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Celebrating Star Wars Day…VR Style

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It’s 4th May so you know what that means, Star Wars day! Not that fans of the sci-fi franchise need a day to celebrate but hey, it gives you all an extra excuse to travel to a galaxy far, far away. And virtual reality (VR) continues to play an ever-growing role with new titles adding to the canon material almost every year it seems. So today, VRFocus is celebrating all things Star Wars VR-related.

Star Wars: Squadrons

This is the deal you’re looking for…

So let’s start with the deals. Like any branded day there are offers to be had and Star Wars in VR is no different, so if you’ve been holding out for a particular title then now might be a good time to pick one up. Here’s what VRFocus has found:

  • Star Wars Day Pack for Oculus Quest – $59.99 USD/£46.69 GBP
  • Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series for PlayStation VR – $14.99
    • Grab all three episodes at a 50% discount until 12th May 2021.
  • Star Wars Squadrons
    • Currently 50% off over on Steam, you can pick up Star Wars Squadrons for a limited time for £17.49, compatible with Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
    • Star Wars Squadrons is also on sale via the Epic Games Store with a 40% discount of £20.99.
  • Humble Bundle deals
    • Now, none of these are VR-compatible videogames but there are over 30 titles with up to 75% off, so in the spirit of Star Wars they’ve been included.
Vader Immortal

The Star Wars VR games every fan should have

As mentioned, VR fans have an abundance of titles to choose from when its comes to Star Wars. Back when VR was emerging as a consumer technology with the launch of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive there were early experiments like Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine and Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay (both are still free). But the technology and gameplay has certainly moved on.

Previously location-based entertainment (LBE) solutions like Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire would’ve been worth a look but with The VOID now defunct that’s no longer a possibility. So here are VRFocus’ recommendations for enjoying Star Wars in VR at home.

  • Star Wars Pinball VR – Only just released for most VR headsets last week, Zen Studios’ latest pinball mashup features 8 themed tables, a customisable fan cave, and more unlockables than you could find in the hold of the Millenium Falcon.
  • Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – The most recent title from ILMxLAB, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge takes you to the outskirts of the Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu. With the storyline set between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker you end up in Seezelslak’s Cantina where you listen to his stories and go on missions. Part one is available now with part two due to arrive later this year.
  • Star Wars Squadrons – An all-action videogame with single-player and multiplayer modes Star Wars Squadrons you take command of both Rebel and Imperial craft, flying X-Wing and Tie Fighters across a range of missions. In multiplayer team-based 5v5 battles take place across gameplay modes including Dogfight and Battle Fleet. If you’ve ever wanted to be in the heart of any Star Wars space battle then now’s your chance.
  • Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series – For pure cinematics where you actually get to face Vader and use Force powers then give Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series a try. Split across three episodes explore Vader’s base on Mustafar and learn about the history and secrets of the planet, as well as your own. Then head to the Lightsaber Dojo to practice your Force powers and lightsaber skills against waves of enemies.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/05/celebrating-star-wars-day-vr-style/

AR/VR

Lone Echo II Oculus Rift Launch Date Confirmed for October

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After so many delays it might be one of those launch date announcements you take with hesitation but Ready At Dawn has now come back with a date for Lone Echo II. The sci-fi adventure built for Oculus Rift is slated to release in exactly two weeks.

Lone Echo 2

In a statement today, Ready At Dawn said: “Over the last couple months now, our team has been hard at work polishing the game to meet our desired quality level. As always, our goal has been to bring you an entertaining and immersive experience when adventuring with Liv and Jack. Today, we’re excited to announce Lone Echo II will be released on October 12, 2021.”

There’s quite a bit of anticipation for the videogame – well there is at VRFocus anyway – so it’s understandable when the team adds: “We love the Lone Echo universe and felt we needed a little more time to give the game the polish and love it deserved. So, thank you all for your patience and understanding throughout development.”

And it has been a long old road. The original Lone Echo arrived in 2017 with this sequel confirmed during the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2019. Initially expected in 2020, like many studios Ready At Dawn had to readjust to working remotely, impacting development and pushing the release further back. It was back in July when excitement was built with an August launch date followed by a reversal only three weeks later.

Lone Echo 2

Hopefully, that date is now set in stone and fans can see what happens next to Captain Olivia Rhodes and her trusty sidekick Jack. Lone Echo’s story takes place on an advanced mining facility within the rings of Saturn when things begin to go wry due to an anomaly. As Jack, an AI housed within a synthetic body, you have to ensure Rhodes’ survival in this zero-g environment by solving puzzles and both inside and outside the facility. Those weightless mechanics will return in the sequel alongside a new threat.

For continued updates from Ready At Dawn, keep reading VRFocus.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/09/lone-echo-ii-oculus-rift-launch-date-confirmed-for-october/

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The Infinite Brings its Multi-Sensory VR Experience to Houston in December

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Felix & Paul Studios has been deeply invested in capturing the sheer wonder of space for several years now, collaborating with NASA on its Space Explorers project; most recently recording the first 360-degree footage outside on the International Space Station (ISS). Tied into this is another multi-collaboration project called The Infinite, an in-person experience that was originally launched in Montréal, Canada. Today, the next stop on The Infinite’s tour has been confirmed as Space City in Houston, Texas.

The Infinite

Still currently being shown in Montréal until early November, The Infinite will make its way to Houston for the US debut in December. A joint effort between Felix & Paul Studios, PHI Studio and Time Studios, guests will experience a mixture of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology across the 60-minute timeframe as they’re transported to the ISS.

The Infinite will be a 12,500-sq.-ft. exhibition allowing visitors to roam freely inside a life-scale replica of the International Space Station. Guests will be treated to the very latest footage from that cinematic spacewalk captured in 360° 3D, only recorded on 12th September. There will be plenty of interactivity not just in VR but also with physical objects, multimedia art, soundscapes, light design, and even subtle scents.

“The exploration of space and the unknown is an endless source of fascination to us. We are thrilled to bring The Infinite to Houston – the global epicentre of human space exploration – to share this massive, fully immersive exhibition, and we look forward to virtually transporting thousands of people off the Earth to enjoy the joy and wonder of space with audiences in the U.S.,” said Félix Lajeunesse, co-founder of Felix & Paul Studios and Creative Director of The Infinite. “This unprecedented project is made possible thanks to our partners at NASA, the ISS National Lab, international space agencies and the incredible power of virtual reality.”

The Infinite

“The Infinite experience is unlike any other exhibition examining space. We took the approach to expansively underpin the visitor experience with exclusive content shot in virtual reality by Felix & Paul Studios aboard the ISS and did not centre the exhibition around artefacts of space exploration. Using architectural design, free-roaming technology and commissioned artwork from Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda, we were inspired by humanity’s global fascination with space, integrating a poetic point of view of the astronauts. It was vital for us to transport the public to the particularities of life in space and [allow them to] feel their presence onboard and outside the ISS,” Phoebe Greenberg, PHI Studio Founder & Chief Creative Officer of The Infinite adds.”

For those interested in attending, The Infinite will be held at Houston’s Sawyer Yards from 20th December 2021 with early bird tickets starting from $29 USD. For further updates on all the latest Felix & Paul Studios news, keep reading VRFocus.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/09/the-infinite-brings-its-multi-sensory-vr-experience-to-houston-in-december/

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Studio Behind Wraith: The Oblivion Forms VR Publishing Arm

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Having released virtual reality (VR) videogames like Apex Construct and Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife, Swedish studio Fast Travel Games is getting into third-party publishing. It announced a new publishing arm today, focused on utilising the team’s experience within the industry to provide services to other VR game developers.

Wraith: The Oblivion - Afterlife

The new publishing arm will help VR developers with funding, access to first-party platforms, marketing and PR, certification processes, quality assurance, storefront optimization, localization, age ratings, music licensing, and all the other variables required for a successful launch.

This new side of the business will be helmed by industry veteran and former Head of Games at Mojang Studios Patrick Liu, bringing more than 15 years of experience to the role.

“We’ve been fully committed to VR since founding the studio in 2016, and in that time we’ve collected experiences, expertise, and connections that are of huge value to smaller VR devs trying to find success in this market,” said Fast Travel Games CEO Oskar Burman in a statement. “VR is still a developing medium, and we want to use what we’ve learned and accomplished to contribute to its expansion and help bring more great games to market.”

Apex Construct Oculus QUEST

“Right now we’re experiencing a turning point for VR, with consumer interest growing and technology becoming more accessible than ever before, due in no small part to the success of Oculus Quest and Quest 2,” Burman continued.  “While we will continue to develop and publish games on all major platforms, Quest has changed the game. For our most recent launch, Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife, Quest has accounted for 90% of sales since launch. VR gaming will only continue to grow and expand, and we look forward to working with other developers to bring their visions to life on Quest and all VR platforms.” 

While this is the official formation of the publishing arm, previously Fast Travel Games has worked with fellow Swedish studio Neat Corp to help launch its stealthy sequel Budget Cuts 2: Mission Insolvency.

“I was thrilled to hear that Fast Travel Games is expanding to offer publishing! It’s a great way to extend the support and connections they have developed over the years to smaller development teams,” said Jenny Nordenborg, CEO of Neat Corporation. “From our experience collaborating with Fast Travel Games on Budget Cuts 2, we can confidently say this is an amazing opportunity for newer studios, and expect to see a few VR hits come out of their publishing arm!”

Any VR developers interested in pitching their project can find a new publishing section on Fast Travel Games’ website. For further updates, keep reading VRFocus.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/09/studio-behind-wraith-the-oblivion-forms-vr-publishing-arm/

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It Looks Like The Void is Returning Reports Suggest

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In its heyday, The Void was a premium virtual reality (VR) location offering pioneering experiences affiliated with big IPs like Star Wars and Marvel’s Avengers. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and other issues, the location-based entertainment (LBE) closed last year. Now it looks like there’s a ray of hope regarding a comeback, thanks to new investment reports and a job page appearing.

THE VOID - Star Wars

Protocol reports this week that a former investor in The Void has now acquired all the key assets of the company with plans to relaunch in 2022. The patents and trademarks have been picked up by Hyper Reality Partners, helmed by CEO Adrian Steckel, who was also one of The Void’s board members. He’s not the only one returning with former Chief Creative Officer Curtis Hickman and former VP of Content Jason Howard heading up the new team.

Steckel is currently fundraising to help support the relaunch with $20 million USD supposedly already raised. While the company is staying fairly quiet regarding its plans, a basic placeholder page has appeared listing three engineer positions. “Hyper Reality Partners is a team made up of world-renowned industry leaders in location-based virtual reality. Having acquired The VOID assets and IP, our mission is to take VR well beyond where it has been before,” the page notes. “HRP & The VOID are now entering a period of rapid expansion and are looking for more talented team members to join us. This is a unique opportunity to shape the future of VR and the entire entertainment industry.”

This would be a major turnaround for The Void, much like Sandbox VR also managed to achieve in early 2021. Hyper Reality Partners will also be trying to avoid the mistakes of the past, as it wasn’t purely the Covid-19 pandemic that shuttered The Void’s operations.

The VOID

A lot of The Void’s attraction was down to its Hollywood blockbuster franchises, with titles such as Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, Ralph Breaks VR, Jumanji: Reverse the Curse and Avengers: Damage Control. The Void had developed its own in-house technology, utilising a modified Oculus headset in combination with a VR backpack, haptic vest and environmental effects like wind and heat to aid immersion.

However, its 17 facilities around the world were all in pricey locations, premium shopping centres or The Venetian casino in Las Vegas. Pre-pandemic these were becoming difficult to afford and the lack of revenue once they were forced the closure with its IP eventually being sold off to HRP. Because of this, Protocol also notes that HRP is now looking at opening larger standalone entertainment venues instead of shopping centre locations, with the first one planned for Vegas.

As further details arise, VRFocus will let you know.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/09/it-looks-like-the-void-is-returning-reports-suggest/

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