News

  • The Next VLC Media Player Update Will Include VR Support

    The internet’s most reliable media player is getting its fourth major update. In terms of quality, there are few consumer media players more flexible than VLC. A staple among PC users since 2001, the orange traffic cone icon has become a legendary piece of software, serving as a beacon of hope for those struggling to

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  • WebXR Device API Working Draft Published
    WebXR WebVR

    Standards group W3C moved VR and AR on the Web forward this week with the publication of a draft specification.

    The WebXR Device API “describes support for accessing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices, including sensors and head-mounted displays, on the Web.” When paired with 3D content made in WebGL, the API can turn a standard URL or web address into a portal to another world.

    Most VR developers build interactive virtual worlds in engines like Unreal and Unity. Programmers often write the underlying logic of those worlds in a language like C#. WebXR (which builds on earlier work called WebVR) could open up VR and AR development to developers familiar with Web-based tools like Amazon Sumerian, or languages like Javascript.

    “The WebXR Device API will provide the first opportunity for AR and VR to help people at web scale,” explained Trevor Flowers, chair of the Immersive Web Community Group. “It will be wild to see how millions of web creators across the globe use their existing skills to build a wider web.”

    The new WebXR application programming interface is still unstable and in need of further refinement. Eventually, though, it is likely to become another W3C standard. A wide range of devices can use the API including head-mounted displays “whether they are opaque, transparent, or utilize video passthrough.”

    The draft is edited by Brandon Jones of Google and Nell Waliczek of Amazon for the Immersive Web Working Group of the W3C.

    “W3C approval is not required prior to browsers shipping a feature,” Jones explained in a direct message. “It is encouraged that at least two browsers have an interoperable implementation of a feature prior to standardization. As a result some browsers may choose to ship WebXR after the API has stabilized but before the W3C has finished reviewing it.”

    Tagged with: webvr, WebXR

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  • VR Opens Up New Possibilities For Disabled Musicians

    Infinite Instrument’s customizable interface is proving to be an effective tool for physically disabled musicians. Performance Without Barriers, a research group specializing in digital music interfaces for disabled musicians, has begun employing VR technology as part of their project to empower musicians suffering from physical disabilities that prevent them from being able to operate conventional

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  • Livestream Schedule For Week Of Feb. 4th: The Mage’s Tale On PSVR
    Livestream Schedule For Week Of Feb. 4th: The Mage’s Tale On PSVR

    This week we're embarking on a dangerous quest to rescue our master in inXile Entertainment's The Mage's Tale on PSVR. Magical RPG adventures await!

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  • Oculus Audio SDK Update Adds Dynamic Geometric Sound Propagation
    oculus audio propagation

    The latest update to the Oculus Audio SDK adds the long awaited dynamic audio propagation feature.

    The Audio SDK spatializes audio sources in realtime using head-related transfer functions (HRTF). It also allows for volumetric and ambisonic sounds.

    The SDK’s spatializer originally simulated audio reflections/reverb by assuming a predefined rectangle around the user. That approach however assumes the user is in the centre of that rectangle. It also obviously doesn’t work properly when moving around a scene. In early 2018 a feature called Dynamic Room Modeling was added. This allows developers to define the current room as a 3D rectangle with a position. When the user changes to a new room the developer can update the rectangle for that room.

    This required a relatively large amount of effort on the developer’s part however, and only fully works in perfectly rectangular spaces. It also couldn’t model the transition between different sized spaces- such as going from inside to outside.

    How the Audio SDK now ‘sees’ a scene

    The new dynamic audio propagation analyzes the game geometry in realtime and accurately models the reflections. The developer simply needs to tag each object with an acoustic material to let it know how it should absord or reflect sound. Materials like carpet will absorb far more than materials like metal.

    Valve’s competing Steam Audio has had this feature for almost two years now, so this isn’t new to the PC space.

    Tagged with: oculus audio sdk, Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, oculus rift, oculus sdk, spatial audio, vr audio

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  • Respawn Reaffirms Its New Game Is Not Titanfall VR
    Titanfall VR Oculus Exclusive shooter

    Respawn Entertainment is a very, very busy developer. Earlier this week the company launched its new free-to-play battle royale game, Apex Legends. Later this year it’s also set to release Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Now it’s confirmed that more Titanfall content is in the works, but it’s not a Titanfall VR spin-off.

    Studio CEO Vince Zampella reaffirmed as much in a recent tweet. In response to recent reports that Apex Legends (itself set in the Titanfall universe) had replaced the much anticipated Titanfall 3, Zampella noted that the studio was “working on more Titanfall” for later in the year. When one fan stated that this would be the VR game Respawn is working on, the CEO simply replied: “No!”

    No!

    — Vince Zampella (@VinceZampella) February 5, 2019

    Respawn already stated that its VR game would not be set in the Titanfall or Star Wars universes when it was announced in 2017. It seems like plans haven’t changed over the past two years.

    What we do know is that Respawn’s game will be exclusive to Oculus headsets (definitely the Rift, Quest TBA). It’s a shooter that aims to give you an experience “closer to what a soldier would experience in real combat.”

    The initial teaser trailer for the game (above) states that it’ll be out this year. That said, it was a no-show at Oculus Connect 5 last September. Oculus assured us that work on the game was progressing at the time. Still, with so many other projects in the works and Oculus revealing other exclusives like Asgard’s Wrath, we’re beginning to wonder if this project will really be out in 2019.

    Tagged with: Oculus Studios, Respawn Entertainment, Titanfall VR

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  • Xing: The Land Beyond Hits PSVR Next Week With Exclusive Level
    Xing The Land Beyond PSVR

    The long-awaited PSVR port of Xing: The Land Beyond is nearly here.

    Developer White Lotus Interactive announced today that the game will launch on Sony’s headset on February 12th. Xing is a first-person adventure game in which you explore a peaceful, idyllic island. The world around you is filled with puzzles to complete and story to unearth, though it’s also just a nice game to exist inside of.

    The game arrives on PS4 with optional PSVR support. It can be played with either DualShock 4 or two Move controllers. There’s also an exclusive level of Sony fans named Agnirok. It features new puzzles and story elements.

    For White Lotus, the PSVR version of Xing has been a long time coming. The game began development in 2012, raising $30,100 via a Kickstarter campaign in 2013. At the time, White Lotus speculated the game would be out later that year. The PC VR version of the game, however, didn’t arrive until last 2017. Nearly a year and a half on and we’re finally at the console release.

    It’s no secret that the studio is pinning a lot of hopes upon this release, too. Just over a year ago now the team revealed Xing had sold poorly on PC. The team has spent the past year pouring its efforts into the console version.

    “It is an understatement to say development on Xing has been an incredible journey for us, and knowing that our adventure is finally coming to a head fills us with emotion,” the team’s Koriel Kruer wrote in a PlayStation Blog post announcing the news. We’re not sure what’s next for the team following the game’s launch.

    Tagged with: adventure, PSVR, xing: the land beyond

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  • Dick Wilde 2 May Finally Signal The End Of VR’s Wave Shooter Era
    Dick Wilde 2 May Finally Signal The End Of VR’s Wave Shooter Era

    I’ll tell you a guilty secret; I kept playing Dick Wilde for quite a while after I gave it 6/10. Not because I thought I’d maybe misjudged it as a merely decent wave shooter, but because it was actually a pretty good workout. Its feverish difficulty could make it a chore to play for some but also an excellent way to burn calories.

    I’m not sure Dick Wilde 2 will have even that going for it, though.

    It’s not that this sequel is notably ‘bad’ in any one area, more that it insists on retreading ground covered a hundred times over as this exhausted genre finally runs out of steam. The past six or seven months have been good to VR; we’ve had Astro Bot, Firewall, A Fisherman’s Tale and many others. Returning to a wave shooter now is simply an ugly reminder that this used to be the extent of VR gaming. That’s not something that throwing multiplayer into can fix.

    Tellingly, myself and VR gaming wizard David Jagneaux didn’t have much to say about the game as we shot our way through four levels. We’ve seen this all before and often in better games; 10 minute missions in which you shoot everything in sight and not much else. Rarely did it amount to anything more than simple background noise to our conversations. We mindlessly raised our arms in the general direction of bad guys. Then we thoughtlessly held down triggers until everyone was dead. Just as soon as it happened, everything was forgotten. If that’s not a sign of another uninspiring addition to an overly-saturated genre, I’m not sure what is.

    Co-op is an appreciated effort, but I fear it just makes the game too easy. From what I could tell there wasn’t much different between playing the game in single or multiplayer, making the latter somewhat unbalanced. You can choose between easier and harder paths in this one, though it didn’t seem to make much difference in co-op. Without the “refreshing” challenge of the first, Dick Wilde 2 looses what little edge the series already had.

    Single player does fare a little better. Choosing the harder path by myself felt like I was playing the old Dick Wilde, complete with weaving out of the way of enemy projectiles. If you do die you go back to the very start of the level and it’s tough to muster the enthusiasm for another round.

    But, even at its most grueling, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Dick Wilde 2 is behind the times. It’s not loathsome, but it’s unremarkable to the point of irrelevance. It certainly didn’t help that the preview build’s arsenal was locked out lackluster pistols, shotguns and uzis. One of the first game’s better features was its makeshift arsenal of nail guns and razor-blade spouting death machines. Screenshots and trailers suggest that that kind of fun is hidden away for later levels, though.

    Not a great first impression, then. This seems to be a sequel that cruises downstream without much to say

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  • Preview: Dick Wilde 2 – Big and Bolder, but is it Better? The southern gunslinger is back, with more swamp-based gunplay.
  • PSVR’s Blood And Truth Rating Suggests Launch Is Nearing
    PSVR’s Blood And Truth Rating Suggests Launch Is Nearing

    It’s been months since we’ve seen anything new from PSVR-exclusive shooter, Blood And Truth. But a new listing for the game suggests launch may finally be within reach.

    The Australian Classification board yesterday awarded the game a MA 15+ rating. The listing says the game has strong violence and language as well as mild sexual references. This doesn’t necessarily mean that launch is imminent, but it’s a good sign that developer Sony London is entering the home stretch. Other games like Astro Bot Rescue Mission and Firewall Zero Hour have been announced and released in the same window that we’ve been waiting for this.

    That said, there aren’t any PEGI or ESRB listings for the game just yet. It may be that it’s still going through those rating processes.

    Blood And Truth was first announced all the way back in 2017. It’s Sony London’s follow-up to the London Heist minigame found in its PlayStation VR Worlds launch compilation. Playing as a former SAS agent, you take to the streets of the UK capital and engage in shootouts with gangsters.

    We’ve been hands-on with the game a few times now and we’re hoping for a polished final product. It uses dual Move controllers and node-based locomotion. It can feel a little dated, but there are some good ideas in there too.

    The game is one of two Sony-owned VR projects being developed in the UK right now. Last month we reported that the company’s new Manchester-based studio is also working on an ‘AAA’ PSVR title and is still hiring for the project.

    Tagged with: blood and truth, PSVR, shooter

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  • Military Simulation Specialist BISim Awarded £1m Contract by British Army for VR Training Programme The pilot will examine VR's potential for defence training.
  • Oculus ‘Rift S’ Listed In Code With Onboard Cameras, Software IPD Adjustment
    oculus rift s

    Code discovered by UploadVR in supporting files for the Oculus PC software confirms the existence of an Oculus ‘Rift S’.

    The existence of Rift S was first reported by TechCrunch back in November. The report suggested the headset will feature improved resolution and an inside-out tracking system similar to Oculus Quest.

    Onboard Tracking Cameras

    We found a setting in the user interface code which allows the PC user to select between 50Hz and 60Hz room lighting. An ‘auto’ option also exists. The setting is described as “lighting frequency for Rift S cameras to adjust to room lighting”.

    The setting referencing cameras is in a section for the Rift headset. The Oculus PC app typically recognizes USB-powered sensors as separate devices, so the inclusion of cameras in this section suggests they are on-board the headset itself.

    No Physical IPD Adjustment?

    Software-based IPD adjustment is another new setting for the Rift S:

    Set your IPD (Interpupillary Distance), the distance between the centers of your eyes, to optimize the scale of objects in VR.
    Description for the IPD adjustment setting where users can set their interpupillary distance as respected by Rift S

    Whereas the current Oculus Rift uses hardware IPD adjustment, the Rift S seemingly does not. Like the PlayStation VR and Oculus Go, the Rift S’s lenses may be fixed in position. Why Facebook would remove physical IPD adjustment is unclear. The upcoming Oculus Quest standalone is confirmed to have physical IPD adjustment.

    At Oculus Connect 5, CTO John Carmack stated that Quest began development before Oculus Go, and that if it were being designed today it would use the Go’s single LCD panel. Reading between the lines, this could mean Rift S uses Go’s 2560×1440 fast-switch LCD — but to be clear, that’s speculation on our part.

    “We don’t comment on future products, but are excited about the year ahead,” an Oculus spokesperson wrote via email.

    Rift S: A Strategy Shift

    Rift S could “patch” the two primary flaws of the original Rift — the distracting “god rays” on the lenses and the Constellation tracking system. Constellation requires multiple USB ports, overloads many motherboards, and doesn’t provide 360° controller tracking by default. Setting up room-scale further exacerbates these hassles.

    The switch to inside-out would simplify the Oculus PC setup process and provide 360° controller tracking to all. The commonality to Oculus Quest could also make development more straightforward across multiple Facebook VR headsets.

    But if it does lack physical IPD adjustment it will represent a shift for Oculus. The original Rift launched at $599. It included physical IPD adjustment and the best screens available at the time. While Rift didn’t have much compromise, Rift S may have a different philosophy — intended to get as many new users into PC VR as possible while having sufficient tracking for developers to work with.

    Tagged with: inside-out tracking, ipd adjustment, oculus rift, oculus rift s

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  • Ford Motor Company Sketches Out New Car Designs In VR

    Experience with CAD not required. There are a lot of steps involved when it comes to designing a car. It first starts with a simple sketch or a series of sketches that will go through a series of changes until engineering needs are met. Then, 2D renderings become 3D models, more tweaks and changes are

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  • Oculus Expressive Avatars Closed Beta Launching ‘Shortly’
    oculus expressive avatars

    The long awaited ‘Expressive Avatars’ update to Oculus Avatars is launching in closed beta ‘shortly’. The update adds simulated eyes and overhauls the lipsync technology.

    Oculus Avatars are available for free for any VR developer to use in their app. This new update was first announced back at Oculus Connect 5. It was described at the time as coming “later this year”, but that target seems to have slipped.

    The most noticeable addition in the update is eyes. Currently Oculus Avatars avoid eyes by requiring opaque eyewear such as sunglasses or a virtual VR headset. The new eye simulation is based on real human behaviors such as “micro-saccades, smooth pursuit and ballistic gaze shifting”. Developers will be able to specify objects for the eyes to look at.

    Current Oculus Avatars use eyewear to avoid eyes

    The lip sync technology has also been overhauled. Previously the lip simply shifted like a wave in response to the volume of the user’s voice. It now uses a machine learning based technology which recreates real lip movements. The new renderer features “differential blending between individual muscle movements” and “facial micro-expressions”.

    New avatar customization options are being added in the editor. Users will now be able to change eye, lip, lash, and brow color.

    Oculus Avatars went cross-platform last year meaning other platforms will be able to experience these new features too. However currently only Oculus users can customize their avatar- other platforms must select from a predetermined list.

    Expressive Avatars is launching as a developer-only closed beta for now. The last major update to Avatars was released alongside Oculus Go, so it seems possible this next update will release alongside Oculus Quest. If Facebook can expand cross-platform support and entice more developers, Oculus Avatars could one day become the standard for VR.

    Tagged with: oculus, oculus avatars, Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, oculus rift, social vr

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  • Sanzaru and Oculus Reveal Action Adventure Asgard’s Wrath Coming to Oculus Rift in 2019.