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VR Digest: Oculus freebies;
Cool Vive games

The week's top VR news brought to you
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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 46 – December 16, 2015

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

Oculus focuses on consumers with bundles, exclusives, games and a new ad

One of the most anticipated VR games is also one of the longest in development. Space-fighting game EVE: Valkyrie from Iceland-based CCP Games was first shown to the public in April 2013. While the game is coming to PlayStation VR as well, Oculus announced this week it would be included free with pre-orders of the Rift. Co-founder Palmer Luckey hinted on Reddit that more freebies could be on the way.

Jason Rubin is head of Oculus worldwide studios and tasked with partnering Facebook’s VR division with developers to get games made for the Oculus platform. He spoke with Game Informer during a 56-minute video about the company’s VR efforts: “To do VR right with a cell phone you need to basically reroute the OS, and to do that you need a partner who controls the OS as Samsung does with all of their phones.” He also spoke with Tested during a 27-minute video about the reveal of Crytek’s The Climb. The rock climbing simulation game will be an Oculus exclusive using an Xbox One controller or the Oculus Touch tracked controllers and its 1-minute trailer shows how the Germany-based company’s CRYENGINE toolset can be used to create eye-popping VR.

A new 1-minute ad does a good job explaining the difference between traditional games and those in VR. Six new games and apps were added the Oculus store this week including Flickr VR which features tens of thousands of 360-degree photos, intense bullet-time simulator DRIFT and puzzler sequel Esper 2.

Oculus’ Audio SDK saw a 1.0 release this week. The software allows VR experiences to place sounds in space so that users can tell from which direction they are emanating from. Oculus also released a sound effects library for developers to use with the Audio SDK.

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey tweeted a setup for room-scale walk-around VR that “works fine.” The setup placed the Oculus constellation cameras in opposite corners of the room, much like Vive’s lighthouse sensors are configured. The creator of Valve’s lighthouse tracking solution, Alan Yates, responded on Twitter “so ‘works fine’ means undemoable configuration, got it.”
 

Vive pre-orders planned for February; Cool new demos

HTC wrapped up its 2015 Vive tour with more showings of the headset likely in 2016 after a second development kit is revealed at CES. Oddly, after the fact and without noting the update, the company changed the text of its delay announcement to add the fact that pre-orders would go live in February.

While you’re waiting for the Vive, a pair of new videos show impressive software demos with the developer’s kit. A 2-minute video shows Modbox, a physics sandbox, and an 8-minute video shows a playthrough of Unseen Diplomacy complete with crawling around the room.
 

More VR investments

The New York Times saw the trend of mixed reality startups raising hefty investments and published a story offering an overview. Among the recent investments, Forbes confirmed earlier reports that Florida-based Magic Leap is raising a massive round, bringing its total funding to well north of $1 billion. Variety reported digital effects group Digital Domain is paying $38.9 million for a majority stake in 360-degree capture tech company IMV. In other investments, cloud-based VR video company Pixvana got $6 million, kickstarted 360-degree camera creator Giroptic raised $4.3 million and VR game developer nDreams got $3 million. Also, a $10 million venture firm called Presence Capital launched to focus on very early AR/VR startups.
 

Bits:

VR Digest editor Ian Hamilton conducted his first interview in VR in a 23-minute video with the developers of Daydream Blue, which added multiplayer features to the mobile game including voice chat this week.

GoPro teased footage in a 1-minute video from its Karma drone that could be used for 360-degree video capture.

A 2-minute video shows progress on the Apollo 11 simulation with the interior of the lunar module shown.

Apple started carrying the $30 View-Master Google Cardboard phone holder.

The Avegant Glyph headset, which Kickstarted in 2014, says it will start shipping in January.

Unity 5.3 was released. It includes support for the latest Oculus runtime and includes a new set of head mounted display interaction demo projects to help developers get started in VR.
 

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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