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  • Game of Thrones AR Experience Coming To In-Store Magic Leap Kiosks
    Game of Thrones AR Experience Coming To In-Store Magic Leap Kiosks

    Two exciting bits one news here. One: A Game of Thrones AR experience is on its way to Magic Leap. Two: You might actually get to see it yourself.

    Instead of releasing on sold Creator Editions of Magic Leap One, Game of Thrones: The Dead Must Die (as it’s called) will be showing at in-store locations in the US soon. The experience will offer an encounter with a White Walker, one of the series’ scary ice baddies.

    We got an email with the below message. I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched Game of Thrones (I know, I’m scum) so it doesn’t mean much to me. I do know it’s from Jon Snow, that guy from the meme.

    This isn’t Game of Thrones’ first run-in with immersive tech. Back in the early days of the Oculus Rift DK1 we saw a location-based experience that transported you to the series’ enormous wall. Author George R.R. Martin is also a big fan of the tech, last year talking about how far it has to go.

    Look for The Dead Must Die as Magic Leap One rolls out to AT&T retail locations. It launched in Boston yesterday and will be in Chicago and San Francisco on April 3rd and 6th respectively. Los Angeles and Dallas locations will arrive later in the month. The experience will be on display until June 10th.

    It’s not clear if it could come to Magic Leap One devices in people’s homes too. Magic Leap has teamed up with big brands like Star Wars and Angry Birds to bring content to these devices but, as it’s still essentially a $2,295 developer kit, it’s not likely that many people actually see them.

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  • Review: Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl A slimmed down version of Skyworld’s RTS gameplay.
  • Oculus Rift S Has Lower Pixel Persistence Than Original, Meaning Less Motion Blur
    oculus rift s

    The recently announced Oculus Rift S has lower pixel persistence than the original Rift– or than Oculus Quest. That’s according to CTO John Carmack on Twitter.

    Rift S has a lower refresh rate than the Rift- 80 Hz vs 90 Hz. But unlike with smartphones and monitors, in VR refresh rate is only half of the equation for how smooth motion will be. The other far less discussed (but just as important) aspect is the pixel persistence.

    Low Persistence

    Pixel persistence is the amount of time per frame that the display is actually lit rather than black. “Low persistence” is simply the idea of having the screen lit for only a small fraction of the frame.

    Without low persistence the image will appear to “smear” as you look around in VR. Why? Because the longer a frame goes on for, the less accurate it will be compared to where you’re currently looking. Your brain is recieving the same exact image for the entire frame even as you turn your head- in real life your view would constantly adjust.

    The traditional approach to solving smear would have been to just increase the refresh rate to decrease the time of each frame. But low persistence is a much cheaper solution that works just as well. Low persistence can deliver the same blur reduction as a 500 Hz panel would. And let’s not even think about the idea of running VR games at 500 FPS.

    Low persistence was first shipped in the Oculus Development Kit 2 in 2014. It had been discovered by both Oculus through Blur Busters and Valve through Michael Abrash’s research there.

    All VR headsets on the market today, with the exception of the $30 Walmart headsets, use low persistence. It is essential to good VR.

    Rift S

    When asked by a Twitter user whether this was responsible for “faint smearing” on the orignal Rift, Carmack relied in the affirmative, and confirming the Rift’s pixel persistence as 2 milliseconds.

    Diagram from Blur Busters

    So despite Rift S having a lower refresh rate on paper, the headset should technically deliver less blur than the original. For what it’s worth, we didn’t notice a difference in smoothness in our hands on with Rift S, so perhaps the lowered refresh rate and persistence cancel each other out.

    This topic highlights how unsuitable traditional “spec sheets” are for VR. The classical metrics we still use today like refresh rate per second do not fully describe the many interacting “sub-specs” that create a VR experience. Unfortunately, the primary cause of this situation is that VR headset companies rarely release such specs- other than on Twitter from time to time.

    Tagged with: low persistence, oculus rift, oculus rift s

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  • Two PlayStation VR Modes Unveiled for Concrete Genie Get creative in these new modes.
  • Hands-On: No Man’s Sky VR Is A World Of Limitless Possibilities
    Hands-On: No Man’s Sky VR Is A World Of Limitless Possibilities

    No Man’s Sky was first released for PlayStation 4 in August of 2016. A few months later the PSVR headset came out and ever since then it has felt like only a matter of time before Hello Games’ ambitious space exploration epic gets support for the immersive realm of VR. Now finally, over two and a half years later after ports to PC and Xbox, multiple big updates and lots of rumors, it’s finally happening.

    VR support for No Man’s Sky was announced last week. It’s not only coming to PSVR, but also PC VR headsets like Rift and Vive via SteamVR this summer along with the rest of the Beyond update. VR support is coming as a free patch to the base game and will function right alongside all non-VR players in the exact same universe complete with base building, terraforming, multiplayer, and all of the other updates it’s gotten over the years. That’s huge.

    I’ve decided to break down this preview a bit more granularly than I usually do because this is such a highly requested game people seem to wonder about the port implementation more so than the game itself. I’ll cover content a bit at the end, but first let’s focus on visuals and controls.

    No Man’s Sky VR Visuals: PSVR vs. PC VR

    Last week I got the chance to play No Man’s Sky on PSVR and the week before that I played it on an HTC Vive Pro at GDC in San Francisco, CA. Visually both versions of the game look great. The draw distance is fantastic and the sense of scale just walking around a planet’s surface is pretty remarkable. And I can honestly say that the exhilaration I felt when lifting off in my ship, exiting the atmosphere, and turning around to watch the planet fade away behind me — all without a single loading screen — was nothing short of pure magic.

    But there are definitely some differences visually. Now, to be clear, the game is still several months away from finalizing VR support on either platform so take this all with a hefty grain of salt, but it does look noticeably worse on PSVR as expected. In the far distance the horizon is quite blurry, for example. This wasn’t really a fair comparison in terms of visuals (Vive Pro is a premium piece of kit), but it’s still important to note the differences. Everything is much crisper on PC for sure.

    However, despite the lack of horsepower and lower resolution, the PSVR version actually ran very smoothly. I don’t recall noticing any framerate drops and I moved around the world just fine. It was snappy and responsive from top to bottom. Even though it didn’t look as good, the mere fact that it ran as well as it did left me more just as optimistic about the PSVR version as the Vive Pro version. I honestly didn’t think the PS4 had the ability to run a game like this in VR, let alone

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  • Super Ultra Hyper Turbo Edition Revealed for Echo VR The update is free to play now if you have Echo VR.
  • Hands-On: Iron Man VR Really Nails The Sensation Of Flight
    Iron Man VR 1

    Iron Man VR was a huge surprise announcement last week when it was first debuted during the PlayStation State of Play stream. The game is in development by Camouflaj (Republique VR) and is slated for release exclusively on PSVR later this year.

    In it you play as Tony Stark himself in an original story created specifically for the game that’s not connected to any particular comic plot arc or the MCU films. This should theoretically give the developer quite a lot of freedom in how they tell the story and what happens. You can see some pre-rendered cutscenes and a small glimpse of actual gameplay in the trailer below:

    Overall my demo build was surprisingly polished for a game that was just announced a day prior to me playing it. Things kick off with your suit logging on and showing the HUD around your eyes as the clouds fade into focus and you realize you’re actually flying. Before long I’m skimming over the top of the ocean coming up on Stark’s cliffside mansion as the Marvel and Camouflaj logos appear in the distance.

    The words “Iron Man VR” erupt in front of me on top of a booming orchestral score and it certainly feels like I’ve stepped foot inside the Marvel Universe even if it isn’t technically related. What follows is a brief tutorial section that teaches me how to fly, shoot, and punch as all superheroes do.

    Thankfully they absolutely nailed the sensation of flight. As someone that doesn’t get motion sick it’s hard to tell if it will be comfortable for everyone, but the HUD and clever UI effects should help battle that vertigo feeling. Luckily for me, I went full-speed at all times and felt amazing. You position your hands much like Iron Man would then pull the PS Move controller triggers, meaning the thrusters come out of your palm, not where you point your fist. While flying this means you rest your arms at your side, hands near your waist, and twist your wrists to steer while flying. It looks ridiculous, but feels amazing.

    There is a real sense of speed here. As you start to go faster and faster, you can glide through the air, turn your body, and then hit the boost again to turn on a dime and go full-speed in a new direction. When you do this maneuver just right it feels a bit like you’re drifting through the air or skating across the clouds. Arcing your trajectory over hills, through archways, and around obstacles just really felt amazing. A bit like Windlands, but more precise and without a rope or chain tethering your momentum.

    Combat was a bit less thrilling in this demo. You reach out and point your palm forward and press the PS Move center button to shoot beam pulses out wherever you’re pointing. If you’re aiming near an actual target or enemy then there is some light aim assist that seems to lock on a bit to make sure you hit

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  • Hands-On: Concrete Genie Surrounds You With Art
    Hands-On: Concrete Genie Surrounds You With Art

    The “Wow Moment” is the elusive something every fan of VR has been chasing like a drug. Whether it is looking at a mountain vista in Tuscany, watching a dinosaur approach and then walk above you, or sitting down on a carpet for a hedgehog’s birthday party.

    The VR sequence that is coming with PlayStation 4 game Concrete Genie had such a wondrous moment for me, but the experience started simply. You stand in a room with three concrete walls before you, to your left and right, and forward. You hold a magical paintbrush in one hand and a book, that lays open like a painter’s palette, in the other.

    A cartoony genie that looks like a cross between a splash of paint and a ball of flame appears, named Splotch. You can begin painting strokes on the wall, though it appears more like colorful chalk than paint. Soon you are just not drawing lines, but also flowers and trees. Splotch’s eyes and mouth shows a range of expressions as you fill the walls with art.

    In the non-VR version of Concrete Genie, the magical paint that the genies empower you with can bring power to electric bulbs, and you begin to do that on these flat walls. Soon, the concrete walls fall away, and now there are walls of a cave with crystal. Your book of brushes besides containing trees and grass, also has flowers and stars to paint on to these walls. You do so, the magic fueling the crystals. They hit full capacity a glowing purple light gives you maximum magic, like in the campaign mode of Genie, and you beginning painting lush, glowing versions from your palette of natural elements on the walls.

    And with a flash, it happens. I am no longer in a dark cave with nature I painted on the walls. I am surrounded by nature. Those flowers and trees I painted with the Move are now in 3D in the landscape. Splotch is no longer a cartoon, but here in three-dimensions. That transition to 3D, that reimagining of the art you have been making, made me chuckle with joy.

    Such “Wow Moments” are few and far between these days in a gaming industry decades old, riddled with sequels and remakes, though VR has bought back some novelty and innovation that has the power to make you wide-eyed once more. It was nice to feel that again, if for just a moment.

    So five minutes into this experience is this radical shift in Genie’s VR experience and what follows for the next twenty or so minutes is gameplay that is a mix of art creation and character interaction. Splotch is a demanding little flame.

    A thought balloon above his head shows he wants more trees. I place more trees in this sunny landscape. He makes sounds and expressions of approval, heart signs appearing above his head. He walks around enjoying as I add more and more. Then a dash of magic shoots to the book/palette and it unlocks two new

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  • Pre-orders for Valve Index to Begin 1st May, Full Launch in June It seems as though this wasn't an April Fool's joke.
  • Beat Saber Adds Crab Rave For Free In New Update
    Beat Saber Adds Crab Rave For Free In New Update

    Already slashed your way through Beat Saber‘s first DLC pack? Worry not, another free song just arrived. You can now download Noisestorm’s Crab Rave for free.

    Yes, Crab Rave. This was not an April Fool’s; it’s a real thing you can download. It’s another song under the Monstercat label which Beat Games partnered with for the first pack. The track’s tropical beat and adorable video earned it meme status last year. It changes Beat Saber’s iconic notes to a sunny blue and green. Beat Games also made the artwork above to celebrate. Lovely!

    THIS IS NOT AN APRIL FOOLS' JOKE!

    Get your clawsabers ready our dear friends… It's time for some Crab Rave! 🦀

    Thanks to @Monstercat, Crab Rave by @NoisestormMusic launches in Beat Saber as a free track today! Celebrate with us one year anniversary of this crabs-travaganza. pic.twitter.com/igukqKyXc8

    — Beat Saber (@BeatSaber) April 1, 2019

    Oh and, yeah, someone has already got 100% on Expert+. It’s a little scary to watch.

    Crab Rave is available now across the PC VR and PSVR versions of the game. We’d also expect it to be included in the upcoming Oculus Quest version of Beat Saber, which is due to launch alongside the headset sometime this spring.

    This isn’t Beat Saber’s first free track; Beat Games also partnered with League of Legends to bring free songs to the game last year. We’re also expecting Beat Games to deliver two more premium music packs later this year. Plenty more Beat Saber-ing to be done in 2019, then.

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  • Our Favorite April Fools Day VR Announcements

    Four years later and these mock VR devices still have us scratching our heads. Happy April Fools Day! If you’re reading this the day of publication, kudos to you for venturing onto the internet during one of the most untrustworthy days of the year. April 1st is a time for light-hearted pranking, outrageous fake announcements,

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  • RUMOR: Valve Index Steam Listing Points Towards June 15th Launch

    This is not an April Fools joke. I repeat: this is not an April Fools joke! Thanks to a leak made by Valve themselves earlier today, we may have just received our first good luck at the companies upcoming VR headset. In a now-deleted Steam page which appears to have been a placeholder for the

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  • Valve Index VR Headset Listed On Steam, Apparent June 15 Ship Date
    valve index headset

    Well this is turning out to be quite a weird April Fool’s day. First we saw the apparently unintentional leak of Valve Index info via a developer video. Now it appears Valve itself may have given us an early look at the headset.

    What looks like a placeholder Steam page for the new headset went live today. It’s already been taken down but we’ve got some screen caps we took directly. It seemingly gives us a better look at the hardware design, which was only teased in Friday’s announcement. Perhaps most importantly, the page says it ships June 15th with ‘controllers’ and Lighthouse base stations. It doesn’t specify if that means Knuckles controllers or Lighthouse 2.0.

    We’ve reached out to Valve to ask whether the listing was real. It is April 1, after all.

    The headset itself has some interesting notes. Namely, we can see built-in earphones similar to the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive Pro. The left of the device also seems to sport a dial of some kind.

    The hardware specifications state the headset uses DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.0 with a power adapter. While Valve is a member of the VirtualLink single cable USB-C standard, Index doesn’t seem to use it (yet).

    Earlier today screenshots were apparently leaked of the SteamVR settings with the Index connected. These screenshots seem to indicate the headset will have a refresh rate of 90 Hz and the same default render resolution as the Vive Pro- but the actual panel resolution is still unknown.

    We’ll likely have to wait until May to find out more about the device. Sources previously told us the kit would have a wider field of view and possibly ship with a Half-Life VR game.

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  • Driveclub VR Is Being Pulled From The PlayStation Store Soon
    Driveclub VR Is Being Pulled From The PlayStation Store Soon

    One of PSVR’s premiere racing games will no longer be available to buy digitally soon.

    The Sony-published Driveclub VR will be pulled from the PlayStation Store on August 31st. The game is a VR adaptation of Evolution Studios’ Driveclub, which is also being pulled from the store on that day along with Driveclub Bikes. As you may have guessed, Sony is decommissioning the game’s online servers. They’ll be going offline in March 2020, at which point you won’t be able to play the game online anymore. Limited single-player features will remain, however.

    Driveclub VR was released alongside PSVR in October 2016. The game largely ported the cars and tracks seen in the original version to VR with online multiplayer. We were quite fond of it come release, despite some stripped back visuals. It may still be worth playing without the online features just for the experience alone.

    The game did get a physical release so it won’t be completely eradicated from existence. However, without online play, PSVR is now lacking a full racing simulator to call its own. Gran Turismo Sport’s PSVR support is bare bones to say the least and other games that have PC VR support like Project CARS don’t support PSVR. For our money, Dirt Rally and Wipeout: The Omega Collection are probably the best, most complete driving games on the platform.

    This isn’t the first Sony-published PSVR game to be decommissioned. Earlier this year we also found out that Starblood Arena will be going offline in July.

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  • Raising Awareness Of Human Trafficking Through VR

    Radical Empathy Education Foundation teaches you how to spot a victim of human trafficking. Human trafficking is an often-overlooked crime that has a devastating impact on millions of people all across the globe. According to a report from the International Labour Organization, it was estimated that in 2017, 40.3 million individuals were victims of modern slavery

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