• Oculus Expressive Avatars Arrive With Simulated Eye Movement And Better Lipsync
    oculus expressive avatars

    The long awaited ‘Expressive Avatars’ update to Oculus Avatars launches today. The update adds simulated eyes, overhauls the lipsync technology, and adds microexpressions.

    Oculus Avatars is available for free for any VR developer to use in their app. This new update was first announced last year at Oculus Connect 5. It was described at the time as coming “later this year”, so that target must have slipped.

    Enhanced Realism

    The most noticeable addition in the update is eyes. Earlier Oculus Avatars avoided eyes by requiring opaque eyewear such as sunglasses or a virtual VR headset. The new eye simulation is based on real human behaviors such as “micro-saccades, smooth pursuit and ballistic gaze shifting”. Developers can specify objects for the eyes to look at.

    Before this update Oculus Avatars used eyewear to avoid eyes

    The lip sync technology has also been overhauled. Previously the lip simply shifted like a wave in response to the volume of the user’s voice. It now uses machine learning-based technology to attach a more realistic set of movements to lips in social VR. The new renderer features “differential blending between individual muscle movements” and “facial micro-expressions”.

    Oculus Avatars went cross-platform last year meaning other platforms will be able to experience these new features too. However currently only Oculus users can customize their avatar — other platforms must select from a predetermined list.

    More Customization, App Support

    New customization options have been added to the avatar editor. You can now change your avatar’s eye, lip, lash, and brow color. There’s also a new range of hairstyles, clothing options, and eyewear if you’d prefer your eyes to not be visible.

    Oculus Home already supports this new update, but third party apps will need an update. Over “the next few days” apps like Poker Stars VR, Tribe XR DJ, and Epic Rollercoaster will get support

    The Future

    The next challenge Facebook wants to take on for Avatars is full body representation. The company believes this could deliver “a much richer and more complete sense of social presence.”

    Facebook representatives believe it will be an “amazing challenge” to deliver general purpose full body avatars while keeping the same design principles. The company listed unsolved problems such as handling both sitting and standing and the transition between them, how to handle leaning or reaching down, how to simulate clothing realistically, and how to account for varying body shapes.

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  • OrbusVR: Reborn Expansion has a Launch Date, Oculus Quest Support Confirmed It'll go live later this month.
  • OrbusVR: Reborn Coming To Quest, PC VR Release Date Revealed
    OrbusVR: Reborn Coming To Quest, PC VR Release Date Revealed

    One of VR’s best MMORPGs, OrbusVR, is getting its long-awaited relaunch very soon. Oh, and it’s coming to Oculus Quest, too.

    Ad Alternum’s OrbusVR: Reborn will launch on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive on April 23rd. Following that, a Quest version of the game will be arriving alongside the headset later this spring. The developer had previously said it was looking into a Quest post, and now it’s official. No PSVR announcement today, but the team told us it was looking into it.

    OrbusVR: Reborn is a complete reimagining of the original MMO which launched in Early Access in 2017. You build your own virtual avatar and then journey into a fantasy world where you can team up with friends or meet strangers then go questing together. Reborn is considered both an expansion and overhaul, adding new classes, enemies, dungeons and raids for you to tackle too. In fact, Ad Alternum says the game will offer over 100 hours of content at launch. There aren’t many VR games that can make a claim like that.

    We got an expanded look at the game earlier this year. It’s shaping up to be a very promising MMO, which is one of VR’s most requested genres.

    Reborn’s launch will see OrbusVR leave Early Access. It’ll be free for anyone that already owns the original version. Not only that but, if you bought the game on the Oculus Store, you’ll get the Quest version for free too. OrbusVR is one of the games that will be supporting Oculus’ new cross-buy feature between the two platforms.

    The game has no subscription fees, either. You pay once and then it’s free to play forever.

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  • Feelreal to Launch its Multisensory VR Mask Kickstarter in April There will be a special launch day discount.
  • Feelreal VR Smell Mask Costs $299, Kickstarter Next Week With Discount
    Feelreal VR Smell Mask Costs $299, Kickstarter Next Week With Discount

    Virtual reality is about to get a whole lot more smelly. Feelreal VR this week revealed pricing and plans for its long-in-development smell sensor for current headsets.

    The device will retail for $299. However, Feelreal is launching a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign on April 9th, before which you can ‘pre-order’ the kit for $199 instead. You can reserve a spot in the campaign now or back it on the first day to get the discount. It’s estimated to ship this August pending reaching a $20,000 Kickstarter goal.

    You’ll need to pick up a specific version of the device designed for your headset of choice. There aren’t yet any listings for upcoming devices but the company says the Valve Index will likely be added later on.

    Feelreal has been working on what it calls a ‘Multisensory VR Mask’ for years now. In fact, the company took its first shot at Kickstarter back in 2015 but raised just under half of its $50,000 goal. The kit is intended to clip onto headsets such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PSVR and generate scents relevant to the virtual environment. It also emits water mist, wind and vibration in an attempt to make VR more immersive.

    It may also make you look like Kylo Ren. The mask fits under your headset, as can be seen in the trailer below.

    Each kit comes with ten ‘Aroma Capsules’ to emit smells. Feelreal offers a range of generalized smells like those of a forest environment or smoking gunpowder. Each costs $4.99. You can also pick up sets of capsules tailored to specific VR games. A Skyrim VR set, for example, costs $49.99 and comes with capsules for moss, flowers, mountains and french cookies (for sweet rolls, duh) among others. Feelreal tells me each capsule should last for around three months if a customer were to use them for two hours a day.

    There’s also a set designed for indie VR hit Beat Saber. Apparently, Beat Saber smells of green apples, jungles, grapefruits and explosions. Who knew?

    It’s been a long time since we last got a or whiff at Feelreal. We’ll be interested to see if it is indeed the real deal (sorry) in the coming months.

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  • HTC Vive Debuting Taiwanese VR film ‘The Deserted’ During Taiwan Film Festival UK There will be screenings in London this week.
  • It’s Time for PlayStation Store’s Spring Sale Plenty of PlayStation VR savings to be had.
  • Rift/Vive Gap Shrinks As Windows VR Crosses Milestone In April Steam Survey
    Rift/Vive Gap Shrinks As Windows VR Crosses Milestone In April Steam Survey

    It’s a new month, which means the latest Steam Hardware Survey results are in. Despite big news for the VR industry in March, there’s not too much to talk about this month.

    Firstly, the closely-monitored gap between the market share of Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive family of headsets shrunk a little. Last month saw a 7.07% gap between the two, which has fallen to 6.55% this month. Vive and Vive Pro combined fell ever so slightly from 41.18% to 41%. Vive was up from 39.36% to 39.55% but Pro fell from 1.82% to 1.45%. Rift, meanwhile, fell from 48.21% to 47.55%.

    Again, the loss in ground is likely owed to the gradually-expanding Windows VR install base. In fact, Windows VR crossed an important threshold this month, moving from 9.96% to 10.57%. The remaining 9.88% was claimed by our undying friend, the Oculus Rift DK2.

    As for actual headset usage, the survey says both Rift and Vive grew by 0.03%. As always, we’ll note that these figures are not a definitive means of tracking the actual VR market share. The Hardware Survey is optional and requires users to have their headsets actually plugged in to count. Neither Oculus nor HTC has shared official sales figures for their respective headsets.

    This is likely one of if not the last time we’ll see the Steam Hardware Survey in its current form. Back at GDC in March, Oculus announced the Rift S, which is due to launch this spring. It could be arriving anywhere from in a few weeks to a few months. Last week Valve also announced its Index VR headset, which a leak told us will ship in June.

    Those two headsets, combined with the advent of the Vive Cosmos, will dramatically change the PC VR landscape in the coming months. The question is how will they shape up in the Steam survey?

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  • Sony Helps You Swing for the Green With Everybody’s Golf VR
    Sony Helps You Swing for the Green With Everybody’s Golf VR

    Since the days of Nintendo’s Wii, there has been a promise of video games being able to replicate the actual movement of sports. Wii Sports had a variety of games, but it turned out the motion controls were largely simple, much like the cartoony art of the games included.

    When such a sports game comes out for VR it is on this spectrum too. Are the controls detailed and realistic to bring an outdoor game inside our homes with all the nuance intact? Or are the movements simplified, the results exaggerated?

    When I tried Everybody’s Golf VR for PlayStation VR at a preview event last week, it felt like a game that was trying to carefully drive straight down the middle.

    You stand at the Tee with a single Move controller, held downward to mimic a golf club. You swing a few times, getting a feel for the force you need to swing with. The game tracks the speed at which you swing, tracking the force with a horizontal bar that is labelled 0 to 100%. The game has conveniently given you the appropriate club, turned you to face in the correct direction, and puts a flag icon on that horizontal bar showing the ideal amount of force needed — at the start of a hole it is likely the full 100%. As you near the green, it may be more like 83% or 46%.

    And you swing a few times for practice, seeing the bar fill up towards your target percentage, and the color of the afterimage of the club head helpfully showing red if you are too high and blue if you are low enough to hit the ball. You press the Move’s center button to abandon the Practice mode.

    And you swing. And the ball flies off. You can’t really see the ball in the distance as it travels, so you watch the numbers of yards count up toward your goal.

    And you repeat. Sometimes your swings miss, even though it seems like it should’ve hit the ball. The game just won’t register it as a hit if you don’t have enough velocity. Fortunately, the game doesn’t count these swings against your score for that hole.

    How finicky the swing detection is makes things especially tricky once you get to the green, when I had a few putts where I needed to get a 2% bar to get in the hole. A few swings with increasingly exaggerated force and finally it registered, with the ball overshooting with 8%. But it still went in the hole with a “Chip-In.” I’m still not sure it was the game’s tolerances or the tracking which had those swings failing.

    The game’s focus on somewhat realistic control with moderate assistance to simplify golf’s movements is in full evidence at the green. The hole has a visible vortex to suck in the ball — ala the above 8% percent putt — though you can turn it off for a more realistic putting game. The green also has a simple grid

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  • Location-Based Star Trek VR Experience Now Available At Dave & Busters

    Save the U.S.S. Enterprise in this intense LB VR game with multiple endings. The U.S.S. Enterprise is in deep trouble. During a routine evacuation of an advanced stellar research center in the middle of the Klingon Neutral Zone, the premature collapse of a neutron star has left the famous vessel disabled and in danger. As

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  • Unreal Engine 4.22 Adds HoloLens Remote Streaming Support Early access ray tracing support has also been added.
  • ‘Dome Of The Dead’ Launches On The Vulcan Holodome Platform

    Team up with friends and escape a deadly bayou infested with alien-zombie hybrids. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting the famous Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington, chances are you’ve come across Vulcan’s Holodome, an ‘immersive reality experience’ that uses interactive visuals projected onto a dome shell to transport users to new

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  • Star Trek: Dark Remnant VR Attraction Now Available At Dave & Busters
    star trek dark remnant dave and busters vr enterprise

    Dave & Busters locations now offer three VR attractions including Star Trek and Jurassic World.

    The newest attraction — Star Trek: Dark Remnant –puts visitors on a rescue mission with the Enterprise “at the edge of Klingon space.” Jurassic World is an on-rails motion platform experience similar to Star Tours. It is more interactive, though, as players are able to tag dinosaurs using a single Vive controller. We haven’t tried Star Trek yet, but it appears to be the same general concept. 

    Star Trek: Dark Remnant comes from Washington state-based VRstudios with development partner Strange Reptile. VRstudios runs the management platfrom used by Dave & Busters to operate its VR attractions at 122 locations. Each visitor pays around $5 per ticket to experience one of the attractions. Dragonfrost opened late last year as a fantasy experience letting guests climb aboard a virtual dragon. 

    According to VRstudios, in Star Trek:

    “Players will encounter awe-inspiring vistas from their stations on a special research-observatory style bridge and will have a front row seat for dynamic and thrilling flybys of both the Enterprise and a Klingon Battlecruiser. The action will be controlled through a sleek and special virtual interaction device that enables players to control the Galileo’s phasers, deflector shields, and sensors.”

    Star Trek: Dark Remnant puts you in control of the U.S.S. Galileo, Starfleet’s latest and most advanced stellar research vessel, accompanying the U.S.S. Enterprise on a routine mission to evacuate a stellar observatory located in the middle of the Klingon Neutral Zone and learn more about the decaying neutron star it orbits. When the neutron star collapses prematurely it leaves the Enterprise incapacitated. It’s now up to YOU to protect her from stellar debris – and the unwelcome arrival of a Klingon ship out for vengeance.

    The attraction is said to offer different endings and “subtle differences in gameplay, randomized player characters, and dialogue that responds real-time to your performance.” That should add some replayability to the experience. 

    “You might even observe the fate of a poor redshirt ensign!”

    Tagged with: Dave & Buster's, VRstudios

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  • The 7 Best VR Games You Can Play Right Now With Viveport Infinity
    The 7 Best VR Games You Can Play Right Now With Viveport Infinity

    Viveport Infinity, an updated version of HTC’s VR subscription service, launches today. It’s similar to the original Viveport except, instead of having a limited number of downloads a month, you can pick up any of the 668 titles available whenever you want and play them for as long as you like. For $12.99 a month, it looks like a pretty good deal.

    Granted there is a lot of fluff (Beer and Skittels VR, anyone?). But Viveport Infinity does come loaded with some of VR’s best (and surprisingly recent) hits. You could even get a free taste of them with a free trial. But, instead of spending hours sorting the wheat from the chaff, we’ve rounded up the seven best VR games you can play on Viveport Infinity right now. Note that we’re exclusively talking about games here, but there’s plenty of other types of experiences on the platform too.

    Transpose – Read Our Review

    We always thought Transpose didn’t get as much love as it really deserved. Blasters of the Universe dev Secret Location switched things up for its second VR game. This is a brilliant ‘single-player co-op’ puzzler in which you record echoes of yourself that you must work with in order to solve challenges. Transpose is VR as its mind-bending best and should be one of the first games you download on Infinity.

    Obduction – Read Our Review

    Myst developer Cyan is going all-in on VR with the upcoming Firmament and Zed. Obduction shows you how the team found its footing. This is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous puzzle adventure in which you explore a highly-detailed world. Obduction may not have been made with full VR support in mind at first but Cyan did right by fans by implementing full motion controller support later down the line. This is an atmospheric fantasy you won’t want to miss.

    The Wizards: Enhanced Edition – Read Our Review

    There are plenty of VR magic games but, make no mistake, The Wizards is one of the best. Recently enhanced with new content, Carbon Studio’s magical adventure packs gorgeous visuals and intense action. The game uses a hand gesture-based system to let you cast a variety of spells, each of which can be upgraded. Take on dragons and fight your way through a full campaign in one of Infinity’s more polished offerings.

    Knockout League – Read Our Review

    Sure, you could use VR to box with some of the world’s most elite athletes. Or you could use it to spar with, y’know, an octopus. Knockout League is one of those games that appeals to those of us that aren’t fussed about ‘serious’ sports sims while still boasting the depth to attract more dedicated followers. Not to mention it’s a great workout and one of your prime desintations if you’re looking to use Infinity as a virtual gym.

    Torn – Read Our Review

    If you’re looking for a visual tour de force to show off your VR headset then might we suggest Aspyr’s Torn? It’s a mad invention of a VR game, taking you to the house

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  • Head Down to Dave & Buster’s to Boldly Play Star Trek: Dark Remnant The VR experience is exclusive to Dave & Buster's.