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‘Blaston’ is a Fantastically Creative VR ‘Shooter’ That’s All About Making You Move

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Blaston, the latest VR title from Resolution Games, is a 1 vs. 1 multiplayer VR game that thinks completely outside the box and explores new and interesting mechanics that challenge the notion of what a ‘VR shooter’ can be.

I’ve spent nearly a decade now reporting on the VR industry and watching VR content grow from the earliest demo experiences for dev kit headsets to the shiniest big budget exclusive titles. And though there’s a growing number of games that truly feel ‘VR native’, the majority of VR content that we see today feels like it’s still trying to break free of the tropes of non-VR game design.

Quietly launched just last week on Quest (and coming soon to SteamVR), Blaston immediately stands out to me as a game that was designed with a properly blank canvas and developers that dodged preconceptions about how a shooting game could work in VR.

Blaston could be called a First Person Shooter—after all, it’s a 1v1 shooting game—but it’s really nothing like any you’ve played before. After playing the game for a few hours, the most succinct way I can describe the game is ‘PvP bullet hell shooter’. Here’s the gist.

Two opposing players stand on raised platforms. At the start of the match weapons begin to spawn at the edges of the platforms. Each weapon fires projectiles that differ greatly in speed & size, and guns have vastly different ammo counts & rates of fire.

Each player has a health bar and takes damage as they get hit by projectiles. To avoid them, players need to duck, weave, or block—without falling off the platform—all while returning fire.

It looks chaotic, but the slow movement of the projecticles and the differences in the weapons leave the door open to gameplay that’s deeper than just shooting. Not just in the way you dance around to dodge incoming fire, but also how you pick which weapons to bring with you into the game and how you use them together in the heat of battle.

Captured by Road to VR

There’s 22 different weapons in Blaston, each with their own bullet properties and spawn timers. Players choose six weapons for their loadout which spawn around them during the match. With creative weapons like laser grenades, guns with curving projecticles, and even deployable shields for blocking incoming fire, there’s tons of room for creative strategizing in offense & defense.

Some weapons are semi-auto and shoot large, slow bullets, others are full auto and shoot faster smaller bullets | Captured by Road to VR

In a nutshell, Blaston is about making your opponent move how you want them to. Once their movements are predictable, then you know where to shoot to score damage. But your opponent might have a loadout that foils your underlying strategy, forcing you to adapt in real time and encouraging you to tweak and refine your own loadout for the next match.

In this way, Blaston is almost like a bullet hell game where—instead of a computer shooting a bunch of bullets everywhere—an intelligent agent (the other player) is the one making the ‘map’ for you in real time. It’s a genius arrangement.

Though one is a shooter and the other a melee game, aspects of Blaston’s design reminds me a lot of the artfully designed Until You Fall. It’s no coincidence that both games take special care to control the pace of combat in a way that allows for deeper gameplay to emerge, engaging both your micro-skill (aiming, dodging, and blocking) and your macro-skill (pre-game planning and overarching strategy). Nor is it coincidence that the core gameplay of both are build around engaging bodily movement instead of heavy use of buttons and sticks.

What isn’t part of Blaston is an important lesson too. There’s no reloads. No stick locomotion. No ADS. No inventory. No giant map. No shields. Etc, etc.

None of those things are necessarily bad for VR, but the assumption that they should be in there (a holdover of non-VR game design) would have steered Blaston toward serving preconceptions instead of the reality of its gameplay.

– – — – –

When it comes to VR game design, counterintuitively, one of the biggest challenges for developers seems to be stepping outside of the box of non-VR game design, to undo assumptions about what should be, and to explore new ideas that don’t neatly fit into established non-VR genres like ‘shooter’. With Blaston, developer Resolution Games has clearly demonstrated that capacity and paved new ground for all of us to consider.

Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/blaston-impression-vr-dueling-bullet-hell/

AR/VR

A Wake Inn Pulls Those Trailer Strings Ahead of a 2021 Release

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There were plenty of virtual reality (VR) titles announced during the week that would normally have been the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), VR Bros’ A Wake Inn being one of them. An immersive horror experience originally slated for this year, the team has just released a new trailer moving the launch to early 2021.

A Wake Inn is a scary title featuring a classic horror staple, mannequins, those lifeless, dead-eyed entities which work so well at terrifying almost everyone. The twist here is that not only is the art deco hotel where the gameplay is set filled with an army of living dolls, you also happen to be one. And then there’s the mysterious Doctor Finnegan, owner of the estate who talks to you via a shortwave transmitter.

The story revolves around you finding out who you are, how you ended up here, and how to get out whilst avoiding the other not so friendly dolls. As VR Bros puts it: “Is it time for the player to take revenge on their maker and set themselves free, or perhaps they’re just a puppet being pulled by its strings?”

In a similar fashion to Last Labyrinth, you’re bound to a wheelchair, making A Wake Inn an entirely seated experience. That’s where the similarity ends, as in this experience you’re given free rein to explore the hotel and figure out its various escape room-style gameplay elements. You operate it just as you would any manual wheelchair, moving the controllers as if pushing the wheels.

Further thought has been put into the gameplay interactions as well, a flashlight for lighting up the darkness which does run out of batteries, a radio with custom stations, and the cinema room where you can watch tapes found around the building.

A Wake Inn will support HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Valve Index when it launches next year. For further updates on this wheeled horror, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/a-wake-inn-pulls-those-trailer-strings-ahead-of-a-2021-release/

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Working Up a Sweat With FitXR’s Dance Workouts

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The UK is nearing the end of its second lockdown and even with that coming to an end plenty of restrictions will still be in place. With the winter weather kicking in and gyms closed if you want to stay healthy at home VR offers an entertaining solution. So VRFocus picked up its Oculus Quest and tried out one of the latest ways to get yourself moving, FitXR’s dance workouts.

FitXR (formerly BoxVR) previously only offered boxing style workouts, hitting pads with jabs, hooks and uppercuts in time to music. The title then diversified this month by adding dance workouts, helping to not only emulate a more traditional fitness class but also add a less stringent gameplay mode.

Selecting between beginner and intermediate classes you’ve got a central fitness instructor to follow who’ll tell you the next move and you simply replicate, easy. There were a number of different workout times depending on how energetic you’re feeling but for the gameplay video below VRFocus kept things nice and easy with a brief 3-minute session.

None of the moves were too complicated but they did get the whole body moving – rather than just the upper body – with the speed stepping up a notch toward the end. Even if the stock, pre-recorded phrases from the trainer occasionally repeat it’s nice hearing them, aiding that motivation on the longer sets. Plus, thanks to FitXR’s multiplayer functionality, you’re joined by others for more of a group workout.

For a bit of added competition if you get the moves spot on then you’ll be awarded points which tally on a live scoreboard behind the trainer. Having a quick glance and seeing where your position is helps to give a little kick, especially if you’re competitive.

The dance-inspired workouts are available on Oculus Quest and Quest 2 as part of the main videogame. For further gameplay videos keep watching VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/working-up-a-sweat-with-fitxrs-dance-workouts/

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Best VR Engines for Enterprise applications

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Virtual reality (VR) is a simple term that refers to and describes a variety of technologies associated with immersion into a simulated 3D environment. It can be considered primarily as the point where human-computer interaction, computer graphics, computer visions and 3D sensing meet.

Once virtual reality engines were associated with gaming only, but now it has gained momentum in all industries. VR in the enterprise and consumer sector has taken the world of tech by storm. It has transformed from a figment of science fiction imagination into a billion-dollar business. According to expert estimations, the virtual reality (VR) market is forecast to reach 18.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, representing a 78% increase in spending from last year.

Virtual reality app development has become a highly competitive space, with several companies offering excellent VR engines for businesses and other large enterprises. With so many VR options available in the market, it is easy for company executives to get confused about the best ones that suit their business. We will look at some of the best VR engines for enterprise applications.

Top VR engines to consider

Amazon Sumerian

The Amazon Sumerian is the virtual reality engine developed by AWS. When using this VR engine, you don’t need 3D graphics or VR programming skills. The engine works with the popular VR platforms, including Oculus Go, HTC Vive Pro, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, and Lenovo Mirage. The Amazon Sumerian engine also works well with Android and iOS mobile devices.

The good thing about this VR engine is that it has numerous enterprise applications. You can use it for cases such as employee education, training simulation, retail & sales, virtual concierge, and field services productivity,

Some of the powerful features of Amazon Sumerian include;

·         Sumerian editor;

·         Sumerian hosts;

·         Asset management;

·         Capability to script the logic in any scene you create.

Amazon Sumerian offers several learning resources that make it easy for you to use the VR engine. The resources have valuable information for virtual reality developers.

Maya

Maya is one of the most widely used VR enterprise applications. The R software development tool from Autodesk is used for various purposes including D animations, motion graphics, and VFX software.

It is currently one of the most powerful VR engines as it is used for various functions such as dynamics, 3D rendering, effects, 3D animation, 3D shading, 3D modelling, motion graphics, pipeline integration, and more.

Unity

Unity is a popular VR engine as it allows you to develop solutions for various sectors. With Unity, you can create VR solutions for sectors like automotive, transportation, manufacturing, media & entertainment, engineering, construction.

The tool comes with numerous perks for developers such as;

  • Artist and designer tools;
  • A powerful editor for creating Unity 3D VR assets;
  • CAD tools; and 
  • Collaboration tools.

Google VR for everyone

Google VR is the engine developed by the search engine giant, Google. The development tool allows you to create an immersive VR experience for your company. The tool and other VR engines are available on the Google VR developer portal.

The Google VR engine can be used to develop VR tools on numerous platforms such as Android, iOS, Unity, Unreal, and web. Google has software development kits (SDKs) for the various VR platforms it supports and can be accessed easily.

The Google VR offers numerous perks, which include;

  • Low cost
  • Easy to set up and use for developing VR apps
  • Various VR platforms available, making it easier for developers to choose.

Final thoughts

Using VR for your business can open up a whole new market for you. The VR engines discussed in this post are some of the best for enterprise applications. They allow virtual reality app development for different purposes and on multiple platforms.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/best-vr-engines-for-enterprise-applications/

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Full VR Support Rolling out December for Microsoft Flight Simulator

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It was great news when Asobo Studio revealed back in July that the new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator would feature virtual reality (VR) support, but slightly surprising that the HP Reverb G2 would be the only compatible device to begin with. If you’ve been awaiting further news then wait no longer, the studio has confirmed full support is coming for PC VR headsets next month.

The Microsoft Flight Simulator team held a live developer Q&A yesterday via Twitch where Martial Bossard, Executive Producer at Asobo Studio confirmed the incoming update. “We are going to open the VR for everyone,” he said. “It will also be open to all devices, the Oculus family, Valve family, every family of headset is supported there.”

Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator Jorg Neumann followed that up by saying: “The feedback has been so positive [from the closed beta] that we think we’re ready to put this out before the holiday season.” The VR addition will be part of Sim Update 2 which is dated for 22nd December and will be free.

Further details regarding VR implementation will be revealed during a Feature Discovery Series published on 17th December. As Bossard mentions in the Q&A its not just the main simulator itself which will be VR compatible but also all the menus – alpha players had to remove their headset to navigate these areas.

As the roadmap indicates, Asobo Studio has plenty in store recently releasing a World Update for the US with a World Update for the UK coming in January.

Third-party creator community stats have been released showing that 214 airports have been created so far, with another 48 announced and an additional 118 are in production. 9 aircraft have so far been released another 56 are coming whilst another 20 are on the cards.

Microsoft Flight Simulator gives players the entire world to explore with real-time weather and traffic systems. For further updates on VR compatibility, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/full-vr-support-rolling-out-december-for-microsoft-flight-simulator/

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