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First App Lab Bundle Offers Major Discounts On Quest Games

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The less you know, the more you save with these blind box bundles.

Since its introduction on Oculus Quest headsets earlier this year, the Oculus App Lab has served as an excellent resource for Quest developers, allowing them to share their games and apps with the community prior to Oculus Store approval. According to several developers, however, the experimental test channel lacks any significant marketing capabilities, making it difficult for up-and-coming developers to advertise their content.

To assist the community in bringing their indie VR games and apps to the public, 23 Quest developers have banded together to offer the first-ever App Lab bundle, Lab Surprise.

Image Credit: Lab Surprise

Here’s how it works: every time you log on to the official Lab Surprise page, you’ll be presented with a new bundle featuring three random App Lab games. Recently, the team introduced an additional five games to the roster, bringing the total number of games to 19; that’s 969 potential combinations. Now, here’s where things get interesting. Each of the three games will appear hidden to you at first. You can choose to reveal each game individually, though each time you do you lower the bundle’s discount.

Purchase the entire three-game bundle as a blind box and you’ll score a sweet 75% discount. Reveal one game and the discount becomes 50%. Revealing two games brings it down to 30% while opening all three gets you just 10% off. So, the greater the risk, the greater the reward.

Image Credit: Lab Surprise

Those interested can learn more over at Labsurprise.me. The bundle was originally scheduled to run until April 28th, but was recently extended for an additional 10 days, so get in while the gettings good!

We had a chance to chat with Julien Dorra, creator of the Quest game Peco Peco and one of the organizers behind Lab Surprise, to learn more about how this cooperative marketing venture came to be and what it could mean for the indie VR scene.

What has the response been like this past week? Any plans to continue the program?

“VR players like the idea of having both a great discount and a way to support indie devs. We saw a lot of fun discussion on VR Discords along the lines of “What did you get?”, “I’ll try another one”, so many VR players get the playfulness behind Lab Surprise.

Julien Dorra / Image Credit: Julien Dorra

Some players told us they don’t like the idea of the surprise box, and for them we offer the possibility of fully revealing as many surprises as they want and get a 10% discount when they find a nice bundle they like. So I think, even if you don’t like surprises you can get something out of Lab Surprise. But we also faced two big criticisms: the micro-site was barebone, and the lineup of games was maybe too small with 14 games. (that’s debatable of course, as gathering 14 App Lab games is already not bad at all!).

So we worked hard in the last few days to onboard 5 new developers who reached to us (including making them verified Paddle vendors in no time), going from 364 bundle combinations to 969 unique bundle combinations… which is kind of crazy if you think of it! 969 different bundles of 3 games, isn’t that more than everyone ever did in 2 years on Quest? And we also give an upgrade to the site.”

What are some of the issues developers have with the current state of App Lab?

Image Credit: Lab Surprise

“App Lab is a great step forward for indie devs on Quest, with super easy updates for our players, very important anonymized user engagement data… But marketing-wise, it lacks features like setting up a co-op bundle with other App Lab apps, setting a temporary discount on an app… players also cannot buy-as-gift an App Lab app (and some of us already had players complaining about that… there’s sadly nothing we can do here). Players ask if we are going to offer DLCs or more content using IAPs in App Lab apps, or offer cross-buy with Rift, and again, it’s not something that is under the control of developers to unlock, including all the new features that come to the official store like Subscriptions.

So, on App Lab, we don’t have the full capability of a platform like Steam or Itch. And of course we get no exposure at all from Oculus, all App Lab apps are considered off-platform. However, thanks to Oculus Store keys devs can experiment: create sales, do giveaways or contests, try and sell on third party platforms… Oculus gave all the developers the official go to sell keys the way they want.”

Is Lab Surprise a direct response to these collective frustrations?

“The VR ecosystem, including Quest, is still mostly solo developers. I think the vast majority of games I played lately comes from solo developers.  
So Lab Surprise, like the Waiting for App Lab bundle before, is a project to help build up and sustain the indie VR dev ecosystem, to help create a support system for indie VR devs when they want to reach out to players. We call it Collective Marketing.

Image Credit: Lab Surprise

VR devs are very isolated right now, there are no events, and as the ecosystem is still a majority of indie and solo developers, they are also quite isolated in terms of marketing and communication. They try many things, like paid advertising here and there, but they have a really hard time just being seen by the players who would love their games. Instead of struggling with solo marketing that, frankly, doesn’t work that well at that small scale, we could all benefit from doing things more collectively. All creative productions, including games or apps, are always in a very diverse market, with a few big hits and long tails of smaller and smaller successes (Success for a solo dev is not the same as success for a 50-person studio!).

In VR, Oculus often celebrates the hits, as it shows that the ecosystem is growing, that you can build up an entire studio based on VR titles. But the platforms, Oculus included, must also demonstrate that the market can do more than sustain 10 or 20 VR hits, that it can also help a healthy long tail of smaller studios to be sustainable and grow, because an ecosystem without a tail is really not an ecosystem at all. What should we build to help these solo developers or very small teams more easily reach success, to prove themselves? Do we wait for Oculus to have a plan for us indie devs? Or do we try to build up fun events around our games so our players can hear about us?”

Feature Image Credit: Lab Surprise

The post First App Lab Bundle Offers Major Discounts On Quest Games appeared first on VRScout.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/first-app-lab-bundle-offers-major-discounts-on-quest-games-6089d4d9f745cf9d7120324f?s=rss

AR/VR

Review: Zero Caliber: Reloaded

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All these online, multiplayer-focused military shooters are all well and good but sometimes you just want a nice single-player campaign to delve into. XREAL Games has provided PC VR players with this outlet for several years now thanks to Zero Caliber, a realistic first-person shooter (FPS) with obsessive attention to weapon detail. Now it’s Oculus Quest’s turn with Zero Caliber: Reloaded, rebuilt from the ground up for the standalone platform.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded

Now we say single-player but Zero Caliber: Reloaded does in fact offer a co-op multiplayer experience for up to four people, so you can bring some mates along. You’ll still be playing the same 20+ mission campaign but at least you can have a laugh with friends, appreciating some of the videogames’ finer and rougher moments.

XREAL Games presents a fairly run-of-the-mill story-driven campaign where you’re dropped into a war-torn, dystopian America fighting a bunch of bad guys. While the narrative won’t exactly keep you gripped until the end – there didn’t seem to be much point in paying attention to it – Zero Caliber: Reloaded’s main draw is its gun handling, loadout customisation options and almost fetishistic attention to detail when it comes to the armaments.

Whether you’re playing solo or with friends completing missions quickly and with high accuracy will award you cash to spend on your kit whilst advancing your character level to unlock new goodies. And there’s an absolutely huge selection of kit to play with, maybe too much. You can head into missions with two weapons, with the usual array of rifles, SMG’s, shotguns, and pistols to play with. Then there’s are the bewildering array of attachments; stocks, extended mags, sights, and grips, you name it it’s probably there.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded

Such is the amount that you’ll want to come back to the main hub every couple of missions to examine what you’ve got to further improve your chances on the next level. The attention to weapon detail isn’t purely visual either – although that’s definitely where a lot of time has been spent – as every gun excels when it comes to handling. Choose to fire one-handed and you’ll notice the recoil, so the mechanics do lean towards a more measured approach rather than running and gunning. It’s helpful stepping into the firing range after unlocking a new gun, learning where the mags/shells go and how to cock the damn thing, as each one is accurately modelled on its real-life counterpart.  

The same goes for the grenades. In fact, unlike some VR titles where grenade throwing feels like an element of luck is involved, in Zero Caliber: Reloaded each throw always landed fairly on point. Plus, being able to pull a pin with your teeth is always fun and immersive.  

Another great feature is the ability to hot-swap attachments in the field. Levels will contain the occasional weapon cache, usually containing a gun or two or maybe the odd extra. Find a new (better) gun for the situation and you can quickly and easily take any of the attachments off your previous weapon rather than losing them. If you die then you’ll reset back to your original loadout of course.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded

Big plus points where the guns are concerned, so it’s a shame that that attention to detail doesn’t come across in every other aspect. Zero Caliber: Reloaded isn’t exactly the best looking VR title when it comes to environments and NPC’s even considering the hardware it’s running on. Outside suffers the most, with some dodgy-looking foliage popping up, while inside buildings or more urban locations do fair a bit better.

And then there are the enemies. Variety and brains seem to be missing here as a bunch of shirtless dudes suddenly react in baffling ways. The AI veers widely from reasonably smart to idiotic. Some will start behind or head to cover taking pot shots then suddenly charge like they’re in a Serious Sam game. Others just stand there in the middle of the road. Get up close and they’ll do a roll for no advantage whatsoever, these are the ‘shotgun morons’ as once they stand up you can have a shotty already in their face.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded also presents other issues. There are definitely still glitches to iron out, enemies get stuck or clip through cover or a padlock on a door appears 5x the size, almost comedic in its dimensions. And then there’s the weapon belt, body inventory. In these types of VR videogames, it’s always nice when there’s no HUD, everything is on you and easy to grab. Yet in Zero Caliber: Reloaded it all felt a foot too far forward, with seemingly no way of adjusting the distance. This meant that when a gun had the grip attachment on, the handle would be in among the floating grenades. Or worse, if a gun has a cocking arm at the front then the grenades were in the way again.  At the same time, the ‘weapon belt’ isn’t on your hips which gave a less than realistic feel to grabbing a new mag.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded

That’s not to say there weren’t enjoyable moments in Zero Caliber: Reloaded. Once you got a nicely tailored setup then dropping into a mission, kneeling behind over and taking some well-aimed headshots was very satisfying. Solo, the missions can get a bit simple and repetitive, clearing your way through an area or defending it, so having a few teammates can liven things up. Missions can last anywhere between 5-15 minutes and there are a few which have you backtracking to extend their duration.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded for Oculus Quest is a very mixed experience. On the one hand, the weapons are great and you could easily spend hours in the shooting range mixing and matching components. The 4-5 hour campaign is ok until you get further in and notice some of the glaring issues and glitches like the AI or the rather bland design choices. Best played on the hardest difficulty setting for any real challenge, Zero Caliber: Reloaded gets enough right to be worth a look, but only just.

60% Awesome

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/05/review-zero-caliber-reloaded/

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Population: One’s Wild West Season 2 Arrives Today, Bureau Gold Code Inside

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It’s finally time for Population: One fans to get their hands on BigBox VR’s next update for the popular battle royale shooter. As revealed last week, Season 2 will introduce a limited time Wild West element to Population: One, with a new environment, weapon and other features to expand upon the fast and fun gameplay.

Population: One Season 2

Population: One – Season 2: The Frontier will be available for 10 weeks, with one portion of the map turned into a western frontier town. It’ll feature its own saloon, and dusty streets to fight in. Players will be able to take advantage of explosive barrels to take down opponents, breakable barrels with goodies inside, and plenty of buildings and rock formations to gain the high ground advantage.

Then there are the new items. First up are the Matadors, two small shotguns with 8 shell capacities and a very fast flick reload mechanic. Great for close-up combat, because they are dual wield you won’t have a free hand to climb anything; awesome firepower or environment flexibility, it’s your choice. Players will also find the new Harmonica very useful being able to play a catchy tune to recharge other squad members’ shields. Or there’s always the new Shield Shaker which needs to be shaken and charged for a full shield recharge.

BigBox VR isn’t stopping there either. The map now supports 24 players for even more carnage, there are new Titles, Sprays, and Calling Cards, plus the custom game beta is being rolled out. Players can create their own private rooms to host their own matches with a massive amount of gameplay customisation options at their finger tips, choosing which weapons can be used, the zone speed, and much more.

Population: One Season 2

Oh yeah, one last teasing detail the studio has revealed; Population: One – Season 2 will see the introduction of a Deathmatch Mode. It isn’t saying anymore at the moment with further details to come.

Everything mentioned will be available as free content. Players can also purchase to optional Battle Pass for $4.99 USD that unlocks exclusive themed content and rewards such as new characters and new legendary gun skins. 

While Population: One has garnered plenty of VR fans since its launch last year if you’re really new to the videogame then VRFocus has a special offer for you. Using coupon code: ‘VRFOCUS’ anyone that’s purchased Population: One within the last seven days can claim 750 Bureau Gold (worth $10!) to buy new skins and other items in the shop. The code is valid between 13th – 27th May 2021 (12 am PST). For help redeeming the code here’s BigBix VR’s guide.  

Population: One – Season 2: The Frontier is available today for Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. For continued updates to the battle royale title keep reading VRFocus.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/05/population-ones-wild-west-season-2-arrives-today-bureau-gold-code-inside/

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A Rogue Escape Surfaces in June for PC VR

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Back in November Spare Parts Oasis and Armor Games Studios announced A Rogue Escape, a virtual reality (VR) escape room experience based on Oasis’ first title Nauticrawl. Today, the teams have released a new trailer for A Rogue Escape, confirming an Oculus and Steam store launch will take place in June.

A Rogue Escape takes place inside a giant underwater mech called a Nauticrawl. You’ve stolen this giant machine in a bid for freedom, there’s just one small problem; you’ve never piloted one and its filled with all manner of levers and switches. So the gameplay is very hands-on, finding out what systems work and how those that don’t can be hacked.

The mech is split into five control areas, each with its own set of systems to manage. You’re not left to blindly stumble around the controls, however, as clues have been left by previous pilots. Whilst these will give you a starting point the rest is left up to you and your wits.

“With A Rogue Escape, I got the rare opportunity to realize my childhood dream of what it would really feel like to be inside a mysterious machine, surrounded by buttons and levers to experiment with, while danger lurks outside of the riveted metallic walls!” said Spare Parts Oasis’ Andrea Interguglielmi in a statement. “Combining an escape room with dungeon crawling and cockpit simulation was a daring concept back when I did this on PC with my previous title Nauticrawl, but somehow it feels right at home with a headset on and a fully immersive and tactile environment to experience. I just feel truly excited to share this unique adventure with all VR players willing to be challenged by this colossal machine!”

To help finesse the gameplay for VR headsets Spare Parts Oasis worked with Sylphe Labs – which created Steel Alive for Gear VR – to ensure the interior offered a suitable area, whether players are seated or standing.

Supporting Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index, A Rogue Escape will launch on 10th June 2021. Check out the new trailer below and for further updates, keep reading VRFocus.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/a-rogue-escape-surfaces-in-june-for-pc-vr-609d345989225415087f58e5?s=rss

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Gadgeteer Launches May 25 For PSVR

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Metanaut announced that Gadgeteer will release May 25 for PSVR.

Gadgeteer is already available for PC VR and Oculus Quest and was still in Early Access up until August last year.

It was revealed last December that Gadgeteer would be coming to PSVR in Q1 2021. It’s slightly missed that first-quarter window, but it’s not long to wait now – there are less than two weeks until PSVR players can go virtual hands-on VR’s best Rube Goldberg machine simulator.

Metanaut confirmed on Reddit that it would cost $14.99 on PSVR and support both DualShock 4 and Move controllers as input methods.

Gadgeteer is the ultimate Rube Goldberg machine simulator, allowing you to create some truly crazy contraptions in VR. It has a full campaign and a sandbox mode, both of which involve creating and solving puzzles using marbles, dominoes, wooden blocks and various other gadgets. The campaign takes you through the basics and teaches you the mechanics, but the sandbox mode is where you take what you’ve learned and really unleash your creative potential.

There’s also online level sharing available, which means that after you’ve finished the campaign and messed around in sandbox mode, there’ll be plenty more content to go through. You can create your own puzzles and upload them for others to complete, or browse the vast library of existing creations from other users.

Gadgeteer is available now for PC VR and Oculus Quest. It launches May 25 on the PlayStation Store for PSVR for $14.99, compatible with both PS4 and PS5 consoles. To read more about how to connect your PSVR to a PS5 console, check out our guide.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/gadgeteer-launches-may-25-for-psvr-609d2ebeee3b1e340662a7ba?s=rss

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