News

  • 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

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  • 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.
  • Vacation Simulator PC VR Review: A Template For The Future In A Playground For The Present
    Vacation Simulator PC VR Review: A Template For The Future In A Playground For The Present

    Remember all that talk of Lucky’s Tale being the Mario 64 of VR? That was very on the nose, wasn’t it? Sure, it was literally a Nintendo-aping platformer but it didn’t carry the same significance that the Italian plumber’s transition into the third dimension did back in 1996.

    Mario 64 was a playground of possibilities, a game you returned to time and again to not only relish but to push the boundaries. You wanted to see how far the game’s laws stretched, and if they’d bend to your own. Was it possible to make it to the top of Peach’s castle? Did the Mushroom Kingdom crumble if you reached some unseen vantage point? Every visit was part playtime, part R&D experiment.

    I get that exact same vibe from Vacation Simulator.

    Leaving On A Jet Plane

    Perhaps that’s down to Vacation Island’s sheer optimism. Glistening beaches, dense forests and chilly mountaintops are just begging to be combed over. A colorful cast of bots tends to every corner of its world. Tasks are light and intuitive, understood in moments and mastered with enthusiasm. I suspect, though, it’s more to do with Owlchemy Lab’s unmatched grasp on interaction.

    I’m not suggesting Vacation Simulator will go down in history the way Mario 64 did. Far from it, in fact. But this feels like another step towards a greater realization. It’s another chapter in the developer’s quest to make VR worlds that don’t compromise on authenticity and immersion.

    You’ve jetted off on holiday, then. Only, as with Job Simulator before it, this is an approximation of R&R for a generation that struggles to remember. You have to make the most out of your time in the sun and snow by building memories, usually gained from completing minigames and requests from bots.

    For the most part, it’s a virtual dream resort. Vacation Simulator is packed full of activities that consider both you and the world around you to joyus effect. On the beach, you can get in some volleyball practice with finely-tuned physics that do away with VR’s usual awkwardness. On the mountain a conveyor belt climbing wall had me addicted to its combination of fast thinking and frantic exertion. Meanwhile, sitting out by a lake in the forest I learned to skim virtual rocks and watch them skip off into the distance. There’s even a pretty hilarious parody of Beat Saber with an unusual weapon.

    Invention Through Interaction

    You can also scour each area for insects that need slow, precise movement to capture, or targets that demand skill with a slingshot to hit. Other objectives play on VR’s creative side, like paintings to dot around the world. I was a particular fan of a more theatrical task set in a darkened campfire that played on atmosphere. Bots, meanwhile, are instinctively alerted with a wave of the hand and your favorite moments can be immortalized with a virtual camera. Vacation Simulator’s best bits offer a virtual smorgasbord of everything that’s fun about putting on a headset.

    Crucially, each of these minigames feels seamless and natural. Owlchemy

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  • Falcon Age Review: A Memorable Adventure With Slightly Clipped Wings
    Falcon Age Review

    Falcon Age’s starring feathered friend is a fitting analogy for the game at large. She’s often majestic, soaring above you with grace and picking off targets with lethal efficiency. Then, by your side, she’s playful and friendly, bumping your fist with her own in celebration and welcoming your petting with doughy-eyed affection. And yet she’s also scrappy and erratic, throwing her head violently from side-to-side and emitting piercing screeches as an unnerving reminder of her predatory nature.

    Like Falcon Age itself, she has a rough side, but wins you over with charm and determination.

    Outerloop Games’ likable debut just about bucks a VR trend of ambition outweighing achievability. It is, for VR, a meaty adventure with numerous foundations to back up its claim of being a ‘full game’. It’s got side-missions and crafting systems, combat agency and even a light Metroidvania structure. And, though it often threatens to buckle under the weight of its generosity, Falcon Age just about keeps it together.

    That core hook, of caring for and fighting with your titular companion, is the game’s real thrill. Outerloop gets the important things right; calling her to your side is as simple as holding a Move controller up to your mouth and pressing the trigger button to whistle. She flutters down and perches obediently on your hand, ready to be fitted with new armor, equipped with weapons or, yes, just to be played with.

    She’s something of a technical marvel. The way her steely claws bounce between your fingers as you move your hand seems like a small miracle. Her ability to keep her head still as you jostle her around, meanwhile, feels supernatural. It’s enough to make you long to feel her weight on your arm and her grip around your wrist, let alone the texture of her feathers as you reach out to stroke her. I suspect, too, that Outerloop had a little too much fun designing outfits to adorn her with. It was probably a little more painful, though more rewarding, animating ridiculous interactions with miniature skateboards and juggling balls.

    Perhaps my favorite action, though, is simply throwing your arm forward to send her flying off. It’s a simple movement but a cathartic one. On the occasions Falcon Age breaks down the barriers between you and your companion it echoes the memorable links you build in games like Moss and Astro Bot.

    For all these splendid interactions, though, there are other missteps. Early on in the game you’re told you must work hard to build a bond with your falcon and earn the right to give her a name. This will not be an easy task, you’re warned, and you must be committed to each other. Then you nod off to sleep and are greeted with the message “A Few Months Later”. ‘Well done,’ you’re told as you awaken, ‘You’ve worked really hard and can now name your bigger, better falcon, with whom you are best friends.’

    Suffice to say it’s a bit of a missed opportunity.

    In fact, once you’ve tamed your companion,

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  • New Screenshots Showcase Robo Recall on Oculus Quest, Gameplay Parity Remains The port has been created by Drifter Entertainment.
  • Catland Adds VR Support to The Spy Who Shrunk Me, Announces Taphouse 2 from Summer 2019 The studio has been doing a lot of work in VR.