• Tokyo Chronos Makes The Case For VR Visual Novels With Middling Results
    Tokyo Chronos Review

    I’m always puzzled by the suggestion that VR ‘needs’ its version of some gaming genres. 3D visuals aside, what’s really gained by putting a turn-based strategy game into headsets? Or a JRPG? Moreover, does the obscure visual novel genre really need a VR equivalent? Tokyo Chronos argues it does, but it makes its case with middling results.

    For all intents and purposes, Tokyo Chronos is a competently-assembled visual novel. It follows eight Japanese students that find themselves in a deserted version of Tokyo. Fans of the genre will know what to expect; exposition-heavy dialogue, striking anime visuals and a branching narrative that gradually dips into the supernatural. This is a media-fluid genre, one that mixes books, comics and games into one package. But developer MyDearest often struggles to capitalize on the fourth layer VR adds to that recipe. If anything, VR often proves a hindrance just as much it does an enhancement.

    Much of the game’s well-crafted atmosphere and style is lost to the subtitles, for example. From a silent Shibuya scramble to the darkened corridors of abandoned buildings, Tokyo Chronos’ empty metropolis can be an unnerving place to viist. And yet, instead of surging chills running down my spine, I’m often too distracted with lengthy text appearing somewhere slightly below me to truly embrace it. I’m forever being told what I feel and what I see as if the game doesn’t trust me to look around and discover it for myself.  I’m told I can’t find anyone for miles around, that I don’t have my keys or wallet with me, that I have a crush on one of the cast, that I have a personal history with each of the game’s characters. No detail is too small to be spared in a visual novel, but in VR this tries your patience.

    Each character also has their own vibrant design, expectantly matched by their personalities. Would you believe that the stony-eyed, black-haired Karen is the sharp and to the point type, for example? Or that your well-built and noticeably taller best friend Sota is brave, brash and loud as they come? But, again, I often miss their enthusiastic animations because I’m too busy looking through them, head craned at an unsociable angle, reading what they’re saying. There’s a textured world right in front of me and I’m powerless to expose it. And Tokyo Chronos knows it. When I say something that hurts one of my companions, it’s explained to me rather than clearly communicated in their expression. All I can wonder is why I’m not being allowed to discover all of this for myself.

    It’s a shame given that there are traces of an attempt to break the mold here. Tokyo Chronos is at its best when it steps outside of its conventions. It’s in the moments it plays with proximity and body displacement. Before the game’s even started you find yourself staring in shock at your own two virtual hands, soaked in blood. It’s a harrowing image, but one that loses its potency the deeper into the conversation-heavy sequences

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  • Preview: Telefrag VR – Frantic Topsy Turvy Action You’ll need lightning fast reflexes to survive.
  • Racket Fury: Table Tennis VR Confirmed for Oculus Quest Launch The title joins an ever-growing lineup.
  • Scape Highlights Geo-Located AR Uses In First Hackathon
    Scape Highlights Geo-Located AR Uses In First Hackathon

    We may all be looking forward to the day HoloLens and Magic Leap are affordable, but smartphone AR still has plenty of room to grow. UK-based Scape technologies is still exploring those possibilities with its new platform.

    Scape is powering geo-located AR. Think Pokemon Go but, instead of a GPS-based system, Scape uses images captured on your phone’s camera to determine where you are. Using the ScapeKit SDK, developers can create permanent AR stamps in the real world. In the case of Niantic’s popular mobile game, for example, you could specifically place a Pikachu on a street corner and anyone that walks past could try and catch it.

    But this type of AR’s use stretches far beyond game. That’s why Scape recently put together its first hackathon. Developers were given three days to piece together new apps using ScapeKit. The community favorite spot went to Xrad. The group had an intriguing idea, using webVR to design virtual recreations of real-world environments where they could place preposed AR content. It could be used to virtually visualize and ad campaign, for example.

    Inition, meanwhile, won the judge’s award. They had a handy idea for a drone delivery service app where the user could pick and visualize drone landing spots. Both teams took home £500. Othe ideas included a Bandersnatch-style game in which players chose a path through a narrative based on their location in the real world.

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  • Dreams Early Access Won’t Include PlayStation VR Support VR support is still planned.
  • Gearbox Software Confirms All the DLC for Borderlands 2 VR Will be Released for Free And there's not too long to wait for it either.
  • Dreams Early Access Won’t Have PSVR But Support ‘Still Planned’
    Dreams Early Access Won’t Have PSVR But Support ‘Still Planned’

    Good news: the Dreams Early Access launch is just a few weeks away. Bad news: it definitely won’t support PSVR. For now, at least.

    Developer Media Molecule confirmed an April 16th launch for the game over on the PlayStation Blog. The Early Access edition of the game is specifically designed for those interested in creating games. You’ll still be able to download and play other people’s levels, but Media Molecule still has plenty to fix and add to the game in the coming months.

    One of these is PSVR support. VR integration has long been promised for Dreams but was absent in this year’s Creator Beta. On the blog, Media Molecule explained that Dreams VR isn’t included in the initial Early Access launch. “It’s still planned for Dreams and we’re super excited for it,” Studio Director Siobhan Reddy wrote. “We’ll be sure to share more details about it as soon as we’re ready.”

    That’s sad but not unexpected news. The Early Access version will only have a limited number of spaces and will cost $29.99. There won’t be any early pre-orders for the game so it’ll be first-come, first-served on launch day. Media Molecule says it’s a “big limit”, though. Oh, and if you do buy it now you won’t have to get it again when the full version launches.

    We’ve long thought Dreams is one of the most important VR releases on the horizon right now. We took part in the beta earlier this year and the possibilities were, quite frankly, stunning. Hopefully it doesn’t take too much longer for the VR support to follow along after Early Access launch.

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  • Limina To Launch Dedicated VR Arts Theatre In The UK
    Limina To Launch Dedicated VR Arts Theatre In The UK

    From Sundance to Sheffield Doc/Fest, VR art has become a mainstay in the global festival circuit. But the chance to see the actual content touring these shows is fleeting at best. Immersive arts group Limina wants to change that.

    You may remember Limina itself hosted such a festival in December 2018. Today, though, the group is announcing the UK’s first dedicated VR art venue, Limina: The Virtual Reality Theatre. Located in Bristol’s Harbourside area, the theatre will offer regular VR programming. Art lovers will be able to purchase tickets to shows, head into a room as a group, take a seat and strap on a headset.

    Shows will run from Wednesday to Monday nights, with performances also taking place all-day on Saturdays and Sundays.

    In its initial offering, the theatre will include 360-degree videos like My Africa, a short documentary narrated by Lupita Nyong’o that puts you in the heart of Kenyan country. The Roger Ross Williams-directed Traveling While Black, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, will also feature. There are even performances from Cirque du Soleil and the chance to explore one of the planet’s most endangered coral reefs.

    The theatre’s opening comes at an uncertain time for VR movie making. Earlier this month we reported on the closure of Google Spotlight Stories, a studio that had made some groundbreaking VR movies. At the time we wrote about how the news highlighted the need for a new kind of VR storefront that was dedicated to these types of experiences. Limina’s approach to a permanent physical location is another interesting idea along those lines. It’s like a VR arcade for those that prefer the gallery over the games console.

    “The trouble for audiences is that this new medium is very hard to see at home unless you have your own virtual reality headset and know what to look for,” Limina CEO Catherine Allen said in a prepared statement. “Limina bridge this gap by curating selections of amazing VR experiences for people to see together, much like going to the cinema, the theatre or a concert.”

    Limina: The Virtual Reality Theatre opens on April 12th with public previews on April 4th. Tickets to the shows cost £12.50 plus a £1.42 booking fee and are suitable for ages 13 and up

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  • The Tale of Lucky
    The Tale of Lucky

    Editor’s Note: This was originally published on March 29th, 2016 and is being republished today for the Oculus Rift’s third anniversary. The author of this piece, Blake Harris, has a new book out about the history of virtual reality and founding of Oculus called The History of the Future.

    “Wait, hold on,” said Brendan Iribe, the CEO of Oculus, as he squinted with sudden confusion at the guests who had come to visit his company’s new Irvine office. It was December 2012, and there were four of these guys. Four of these guys from Dallas. “Wait,” Iribe continued, as his confusion grew to curiosity, “Who are you guys?!”

    This is the story of who those guys were and how that awkward moment led to an intimate relationship and, ultimately, the creation of a foxy mascot named Lucky.

    The Kings of Pop (Software)

    Paul (left) and David (right) Bettner

    In late 1997, when he was 19 years old, Paul Bettner began working at Ensemble Studios in Dallas. Six years later, Bettner’s younger brother David joined Ensemble as well. At some point between then and 2008—when the two would leave to start their own game company—Paul brought a chess board to work so that he and his brother could play a version of the game that can probably best be described as the opposite of speed chess.

    Paul (left) and David (right) Bettner working in the library in 2008.

    The way it worked is one player would make a move and then, the next time the other player passed the board, he would make his move (whether or not the other opponent was present). The game would continue in this fashion—toggling back and forth, each at their own pace—until one of the two won. Sometimes it would take days, other times it would take weeks. And then, when it ended, they would start it all over again.

    Certainly, the Bettners could not have been the first to play chess in this manner, but they were the first to embrace the asynchronous aspect and bring it to the iPhone. And not just any game, but one that seemed ideally suited for the iPhone, which Apple had just recently brought to market. In terms of a gaming device, the iPhone paled in comparison to dedicated handhelds (like the Game Boy or PSP) in almost every way. Except for one: it was always connected to the Internet, which made it perfect for this newfangled idea of persistent social gaming.

    Paul and David Bettner in their first office.

    Text messaging meets gaming, that was the general idea, and in August 2008 Paul and David Bettner left Ensemble Studios to further explore this notion. To keep overhead low, they worked out of the McKinney public library and over the next few months they created a game called Chess with Friends. And in November 2008, Chess with Friends was released on Apple’s just-four-months-old App Store.

    By no means was a runaway hit, but there was something unique about the release that kept the

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  • Borderlands 2 VR To Get All DLC For Free On PSVR This Summer
    Borderlands 2 VR To Get All DLC For Free On PSVR This Summer

    Today during a PAX East presentation Gearbox Software announced Borderlands 3 finally with a great debut trailer. However, there was no mention at all of VR support for the new game. Instead, they discussed the much-requested recent addition of PS Aim Controller support. Then, they confirmed that all of Borderlands 2’s past DLC would be released for free this summer for Borderlands 2 VR.

    This is big news for fans because when Borderlands 2 VR launched it not only lacked PS Aim controller support, but it lacked any of the DLC packs that had been out for years in the non-VR version of the game. Now, it will finally be content-complete.

    After that moment in the stream they also alluded to “more information about VR” but stopped short before revealing more news. My money is on an eventual PC VR port, which should be coming in just a few months. Probably around the same time the DLC releases so that it debuts on all platforms at the same time.

    Obviously the big missing feature is still the lack of multiplayer support, but they have always said since the very beginning that this was being redesigned for single player so that’s likely never going to happen.

    We praised the depth and sheer size of the game in our review, but weren’t a fan of the PS Move controllers due to the imprecise movement and lack of analog stick. The PS Aim Controller does certainly help with that a bit.

    If you’re curious to see more about Borderlands 2 VR you can read our tips for new players, list of cool things to do, or even watch our archived livestream featuring lots of bombastic over-the-top gameplay.

    Let us know what you think of the game down in the comments below and don’t forget to check out our full review

    !h/t CybustOne on Twitter

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  • Madame Tussauds Partners With ARtGlass For AR Wax Exhibits

    Dynamic holograms, historical video, and 360-degree panoramas inbound. Madame Tussauds Washington, D.C. location is receiving an upgrade in the form of AR enhancements that breath new life into their lineup of famous wax sculptures. Partnering with ARtGlass Group, the infamous wax museum chain is introducing the companies line of ARtGlasses into the Madame Tussauds experience,

    The post Madame Tussauds Partners With ARtGlass For AR Wax Exhibits appeared first on VRScout.

  • Gravity Defying FPS Telefrag VR Begins Open Beta The beta runs for a couple of weeks.
  • HTC’s ‘6DOF Lite’ Mode Adds Volumetric Depth To 360 Video

    HTC brings flat 360-degree video to life with 6DOF functionality. As captivating as conventional 360-degree video can be, it pales in comparison to the level of immersion offered by volumetric content featuring 3D depth and 6DOF capabilities. Looking around a 360-degree environment is one thing, being able to lean and move around the space is

    The post HTC’s ‘6DOF Lite’ Mode Adds Volumetric Depth To 360 Video appeared first on VRScout.

  • Preview: ArmZ VR – A Brutal Hands-on Wave Shooter Beware the deadman's click.
  • Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot Dated for July Multi-platform Launch Pre-orders are now available for the VR shooter.