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VR MMORPG ‘OrbusVR’ Open Alpha Weekend Starts July 28th

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OrbusVRthe upcoming VR MMORPG for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, is going into a limited-time open alpha starting on July 28th, 2017 at 12 pm CT (your local time) and will last for approximately 60 hours.

As the result of a successful Kickstarter that met its funding goal of $10,000 in just 4 hours and later went on to more than triple it before the campaign’s end, OrbusVR is one of the first ‘native VR’ MMORPGs to combine traditional MMO elements like quests and dungeons in a cooperative, social VR space.

According to a blogpost announcing the open alpha, the game in its current state has more than 20 hours of content which includes 4 different combat classes, 2 five-player PvE dungeons, a PvP free-for-all arena, and 3 zones featuring monsters, quests, and more. The game also includes fishing and alchemy disciplines, pet dragons, a rideable airship and a world boss that requires a group of max level players to take down.

The pre-order price of OrbusVR is $30, which will increase to $40 after going into closed beta on August 18th. General release on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift + Touch (180/360 supported) is slated for Q4 2017—making the open alpha an easy sell if you’re interested in what the low-poly MMO has to offer.

‘OrbusVR’ Open Alpha

The developers say that new players should focus on a few things to get the most out of the free alpha weekend:

  • Visit all 3 zones, and level your character to Level 12.
  • Complete the Level 8 five-person Dungeon near M’aat’s Keep, and the Level 12 Dungeon in the Patraeyl Rainforest.
  • Craft a Giant Potion, Healing Potion, and Empowered Strikes Potion.
  • Catch a Dwarf Shark.
  • Level up another class to see what the combat is like in someone else’s shoes
  • If you’re a Runemage, master the Portal rituals that can instantly teleport you around the world.
  • Head back to the starter area and make some new friends by helping new players find their way in the game.
  • Gather a group of max-level characters and see if you can take down Elongata, the World Boss.

For more info on how to get started in OrbusVR, take a look at the first-time player’s guide.

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HTC VR Survey Offers Vives & Gift Cards as Prizes, Aims to Understand VR Users

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A survey sponsored by HTC America is currently open on SurveyGizmo, with the option to enter a prize draw, which includes three Vive systems and seven gift cards worth $100 – $150. The sweepstakes is open to US residents, ending August 4th; full terms and conditions are detailed on the official Vive blog.

The 10-15 minute ‘experiences with VR’ survey is for HTC’s ‘research purposes only’, aiming to gather some general VR usage data and purchasing habits. The questions range from VR awareness and usage to gaming systems and how comfortable the individual is with various technologies. It begins by gauging the person’s interest in VR, their sources of VR information, and what VR systems they own or have tried. If you have one or more VR systems, you’ll be asked specific usage questions, regarding where it is set up, the dimensions of the play area, and what apps or games you typically enjoy.

With the Vive’s dominating performance on the SteamVR platform, the expanding Viveport app store and subscription service, along with their upcoming involvement with the Daydream platform, HTC is obviously very interested in the way people access and purchase VR entertainment, productivity apps, and content, asking about what influences purchasing decisions, the frequency and value of purchases, including in-app purchasing.

A section of the survey also asks about users phone habits, including which devices they own and how long they’ve owned the phone. This is of course of interest to HTC who is first and foremost a phone company but has only dipped their toe into smartphone VR space with the ‘Link’ mobile VR headset that works with their U11 smartphone launching only in Japan.

Winners of the prize drawing will be contacted by August 4th, with gift card winners taking home an $100 Amazon card or a $150 Viveport card.

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MMO-like Dungeon Combat Game ‘Age of Heroes’ Launches From Vive X Portfolio Company Omnigames

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Omnigames, among one of the first companies to join HTC’s Vive X accelerator, has launched their “multiplayer combat VR game,” Age of Heroes, on Steam.

Age of Heroes aims to bring a MMO-like experience to VR, which means choosing classes, casting abilities, and defeating bosses. The game has launched on SteamVR with support for both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

And while Age of Heroes is certainly set in the style of an MMORPG (and may have ambitions to get there at some point), for now there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of ‘massive multiplayer’. While a game like World of Warcraft can have hundreds of players roaming around vast regions, Age of Heroes in its current state appears to be a more typical multiplayer affair, with smaller groups of players (up to five) working together to defeat enemies and bosses in enclosed dungeon environments.

Otherwise the game replicates some tried and true MMO tropes, with different classes to choose from, a typical fantasy setting—with goblins, demons, undead and the like—and dingy dungeons with big bosses at the end. The graphics too are reminiscent of World of Warcraft and similar MMOs, which means they’d fit right in if it were 2005.

There’s four classes (Mage, Archer, Warlock, Priest), with a fifth (Warrior) promised to be added later down the road. Each class has three primary abilities, except for the Priest which has a fourth Resurrect ability to bring other players back to life.

Where Age of Heroes differs in its approach (and where it has the biggest opportunity to shine) is of course virtual reality. Here the developers say the game emphasises “actual physical body movements in VR,” hopefully making combat more dynamic and visceral.

Priced at $30, Age of Heroes has only a handful of user reviews at this early moment after launch, and they are mixed, with one users saying “In its current state [it’s] basically just a demo and really should have been released as such, in my opinion. Really [doesn’t] seem like a finished [product] and is in no way worth anything close to the asking price.”

Some DLC is promised, including the Warrior class, leaderboards and achievements, and eventually a “personal space,” where players can show off their trophies and modify their character’s skills and talents, though it isn’t clear how much further the game will be developed beyond those plans as it isn’t marked as an Early Access title.

The post MMO-like Dungeon Combat Game ‘Age of Heroes’ Launches From Vive X Portfolio Company Omnigames appeared first on Road to VR.

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Get ‘EVE: Valkyrie’ Free When You Purchase Rift + Touch Bundle from Best Buy

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Oculus’ massive price drop that saw the cost of Rift + Touch slashed to only $400, is still going on for the next 4-5 weeks—but if you purchase through BestBuy.com, you can get EVE: Valkyrie, normally costing $40, for free.

Note (07/21/17): Best Buy is currently out of online stock. Individual stores however post in-store availability for pick-up. Many stores are quickly running out, or have already ran out, but list when they expect stock to return.

Featuring near-constant updates from EVE Online developers CCP Games, this arcade dogfighter has gotten a slew of new maps and gamemodes since launch in 2016, making Valkyrie a solid investment in both time and money—but if you can get it for free, why not?

Road to VR named EVE: Valkyrie the #1 in our breakdown of the 5 Best Multiplayer games to offer Cross-play on Rift, Vive and PSVR, and for a limited time you can get a free digital download of the game when you buy a Rift + Touch bundle from Best Buy.

Rift + Touch from Best Buy

This of course includes the free games you’ll already be getting when you activate Rift + Touch including: Robo Recall (2017), Luckyʼs Tale (2016), Quill (2017), Medium (2017), Dead and Buried (2017), and Toybox (2017).

Check out out breakdown of the top 5 Oculus Rift games for Touch and Gamepad to get an idea of what’s in store.

The post Get ‘EVE: Valkyrie’ Free When You Purchase Rift + Touch Bundle from Best Buy appeared first on Road to VR.

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VFX Master Phil Tippett Brings His Grotesque Creations to HoloLens in ‘HoloGrid: Monster Battle’

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Game studio HappyGiant and Tippett Studio, the production firm founded by stop-motion guru Phil Tippett, has launched HoloGrid: Monster Battle (2017) on Microsoft’s HoloLens platform. First appearing on Samsung Gear VR, the tactical strategy game combines elements of chess, board games, and collectible card games—of course with the grotesque HoloChess-style monsters spawned from the mind behind visual effects of the original Star Wars trilogy, Jurassic Park (1993), and RoboCop (1987).

HoloGrid: Monster Battle is now on now on the Windows Store for $4.99, and includes the full gamut of things only currently possible with HoloLens; spatial mapping and spatial sound, gaze tracking, gesture input, and voice control.

image courtesy Happy Giant

“HoloGrid: Monster Battle allows you to see table top games in an entirely new way, mixing digital holograms of chess battle with the real world,” said Brandon Bray, leader of Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality Developer Ecosystem. “It’s amazing! I’m excited to see Happy Giant pioneering the path to bring games to life in your own home.”

According to the press release, HoloGrid was inspired in part by the Star Wars HoloChess scene and created in conjunction with two-time Academy Award winner Phil Tippett. Bringing Tippett’s grotesque creatures to life in augmented reality, gameplay has been compared to card games like HearthStone, but rather set on a grid like Chess where players duel against both AI and real opponents.

The game currently supports cross-play multiplayer between iOS, Android mobile devices and Samsung Gear VR.

“Playing HoloGrid on HoloLens is the ultimate experience. It fulfills the purest vision yet of the game we set out to make, and that I was inspired to play 40 years ago when I saw Star Wars as a young kid,” said Mike Levine, HappyGiant Founder and Creative Director. “Phil Tippett called it “magic” when I showed it to him, and I think that says it best.”

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‘Lone Echo’ and ‘Echo Arena’ Now Work on HTC Vive with ReVive Hack

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Platform exclusivity is a divisive issue in VR; on one hand, big financial backing helps create awesome games like Lone Echo [9/10]on the other hand, if you chose the ‘wrong’ headset, you’re boxed out of what might otherwise become one of your favorite games. Thanks to ReVive, a free hack which allows Vive users to play games from the Oculus platform, you can now play both Lone Echo and it’s free multiplayer companion game Echo Arena with an HTC Vive.

With the advent of Revive, a project built by Jules Blok (aka CrossVR), the hack became central to discussion of Oculus’ approach to building a VR platform when Oculus modified their DRM in a way that prevented Revive from functioning, thus blocking Vive users from playing Oculus games. Community outcry over the decision eventually led Oculus to reverse that particular stance on DRM, saying that in the future they wouldn’t use headset verification as part of the platform’s security protections.

Now, two of the most well-received Oculus-funded games—both the campaign mode Lone Echo selling for $40 and the free multiplayer mode Echo Arena—have gained unofficial support for the HTC Vive. And with a native 360-degree setup already supported by Oculus, it’s practically plug-and-play. Of course, there’s also no telling if Oculus’ decision will hold into the future, so the mantra “buyer beware” is still in effect for potential Revive users looking to purchase on the Oculus Store.

OpenXR (formerly Khronos VR) is also looking to unite what it considers a fragmented market by advocating a universal cross-platform standard that, according to the developers, enables applications to be written once to run on any VR system, and to access VR devices integrated into those VR systems to be used by applications. Names like Epic Games, AMD, ARM, Valve, Google and even Oculus are helping with the initiative.

Legendary programmer and Oculus CTO John Carmack had this to say about OpenXR:

“Khronos’ open APIs have been immensely valuable to the industry, balancing the forces of differentiation and innovation against gratuitous vendor incompatibility. As virtual reality matures and the essential capabilities become clear in practice, a cooperatively developed open standard API is a natural and important milestone. Oculus is happy to contribute to this effort.”

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, who left the company back in March, has also backed ReVive financially to the tune of $2,000 per month to support its continued development.

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Google Tests Interactive Learning with VR Espresso Machine, “People learned faster and better in VR”

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The team behind Daydream, Google’s mobile VR platform, is currently conducting experiments with the aim of broadening virtual reality’s usecase to include more interactive learning. With an experimental VR espresso maker at the ready, the team says “people learned faster and better in VR” than by watching training videos when put to the test on how to brew the real thing.

Divided into two groups; one having access to YouTube videos and the other a VR training prototype featuring a 3D model of an espresso machine—replete with buttons, turn-able knobs and steam wand for frothing milk—the team gave everyone as much time as they wanted to go over the steps on how to make espresso.

image courtesy Google

The Daydream team then put the would-be baristas to task with a real espresso machine. At the end, they gave people a detailed report on how they’d done, including an analysis of the quality of their coffee. According to the experiment, participants in the YouTube tutorial group normally went through the physical task three times, while participants using the VR training method normally went through twice before obtaining a passing result.

“We were excited to find out that people learned faster and better in VR,” says Google Software Engineer Ian MacGillivray in a blogpost. “Both the number of mistakes made and the time to complete an espresso were significantly lower for those trained in VR (although, in fairness, our tasting panel wasn’t terribly impressed with the espressos made by either group!) It’s impossible to tell from one experiment, of course, but these early results are promising.”

Admittedly, the test wasn’t perfect. MacGillivray says espresso wasn’t a great choice to begin with, as the physical sensation of tamping, or getting the right density of coffee grounds in the metal portafilter, “simply can’t be replicated with a haptic buzz.”

People also don’t listen to instructions or warnings. Voice overs, written instructions, hints, tutorials on how to use the controller—all of it fell to the wayside when popping a VR-newcomer into the headset. “No matter what warning we flashed if someone virtually touched a hot steam nozzle, they frequently got too close to it in the real world, and we needed a chaperone at the ready to grab their hand away.”

The team says that VR platforms aren’t quite ready when it comes to acquiring certain types of skills either, and contends that the addition of VR gloves with better tracking and haptics would be necessary before the medium can get outside the ‘moving things and pressing buttons’ phase it’s in currently. There’s also the difficulty of giving users the freedom of choice, as every choice the Daydream team allowed the user to make, only created an exponential growth in the number of paths through the tutorial. “In the end, it was much easier to model the trainer like a video game, where every object has its own state. So instead of the trainer keeping track of all the steps the user did in order (“user has added milk to cup”), we had it track whether a key step had been achieved (“cup contains milk”),” says MacGillivray.

The team considers the VR espresso training prototype a success, saying at very least that VR is a more useful way to introduce people to a new skill, one that can easily be revisited in VR once context is established in the physical world.

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