• Get Building With VR Puzzler Gadgeteer’s Free Beta Demo There's a contest to enter for the best chain reaction machine.
  • VR Battle Royale Shooter Virtual Battlegrounds Launches This March
    virtual battlegrounds shot

    Large-scale VR battle royale game Virtual Battlegrounds is gearing up for launch next month on March 15th and gets a snazzy new launch trailer.

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  • Virtual Battlegrounds is a Tactical Battle Royale Shooter Ready to Drop in March It'll be in Early Access for the first 6-12 months.
  • Microsoft Employees Aren’t Happy About $479M HoloLens Military Contract

    The companies CEO & President stand by their decision to license HoloLens technology to the US military. Last week a collection of Microsoft employees penned a letter to the companies CEO, Satya Nadella, and its president, Brad Smith, expressing their open discontent regarding a $479M contract with the United States military that would introduce roughly

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  • Spider-Man: Far From Home’s Rift App Finally Let Me Web-Swing In VR
    spider-man far from home VR

    I finally did it. I stood on the edge of a building and looked at New York stretching out in front of me. And then I jumped. I flicked a Touch controller forward, aimed at the building on my left and shot a webline. It snagged to the side and I yanked myself toward it. It felt great.

    As something of a Spidey-obsessive, this was a big moment for me. Pardon the pun, but web-swinging has been a sticking point for Spider-Man in VR. I was frustrated by the wall-crawler’s lackluster controls in Marvel Powers United VR and thought Spider-Man: Homecoming’s VR app was entirely underwhelming. But Sony Pictures’ VR division and developer CreateVR (returning after Homecoming) are finally giving us what we want here. This MWC 2019 demo offered a simple street race. While brief, it finally proved that Spider-Man can do whatever a spider can in VR.

    Check out some gameplay below. Fair warning, though, lots of people trawling the MWC show floor aren’t that experienced with VR. This was the best I could get.

    Web-swinging here straddles a delicate balance. There’s authenticity (as ‘authentic’ as embodying a human spider can be, anyway) afforded by some clever constraints in freedom. You won’t ‘swing’ so much as zip – after attaching a webline to a building you yank yourself toward it. You’ll then glide toward that location at a breezy pace until you decide to fire off a new web and change course. While it doesn’t match the elegant CG spectacle of the big screen and games, you get swept up in the rhythm of web-swinging just enough not to really notice. CreateVR nailed the most important aspect of web-swinging: the flow.

    Far From Home feels finely tuned in this respect. It’s designed not to overwhelm just as much as it is to empower (this would be the perfect time to make a power/responsibility joke). Web-swinging keeps you in the driver’s seat; whenever I shot a line I had plenty of time to consider my next move. Think Windlands but with more measured pacing.

    The trick, it appears, is to keep things simple. You won’t, for example, be swinging around corners. The course is a straight line with the occasional skyscraper to either go around or ascend. Swinging is so refined I found it tough to care, though. There’s variety to building size and shape and agency in approach that still keeps you on your toes. At one point I was charging across rooftops making massive leaps across chasms. In another, I vaulted myself through a gap between two buildings. Swing into a wall, meanwhile, and you’ll run toward the top of the building, much like you would in last year’s Spider-Man PS4 game. I could have just swung through the entire course but the app gives you the power to decide how to leap every hurdle. That’s key.

    There was strict FOV filter, though Sony Pictures Senior Vice President Jake Zim told me you’d be able to remove this in the final experience. In

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  • Oculus Rift Out Of Stock At Some Retailers, Available ‘Mainly Online’
    Oculus Rift Out Of Stock At Some Retailers, Available ‘Mainly Online’

    If you want to purchase an Oculus Rift right now on the VR headset may not ship until after the Game Developers Conference in March.

    We’ve watched stock of the Rift headset closely as reported at various retailers. Over the last few months we’ve seen a number of physical stores run low on units, including Best Buy and Microsoft locations. In January, right before CES, there was a similar hiccup in supply of the headsets. At the time Facebook said they were “replenishing inventory across channels.”

    This time, though, Facebook provides no assurance of replenishing inventory.

    “Rift continues to be available across our channels, at this time mainly online (, Best Buy online, Amazon, etc.),” explains an email this week from a Facebook representative.

    Oculus Rift S

    While Facebook representatives generally decline to comment on future products we’ve found code references to Rift S  in the Oculus PC software. This confirms the existence of the follow-on headset first reported by TechCrunch late last year. What we don’t know, however, is when the headset will arrive.

    The end of March 2019 will mark three years since the original Oculus Rift started shipping — the first headset hand-delivered by Palmer Luckey in Alaska. Over the last three years Facebook added the Touch controllers, better room-scale tracking, optional earphones and a long list of exclusive titles like Lone Echo, Brass Tactics and From Other Suns.

    The upcoming $400 standalone Oculus Quest headset features Touch controllers and the Insight tracking system. If Insight was included on a PC VR headset, the system could replace the original Constellation tracking which relied on USB-connected sensors placed around the play area.

    We expect any new device to standardize around Touch controllers and there are indications in code the Rift S headset may feature inside-out tracking similar to the Insight system on the Oculus Quest standalone. It may also have software adjustment for interpupillary distance. That would be a major departure from the first Rift if the feature isn’t also accompanied by physical adjustment to display panel distance.

    There are also a lot of businesses that rely on Rift as the basis of their location-based VR entertainment. If the original Rift is discontinued by Facebook, we’ll be curious to see how those types of businesses will transition to newer headsets or find replacement units. The company open-sourced designs for both the Rift development kits, so we will be curious to see what Facebook ends up doing with the original Rift.

    Tagged with: Amazon, oculus rift, oculus rift s

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  • Is the HTC Vive Family Already Too Bloated and Confusing? All the headsets aren’t even out and it seems a bit much.
  • GDC 2019: HTC To Showcase Vive Hand Tracking And Road Map At Developer Day
    GDC 2019: HTC To Showcase Vive Hand Tracking And Road Map At Developer Day

    HTC’s Vive Ecosystem Conference is right around the corner but, before that, the company has big plans for GDC.

    The company recently announced that it will host a Vive Developer Day at the event on Monday, March 18th. The event will consist of a full day of panels and workshops surrounding the Vive ecosystem. Most notably, HTC plans to lay out its 2019 roadmap for developers within a keynote talk. Hopefully that means we’ll get some more details about the company’s new consumer-focused headset, Vive Cosmos. We know it’s coming this year and that it can be powered by more than just a PC, but that’s about all we know.

    Elsewhere you can expect talks on working with Viveport, HTC’s VR store, and working with standalone headsets. HTC just revealed its latest standalone VR headset, the Vive Focus Plus, at MWC. It’s more of an enterprise-focused device, though. Interestingly there will also be a talk on hand tracking, a feature we reported was on the way to Vive Pro some time ago.

    That’s not all HTC has in store for GDC, though. Viveport is also sponsoring this year’s VR play area, which is open from March 20th – 22nd. Vive’s work in hand tracking will also be on display here as well as eye tracking (which can be seen in the upcoming HTC Vive Pro Eye). Finally, the company will announce the winners of the third annual Viveport Developer Awards on March 18th.

    A busy show for HTC, then. In fact, we’re expecting this year’s GDC to be big for VR overall. We’re also hoping for more news on Oculus Quest and the rumored Oculus Rift S as well as new announcements from Valve.

    Tagged with: eye tracking, GDC, hand tracking, htc, htc vive

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  • Vive Focus Streaming On 5G Is A Fun, Flawed Glimpse Of The Future
    HTC Vive 5G Hub

    If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard the term ‘5G’ in the past 48 hours. At MWC 2019 you were in constant earshot of someone telling you why it was the future. The same was true for the past two shows, mind you, but this year the buzzwords are actually materializing into something tangible. HTC Vive was one of the companies to prove that.

    Vive was showing its newest headset, the Focus Plus, streaming content via its new 5G hub this week. HTC had its hub positioned at the top of a booth, much like you’d have a Vive base station. Locked away in a cupboard below was a huge box of wires that I was told simulated a real 5G network. To showcase its potential? What else other than Superhot VR?

    What I saw was a shaky foundation for something hugely promising. I was able to fight my way through Superhot’s first level on a standalone VR headset. The experience was streaming from a PC elsewhere on the booth. The very fact that any of it worked at all was kind of amazing. The idea that someone could have that experience by streaming off of a PC elsewhere in the world could drastically lower the barrier to entry for premium VR. Well, it could one day day at least.

    As great as it is, though, Superhot probably wasn’t the best choice of demo. It’s not the most visually-intensive PC VR game, for starters. You also can’t scrutinize tracking too much before getting a bullet in the head. But perhaps that was the point; when I played the game with the emergency it demanded everything largely worked well. Like many of you, I know Superhot’s levels like the back of my hand by now. I was shooting and punching my way through them just as I do on Rift, Vive or PSVR.

    But it was when I slowed down and zeroed in on specific features that the cracks began to show. If I purposefully turned my head as fast as possible, I’d have a black screen for a split second before the experience caught up. If I made snap movements with my arms, I could notice the small amount of latency. At one point I spotted the visual fidelity drop down to a faintly fuzzy quality, much like when a YouTube or Netflix video dips in quality to keep the stream going. The hub’s position also didn’t allow for a full 360 degrees of tracking – turning away from it caused controllers to disappear. I was told that’s more to do with environment than it is tech, though. If the hub had been positioned directly above me or I’d had a wall behind me it would have apparently worked with 360 degrees.

    Again, none of this drastically affected my performance in the game. It just felt like I was playing something inferior to the native PC VR or even PSVR experience. The fact that Superhot is already running on Oculus Quest (and quite well, for

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  • Ricoh Launches Flagship 360 Camera, the Theta Z1 It's on sale now for $1000.
  • District 9 Director Neil Blomkamp: VR/AR Are ‘The Future Of Entertainment’
    district 9 vr

    Neill Blomkamp is best known for his sci-fi movies with bold visions of the distant future. But he thinks the more immediate future will be dominated by two things: VR and AR.

    The director behind films like District 9, Elysium and Chappie recently said as much to the BBC. “The future of entertainment is going to be along the lines of virtual or augmented reality,” Blomkamp explained. “Audiences will be immersed in a world where they can see and move around in three dimensions.”

    Blomkamp most recently directed a live action promotional video for EA and Bioware’s Anthem. He said that, in his opinion, the term “game” will be irrelevant in this future. The director reasoned that “they’ll just become interactive virtual worlds you’re stepping into.”

    Blomkamp’s words are in line with an editorial I wrote about VR earlier this month. As VR content starts to find its feet, developers are discovering that it’s emotions, not mechanics that drive this new technology. Truly harnessing that potential may see games and films merge into one.

    But would Blomkamp himself make a VR experience? He’s not adverse to making a traditional game, though he knows there would be challenges. “I do think the amount of expertise that goes into making a game is not something a film director can take on,” the director explained. “But if I was to come in on a filmic directorial level to be across the tone and design elements, work with actors and flavour the bigger effort then that would be really interesting to me.”

    District 9 VR sequel, please.

    Tagged with: District 9, Neill Blomkamp

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  • This 1992 Book Predicted Oculus Headset Specs And Inspired Facebook’s Chief VR Researcher
    snow crash book

    Snow Crash is a 1992 science fiction novel written by Neal Stephenson. The book has a deeply complex plot touching on ancient languages, religion, simulation theory, philosophy, computer science, and more. It was nominated for the infamous Arthur C. Clarke Award.

    But much of the novel doesn’t take place in the real world. Despite being released before even Wolenstein 3D and three years before the Virtual Boy, much of Snow Crash takes place in a massively multiplayer VR world.

    It Predicted Oculus Go & Quest’s Specs

    Here’s how Stephenson described the protagonist’s VR headset:

    By drawing a slightly different image in front of each eye, the image can be made three-dimensional. Ḅy changing the image seventy-two times a second, it can be made to move. Ḇy drawing the moving three-dimensional image at a resolution of 2K pixels on a side, it can be as sharp as the eye can perceive, and by pumping stereo digital sound through the little earphones, the moving 3-D pictures can have a perfectly realistic soundtrack.

    Oculus Go and Oculus Quest are the only announced headsets with a refresh rate of 72Hz. Some others have 75Hz, but Facebook chose 72. In fact, the Oculus DK2 back in 2014 even had a 72Hz mode. This can be expanined in that 72 is is a multiple of 24- the frame rate of film. But just how many people are really watching films on their VR headset? And why has no other VR company chosen this refresh rate? Perhaps Snow Crash inspired the decision.

    When the book was written almost 30 years ago, VR headsets were rare. The few which existed cost in exceess of $50,000 and had resolutions of a few hundred pixels “on a side”. The book’s description of a resolution of “2K pixels on a side” is eerily similar to the 2560×1440 resolution of Go.

    It Coined The Term ‘Metaverse’

    The term Metaverse is popular in VR today. It’s used to describe the concept of a massively multiplayer virutal world focused on social interaction rather than just gaming. Essentially, the metaverse is the spatial version of the internet.

    But where did this term come from? Snow Crash. Here’s how Stephenson described what Hiro is doing in his VR headset:

    So Hiro’s not actually here at all. He’s in a computer-generated universe that his computer is drawing onto his goggles and pumping into his earphones. In the lingo, this imaginary place is known as the Metaverse. Hiro spends a lot of time in the Metaverse.

    ‘Meta’ means after or beyond, and ‘verse’ is taken from the universe. Thus a ‘metaverse’ is a new universe beyond & after the real one.

    And Popularized The Term ‘Avatar’

    We all know what an avatar is today. A digital character representing yourself in a virtual world. In some cases an avatar can be a representation of yourself, and in others intentionally not. While Stephenson didn’t invent the term, he did popularize it:

    He is not seeing real people, of course. This is all a part of the moving illustration drawn by his computer according to

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  • Beat Saber is Coming to Japanese PlayStation VR’s Next Month Soon Japan will see what all the fuss is about.
  • ParadropVR Creator Frontgrid Secures £100k Investment VR paragliding is going global.
  • Beat Saber PSVR Finally Comes To Japan Next Month
    Beat Saber PSVR Finally Comes To Japan Next Month

    Good news, Japanese VR fans! The long wait for Beat Saber on PSVR is very nearly at an end.

    The Japanese PlayStation Blog recently confirmed that Beat Games’ VR hit arrives on March 7th. There’s nearly four months after the western version debuted on November 20th 2018. No doubt the localization process and go-between with the Japanese division of Sony slowed the release down a little. A price for this version hasn’t been announced just yet.

    In Beat Saber you control two wannabe lightsabers. Notes stream towards the player in time with a song and you have to slash them using motion controllers. It sounds simple but it’s devilishly addictive. “Beat Saber on PSVR is exquisite,” we said in our review. “Overall it’s a more polished, feature-packed, and expanded version of the Early Access PC title, while still retaining the core of what made it a viral sensation in the first place.”

    An arcade version of the game, Beat Saber Arcade, is already running in some locations in Japan. You can also get the game on PC VR systems, but we’d bet PSVR is a much bigger platform in Japan that the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

    This is just one of many milestones down for the Beat Games team. Fans are also eagerly awaiting news on the game’s first premium DLC, which is said to be dropping soon. This will be the first of three planned packs that should add around 30 new songs to the game in total. Last week we also reported that the developer is working with Subpac to help deaf fans play the game with just as much efficiency as any other player.

    Tagged with: Beat Saber, japan, PSVR

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