• Beyond Medusa’s Gate is Ubisoft’s Second Location-Based VR Experience, Arriving May 2019 The VR escape room experience was developed by Ubisoft Blue Byte.
  • Valve Psychologist Explores Controlling Games Directly With Your Brain
    Valve Psychologist Explores Controlling Games Directly With Your Brain

    Mike Ambinder, a psychologist and researcher at Valve, packed a room at the Game Developers Conference with a talk on whether you can control games directly with a brain-computer interface (BCI).

    Increasingly, game developers are asking whether a 17-button controller or a mouse/keyboard are the best possible interfaces for interacting with games — or if there is something more “naturalistic” that could improve the connection between what we want to do in a game and what actually happens.

    It may be the stuff of dreams, but Ambinder said many researchers are working on solving the problem today, and it’s hard to predict how soon someone will make a breakthrough.

    The whole point is to cut the middleman, in this case the game controller, between the intention of the player and the game simulation.

    Above: Mike Ambinder is the experimental psychologist at Valve.

    Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

    “In the long run, this will give us the most bang for the buck,” said Ambinder, in terms of directly wiring into our brains.

    For instance, we know there are both verbal and nonverbal parts of a conversation. The nonverbal includes the change in someone’s tone of voice, facial expressions, and where someone is facing.

    “With games, we have traditional inputs, but we might be missing the nonverbal part of the conversation. There might be other data that can be provided to us as game designers that we’re not acquiring.”

    Current interfaces

    Above: Xbox One controller.

    Image Credit: Astro Gaming

    A mouse and keyboard has lots of different inputs that can be very precise, but they might be very hard for humans to remember them all.

    “Memory is actually a fundamental limitation,” Ambinder said. “How many possible combinations you can remember off the top of your head when you’re playing a game? What if you didn’t have to remember everything? What if you could just think about what you wanted to do and it happened? Wouldn’t that change how you play games?”

    Gamepads can be simpler, but they still have all those buttons. There are also gesture controls — for things like swinging your arm and boxing. Those can be more intuitive, but they also make you tired. In the case of both controllers and keyboards, you have to think about a movement and translate it into a movement that triggers an interaction in a game.

    A new kind of controller might be able to help people play better, including those who are disabled in some way. Microsoft showed that with its Xbox Adaptive Controller for people with limited mobility. They could perhaps even help people see again who can’t see, Ambinder said. Maybe we could send data that bypasses the eyes and goes straight to the brain.

    An ideal interface?

    Above: What’s the ideal game interface?

    Image Credit: Dean Takahashi/Valve

    “What happens if you didn’t have to use those things?” Ambinder asked. “What are better ways of interacting with games?”

    Ambinder thinks we can come up with things that can make us respond quicker, give us a broader set of input commands, achieve more complex patterns of input like chaining together commands, and being

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  • No Man’s Sky Crashes On To VR Headsets Later This Summer

    Hello Games’ latest update adds support for PSVR & SteamVR headsets. Just three years after its troubled launch, Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky is a robust, content-rich sci-fi gaming experience bolstered by continuous free updates and an extremely dedicated fanbase. Now, with the games biggest update just on the horizon, Hello Games has confirmed the

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  • Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing Sails onto Oculus Rift and HTC Vive Next Week The PlayStation VR version will also be updated.
  • VR League Season 3 Begins With New Games And $250,000 Prize Pool
    VR League Season 3 Begins With New Games And $250,000 Prize Pool

    Gameplay officially began this past weekend in Season 3 of the VR League with a $250,000 total prize pool across four games.

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  • Vive Wave to be Compatible With Qualcomm’s XR Standalone and 5G Smartphone Reference Designs Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platforms will gain access to Viveport.
  • Pre-orders Begin for Trover Saves the Universe, new Trailer Drops Release dates confirmed for PlayStation VR and PC versions.
  • Blade And Sorcery Gets Even Bloodier In Decapitation Update
    Blade And Sorcery Gets Even Bloodier In Decapitation Update

    If there was any doubt as to if Blade and Sorcery was VR’s bloodiest game yet it’s surely done away with this update. Set to debut next week, Update 5 will add in decapitation for the first time.

    Blade and Sorcery already featured gruesomely realistic stabbing. The game’s physics-driven melee mechanics have made it one of the most popular titles in VR. But, when the new update hits, you’ll also be able to lop off heads, arms and legs with your weapon of choice. You can even pick up the dismembered body parts and then, uh, stab those too. Because, well, why not?

    There’s plenty more squeamish details included now too. You’ll be able to pin enemies to walls with sharp pointy things and even disarm them of their own weapons. One of the trailer’s coolest moments has players zooming to saftey by using an axe to hop on a zipline.

    Finally there’s a handful of less-deadly updates like a spectator mode for desktop masochists. As you probably noticed, there’s a new map set in a canyon too. There are also new weapons including a rapier, dane axe, longsword and double bladed staff.

    Update 5 is due to hit on April 4th, which is the same day the Early Access version of Blade and Sorcery arrives on the Oculus Store. No word yet on when the full version of the game will release, nor the chances of seeing it on PSVR. For now, you can pick it up on Steam for $19.99, where it supports Rift, Vive and Windows VR.

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  • Obduction Dev Cyan Launches Kickstarter For Next VR Game, Firmament
    Obduction Dev Cyan Launches Kickstarter For Next VR Game, Firmament

    Cyan Worlds, the developer behind VR adventure game Obduction and, of course, Myst is back. But the developer’s new VR game, Firmament, needs your help to become a reality.

    Today, Cyan launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for its latest project. The studio is hoping to raise a hefty $1,285,000 over the course of the next month. At the time of writing the campaign has been live for a few hours and already raised close to $40,000. This isn’t a new move for Cyan; both Obduction and a 25th Anniversary Edition of Myst were both funded via Kickstarter.

    Firmament very much follows in the footsteps of Myst and Obduction. It’s a visually-striking adventure in which you solve puzzles and learn about the mysteries of the world around you. We actually went hands-on with the game all the way back in April 2018. We fell in love with the highly-detailed world, which you’ll explore alongside an AI companion known as an adjunct.

    Why Kickstarter?

    “Though our goal of $1.3 million seems high, it is a relatively modest budget for the kind of experience that Cyan creates,” the developer writes of the decision to take the game to Kickstarter. “But Cyan has plenty of experience, and a small, but talented team. We’ve learned over the years that a smaller, experienced team, working closely together can be very efficient and satisfying.”

    As with Obduction, Firmament’s VR support is optional. Crucially, though, Cyan is working on VR integration from the off this time. That means no retroactive additions like motion controllers, it’ll all work naturally from the start. Cyan itself says the game is specifically designed for VR.

    Interested? Backers of the campaign will get exclusive access to downloadable content like unique skins for the adjunct and other skinned items. You can pledge $40 to get a copy of the game on PC with VR support. Supported headsets haven’t been announced yet, and neither has a possible PSVR port (Obduction did eventually reach PSVR). Cyan is estimating a July 2020 launch at this time.

    Elsewhere, Cyan is also publishing another VR adventure named Zed. We’re expecting that one to launch pretty soon.

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  • Vertigo Games’ RTS Skyworld now Available for PlayStation VR With new and enhanced features.
  • GDC 2019: Trover Saves The Universe Kept Me Laughing Through The Whole Demo
    trover controller screenshot

    Trover Saves the Universe is coming very soon to PSVR and PC VR headsets and after playing it at GDC we have no doubt we're all in for some good laughs.

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  • Iron Man VR Will Tell A ‘Deeply Personal’ And ‘Appropriately Funny’ Story
    Iron Man VR 3

    Yesterday saw jaws hit the floor as Marvel’s Iron Man VR was announced exclusively for PSVR. A high-flying trailer introduced us to the game’s action, but developer Camouflaj is promising much more than that.

    Taking to the PlayStation Blog following the game’s reveal, Director Ryan Payton also promised a “deeply personal” story for the game. He said the team has set its “sights on not only giving the player thrilling moment-to-moment action, but also a deeply personal, and appropriately funny, narrative that puts players in Tony Stark’s armored shoes.”

    Anyone that’s seen Robert Downey Jr’s turn as Tony Stark will likely know what to expect, then. Payton did make reference to a classic Iron Man story, Demon in a Bottle, in which Stark battles with alcoholism. It’s clear he knows his stuff when it comes to Tony Stark.

    Payton didn’t reveal too much more but did say the game will be “more than just an origin story.” He promised we’ll meet iconic allies (War Machine?) and villains (uh… Mandarin?) on a global journey. In the trailer we see what looks very much like Ant-Man and the Wasp baddie, Ghost, popping up. Ghost is indeed closer to an Iron Man villain in the comics, though. Could we perhaps meet up with other Avengers? Dare we suggest we might even play as other armored superheroes?

    Hopefully all of this means that we’ll be getting a full game here and not an ‘experience’. Other superheroes like Spider-Man and Batman have their own VR apps but the content never lasts much longer than an hour.

    Iron Man VR is due out later this year.

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  • Beyond Medusa’s Gate Is Ubisoft’s Next Assassin’s Creed VR Arcade Game
    Beyond Medusa’s Gate Is Ubisoft’s Next Assassin’s Creed VR Arcade Game

    Ubisoft is pressing on with its location-based VR business. The company today announced its second game for the initiative, which again ties into the world of Assassin’s Creed.

    Beyond Medusa’s Gate will be arriving at locations across the US and Europe on May 7th. It’s again developed by Blue Byte, the studio that made last year’s excellent Escape the Lost Pyramid. Whereas that piece tied into Assassin’s Creed Origins, though, Beyond Medusa’s Gate is set in the world of last year’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. As the name suggests, that’s ancient Greece.

    The game can be played with either two or four players. Teams will have up to 60 minutes to work their way out of a coastal cave. It houses the ship of the Argonauts. As with Escape the Lost Pyramid, you’ll need to work together to solve puzzles in order to get out alive. Don’t expect any combat, but you’ll at least get a taste of the world of Assassin’s Creed inside VR. We don’t have any other images to go on right now other than the one above.

    We really liked Escape the Lost Pyramid when we tried it out last year. While it might not be the full Assassin’s Creed VR experience fans want, it shows VR at its collaborative best.

    Elsewhere, Ubisoft’s Space Junkies is now in VR arcades across the globe too, though it launches today on home VR headsets. We’re hoping to see some of the company’s other famous brands like Far Cry and Rainbow Six make their way into the location-based realm too.

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  • Myst studio Cyan Begins Kickstarter Campaign for Steampunk Adventure Firmament The campaign aims to raise $1.3 million.
  • SXSW 2019: The Time Machine Takes Attendees To 1964 Tokyo
    Shibuya VR The Time Machine

    Have you ever wondered what Tokyo’s popular Shibuya district looked like in 1964? Thanks to NHK Enterprises, many SXSW (South by Southwest) attendees were able to experience a short demo showing them what Shibuya was like the last time the Olympics were in town. Although the demo itself was less than ten minutes long, seeing what is possible from stitching old photos together to create an immersive experience is quite remarkable.

    To travel to the past, we used an HTC Vive Pro headset, two Vive controllers, and a backpack similar to ones worn at The VOID, or Dreamscape. We only used the controller to point; the touchpads were off limits. Completely set up with our equipment, the narrated demo began. The narrator gave us some backstory on Shibuya, explaining that we were going on a journey to see what it looked like in 1964. Our tour began with the Hachiko bronze statue near Shibuya Station. The narrator instructed us to walk up and touch the statue after hearing its backstory. I don’t recall seeing a statue while we were getting geared up, so that was a pleasant surprise.

    The 3D environment was created by stitching together old photos. Photo provided by NHK Enterprises Inc.

    From there, we flew to the top of a building, looking down on the Shibuya from the past. The facilitators of the demo warned before gearing up that the experience had quick forward and upward movement, but it was surprisingly smooth. Typically quick motions like that disorient me, but I had no issues with The Time Machine. Looking around Shibuya from above, the narrator encouraged us to walk to the edge, and look down. In addition to feeling like I was really looking over the edge, facilitators used fans to give us the sensation of real wind, making the experience that more immersive.

    The end of the demo took us to modern day Shibuya Crossing. This portion of the experience was filmed using a 360 degree camera; if you looked down, you could see the person handling the camera. The comparison between Shibuya in the present day compared to what it once was really put things into perspective. As technology advances, we build taller buildings and continue to incorporate technology into our everyday lives.

    A look at modern-day Shibuya Crossing. Photo: Alessandro Crugnola, Five Hundred Pixels, via Lonely Planet.

    Keiko Tsuneki, of NHK Enterprises Inc., told me their goal was to have several location-based attractions around the globe. A huge target audience for the company is actually older people. Tsuneki talked about how eventually the company would like to be able to serve several people at a time, to take them back to the years they want to revisit.

    “It’d be nice for older people to have their avatars and be able to go visit a cafe

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