Road to VR https://www.roadtovr.com Virtual Reality News Sun, 21 Jul 2019 00:36:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 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 Knight Foundation Offers $750K in Grants for Immersive Tech in the Arts https://www.roadtovr.com/knight-foundation-immersive-technology-arts-grant-program/ https://www.roadtovr.com/knight-foundation-immersive-technology-arts-grant-program/#comments Sat, 20 Jul 2019 23:52:38 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89452
The Knight Foundation, focused on journalism and the arts, is opening a call-for-ideas from creatives and organizations using immersive technology to bring art to their audiences. Selected projects will be awarded a share of a $750,000 grant pool, as well as mentorship and “technology support” from Microsoft. Founded in 1950, the Knight Foundation is the […]

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The Knight Foundation, focused on journalism and the arts, is opening a call-for-ideas from creatives and organizations using immersive technology to bring art to their audiences. Selected projects will be awarded a share of a $750,000 grant pool, as well as mentorship and “technology support” from Microsoft.

Founded in 1950, the Knight Foundation is the legacy of John “Jack” Knight and James “Jim” Knight, brothers who founded Knight Newspapers. It’s one of the largest foundations in the US by assets, according to the Foundation Center.

The Knight Foundation’s Chris Barr revealed this week that the foundation has committed $750,000 in grants for US-based projects using immersive technology to bring art to audiences.

Beginning on July 27, we are opening a call-for-ideas from cultural organizations, technologists and others who are working to use immersive technology in the arts. We hope to find innovative uses for this technology, new approaches for moving audiences through these experiences, and opportunities to engage new and diverse audiences.

How can these technologies help us reach new people? How do we make the experience before, during and after putting on a headset delightful? How do we service these experiences efficiently? How should these experiences be distributed and exhibited? How can this new form of storytelling be used for more inclusive stories? How can we use immersive tech to expand the reach of the arts beyond physical locations?

Grant recipients will be awarded a share of a pool of $750,000 in funding and receive mixed-reality mentorship and technology support from Microsoft.

Barr says that the full guidelines of the program will be available on the Arts section of the foundation’s website on July 27th. The foundation is also hosting a webinar on July 30th at 12PM PT [your timezone here] to offer more detail on the initiative and answer questions. However, the webinar has reached a capacity limit, though Barr says that the foundation is looking to offer up a second session eventually.

In his announcement of the program, Barr says that while immersive tech was once “on the fringe of the arts field,” things have radically changed. “This technology is now widely available, and artists, creators and storytellers are using it to make experiences that go beyond demo mode and into deep, meaningful creative works. It’s finally here!”

SEE ALSO
Magik Gallery – Highlighting Artists Using VR as Their Canvas

In fact, Barr suggests that one reason for this new grant program focused on immersive technology in the arts is because of how many artists are already using the tech; in a 2018 Knight Foundation grant program focused on technology and the arts, “nearly a quarter of the 900+ applications we received for that opportunity focused on the use of virtual or augmented reality.”

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‘ASTRO BOT’ Behind-the-scenes – Insights & Artwork from Sony’s JAPAN Studio https://www.roadtovr.com/astro-bot-behind-the-scenes-insights-and-artwork-sony-japan-studio-nicolas-doucet/ https://www.roadtovr.com/astro-bot-behind-the-scenes-insights-and-artwork-sony-japan-studio-nicolas-doucet/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2019 20:04:38 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=82911
From the very first time we previewed an early build of ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission, it was clear that there was much care and craft behind the work. At its October 2018 launch, the finished game not only didn’t disappoint, it saw critical praise, quickly becoming PSVR’s top rated title and even one of PS4’s top […]

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From the very first time we previewed an early build of ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission, it was clear that there was much care and craft behind the work. At its October 2018 launch, the finished game not only didn’t disappoint, it saw critical praise, quickly becoming PSVR’s top rated title and even one of PS4’s top titles overall for 2018. The reception was a testament to the undeniable art and skill of the creators at Sony Interactive Entertainment’s JAPAN Studio. But how did they succeed where so many others struggled? For the latest in our Insights & Artwork series, we spoke with Astro Bot’s Creative Director and Producer, Nicolas Doucet, who gave us a glimpse into the game’s design process and a look at some of the artwork which guided the way.

Update (July 19th, 2019): Over at the official PlayStation Blog, Nicolas Doucet today shared some additional background on Astro Bot’s development, which seemed fitting to include here to add to this deep-dive background on the game’s creation. Doucet shared a look at a ‘mecha spider’ enemy prototype which was ultimately cut from the game but lived on through similar mechanics which manifested in the ‘bamboo stack’ enemy, which the team found “simpler, clearer, more versatile, and gratifying to shoot.”

Image courtesy SIE JAPAN Studio

He showed how level segments were built modularly, which allowed them to be rearranged and even repurposed where needed. A segment of the Canyon stage was pulled from that level and visually adapted to fit right into the Volcano level.

Image courtesy SIE JAPAN Studio

Doucet also elaborated a bit on Astro Bot’s cut multiplayer mode, which was clearly a tough decision but seems to have ultimately worked out in the game’s favor. “It was probably the hardest cut we ever made, and it created some controversy within the team, especially because it felt like we were taking something of quality away,” he said. “But at times, such decisions are necessary for the greater good and there is no more regret today as it allowed the game — and the team — to reach new heights.”

Continue reading below for our deep-dive with Doucet on Astro Bot’s development.

Editor’s Note: The big, beautiful pictures and exclusive artwork in this article are best viewed on a desktop browser with a large screen, or in landscape orientation on your phone. All images courtesy SIE JAPAN Studio.

Winding Roots

Original Article (November 7th, 2018): While Astro Bot has only been out for a month now, the game’s origin stretches at least back to 2013 when JAPAN Studio released THE PLAYROOM, a piece of PS4 bundleware which was designed to show of the console’s then new camera peripheral. The Playroom included a series of mini-games where the studio’s adorable ‘bot’ characters were heavily featured. When PS4’s next major peripheral came along—PlayStation VR, which launched in 2016—JAPAN Studio was tasked with creating The Playroom VR. Just like the game before it, The Playroom VR was bundled as a showcase, and included a series of VR mini-games with the bots back in action.

JAPAN Studio’s ‘bots’ were a fixture in THE PLAYROOM VR (2016)

It was there in The Playroom VR where Astro Bot’s foundation was solidified. One mini-game called ‘Robot Rescue’ had players guiding one of the bot characters around a fantastical world from a third-person perspective, but still embodied the player as a first-person character in the game world. Looking back today, the fundamentals of ‘Robot Rescue’ and Astro Bot are one in the same, but with the latter, JAPAN Studio had the time and resources to fully explore what the mini-game could become.

“To be honest, [‘Robot Rescue’] was the odd one out as all other games [in The Playroom VR] were built as quick-fire party play.” Nicolas Doucet, Astro Bot’s Creative Director and Producer, tells Road to VR. “As we released The Playroom VR, the gamers inside us loved ‘Robot Rescue’ because it is a game closer to classic gamers’ taste re-invented for VR, so we wanted to make a full game.” As it turned out, the interest in ‘Robot Rescue’ wasn’t just from within the studio. “The vast amount of [player] comments on the forums, videos, and petition gave us the boost we needed to go full steam. So shortly after releasing our DLC for The Playroom VR, we started working on Astro Bot Rescue Mission.”

Image courtesy SIE JAPAN Studio

18 months later, and with a peak development team of 25, Astro Bot was born. Packed full of smart VR game design, a distinctly ‘playable’ feel, and enough meat to feel satisfied by the end, Astro Bot is the first game we’ve rated a 10 out of 10.

A game like Astro Bot doesn’t just happen; it’s the product of talent, time, and direction.

“One thing to establish first is that [JAPAN Studio’s] ASOBI Team is articulated around four key pillars that define the emotions our games must convey. They are ‘Magical’, ‘Innovative’, ‘Playful’ and ‘Inclusive’. These words are to be considered in their broad meaning and anything we create should be relatable to these four key pillars.” Doucet says.

Months of Experimentation

With that framework in mind, the team set aside one-third of the game’s development time for experimentation, before locking in key mechanics and interactions.

“We prototyped lots and lots of mechanics for the first six months, as we always do. We then assembled the entire game from the various successful ideas,” says Doucet. “These prototypes happen over a very short time and are mostly made by programmers working on their own. We then gather everything that is fun and that gives us our tool set for interactions. We only bring art in once the gameplay is robust so there is no temptation to rely on graphics before the fundamental gameplay is proven.”

Doucet and the team specifically set out to make sure Astro Bot was more than just a third-person platformer thrown into a VR headset.

“[…] there was a strong desire for the game to not become a traditional platformer in panorama view. That would have no value for PS VR,” he says. “[…] so a checklist of ‘VR-ness’ was created, such as verticality, lateral gameplay, volume play, perspective play by leaning your body, proximity play to create a bond, far-distance play to create dramatic moments, and also physical play via the player’s head, blowing mechanics, etc.”

Astro looks at the player’s avatar.

Central to the game’s “VR-ness” is the way that it embodies the player as not just a camera but an actual character that’s present inside the virtual world. That’s reinforced especially with the PS4 controller which is motion tracked inside the game and becomes as critical to the gameplay input from buttons and sticks. This happens primarily through ‘gadgets’, virtual tools that attach to the in-game controller allowing the player to uniquely interact with both Astro and the environment.

“It was important that these gadgets worked on several layers, at least three strong use cases to be precise,” Doucet says. “This is why the water gadget for example can be used to grow vegetation, activate propellers, and also harden lava. All of these use cases have a direct correlation with platforming (they essentially create a path for Astro and support the various ‘VR-ness’ [we were seeking].” In fact, there were a few gadgets—like a magnet and a vacuum cleaner—that got cut because they didn’t meet the bar of interactivity that the team had set.

Continued on Page 2: Duality of Scales »

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Tyler Hurd’s ‘Beach Body Bros’ Experience Looks Patently Absurd as Ever https://www.roadtovr.com/tyler-hurd-beach-body-bros-vr-oculus-medium/ https://www.roadtovr.com/tyler-hurd-beach-body-bros-vr-oculus-medium/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2019 17:05:11 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89435
Tyler Hurd, the creator behind patently ridiculous VR experiences Butts (2016) and Old Friend (2017), has just joined the Oculus Medium team. Now, Hurd says, he’s developing a new VR project called Beach Body Bros using Medium. Beach Body Bros is a four-minute room-scale VR experience for the Oculus Rift & HTC Vive. It’s set to premiere at SIGGRAPH 2019 at the […]

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Tyler Hurd, the creator behind patently ridiculous VR experiences Butts (2016) and Old Friend (2017), has just joined the Oculus Medium team. Now, Hurd says, he’s developing a new VR project called Beach Body Bros using Medium.

Beach Body Bros is a four-minute room-scale VR experience for the Oculus Rift & HTC Vive. It’s set to premiere at SIGGRAPH 2019 at the end of July.

According to a recent Oculus developer blog post, Beach Body Bros sets you as a “puny wimp marching on a mirrored beach world filled with encouraging bros,” who help you build muscle while rocking to a “wicked ’80s montage track.”

The bros, Hurd says, “watch and cheer you on in amazement as you transform into a hulking pile of meat, glistening in the sunset.”

Hurd says the project initially came from how VR has the power to “play with users’ perceptions and emotions,” which gave him the idea of building a universe totally dedicated to the user.

“In my past projects I’ve found that users enjoy playing with the avatar they are embodying, and it’s best to make their role in the experience as clear as possible while keeping their engagement with the virtual world fun and constant,” Hurd says. “Naturally in a weightlifting environment there’s a lot of focus on self-image which is perfect for someone embodying a new avatar. There is also an intense amount of camaraderie and encouragement which is great for the user to feel like they’re engaging with the virtual world and the characters in it.”

Hurd maintains that (besides being deliciously strange) Beach Body Bros is a test case for using Oculus Medium as a production-ready sculpting tool. To read more about how Hurd used Medium as a tool, check out the blog post here.

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Elon Musk Details ‘Neuralink’ Brain Interface Tech, Oculus CTO Calls It “very bold work” https://www.roadtovr.com/elon-musk-neuralink-oculus-carmack/ https://www.roadtovr.com/elon-musk-neuralink-oculus-carmack/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2019 15:34:39 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89371
Elon Musk unveiled Neuralink earlier this week, a startup that aims to not only revolutionize the growing field of brain-machine interfaces (BMIs), but eventually wants to make neural implants as common as LASIK outpatient procedures are today—that’s the long-term goal at least. And while virtual reality and BMIs are still relatively segregated fields at this […]

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Elon Musk unveiled Neuralink earlier this week, a startup that aims to not only revolutionize the growing field of brain-machine interfaces (BMIs), but eventually wants to make neural implants as common as LASIK outpatient procedures are today—that’s the long-term goal at least. And while virtual reality and BMIs are still relatively segregated fields at this point, Oculus CTO and legendary programmer John Carmack got a chance to visit Neuralink’s offices, calling it “very bold work.”

There’s a lot to unpack in Neuralink’s inaugural presentation, which Musk says is more of a recruiting tool more than anything. And while their intentions are clearly to attract more talent spanning a number of fields, this was the first moment we got to learn about the company’s research and what it’s been up to these past three years while in stealth.

Tuesday night, Musk presented the company’s prototype implant, the ‘N1 sensor’; it’s a very small, implantable SoC that has a number of extremely thin external ‘threads’ that measure 4 to 6 μm in width—much thinner than a human hair. In its most basic sense, the company has created an implant capable of measuring spikes in electrical current directly where they happen, in the brain, with the intention of reading, processing, and eventually ‘writing’ information back to neurons via these tiny, flexible threads.

Image courtesy Neuralink

Moreover, the startup also created a neurosurgical robot capable of inserting six threads (192 electrodes) per minute, the company says in their recently published research paper. “Each thread can be individually inserted into the brain with micron precision for avoidance of surface vasculature and targeting specific brain regions,” the paper’s authors cite.

In its most rudimentary phase, Neuralink’s technology aims to supplement damaged brain functions in disabled and/or diseased patients. Provided its N1 sensor is approved by the FDA, the company wants to begin in-human clinical studies in 2020 with the objective of letting quadriplegic patients control their smartphones, and use virtual mouse/keyboard functions using only their thoughts. The system also includes a wearable ‘pod’ that both powers the implants and transmits data via Bluetooth.

Neuralink’s  surgical robot, Image courtesy Neuralink

Although this is the most ‘basic’ task Neuralink hopes to achieve, Philip Sabes, emeritus professor of physiology at UCSF and Neuralink scientist, says that eventually BMI control could be sufficiently advanced to even decode complex signals such as running, dancing, “or even Kung Fu,” Sabes says, likely alluding to The Matrix (1999) protagonist’s virtually-learned ability.

“So that could give a paralyzed person the ability to control, say for example, a 3D avatar that they could use for online gaming, or sports,” Sabes explains. “It could allow you control a range of assisted robotic devices. And ultimately, if and when the technology for spinal cord, nerve, or muscle stimulation gets far enough, ultimately it could be used to restore that individual’s control of their own body.”

SEE ALSO
Valve Psychologist: Brain-computer Interfaces Are Coming & Could Be Built into VR Headsets

To Musk, standard outpatient procedures performed by robots are still many years away, however Neuralink’s eventual long-term goal is, in Musk’s words, to “achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence” through a ‘full-brain’ BMI.

“There’s an incredible amount we can do to solve brain disorders and damage, and this will occur actually quite slowly. And so I do want to emphasize that it’s not going to be like suddenly Neuralink will have this incredible Neural Lace and start taking over people’s brains. It will take a long time. And you’ll see it coming. Getting FDA approval of devices of any kind is very difficult, and this will be a slow process, where we will gradually increase the issues that we solve until ultimately [we achieve] a full brain-machine interface, meaning that we can […] achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”

Such a device would hypothetically provide the ‘read & write’ capabilities to not only simulate all manner of sensations such as sight, sound, and touch, but also deeply understand what thought processes are going on within that feedback loop—making it the ‘perfect’ VR device to serve up virtual reality.

And while Oculus CTO John Carmack didn’t say as much after he visited Neuralink’s offices last week, he left fairly impressed with the startup’s work thus far.

Across the virtual aisle, Valve’s resident experimental psychologist Dr. Mike Ambinder took the stage at GDC 2019 back in March to lay out the state of BMIs and gaming, and how they’ll inform the future of game design.

Ambinder thinks the near future will likely see VR/AR headsets kitted with non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG) devices that could one day provide data to game designers so they can create a new generation of smarter, more reactive games. Companies such as Neurable are already productizing EEG devices today to better interpret human intent, and let users control the digital world with thought alone.

The long-term view is definitely trending towards neuronal implants, Ambinder thinks though; he compares EEGs to sitting outside of a football stadium and trying to figure out what’s happening on the field just by listening to the intensity of the crowd’s reaction; it’s simply too noisy of a signal to reliably decode.

In the end, Musk revealed that Neuralink research has already begun on lab animals, including rats, and that a monkey has been able to “control a computer with his brain,” although this is admittedly in the service of the startup’s medical applications for the technology. Years of safety studies are required before the first elective procedure can even begin, although Neuralink is certainly shooting for the stars with their grand visions of human-AI symbiosis.

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Hands-on: ‘Iron Man VR’ Shows Huge Potential with Innovative Flying Mechanics https://www.roadtovr.com/hands-on-marvel-iron-man-vr-preview-psvr-playstation-vr/ https://www.roadtovr.com/hands-on-marvel-iron-man-vr-preview-psvr-playstation-vr/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2019 09:15:59 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=87174
I have to say, when I first saw the announce trailer for Marvel’s Iron Man VR, I wasn’t exactly blown away. Now that I’ve actually had a chance to try the game for myself, my tune has totally changed—there’s huge potential for this to be an excellent VR game, thanks to innovative flying mechanics which […]

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I have to say, when I first saw the announce trailer for Marvel’s Iron Man VR, I wasn’t exactly blown away. Now that I’ve actually had a chance to try the game for myself, my tune has totally changed—there’s huge potential for this to be an excellent VR game, thanks to innovative flying mechanics which really channels the feeling of unrestricted flight in the suit of the iconic hero.

Update (July 19th, 2019): Iron Man VR developer Camouflaj published a new behind the scenes video which offers a fresh look at the game’s flying mechanics which manage to deliver an incredible sense of speed and control.

Over at the official PlayStation Blog, Camouflaj’s Ryan Payton explained some of the key concepts behind the game’s flying mechanics, which includes “calculations of up to a dozen forces, such as thrust, drag, and gravity—as well as our assistance systems—that output Iron Man’s accurate and believable trajectory through the sky.”

Momentum Conservation
Whenever possible, we preserve the player’s forward momentum. These systems allow the player to carve turns at high speed and enable our dogfight mechanics.

Bumpers
Inspired by those balloon-like “bumpers” at bowling alleys, we built an invisible system that cushions and guides the player around hard edges of buildings and other geometry. The bumpers also soften the blow when the player rams into something at high speeds. Under the hood, we account for potential upcoming collisions and gently apply collision-avoidance forces.

Contextual Suit Settings
It turns out, the player doesn’t want to accelerate from zero to 300 kilometers per hour when they are trying to delicately fly around more confined spaces. Wherever more precise flight speed is needed, we apply different suit settings based on context. This allows the player to utilize their thrusters for both small-scale maneuvers as well as unlocking full-blown, face-melting thrust when they need it.

Original Article (April 2nd, 2019): Iron Man is of course known well known for the ‘repulsors’ on his hands and feet which offer both propulsion for flying and act as laser-like energy weapons. The studio behind the title, Camouflaj, has clearly spent a lot of time figuring out how to make the core flight mechanics feel awesome. They achieved that through a combination of immersive input (thrust is dictated by the direction the repulsors on your hands are facing) with enough assists to keep things comfortable while still making players feel like they’re in total control of where they go. The studio has also smartly designed the system to work in full 360 degrees (which is normally just about impossible for PSVR games), which further lets players get lost in the fantasy.

When I got to try the game for the first time recently, I started out with some flight training which, after just a few minutes, had me zipping and zooming around a waterscape full of sea stacks.

To fly forward, you put your hands behind you facing backwards, which directs the thrust backwards and thus sends you forward. To gain altitude you angle your hands downward. To fly left and right you can of course point your hands side to side, and to turn you just rotate your body.

After getting the hang of it, the whole flying thing just feels awesome. I was able to maneuver my way between the sea stacks at high speeds, banking turns, gaining altitude quickly as needed, and even forcefully shedding altitude by putting my hands over my head to thrust downward as I threaded a few needles.

The flight system has been smartly built so that it’s capable of working even when players are rotating in 360 degrees, away from PSVR tracking camera. It seems this is achieved by designing the flying mechanics to constrain the range of possible motion so that IK can be employed when the camera loses line of sight of the controllers. In practice, the system that made this work felt invisible as I was playing (aside from the occasional funky arm movement) and I had no sense for what my real-world forward direction was (whereas knowing the forward direction is essential in many other PSVR games). Because I didn’t have to worry about where forward was, I ended up being more immersed because I stopped considering the outside world.

Combat also ties nicely into flying. Because you have lots of momentum as you jet around, you can lay off your thrust for a second and bring your arms forward to aim your repulsors. In practice, especially when you’re moving at a steady clip through the air, the best approach seems to be to get yourself on an upward arc trajectory with some downward thrusting, then put your hands up in front of you to shoot your repulsors as you clear the climax of your arc, before pulling your hands back behind you to keep flying.

Image courtesy Camouflaj

There’s also a flying punch attach which allows you to zoom forward quickly to smash opponents with your fist. This works by holding a button to prepare for the punch and then doing an actual punch gesture in the direction of your intended target. It feels a little heavy on the auto-aim, but is ultimately successful in making you feel like Iron Man putting the hurt on the bad guys.

My flying and fighting skills in Iron Man VR were put to the test in an action sequence which started with me as suitless Tony Stark on a private plane. After some story banter in the cabin, an enemy drone blew the side of the plane open, launching me out in the process.

And if you’ve seen any of the Iron Man movies lately, you can probably guess what happened next—I’m free-falling toward the ground and reach my arms out as pieces of the Iron Man suit come flying out of the sky and snap onto my body. First it’s the left hand, then the right. Then a big chest piece comes crashing right into my chest, and last but not least the helmet. I’ve gotta say—as someone who has no special affinity for Iron Man—the sequence did make me feel like a total badass.

Once I was suited up and flying, I immediately went in pursuit of the damaged plane which was careening through the sky with Stark’s confidant, Pepper Pots, still on board. As I approached I had to fight the malicious drones which were responsible for the attack in the first place. The whole battle took place with the falling plane as the centerpiece, and it felt quite convincingly like I was keeping pace with the plane as it cut through the sky, even though I was maneuvering around it while fighting off attacking drones.

Aside from blasting (and punching) the drones, there were also a few scripted moments where I had to land on the plane’s wing or come up underneath to fix some damaged part. Thanks to the fun flying mechanics, making a slick landing right onto the plane did feel really cool.

After the flying, fighting, and fixing of the plane, I eventually pulled Pepper from the falling wreckage and saved the day.

It was a lot of fun, and the experience made me feel like Iron Man VR has a ton of potential. It’s too early to say how it might turn out (the game is set for a release sometime this year) but what I’ll be looking for going forward is whether or not the game can create enough variety to keep things feeling fresh. The feeling of flying and the action sequence with the plane was pretty awesome, but it’s going to take more than that (or similar scenarios) to extract the most fun out of a really well crafted set of VR flying mechanics.

For the studio’s part, they say that Iron Man VR will tell its own unique story, and this is something they’re spending significant time on. They’ve also said that players will unlock upgrades to enhance the Iron Man suit throughout the game.

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Indie VR Gem ‘Racket: NX’ Launches on Quest with Cross-platform Multiplayer https://www.roadtovr.com/racket-nx-oculus-quest-launch/ https://www.roadtovr.com/racket-nx-oculus-quest-launch/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2019 00:51:45 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89419
Indie VR gem Racket: NX (2018) launches today on Oculus Quest with cross-platform multiplayer with the Rift version of the game. Playing out as a techno-future infused mashup between Breakout and racquetball, Racket: Nx feels right at home on Quest thanks to its 360 degree tracking and lack of tether. Lesser known but well received, Racket: Nx is a […]

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Indie VR gem Racket: NX (2018) launches today on Oculus Quest with cross-platform multiplayer with the Rift version of the game. Playing out as a techno-future infused mashup between Breakout and racquetball, Racket: Nx feels right at home on Quest thanks to its 360 degree tracking and lack of tether.

Lesser known but well received, Racket: Nx is a polished and high energy game which feels like a far flung imagining of racquetball fused with elements of Breakout. Players stand at the center of a 360 degree arena with neon targets that pulsate to the game’s excellent soundtrack. With a racket in hand, players smack the glowing orb to destroy some targets while avoiding others.

Having launched in Early Access back in 2017, Racket: Nx has been honed over the years, eventually hitting its full release for PC VR headsets in 2018 [our review]. Today Racket: Nx launches on Oculus Quest, and developer One Hamsa claims the game “is now tighter than ever, runs perfectly on the Quest, and without any significant compromises in visual fidelity or feel.”

On Quest, the game benefits from the headset’s 360 degree tracking and lack of tether. Priced at $20 (same as the PC version), the game also offers up cross-platform multiplayer between Quest and Rift. At the moment it’s unclear if the Quest version supports cross-buy with the Rift version, or if it can join multiplayer games with players using the Steam version of the game. We’ve reached out to the developers for confirmation. Update: Developer One Hamsa tells us that Racket: Nx supports cross-buy between Quest and Rift, and the game even syncs stats and progress between the headsets. Cross-play multiplayer works between Quest, Rift, and the SteamVR version of the game. Racket: Nx also supports custom soundtracks, including on the Quest version (by copying music onto a folder on the headset). Further, a recently added feature allows users to play single player while searching for multiplayer matches.

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‘Echo VR’ Update Brings Undersea Lobby, Skirmish Zone, & New Customizations https://www.roadtovr.com/echo-vr-update-brings-undersea-lobby-skirmish-zone-and-new-customizations/ https://www.roadtovr.com/echo-vr-update-brings-undersea-lobby-skirmish-zone-and-new-customizations/#respond Thu, 18 Jul 2019 21:37:53 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89412
Echo VR, the hub for both ‘Echo Arena’ and ‘Echo Combat’, got a sizeable update today with a revamped lobby which turns zero-G into under-the-sea. A new Skirmish zone lets players hop into pick-up battles for practice before diving into matches. While Echo VR offers up both Echo Arena and Echo Combat, the game’s lobby itself actually […]

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Echo VR, the hub for both ‘Echo Arena’ and ‘Echo Combat’, got a sizeable update today with a revamped lobby which turns zero-G into under-the-sea. A new Skirmish zone lets players hop into pick-up battles for practice before diving into matches.

While Echo VR offers up both Echo Arena and Echo Combat, the game’s lobby itself actually has plenty to do inside, and with today’s Summer Splash update there’s even more. The lobby has been transformed into an undersea paradise with new objects to play around with and new customizations to unlock. Echo VR has seen similar seasonal lobby makeovers for Winter and Halloween.

The Summer Splash lobby will be available until August 2nd at 12AM PT, and players can unlock some new customizations by completing an Echo Arena or Echo Combat match any time before it ends.

Players can also unlock some unique decals by participating in two scheduled Echo Arena events:

Event #1
On July 25th from 10:00AM – 10:00PM PST / 17:00 – 5:00 UTC complete 1 Event Match to earn a special Summer decal (check the in-game poster on the event day for more info!).

Event #2
On August 1st from 10:00AM – 10:00PM PST / 17:00 – 5:00 UTC complete 1 Event Match to earn a special Summer decal (check the in-game poster on the event day for more info!).

A new Skirmish zone has been added to the lobby as well. Similar to the Echo Arena practice area, this zone lets you actually fight each other like a pick-up game of laser tag.

SEE ALSO
Zero-G Sports Game 'Echo Arena' is Coming to Oculus Quest

The Summer Splash update also brings some minor balance changes and a host of bug fixes, all of which are detailed over at the game’s official blog.

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‘Blood & Truth’ Free Demo Lands on PSVR Today https://www.roadtovr.com/blood-truth-free-demo/ https://www.roadtovr.com/blood-truth-free-demo/#comments Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:30:44 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89408
If you were skeptical about the $40 price tag on Sony’s latest PSVR exclusive, Blood & Truth (2019), the company has some good news: you can now play a healthy slice of the game for free starting today. Sony says in a blog post that players will get to infiltrate an enemy compound, engage in an […]

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If you were skeptical about the $40 price tag on Sony’s latest PSVR exclusive, Blood & Truth (2019), the company has some good news: you can now play a healthy slice of the game for free starting today.

Sony says in a blog post that players will get to infiltrate an enemy compound, engage in an intense rooftop shootout and take part in a car chase—something the studio calls a “gameplay-heavy slice” of the game.

We gave the full game a solid [8.5/10] in our review for its strong gunplay coupled with its thoughtful, high-octane story that truly makes you feel like you’re in action hero ripped from the silver screen.

And while we finished the game in around four hours, Sony’s London Studio is actually getting ready to push out a new update for July 25th that they say includes some “fun post-game extras.”

We aren’t sure what those are yet, but it’s only a few more days away.

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Hyperviolent Gladiator Sim ‘GORN’ Exits Early Access, Launch Trailer Here https://www.roadtovr.com/gorn-launch-day/ https://www.roadtovr.com/gorn-launch-day/#comments Thu, 18 Jul 2019 13:40:57 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89233
GORN, the ridiculously violent VR combat game, has officially ended its two-year stint in Early Access. Update (July 18th, 2019): Gorn is now out of early access, which adds a few new features to the list, such as the ‘Grand Finale’ showdown with ALIMTA, and a new Weapon, The Hand Cannon. The game also now […]

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GORN, the ridiculously violent VR combat game, has officially ended its two-year stint in Early Access.

Update (July 18th, 2019): Gorn is now out of early access, which adds a few new features to the list, such as the ‘Grand Finale’ showdown with ALIMTA, and a new Weapon, The Hand Cannon.

The game also now includes a local multiplayer party mode, where up to four other players can control the enemy gladiators with gamepads.

The Free Lives team also included a Custom Mode, allowing players to tweak gameplay settings and experiment with some mutators.

Original Article (July 9th, 2019): The physics-based gladiator sim—available on Steam (Rift, Vive, Index) and the Oculus Store (Rift)—is slated to leave Early Access on July 18th.

Free Lives, the team also behind Broforce (2015) and Genital Jousting (2018), haven’t spoken yet about what updates they’ll be bringing to the full version of the game when it launches next week, although a Free Lives developer took to Reddit to say that new content was ‘definitely’ coming at launch.

Earlier this year, the studio released their biggest update yet, dubbed ‘The Teachings of ODALBE’, which reworked the progression and unlock system of the game’s campaign. The Teachings of ODALBE arrived in February (and a hotfix one month later), however at the time Free Lives didn’t consider the campaign as properly finalized, so we’d expect the studio will bring yet more polish to the campaign as a part of their launch day content.

Otherwise, it’s still a mystery what GORN has in store—maybe more giant crab-bros? We’ll be keeping our eyes open, so check back soon for more info on launch day info (see update).

Yes, that’s a rap video featuring a fictitious barbarian language (and yes, it’s awesome).

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‘Gadgeteer’ Early Access Review – Tinker to Your Heart’s Content https://www.roadtovr.com/gadgeteer-early-access-review-tinker-to-your-hearts-content/ https://www.roadtovr.com/gadgeteer-early-access-review-tinker-to-your-hearts-content/#comments Thu, 18 Jul 2019 03:14:32 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89384
In all the time I’ve spent mucking around in Oculus Home and Rec Room—both physics-based sandbox environments that promise to let me do as I please in VR—I always felt like there was a significant time gap involved with creating anything of mechanical or creative depth. Now that Rube Goldberg machine sim Gadgeteer is available, I […]

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In all the time I’ve spent mucking around in Oculus Home and Rec Room—both physics-based sandbox environments that promise to let me do as I please in VR—I always felt like there was a significant time gap involved with creating anything of mechanical or creative depth. Now that Rube Goldberg machine sim Gadgeteer is available, I find myself enthralled both by its extreme simplicity and the perpetual bounty of possibilities laden within its endless supply of stackable knick-knacks and useful doodads.

Gadgeteer Details:

Official Site

Developer: Metanaut
Available On: Steam, Oculus (Rift)
Reviewed On: Rift
Early Access Release Date: April 23rd, 2019

Note: This game is in Early Access which means the developers have deemed it incomplete and likely to see changes over time. This review is an assessment of the game only at its current Early Access state and will not receive a numerical score.

Gameplay

Gadgeteer is split between two primary modes: ‘Sandbox’ mode and ‘Puzzle’ (campaign) mode. It also comes with a short tutorial that runs you through the four tools that you’ll use to grab, clone, delete, and freeze objects with your dominant hand.

Physics are central to everything that happens in this game, which makes important the question: ‘are the physics good?’ To frame my answer to this question, after playing for 14 hours—nine of them in ‘Puzzle’ mode and five of them in ‘Sandbox’ mode—I’d like to point out that I’ve constructed an actual Rube Goldberg-style reaction machine exactly once in my life. That machine, which I designed for an 8th grade science project, consisted of a basketball, a ruler, a few dominoes, and a book. Long story short, it wasn’t all that impressive. But if I’d owned Gadgeteer at the time, I’d have felt perfectly comfortable blueprinting a much more elaborate contraption inside of the game and then proceeding to reproduce it at a perfect 1-1 scale in the real world. That is to say: yes, the physics are good. But not without a minor fault (explained in the ‘Immersion’ section below).

The ‘Sandbox’ mode is a true sandbox in every respect. As soon as you enter it, you’re granted unlimited access to all 50+ parts—an infinite treasure trove brimming with various shapes and sizes of dominos, marbles, balls, levers, hinges, and marble tracks. You also get the run of the entire multi-room apartment environment, which is normally cordoned off in the campaign mode until each room is unlocked.

If I were feeling uninspired in Sandbox mode, I could load up one of various prebuilt contraptions for reference, such as a pinball machine or a domino T-Rex. I found it nifty to dissect and play with a developer’s completed work, an exercise which gave me ideas for my own devices. That said, I can see other players spending innumerable hours coming up with increasingly complex systems—but I also found solitude in hanging out, poking the game’s physics systems, and playing my own impromptu version of Jenga with my infinite supply of dominoes.

Photo captured by Road to VR

The ‘Puzzle’ campaign mode, on the other hand, offers a set of 60 puzzles that take you from one end of the apartment to the other as you slowly power on the ‘machine’ in the center of the room. Each puzzle only grants you a limited selection of parts to play with, and you complete one by either landing a domino or rolling a marble (or marbles) into the goal chamber at the end, which fills up a green power line leading to the beginning of the next puzzle.

The mysterious machine powers up as you complete the game’s puzzles. | Photo captured by Road to VR

Beating a puzzle also rewards you with a burst of confetti and a celebratory jingle; a little dopamine release that keeps the momentum going as you progress from one scenario to the next. In the later levels, victory brings an especially welcome sense of relief after you’ve spent upwards of 30–40 minutes improvising something that feels like it could totally fall apart and fail at any time. This is to say that, in fact, the physics in Gadgeteer are not deterministic. It’s supremely satisfying to come up with an idea for a machine, iterate on it until each segment is perfect, and then watch as the chain reaction go off exactly the way you want it to. There’s always a chance that something won’t work completely right; a domino might fall in the wrong direction or a marble won’t land hard enough, making part of the challenge of building the ‘best’ machine a matter of tightening your design for the best probable outcome.

But each puzzle is, ultimately, just a very well-designed gimmick that’s intended to teach you how to manipulate a certain set of tools within Gadgeteer’s physics sandbox.

Whose apartment you’re busy making a mess of, as well as the purpose and origin of the mysterious machine in the middle of the room, are not explained in any way until the very end of the campaign. As a matter of fact, the only story in the game is during the big reveal at the end. Thinking back to how some developers like to sprinkle story throughout their worlds in clever nooks and crannies, I haphazardly triple-checked the entire apartment area for environmental story cues scattered throughout. Either I’m terribly inept at finding story bytes, or environmental storytelling simply doesn’t exist here; a missed opportunity for the time spent mulling around and trying to stick dominoes behind random household objects. If you are curious what the story is, you can find it much faster by skimming the game’s official description which talks about “the mystery behind the disappearance of a brilliant mad scientist and her daughter.”

Immersion

Image courtesy Metanaut

While storytelling can no doubt enhance immersion, the lack thereof doesn’t siphon enjoyment from the core experience of stacking blocks and building widgets in Gadgeteer. Aside from a glitch that occurs when colliders get caught on one another (which happens semi-frequently when you push things like metal marble tracks too closely together at odd angles), the physics of Gadgeteer in its early access state are almost exemplary. Though that issue would be less evident if there were a ‘snap’ function that allowed me to quickly align objects before sticking them together. Otherwise, I’m particularly impressed by how many objects I can have interacting with one another synchronously without my computer (an i7 6700K, GTX 1070, and 16GB of RAM smacked into a desktop box) showing much or any visible stress. Note that this is while playing with the game’s second highest graphical preset.

During my five hours in ‘Sandbox’ mode, I tried and mostly failed to break the physics system by throwing lots and lots of dominos at one another. I completely lost count of how many were in my virtual room at peak time, but it was certainly more than anybody in a real room would know what to do with. My framerate did end up eventually taking a hit, though that was expected. What I feel is impressive and worth pointing out, is that (while the framerate was severely dropping) the pile of virtual objects still appeared to behave and react like real objects when I pushed another domino through them to open a path.

Photo captured by Road to VR

Moving away from the physics for a moment, I’d like to compliment developer Metanaut for how polished and clean everything looks—regardless of the graphical preset, the environment is small and there are only a few different types of objects being rendered at any given time. Thus, Gadgeteer is able to make each item look like its real-world equivalent without demanding too many system resources. During my playthrough, this resulted in a much deeper experience that sold me on the machines I was building, as if they were ‘real’ contraptions that I’d put together in my own bedroom.

The soundtrack didn’t do much for me. It’s just a handful of guitar riffs that alternate based on whether you’re building a machine or whether you’re sequencing a chain reaction. I opted turned the in-game music off and played music from my own playlist (in my case, an entire Spotify playlist full of Japanese hip hop), which immediately made the experience more enjoyable.

Comfort

Image courtesy Metanaut

Unless you’re using an Oculus Rift (or Rift S, presumably), there aren’t any options to switch to something other than the ‘grab and pull’ style of artificial locomotion that Gadgeteer natively uses. For non-Oculus users, you can’t use thumbsticks for smooth or snap-turning either. Instead, you need to twist your wrist (or wrists, if two-handed turns are enabled) while you’re grabbing the world. This may bother those who play in smaller rooms and rely more on artificial locomotion to get a better angle of their workspace. It is worth noting, however, that Metanaut has recently added options to turn off the forced-on comfort blinders and the one-handed snap-turns that both made locomotion feel downright choppy when Gadgeteer first launched in early access.

It’s also worth noting that Gadgeteer will never present you with an urgent need to move from place to place. Most of the time, you’ll use artificial locomotion to center yourself in your play area so you can naturally walk and peer around your contraption while you work. Because I could just grab the world to move my position however I wanted, I never found myself craning my head too hard or making myself uncomfortable. I did, at certain points, find myself subconsciously sitting or kneeling down to tweak a machine section to perfection. At that point, the locomotion system had become so second nature to me that I didn’t realize I’d spun the world around and brought everything down to eye level until I consciously made a note of it.

Conclusion

In its early access state, Gadgeteer is both a fantastic Rube Goldberg-style reaction machine builder and, at its most gripping moments, a true example of VR Presence—where the act of building and testing a machine becomes so engaging that you forget you’re playing with code instead of physical toy dominos. The collider occlusion bug within the physics system should still be addressed, and continued improvements toward the locomotion system would be nice. But, content-wise, Gadgeteer is already a complete package out of the box. At $15, I consider it a steal.


Note: This game is in Early Access which means the developers have deemed it incomplete and likely to see changes over time. This review is an assessment of the game only at its current Early Access state and will not receive a numerical score.

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Here’s What Facebook Says About Camera Privacy on Quest & Rift S https://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-quest-camera-privacy-rift-s-facebook/ https://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-quest-camera-privacy-rift-s-facebook/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2019 20:43:22 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89349
With Facebook recently launching the Oculus Quest and Rift S—both of which rely on always-on cameras during use—we reached out to the company to learn more about what data is captured by the cameras and how it’s used. There’s never a bad time to be skeptical about how your private information is being used by […]

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With Facebook recently launching the Oculus Quest and Rift S—both of which rely on always-on cameras during use—we reached out to the company to learn more about what data is captured by the cameras and how it’s used.

There’s never a bad time to be skeptical about how your private information is being used by products and companies which gather information about you, but an especially good time is when using products that rely on always-on cameras during use. That’s the case with both the Oculus Quest and Rift S, both of which use an array of cameras for tracking the movement of your head and hands, and to offer a pass-through view of your surroundings.

While the cameras used with the original Rift present similar privacy concerns, it uses simple point-matching for tracking and does not map and store information about your physical playspace like Quest and Rift S.

By our reading, neither Oculus’ Privacy Policy nor Terms of Service specifically address how data captured or derived from the headsets’ cameras is used, stored, or transmitted, so we reached out to Facebook to get more insight. An Oculus spokesperson offered the following:

The sensors on Quest and Rift S are primarily used to create a 3D map of your environment, which helps locate your headset and controllers in a known space so Quest/Rift S can work and keep you safe. This data is processed on the headsets.

The only information we keep on our servers today consists of performance metrics that don’t contain any recognizable detail about your environment. These metrics help us improve [the inside-out tracking system]. We don’t collect and store images or 3D maps of your environment on our servers today—raw images are not stored anywhere, and 3D maps are stored locally on the headset for Quest, and on your local PC (where you have access to delete it) for Rift S. This makes it possible for Quest/ Rift S to remember the playspaces you’ve already set up in multiple rooms.

We’ll notify users if collecting this information on our servers is required for future VR experiences we provide on Quest and Rift S, for example, co-located multiplayer experiences. (That said, it’s worth noting there are a few scenarios when users can opt-in to providing this information today: For example, when livestreaming, a user can choose to stream passthrough footage and thus that footage may be stored off platform/on their streaming surface—similarly, when submitting a bug report to Oculus a user can elect to include passthrough footage if it’s relevant to the report).

The spokesperson also noted that Oculus hosts a ‘My Privacy Center‘ where users can find more information about their privacy settings, including what information is currently stored about them [both links here require you to be logged into your Oculus account].

The key takeaways from Oculus’ statement is that the data captured by the cameras is being processed locally for tracking, and that 3D maps of your environment are not being transmitted or stored on a server. They explicitly say that raw images (camera footage) is not stored anywhere (even on the local headset or host machine).

Oculus has also told us previously that cameras on Quest cannot be active without the white LED at the top of the headset being illuminated, so at a minimum it would be easy to see at a glance if the cameras were activating surreptitiously.

SEE ALSO
Privacy in VR Is Complicated and It'll Take the Entire VR Community to Figure It Out

While it’s good to have these confirmations from Facebook on the record, the use of the word “today,” makes it clear that the company is not ruling out anything in the future. Indeed, Facebook’s privacy strategy for Oculus generally seems to be to commit to as little as possible in order to not limit what might be done in the future, and to be as broad as possible to maximize legal wiggle room. That means that that VR community needs to be diligent about analyzing privacy policy updates in order to ensure that privacy is not eroded over time.

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Pirate Ship Battler ‘Battlewake’ Heads into Closed Beta This Weekend https://www.roadtovr.com/battlewake-new-pirate-ship-battler-makers-creed-raw-data/ https://www.roadtovr.com/battlewake-new-pirate-ship-battler-makers-creed-raw-data/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2019 16:10:38 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=88065
Survios, the studio behind Raw Data (2017) and Creed: Rise to Glory (2018), is getting their upcoming nautical battler Battlewake into ship-shape for this weekend, which marks the beginning of the game’s closed beta. Update (July 17th, 2019): Battlewake is headed into closed beta this weekend, going from July 19th to the 21st. The closed beta is set to […]

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Survios, the studio behind Raw Data (2017) and Creed: Rise to Glory (2018), is getting their upcoming nautical battler Battlewake into ship-shape for this weekend, which marks the beginning of the game’s closed beta.

Update (July 17th, 2019)Battlewake is headed into closed beta this weekend, going from July 19th to the 21st.

The closed beta is set to start at 12 PM PT on Friday (local time here), and will run through 11:59 PM PT on Sunday (local time here).

Beta signups are now open, and will be available until 12 PM PT on July 18th; you can sign up here.

Survios says in a Steam news update that the Battlewake closed beta will feature a single playable game mode—Warfare, a cooperative, progressive gauntlet that supports up to four players. The original article announcing the game follows below:

Original Article (May 7th, 2019): The game gives you a choice between a few armed, upgradeable warships, which you captain as one of four heroes.

The ships themselves include 13 different mounted weapons such as cannons, ballistae, axe-throwers and ultimate attacks, making for a variable frenzy of explosions as you maneuver your ship to get the best shot on your enemy—or just ram straight into them if you want. Maybe not the Kraken though. That’s best left up to your heavy ranged attacks.

Image courtesy Survios

Battlewake allows a single player aboard each ship, and can be played in PvE, PvP or in two-player co-op mode (one person per ship) against the magical beasties of the high seas.

SEE ALSO
Hands-on: 'Battlewake' Delivers Frenetic High-seas Mayhem with a Splash of Smart VR Design

The campaign is said to feature 20 chapters, and upon completion of each mission you’re given in-game gold to spend on leveling up your player skill and outfitting your ship.

Image courtesy Survios

Survios has been a stalwart in creating new and unique locomotion styles, building for Battlewake what they call their ‘Immersive Vehicle System’, which uses adaptive physics and peripheral effects subsystems so you’re not sloshing about haphazardly even when the tides swell.

And they do swell; water is reactive to things like shockwaves, giant whirlpools created from ultimates, tidalwaves and maelstroms.

Image courtesy Survios

In addition to the release for at-home VR headsets, Battlewake will also be available across multiple VR arcades, something Survious says will outfit a combat party of up to 10 players.

The studio still isn’t talking specific platforms yet, however when I tried it at GDC 2019, the demo was shown on an Oculus Rift. The game is also headed into closed beta soon, and you’ll notice on the form that the following devices are listed: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PSVR, Oculus Quest and ‘other’.

Sign-ups for the closed beta begin today, so head on over to Battlewake.com to punch in your email address, region, and preferred system.


Make sure to check out our latest hands-on with Battlewake.

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‘I Expect You to Die’ Gets Brand New Level on All Supported Platforms https://www.roadtovr.com/e3-2019-i-expect-you-to-die-free-dlc/ https://www.roadtovr.com/e3-2019-i-expect-you-to-die-free-dlc/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2019 13:20:55 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=88685
Schell Games announced their hit VR spy puzzle game I Expect You To Die (2017) just got a new bit of free DLC that brings with it a brand new level. Update (July 17th, 2019): The game’s ‘Seat of Power’ update is now available on all supported platforms. The original article follows below: Original Article […]

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Schell Games announced their hit VR spy puzzle game I Expect You To Die (2017) just got a new bit of free DLC that brings with it a brand new level.

Update (July 17th, 2019): The game’s ‘Seat of Power’ update is now available on all supported platforms.

The original article follows below:

Original Article (June 10th, 2019): Called ‘Seat of Power’, Schell Games says in a press statement that the new level begins with the player placed at the head of the table in Dr. Zor’s boardroom, where you’re challenged to retrieve information and solve a series of puzzles to escape safely and avoid death. This sounds like more or less business as usual for the spy-themed game, although any addition to the critically acclaimed title is a welcome one.

‘Seat of Power’ is slated to arrive on July 16th on all supported platforms including PSVR, Oculus Quest, and PC VR headsets via Steam, the Oculus Store, and Windows Store.

The studio also mentioned it has another free level in the works too, which is slated to release sometime in late 2019, although there’s no information as to what the next DLC drop with entail.

In the meantime, you can check out the trailer below:

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Quest Teardown Shows How Oculus Crammed Cooling & Cameras Inside https://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-quest-teardown-disassembly/ https://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-quest-teardown-disassembly/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2019 08:30:58 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89347
Oculus Quest is the company’s first mobile headset to offer full positional tracking, and also its first to be able to run a handful of top PC VR titles that have been ported to work with the headset. To do so, Oculus managed to cram everything needed for the experience inside a shell that’s hardly […]

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Oculus Quest is the company’s first mobile headset to offer full positional tracking, and also its first to be able to run a handful of top PC VR titles that have been ported to work with the headset. To do so, Oculus managed to cram everything needed for the experience inside a shell that’s hardly larger than the original Rift headset. A teardown of Oculus Quest shows how it all fits inside.

Jad Meouchy, co-founder & CTO of BadVR, shared with us high-resolution photos of his Oculus Quest teardown. In his own words: “Been waiting years for a device like this to exist. So of course the moment it arrived, I tore it apart. Didn’t even turn it on first.” Let’s just hope he had another one on hand….

Image courtesy BadVR, Jad Meouchy

In addition to serving as a useful disassembly guide for would-be tinkerers or DIY repairs, the teardown gives us a close-up view of the headset’s vital components.

With no obvious screws to be seen, Meouchy unceremoniously sliced the headset’s fabric cover off to reveal screws underneath. After removing a panel, he found that the battery is actually stored in the forehead portion of the headset. While there’s limited room for expanding the battery, it looks like it’s fairly accessible without bothering the other components (aside from disconnecting it from the mainboard), which should make battery replacements viable (the specific part, he found, is the Fujian YU10850–18001A, 3.85V / 3648 mAh / 14.0 Wh).

The battery is hiding in this metal assembly tucked into the forehead of the headset. | Image courtesy BadVR, Jad Meouchy

The front portion of the headset houses almost everything else, with ~15% of the space being dedicated to a fan which serves to cool the components and allow the Snapdragon 835 processor to punch above its weight-class in performance. Interestingly, the fan doesn’t appear to be directly connected to the heatpipes or any other component on the headset, but instead appears to serve as a general purpose cooler to keep air moving across all of the components, with the gap between the fabric portion of the headset and the front shell apparently being a key pathway for airflow.

Image courtesy BadVR, Jad Meouchy

Though powerful for a mobile VR headset, this is still a smartphone processor we’re talking about here; Oculus has previously compared it to an Xbox 360 or PS3 in terms of performance.

Image courtesy BadVR, Jad Meouchy

Around the mainboard we can also see the headset’s four cameras mounted at very purposeful angles at the corners. The cameras are essential to enabling 6DOF tracking on both the headset and the controllers; their views are also merged together to allow a pass-through vision mode on the headset which is used to trace the boundary of your playspace.

Image courtesy BadyVR, Brian Wong

Meouchy’s colleague Brian Wong also cracked open the quest controllers apart and detailed the process here.

Update: Reddit user Przemo-c pointed us to a very cool ‘inside’ look at Oculus Quest via CT scan:

You can also see a scan of the Touch controllers here.

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5 Great Ways to Celebrate the Moon Landing’s 50th Anniversary in VR https://www.roadtovr.com/moon-landing-vr-50th-anniversary/ https://www.roadtovr.com/moon-landing-vr-50th-anniversary/#comments Tue, 16 Jul 2019 15:28:43 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=89344
Exactly 50 years ago today, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with the mission of putting the first human beings on the Moon. And although humanity has only visited our celestial neighbor a handful of times since then, now it’s possible for anyone with a VR headset to strap in and experience the final […]

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Exactly 50 years ago today, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with the mission of putting the first human beings on the Moon. And although humanity has only visited our celestial neighbor a handful of times since then, now it’s possible for anyone with a VR headset to strap in and experience the final frontier for themselves.

Here’s a few great space-themed experiences (in no particular order) to help you celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon mission.

Side note: You might want to wait on Apollo 11 VR until the big day—July 20th, when the Lunar lander finally touched down on the Moon’s surface.

Apollo 11 VR

  • Description: Now for the first time ever, you get to experience this historic event through the eyes of those who lived through it. Using a mix of original archive audio and video together with accurate recreations of the spacecraft and locations, all set to inspirational music. Take control for docking, landing and the moon walk. Get set for an experience that will not only educate you but will also leave a lasting impression and deep respect for the men and women who worked on the Apollo program during NASA’s golden era.
  • Developer: Immersive VR Education
  • Platform: Steam (Rift, Vive, Index) Oculus Store (Rift, Quest, Go, Gear VR), PlayStation Store (PSVR)
  • Price: $10 on PC VR, $12 on PSVR, $5 on Mobile VR

Watch Live SpaceX Launch in Bigscreen

  • Description: Catch the SpaceX launch live in VR via Bigscreen, the social VR platform that recently updated to include 50+ free livestreaming TV channels. A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is scheduled to launch at 7:35 PM ET on Sunday, July 21st (local time here).
  • Developer: Bigscreen
  • Platform: Steam (Rift, Vive, Index), Oculus Store (Rift, Quest, Go, Gear VR)
  • Price: Free

Home – A VR Spacewalk

  • Description: Throw yourself into the void 250 miles above Earth in this award-winning VR spacewalk inspired by NASA’s training program and the astonishing experiences of its astronauts. Home puts you at the center of the story, taking you on an emotional and personal journey while delivering beautiful, heart-stopping, and memorable moments.
  • Developer: BBC
  • Platform: Steam (Rift, Vive, Index), Oculus Store (Rift)
  • Price: Free

SPHERES

  • Description: This three chapter interactive virtual reality journey uncovers the hidden songs of the cosmos. Space is not silent. It is full of sounds. We look to the stars to find our place in the Universe, but for the first time we listen to its music. From Writer/Director Eliza McNitt and Executive Producers Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel, this acclaimed experience premiered at Sundance and received the Grand Prize in VR at the Venice Film Festival.
  • Platform: Oculus Store (Rift)
  • Developer: Novelab
  • Price: $10

Mission: ISS

  • Description: Take a trip into orbit and experience life on board the International Space Station. In this Emmy-nominated simulation, learn how to move and work in zero-gravity using Touch controllers. Dock a space capsule, take a spacewalk, and let real NASA astronauts guide you on the ISS through archival video clips.
  • Developer: Magnopus
  • Platform: Oculus Store (Rift, Quest)
  • Price: Free

If you know of any great space-themed experiences on PSVR, make sure to leave us a comment below!

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