers working in AR (the Creator Edition normally retails for $2,295).

    The free AR headsets are in addition to the $100 million Epic is giving away as part of its MegaGrants fund. Announced in March, MegaGrants will support game developers, media creators, educators, and others who are working on projects that either use the Unreal Engine or somehow enhance open-source capabilities for the 3D graphics community.

    Developers can submit an online application for the Magic Leap One starting today. In a press release, Epic said it doesn’t have a deadline for the giveaway, and that the AR devices will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

    According to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, the MegaGrant fund is Epic’s way of giving back to the development community (especially in the wake of Fortnite’smonumental success). Qualified developers can receive grants as high as $500,000, and they don’t come with any obligations to Epic.

    “You just apply, and if we judge your project is worthy and reasonably planned-out, we’ll give you funds,” Sweeney said in an interview with GamesBeat. “They range from supporting game developers to supporting enterprise and educational, academic projects. Open source projects that have any impact on the digital ecosystem at all, even if it doesn’t have any bearing on Unreal.”

    This post by Giancarlo Valdes originally appeared on VentureBeat. 

    Tagged with: Magic Leap

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  • Multiplayer Sci-fi Shooter Space Ops VR Scheduled for May Hunt some big bugs with mates.
  • TRIBECA: Interact With A Virtual Being In Fable’s ‘Wolves In The Walls: It’s All Over’

    Interact with an AI-powered virtual being named Lucy. In the first chapter of the Wolves in the Walls series, “Whisper in the Night,” you met Lucy, a brave 8-year-old girl who was hearing strange unexplained growling noises coming from all corners of her home. She was adamant that it was wolves lurking in the deep

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  • Oculus Quest Is Getting A Room Scale National Geographic Experience
    national geographic explore

    The library for the upcoming Oculus Quest standalone headset is mostly games- but National Geographic Explore VR is an exception.

    The experience takes you on a “dramatic trip” through Antarctica with the ultimate goal of finding a lost penguin colony. Users will ride on a kayak through ice filled waters, then climb an ice cliff and tackle a snow storm.

    Nat Geo partnered with dutch developer Force Field to develop the experience. Force Field has developed games such as Landfall, Coaster Combat, and Pet Lab.

    While the experience can be a passive experience if you want, more experienced users have the option of interactivity. Users will be able to use their Touch controllers to set up camp, build a wind barricade, and zip up their survival tents. “We’ve built these activities with an option to be physically active or passive, so they’re enjoyable for the entire family,” National Geographic said.

    While National Geographic has released 360 videos in the past, this is their first realtime positional tracked experience. This form of documentary is new, and while it doesn’t give a real world view, the fidelity and ability to move around in and interact with the environment proves compelling in experiences like Everest VR.

    This experience will last roughly 30 minutes, but National Geographic aren’t stopping here. Future updates will add more parts of the world, such as “archaeological expeditions packed with cultural heritage.”

    There’s no word on whether this experience will come to Rift or other platforms, but we’ve reached out to Facebook to find out this information.

    Tagged with: National Geographic, Oculus Quest, VR documentary

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  • Specially Designed for Location-Based Entertainment: SUPERHOT VR: Arcade Edition is now Available The new version has arcade specific features.
  • Doctor Who: The Runaway – One for the Fans You get to use the Sonic Screwdriver, need we say more.
  • UK Studios Are Working On AI To Make VR Characters More Believable
    Maze Theory

    A consortium of UK-based VR developers are coming together to solve one of VR’s most important sticking points: believable virtual characters.

    VR brings virtual worlds to life. We can explore alien planets and become superheroes. But creating authentic, realistic virtual characters is another matter. Top studios can create models near indistinguishable from real life and even fuel them with thousands of lines of dialogue. But we’re far from bridging the gap between scripted characters and dynamic beings that react to our every action. UK studios Maze Theory is looking to bring us much closer.

    Maze Theory was one of a group of studios to be inducted into the UK government’s Audience of the Future programme, which is sharing out £4 million to a range of immersive teams across the country. As we reported earlier this week, the company is working on a Peaky Blinders VR game that will be the first to leverage this technology.

    The team wants to create an experience where characters don’t just react to pre-determined dialogue options but your every gesture and movement as well as voices and sounds. To that end, it’s also enlisted the help of Arca’s Path developer Dream Reality Interactive and Goldsmiths College.

    “Our ambition for the system is to allow the VR actor to respond directly to the player, but to also be aware of the micro interactions taking place between them, for example gestures, movements, body language etc,” Russ Harding, Executive Producer at Maze Theory tells me over email.

    “We’re fascinated and hugely excited to see how these micro interactions may change the VR actor performance. So, we’re looking towards the subtleties of the player’s position, how they may face an actor, their proximity and mimicking of behaviours.”

    Technically, you could spend a long time in a performance studio to capture a long list of reactions to different types of player actions. Harding says the team wants to “go beyond” that route, though. “Our ambition is far greater than just switching between lines of dialogue, it’s to explore the performance of the character and empower players to be able to persuade and influence the characters’ beliefs and intent,” he says.

    “For example, players might need to bring an object of desire or more subtly show empathy to encourage an actor to carry out an action.”

    Harding won’t give away specifics as to how you might actually do that, adding that the group is still in the prototyping stage. The company does plan to make its work available to other developers and universities, though.

    For now, Harding says the Peaky Blinders universe gives Maze Theory the chance to explore a wide range of possibilities. The game’s due to release next year but, hopefully, we’ll have some idea of how its AI works in the nearer future. If Maze Theory and co crack the code, this could be an important new step for the entire VR industry.

    Tagged with: AI, Dream Reality Interactive, Maze Theory, Peaky Blinders

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  • Maze Theory is Working on a Peaky Blinders VR Experience Arriving in 2020 It's the second title the studio has confirmed it's working on.
  • Firmament Achieves Kickstarter Goal With a Day to Spare Cyan managed to hit the lofty $1,285,000 target.
  • Super Mario Odyssey VR Is A Cute But Cruel Glimpse Of What Nintendo Can Offer VR
    Super Mario Odyssey VR Is A Cute But Cruel Glimpse Of What Nintendo Can Offer VR

    When I reviewed Astro Bot Rescue Mission last year I purposefully kept myself from calling it the Super Mario of VR. Not because it wasn’t awesome — it’s still one of VR’s best games — but because I assumed the real Super Mario of VR would one day be, well, Super Mario. That may still come to pass, but Nintendo’s first shot at Mario in VR isn’t worthy of any such grand titles.

    Super Mario Odyssey VR is a free update to the Nintendo Switch classic that supports the new Nintendo Labo VR Kit. Given that it’s just a small bonus for Labo owners (though it can be played without a headset), we weren’t expecting much. But even this barebones offering left me underwhelmed.

    You get three levels to visit, each taken from the main game. The camera is rooted down in the center of one area and Mario runs around the space, with you following him. The initial effect is magic; for the first time ever (or second if you’ve been lucky enough to try Mario Kart VR) Nintendo’s iconic plumber pops up in front of you and gives you a signature smile. It’s a wonderfully surreal few seconds, so much that you might forget you’re actually in full control of him.

    Let’s Do The Abridged Odyssey

    Each level tasks you with finding instruments for three musicians. It’s easily done; look for musical notes on the map and then collect them up before time runs out. You can beat a level in mere minutes and once you’ve got all three instruments it automatically ends. It’s at its best when the objectives are close to the player, giving you a chance to properly appreciate the 3D effect. The further you move away, the more you combat Switch’s pixelated screen, to the point where Mario himself is a blur in the distance.

    I appreciate that Nintendo is going for a snackable kind of VR for the younger audience — the screen even fades to black and asks you to take a break after about 15 minutes — but I can’t help wishing there was more to Odyssey VR. The gameplay shows none of the invention you’ve come to expect from the main game and VR doesn’t feel fully utilized as, say, the 3D feature in Super Mario Land 3D. It would have been nice to see a native experience that truly embraced the headset.

    The wait for a true Nintendo VR experience continues, then. I love the core Labo package and still think it’s worth picking up if you’ve got someone young to share it with. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that the full Nintendo VR package isn’t going to be unearthed inside its cardboard confines.

    Tagged with: Super Mario Odyssey VR

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  • Peaky Blinders Is Getting A VR Game Backed By A New AI Initiative
    Peaky Blinders VR 2

    Popular BBC crime drama Peaky Blinders is soon to get the VR treatment, and it’s backed by an intriguing new AI initiative.

    Set to release next year, the game is developed by London-based Maze Theory. That name might not be familiar to you just yet; this is a new studio that’s also working on promising adventure title, The Vanishing Act. Peaky Blinders, meanwhile, will offer fans a chance to travel to post-war Birmingham and join the titular crime gang, which in the show is run by Cillian Murphy.

    Crucially, though, the game will be the first to utilize a new AI performance technology Maze Theory has been working on. Maze Theory has been awarded an unspecified amount of funding from the UK Government’s Audience of the Future Programme to power much more believable characters in VR.

    The company says this tech will allow characters in the virtual world to respond to various aspects of the player’s body language. That includes gestures, movement, voice and sound. The goal is to bring virtual character interaction in VR up to a much more authentic level. We’ve reached out to Maze Theory to find out more about the tech.

    As for the game, the studio says to expect to meet characters both old and new. You’ll also visit iconic locations from the series. Maze Theory is playing things close to its chest right now, so the in-development image above is all we have to share at this time.

    Peaky Blinders VR will launch on ‘all VR platforms’ next spring.

    Tagged with: AI, Maze Theory, Peaky Blinders VR

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  • Watch Captain Marvel Take On Jimmy Fallon In Beat Saber

    VR returns to late-night in a brand-new musical segment. Ever wonder how Captain Marvel would do in VR? Me neither, but last night we got our answer when Brie Larson stopped by The Tonight Show for a few rounds of Beat Saber with Jimmy Fallon. The pair took turns inside an HTC Vive headset as

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  • 500 Magic Leap One Creator Edition’s Being Given Away as Part of the Epic MegaGrants Programme Using Unreal Engine for spatial computing applications? Then apply now.
  • Arizona Sunshine – The Damned DLC set to Expand the Zombie Universe This Summer The DLC will support PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality headsets,
  • This Portable Oculus Rift Rig Goes From Folded To Ready In ‘Under 60 Seconds’
    portable oculus rift rig

    Canadian engineering company Iris Dynamics created a portable Oculus Rift rig which can go from folded to fully booted inside VR in “under 60 seconds”.

    The pelican case has a full gaming PC built into it, alongside a touchscreen and space for the Rift and Touch controllers. Even better, the Rift sensors are built into retractable arms. The further apart the sensors, the more resistant the controller tracking will be to occlusion issues so this was an important design goal.

    Iris builds specialty/custom force feedback hardware mainly for VR training and VR amusement park rides. This case isn’t, and never will be, a consumer product. It’s a custom solution designed to make it easier for their training clients to conduct VR training on the go.

    The company detailed the efforts put in to engineering high end PC hardware into this design and keeping it properly cooled:

    “Major components are attached to a CNC’d aluminum plate through thermally conductive & impact isolating gel. The plate is floating on all sides by impact absorbing foam, with lots of attention paid to air pathing to get all heat out of the components and out of the box. Cooling is provided by a push/pull PWM (variable speed) fan setup with a cold to hot side. For power there is a standard C13/C14 bulkhead connector (standard computer/printer power cable) with room for storing the cable in the case. The sensors are rigidly mounted on swing arms which are setup to always lock into the exact same position.”

    The upcoming Rift S may make future projects of this kind simpler thanks to the onboard sensors. However the PC will still be needed, as the Oculus Quest isn’t powerful enough for these kinds of detailed training simulations.

    Iris Dynamics will be showing this unit off at the Sea Air Space exposition in Washington D.C. starting May 6th. The company has had demand from more clients for the case, but noted that they are expensive and time consuming to create.

    Tagged with: oculus rift, pc vr, portable

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