Facebook Spaces introduces live broadcasting for VR

Facebook Spaces has introduced the ability for live video inside VR with an update released today. Users can now share live video on Facebook from Facebook Spaces, allowing for friends and family to interact with and view the feed in 360 degrees.

Users have been able to stream live video through Facebook using Facebook Live, but the ability to do so in VR using Facebook Spaces opens a new avenue of interactivity for social VR.

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InXile Entertainment nets $4.5M to push further into VR

 

Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera developer InXile Entertainment has secured a $4.5 million investment from Gumi VR.

The cash injection will fund the development of an unannounced open world survival RPG title designed specifically for VR. As part of the deal, Gumi Inc. CEO Hironao Kunimitsu will also join the inXile board.

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Disney Accelerator Initiative Welcomes Companies Epic Games and The Void

It was announced today that game development company Epic Games and VR entertainment attraction The Void were two of the 11 companies selected to join Disney’s Accelerator Initiative.

The program was started in 2014 and provides leadership, mentorship, and monetary support for the accepted companies until its conclusion in October for Demo Day.

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Oculus slashes Rift price for second time this year

Oculus is cutting the price of its Rift virtual reality headset for six weeks, marking the second significant price reduction this year.

That means developers and consumers can grab a bundle that includes an Oculus Rift headset, two sensors, an Xbox One wireless controller, two Oculus Touch controllers, a Rock Band guitar connector, and a remote for $399, down about $200 from its normal price tag.

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Google Blocks allows for low-poly 3D modeling in VR

Google has released the virtual reality app Blocks, which lets users create low-poly 3D models inside of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Group Product Manager at Google VR Jason Toff expresses in a blog post how current 3D modeling software requires users to push past a steep learning curve while also requiring that they build 3D objects on a 2D screen–something “our brains aren’t wired to do”.

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Speaker Q&A: Hannah Gamiel on moving Obduction to VR

 

Hannah Gamiel is a Software Engineer at Cyan and will be at VRDC 2017 to present her talk ‘Obduction’, from 2D to VR: A Postmortem and Lessons Learned, and explore the triumphs and tribulations of the development of ‘Obduction’. Here, Gamiel gives us some information about herself and the future of consumer VR.

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Tell us about yourself and your work in VR/AR

My name is Hannah Gamiel, and I’m a programmer over at Cyan, Inc. (creators of Myst & Riven), based in Mead, WA. I’ve been working here at Cyan for 5 years and a lead on the Obduction team for the last two. I’ve helped bring our Desktop (PC & Mac), Vive, Rift, and soon to be PS4, PSVR, and Mac VR versions of Obduction to life, mostly working on major systems programming and audio engineering.

Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at VRDC

I’m hoping to talk about the production process from 2D to VR for Obduction, which had its initial 2D release in August 2016 and its initial VR release in the Fall of 2016. This includes sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of our 2D to VR transition. I think that sharing our development process could help developers who are thinking of doing the same thing to their game(s) learn from our successes and lay out a good foundation for the conversion, while at the same time avoid making the same mistakes we did.

What excites you most about VR/AR?

When it comes to VR/AR, I am most excited about how they’re both becoming more and more accessible to people around the world — especially with mobile VR/AR. The fact that there are some phones out there that can handle running a mobile game with VR support is pretty astounding.

What do you think is the biggest challenge to realizing VR/AR’s potential?

Keeping hardware accessibility in mind, I think that is currently the biggest hurdle that the AR/VR industry faces today — especially VR. Some consumers just can’t yet afford to purchase high-fidelity VR hardware, or hardware needed to support those VR devices. I think we’ll get there some day, but I like where the mobile AR/VR industry is already going in that situation.

How was the transition from developing a 2D game into VR?

Making a 2D game work well (and look good) in VR is a non-trivial process. Thankfully, the transition from developing Obduction from a 2D game into a VR game went smoother than we expected, considering that we built our 2D game with VR system(s) flexibility in mind. We have a really talented team who were able to think ahead, research well, code quickly, and make smart decisions that would make for a great VR experience on a small budget. With that being said, we still had our fair share of bumps in the road, during and after our initial VR release especially. For example, Cyan is known for crafting beautiful in-game worlds, but taking that vision from 2D to VR while maintaining the same kind of visual and performance fidelity we expected to have was tough. My talk will go into more detail about that, among other difficulties we encountered, and how we were able to mitigate those issues.

What was the hardest design challenge that you faced during production?

Personally, I think that the hardest design challenge we encountered during the production of Obduction was how we had to design (and market!) our game for two almost completely different audiences: one that has been playing our games since Myst came out, and another that is the emerging VR market. We have learned over the last 30 years Cyan has been a company and over the past several years of VR research that these two different audiences, with some exceptions, have almost completely different expectations of what our game should look and feel like. We were essentially designing a game for two completely separate generations of people who have vastly different gaming experiences. I’ll go into this more in my talk, but I think that the best and most satisfying part of this whole challenge was figuring out one of the most important similarities between the two audiences/play-styles that bridged the gap in our 2D & VR release(s) — navigation. Who knew that our 30-year old point-and-click/node-mode style navigation system that so many of our original fans are greatly familiar with would be one of the most comfortable ways to move around in VR? It’s realizations like that that made this design problem very, very interesting to solve.

Register for VRDC Fall 2017 to hear more about developing for VR from Hannah, and join other creators of amazing, immersive experiences at the premier industry event.

Google experiments with ad formatting in VR

 

In a recent post made to the Google Developer’s Blog, it was revealed that the company’s experimental workshop Area 120 has been working on implementing ad formats designed for mobile VR.

The project comes as a response over developer concern over making money to fund future VR applications, with the goal being to create a non-disruptive, easy way for developers to implement ad experiences.

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Speaker Q&A: Aldis Sipolins of IBM Research

Head of Virtual Reality and Game Design at IBM Research Aldis Sipolins will be at VRDC 2017 to present his talk Why Virtual Reality and Machine Learning are Good for Science, which will give us a first look at cutting-edge research using machine learning to enhance memory in VR. Here, Sipolins gives us some information about himself and what VR means for human research.

Attend VRDC Fall 2017 to learn about immersive games & entertainment, brand experiences, and innovative use cases across industries.

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Sony vet Phil Harrison invests in ex-Sony London chief’s new VR startup

Dream Reality Interactive, the virtual reality studio founded by the former head of Sony London Studio, Dave Ranyard, has completed its first funding round.

Veteran game industry exec and former president of Sony Worldwide Studios, Phil Harrison, was one of the first people to invest in the company, which also caught the eye of advertising and digital design outfit, Mother.

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Survey: Nearly 80% of VR/AR/MR devs are making games

This month Virtual Reality Developers Conference officials released the second annual VRDC VR/AR Innovation Report, a cornucopia of insights from professionals involved in the development of virtual, augmented and mixed reality experiences.

If you’re working in VR/AR/MR (or just thinking about making the jump) this report offers you some useful perspective on the rapidly-expanding, diverse and hard-to-measure VR/AR/MR industry – from sustainability of the market, to practical challenges, platform popularity, funding and more!

For more information and to download the report, download it for free here!

To give you a taste of what’s inside the full report, today we’d like to take the liberty of highlighting an especially striking finding about how big of a role game development plays in the burgeoning VR/AR/MR industry.

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