Though Apple and Google both improved their augmented reality tools for developers last year, AR didn’t have a particularly strong 2018, as consumers largely shrugged off new AR apps and hardware. But the Lego Group announced an intriguing new initiative today: a collection of eight “haunted” building sets that can be enjoyed by themselves, or paired with a new AR app that adds spooky virtual elements to explore. All set in the town of Newbury, the Lego Hidden Side sets will range in price from $20 to $130, with models including a bus, graveyard, and schoolhouse. In physical form, the models will be seen as they appear by day, while the AR app will show them infested with ghosts at night. Lego’s free Hidden Side app lets kids choose between one of two characters to explore the sets from a first-person perspective, using Android or iOS devices to discover and capture the virtual ghosts. The AR app will prompt kids to discover new parts of the real-world models, and change the AR experience as kids physically manipulate the sets. “At our core we focus on tactile building,” explained Lego SVP Tom Donaldson, “but AR presents opportunities to enhance physical LEGO play with new action and mastery elements. We’re breaking the mold of gaming-first AR play experiences to create a new type of play where the physical world actually influences the AR layer, instead of the other way around.” Lego Hidden Side builds on the Lego AR Playgrounds initiative announced at Apple’s 2018 WWDC. After showing a prototype on stage with impressive but largely cosmetic interactions between a Lego set and an iOS app, the company released Lego Ninjago AR playsets as “early experiments” to see how AR could enhance physical play. The Lego Group says Hidden Side will be the first time it introduces a play theme as a service, with promises to keep adding new challenges, ghosts, and randomized gameplay to the app to keep it fresh. Kids will also be able to play several small games inside the Hidden Side app without using building sets. The Hidden Side sets will hit stores around the world in late summer. iOS and Android apps are planned to hit the App Store and Google Play for free at the same time. This post by Jeremy Horwitz originally appeared on VentureBeat.  Tagged with: Hidden Side, lego .special-buttons > * { text-align:left !important; } FacebookTwitterRedditMore The post Lego Hidden Side Uses ‘Haunted’ Toys To Advance AR On Android And iOS appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

An audience member sits in the center of the room. He adorns an HTC Vive Pro and finds himself sitting at the end of a bed. We can see what he sees via a monitor at the back of the room. He looks toward a mirror and sees his virtual self. Leaning in for a closer look, he raises his hand to wave. Despite not wearing any extra gear or carrying any controllers, the reflection waves back. Opposite the participant sits a man clad in Vive Trackers. They form a makeshift motion capture suit that brings him into the virtual world. He’s imitating the audience member’s every move. It’s done with such precision that he really believes his movements are being mirrored in VR. Everyone in the room is completely silent and utterly transfixed. We’re equal parts enraptured by this small miracle and terrified that one slight noise might shatter the illusion. Without even entering VR, we’re all a part of the experience. It’s Creative XR’s mission to make experiences like this a reality. The UK programme is assembled by tech innovation center Digital Catapult and Arts Council England. Every year it puts out a call for artists and studios to pitch projects that go beyond gaming. Successful applicants get funding and access to resources. As this year’s application process kicks off, CreativeXR gathered 2018’s recipients in one space to showcase their latest work. Together, they make a compelling case for VR’s inclusion in the arts space. And that’s an important case to make. As Ben Lane, Senior Manager, Enterprise and Innovation at Arts Council says, these projects “probably wouldn’t happen” without this help. “It’s easy to see how these technologies can be employed in games, but the technology also has potential as a creative medium beyond this,” Lane adds. “The ability of immersive technology to provide innovative experiences for audiences – new ways of telling stories, immersing people in different environments, both real and imagined and to nurture empathy – is obviously fertile ground for artists to explore.” Reinvigorating History And Science Over the course of an afternoon, I explored that ground. I was whisked away to the edge of time and history to face truths both awe-inspiring and uncomfortable. Some projects, like All Seeing Eyes’ Immersive Histories, explore well-trodden paths for VR. The company’s build out a wooden rig to resemble a Lancaster bomber used in the second world war. You strap on a headset and find yourself in the middle of the storied Dambusters raids that saw British fighters destroy the Mohne Dam in Germany in 1943. It’s a cramped, atmospheric piece designed to root you in the moment. If anything it showcases the need to support these sorts of projects; I only wished it could have enjoyed the sorts of production values Oculus or PlayStation would lavish upon their portfolios. Speaking of Oculus projects, I found a fitting companion piece to the awesome power of Spheres in When Something Happens. This VR short from Boom Clap Play, written and narrated by poet Boston Williams, [...] The post CreativeXR Finds Amazing New Uses For VR In The Arts Space appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

Walmart’s cavernous stores apparently aren’t large enough to hold the Hidden World in DreamWorks’ latest How to Train Your Dragon film. Instead, the retailer announced today that it will use its parking lots to host free five-minute VR dragon-riding experiences — and the expected significant lines of people — in an effort to spur merchandise sales at matching gift shops. Developed by Walmart-backed Spatial& in partnership with DreamWorks, the endeavor looks more like a theme park installation than a traditional retail experience. Visitors as young as 8 years old are allowed to participate in the action, which starts with a character greeting at an onboarding tent before moving into a VR world powered by headsets and motion VR chairs. Since the goal of the free ride is to sell merchandise, guests are led directly to a themed gift shop right after they take off the VR gear. A YouTube video of the experience shows fully computer-generated fantasy scenes that look as if they could be straight out of a modern video game, though kids and adults aren’t handed controllers or actually playing anything. Instead, they get to see 360-degree videos and high-resolution images with VR head tracking, all designed to elicit emotional responses. Walmart and Spatial& specifically expect that people will want to buy items “featuring the characters they befriended and created deep connections with during the activation,” including toys, DVDs, and video games. The immersive virtual tour of the Hidden World includes How to Train Your Dragon characters such as Astrid, Hiccup, Hookfang, and Toothless, with greetings during onboarding by Ruffnut and Tuffnut. “Collaborating with DreamWorks Animation and its iconic How to Train Your Dragon franchise is such an exciting way to bring Spatial&’s first ever activation to the public,” said Spatial& CEO Katie Finnegan. “Spatial& was founded based on the belief that VR will transform merchandising and retail and we can’t wait to finally share this uniquely immersive shopping experience with consumers across the country.” Though the collaboration certainly isn’t the first to leverage VR to sell things, it’s a particularly interesting experiment in that correlations between the experience and purchases will be fairly easy to track, and the promise of free VR experiences based on a well-liked movie franchise could be enough to draw crowds. It’s also somewhat unique in that Walmart has chosen to site the project outside of its stores — in winter, no less — rather than utilizing space inside. Walmart will start offering the experiences over several days at multiple stores in one city before moving on to another city. The seven-city run begins at noon February 15 in Los Angeles, California, and concludes in Bentonville, Arkansas on April 9. Last year, Amazon used VR to create virtual selling spaces inside Indian shopping malls where it wasn’t operating physical stores. Similarly, retailers such as Macy’s have started to use VR inside their stores to let customers browse inventory that would otherwise be too broad or large to stock locally. This post by Jeremy Horwitz originally appeared on VentureBeat.  Tagged with: How To Train Your Dragon, venturebeat, walmart .special-buttons > * { text-align:left !important; } FacebookTwitterRedditMore The post Walmart Will Set Up VR-enhanced DreamWorks Gift Shops In Parking Lots appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

In our Eden Tomorrow review we take a look at a game with good intentions and some imaginative design that succumbs to its far less inspired components. The post Eden Tomorrow Review: Welcome To A Jurassic Slog appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

Multiplayer archery game QuiVr Vanguard is coming to Oculus Quest and multiplayer is possible with players on Oculus Go. The game’s description on the Go store page says the title will be compatible with both headsets and allow cross-play once Quest releases. QuiVr is one of the most popular archery VR games available. Over the course of two years its creators built a PC version with a role-playing game progression system. A smaller arcade version of the game called QuiVr Vangaurd was more recently released by the developers. A studio called Luminary Apps is taking on the mobile version, which is the version of the game getting cross-play cooperative multiplayer on Oculus Go and Quest. Cooperative play between the two headsets may place QuiVr Vanguard on a short list of apps with that kind of multiplayer capability on standalone in 2019. The number of early Quest buyers who will already have Oculus Go sitting around their home could be significant. This means some Oculus Quest buyers will already have a second headset in their home to play a two-player game with a family member or friend. We are expecting major updates from Facebook’s Oculus at the Game Developers Conference next month. Anticipation is high for the $400 Oculus Quest headset and its 6DoF Touch controllers and we are expecting at least 50 titles to be ready for Quest launch. Some VR developers are starting to hint they are seriously considering building Quest versions of their games but we still don’t have a full list of the games coming to the headset just yet. Tagged with: QuiVr, QuiVr Vanguard .special-buttons > * { text-align:left !important; } FacebookTwitterRedditMore The post QuiVr Vanguard Confirmed For Oculus Quest With Go Multiplayer appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

GDC is just a month away and Oculus is gearing up for its pre-GDC event to show off some Rift games and unannounced Quest titles. The post Oculus To Host Pre-GDC Event Featuring ‘Not-Yet-Announced’ Quest Demos appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

Doctor Who fans will soon get to join an animated Doctor in a virtual reality TARDIS. The new project confirmed by the BBC today is a 12 minute adventure including a performance by the latest Doctor Jodie Whittaker “in animated form.” Doctor Who: The Runaway “will be available on selected VR headsets in the coming months.” Plot details are sparse for  The Runaway. The official description for the project says you get a chance to “be the Doctor’s champion” as you face a “deadly threat.” So, a standard Doctor Who adventure. Here’s our first look at the animated version: Doctor Who: The Runaway is an animated VR adventure coming to VR headsets. Doctor Who, for those unfamiliar, is one of England’s most famous and long-lasting television programs. For more than 50 years, “The Doctor” has visited earthlings on TV and taken them on adventures in the TARDIS. Whittaker recently became the 13th incarnation of the time-traveling character. Her ship — disguised as a blue police call box — is a perfect fit for VR given its larger-on-the-inside physics. Once inside, going through that doorway once more can take you anywhere and anytime. In many ways, the TARDIS is the perfect vehicle for a VR experience. So that makes the Doctor — a kind of intergalactic tour guide and friend — the perfect character to join you on such a journey. The project is “produced by the BBC’s digital drama team, BBC VR Hub and Passion Animation Studios.” Doctor Who: The Runaway is written by Victoria Asare-Archer and directed by Mathias Chelebourg with music from composer Segun Akinola. We’ll bring you updates on the project as soon as we get them. Tagged with: BBC, Doctor Who, Doctor Who: The Runaway, England .special-buttons > * { text-align:left !important; } FacebookTwitterRedditMore The post Doctor Who: The Runaway Is An Animated VR Adventure Coming Soon appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

When I heard the name Apex Legends, I first thought how similar it was to Apex Construct. The new free-to-play battle royale game from Respawn is of course very different to Fast Travel’s VR adventure. Still, mix-ups were bound to happen. And indeed they have. Fast Travel’s Andreas Juliusson recently revealed as much on Reddit. Since Apex Legends’ launch on February 4th Apex Construct has seen a 4000% increase in Steam page visitors. As Juliusson notes, you won’t even find Legends on Steam because it’s only available through EA Origin. And then there are the sales. Apparently, Apex Construct sold more in China over the last week than it did throughout all of 2018. Of course, Apex Construct is not Apex Legends and a lot of people only realized this after buying it. Whoops. Juliusson noted that the team expects to see a lot of refunds in the next few weeks but “our books look pretty good at the moment”. Apparently, a lot of recent negative Steam reviews are down to players feeling scammed. By a game that came out a year before Apex Legends. A game which clearly states it requires a VR headset. Also a game that is not a free-to-play hero shooter. You can’t make this up. Of course, if you have a VR headset then you could do a lot worse than accidentally buying Apex Construct. It was one of our favorite VR games of the last year. As for Apex Legends, it’s unlikely to ever see VR support. Respawn is, however, working on a VR game of its own. It won’t be related to Titanfall, though. We wonder if the same thing has happened to Operation Apex? .special-buttons > * { text-align:left !important; } FacebookTwitterRedditMore The post Apex Legends’ Launch Increased Apex Construct’s Steam Views 4000% appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

Looking for more ways to kill people in Gorn? Really? The other 100 ways aren’t enough? Well, then you should give the new Death Pit a spin. This new level is the highlight of this week’s Gorn update. In this more morbid arena, you can toss enemies into a pit of spikes for a quick way to finish them off. Lovely. The other big addition here is an improved campaign. Developer Free Lives says its reworked progression and the unlock system to make it feel “a bit more complete”. Currently Gorn has you trying to execute certain types of kills to gain new weapons and getting a certain number of wins in the arena to unlock bosses. We’ll be interested to see how that’s changed. Expect more tweaks to the system in the future, though. Free Lives also says that the game is now running “much better than before” thanks to some optimization. Other additions include a new sound spatializer engine, new voice lines for enemies and the emperor and “More narrative content than anyone could realistically have expected given the nature of the game.” We’re not exactly sure how you fit a story into a game about yammering knuckleheads, but the update image above does perhaps provide some hints. Finally, there are improved seagulls. Yay! You can see the full list of tweak over here. Elsewhere, Free Lives says its “pouring blood and sweat” into the game on the road to final launch. No word yet on when they launch will finally arrive but we’ll keep you posted. Gorn remains one of our favorite VR games for wanton destruction. Tagged with: Free Lives, Gorn, updates .special-buttons > * { text-align:left !important; } FacebookTwitterRedditMore The post Gorn Update Adds A Death Pit And Improved Campaign appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

Metro Exodus comes out tomorrow on PC, PS4, and Xbox One and after I spent time with the game it became clear that VR support would be amazing. The post 5 Reasons Why Metro Exodus VR Would Be Absolutely Amazing appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

Swords of Gargantua is a multiplayer-focused hardcore VR melee combat game in the same vein as Dark Souls. Closed beta starts Feb. 15! The post Dark Souls-Like VR RPG Swords of Gargantua Closed Beta Starts Feb. 15 appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

Spell-flinging magical adventure, The Wizards: Enhanced Edition, debuts on PSVR this March with added improvements from Carbon Studios. The post The Wizards: Enhanced Edition On PSVR Features A New Level, Releasing March 12th appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

UPDATE 14th Feburary: the feature has now rolled out to the stable channel The latest update to Oculus Home adds custom environments support. Home is the Oculus Rift‘s default environment. This feature was first hinted last month when the ‘_CustomHomes’ folder was added along with an example file. Oculus Home was once a static environment, but received a total overhaul in late 2017 adding customization. Support for user generated objects was added back in June. A subsequent update even added animation support. And later in the month the platform added realtime social, allowing up to 7 friends to visit your home and see those custom objects. But until now the actual home geometry was the same for all users. The background could be changed between hills, space, a bay, or a future city, but the home itself could not. Valve’s competing SteamVR Home software has supported custom environments since 2017. There are a range of ambient audio tracks available, as well as the ability to customize interior & exterior lighting. Environments must be saved as new glTF open standard for 3D assets. They can be up to 1000×1000 meters in size, but only the central 250×250 meters can be traversed. Full technical details can be found on the Oculus Creators Blog. The Problem Of course, the social platform is still severely limited by being exclusive to the Rift. Facebook still hasn’t added official support for different PC headsets on Oculus, despite its own Spaces social app supporting the HTC Vive. In fact, there’s not even any indication it will support the company’s own Oculus Quest. The company has occasionally hinted at cross-platform support coming in future, but we’re almost 3 years out from the Rift launch now and there’s no sign. Until then, Oculus Home can’t be a VRChat competitor, or anything close. But for users with Rift owning friends the platform has made huge strides in the past year, and this feature will take it to a new level. Tagged with: Oculus Home, oculus rift .special-buttons > * { text-align:left !important; } FacebookTwitterRedditMore The post Oculus Home Adds Custom Environments Support appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

A book releasing next week called The History Of The Future by Blake Harris tells the founding story of Oculus based on hundreds of interviews as well as thousands of documents collected by Harris over several years. A statement we received from Facebook yesterday attributed to co-founder and Head of VR Product Nate Mitchell claims the “book’s dramatization of our history is not always consistent with what happened, and some of the stories are definitely not reflective of our real relationships.” We read a draft of the book and are refraining reporting certain claims until we verify information or until we read the finished edition. Some portions of the book, however, reference emails sent years ago that are said to originate from people like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Oculus CTO John Carmack. I got to review the first half of this book early on, before the breakdown between the author and FB comms. The things I had first hand knowledge of were accurately reported, and I learned a bunch of stuff that happened outside my view. https://t.co/c8t41qksZn — John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) February 14, 2019 One such email from Zuckerberg was the subject of a TechCrunch story yesterday, printed with the note they had “not independently verified the contents” of the email. Another email dated February 16, 2015, is said by Harris to be written by long-time Oculus CTO John Carmack. The timing of the email places it at an important moment in the development of the current VR industry. Oculus in 2015 Oculus had already shipped its second Rift PC VR development kit as well as an “Innovator Edition” for the Gear VR phone-powered headset. The company was preparing to reveal the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift in June, even though the VR teams were still more than a year away from shipping the device. The VR teams were also more than a year and a half from shipping the Touch controllers for Rift. Meanwhile, HTC had yet to publicly reveal its partnership with Valve to produce a competing device. This is the context in which Carmack wrote the message, which we present below in its entirety as sent to us by Harris. Like TechCrunch, we have not independently verified the message contents. If the veracity of the below message is disputed by Carmack, we will delete the text and provide an explanation. We don’t think that will happen. Facebook declined to confirm the email. We also believe there is overwhelming public interest in the thought processes and business decisions of people shaping technology billions of people may use in the coming decades. Also, while Harris’ book references the email at length, we believe both Carmack and the public deserve as much context as can be provided. Though we cannot control the presentation of this information after it leaves our website, we feel the context provided on this page is critical. If you find this email as interesting as we do, we ask that in spreading it to other places you include as much context as possible. Subject: Oculus [...] The post John Carmack’s Epic 2015 Letter To Oculus VR Leaders appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..

Last night I went out to try vegan fried chicken for the first time with some friends (verdict: not bad!). As I bit into my Nashville Hot wings (no bone! wow!) one of them asked me: “So, you write about VR? Isn’t VR dead?” It was innocently and genuinely phrased, despite the accompanying laughter from others who had previously put the question forward in a more mocking manner. It’s a query that comes up often, and one I always hesitate before trying to answer. And it wasn’t because the heat of the wings just hit me. It also wasn’t because I think it’s a foolish suggestion; I actually think it’s a very valid one. I simply wonder how to approach it. Do I give the whole spiel? The one that basically explains that VR was never going to ‘take off’ in its current state and that the real deal might be just around the corner? Or do I laugh it off and go the more blasé route of “Maybe!” The truth is, I don’t know if VR will get to where it needs to be before its biggest players throw in the towel. As much as I want it to succeed, I don’t want to launch into a scathing defense of something I’m unsure about. But, what I can do is tell you all the reasons for and against the industry’s eventual success. The prospect of which list outweighs the other is really in the eye of the beholder at this point. Is VR dead? You decide. VR Is Dead! Current VR Is Too Expensive, Complicated, And Not Good Enough It would be fair to describe VR’s existing fanbase as enthusiast. That’s because you really do need to be passionate about this tech to justify getting into it. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive cost a fairly reasonable $349 and $499 respectively, but that’s far from all you need to use them. You’ve got to buy a gaming PC powerful enough to run them, which is likely to cost around double the price of the headset. Then you’ve got to find space in your house/flat to play. Then you’ve got to set up external sensors for tracking that messy up the room and make setting up for VR a headache. Then you’ve got to find time to turn it all on and make sure it works right before actually enjoying a VR experience. That’s a lot of sacrifices. Oh, and you might do all of that and then discover VR makes you too sick to play. Even if it doesn’t, current sVR isn’t perfect. It’s amazing, for sure, but there’s a raft of factors working against you. Pushing a display made in 2016-2019 against your face allows you to see the spaces between pixels, distorting the image. Lack of haptic feedback means there’s nothing to stop you when you try to walk through a wall. Limited environmental tracking means there’s no warning if a pet, kid or piece of furniture suddenly moves into your play area. Nudge [...] The post Is VR Dead? The Arguments For And Against The Industry’s Demise appeared first on UploadVR.

Read more..