Category Archives: Oculus Rift News

Google Earth VR - screenshot courtesy Steam

Best Oculus Experiences of 2017

2017 was far closer to the “Year of VR” that everyone promised a year earlier – new head-mounted displays from Microsoft’s spec (Acer, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung), peripheral updates – HTC Vive Tracker, and major permanent price cuts across all platforms meant higher adoption. Games and apps improved beyond being mere demo-grade downstream shovel-ware as the early developers matured into major players. 2018 will advance all of these elements substantially, and as arcades evolve and Spielberg enters the fray with the spring release of Ready Player One, mainstream awareness will start to trickle in.

Among the offerings that came out in 2017, here are those experiences we found most succinct and worth of your time.

Cat Sorter VR

from Pawmigo Games

Cat Sorter VR game screenshot courtesy Steam
Cat Sorter VR – screenshot courtesy Steam

Despite the goofy premise, this game about taking apart cats and putting them back together again as a worker on an assembly line in some feline equivalent to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory captured the public imagination – and mainstream media attention – in ways that few other VR releases did this year. Helping elevate Cat Sorter VR from a novelty game are the cats themselves, which feature mutations like extra eyes or scorpion tales, making the whole process all the more addictive. This fusion of cute and creepy were enough to garner the Aesthetic Award at IndieCade 2017.

Oculus Rift | 2 GB | $12.99 from Steam

Gorn

from Free Lives

Gorn game screenshot courtesy Steam
Gorn – screenshot courtesy Steam

Though it’s technically still in Early Access, everyone we know has been playing Gorn nonstop this year. Created by the team responsible for indie PC hit BroForce, this gladiatorial combat game provides a sense of gleeful, cartoonish violence that’s so over-the-top it’s somehow almost innocent. Gore plus porn – get it?

Instead of destructible environments and explosions, the theme this time around is spiked clubs and fisticuffs – not to mention ludicrously huge blood droplets spattering everywhere each time a swing connects with a face.

Oculus Rift | 2 GB | $19.99 from Steam

Bigscreen

from Bigscreen, Inc.

bigscreen vr screenshot

Bigscreen is a recently socialized virtual desktop app for Vive and Oculus Rift that lets you echo your desktop in virtual space. You can play games, scribble, throw a LAN party – we have yet to figure out how to not spill Mountain Dew in our lap while doing so – and most obviously, watch movies with others in a virtual theater. Spatialized voice chat ensures you can echolocate your buddies in the metaverse.

You can also manipulate screens with controllers or even Leap Motion‘s IR-based input method. They recently hosted an online viewing party of Top Gun in 3D. Now VR starts to demonstrate how it is unlike any other medium.

Oculus Rift | 1.5 GB | FREE from the Oculus Store or from Steam

Star Trek Bridge Crew

from Ubisoft

Star Trek Bridge Simulator game screenshot courtesy Steam
Star Trek Bridge Simulator – screenshot courtesy Steam

VR’s strength is its use of space to create experience, and what science fiction fan wouldn’t want to visit location as iconic as the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise? Star Trek Bridge Crew gives players the chance to not only explore the bridge but also team up with friends online “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Oculus Rift | 10 GB | $49.99 from the Oculus Store or from Steam

Lone Echo

from Ready at Dawn

Lone Echo  screenshot courtesy Oculus
Lone Echo – screenshot courtesy Oculus

Lone Echo draws on hard science fiction, both classic (Arthur C. Clarke) and modern (The Expanse), setting players to work investigating weird goings-on aboard a space station orbiting Saturn. Apart from its puzzles and evocative renditions of believable technology as well as the awe-inspiring feeling of space, the game excels at locomotion, giving players an experience of zero gravity without the attendant expense of training at NASA or chartering a reduced-gravity aircraft.

If that all sounds too esoteric and thought-provoking, there’s also the included Echo Arena spin-off, a multi-player zero gravity sports game a bit like Ultimate Frisbee.

Oculus Rift | 17 GB | $39.99 from the Oculus Store

Luna

from Funomena

Luna game screenshot courtesy Steam
Luna – screenshot courtesy Steam

An interactive fairy tale from Funomena (best known for such acclaimed works as Journey and Flower), our favorite VR game of the year is so perfect because of its use of space to both tell a story and offer up gaming elements in a space-based diorama filled with wonderful nature pastiches. Its puzzles are fairly easy, but are fun and addictive enough to keep us pulling at spiderwebs not to progress in the game, but just because we enjoyed the sensation so much. Delightful art and a score by Austin Wintory made Luna a memorable and joyous experience.

Oculus Rift | 2 GB | $16.99 from Oculus or from Steam

Other Major Releases of Interest

Rift Core 2.0 update

from Oculus

Rift Core 2.0  screenshot courtesy Oculus
Rift Core 2.0 – screenshot courtesy Oculus

This is no mere update but a sea change, catching up to Steam and Windows MR to allow you to build your own crib the way you like it. The Rift 2.0 Core update adds so many features it becomes an experience all unto itself. Allowing you to bring your own Medium creations into your animated, customized home base adds to the joy. Socialized features and virtual desktops via the new Dash interface make it harder than ever to leave once you’re in. The first steps towards the universe envisioned in Ready Player One.

Oculus Rift | FREE from the Oculus Store (Beta Opt-In Required)

VRChat

from VRChat Inc.

VRChat is STILL technically in Early Access – and even while AltSpace died and cried and then Palmer Luckey considered buying it with cash and then Microsoft actually did and while High Fidelity looks amazing but no one is there and it takes FOREVER to load and while Project Sansar looks even BETTER than that and has cryptocurrency but no one uses it yet – VRChat crept up and grabbed society by the jugular, and now grandmas and kids and drunk uncles all can’t get enough of it. Amazing to see a sleeper pop like this and restore hope for us all.

Oculus Rift | 1 GB | FREE from Steam

Google Earth VR

from Google

Google Earth VR - screenshot courtesy Steam
Google Earth VR – screenshot courtesy Steam

Although VR implementation for Google Earth actually arrived in 2016, this year has seen major updates to the project, including faster load times and – more significantly – direct integration with Google Street View. A terrific travelers’ pre-visit tool and surprisingly emotional.

Oculus Rift | 4 GB | FREE from the Oculus Store or from Steam

As VR games and experiences continue to progress, we’re more than a little excited to see what 2018 has to offer, but in the meantime, what were your favorite Oculus offerings of the past year?

StagePresence_game_screenshot_purple_800x450

tinyBuild GAMES Announces First VR Signing – Stage Presence

tinyBuildGAMES_logo

TinyBuilding a Stage Presence in VR

tinyBuild GAMES, the indie publisher behind such games as Boid, SpeedRunners and No Time to Explain, has announced its first virtual reality offering: Stage Presence.

Designed by Manchester, UK studio Sea Green Games, the developers rather cheekily describe Stage Presence as “a microphone-based music festival and angry mob simulator.” Virtual reality explorers take on the role of lead singer for a band…right when the power cuts out. Players are then required to do their best to keep the virtual audience entertained using only the power of their voice.

Twitching with Stage Fright

Sea Green Games’ approach to Stage Presence appears to be inspired as much by horror – albeit a more mundane sort of horror than the usual zombies and giant spiders – as by the fantasies catered to by games like Guitar Hero. Your primary goal is to keep the crowd from booing you off the stage.

Adding insult to injury, Stage Presence features multiple methods of online humiliation. Players can invite their friends to join the virtual crowd, and said friends can then express their distaste with your singing voice by throwing bottles of urine at you (although if they’re throwing bottles of urine at you, maybe they’re not really your friends).

If you’d prefer to be humiliated by strangers, you’ll also have the ability to not only stream your session on Twitch, but you can let the Twitch chat channel control the crowd.

StagePresence_game_screenshot_blue_800x450

Furthering the Twitch connection, Stage Presence bears the distinction of being the first VR to be shown live on the Twitch stage at PAX East, which took place over the weekend of April 22nd to 24th in Boston, Massachusetts.

Stage Presence is due for release this summer on Steam and for the Oculus Rift.

In the meantime, watch the announcement trailer below:

Virtual Reality Film Festival FIVARS Opens in Toronto Sept 2015

This weekend, Toronto virtual reality meetup group VRTO presents the Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories

The ambitious aggregation of top VR content is focused around the theme of narrative forms emerging through this medium. With the recently announced Oculus Story Mode, a co-production with Pixar, interest in virtual reality narrative has exploded.

The inaugural FIVARS showcase features short subject pieces from around the world, including Russia’s Airpano footage of bears hunting salmon and an active volcano, Germany’s Sonar 360 a a horror in stereoscopic outer space, and Immersive’s John Hopkins scored LoVR, the equivalent of a data visualization roller coaster ride about falling in love. 

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door sold through Eventbrite.

For the full programme and other info, visit http://fivars.net