Casual pub game simulator Sports Bar VR was a PlayStation VR launch title that received a fair amount of acclaim upon release and has since been ported to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Now one of the developers behind the title has teased fans with the possibility of a new update for cross-platform play.
The official twitter account for Cherry Pop Games, who along with Perilous Orbit created the mini-games contained within the title, teased audiences with the following words: “If you could tagline the NEW Sports Bar VR crossplay update what would it be?”
The Tweet seems to suggest that an upcoming update for Sports Bar VR will be introducing cross-platform multiplayer, to allow friends who use different virtual reality (VR) headsets to compete against one another. It has not yet been confirmed which platforms the update will apply to. Most fans are hoping for cross-platform compatibility between PC-based platforms and PlayStation VR, but the update may just allow compatibility between Oculus Home and Steam VR.
In addition, a subsequent tweet from Cherry Pop Games answering a question about VR Snooker was responded to with the words ‘Big Plans’ and the hashtag ‘Snookerteaser’. This seems to suggest that Cherry Pop Games are planning to bring the ability to play Snooker into Sports Bar VR alongside the existing games of Pool already available, or perhaps that the company is planning a separate VR Snooker title.
Sports Bar VR has enjoyed regular updates since launch, with new mini-games and features being added, such as the addition of a jukebox, updates to multiplayer game-finding features and video streaming capability.
• PlayStation VR with PlayStation Camera
• Summer Lesson: Miyamoto Hikari Edition Seven Days Room
• Summer Lesson: Miyamoto Hikari Edition PlayStation VR cleaning cloth
• Summer Lesson: Miyamoto Hikari Edition Day Out DLC
• Summer Lesson: Miyamoto Hikari Edition Second Feel DLC
• Summer Lesson: Miyamoto Hikari Extra Scene: Café (Outfit & Situation)
• Summer Lesson: Miyamoto Hikari Extra Scene: Grand Fireworks (Outfit & Situation)
This package is currently being offered for £451.10 GBP, a somewhat costly package considering the recent spate of retailer discounts on the PlayStation VR HMD, but nonetheless there will likely be many interested parties in what will surely be considered a collector’s item in western territories.
A second edition of Summer Lesson has been announced, Summer Lesson: Alison Snow, but no details on the release – in either Asian or western territories – have yet been announced. VRFocus will of course keep you updated with all the latest details
Valve have been quietly working on an updated version of the HTC Vive controllers for a while now, with very early prototypes being glimpsed at Valve’s Steam Dev Days conference last year. Now the company have revealed some more details about the upcoming Development Kits for the new controllers.
The main advantage of the Knuckles controllers over the standard Vive controller is that the Knuckles controllers allow for individual finger tracking, along with an outer ring that allows the main part of the controller to be released without dropping the controller. This allows for users to pick up and drop objects within the virtual world, as well as other actions such as grabbing, pulling and pushing that were previously very difficult to achieve reliably.
The controllers still feature a trigger, trackpad, face buttons and system button. At present, the Knuckles controllers are only compatible with the beta branch of Steam VR, which can be enabled from the Tools menu in the Steam client.
The development versions of the Knuckles controllers require calibration to allow for the finger tracking to work correctly, which involves holding the controller with the index finger on the trigger and thumb on the track pad for one second, then releasing. Valve have stated that the commercial versions should not need this additional calibration.
SteamVR Home has already been made compatible with the Knuckles controllers so developers who have the new controllers can experiment with how the Knuckles controllers function. If SteamVR Home detects a user with the Knuckles Controllers equipped, their avatar model will automatically be given five-fingered hands, as opposed to the standard three-fingered hands.
There is currently no word on when the Knuckles controllers will get a commercial release. VRFocus will bring you further updates on the Knuckles Vive controllers when it becomes available.
Dungeon Chess, described as “the first official Dungeons & Dragons-themed Gear VR Game”, is now available on both Samsung’s mobile VR platform and the Oculus Rift. The title combines classic chess gameplay with iconic D&D creature designs and suitably atmospheric environments.
Building on the strength of their first VR game, Magic Table Chess, which is available free on both Gear VR and Rift, New York and San Diego-based developer Experiment 7 have created a more compelling title in Dungeon Chess, integrating one of the most significant brands in the history of gaming, Dungeons & Dragons. Experiment 7 have forged a strong partnership with Wizards of the Coast, publisher of tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons and trading card game Magic: The Gathering, who have hinted that there could be multiple VR titles to come.
Combining chess with the very first published tabletop RPG, which itself would have been influenced by chess, seems to be an ideal match, and the developers have embraced the potential by animating each encounter with ‘dramatic combat effects’, as shown in the game’s launch trailer (heading this article).
“As huge D&D fans ourselves, it was a dream come true to be able to work on Dungeon Chess,” said Co-founder and Creative Director of Experiment 7, Geoffrey Zatkin. “We’ve created what we believe is a killer VR game worthy of D&D enthusiasts, chess fans and the VR community’s attention. We can’t wait to do the same for our next VR project with Wizards of the Coast.”
The game supports Oculus Touch controls on the Rift version to physically pick up and move pieces, although you can still use the gaze select from Magic Table Chess. It features multi-tiered AI for single player use and supports cross platform multiplayer (for online play across both Gear VR and Rift).
Is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR worth getting on PlayStation VR?
Nina discusses the pros and cons of bringing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to Virtual Reality.
Bethesda Softworks showcased three virtual reality (VR) videogames at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Los Angeles ,this year. VRFocus has already covered Doom VFR, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR andFallout 4 VR during E3 already, but sometimes it’s nice to watch a little video that encapsulates the experience instead.
In this week’s VRTV Nina talks about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR and answers the question everybody is asking. Is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR worth getting for PlayStation VR? She discusses the weapons, movement and how realistic The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR is. Is it worth purchasing the videogame again? Watch video to find out, and if you missed the last VRTV, catch up on the last VRTV of Fallout 4 VR here.
Nina Salomons is a filmmaker who has worked on various media formats from online to broadcast. Some of the films she’s worked on have gone on to film festivals and winning awards.
With a history of creating online videogame content, Nina has now made a move to VR. A Tech London Advocate and co-founder of UNFOLD she is a keen supporter of women and diversity in Tech. Looking at the intersection of film and gaming, she is currently working on creating original VR interactive content.
Spherical YouTube videos with over 1,000 views now include ‘360° Heatmaps’ within the Analytics section of the Creator Studio. The new feature provides a visual representation of low to high attention areas of the video, helping to inform content creators of what aspects of a 360-degree scene are engaging viewers the most.
Further assistance is found in the Creator Studio, with 360° Heatmaps adding to the wide range of existing analytics tools available to all YouTube content creators. According to YouTube’s Creator Blog, “you’ll be able to see exactly what parts of your video are catching a viewer’s attention and how long they’re looking at a specific part of the video”.
As the feature applies to any 360-degree video, heatmap data is generated from all views, regardless of what device is being used. This means that some data will come from the orientation tracking in VR headsets, but a significant percentage will represent users without headsets, viewing a 360-degree video on their mobile device, either physically turning around or swiping the screen, or even using a regular browser, panning the view around with a pointer. As people are likely to engage with content in a slightly different way with their head compared to flicking around a screen, the heatmaps can be sorted by device.
The YouTube team has presented some early findings from using this tool, namely that people spend 75% of their time looking forwards, within the front 90 degrees, but many of most popular videos prompted the viewer to look around more, with almost 20% of views being behind them. They also suggest giving viewers “a few seconds before jumping into the action”, probably due to the randomly scattered data over the start of videos as people fumble to get their VR headset on and comfortable, and to familiarize themselves with their new virtual surroundings.
Korea-based TEGway is developing ThermoReal, a thermoelectric array which can generate heat and cold with impressively low latency. The flexible nature of ThermoReal could make it suitable for integration into VR controllers, gloves, and more.
I’ve tried a few different thermal haptic devices throughout the course of my VR reporting, but nothing that really impressed me. Usually the effects are hard to notice because they don’t feel particularly hot or cold, and they take so long to activate that it’s hard to sell the illusion that the effect is being caused by something happening in the virtual world.
I got to try the ThermoReal thermoelectric skin at the Vive X Batch 2 demo day in San Francisco this week and it’s led me to become a believer in the value of thermal haptics for the first time. That’s thanks to three things:
ThermoReal—which is a thermoelectric generator based on something called the Seebeck Effect—is impressively quick to react. I held a prototype wand which had the ThermoReal skin embedded in it as I watched a video of a man jumping into a river. The moment he plunged into the water I could feel the wand get cold to the touch. Another video showed a car blowing up and the heat effect kicked in almost immediately with very little ‘spin up’ time. Keep an eye on the ‘thermal imaging’ section of the clip above to see how quickly the device changes temperatures.
In addition to hot and cold, the device can do both at the same time in close proximity, which is perceived as an amplified ‘pain’ effect compared to just using heat alone.
Our sense of temperature is not nearly as latency-sensitive as our senses of sight or hearing, but thermal haptics must still be fast enough to help our brains connect what we’re seeing with what we’re feeling. For many potential thermal haptic scenarios, it feels like ThermoReal has passed an important latency threshold that helps sell that illusion.
It isn’t just the speed of the hot or cold effect, but the extent of it too. I was impressed with how the device could achieve its maximum level of cold so quickly.
Even more than the cold effect, the heat effect was so great that I had to loosen my grip on the ThermoReal prototype at times; I was honestly concerned the device could burn me. I asked one of the creators if there was any risk of injury and was told that the device would only get up to 4°C hotter than body temperature. Based on how hot it felt, I’m still skeptical of that claim, though it’s possible that the rate of heat increase (rather than the measured temperature itself) could signal to my brain a more severe sensation of heat; I’ll be interested to learn more about the minimum and maximum possible temperatures of the device.
Thermoelectric generators like ThermoReal are not new. What is new, says TEGway, is the form-factor of their device. It takes the form of a flexible skin-like array of conductors which can be curved and wrapped around various surfaces, which could make it perfect for integration into VR controllers, gloves, or even suits.
They say it’s the “world-first ‘Stand-Alone’ high performance flexible [thermoelectric device].
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For any good haptic device, figuring out how to use it is always the hard part. For ThermoReal, there’s a number of promising applications beyond simply making the player feel hot in a hot environment and cold in a cold environment.
As a few examples to get your imagination churning, the speed and amplitude of the temperature effects should be suitable for conveying the temperature of objects held in the user’s hand. That could mean, for instance, allowing the player to feel it when their energy-weapon has overheated, or feel the cold of a snowball when held in their hand.
The company also says the ThermoReal skin can create the temperatures in discrete areas, potentially allowing for the feeling of virtual objects moving across the player’s hand. You can imagine a sticky snail crawling across your hand, or possibly even larger creatures—like a snake coiling around your leg—if the tech was integrated into a suit-like device covering a larger portion of the player’s body.
Developer moBack successfully pushed its sandbox building titlePerplexigon through Steam Greenlight earlier in the year. The title allows players to create fantastic structures and devices using a variety of blocks. With a forthcoming updates, players can now pit their building abilities against an array of challenging puzzles.
Perplexigon allows players to use three categories of blocks to build whatever they can conceive of. The block categories consist of Structural: Cube, Wheel, Pyramid, Plat Pole and Sphere; Mechanical: Hinges, Springs, Axles, Ball joints; Action: Motors, Thrusters and Bombs. With the new update players will need to be creative in their use of available blocks to devise a way through the puzzles.
The new update also features other improvements, such as an updated tutorial, a refinement of the multiplayer mode so players experience less lag, the Teleport and Delete guns have been modified and improved for ease of use alongside other general bug fixes.
The developers have said that other updates to Perplexigon will be added in future, including such features as new environments to go alongside the current default ‘Space’ environment, such as a Medieval and Heavy Metal world, and there are some plans to add new block types to allow users to create even more bizarre devices.
A video demonstrating some of the new update features is available to view below.
Perplexigon is available on Steam Early Access for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, though Oculus Rift users will need the Touch controller, as the title is controlled using tracked motion controllers only. The development team plan to have a full release of the title available for Autumn 2017. The current price point is £14.99, though moBack have said they expect that the full version will be slightly more expensive.
VRFocus will bring you further news on Perplexigon updates as it becomes available.
If you love first-person shooters (FPS) the HTC Vive has got you covered, with titles such as Raw Data, Island 359, Space Pirate Trainer and many more. Now there’s another to add to that list with Game Cooks releasing its first title for HTC Vive, VINDICTA.
Hoping to offer something new to the ever growing and crowded genre, VINDICTA’s unique selling point is its movement system, whereby players swing their arms to make them move – a lot like people do naturally. And for those that don’t want to swing their arms around there’s always the trackpad option.
While the developer states that VINDICTA has ‘a strong stealth component’ it does arm players with a deadly mixture of weaponry, from handguns and rifles to shotguns and cluster grenades – there’s just over a dozen in total. Using these creatively will not only ensure maximum destruction but also loads of points, so players can compare scores for a bit of competition in the single-player title.
The storyline of VINDICTA revolves around the player taking the role of Agent V, who has been sent to infiltrate the fortified headquarters of the sinister UB Industries, a company seeking to build a robot army in an attempt to take over the world. The player will encounter a variety of robotic foes, from humanoid robots to big mechanical spiders as they work through four levels – plus a tutorial – which Game Cooks estimates at 6 – 8 hours of gameplay.
“We worked closely with members of the VR community to help shape the game launching today, and we’ll continue to develop and refine the game alongside them after early access launch,” said Lebnan Nader, CEO and Founder of Game Cooks. ” We believe in VR and are proud of what we are building.”
The popular Develop:Brighton conference will be returning for another year next month and today organiser, Tandem Events, has announced the shortlisted videogames which will be part of the seventh Indie Showcase, four of which are virtual reality (VR) titles.
Those selected are:
Loco Dojo (Oculus Rift) by Make Real
SVRVIVE: The Deus Helix (HTC Vive) by SVRVIVE Studios
ARCA (Gear VR) by Dream Reality Interactive
Tin Hearts (Oculus Rift) by Rogue Sun
Rocket Rumble (Android) by Small Jelly
Abandon Ship (PC) by Fireblade Software
Space Krieg (PC) by We Heart Dragons
Dead End Job (PC) by Ant Workshop
From Light (PC) by Faffinabout
Loco Dojo is a multiplayer board game in which players have to compete across 16 mini-games to make it into the Grand Temple and win. VRFocusreviewed the title a short while ago, giving it 4 stars, saying: ‘those who do decide to take the plunge will be richly rewarded with a videogame that is highly enjoyable to play and will keep them coming back for more.’
SVRVIVE: The Deus Helix is a puzzle adventure game, inspired by classics such as Myst and Riven, while Tin Hearts from Rogue Sun is all about building elaborate Rube-Goldberg machines to help a battalion of magical clockwork toy soldiers escape a series of Victorian rooms. The last VR title on the list is Dream Reality Interactive’s physics platformer ARCA, with playerspiloting the ‘ARCA Sphere’ through a world of shifting platforms and abstract architecture.
“Every year we’re blown away by the standard of submissions for the Indie Showcase and this year was no exception,” commented Adam Green, chairman of the selection panel in a statement. “We had over 120 games submitted this year, which is the highest number yet. Selecting the finalists from such an incredible range of diverse titles was as challenging as it was inspiring. Be sure to swing by the Indie Showcase and check them out!”
Managing director of Tandem Events, Andy Lane, added: “It’s been seven years since we launched the Indie Showcase, and the creativity displayed by all the indie developers that submit never ceases to amaze me. It’s fantastic to have Unity on board as sponsors for another year. Everyone involved is excited to see the industry reaction when they have hands-on opportunity at Develop:Brighton in a few weeks.”
All the titles will be playable at the Expo and on Thursday 13 July the overall Indie Showcase winner as chosen by the judging panel and the People’s Choice winner, as voted for by delegates through the Develop:Brighton website, will be announced.
Develop:Brighton, is a conference, expo and networking event taking place from Tuesday 11th to Thursday 13th July 2017 at the Hilton Metropole in Brighton.
For any further updates on the event, keep reading VRFocus.