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Convrge, a VR indie-dev-duo out of Nashville, have been experimenting with VR experiences that involve social interaction in multiplayer environments. For their latest experiment, they’re inviting the community at large to crash a virtual reality dance party experience that they’ve created.

Tonight (Tuesday, January 20th) at 8:00PM EST (other timezones here), you can join members of the VR community in Convrge’s VR dance party application. You can use the Oculus Rift DK2 to get your groove on with positional tracking, or partay using a normal desktop version for those without access to a VR headset.

  • Update: Windows download here. Mac version coming shortly. From the developers: “There are still some bugs in this build so hit escape and relaunch if you run into major problems.”
  • Update 2 (8:23pm): From the developers: “Found a major problem in the build, making a new one now, check back in a few. Thanks for your patience, dancing awaits!”
  • Update 3 (9:05pm): From the developers: “…there was a bug that was causing everyone to render way too many cameras. Once thats resolved it should run much smoother for everyone. Working on new build now, should be up shortly.”
  • Update 4 (10:22pm): Fixed downloads are up! – Windows | Mac

Original article continues:

Convrge co-founder and Nashville VR Meetup organizer Shawn Whiting told me that tonight’s dance party is the next step after a “super rough dance club demo” that the duo created in November.

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“The whole Convrge project evolved from Hayden and I wanting to hang out with each other in VR so we started experimenting with ways to achieve that goal. We worked with the kinect initially to pull our real bodies into VR but eventually decided its a cooler technology for broadcasting performances than it is for two way communication,” Whiting said. “This made us consider what social experiences would be well suited for VR since most of the time you’re not purely socializing, you’re participating in another activity that you enjoy with your friends. Music came to mind and we both agreed there’s huge potential to create a new type of audio visual experience in VR.”

Whiting told me that this latest VR dance party prototype uses a low-poly aesthetic which is well optimized and should provide a low hardware bar to entry.

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Convrge’s other half, Hayden Lee, will be spinning tonight’s tunes alongside Whiting. The experience will consist of a fireplace around which users can socialize, until they’re ready to get their VR groove on and opt to follow a path up to a mountaintop dance floor which will have lighting visualizations to go along with the music.

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Whiting told me that the experience was inspired by depictions of dance clubs in the books Snowcrash (1994) and Ready Player One (2011), along with an early Oculus Rift DK1 demo called Buddha Clubotron. Clubotron was an awesome VR dance club but had one major flaw—it was single player only!

As for Convrge’s long term plans—”Our method is to find interesting multiplayer/social VR experiences and to build them out. Hopefully we’ll end up with a social VR playground of different experiences that everyone can have a blast in with their friends,” Whiting said.

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