VR Digest: Dueling VR Jams;
Oculus Rift coming Q1 2016

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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent

VR Digest: A Virtual Reality newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent

Hi Friends,

Phew! The Oculus Mobile Jam was an exhausting race to the finish line. We got our entry, a multiplayer game called Tiny Cannons, functional with only minutes to spare. There are a lot of stunning submissions, and we’ve got a handful of recommendations below for you to try.

We’ll have a startup table at the SVVR Conference & Expo at the San Jose Convention Center next week and hope to see you there!


Aaron, John, Ian, and Elissa
at Studio Transcendent

Oculus Rift coming in 2016

There is now a release window for the Oculus Rift, and it is the first quarter of 2016. That puts the release schedule in line with, but probably sooner than, Sony’s Morpheus headset. The schedule also puts some pressure on Valve and HTC to deliver the Vive headset as planned this year.

“When I get the Rift is everything going to come with it? We want to nail that,” said Oculus platform head Nate Mitchell at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York. “There really does need to be standardized input and standardized tech specs.”

According to Oculus, Facebook will accept pre-orders this year, which in all likelihood means readers will be hoping for a piece of paper under their Christmas tree. Or will everyone be trying to get their hands on a Vive headset come the holidays? Without pricing alongside the announcement of these first consumer VR products, it’s hard to have a clear picture of how the competition will stack up.

Also, a mobile Gear VR sans the “Innovator Edition” moniker is due this year alongside the Note 5; and Google, Apple or Microsoft might have unannounced gadgets in store for the holiday season.

More will likely be revealed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles from June 16 to 18.

Dueling VR Jams

While some developers were crunching to finish their Gear VR projects over the weekend for the Oculus Mobile Jam, others attended the Vive VR Jam in Austin, Texas building experiences for the room-scale Valve headset.

Winners of the Mobile Jam will be announced in June, but hundreds of entries are now available for perusal. We haven’t had a chance to look through them all, but we’ve already found some great entries.

Tactera from E McNeill, the winner of the first Oculus Jam, is highly polished and worth your time, as is Blair Renaud’s Technolust: Thought Crimes.

Galaxy Grapple provides a unique physics based gameplay experience that’s surprisingly comfortable. Another unusual concept powers SMS Racing, wherein you must race around a track while responding to stupid texts from your friends, lest they get bored with you.

On the non-interactive side, Androids Dream takes you on a stunning ride in the flying car from Blade Runner, while Colosse shows off an artful new form of anime.


A team of researchers from USC and Oculus produced some interesting facial capture research for the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference coming up in August. A research paper (PDF) and video shows the system using strain gauges built into the foam liner of a head-mounted display to capture upper facial movements, and an Intel camera mounted on an arm directly in front of the face to detect lower facial movements.

Los Angeles-based cloud rendering company OTOY showed off a spinning camera system that captures a spherical light field of an environment. Press release: “Until now, photographic content in VR has been limited to panoramic stereo images that while realistic, only afford a user to look around a scene, not move around in it, such as moving to look around a corner or an object.”

VR versions of Mythbusters and other Discovery programs are being developed, according to a story in Adweek. “We believe VR will fundamentally change the way that fans connect with your content.”

Norman Chan at Tested did an in-depth comparison of the Gear VR for Galaxy S6 and Note 4. “The ergonomic improvements aren't night and day.”

Ubisoft is working on some of its upcoming games for VR. “We think it's going to bring more players to the universe of video games.”

John Carmack publicly critiqued Mark Schramm’s Nighttime Terror VR Jam entry, which is must-read material for any serious VR game developer. “Crowds of little monsters cry out for grenades.”

Carmack also gave a talk at the University of Texas at Dallas which focused mainly on narrative content. Two interesting revelations: light fields are theoretically so compressible that they could be similar in file size to a standard stereo panorama, and we are unlikely to see 4K displays in HMDs until 2017 (so don’t let the persistent rumors get your hopes up for a 4K Samsung Note 5).

Virtual Reality Digest is a VR Newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent, a producer of premium Virtual Reality experiences. We publish weekly on Wednesdays.
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