Road to VR https://www.roadtovr.com Virtual Reality News Mon, 16 Sep 2019 23:17:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.11 https://www.roadtovr.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/cropped-road-to-vr-logo-for-social-media-54aabc8av1_site_icon-32x32.png Road to VR https://www.roadtovr.com 32 32 “Tower defense-inspired” VR Game ‘Home A Drone’ Launches This Week https://www.roadtovr.com/tower-defense-vr-game-home-a-drone-release-date/ https://www.roadtovr.com/tower-defense-vr-game-home-a-drone-release-date/#comments Mon, 16 Sep 2019 23:17:46 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90408
“Tower Defense-inspired” VR FPS Home A Drone is set to release in Early Access on Steam and Viveport this Thursday. Home A Drone will allow players to fight off invading swarms of enemies by placing structures that automatically target and shoot at whatever approaches, similar to other tower defense-style games like Defense Grid 2. Unlike traditional tower […]

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“Tower Defense-inspired” VR FPS Home A Drone is set to release in Early Access on Steam and Viveport this Thursday.

Home A Drone will allow players to fight off invading swarms of enemies by placing structures that automatically target and shoot at whatever approaches, similar to other tower defense-style games like Defense Grid 2. Unlike traditional tower defense titles, however, Home A Drone will invoke the power of VR by allowing players to jump directly into the action with their own handheld weapons, much like in any conventional shooting game.

Image courtesy Construct Studio

Developer Construct Studio says that the title’s narrative beats center around DroneCorp, an overzealous corporation bent on monopolizing all forms of artificial intelligence. In an attempt to defend Scrappy, the player’s home-built drone that DroneCorp appears obsessed with reclaiming for its own purposes, players will set traps and wield weapons, such as the “Battery Blaster, the Saw Sniper, and the Football Flinger,” against an invading army of DroneCorp drones.

The studio pitches the following on the game’s Steam page:

  • Arcade and Tower Defense-inspired gameplay, built from the ground up for VR! Balance your preferred gameplay style against your resources during fun, fast paced action!
  • Play Offensively or Defensively… Should you use skill with weapons to fight back the DroneCorp onslaught, or should you use strategy to place traps to most effectively stop the drones in their tracks? Why not both? In Home A Drone, you decide how you should play!
  • DIY-inspired creations like the Battery Blaster, the Saw Sniper, and the Football Flinger are your instruments of battle.
    Upgrade your weapons and traps with the Scrap from each drone you defeat, making them more powerful and changing their characteristics.
  • Fight for friendship, and discover the truth about DroneCorp and Scrappy!
  • Flamingos!

Home A Drone is headed to Steam and Viveport this Thursday, September 19th, priced at $10. The game will be released in Early Access and only with official support for the HTC Vive, though the developer says that support for the Rift is expected “really soon.”

Image courtesy Construct Studio

Construct Studio also developed The Price of Freedom VR (2016). Downloaded just over 85,000 times, in 2017 it was nominated for the ‘Best Narrative VR’ and ‘Narrative Achievement Award’ at Unity VR/AR Vision Summit and was featured at the Sundance Film Festival by HTC.

Aside from developing games, the studio also designed VERA, a plugin system that’s meant to smoothen the direct integration of 3D model data into a game engine like Unity.

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‘No Man’s Sky’ Update to Bring “significantly improved” Graphics to PSVR Version https://www.roadtovr.com/no-mans-sky-update-psvr-blurry/ https://www.roadtovr.com/no-mans-sky-update-psvr-blurry/#comments Sat, 14 Sep 2019 14:34:23 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90518
The ‘Beyond’ update to No Man’s Sky (2016), which brought VR support to the game alongside a host of improvements, is admittedly far from perfect. Hello Games seems to be chewing through some of the biggest gripes VR gamers have though, notably the game’s graphical fidelity on PSVR. To that effect, the studio announced that they’re […]

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The ‘Beyond’ update to No Man’s Sky (2016), which brought VR support to the game alongside a host of improvements, is admittedly far from perfect. Hello Games seems to be chewing through some of the biggest gripes VR gamers have though, notably the game’s graphical fidelity on PSVR.

To that effect, the studio announced that they’re bringing some optimizations to all VR platforms, and not just PSVR.

Hello Games pushed out the update to their Experimental Branch on Steam this week, which lets PC VR users opt-in to early access features.

Here’s the VR-specific bits from the long list of bug fixes:

  • Introduced a number of PC VR and PSVR rendering optimisations.
  • Significantly improved image quality in PSVR: reduced blurriness caused by TAA jitter and fixed low-quality terrain/atmosphere jaggies.
  • Fixed an issue that caused the Blaze Javelin not to work in VR.

The studio says they’ll be rolling out the optimizations to its other platforms “as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, check out our full review of No Man’s Sky in VR to find out why we scored it a solid [7.5/10].

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Social VR Platform ‘AltspaceVR’ Now Available on Oculus Quest https://www.roadtovr.com/social-vr-platform-altspacevr-coming-oculus-quest-mid-september/ https://www.roadtovr.com/social-vr-platform-altspacevr-coming-oculus-quest-mid-september/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2019 16:00:08 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90201
Social VR networking app AltspaceVR is now live on the Oculus Quest. The social VR app is best known for having been purchased by Microsoft in 2017 after nearly shutting down, but low-key visual design and wide accessibility have cemented AltspaceVR as a staple social tool among loyal supporters and industry professionals alike. Update (September 13th, […]

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Social VR networking app AltspaceVR is now live on the Oculus Quest. The social VR app is best known for having been purchased by Microsoft in 2017 after nearly shutting down, but low-key visual design and wide accessibility have cemented AltspaceVR as a staple social tool among loyal supporters and industry professionals alike.

Update (September 13th, 2019): AltspaceVR is now available on Oculus Quest. Download it for free here.

The original article announcing Quest support follows below:

Original Article (September 3rd, 2019): Each environment and avatar in Altspace is minimalistic as a rule, erring in favor of a core social experience that runs well on lower-end systems and scales with each simultaneous user. As a result, AltspaceVR notably hosts a higher concentration of professionals than might be found so easily in other social VR apps.

While avatars in AltspaceVR are simple, the app boasts a 3D audio attenuation system that makes conversations sound like they’re happening with spatial accuracy, as they would in the real world. Users can also join large-scale events, the most prominent example being the recurring live shows thrown by Reggie Watts. Events are divided into individual sessions with a set number of other users per room.

AltspaceVR is already available for free on Steam for all major headsets, as well as on the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, and Gear VR storefronts. Windows 10 users without headsets can still download and access the app via 2D mode. AltspaceVR will join popular social VR apps Rec Room, VRChat, and Bigscreen on Oculus Quest.

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‘Death Lap’ Mashes up Mario Kart Racing & Twisted Metal, Coming Soon to Rift & Quest https://www.roadtovr.com/death-lap-twisted-metal-mario-kart/ https://www.roadtovr.com/death-lap-twisted-metal-mario-kart/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2019 12:35:31 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90504
OZWE Games, the studio behind the Anshar VR franchise, today announced a new game for Rift and Quest that looks straight out of Mad Max. Called Death Lap, Ozwe says in an Oculus blog post that it was inspired by both the Twisted Metal and Mario Kart franchises. The game is said to include five apocalyptic tracks: a psychedelic desert, […]

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OZWE Games, the studio behind the Anshar VR franchise, today announced a new game for Rift and Quest that looks straight out of Mad Max.

Called Death Lap, Ozwe says in an Oculus blog post that it was inspired by both the Twisted Metal and Mario Kart franchises.

The game is said to include five apocalyptic tracks: a psychedelic desert, oil on fire in the desert, Las Vegas by night, an abandoned theme park, and a giant pinball. Death Lap will also arrive with both single and multiplayer modes for up to six players, which also includes a global leaderboard.

“The game takes its name from an annual tournament held once a year, where drivers wield deadly short- and long-range weapons and the first to cross the finish line wins,” Ozwe says. “Behind it all is the host, Nitro Saint Payne—a marvelous yet tragic man with a definite need for speed.

 

Ozwe Games CEO Stéphane Intissar says that besides weapons, players can use items to get an edge over their opponents such as traps, secret paths, and special pickup items. Adding an extra edge, Intissar says players can also be eaten by “a colossal piranha, electrified by the malicious clown, and crushed by a giant dice over the ruthless rides.”

There’s no exact launch date on the books yet, although Ozwe says it should be arriving on Rift and Quest “soon.”

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Well-funded AR Headset Startup DAQRI is Shutting Down https://www.roadtovr.com/daqri-ar-shutdown/ https://www.roadtovr.com/daqri-ar-shutdown/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2019 12:02:23 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90497
DAQRI, the Los Angeles-based AR headset company known for its enterprise-focused Daqri Smart Glasses, is shutting down. The company announced the shutdown via email recently, stating that it is taking part in an asset acquisition that will “put an end to [Daqri’s] industrial wearables business and begin the wind down of the company.” As per the […]

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DAQRI, the Los Angeles-based AR headset company known for its enterprise-focused Daqri Smart Glasses, is shutting down.

The company announced the shutdown via email recently, stating that it is taking part in an asset acquisition that will “put an end to [Daqri’s] industrial wearables business and begin the wind down of the company.”

As per the email, Daqri says both its Smart Glasses and Worksense cloud solutions will be retired at the end of September.

Since its founding in 2010, the company has garnered a total of $275 million in investment funds, the most recent of which brought in $260 million in 2017. In addition to its Smart Glasses, the company also previously produced its enterprise-focused industrial Smart Helmet.

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TechCrunch report cites former employees and “sources close to the company,” maintaining that Daqri has now shuttered its HQ and laid off many of its employees.

TechCrunch also notes that the company’s 18,000 ft² (~1,670 m²) headquarters is currently up for rent.

The company’s Smart Glasses, which initially launched in late 2017 for $5,000, connected to a discrete body-worn miniature computer and featured a 44-degree field of view.

Image courtesy Daqri

Much like Microsoft HoloLens, Daqri’s Smart Glasses were created for use by enterprise costumers including manufacturing, field services, maintenance and repair, inspections, construction, etc.

Daqri isn’t the first AR startup to find itself in troubled waters lately. Meta, the makers behind the Meta 2 AR headset announced its insolvency last September and subsequent sale to the newly formed IP holders Meta View earlier this year.

Osterhout Design Group, the AR headset startup which took in $58 million in investment funds since its founding in 1999, also closed its doors this year after failed acquisition talks with Magic Leap, Facebook and others.

Outside of the email announcing its shutdown, Daqri hasn’t made any further public statements.

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Google ARCore Update Brings More Robust Cloud Anchors for Improved Multiuser AR https://www.roadtovr.com/google-arcore-update-cloud-anchor/ https://www.roadtovr.com/google-arcore-update-cloud-anchor/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2019 15:59:30 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90485
ARCore, Google’s developer platform for building augmented reality experiences, is getting an update today that aims to make shared AR experiences quicker and more reliable. Additionally, Google is also rolling out support for Augmented Faces on iOS, the company’s 3D face filter API. Introduced last year, Google’s Cloud Anchors API essentially lets developers create a shared, cross-platform […]

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ARCore, Google’s developer platform for building augmented reality experiences, is getting an update today that aims to make shared AR experiences quicker and more reliable. Additionally, Google is also rolling out support for Augmented Faces on iOS, the company’s 3D face filter API.

Introduced last year, Google’s Cloud Anchors API essentially lets developers create a shared, cross-platform AR experience for Android and iOS, and then host the so-called anchors through Google’s Cloud services. Users can then add virtual objects to a scene, and share them with others so they view and interact simultaneously.

In today’s update, Google says it’s made improvements to the Cloud Anchors API that make hosting and resolving anchors more efficient and robust, something the company says is due to improved anchor creation and visual processing in the cloud.

 

Google AR team product manager Christina Tong says in a blog post that developers will now have access to more angles across larger areas in the scene, making for what she calls a “more robust 3D feature map.”

This, Tong explains, will allow for multiple anchors in the scene to be resolved simultaneously, which she says reduces the app’s startup time.

Tong says that once a map is created from your physical surroundings, the visual data used to create the map is deleted, leaving only anchor IDs to be shared with other devices.

 

In the future, Google is also looking to further develop Persistent Cloud Anchors, which would allow users to map and anchor content over both a larger area and an extended period of time, something Tong calls a “save button” for AR.

This prospective ‘AR save button’ would, according to Tong, be an important method of bridging the digital and physical worlds, as users may one day be able to leave anchors anywhere they need to, attaching things like notes, video links, and 3D objects.

Apps like Mark AR, a graffiti-art app developed by Sybo and iDreamSky, already uses Persistent Cloud Anchors to link user-made creations to real-world locations.

If you’re a developer, check out Google’s guide to creating Cloud Anchor-enabled apps here.

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‘Naau: The Lost Eye’ is an Intriguing VR Action-Adventure Title Coming Next Year https://www.roadtovr.com/naau-lost-eye-vr/ https://www.roadtovr.com/naau-lost-eye-vr/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2019 15:55:23 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90491
Turkey-based indie team Studio Gamebit have been working on their debut VR title Naau: The Lost Eye for over two years, but now it appears the studio is getting closer to the finish line with the release of the game’s official teaser trailer. Naau: The Lost Eye is a narrative-driven action-adventure game (built exclusively for […]

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Turkey-based indie team Studio Gamebit have been working on their debut VR title Naau: The Lost Eye for over two years, but now it appears the studio is getting closer to the finish line with the release of the game’s official teaser trailer.

Naau: The Lost Eye is a narrative-driven action-adventure game (built exclusively for VR) that puts emphasis not only on using magical powers, but also hand-to-hand combat with a variety of weapons, special abilities, and combat techniques.

On its Steam page, the game is said to support Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows VR headsets; Naau is slated to launch sometime of Spring next year.

From what we’ve seen in the teaser trailer and the studio’s dev vlogs, Naau is sporting a pretty fresh art style that looks to come with a good measure of intrigue.

GameBit is currently taking signups for Naau beta access. You can sign up here.

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Adam Savage’s ‘Tested VR’ Takes You on a Virtual Tour of Maker Workshops https://www.roadtovr.com/adam-savage-tested-vr/ https://www.roadtovr.com/adam-savage-tested-vr/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2019 13:22:19 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90481
Adam Savage’s Tested showcases an awesome mix of gadgets, emergent technology, and of course, the man himself building loads of costumes, props, and all sorts of geeky paraphernalia during his signature ‘One Day Builds’. Now, Oculus Quest and Go headset owners can take a virtual trip through a number of workspaces to find out just how […]

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Adam Savage’s Tested showcases an awesome mix of gadgets, emergent technology, and of course, the man himself building loads of costumes, props, and all sorts of geeky paraphernalia during his signature ‘One Day Builds’. Now, Oculus Quest and Go headset owners can take a virtual trip through a number of workspaces to find out just how the industry pros do what they do behind-the-scenes.

Now available for free on Quest and Go, the app takes you on a 5K 180-degree stereoscopic journey through the creative workspaces of some of the most interesting makers out there, showing the whole process from ideation to creation.

Providing eight episodes, each of which is under 25 minutes, you’ll get to not only learn about the creative process from makers such as a Broadway and TV puppeteer, and a cosplay animatronic wings designer, but you’ll also be able to take a virtual tour of Savage’s workshop, ‘The Cave’.

Tested VR was built in partnership with Oculus and developers Whalerock / Lucky Hammers.

Savage says the VR180 video format was a good fit for conveying the sort of info that normally only hands-on training might provide:

“What I noticed when we watched that first four-minute build video in VR was an entirely new level of intimacy and immediacy,” Savage explains in an Oculus blog post. “Sitting virtually across from the maker was leagues more instructive, intuitive, and physical than just watching it in 2D on a screen. Seeing the movement of materials and the movement of the maker’s hands in three dimensions was thrilling! VR is a game changer when it comes to more deeply covering the skills, stories, and problem solving makers explore when they set out to make something. It allows the viewer a seat at the bench as it were.”

Makers in the series include:

  • Alexis Noriega, Costume Wing Designer
  • Brett Foxwell, Machinist/Stop-Motion Animator
  • Ryan Nagata, Spacesuit Replica Fabricator
  • Rick Lyon, Puppeteer and Puppet Designer
  • Andrew Freeman, Creature Mask Sculptor
  • Griffon Ramsey, Chainsaw Wood Sculptor
  • Melissa Ng, Gothic Armor Designer

According to Wired, the app’s creators want to expand to other platforms in the future, providing however they’re able to digest the high resolution video itself. More creators and episodes are also on the drawing table, although the creators aren’t announcing anything official just yet.

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Hands-on: Vive Cosmos Aims to Reboot the Vive Experience https://www.roadtovr.com/htc-vive-cosmos-hands-on-preview/ https://www.roadtovr.com/htc-vive-cosmos-hands-on-preview/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2019 08:21:50 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90470
HTC’s latest VR headset, Vive Cosmos, is just around the corner. This week Road to VR got a preview of the headset ahead of its October 3rd launch. In a meeting at HTC’s Vive office in San Francisco this week, I got to go hands-on with the Vive Cosmos headset. Though the headset is just […]

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HTC’s latest VR headset, Vive Cosmos, is just around the corner. This week Road to VR got a preview of the headset ahead of its October 3rd launch.

In a meeting at HTC’s Vive office in San Francisco this week, I got to go hands-on with the Vive Cosmos headset. Though the headset is just a few weeks from launch, this was actually the first time that press was getting to actually use the device since it was announced at the beginning of 2019.

While HTC released an enterprise-priced Vive Pro in 2018, the company says Vive Cosmos is its first consumer-focused follow-up to the original Vive which launched in 2016. The VR landscape has changed quite a bit between the launch of the original Vive and now, and HTC hopes that Cosmos will reboot the Vive experience with a better and easier to use product.

Photo by Road to VR

Perhaps the single biggest change to Cosmos is its use of inside-out tracking. The headset comes equipped with six on-board cameras which detect the position of the headset and controllers. This eliminates the need for the SteamVR Tracking base stations used with the original Vive and Vive Pro, which moves the headset closer to a plug-and-play experience without the need to set up any external tracking hardware.

However, HTC is thoughtfully not abandoning external tracking altogether like Oculus chose to do when moving to inside-out tracking with the Rift S. HTC built Cosmos with a modular faceplate, and the company plans to offer an optional faceplate which adds the sensors necessary for SteamVR Tracking. It’s great that customers will have that choice, but unfortunately the module isn’t planned for release until Q1 2020. That said, my hands-on was with the headset and its default inside-out tracking system.

The default Vive Cosmos faceplate adds two additional cameras for a total of 6. | Photo by Road to VR

In my hour or so in the headset, the inside-out head-tracking felt very solid and quite on par with Oculus Quest and Rift S (both of which also use inside-out tracking). I’ll need to test the system in more challenging conditions to understand its robustness, but the initial impressions are good.

Hand-tracking is another story. While the controller tracking felt solid overall, it was easy to spot moments of jitter here and there (where the controller would drift an inch out of position before quickly popping back into place) even when when moving the controllers slowly. That said, my initial impressions are that the controllers are still in the ‘better than PlayStation Move’ category, which means they’ll likely be acceptable for a wide range of games, but may be problematic for more precise use-cases like drawing and modeling in VR, and games where controller occlusion is common.

Photo by Road to VR

I’m going to need more time with the controllers to get a good sense for how they’ll perform in the more challenging use-cases and environments, though it’s worth remembering that if the tracking doesn’t cut it for a particular user, they’ll be able to opt for controllers which use the bar-setting SteamVR Tracking system instead.

The controllers themselves bear a strong resemblance to Oculus’ Touch controllers, and move away from the capacitive touchpad on the Vive wand controllers to a thumbstick, and mostly brings them in line with Touch and Index controllers in terms of buttons and sticks (which is going to be a boon for developers who will no longer need to juggle significantly different input schemes when designing their games). HTC didn’t want to make life too easy for developers though, and opted to introduce a ‘shoulder’ button above the trigger which is not shared by any contemporary VR controller. While the ‘grab’ trigger is actually a button, it’s significantly easier to keep depressed than the grab buttons on the original Vive controllers, and should be comfortable enough for the ‘continuous hold’ grabbing paradigm shared by Touch and Index controllers.

Photo by Road to VR

When it comes to controller ergonomics, Cosmos’ controllers feel particularly heavy (likely owed in part to the use of two AA batteries) and they have a poor center of gravity. While certainly usable, and a step up from the larger wands, they don’t feel quite as good in the hand as the similarly shaped Touch controllers.

On the visual front, Vive Cosmos gets a solid screen upgrade which brings it to 1,440 × 1,700 up from the original Vive’s 1,080 × 1,280 display. Like its contemporaries, Cosmos is also moving from OLED to LCD, which has the benefits of full RGB sub-pixels for each pixel, which reduces the screen door effect (SDE) compared to a OLED, but also means worse contrast ratio, which is most notable in dark scenes. The screen door is not invisible, but it’s a pretty prominent reduction compared to the original Vive. As far as SDE goes, Cosmos is definitely in the same class as Index, Rift S, and Vive Pro, and might just barely have the edge over that bunch (but I can’t say for sure before until I have can make proper side-by-side comparisons).

Photo by Road to VR

While HTC says Cosmos’ lenses are new and improved, they take the same Fresnel approach as seen on the original Vive and Vive Pro, which means they show glare and god-rays in the expected high contrast situations. Quoted at 110 degrees diagonal, HTC says Cosmos has the same field of view as the original Vive, but to my eyes it actually seemed a bit larger (which may simply be due to how the headset fits against my face compared to the original).

From my time with the headset, unfortunately it doesn’t seem that the new lenses have done much to improve the notoriously small ‘sweet-spot’ (the area of the lens with maximum clarity) of the Vive headsets. While an IPD adjustment means you’ll be able to dial-in the proper distance between your eyes, you don’t have to look very far from the center of the lens before the world becomes annoying blurry.

Photo by Road to VR

The sweet spot issue is compounded by the headset’s not particularly encouraging ergonomics. Cosmos is moving to a halo style head-mount which is quite similar to what we see on the Rift S (crank in the back for tightening and a top-strap). Also like Rift S, the Cosmos head-mount seems to give you two mutually exclusive choices: comfort or clarity. When I put on the headset for the first time, I naturally dialed things in to get the best view through the lenses. It wasn’t very long before I started to feel a lot of pressure on my forehead and wanted to reseat the headset for better comfort.

Unfortunately moving it to a more comfortable position meant the visor tilted away from my face and in doing so opened a large gap for light at the bottom of the visor and simultaneously moved my eyes out of the sweet spot (reducing clarity and field of view). The halo style head-mount, it seems, may be quite depend on a particular head shape, with the biggest issue apparently being the inability to rotate the visor with respect to the face independent of the head-mount position. On the positive side, Cosmos does have a ‘flip-up’ visor which is nice for quickly peeking outside of the headset without awkwardly balancing it on your forehead.

Photo by Road to VR

I’ll need more time with Cosmos to find out if there’s some magic position which allows for a satisfying level of simultaneous comfort and clarity, but my initial impressions haven’t left me particularly hopeful. Your mileage may vary (based on the shape of your head).

Cosmos also comes with integrated headphones by default. The headphones are very similar to what’s found on the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap accessory for the original Vive, and sound similar too, though I didn’t have the opportunity to delve into an audio quality analysis. I did learn that the headphones can be removed and an on-board 3.5mm headphone jack will allow users to use their own headphones if desired.

With changes to tracking, controller design, and a modular concept which may further expand the headset’s capabilities over time, HTC is aiming to reboot the Vive experience with Cosmos. We’ll be bringing you a full in-depth review of Cosmos in the coming weeks, but drop us a line in the comments below if you have any questions about our hands-on preview.

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Vive Cosmos Priced at $700, Pre-orders Open Today for October 3rd Release Date https://www.roadtovr.com/htc-vive-cosmos-price-release-date-specs-pre-order/ https://www.roadtovr.com/htc-vive-cosmos-price-release-date-specs-pre-order/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2019 06:59:21 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90419
HTC announced today that its new Vive Cosmos headset will be priced at $700 with a release date of October 3rd. Pre-orders for the headset are open starting today. HTC is finally spilling the beans on Cosmos. The company has done plenty of teasing in the past few months, so right up front let’s take […]

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HTC announced today that its new Vive Cosmos headset will be priced at $700 with a release date of October 3rd. Pre-orders for the headset are open starting today.

HTC is finally spilling the beans on Cosmos. The company has done plenty of teasing in the past few months, so right up front let’s take a look at the specs:

  • Headband: Halo style with flip-up visor
  • Displays: Dual 3.4″ LCD diagonal, IPD adjustment
  • Resolution: 1,440 × 1,700 pixels per eye (2,880 × 1,700 pixels combined)
  • Refresh rate: 90 Hz
  • Field of view: 110 degrees
  • Audio: Built-in stereo headphones
  • Required PC connectivity: USB 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2
  • Peripheral ports: USB-C 3.0, proprietary connection to mods
  • Tracking: Inside-out (6 cameras), optional add-on for SteamVR Tracking
  • Weight: 651 grams (1.43 pounds)
  • Vive Wireless Adapter support: Yes, sold separately with attach kit. (Available PCIe slot required)

Positioned as the follow-up to the original Vive, the company is hoping the headset can please two camps: early-adopter enthusiasts who bought into the SteamVR ecosystem and new customers looking for a more user-friendly experience.

SEE ALSO
Hands-on: Vive Cosmos Aims to Reboot the Vive Experience

While Cosmos uses inside-out tracking out of the box, the headset supports swappable faceplate ‘Mods’ which can offer additional functionality. The default faceplate adds two extra tracking cameras to the headset (for a total of six), but HTC has also announced an optional faceplate which will support SteamVR Tracking, making Cosmos compatible with the same Lighthouse base stations used for the original Vive (this will require separate controllers that also support SteamVR Tracking).

Image courtesy HTC

The company calls this the Vive Cosmos External Tracking Mod, and says it will be priced under $200, though it won’t be available until Q1 2020. HTC says that future faceplates will offer further expanded functionality. More details on the SteamVR Tracking Mod here.

New users, or those who want to ditch the SteamVR Tracking base stations, will get a complete inside-out tracked experience right out of the box, which includes two motion controllers that are also tracked by the headset.

Image courtesy HTC

While Vive Cosmos supports Steam and SteamVR content, HTC is shifting the user experience toward their own Viveport platform. While Viveport is still based on SteamVR/OpenVR, the company is taking over some of the Steam user-experience with a new in-VR dashboard called the ‘Lens’ which will let users browse through their library, search for new content, and toggle some settings. The company has also created a new ‘home’ space called Origin which will act as the default starting space when you jump into VR. The Lens will seamlessly show content from both SteamVR and the Viveport store, HTC says, and our understanding is that users will be able to ditch Lens and Origin for the pure SteamVR experience if they choose.

Image courtesy HTC

Vive Cosmos is available for pre-order starting today and will launch on October 3rd. Priced at $700, HTC is offering 12 months of the company’s Viveport Infinity VR content subscription service as a pre-order bonus, though all Cosmos headsets will include 6 months of access in the box. HTC says pre-orders will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo, GameStop, Newegg, and Walmart.

HTC has previously teased that Vive Cosmos could plug into other devices like a smartphone, but the company isn’t making any announcements on that front; at launch it is poised purely as a PC VR headset.

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Vive Cosmos to Support SteamVR Tracking with Optional Faceplate Add-on https://www.roadtovr.com/vive-cosmos-steamvr-tracking-lighthouse-base-stations-faceplate-mod/ https://www.roadtovr.com/vive-cosmos-steamvr-tracking-lighthouse-base-stations-faceplate-mod/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2019 06:59:07 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90438
Alongside opening pre-orders for the headset, HTC today revealed that Vive Cosmos will support SteamVR Tracking with an optional faceplate ‘Mod’, one of several which the company says will expand the headset’s functionality. Today HTC revealed the price, specs, and release date for Vive Cosmos—for all those details see here. Additionally the company announced an […]

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Alongside opening pre-orders for the headset, HTC today revealed that Vive Cosmos will support SteamVR Tracking with an optional faceplate ‘Mod’, one of several which the company says will expand the headset’s functionality.

Today HTC revealed the price, specs, and release date for Vive Cosmos—for all those details see here. Additionally the company announced an optional ‘Mod’ for the headset which will allow users to swap out the faceplate for one which supports SteamVR Tracking via Lighthouse base stations.

Image courtesy HTC

Out of the box, Cosmos supports ‘inside-out’ tracking which uses six cameras on the headset to determine the position of the headset and its controllers. This means the headset doesn’t rely on external trackers like the prior Vive and Vive Pro headsets.

While we’ve seen solid inside-out tracking in recent headsets, the outside-in approach with external trackers still tends to offer the best tracking performance in terms of accuracy, precision, latency, and coverage.

SEE ALSO
Hands-on: Vive Cosmos Aims to Reboot the Vive Experience

SteamVR Tracking is one of the leading outside-in tracking systems and it powers headsets like the Vive, Vive Pro, Valve Index, and Pimax, as well as input devices like the Vive ‘wand’ controllers, Index ‘Knuckles’ controllers, and Vive Trackers.

HTC designed cosmos with a modular faceplate and today announced the ‘External Tracking Module’ which will supplant the inside-out tracking system with SteamVR Tracking. This allows users to tap into the SteamVR Tracking ecosystem, enabling the headset to work with 1.0 and 2.0 base stations.

Image courtesy HTC

HTC tells Road to VR that the Cosmos controllers, which are based on the headset’s inside-out tracking, will not work when the headset is used with SteamVR Tracking. Instead users will need to use the original Vive controllers, Index controllers, or other controllers which support SteamVR Tracking.

The External Tracking Module faceplate for Cosmos appears to only have 10 SteamVR Tracking sensors—less than half of the number found on the original Vive—though HTC says users can expect the same level of tracking performance as they would from the Vive.

Image courtesy HTC

This modularity is a boon for early-adopters who may have already invested in SteamVR Tracking base stations when buying into the original Vive, those who would like to use Valve’s advanced Index controllers, and anyone who doesn’t mind setting up external trackers for extra tracking performance.

HTC says the Cosmos SteamVR Tracking mod will cost less than $200 and launch in Q1 2020. Cosmos itself is priced at $700 and launches October 3rd, 2019. HTC says that in the future it plans to release other Mods which will offer other expanded functionality for the headset.

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‘Rise of the Titan’ to Bring Its Colossal Robotic Boss Battles to PC VR This Year https://www.roadtovr.com/rise-titan-bring-colossal-robotic-boss-battles-pc-vr-year/ https://www.roadtovr.com/rise-titan-bring-colossal-robotic-boss-battles-pc-vr-year/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2019 16:33:08 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90400
Lightbound Studios, a Los Angeles-based indie studio, may not have succeeded last year to fund their VR game Titan Arena through Kickstarter, but all is not lost. The studio has continued work on the titanic-sized boss battler in the meantime, and now calls it Rise of the Titan. Lightbound says in a Steam update that the […]

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Lightbound Studios, a Los Angeles-based indie studio, may not have succeeded last year to fund their VR game Titan Arena through Kickstarter, but all is not lost. The studio has continued work on the titanic-sized boss battler in the meantime, and now calls it Rise of the Titan.

Lightbound says in a Steam update that the new name was created to set it further apart from the waveshooter genre. Although Rise of the Titan is admittedly a shooter in some sense, the studio now says it better fits in the narrative-driven action-adventure genre.

The studio has only thrown out a short clip for now, showing a little bit of the locomotion mechanic and how the game handles object interaction, although they’ve said more info is coming soon.

 

Rise of the Titan’s features include:

  • Titan Bosses – Player will face off against giant metal machines that can crush a human with a flick of a finger. He must use everything in his arsenal, from climbing to shooting to bring down these humongous beasts.
  • Combat – Interaction and the combat with enemies in this VR environment is designed to be as fluid and natural as possible. The player can employ various strategies to destroy enemies more efficiently and great style.
  • Tethers – Multipurpose tool used for both combat and for maneuvering in the world effortlessly in all 3 dimensions. This tool can be used to pull, climb, hang, zip, catch, throw, break, tear, and manipulate objects.
  • Adapters – Tether modifiers that turn the tethers into high-tech weapons. The player will acquire these while progressing through the game and discovering hidden secrets. Used in various combinations, these weapons can be extremely powerful and fun.
  • Full Locomotion – Player can move naturally through the environment using locomotion, speed-dash, and evade. The game features full 360° gameplay and provides the option for players to switch between smooth and incremental turning.

According to the game’s Steam page, Rise of the Titan is slated to launch sometime in 2019, supporting HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index, and Windows VR headsets.

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VRMMO ‘Zenith’ Kickstarter Pushes Past $200,000 in Funding with 2 Weeks Left https://www.roadtovr.com/zenith-vrmmo-kickstarter/ https://www.roadtovr.com/zenith-vrmmo-kickstarter/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2019 15:00:02 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90040
Ramen VR, a new indie studio, launched a Kickstarter recently to help fund an ambitious new MMO called Zenith, a game currently being built for both VR and desktop users. Update (September 11th, 2019): Zenith has officially topped over $200k, now boasting over $211,000. With 15 days left in the campaign, the studio has announced […]

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Ramen VR, a new indie studio, launched a Kickstarter recently to help fund an ambitious new MMO called Zenith, a game currently being built for both VR and desktop users.

Update (September 11th, 2019): Zenith has officially topped over $200k, now boasting over $211,000. With 15 days left in the campaign, the studio has announced the completion of their latest stretch goal, which will introduce a new race to the game called ‘The Minkeo’. You can check out the latest updates to the Kickstarter here.

The original article announcing Zenith follows below:

Original Article (August 27th, 2019): At the time of this writing, the Kickstarter project has secured over $170,500, a far cry from the original $25,000 funding goal proposed when the project launched two weeks ago. There’s still 30 days left until the project comes to a close, with the next stretch goal coming at the $200,000 mark—the promise of more than one playable race at launch.

Zenith is said to head into Early Access sometime in August 2020.

Although the fledgling studio hasn’t publicly shown much in the way of gameplay, the team, which is made up of developers who previously worked on VR multiplayer shooter Conjure Strikehas managed to attract a fair bit of attention in the venture capital space for their efforts, having now secured additional Y Combinator funding of a reported $134,400, according to Crunch Base.

This puts the team’s overall funds to over $300,000 currently, which admittedly pales in comparison to standard MMOs built for PC, which can span into the tens of millions in development dollars. Very few VR games have had the luxury of those sorts of funds, so it will be interesting to see what the team can do on the shoestring budget, or if they’ll be able to attract more VC cash along the way.

Billed as a cyberpunk-themed MMO put into VR, the team says they’ve been inspired by a number of works of fiction including games like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Nier: Automata, anime like Sword Art Online and Castle in the Sky, and books such as Snow Crash, Ready Player One, and Rainbow’s End.

“These worlds were integral parts of our lives but it always felt like we were seeing those worlds through a small window. We’re building Zenith because we want to you to experience living in these worlds,” Ramen VR says.

SEE ALSO
Valve Index Now Available for Immediate Shipping in 30 Countries

To bring the game to life, the studio is collaborating with Improbable, the makers behind the cloud platform SpatialOS. This, the studio says, will make it “much easier to build an MMORPG,” and that it will allow them to build a world with “real physics, complex AI, and a landscape that evolves and is shaped by players and NPCs alike.”

Since the studio was founded earlier this year, Ramen VR says they’ve already built seven prototypes of the game, and have been running user playtests with their Discord community for over a month.

Zenith is targeting release on Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, Valve Index, PSVR and desktop PC. The studio maintains all versions of the game will include cross-play.

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iOS 13 Code Suggests Apple is Testing Its AR Headset Internally https://www.roadtovr.com/ios-13-apple-ar-garta-starboard/ https://www.roadtovr.com/ios-13-apple-ar-garta-starboard/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2019 12:37:00 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90388
Apple may not have shown off any AR tech at the company’s grand iPhone 11 unveiling yesterday, however thanks to some newly discovered code in a recent built of iOS 13, it appears Apple is testing its own AR headset internally. A readme file found in a new release of iOS 13 briefly outlines how employees […]

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Apple may not have shown off any AR tech at the company’s grand iPhone 11 unveiling yesterday, however thanks to some newly discovered code in a recent built of iOS 13, it appears Apple is testing its own AR headset internally.

A readme file found in a new release of iOS 13 briefly outlines how employees can run a stereoscopic AR app on the iPhone without the need of an AR headset, as reported by Engadget.

The file, which was uncovered by iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith, mentions the code-name ‘StarBoard’, which is defined as a “system for stereo AR enabled apps.”

Image courtesy Steve Troughton-Smith

The readme also uses the code-name ‘Garta’, referring to the AR device itself, which the file dubs an ‘HME’.

Troughton-Smith maintains that stereo AR apps appear to be an app extension type that developers can include in their iOS app bundles. He stipulates that it could function similar to how CarPlay works, which gives you a dashboard view of both first and select third-party apps.

Digging yet deeper, Troughton-Smith also says iOS 13 has something called the ‘GameController’ framework, which includes a gamepad profile for “a device meant to be used while using stereo AR apps,” specifying that the controller includes a trackpad, a trigger button, and a system button.

Both iOS 13.0 gold master and iOS 13.1 beta releases contain Apple’s StarBoard, 9to5Mac’s Guilherme Rambo confirms.

SEE ALSO
Apple Announces ARKit 3 with Body Tracking & Human Occlusion

This follows an unsubstantiated report from DigiTimes Taiwan in July that claims Apple had shelved its work on an AR headset, something that supposedly led to the reorganization of the team and suspension of the project.

A few months earlier however, a report from respected industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that Apple would likely begin production on its AR headset sometime between Q4 of 2019 and Q2 of 2020, and that it would rely on the iPhone for computing, rendering, internet connectivity and location services.

Image courtesy Apple

Putting DigitTime’s report further in doubt, Apple has since gone on a hiring spree for AR/VR professionals across a number of disciplines, including AR software specialists, hardware designers, and a product manager capable of “shipping complex new technology, ideally in the AR/VR space.”

Apple has also used the last three of its WWDC events to release successive versions of ARKit, the company’s dev kit that lets developers build iPhone and iPad-based AR apps.

What’s more, it’s not difficult to imagine these apps being ported to run on a prospective AR headset, which if made simple enough for developers, would essentially give the company a ready-made set of compatible stereo AR apps for its future AR headset. Whatever the case may be, with ARKit Apple has at very least mobilized a number of its software partners to take a low-risk dip into AR app development.

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HTC Vive Cosmos Pre-orders to Start September 12th https://www.roadtovr.com/htc-vive-cosmos-pre-orders/ https://www.roadtovr.com/htc-vive-cosmos-pre-orders/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2019 20:48:40 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=90379
HTC Vive Cosmos, the company’s upcoming PC VR headset, is officially going into pre-order starting September 12th. HTC announced the news via Twitter, saying that more information, including specs, price, and special offers will be made public at the time when pre-orders go live. Get ready to liftoff and head for the cosmos. The #HTCVIVECOSMOS […]

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HTC Vive Cosmos, the company’s upcoming PC VR headset, is officially going into pre-order starting September 12th.

HTC announced the news via Twitter, saying that more information, including specs, price, and special offers will be made public at the time when pre-orders go live.

As far as headset releases go, this is an entirely new strategy for HTC. The media hasn’t publicly had the opportunity to go hands-on with Cosmos yet, so there’s still no telling how well the inside-out optical tracking works, how comfortable the headset is, and what actual level of display clarity it boasts over HTC’s past devices, including Vive, Vive Pro, and its enterprise-facing mobile VR headset Vive Focus.

HTC has previously stated that Cosmos boasts “40% improved lens clarity over the original Vive,” although that’s not exactly a telling figure.

There’s also the mystery of price. There’s been some supposed leaks, most notable of which was a price listing by British high street shop Argos that put Cosmos at £700. HTC told Road to VR shortly after the listing was removed that it was “listed by mistake” on its retail partner’s website, although didn’t specifically comment on whether the price was accurate or not.

SEE ALSO
HTC Unveils New Cosmos Design, 6 Inside-out Cameras & Removable Faceplate

Whatever the case may be, HTC has gone on the books to strike down at rumor that Vive Cosmos would sell for $900, stating that the figure was “incorrect (and high).”

Cosmos, which publicly debuted back at CES 2019 in January, was also teased to work with smartphones in addition to its primary use as a tethered PC VR headset. The company has yet to mention smartphone compatibility outside of the image below, which was showed at its unveiling.

Image courtesy HTC

We’re sure to have more solid information in the next two days, but in the meantime, here’s some of the specs we do know:

  • Resolution – 1,440 × 1,700 per-eye (2,880 × 1,700 total), an 88% increase in pixel count over the original Vive at 1,080 × 1,200 per-eye
  • Display type – RGB LCD displays
  • Refresh rate – 90Hz
  • Tracking – 6 inside-out sensors
  • Controllers – optically tracked
  • Audio – integrated, flip-up design
  • Input – USB & DisplayPort, Vive Wireless Adapter, teased connectivity with smartphone

Check out the reveal video below, which shows off a slight redesign from the version initially shown at CES earlier this year.

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