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VR headset

Newstoid #1 photo
The day is finally here!
The moment you've all been waiting for that has been months in the making, Newstoid is finally officially here! We have all the hot scoops, hot hosts, and side-splitting laughter you could ask for. Not to mention the hot bea...

Arizona Sunshine photo
Arizona Sunshine

Arizona Sunshine: The (Steam) VR revolution will, unsurprisingly, have zombies


Virtual reality zombie shooter
May 21
// Steven Hansen
I sometimes feel like I'm less on board with VR than most. It's a fun novelty to show a family member for 20 minutes, not something I'd like to be cocooned in for hours . Maybe that's why there's expectation of it doing gang...
Oculus photo
Oculus

Oculus has something to show us in June


Step into the Rift
May 20
// Vikki Blake
Oculus is inviting selected press to a special event in San Francisco on June 11. The plain invites merely bear the words "Step into the Rift" and an image of an Oculus Rift headset. What exactly the event will cover remains ...
Free 2 porn photo
Free 2 porn

Oculus won't be blocking virtual porn


Ecosystem as open as your Friday night
May 19
// Steven Hansen
While I still haven't gotten my own anime mascot, one more surefire thing happened: the Oculus Rift bore a lot of porn experiments. There were fake boobs to grab, real-life sex toys to hump in calibration to the anime girls g...
Oculus Rift photo
Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift expected to ship to consumers in early 2016


A 'first quarter window'
May 06
// Chris Carter
Have you been waiting patiently for an Oculus Rift? You'll get your chance to snag one early next year, it seems, as Oculus VR has just announced that the final consumer product will be ready in the first quarter of 2016. It ...
HoloLens demo photo
HoloLens demo

Microsoft HoloLens looks like the future


Make your games follow you!?
Apr 29
// Jed Whitaker
Holy shit! Call me a nerd, but this makes me excited for the future. Picture this: yours truly walking around the house naked while my videogame follows me -- a virtual pet here, a leaderboard of my friends scores there, a l...
Oculus Rift photo
Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift probably won't be on your face this year


Looks like you'll be be-rift of VR this winter
Apr 27
// Joe Parlock
It's a busy time for virtual reality at the moment: the HTC Vive gearing up for an end-of-year release, and Project Morpheus should be ready to go at the start of 2016. Surely this means the ancient Titan that is the Oculus R...
HTC Vive photo
HTC Vive

Devs can put their eyeballs inside the HTC Vive for free


Did no one see Sword Art Online? This won't end well
Apr 23
// Joe Parlock
Life is cruel sometimes. I’m almost blind in one eye and can’t see in 3D, so most 3D and virtual reality headsets don’t actually work for me. I’ve tried the Oculus Rift, and it was just like being sat ...

Narcosis explores the horrors of the deep ocean with intense VR gameplay

Apr 14 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]283983:56360:0[/embed] Narcosis (PC)Developer: Honor Code, IncPublisher: Honor Code, Inc  Release: Fall 2015 Set at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean at an underwater research center, you play as an industrial diver who must fight for survival after a sudden and catastrophic accident leaves him stranded and alone. With the research center mostly destroyed and its crew killed, the lone survivor must retrace his steps and find a way to the surface. But with horrifying underwater predators roaming the surroundings, and a damaged diving suit with diminishing oxygen, the diver must keep a strong head -- or else nature or even his own wavering psychological state could overcome him. Referred to as a "slow-burn" experience by the creatives behind the game, this 'survivor-story' features a more atmospheric take on traditional horror titles, blending the show-don't-tell school of storytelling from Gone Home with the dread and somewhat other-worldly feel from Silent Hill. Humanity has only explored a small percentage of our planet's oceans, and with many aquatic environments and creatures left undiscovered, it's an incredibly interesting and captivating place to explore for a horror experience. On the surface it seems just like the film Gravity set underwater, and while that's not too far off, there's a strong focus on setting and interaction with the elements. We don't really get too many games set in the depths of the ocean, let alone a horror game taking place on the sea floor. And Narcosis definitely does a lot to play up the mystery and isolation to a very tense and anxious effect. Speaking with David Chen, the lead writer for Narcosis, he spoke at length about how they sought to convey their interpretation of survival horror. "We're kinda struggling to label the game, as it has many of the hallmarks of survival horror," said lead writer David Chen. "There are no zombies or a viral outbreak, it's really about seven or eight hours of this guy trapped at the bottom of the ocean. So we think it's a really, relatively unique premise for a game, as a lot of other titles have you saving the world, revenging your family, or bottling up some ancient evil -- but here, you're trapped alone in the dark on the bottom of the ocean." While underwater gameplay is almost notoriously awful in most games, Narcosis does the smart thing by keeping it simple. Movement is slow and hulking, which makes sense as you're wearing a heavy diving suit under large amounts of pressure from the ocean. Walking is your top-speed, but with the aid of charge pack, you can boost for short-distances. As you maneuver around the ocean floor and the ruins of the research center, you'll have to be mindful of your surroundings as there are many dangers ahead. With only your suit lights and some flares giving you clear vision, you'll often times find yourself in total darkness. Moreover, you'll have to monitor your oxygen and health levels, which can be restored by pickups found in the debris. By far the biggest threat is the presence of underwater predators. Resembling nightmarish squids and over-sized crabs, these creatures stalk for prey, and they see the diver as their next target. Some creatures are large in size, which may require you to evade their gaze. While you have a knife to defend yourself, attacking with it is slow and somewhat clunky -- which of course is by design, as the weight of the ocean and your suit makes movement slow. During one encounter, I came across a squid creature that nearly destroyed the diver's helmet with its powerful tentacles. Using a well-timed knife attack, I was able to strike it down as it charged at me. But of course, there's yet another issue to contend with. Given his perilous situation, and the fact that the diver only has his thoughts to keep him company, his psychological and emotional state can often become compromised. As you maneuver through the disturbing, alien landscape of the dark and claustrophobic ocean floor, and through the horrific aftermath of the destroyed research center, the diver's mental state will begin to decay, which gives rise to horrifying hallucinations. During my exploration of the research center, I had to trek through the remains of the station to look for clues to reach the surface -- all the while avoiding predators that have taken up residence, and finding the floating remains of the scientists and divers that died in the accident. With oxygen getting low, and finding many empty diving suits eerily standing up in hallways, as if they were looking at me, I finally came to a small room which housed four suits. Once I stepped in, I looked around for any clues, but I soon realized that the door had disappeared, and I was suddenly surrounded by diving suits, all staring back at me with their blank and empty helmets. As I kept turning, looking for a way out, I found that the room had suddenly given rise to a narrow hallway, with parallel rows of diving suits on each side. Each of them were facing each other in a somewhat ceremonial fashion, as if they were greeting me or welcoming me back home. Once I reached the end of the hallway, I finally found my destination: a small room housing computers with sensitive data. Once I turned around, the hallway and many diving suits weren't there; the lone survivor had just simply stepped into the room. Referred to as "Narcosis moments," there will be times when the diver's paranoia warps his perception, resulting in surreal moments that blur the line between reality and imagination. Bare in mind, I playing with the Oculus Rift during the demo, which made me so incredibly anxious. Moreover, this was all happening in real-time with no cutscenes or breaks. It was like witnessing some strange trip that wouldn't end. As I got more nervous, the sense of dread kicked up significantly, which made exploration all the more tense. While Narcosis is totally playable without the use of virtual reality, the developers found that the new technology helped to amplify a lot of the visual and atmospheric moments they created. "We describe it as a very understated use of VR, as in it's not flashy or flamboyant, but the core fiction of the game really lends itself to the use of VR as it accurately shows your limitations," said Chen while discussing their use of the tech. "It really lends itself to the sense of immersion, a sense of place, and the feeling of suspense." "It's a narrative-driven game, it's a story-based game, so we want to have appropriate emotional beats," Chen continued. "It's not intended to be a relentless freakout, but as the game has developed with VR, we discovered ways to try new things with it, as opposed to the more obvious 'aaaaaahhh' [motions jump-scare] moments. [...] While we definitely have some freaky stuff, we're trying to be more tasteful." Even during my fairly brief session with Narcosis, I was quite impressed with the VR. As opposed to relying on horror tropes and gimmicks, such as jump scares or stalking foes that appear all-knowing and invincible, this title lets the environments and its clever visual tricks do all the talking. I felt nervous during key sections, and knowing that only a few hits from predators could destroy my suit, simply hesitating and watching my oxygen meter sink was stressful. Set for release later this year, Narcosis is an intellectual and subdued take on survival horror. Which isn't all that common today, given that we're often using guns and other gadgets to overcome enemies. Going more for a general experience rather than a super 'gamey' affair, it seeks to show that the horrors of the deep ocean, and nature itself, are an uncaring and unwavering force that outmatch man on nearly every level. And there's certainly no greater foe than nature itself.
Narcosis preview photo
Deep deep down
Last year during Game Connection Europe, Steven had some special hands-on time with developer Honor Code, Inc's upcoming underwater survival horror title Narcosis. As a psychological-horror survival game, players find themsel...

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a brilliant asymmetrical game

Mar 08 // Patrick Hancock
The player with the Oculus Rift can manipulate the bomb by rotating it or by choosing one of the many different sections on the bomb to interact with. There are many different possibly sections that could be on the bomb, but the simple ones consist of a series of wires or symbols, or even just one single button with some text on it. The game allows for players to mess up two times. After that, the bomb detonates. Bombs are randomly generated each time, so it's not feasible to memorize what to do in specific situations. Plus, the sections themselves change so it would take a ton of memorization. The player with the binder has a series of instructions that need clear communication as to what the bomb actually shows. For example, one section of the beginner bomb has a set of about six wires. However, depending on what colors those wires contain will affect which wire needs to be cut. The binder will say something along the lines of "If the section contains any yellow wires, cut the third wire." It becomes a constant back and forth between players in a race against the clock that is absolutely exhilarating. [embed]288752:57653:0[/embed] After beating the beginner bomb on day one of PAX, my partner and I decided we were up for the harder bomb on day two. We were not. The first obstacle on the second bomb brought us all three strikes. It was a more complicated series of steps that also included memorization. I was not prepared to keep notes while frantically communicating, but that's exactly what I had to do in order to win. Step five would say "If the number display is a four, press the position of the button you pressed in step two." What the hell did we press in step two? BZZZT-BOOM! Well, shit. Apparently there are even harder bombs. As I was perusing the binder of information, I saw steps that were entire pages long, something called the "Who's on First" section, and mazes. Mazes! Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes looks like it would be a perfect party game for just about anyone. This may be the first and only game ever to bring me back every single day of PAX!
Asymmetrical Oculus photo
Great use of the Oculus Rift
In Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, a game originally developed at a game jam, one player wears the Oculus Rift and sees a bomb that needs to be defused but doesn't know how to defuse it. Their partner only has a binder...

Skyworld takes unique advantage of Valve's new virtual reality tech

Mar 06 // Alessandro Fillari
For our demo, the developers led me into a closed-off room which housed Valve's virtual reality hardware. Around the room were two cameras that tracked movement and set the boundaries of the VR environment by scanning the dimensions of the room. They then handed me the headset, which still looked as if it was in the prototype phase. Wires to the headset were numerous, which required a belt around my waist to hold all of them down. Honestly, it felt like I was wearing something from '90s cyberpunk like Ghost in the Shell or Johnny Mnemonic. It was weighty, but had a number of devices working at once. I actually almost tripped over one of the wires before our demo even started. But any apprehension I had for the device soon faded once I tried out the interface and witnessed it in action. With the headset on, I was in a home menu showing a number of games and applications. The controllers they gave me, which were also connected with wires, were two wand-like devices that were somewhat like a mix between the Sony Move and Wii Remote. Similar to the headset, they were in early form. Using trackpads on the controllers allowed me to cycle through options. And just for fun, pressing down the trackpad caused a balloon to inflate from the controller in the digital space, which was amusing. It felt intuitive, and surprisingly accurate. I could look around to see the menu system with its grey, almost minimalistic background, but the Valve engineer instructed me to look towards the floor. On the floor was a box, which represented the center of the space. Once I started walking forward outside the box, I made it a few steps before a grid popped up in front of me. This grid represented the physical wall that I was about to walk into, which the camera picked up and visualized within the VR space. It was pretty cool stuff, and I felt that I could've spent plenty of time exploring the home menu, but of course, they had a game to show. [embed]288675:57632:0[/embed] Last year, the developers of World of Diving showed off an impressive demonstration for their underwater-exploration sim. The use of the Oculus Rift was well designed and featured impressive depth and range. With the success and buzz they generated with that title, they attracted the attention of Valve, leading to a partnership. But the new VR technology they were presented meant having to design something a bit different. "When they asked to work together with us to make a demo for the GDC announcement, the first thing that came to mind was that we should do something like World of Diving," said creative director Richard Stitselaar. "But that title was designed around the first Oculus, and then the DK2 came along, we had to ramp it up to seventy-five frames per second, then Valve came along and said 'guys, it needs 90 frames per second.' So we had to do a lot of optimization on the game, and we figured we should use our knowledge with VR and apply it to a new game instead." Skyworld is totally different from World of Diving. Set on a floating island that houses a small civilization, you play as an omnipotent ruler that must wage war on the opposing side. As a quasi tabletop turn-based strategy title, players use both Steam controllers as wands in game to conjure up creatures and interact with the world. Over time, you'll build your defenses and expand your resources, which will allow you to send infantry and even dragons to attack your enemies. With the left controller, I was able to pull up a magic book, which housed unit info and spells to cast. Using the right controller allowed me to interact with the elements on the table. Whether picking up units to reposition them or interacting with blacksmiths or dragons, each controller had its own separate uses that complemented the other. "First we had this interaction model where you would look at something as this dot in the middle and then select it," said Stitselaar. "It feels natural to have something in your hand that could enhance the world itself." When you think of VR, you're probably thinking of something that's a bit action-y or fast-paced, and likely not a turn-based strategy title. But Skyworld definitely makes great use of the technology. I was able to view all aspects of the environment with clarity, as zooming simply meant stepping closer. Of course, I had to let go of some very basic certainties when playing with the demo. For instance, we all know that if there's an object in front of you, then you'll likely have to move if you want to get around it. I spent much of the demo walking around the 'table,' never thinking to actually walk up to whatever object I wanted. Eventually, the engineers from Valve and Vertigo Games instructed me that it was okay to walk through the table -- it wasn't real. After attacking enemy installations and moving my infantry around, my time with the demo ended. It was fairly brief, and I felt I only scratched the surface of what I could do. Valve's technology was easily the most impressive use of virtual reality I've seen in a long time, though. Moreover, Vertigo Games' work impressed. I was pleasantly surprised to experience a title that used VR in an original way. While the technology has a ways to go before it will get in the hands of consumers, I'm excited about what the future of VR holds.
Valve VR photo
Vertigo Games talks the future of VR
We got a big shock at the beginning of the week when Valve announced its partnership with HTC to produce a new virtual reality headset. We all knew the company had ambitions to enter the console market with Steam Machines, bu...

Valve in 2015 photo
Valve in 2015

Valve: Steam Link game-streaming device, controller, free Source 2, and VR in 2015


Announce ALL the things, just not Half-Life 3
Mar 03
// Jed Whitaker
Valve just announced a number of new products for 2015 along with some pricing details. (Leave it to Valve to reveal hardware with dates and pricing at the same time.) This year, the company will release: Steam Link, Steam Ma...
HTC Vive photo
HTC Vive

HTC Vive VR headset announced in partnership with Valve


Consumer version this year
Mar 01
// Jed Whitaker
HTC is partnering with Valve on a VR headset, revealed today as the Vive. The Vive will be "powered by Steam VR," which seems to be a software solution created by Valve for VR headsets. It is unclear at this time if Stea...
Theatre mode photo
Theatre mode

I can think of about one good use for Samsung's Gear VR


Get robbed on the train
Nov 06
// Steven Hansen
The Crescent Bay model of the Oculus Rift is pretty neat. Going immediately after to try out the Samsung Gear VR, which lacks the positional tracking and cool set of demos, at Games Connection Europe was weird.  There wa...
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Harmonix to create a virtual reality experience for Samsung Gear VR


Visualizer for your face
Sep 05
// Dale North
Remember that new Samsung Gear VR that we told you about a few days ago? Harmonix sends word that they've signed on to create a new virtual reality experience for the device.  Harmonix Music VR is a music-listening dream...
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Samsung announces Gear VR, powered by Oculus


Uses Galaxy Note 4's innards and screen
Sep 03
// Dale North
Stick a phone on your face for instant VR! We've heard that Samsung and Oculus were working together, and today we finally get to see what they've been working on. It's a virtual reality headset that uses the Galaxy Note 4, c...
World of Diving photo
World of Diving

World of Diving out now on Steam Early Access


Explore the depths with this procedurally generated underwater exploration game
Aug 26
// Alessandro Fillari
A few months ago, I got the chance to check out Vertigo Games' World of Diving. Set in a procedurally generated world, players can explore the depths of the ocean while interacting with aquatic life, uncovering lost treasure...
Half-Life 2 photo
Half-Life 2

How to reload your revolver in Half-Life 2 VR


I'm just glad it's a speedloader
Aug 23
// Brittany Vincent
Prepare for the future. As this Half-Life 2 video demonstrates, reload times in gaming may soon be based on skill instead of animation speed. In the video, reloading the revolver requires swinging the cylinder open, utilizin...
Samsung photo
Samsung

Here's the more expensive version of Google Cardboard from Samsung


Samsung's new VR headset will be a lot pricier than cardboard
Aug 14
// Brittany Vincent
Samsung has announced that it will be showing its rumored virtual reality headset, codenamed "Project Moonlight," at its upcoming product event show in early September where it is widely expected to also announce the Galaxy N...
Oculus Rift photo
Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift DK2 uses a Samsung smartphone screen as its display


This thing's got the biggest bezels I've ever seen!
Aug 01
// Brittany Vincent
During a teardown of the new Oculus Rift DK 2 unit, iFixit.com has found that the Oculus Rift uses a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 screen as its display unit. Speculation is that with Oculus trying to ship 45,000 units as well as ha...
Samsung photo
Samsung

Here's Samsung's bid at entering the VR market


It's all red
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
A new leaked image of Samsung's entry into the VR headset arena is making its rounds on the internet today. Known as Gear VR, it's poised to implement software co-developed by Rift creator Oculus, with screens and additional ...
South Park VR photo
South Park VR

Visit a 3D recreation of South Park with the Oculus Rift


Walk inside Big Gay Al
Jul 04
// Steven Hansen
Maybe Stick of Truth is more true to the series' 2D look, but this 3D, virtual recreation of the town of South Park is a pretty cool alternative. Characters keep their flat look and always orient themselves towards you ...
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The Assembly announced for PS4 and Project Morpheus


New VR game
Jun 11
// Dale North
Good news: work on games for Sony's upcoming virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus, is fully underway. The newest announcement is The Assembly, developed by UK studio nDreams. It was written by Tom Jubert, the writer beh...
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Alien Isolation gets Oculus VR support, Naughty Dog co-founder joins Oculus


Oculus starts strong
Jun 10
// Dale North
Oculus comes out with some big news early on the first day of E3. First, they've picked up Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin. He will take over as Head of Worldwide Studios at Oculus VR, heading up first-...
Oculus hires photo
Oculus hires

Oculus hires former Valve business director


And a bunch of new hires, many of them former Valve
Jun 04
// Steven Hansen
Jason Holtman headlines a recent list of Oculus hires post Facebook aquisition. Holtman will head the, "business development and partnership side of the Oculus platform working closely with Marshall, head of platform enginee...
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Oculus responds to ZeniMax intellectual property claims


'We are disapointed but not surprised by ZeniMax's actions'
May 05
// Dale North
For those just tuning in, ZeniMax Media sent a formal notice of rights to Oculus VR and new parent company Facebook over intellectual property claims. Long story short, ZeniMax feels that work that happened with them carried ...
DTOID News photo
Also, an explosion
GDC has come to a close, and it's certainly been a busy week for news. Sony announced Project Morpheus, their entry into the virtual reality race, as well as some crazy eye-tracking tech. The second Oculus Rift development ki...

World of Diving with Oculus Rift is a real treasure

Mar 21 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]272270:53071:0[/embed]In World of Diving, players will be able to explore, observe, and collect loot on their own or with a team of other divers online. While exploring the waters, you'll be able to engage in missions that task players to complete a variety of challenges such as: taking pictures of aquatic life and sunken structures, venturing to wrecked ships, competing in races, and much more. The environments are also procedurally generated, à la Minecraft, which makes exploring the ocean depths feel fresh with new layouts, reefs, mission structures, and aquatic populations. One way for players to enhance their experience with World of Diving is through use of the Oculus Rift. It's fully playable with the VR headset, and the developers wanted to allow players to utilize its features after they first got their hands on the device. "When the device itself came to the office -- I'm a scuba diver myself -- I put the thing on my head and I was like, these are like diving goggles," said creative director Richard Stitselaar. "We did some tests, prototypes, and it came together. It was a side project for a while, but since November or December of last year, we began to put all our resources into the game." I have a bit of a confession to make. This was my first time playing with the Oculus Rift, and it was plenty reassuring trying out a title that was relaxing and places a lot of emphasis on offering a soothing experience. An aspect that World of Diving succeeds in is offering an inviting and calm atmosphere, and in many ways it felt like an evolution of the design from the Wii's underwater exploration title Endless Ocean. The demo started up with a bit of a tutorial, where another developer from Vertigo guided me along in game. This was a co-op session, and it opened up some unique opportunities for special missions. I was a controlling a female diver, which surprised me as I looked down with the Oculus Rift headset and saw a female body. The overall visuals looked impressive with the headset on. Even though I was using the standard-definition version of the Oculus, I found myself drawn into the underwater world that I saw. Players can use a controller and both mouse and keyboard to play World of Diving but during my session, we used a controller -- it took some getting used to. Obviously, the headset controls vision and camera movement, which took some adjustment. But over time, I got more and more into it. Swimming through the waters felt graceful and smooth. The developers wanted to create authenticity with the diving controls, while at the same time keeping it fun. Interestingly enough, the Oculus Rift helps to streamline much of the controls by allowing for some movement with tilting your head in a direction you want to move in.Of course, not many people have tried the Oculus Rift, let alone have access to one -- so the developers at Vertigo Games were clear that it is not required to purchase one to play World of Diving. "While we did design the controls with Oculus Rift in mind, because there are a number of aspects of design to consider, it's not required that you have the device to play the game. It's fully playable and enjoyable without it," said Stitselaar. Players can fully customize characters, from their body type, gender, scuba gear, etc. They can even acquire a player home. The camera is an item that will be useful or amusing, depending on what type of situation you find yourself in. In one instance, my co-op partner and I saw a sunken statue and we took it as an opportunity to take a picture with it. Positioning myself just right, I let the camera float in front of me and my partner, and we took a selfie in front of the statue. It amusing, fun, and it also showed just how much potential players have to find something interesting to do while in the field. Speaking of potential, the map will always be be filled with missions and side-objectives for players to engage in. Moreover, World of Diving will take advantage of its community's creativity by allowing players access to the same tools that the developers use to create missions in game. By implementing a rating system, users in game will be able to vote on their favorite user-created missions, and the highest voted ones will be placed at the top for more people to see. Though don't get too comfortable in the waters, as there is still an element of danger present. At any time, you may come across hostile underwater life such as eels and sharks. As combat is not a big focus, and taking on these creatures is also not an option, players will have to remember that you're not always safe in the ocean. Because of this, the developers have plans to release potential updates in the future to get players closer to the action, which include shark cages. Even though this was my first time using the Oculus Rift, and I was a bit skeptical of the device, I came away pretty damn impressed with World of Diving. It felt very zen, if you will. Except when I went diving into a sunken ship with enclosed walls -- my heart sank a bit when that happened. I'm somewhat claustrophobic, and the Oculus Rift enhanced the perception of closeness during some points. But that's not a bad thing, per se. It's impressive tech, and it's used quite effectively here. Initially, I was worried that the VR aspect would be a vital feature, but even without the Oculus Rift as a hook, I still feel there's a lot to like with this title. The procedural map design is very refreshing for this type of game, and the continued support from the developers and community will insure that there will be life in the World of Diving for a long time to come.
World of Diving photo
Dive, loot, and take selfies
One thing about this year's GDC is that virtual reality made a huge splash. And that would be an understatement. With the news of Oculus Rift development kit 2 and the reveal of Sony's VR headset, it's looking like there will...

Sony's Project Morpheus: An impressive first showing

Mar 20 // Dale North
Headset impressions We admired the headset before strapping it onto our heads. Sony's version of VR looks bigger and heavier than Rift, but it certainly doesn't feel heavy when wearing it. Trying out Oculus' second development kit this week, I thought that it felt a little heavy on my face and nose. Sony has engineered a solution that has a couple of straps letting the back of the head do the holding, keeping the weight off the nose and cheekbones. An elastic band gets you started, but a secondary plastic band with clickable tightening points does most of the work. It's pretty comfortable, and removing it doesn't mess up your hair as much as Rift does. Morpheus looks pretty slick with its glossy white finish and black matte trim. The colored lights that it uses for tracking are also attractive. But for as slick as it looks off, I can't say that it looks cool on anyone I've seen wearing it. And, of course, you won't see any of the design or trim work when you're using it. The Deep Sony's London Studios have built a really impressive demo that has users deep diving the ocean in a shark cage. My nervous giggles and head darts turned into full-on uncomfortable blurts of laughter as a large shark circled around my cage, breaking it down piece by piece with its terrifying mouth. After the first few shark attacks, looking down and to my left, I noticed that my character had started bleeding a bit, with clouds of red starting to seep up from my body. It was fun, and not unlike a theme park experience. Though The Deep was limited on the interactivity front, it's easily the most visually impressive VR demo I've experienced. The clarity of the 3D effect, the quality of the demo assets, and the level of immersion were all very high. It looked less like a demo and more like a full-on VR game. The Deep was also one of the most immersive VR demos I've tried. Having to sit and wait as the cage descended kept me tense, and knowing that I only had a flare gun to defend myself made it that much worse. A DualShock 4 controller held in one hand let me freely aim and fire the flare gun, and its tracking of my movements with it was spot-on. Excellent head and body tracking tech also let me turn my head in any direction and even turn fully around to follow the shark as he circled my cage. I drew back in fear at the shark's final attack, and I could see and feel my avatar's body drawing back with me.  The Castle While The Deep was limited in control, The Castle let me go all-out with two PlayStation Move controllers. Situated in front of a knight dummy, I was able to use my virtual hands to punch, push, pull, and otherwise manipulate it through the Move controllers, with completely accurate 1:1 control. Later, I was able to draw a sword from my side to cut at it. I tried grabbing the dummy's head with one hand (by gripping the Move's trigger) and lopping it off with the other using a sword, and liked it so much that I dismembered several more dummies before continuing. Just being in this virtual world and looking around was quite the experience. Even simple parts of it, like trying to pick up a sword, just missing, and then trying to catch it as it falls, feels impressively immersive. I saw that I was standing on a grate in front of a castle, and I tried walking forward a few steps to get a better look. I looked down and saw the moat that lied below that grate and felt a real sense of vertigo, and I felt my knees catching. This looked and felt very realistic! As the demo continued, I was able to take hold of a crossbow and shoot at dummies and other targets in the world. By holding up a PS Move controller and squeezing the trigger, I easily took targets out. I found it interesting that I could draw the controller close to my face and close one eye to get a better look through the crossbow's crosshairs.  The demo wrapped up with one of my shots aggravating what I thought was a statue of a huge dragon. It came alive and devoured me. Seeing my virtual head going into its massive mouth was pretty freaky. EVE: Valkyrie While we've seen CCP's EVE: Valkyrie before, the Project Morpheus build is easily the best version we've seen. It looks more fleshed out visually, and there's much more polish in its interfaces and assets. It also feels more like a game now than it ever has. Flying around space requires more work, and taking down enemy ships requires more hits. Enemies have hit points, and they're more than happy to dodge your missiles and come back at you while you're trying to avoid asteroid collisions. Even in its unfinished state, running on this non-final prototype kit, I'd happily buy Project Morpheus as is to play more of EVE: Valkyrie.  Impressions: Sony has had a very strong first showing for their Project Morpheus VR platform. It's clear that they've been working behind the scenes for some time now, and that this offering isn't just a me-too product. Overall, I've been more impressed with what I've seen right out of the gate than I have with any of the numerous Oculus Rift showings I've attended. The device looks better, fits better, and seems to have more immersive and higher-quality demos to share.  Oculus Rift still wins on resolution, and there is less motion blur in their latest kit, though. And they have what seems like all the brain power in the world at their disposal to figure out any issues that might come up otherwise. But both companies still have a long way to go before they have a final product. They have to build the final kit, come up with compelling experiences, and meet a price point that gamers can accept before VR will become a reality.
Sony VR hands-on photo
First hands-on at GDC
Sony choose GDC as its coming out party for its virtual reality platform, Project Morpheus. The goal was to build interest at a show where just about every developer in the industry is in attendance. And from the look of the ...

Nero: First-person visual novel is part Journey, part Myst

Mar 19 // Dale North
[embed]272139:53035:0[/embed] What I saw of Nero was dark and magical, lit only by bioluminescent plants and creatures. The world is a projection of the mind of a boy that wanders through it. As he walks, neon orbs of color are carried in the wind in the night sky, giving just enough light to show a faint path through lush forests and grasslands. A game cinematic showed the boy crossing a bridge over water as a beautiful, massive glowing jellyfish rose up in the background, with its light glowing behind him. While still early in development, Nero is already gorgeous. The look alone was enough to get its hooks in me. Nero is a first-person game where exploration is tied directly to the story, and discovery continually brings new story revelations. You play as a boy that journeys to follow an adult through the world in an effort to learn more about this person as well as about himself. Both the boy and the adult he follows are hooded and robed, and both are completely silent for the entire game, which makes the experience even more mysterious. While the characters are silent, the game will be fully narrated, just as you'll hear in the above teaser trailer. They teased some unnamed Hollywood talent for the narrator during our meeting. The boy's discoveries tie into to world-based puzzles that look to use different aspects of time and light. Completing the main puzzles will reveal story elements, while others will unlock mementos that uncover background details on their story. Belli revealed that there will be branching story lines and multiple endings for Nero. Nero's puzzles looked to be right in line with what you'd see in a game like Myst. One seemed to have the boy firing a light projection from his hand toward hour indicators on a rock formation (think Stonehenge) to match clues found earlier in the level. It seemed that setting these so that light and shadow fell in particular places was the key. These same spherical light projections are used in other places in the world to interact with the environment. Belli said that we'll see that every single puzzle is tied directly to Nero's plot. Belli, alongside producer Giulia Zamboni, were happy to show off their game and detail its features, but they were very careful to avoid revealing any details on Nero's story. From the gameplay I saw, it's clear that there's some kind of connection between the boy and the person he follows. But he seems to keep his distance while following; I sense some hesitation. Again, both are in robes, and they look somewhat ceremonial to me. They're headed somewhere, but with only seeing one stage and a tease of another, it's hard to make any solid guesses as to where they're heading. All I could pull out of them is that the story centers around love and family. So how is it like Journey? Belli says that the relation will become clear when we have more details on the story. He says that like Journey, players will each have their own interpretation, and that they'll be left with lingering thoughts after play is through. They expect that players will continue to discuss the story on forums well after they've finished, sharing their thoughts on it with others. What's amazing is that Storm in a Teacup created the gameplay they showed me in only 25 days. The company only opened in October of last year, and concept and design work began then. The focus at that time was building the office. But they've recently pitched the game to a couple of publishers, and after some heavy interest from an unnamed publisher, they scrambled to get a proper showing together for this month. The team is based in Rome, Italy, but they're fully international, with members from UK, Sweden, South Africa, and other locations. Each member brings AAA game making experience to the team, coming from studios like Eidos, Bethesda, Ubisoft, among others, working on games like Crysis, the Batman titles, Assassin's Creed, Watch Dogs, and others. As a first-person game, Storm in a Teacup thought it would make for a fine virtual reality game, so they've started down the road of developing for Oculus Rift and other VR platforms. Aside from PC, they say that a console release is possible. And Nero should sound as good as it looks: Sigur Ros is slated to record the soundtrack of Nero. Storm in a Teacup feels that music and sound are an important part of setting the tone for Nero, so they are aiming high. Just on mood and setting alone, Nero looks like something I'd definitely be into. Their teases on its story were highly effective on me. We're hoping to get some time to explore on our on soon.
Nero first look photo
Beautiful bioluminescence
Imagine the exploratory experience of Journey, the first-person puzzle solving of Myst, and the look of the world of Avatar, all mixed together in one new game. That's how Storm in a Teacup's Executive Producer, Alberto Belli, describes their upcoming title, Nero. They call it a visual novel, though it's nothing like the Japanese text-based titles you might imagine from that label.







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