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  • Steam Awards 2018 Finds Its VR Game Of The Year
    Steam Awards 2018 Finds Its VR Game Of The Year

    After months of user-voting, Valve finally announced its Steam Awards 2018 winners this month. It was Bethesda’s Skyrim VR that took home the award for VR Game of the Year.

    Skyrim VR fought off some stiff competition in this year’s category although, sadly, most other entries were from other years. VR Chat, Superhot VR and Bethesda’s own Fallout 4 VR all made their debuts before 2018. Skyrim VR and Beat Saber were the only two truly ‘new’ games on the list. Even then, Skyrim’s launch on PC last April came off of the back of the PSVR version from late 2017. Beat Saber, meanwhile, is yet to leave Early Access on PC.

    It’s a deserving win all the same. Skyrim VR packs in all of Bethesda’s beloved open-world RPG will full support for hand controllers. It’s undoubtedly one of VR’s meatiest and deepest games with hundreds of hours worth of content. The PC VR version also goes above and beyond with mod support that turns the game into an unending ocean of VR content. Indeed, the game scored in the top three of our best games lists for both Vive and Rift last year.

    Steam’s awards were entirely user-voted so there’s not much disputing the win. Still, we’d have liked to have seen a few more of 2018’s best VR games on the list including the stunning port of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Transpose and The Exorcist: Legion VR. Hopefully there will be enough big new VR games releasing in the next 11 months to topple some of these mainstays by next year.

    Tagged with: Bethesda, Skyrim VR, steam, Steam Awards, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, valve

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  • VRX Europe Early Bird Tickets Ending Soon, Get a Further 15% off With VRFocus The event takes place during April in Amsterdam.
  • Is VR Set To Revolutionize In Online Casinos?
    Is VR Set To Revolutionize In Online Casinos?

    Gambling happens to be among the most established businesses across the globe. It has started growing even more since the latter half of the 20th century, and has grown more and more in the last few decades. With the advent of the internet, gambling has even gone online. These days, VR (Virtual Reality) has turned into of the newest fads in the tech industry. It is proving to be among the most cutting-edge technological advances in the world of gaming. VR is believed to be capable of revolutionizing the online casino industry.

    How Can VR Affect Online Casinos?

    The impact of VR technology on regular casinos might be more or less limited. However, it is anticipated to make lots of significant changes in the world of online gambling.

    Immersive experience – VR casinos first opened up in the later part of 2015. As the technology grows more mainstream it is expected that more such casinos will come up and the ones existing already will be more sophisticated. These can offer a more immersive and realistic experience than standard online casinos. Gamblers can get a better and all-round experience. For instance, they can bet on a horse race and get the chance to watch the same happening right before their eyes, and even see their chosen horse winning.

    Bring in more gamblers – These casinos can make gambling more relaxed and exciting for people who lack the time to visit an actual casino regularly. Thus, these can satisfy the needs of those who are unable to go to a brick-and-mortar casino.

    Real-time communication – In a few cases, these can also let online gamblers enjoy real-time communication with other players and live dealers. VR technology can offer such an experience, and not simply benefit the players but also the casinos. Many new customers would love to visit web-based casinos to enjoy these unique experiences.

    Can easily be customized – It is possible to customize a VR casino to every individual player, pairing it with other advanced software or artificial intelligence. As it learns more about your behavioral patterns and favorite games, the casino’s player’s version may be modified to match your interest. This can ultimately let casinos help customers keep on playing for more time, which means there will be more revenues for casinos.

    New experience – With these casinos, users can wear a VR headset and find videos that explain to them the rules about the various games that they are interested in playing. They can find out and play several simulated games and get an idea about the same before they actually try the same in some real craps table. Gamblers can, right from their own home, take a virtual tour of the VR casino and find out about the amenities, available games and layout prior to going on a trip.

    What are the Problems?

    There are some roadblocks to the progress of this technology in revolutionizing the gambling industry. To start with, customers have to purchase a VR headset to be able

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  • Banishing Your Nightmares With The Help Of VR

    New research shows how immersive technology can help patients treat recurring nightmare syndrome. In the US, between 1/2 and 2/3 of children and up to 15% of adults have frequent nightmares. This has serious clinical effects for sufferers, including not only distress, but chronic loss of sleep and generalized anxiety. And yet, access to effective

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  • Zingoshi Crowdfunds AR Game For Girls On Kickstarter
    zingoshi

    New Zealand startup Zingoshi has launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise money for an augmented reality adventure game for girls. The Auckland-based company hopes to raise $60,000 in the next 30 days to fund the game, which is about 60 percent done.

    Zingoshi is a pioneering video game for seven- to 12-year-old girls that guides them to “become creative, visionary leaders through fun, engaging content, and exciting technology.” The team is getting help from Megan Gaiser, creative strategist and portfolio development director, who was recently honored for her pioneering work in making the early Nancy Drew games for girls. Gaiser has helped us create GamesBeat Summit events for the past several years with sessions focused on diversity.

    In addition to an adventure story and inspiring themes, the game integrates augmented reality to offer gameplay that takes the player off the screen to create Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) activities in the real world. For instance, kids can create their own art like paper butterfly wings, scan them into the Zingoshi app on an iPad, and then use those wings in the game.

    Above: Zingoshi has bright and colorful landscapes.

    Image Credit: Zingoshi

    Cofounders Bridget Ellis-Pegler and Ronel Schodt grew up with great adventure stories like Pippi Longstocking, Bridge to Terabithia, and more. But when they became mothers, they noticed something.

    “There was a real lack of good, wholesome and fun quality entertainment content for young girls”, said Schodt, in a statement. Added Ellis-Pegler, “We wanted to create an experience that would embolden girls to defy the conditioning that often leads to a lack of self-esteem; to lead with curiosity, creativity and courage, to become the best versions of themselves.”

    They came up with Zingoshi. And they tapped Gaiser’s experience and found a shared desire to tell inspiring stories within a game experience, to give girls a taste of all of their talents and leadership potential.

    “We know the time is right for Zingoshi to help redefine leadership culture for the 21st century. Who better to start with than our children? They will lead the way forward for us all, for generations to come,” Gaiser said.

    The company has 10 employees and it received partial funding for the project from New Zealand investors, Gaiser said. Zingoshi is an example of a New Zealand company that gets its start in the region’s vibrant startup community and needs more capital to get to the global market. That’s the goal of a new venture fund dubbed Quidnet Ventures.

    This post by Dean Takahashi originally appeared on VentureBeat. 

    Tagged with: Zingoshi

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  • Snapchat Scores A Slam Dunk With LeBron James AR Lens

    Snapchat‘s latest AR lens is an instant viral hit with over 2 million views in two days. With accomplishments including several Olympic gold medals, multiple NBA MVP awards, a handful of NBA Finals MVP awards, and many appearances in NBA All-Star Games, LeBron James is often considered the greatest basketball player in the world. He’s

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  • Madefire Debuts 3D Motion Comics On The Magic Leap One AR Headset
    madefire

    Madefire has been committed to making “motion comics,” or digital versions of comic books that leap off the page with animated visuals. Now, the company is announcing that it is showing off its first Motion Book experiences on Magic Leap‘s augmented reality glasses.

    The Madefire platform isn’t a mere app that runs on the Magic Leap One Creator Edition, the development version of Florida-based Magic Leap’s AR glasses that sells for $2,300. Rather, Madefire and Magic Leap are collaborating to try to establish a new medium.

    This kind of mixture of technology and entertainment doesn’t come around every day. I’ve tried out Magic Leap’s headset. It may not be very practical yet, but it has executed well on a vision of enabling magical experiences in the new medium of augmented reality. Games like Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders look great on Magic Leap, but now Madefire is bringing something entirely different.

    Founded in 2011, Madefire has made a lot of progress with its Motion Book platform, with partnerships with both DC Comics and Marvel in digital comics. Madefire’s platform is available on iOS, Android, and in virtual reality on the Oculus Rift. Among the 40,000 comics available, the Madefire platform has Blizzard’s Overwatch video game comics.

    But on the Magic Leap platform, the new Madefire app lets you see the digital comics come to life before you in the real world. With AR, animated imagery can be overlaid on top of reality. Magic Leap is a “spatial computing platform,” where digital objects can be placed in a physical space in the real world. The Madefire comics are available in the Magic Leap World! Explore stories.

    Above: This is what motion books look like on Magic Leap.

    Image Credit: Madefire

    For Magic Leap, it’s just one more application. But Dan Lehrich, senior production director at Magic Leap, said it is the kind of experience that you can’t get anywhere else. The idea started six years ago when Rony Abovitz, CEO of Magic Leap, who spoke with Madefire cofounder Liam Sharp at the San Diego Comic-Con event. At the time, Madefire was launching on mobile devices, pushing comics into the 21st century.

    “Rony came over and said, ‘What could you do if you could publish into space,’” said Ben Wolstenholme, CEO of Madefire, in an interview with VentureBeat. “We said, ‘Are you crazy?’”

    Lehrich joined Magic Leap two years ago at a time when the technological experiments were becoming real, and it was now time to make the projects into something tangible. Lehrich helped push the collaboration forward because he felt it was a new way of telling stories.

    “This is the kind of thing that Rony really cares about,” Lehrich said. “What made this stand out was this ability to bring another form of content creation to the device.”

    Above: Madefire comic layered on reality.

    Image Credit: Madefire

    Before Magic Leap, Lehrich worked on projects like the iPad version of Disney Infinity, the toy-game hybrid that saw success for a couple of years before Disney pulled the plug on it. He felt there was a natural connection between Madefire and Magic Leap because they could

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  • Rec Room Devs Strongly Hint Oculus Quest Port
    Rec Room Devs Strongly Hint Oculus Quest Port

    In the latest Rec Room AMA the developer strongly hinted at porting the app to the upcoming Oculus Quest.

    Rec Room is one of the most popular and highly regarded social VR apps to date. It stands apart as more structured than something like VRChat thanks to predefined room types and activities, and more gaming focused than AltSpaceVR, with games ranging from disc golf to a battle royale mode similar to Fortnite.

    The developer states that they are “working really hard to bring Rec Room to a bunch of new platforms“. He then notes that many people noticed their company logo listed at Oculus Connect 5 in October as working on a Quest game or port. Immediately after, he begins “let’s just cut right to it, we are wor-“, but is cut off by an intentionally inserted Simpsons technical difficulties image.

    In the past it could have been argued that Against Gravity may be working on a brand new game for Quest. But this AMA makes it clear that they are referring to Rec Room.

    The logo of the developer was listed as working on a Quest title/port at OC5.

    Porting Is Hard

    The reluctance to make a direct announcement may be due to the sheer difficulty of such a port. The developer goes on to note that porting is a large and difficult task for a small team. Oculus Quest’s GPU is significantly less powerful than a PC graphics card. In fact, the developer notes that the time required to conduct this port has even slowed down their regular development.

    The art team is specifically mentioned as being heavily focused on the port. This likely refers to the time needed to make lower polygon versions of existing art in the game. At OC5, Oculus showed that shooter Dead and Buried‘s polygon counts had to be reduced by an order of magnitude to run on Quest.

    A Significant Title

    Last month Against Gravity revealed that Rec Room had been installed on over 1 million headsets– likely thanks to PSVR support.

    If the company is able to port to Quest, it would be a significant title for the $399 standalone headset. Facebook has repeatedly stated the importance of social VR. But the company lacks an app for large scale public interactive social of the sort VRChat and Rec Room offers.

    Social VR has the kind of longevity and retention that VR games so far simply can’t provide. Rec Room, if the port is successful, could be a game changer for Quest.

    Tagged with: Oculus Quest, rec room, social vr

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  • Beat Saber Made People Move So Fast Steam Needed Updating
    Beat Saber Made People Move So Fast Steam Needed Updating

    An update to the SteamVR Beta included an interesting note hidden among the standard fixes.

    Lighthouse

    Increase limits of what we thought was humanly possible for controller motion based on tracking data from Beat Saber experts.

    Whoa whoa whoa. That’s quite the well-written update there Aaron Leiby, but we’re gonna need more detail than that. You’re telling us some folks are moving so fast playing Beat Saber that it required a Steam update to account for their incredible speeds?

    A more detailed comment from Valve’s Ben Jackson offers some more information about the update:

    The tracking system has internal sanity checks to identify when things go wrong. For example, if our math says you are *behind* your only basestation, clearly we made a mistake, because we wouldn’t be getting any signal from behind the basestation. One of these checks relates to how fast we thought it was physically possible for someone to turn their wrist. It turns out that a properly motivated human using a light enough controller could go faster (3600 degrees/sec!) than we thought.

    Playing a VR game so fast that it required a Steam update? That’s something way beyond an everyday achievement or even the standard bug fix for an early access title like Beat Saber. There is somebody out there — nay, perhaps it is a small group of super humans — who are capable of moving so fucking fast that Valve had to change their expectations about what humans are capable of doing.

    I wanted to know more, so I reached out to Jackson over email. It turns out, Valve is home to some expert Beat Saber players and it was the new Expert+ mode in the game that drove them to “push the limits,” as Jackson explains:

    We have some high skill Beat Saber players working at Valve. One of them was playing it while testing, which led to us capturing data where he was approaching and occasionally exceeding (by a tiny amount) the old limit. I would credit Knuckles (which places the center of gravity closer to the center of your hand) with making it easier, and Beat Saber “expert plus” mode with the motivation to push the limits.

    I would bet that everyone working on VR controller tracking has taken notice of Beat Saber, due to its combination of popularity and extreme controller motion.

    Tagged with: Beat Games, Beat Saber, steam, SteamVR Beta

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  • 10 Best VR RPGs For Rift, Vive, PSVR, and Windows VR
    10 Best VR RPGs For Rift, Vive, PSVR, and Windows VR

    We've put together our detailed list of the top 10 very best VR RPGs that you can play right now across Rift, Vive, PSVR, and Windows VR headsets.

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  • Childish Gambino Makes His AR Debut

    Google’s Playground for Pixel introduces a Playmoji character of the hit rap & RnB sensation. No matter how you slice it, Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, is arguable one of the fastest-rising creative minds of our generation. Whether it’s a hit television show that perfectly dances the line between drama and comedy, or his rapidly

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  • Editorial: Why The VirtualLink USB-C Port Matters
    virtuallink

    VirtualLink is the new USB-C single cable standard for future VR headsets, GPUs, and laptops.

    It’s intended to simplify the setup process of VR and ensure compatibility with USB and power requirements of future headsets. It also allows gaming laptops to easily support VR- and perhaps even smartphones and tablets one day.

    But why does it matter?

    Full Industry Support

    The standard was founded back in July by Oculus, Microsoft, Valve, NVIDIA, and AMD. In October, HTC joined the standard too.

    So VirtualLink isn’t some proprietary NVIDIA offering. The famous xkcd comic about new standards doesn’t apply here. All the major PC VR players are onboard- and it’s an open standard.

    Power & USB Guaranteed

    But isn’t it just about convenience?

    VirtualLink will provide video, audio, data (USB), and power all through the single cable and port. So yes, convenience is one advantage. One dedicated port for VR replaces the many of the past. But it’s the sheer amount of power & data that really matters- a minimum of 15 Watts of power and 10 Gbit/sec of USB data.

    That’s more power than three USB 3.0 ports would provide, and as much data as two would. Furthermore, VirtualLink GPUs must include a standards compliant USB controller for this data.

    With the Oculus Rift, many users encounter USB bandwidth issues with the tracking sensors. That’s because many USB controllers on motherboards simply don’t comply with the USB spec properly. Oculus Support tells these users to buy a USB PCI-E card from Amazon with a compliant controller.

    So for up upcoming headsets with many onboard cameras like the Rift S and Vive Cosmos having a VirtualLink port will ensure your shiny new VR headset will “just work” with your PC- no USB headaches.

    But for buyers without a VirtualLink GPU, these kinds of USB issues could very well happen again. The spec defines an adapter for using a VirtualLink headset with a PC lacking the port. We expect all PC VR companies will include such an adapter- it wouldn’t make business sense to only support RTX GPUs. But this adapter requires not only DisplayPort and USB 3.0, but also an AC power brick. And for that USB port you’ll still be at the mercy of your motherboard.

    Laptops & Other Devices

    If you wanted to buy a VR-compatible laptop before VirtualLink- good luck. For the Oculus Rift you’d need to make sure it even had enough free USB ports, and for the HTC Vive you’d need a socket for the headset as well as your laptop.

    And that’s not even the hard part. Many laptops had HDMI ports which weren’t directly connected to their dedicated GPU, making them incompatible for VR. Even discovering this was a difficult task, as the spec was not made public for many laptops.

    With VirtualLink, that all changes. Gaming laptops of any size can add VR support with a single USB-C port. And best of all, to comply with the spec that port must have a VR symbol beside it. So where in the past finding a VR laptop was an enigma, it’s

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  • DiRT Rally 2.0 Will Get Oculus Rift VR Support ‘This Summer’
    dirt rally 2.0

    Codemasters announced on Twitter that DiRT Rally 2.0 will get Oculus Rift VR support this summer.

    The tweet shows an image of a Rift, no other headsets were mentioned, and states “@Oculus heard you”. This makes it likely exclusive to the Oculus platform.

    DiRT Rally 2.0 releases on 26th February- just over two weeks from now. It was announced back in September, but Codemasters stated multiple times they had no plans for VR support. Based on the wording of the tweet it seems Oculus have changed their mind- likely financially like with the original game.

    The original DiRT Rally launched in late 2015. It got Oculus Rift support in summer 2016- just after the headset’s launch. Oculus funded this VR support, so it was not released to SteamVR headsets.

    When we reviewed the game on Rift back in 2016 we were highly impressed- giving it a 9/10, concluding:

    DiRT Rally VR is the new high water mark for VR racing games. It never shies away from the challenges of this new medium and consistently offers creative solutions to maintain both its functionality and its sense of fun. DiRT is able to remind you at every turn just how exciting, surprising, and enjoyable racing simulators in VR can truly be.

    The PlayStation 4 version of the game got PSVR support in February 2017. This indicates the Oculus exclusitivity was only on PC. We were just as impressed when we reviewed this PSVR port, noting it played almost identically to on PC.

    So while the wording of the tweet and history of the original game make it likely this will be Rift exclusive on PC, there’s still a good chance it will eventually come to PlayStation VR too. Regardless, we’re happy it’s getting VR support as it’s perfectly suited for it.

    Tagged with: DiRT Rally, DiRT Rally 2.0, oculus rift, oculus store, racing sim, VR gaming

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  • Dance Along In AR With Childish Gambino On Pixel Phones
    Dance Along In AR With Childish Gambino On Pixel Phones

    Google’s AR Playground now includes a set of characters showcasing Childish Gambino dance moves.

    Pixel phone owners can use Playground and their phone’s camera to add interactive characters to their environment called Playmoji. A new set available today features Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino dancing to “Redbone,” “Summertime Magic” and “This is America.”

    The character reacts to facial expressions too. So if you take a selfie with the character, it should respond. The project joins a series of partnerships and experiments from Google as the company explores the AR and VR space. Previous AR partnerships from Google include similar treatments for Star Wars and Stranger Things characters.

    Google is encouraging Pixel owners to use the hashtag #pixeldanceoff for videos showing people dancing with the virtual character. The below video from Google previewing the feature shows how it represents Gambino’s signature moves.

    Pixel phones aren’t the most popular devices on the market so these kinds of videos are unlikely to become a viral sensation. Nonetheless, you can see in the video how well the moves are represented on the digital character and how well Google’s AR software inserts the character into the scene.

    We’re expecting a big year ahead from Google with Google I/O happening May 7 to 9. The event is likely to showcase next steps in AR and VR from the technology giant. Late last year, the company started seeding new VR controller kits to developers which add more intuitive input to the Daydream platform.

    Tagged with: ARCore, Childish Gambino, google

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  • PSVR Exclusive Ghost Giant Finds Publisher In Perp Games
    PSVR Exclusive Ghost Giant Finds Publisher In Perp Games

    It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Ghost Giant. The PSVR exclusive was first announced at E3 last year, but we’ve barely seen it since. Rest assured, though, the game is still on its way. In fact, it now has a publisher.

    UK-based Perp Games today announced that it will launch the game both digitally and physically in EU territories this spring. A physical release will follow later in North America, though the game should launch around the same time digitally. Perp has specialized in publishing indie PSVR games over the past year; it published Smash Hit Plunder in late 2018 and will soon release the console version of Sairento VR.

    Developed by Fe creator Zoink Games, Ghost Giant is another VR game in which the player befriends smaller creatures. You form a bond with a small boy called Louis and explore the world of Sancourt, assisting the town with issues. The world around you is like a model village with houses you can peer into by lifting off roofs and moving furniture. Its art style is absolutely gorgeous and there seems to be extensive voice acting.

    It’s an idea we’ve seen explored in the likes of Moss and Astro Bot and we’re hoping Ghost Giant takes it to the next level. When we saw the game at E3 we said it was charming games editor David Jagneaux also wrote: “Ghost Giant does not currently have a publicly announced release date, but my gut tells me we’ll be getting this game in 2018 and won’t have to wait too long.”

    Nice work there, David. There’s no specific release date for the game yet but we’ll let you know as soon as we do.

    Tagged with: Ghost Giant

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