Just in time for the holidays, Merry Snowballs brings out your inner kid again in this Christmas themed VR Snowball fight simulator. I jump in for a video preview of Merry Snowballs and was not disappointed. Currently Merry Snowballs is free on the Oculus store and less then $5 on Steam, also free on Vive with a Viveport subscription.
Disney animation legend Glen Keane was invited to the Late Late Show with James Corden for a live drawing session in Tilt Brush. Having animated Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Little Mermaid, Tarzan and other blockbuster Disney features, its exciting to see Glen utilize VR in this way, which has the potential to serve as a new medium for film and animated series.
Watching Ariel being drawn in real-time coming from the hands of Glen just puts into perspective the potential for VR in this space, even though it’s still early on. But it seems like he’s used Tilt Brush once or twice after watching him glide through the process like a pro, granted he is a pro. 🙂
Space Pirate Trainer is a simple arcade style VR shooter for the HTC Vive/Oculus Rift released on October 12th, 2017. With the majority of games these days, trailers always make you think the game is 1000x better then it usually is, so personally I wasn’t expecting too much from this, and boy was I wrong.
The game itself is really everything I wanted, simple to learn with one main menu to choose options from and within seconds you’re in the game and playing. Also when you start the game, your controllers are instantly guns which is another bonus, easy to shoot at the menu system and quickly jump into gameplay.
Another thing that’s nice for beginners to VR is the stationary movement. Some games require you to move around in the game with a controller which takes a bit of getting used to and still makes some people dizzy at times, with Space Pirate Trainer, you don’t have to worry about movement besides dodging, for the most part you’re in one position and just trying not to get killed as you battle evil space bots from the top of the Space Pirate Trainer platform. As simple as the game is, it’s easy to learn but hard to master, which makes it fun and addictive and honestly hard to put down, not to mention global online leaderboards for the super competitive nerd rangers out there.
For the game modes you have a variety of options to choose from.
First you have Arcade which gives you 3 lives total, with waves getting harder each round.
There’s also Explorer Mode which gives you health regen but only 50% points.
Hardcore Mode is also fun but doesn’t include bullet time, making it harder to dodge projectiles.
Last is Oldschool which is my personal favorite, the waves start out easy and get more difficult as you progress.
As for weapons, you have a bunch of options and can change weapons on the fly with your touch controller. Weapons range from the Quarkcannon, Pulse Laser, Shotworks, Railgun, Raygun, Ion Grenade and Brawler.
For $14.99 on Steam, Space Pirate Trainer is a solid addition to any VR collection and well worth the price tag.
Today was a big day on the VR front as Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the Oculus Connect 4 Conference earlier in San Jose, which was also live-streamed on Facebook. For news, the Oculus Rift price will be permanently dropping down to $399, which effectively improves on the Oculus Summer Sale for anyone who missed it.
One of the reasons for the continued price drop was the mention of a new wireless standalone headset called “Oculus Go”, which will be coming in at around $199 in early 2018. Granted the Oculus Go won’t compare to the Oculus Rift just yet, but should be compared more to Gear VR and a step in the right direction for wireless VR in general.
Having lower end wireless VR will increase mainstream adoption at a much quicker rate which is why we’re seeing price drops across the board from the higher end HMD’s like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. If all goes well, higher end wireless VR should become a reality towards the end of 2018 but for now cheaper hardware is needed and is a good thing for the VR landscape to grow. This is a big step for Facebook and if sales take off for the Oculus Go, it could be a game changer for the company.
Steven Spielberg’s VR startup Dreamscape Immersive has just raised 20 Million in Series B funding thanks to the AMC movie theater chain. Dreamscape Immersive also has the backing of Warner Bros, IMAX, 20th Century Fox, MGM and of course Steven Spielberg to name a few.
This is a big move for the future of entertainment as a whole and with many people opting out of movie theaters more so these days, VR and location based experiences could bring consumers back for something they just can’t get at home.
AMC and Dreamscape’s partnership will support up to 6 players in an interactive experience. This means you and your friends can be together through the thick and thin of it depending on the experience provided. As of now the agreement says up to six locations will be rolled out in the US and the UK over the next 18 months, with potentially more coming to the table depending on how things go.
This is really exciting overall as the beginning of mainstream location based VR is upon us. Sure, it’s out there already per say, but integrating VR and location based experiences into the mainstream through movie theaters will only feed adoption, create new experiences and increase VR sales for the home based markets. If anyone is up to the task, Spielberg and Dreamscape Immersive seem like a great starting point.
Ever since adolescence, I’ve been an avid Star Trek geek. Star Trek the Next Generation to be exact…Ahh, the good ole days of dial-up modems, VGA graphics, using cassette tapes to record your favorite top 10’s on the radio, and of course Grandma taking advantage of the latest Solitaire build on the new Windows 3.1. PC Desktop Computer.
So going back to Star Trek, I still remember vividly some of the places and things that happened on the show more so than others for some reason, and the holodeck in particular was always exciting, because when you walked into the holodeck itself, you could literally say anything you wanted and it would magically appear and happen. In the days of dial-up modems and 32 bit graphics, this was just a dream, something that would eventually happen in the future, but don’t get your hopes up kid.
If Capt. Picard had a stressful day, he merely strolled into the Holodeck, said a few words and bam…He’s on a horse giving Data a life lesson, or sitting at a cafe in Paris drinking a fresh cup of coffee, forgetting for a minute (in TV land) it’s just a Holodeck experience.
Who would’ve thought in 2017 sitting in my office scanning the edges of my room with the Vive or Oculus controllers, which when completed, literally makes you a mini-holodeck inside the safe areas of your room…As you approach the edges, a visual image comes up on your HMD of a very reminiscent virtual wall letting you know you’re at the edge of your playarea. Sure it’s not a perfect square Holodeck but MY OH MY how far we’ve come, and in such a short period of time.
Right now VR headsets are hard-wired for the most part, the higher end units like Oculus and Vive need multiple ports and plugs for function, so they’re clunky, riddled with cords and not to mention buggy at times depending on the software being run…This is where I insert a picture of the first cell phone ever made as reference to how early we are in VR.
Take a good long look at that phone, especially if you weren’t born yet, sorry Siri wasn’t available you beautiful Millennials.
VR is young people…We’re not even in the Wild Wild West yet, we’re in Prehistoric times, okay maybe Medieval Times…But what we have already is one of the most amazing and immersive technologies right in front of our eyes, literally plugging you into the matrix or an actual room scale holodeck, it’s real folks and it’s really exciting.
VR will become lighter, slimmer, higher-res, and of course wireless, it’s just a matter of time and as VR becomes cheaper and more cost effective, we’ll see mainstream adoption with not just an emphasis on games and entertainment but healthcare, education, business and social experiences.
Virtual reality is already being used to treat PTSD, help with anxiety, depression, phobias, and the list goes on. What if a teacher decided instead of having the class turn to page 84 to read on Ancient Egypt, they could visit the pyramids or at least experience a virtual representation of them, while discussing the subject at hand.
Often with immersive and engaging experiences comes higher retention and who doesn’t like a field trip, even though it’s still in the classroom. For me, being an ADHD left-handed monster child, a visual experience like that would of absolutely helped with retention and focus.
It’s exciting when a technology can reach people on so many different levels and in so many different industries.. It’s because of this that virtual reality is worth taking a deeper look at. VR isn’t a fad, it’s just another way to explore humanity and hopefully help further it. Holodecks are coming people, see you in France…Kind of… 🙂
For the nerd out there, here’s the Star Trek holodeck introduction video:
Big congrats to Felix & Paul Studios for winning an Emmy at the 69th Emmy Awards this weekend for Outstanding Original Interactive Program. ‘The People’s House’ is a look inside the White House with Barack and Michelle Obama, available on Samsung and Oculus platforms. Dear Angelica and Mission:ISS were also nominated in the same category.
Other notable mentions for VR was in the category ‘Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media within a Scripted Program‘ that nominated Strangers Things VR Experience, Mr. Robot VR Experience 360 and The Simpsons – Planet of the Couches with Westworld taking home the Emmy.
HTC Vive announced earlier on Twitter that DOOM VFR & Fallout 4 VR will be coming out December exclusively on their platform. Fallout 4 VR is scheduled for a 12/1/2017 release and DOOM VFR is scheduled for 12/12/2017. Of course both titles should be available on Steam as well.
Although HTC Vive says their not competing with Oculus’s recent price drop, Vive is making a big move with their $599 HMD. Not to mention 3 massive VR titles coming out exclusively, sends a pretty strong message that they’re willing to compete with Oculus not only on the hardware front, but also on the exclusive software front as well.
Oculus has had multiple exclusives recently so it’s good to see HTC Vive bouncing back, and of course at the end of the day this is just great for consumer VR with price drops in hardware and AAA VR titles coming out before the end of the year.
For those with the PSVR, not to worry, both titles will be coming to the PSVR as well as Skyrim VR! Current dates are set below with video previews. As of now Skyrim VR is just for PSVR, but hopefully it should make it’s way to Vive and Steam in the future.
Skyrim VR: November 17 for PSVR (PlayStation 4)
DOOM VFR: December 1 for PSVR (PlayStation 4), HTC VIVE (PC)
Fallout 4 VR: December 12 for HTC VIVE (PC)
Following in Oculus Rifts footsteps, HTC Vive has lowered it’s original price of $799 down to $599, a $200 price drop in order to stay competitive with Oculus.
HTC Vive is still about $100 more then Oculus but it’s a big step in the right direction, not only for consumers but for the vr industry as a whole. 2 of the biggest high end HMD manufacturers have dropped their hardware price which means both companies are looking to bring in potential buyers who were on the fence.
This could also be a look forward as both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are preparing for Wireless HMD’s in 2018.
Link to Vive’s US Storefront: https://www.vive.com/us/product/vive-virtual-reality-system/