It was back in 2018 that VRFocus first got to try a new virtual reality (VR) peripheral called Cybershoes. The premise of the tech is simple, to aid walking in VR without causing motion sickness whilst at the same time providing a compact solution for those without space for a full room-scale setup. Only compatible with PC VR devices it was only a matter of time before the Oculus Quest got a look in, being how its popularity continues to soar. So Cybershoes recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help in that effort and VRFocus has been able to test the new version.
A lot of crowd-funding campaigns are used to help bring an idea to life but thanks to Cybershoes already being on the market, this effort is more about promotion and offering fans a limited time deal, because the prototype already exists! In fact, the Kickstarter has already done so well that at the time of writing is $20,000 over the initial goal of $30,000, testament that this type of device has a place on the market when you don’t have the cash or space for a full-on omni-directional treadmill.
As mentioned, the first encounter with Cybershoes was a couple of years ago and honestly, the pairing with 2016’s DOOM just didn’t work due to how fast and insanely intense its particular gameplay is. Now that wasn’t a proper VR videogame and since then the company has refined its hardware whilst the VR industry has come on leaps and bounds software-wise. So, does this early iteration for Oculus Quest work and what does it bring to the gameplay experience?
The Cybershoes kit for Oculus Quest is made up of three core components, the shoes themselves, a small receiver and a chair/mat combo to make using the shoes that little bit easier. From the outside the Cybershoes don’t look to have changed at all from the original version, they quickly and easily attach to your shoes via a strap and ratchet system which could easily have come from a pair of snowboarding boots. If you’ve not seen them before, the shoes work via a single roller on the underside so with each step you brush your foot along the floor. The movement is natural but it’s not like stepping directly into a VR videogame, there’s an acclimatization period as you ‘learn’ how to walk and how nimble you can be.
Vital to this process is what you’re sat on, hence the chair combo kit. Sitting on a normal chair or the sofa is completely unsuitable as the whole process is about naturally turning and walking, not using features like snap turn. As a large bloke, I don’t find the chair particularly comfortable for longer sessions in VR, always feeling perched on the edge but its height adjustment and lack of jutting obtrusions underneath certainly make the chair ideal for this use case.
Yet it’s the receiver which will catch most of the attention as it sticks right to the front of the Quest. It may ruin the nice lines of the headset but it’s no different to modding the device which plenty of owners like to do. Drawing its power directly from the Quest via the USB-C port the drain didn’t seem too substantial (although further testing is needed to get some accurate figures) plus there’s a nice big square of velcro on the back to pop the receiver on and off between uses. And before you ask, no it’s not heavy, the extra gram or so barely noticeable.
Setup was basically plug and play just as you would do any Bluetooth device, and the recent v23 update for Oculus Quest makes that even smoother. And what better way to test a walking peripheral than to face some undead walkers in VR, using Arizona Sunshine and The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners.
Cybershoes has collaborated with Vertigo Games so that Arizona Sunshine natively works with the shoes, with a Cybershoes option located inside the settings. Testing them out in the campaign it was nice and easy to wander around. Stepping becomes slightly more methodical as strafing was no longer an option, all movement was shoe-based. What did require a bit of fine-tuning was the speed slider on the receiver. As you’d expect this offers the chance to tailor your walking speed depending on whether you prefer slow and steady or something a little livelier. Having it around the 75% mark offered a good balance.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, on the other hand, provided an even better experience than Arizona Sunshine, even without native support. Turning the vignette off and selecting seated was all that was needed to begin the journey, with bigger strides activating the run mechanic. The slower creep through New Orleans suited the shoes and so would most horror videogames I’d imagine.
The whole point of Cybershoes is to recreate that natural walking action and if you’ve been struggling with locomotion in VR then they could be a viable option. The Oculus Quest version also benefits from the lack of cabling, making the whole Cybershoes experience much more freeing, even if you are seated. A prototype it may be, but Cybershoes for Oculus Quest almost feels like a finished product. It’ll be interesting to see how the system fairs on titles like Population: One which demands quick, accurate actions.
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Wave Deprecates VR App to Focus on Broader Distribution of Its Virtual Performances
Wave, the virtual venue & virtual event production company formerly known as TheWaveVR, has moved away from virtual reality over the last two years in favor of distributing its virtual performances to a broader audience through non-immersive media channels. The company today announced that it has “de-prioritized” its VR app, which will officially shut down at the end of March. Wave says the move will allow it to focus on bringing “more fans [to] experience our virtual events on popular streaming platforms.”
Founded in 2016, Wave has raised some $40 million in venture capital, according to Crunchbase, to chase its vision of virtual concerts as the future of music performances. The company has produced virtual events headlined by well known artists like John Legend and Lindsey Stirling. Performances are rendered in real-time, with artists donning mo-cap suits and face-tracking tech to bring their likeness into the virtual world as their avatars perform in fantastical virtual venues.
Image courtesy Wave
At the outset, the company’s platform was built to be immersive and interactive—even allowing users to host their own performances—with audiences joining the venue via virtual reality through the Wave Beta app which launched on Steam in 2017 and Oculus PC in 2018.
But with VR’s relatively slow adoption, the company realized it wasn’t reaching the scale of audience that it needed. Wave began focusing its efforts on broadcasting the virtual productions beyond virtual reality so that a wider audience could enjoy the show. Now the company says its fully focused on delivering virtual productions through traditional channels, like livestreams, and will be shutting down its VR app at the end of March.
The primary reason, the company maintains, is that part of its VR app relies on Google’s 3D model hosting platform, Poly (which itself is shutting down); Wave says it doesn’t have the resources to build a new solution into the app. The company contends that its best option is to shutter the app for now, and promises to do “everything we can to one day bring back [the VR experience] in an even more evolved form.”
Wave CEO & co-founder Adam Arrigo publicly shared the following note:
We founded Wave almost five years ago to connect humanity through immersive music experiences. That journey started in the VR space, with our community-driven VR app on Steam, and it’s been rewarding watching our community of creators use our tools to host their own VR concerts. We never foresaw the incredible things people would create, and often attending those shows felt like peering into the future of live music / visual art performance and being blown away by the result.
Two years ago we pivoted out of VR into gaming and live-streaming, as the VR industry didn’t develop as quickly as we’d hoped. Artists need audiences to thrive, and we realized VR just wasn’t there yet, and there was a bigger opportunity for artists outside headsets. Even though ti doesn’t fit our current business model, we’ve kept TheWaveVR app and servers running just because the community in there has made such inspiring stuff. Unfortunately we built the user tools on top of Google Poly, which is shutting down.
As much as we’d love to, we aren’t able to spend the resources to build a new backend pipeline, since we are already spread so thin trying to accomplish our current set of non VR objectives. We are still a relatively small startup. The hardest part of running a startup is choosing what to focus on, which has led us to the difficult decision to sunset TheWaveVR app on Steam and Oculus.
Even though this means the Wave VR shows will come to a pause, we think this is the best decision for the long term future of the Wave community, and we promise to do everything we can to one day bring back this experience in an even more evolved form. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts for joining us for all those multi-hour VR raves and for helping us craft this vision of the future of music and art. We hope you’ll join us for this next chapter.
The post Wave Deprecates VR App to Focus on Broader Distribution of Its Virtual Performances appeared first on Road to VR.
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VR Download: Battlescar, Doom 3 For Quest, System Shock 2, And The Outlook For 2021
This week’s VR Download Games discussion covered Battlescar, Doom 3 on Oculus Quest, System Shock 2, and the overall outlook for virtual reality in 2021.
We also encountered a funny bug in our custom-built virtual recording studio wherein David couldn’t hear me, which forced him to depend on our live viewers to ensure I wasn’t insulting him live on YouTube.
Check out the discussion here:
Here’s a list of the key timestamps if you don’t have time to watch the whole show:
- 1:08 – Battlescar
- 3:36 – Doom 3 for Quest
- 9:04 – Mare
- 10:21 – Quest getting multiple accounts
- 14:14 – Dragon Quest VR?
- 17:13 – 1.7 million new SteamVR users in 2020
- 20:42 – PSVR 2020 Top Sellers
- 27:22 – System Shock 2 VR
- 31:53 – Hitman 3 PSVR
- 37:20 – Where is VR going in 2021?
- 56:40 – Outro
The VR Download broadcasts live to YouTube Mondays at 1 pm Pacific and Thursdays at 2:30 Pacific, with a tech-focused discussion on Monday and a games-focused event on Thursday. We have YouTube comments up in VR so we can interact live with our audience and we’d love to have you join us with questions or to join in the discussion.
You can see lots of our past archived streams over in our YouTube playlist or even all livestreams here on UploadVR and various other gameplay highlights. There’s lots of good stuff there so make sure and subscribe to us on YouTube to stay up-to-date on gameplay videos, video reviews, live talk shows, interviews, and more original content.
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