| 1 day ago
| 1 day ago
It's the day many, many virtual reality developers have been waiting for: finally, a way to sell VR games to people with VR headsets. Namely, Oculus and Samsung's collaboration on the Gear VR headset is bearing digital fruit in the form of a digital store. In short: you can finally buy and sell games on Samsung's VR headset. That's a bigger deal than it sounds, as Gear VR's store has been riddled with little more than tech and game demos since its launch late last year. We've been anxious for deeper experiences, and many developers have been withholding those experiences for a time when they could actually make money on their work. Let the floodgates open!
It looks like 2015 could be a big year for competitive gaming in the UK. Just weeks after we found out where the UK's first eSports arena will be located, Britain's biggest video game retailer GAME has confirmed it's getting into the tournament business. The company announced today that it's spent £20 million to acquire Multiplay, a community-driven games company that focuses on live events, gaming services and eSports.
Ever since I experienced a live 3D virtual reality broadcast for the first time, I've been giving demos of the technology to anyone who will sit still long enough for me to put a Gear VR on their head. Across the board, the reactions have included at least two things: "this is amazing" and "can you move around like you're really there?" Now, NextVR says the answer to that question is yes, since it's adding "Light Field" (aka plenoptic) capture technology to existing rigs (like this 6K unit shown above) that will let viewers look around the scene with full six degrees of freedom. This is similar to the tech Lytro uses for its cameras that lets you change focus after a picture is taken -- and just got a $50 million investment to implement on VR. According to NextVR, its patented approach creates a 3D geometric model of the scene (shown after the break) ready for headsets like the Oculus Rift, Sony's Project Morpheus or even augmented reality units like Microsoft's HoloLens or Magic Leap's... whatever it is.
The original Gear VR headset actually made a little headway, even getting picked up by Best Buy. Its main barrier to entry, aside from its $199 price point, is limited device compatibility: If you don't have a Galaxy Note 4, you can't use the Gear VR. With Samsung today launching not one, but two flagship smartphones, the number of VR-compatible smartphones from Samsung has just tripled. Presenting the aptly named Gear VR Innovator Edition for Galaxy S6 and S6 edge.
Of all the things we expected HTC to talk about at its MWC press conference, a design-focused virtual reality headset built in partnership with Valve definitely wasn't on the short list. It's called the HTC Vive and the two companies working on making it a reality call it the most immersive, most premium VR experience you'll be able to find on the market. We know what you're thinking, and yes: This is really happening. If all goes according to plan, the initial developer version of the Vive will trickle out into the community sometime this spring with a full consumer launch to follow during the holidays.
Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.
How Madden Ratings are Made
by Neil Paine
If you've ever played a Madden title, at some point, you've questioned how player ratings are compiled. Heck, players are even critical of their own scores. Well, the stats experts over at FiveThirtyEight dive deep on the matter, offering a load of background information and a method for compiling and grading your own abilities... or lack thereof.
Many RPGs have more than one ending, but even then you still have limited ways to control the story or to interact with the characters. Disney Research, however, wants to make real interactive games -- ones where your actions can affect how it progresses and ends -- so it has created a platform that can help developers do so more easily than if they use traditional tools. This platform makes it simpler for creators to spin as many story arcs as they want that can be triggered any time by your actions. It also automatically detects and fixes conflicts in the storyline that you'll inevitably cause as you interact with the characters. Take the bears in the video below the fold, for example.
Smile for the camera -- and for the TV, and during the walk to the store, and while you're sitting in the living room, in the dark, all alone. Smile, because if you don't, they will come for you. That's the story behind the first trailer for We Happy Few, the new game from Compulsion Studios, maker of PlayStation 4 launch game Contrast. We Happy Few features a "drug-fueled, retrofuturistic city in an alternative 1960s England," filled with citizens with permanent smiles literally affixed to their faces. It's creepy, unsettling and cheerful all at the same time. Think BioShock with a splash of V for Vendetta and a smattering of picture-perfect Stepford.
"I will say that Bioshock wasn't a direct inspiration, it's just that our interests have kind of always aligned with Irrational's games (people made the same comparison with Contrast)," Compulsion marketing director Sam Abbott says. "It's a pretty daunting comparison, given that we're less than one-tenth their size."
It's easy to hate on Nintendo. With the Wii U, the company played right into negative consumer expectations by releasing a product derided for its kid-friendly appeal, Fisher-Price toy-like looks, less-than-bleeding-edge silicon, confusing branding and (initially) clunky operating system. The message to the market at the system's launch seemed clear: The gaming giant had fallen behind the times. But that's not quite the truth.
There's a well-reasoned and deeply entrenched philosophy behind the often baffling, public-facing decisions Nintendo makes and that's to deliver high-quality and accessible entertainment experiences on cheap-to-produce (often older), innovative hardware. It's the Nintendo recipe for success as concocted by the domineering former president Hiroshi Yamauchi. It's the reason why Nintendo sits on billions of dollars of cash; why its famed first-party studio -- the home of Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto -- is called Entertainment Analysis and Development, or EAD. The company quite literally agonizes over ways to innovate the concept of "fun."