Well, it’s about time. HTC have finally let us know of some of their plans with the two front-facing cameras, hand & finger tracking. I had assumed that some sort of augmented reality feature would get announced, but the hand & finger tracking is much more interesting to me as something we can use now whereas AR is still a few years away from practical use.
Any time Walmart makes a move, people take notice. Walmart announced today that they’re making a big move into the VR space by shipping out 17,000 Oculus Go HMDs to its 5,000 store locations. The reason they’re making this move is for employee training purposes. Each Supercenter will receive four HMDs and each Neighborhood Market will get two HMDs.
It seems like every couple of months, there's a new concept for a VR device, like a treadmill, eye tracking, lens type, tracking tech, haptic vest, or one of the most common ones, gloves. It makes sense, the beauty of Virtual Reality is how immersive it is and the sense of presence that the player can get through it, but of course touch is a large piece missing from the puzzle. Finding that missing piece is one of the many Holy Grails in the VR industry
I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember, playing the NES and SNES as a kid, and also for as long as I can remember, video games have been thought of as a lazy and unhealthy hobby. Now with Virtual Reality, things have changed as your whole body is the controller, especially so with Room-Scale VR. The thought is still taking some getting used to even for me, but playing video games can be some solid exercise. Already, we're seeing some amazing stories come about of people who, in combination with a good diet and healthy eating, are using VR games to loose a whole lot of excess weight and are having a blast doing it.
One of the things that makes PC gaming so great is the how open the industry is. You get to pick the right parts that fit your budget and what you're wanting from your gaming hobby, but sometimes this open nature can lead to fragmentation. This is why it's nice to have some industry standards. Slowly but surely, the VR industry will get standards for certain aspects and today we got a new standard for the cables the headsets will use.
Publicly released in November 2015, Valve's Steam Controller gave PC gamers the gamepad that they've always wanted. It shared the ergonomics of the XBox 360 controller, which many gamers consider it one of the best gamepads of all time, but more importantly it brought with it the software that allowed for users to customize what every button did (which is what PC gaming is all about). Since the Vive was released, we haven't seen much customization offered by developers as to how players interact with their VR games. Now Valve has released SteamVR Input in beta and we have a level of control similar to that of the Steam Controller.
Google recently held it's 2018 I/O and during the keynote it unveiled a slew of new software and services as well as updates to many of their current offerings, but the one that caught my eye the most was the announcement of Google Duplex. I am very interested to see what Duplex brings to the table as for what it actually is, a much more "intelligent" version of the Google Assistant that we currently have on our phones and Google Homes, but it also got me thinking of what the future of games and VR games can be with this level of tech.
Typically a term used for consoles, a "Killer App" is the game released on that respective console that is just so good that gamers just have to cave in and buy that console in order to play that game. Nintendo has always had Zelda and Mario games as their killer apps, Microsoft has had Halo and Gears of War, and Sony has had Ratchet & Clank, Uncharted, and The Last of Us. Over the last few years, people have been wondering if VR would get a killer app. There have been a lot of standout VR games over the last couple of years like Rec Room, Lone Echo, Arizona Sunshine, and GORN among others like the recently released Skyrim VR, none have quite assumed the mantle of VR's killer app. Maybe we have that game now with the release of Beat Saber.
To say that I was hyped for the movie adaptation of Ready Player One is a massive understatement. I had read the book early last year (well, I listened to it on Audible while I would jog) and really enjoyed it, so I was just excited to see a Spielberg directed film version of it. I am also a massive fan of so many of the references and my family as a whole are huge into films and video games from the 70s and 80s, so just seeing all of these in a single film was obviously going to be a treat for my eyes. And of course, as someone who has now jumped into the VR industry, I have a lot of hype (and hope) for what it will do for bringing VR to the mainstream.
I recently saw some gameplay of an upcoming VR game for the PSVR called Bravo Team and it shares a common issue that a lot of moderate budget games have as well as games releasing on more mainstream VR platforms like the PSVR. They have some decent polish to them and look like they will offer a lot of content/play time to the player but when it comes to their gameplay mechanics they are dull and take no chances. When I saw the gameplay video linked below, I couldn’t help but think to myself the whole time that I was looking at some gameplay of a mobile game for phones and tablets, and that sucks.
This sentence, or a form similar to it, fills the comments sections on YouTube trailers, Reddit posts, Facebook videos, etc… for so many VR game announcements. Just recently, I saw it happen for the YouTube teaser trailer for Cyan, the company that made classic Myst games and more recently Obduction, which is called Firmament.
I came across a post on /r/vive recently that talked about mixed reality (not the Windows platform) and seeing the same player in the gameplay recording and it got me thinking about player avatars from the player's perspective in VR games. Should we have a standard/shared player avatar with our stats linked to our profiles (SteamVR, Oculus, etc...)?
CNBC recently released THIS article titled "Most teens can't afford a virtual reality headset, so they're going to VR arcades instead" and, for anyone paying even the slightest attention to the VR scene, it is very well known that VR is expensive, and in most cases prohibitively so. Many kids and younger gamers around 13-18 years old are typically gaming on a console due to the larger up front cost for PC gaming. If PC gaming is expensive, then VR PC gaming is much more so. While the PSVR has provided a decent VR experience, it still falls short in the quality of tracking and lack of room-scale VR, which is where PC VR is excelling.