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Moss Creator Polyarc Secures $9 Million Investment Towards AR Content Development

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Polyarc released its adorable puzzle adventure, Moss, a couple of years ago now, expanding the experience in 2019. The studio has remained relatively quiet ever since but that changed today with new investment announcement, unveiling plans to venture into augmented reality (AR) development.

Moss Twilight

The studio has revealed the closing of a $9 million USD Series B funding round led by Hiro Capital – the venture capital fund which has also invested in LIV and FitXR – whilst also seeing Vulcan Capital and Galaxy Interactive’s involvement.

While there’s no word on what Polyarc’s next project will be, AR will now be part of the studio’s remit. “The thing we want people to remember about Polyarc in 40 years is our characters. Our means to make our characters the most memorable is to build a company oriented around introducing them directly to our players in person,” said Tam Armstrong, CEO and co-founder, Polyarc in a statement.

“VR, AR, and the spectrum in between, offer an opportunity to connect our players with our characters through physical interaction and emotional feedback in a way that no other medium can match,” Armstrong continued. “This round of funding was essential for us to expand our development focus to further embrace VR and AR games.”

Moss SCREENSHOT 21

The $9 million adds to the $3.5 million Polyarc raised in 2016, with Ian Livingstone, a founding partner of Hiro Capital now joining Polyarc’s Board of Directors. “Polyarc is a proven leader in developing innovative VR interactive entertainment, and Moss is their amazing game which showcases the beauty and possibilities of what the VR platform can deliver,” says Livingstone. “Hiro Capital is delighted to invest in Polyarc to help accelerate the studio’s future development of mixed reality experiences.”

Moss became one of the most popular VR titles of 2018 with VRFocus’ own review remarking: “Moss is a flawlessly crafted experience starring a character that absolutely deserves to be the face of modern VR. Every inch of the world shows attention to detail, and a story is woven that draws you in, making you truly invested in the world and in Quill as a person.”

As further details are released regarding Polyarc’s future plans, VRFocus will let you know.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/07/moss-creator-polyarc-secures-9-million-investment-towards-ar-content-development/

AR/VR

Sci-fi Shooter Hive Slayer is Free, Asks Players for Louisiana Hurricane Relief Donations Instead

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There are plenty of free virtual reality (VR) games if you know where to look but King Crow Studios’ latest wants to make a real-world difference at the same time. The studio has released Hive Slayer for free this week, instead asking players to donate what they can to a charitable cause.

Hive Slayer

Hive Slayer is a classic arcade-style shooter where you have to defeat swarms of alien invaders across three gameplay modes using an array of powerups. Equipped with a matrix gauntlet (shield) and plasma blaster, Standard Mode is all about clearing waves, mini-bosses and end bosses. Arcade Mode requires columns of enemies to be defeated before they get too close, whilst Endless Mode is exactly that, endless.

To aid in this endeavour the plasma blaster has three firing modes, standard, shotgun and hair-trigger sniper. You also need to keep an eye out for the powerups which need to be shot, adding rapid-fire, shield recharge and bomb to destroy multiple enemies. All the modes feature online leaderboards to add a little competition.

A fairly standard wave shooter by the looks of it. But because King Crow Studios is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the developer is giving the videogame away for free to encourage players to make any donation to the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana Hurricane Relief & Recovery Fund.

Hive Slayer

“The entire world is in the grip of a deadly pandemic, and us Louisianians are dealing with that on top of two deadly and massively destructive hurricanes, Laura and Delta. These catastrophic forces have displaced tens of thousands of people in our area. They have destroyed homes, local business, and lives,” says the studio in a statement.

“The impact of the hurricanes has hit us on a very personal level. Our founder Cody Louviere has been travelling multiple times a week to Lake Charles, Louisiana – hurricane ground zero. A Lake Charles native, he’s been working with his own family – his mother, his father, and siblings – to try to save and repair their homes in the middle of these back-to-back natural disasters.”

100%  of net proceeds will go to the fund which provides food, shelter, medicine, and all other necessities. Supporting PC VR headsets you can download Hive Slayer via itch.io, Steam or by going directly to the CFSLHRF site. For further updates keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/sci-fi-shooter-hive-slayer-is-free-asks-players-for-louisiana-hurricane-relief-donations-instead/

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AMD Announces Radeon RX 6000-series GPUs with USB-C “for a modern VR experience”

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AMD today introduced the Radeon RX 6800, 6800 XT, and 6900 XT graphics cards based on its latest RDNA 2 architecture. With a release date in November and prices starting at $580, AMD is aiming to compete directly with NVIDIA’s latest 30-series GPUs. And—better late than never—the RX 6000-series cards include a USB-C port to “power head-mounted displays with just one cable for a modern VR experience.”

Before we dive into details, here’s the release date, price, and basic specs of each card:

RX 6900 XT RX 6800 XT RX 6800
Price $1,000 $650 $580
Release Date December 8th, 2020 November 18th, 2020
Compute Units 80 72 60
Game Clock (GHz) 2.02 2.02 1.82
Boost Clock (GHz) 2.25 2.25 2.11
Memory (GDDR6) 16GB
Connectors DisplayPort 1.4 w/ DSC*, HDMI 2.2 w/ VRR*, USB-C* 2x DisplayPort 1.4 w/ DSC, 1x HDMI 2.2 w/ VRR, 1x USB-C
* connector counts unspecified

See a detailed spec comparison here

Based on its new RDNA 2 architecture, AMD is positioning its 6000-series cards to compete directly with Nvida’s latest 30-series GPUs in price, performance, and features.

Infinity Cache, Ray-tracing, and Smart Access Memory

New to the 6000-series cards, ‘Infinity Cache’ is 128MB of memory directly on the GPU die. AMD says the cache acts as a “bandwidth amplifier” for the rest of the card’s memory; 16GB of GDDR6 combined with the 128MB Infinity Cache increases “effective bandwidth” by up to 3.25 times compared to the same amount of memory without the cache.

“This global cache is seen by the entire graphics core, capturing temporal re-use and enabling data to be accessed instantaneously. Leveraging the best high frequency approaches from Zen architecture, AMD Infinity Cache enables scalable performance for the future,” the company explains.

The 6000-series cards also introduce hardware accelerated ray-tracing with one ‘Ray Accelerator’ per Compute Unit. The card’s ray-tracing tech is based on the DirectX 12 Ultimate implementation; AMD says developers can mix and match rasterization and ray-tracing effects, with “an order of magnitude” improvement in ray-tracing operations compared to the last generation of Radeon cards.

Image courtesy AMD

The company is also introducing a unique feature for users who pair AMD’s 6000-series GPUs with the company’s own 5000-series Ryzen CPUs. Called Smart Access Memory, the company says the feature allows the CPU to access more of the GPUs memory at once, resulting in a performance boost of a few percentage points depending upon the title. While not a groundbreaking change in performance by itself, it’s essentially ‘free’ (if you have the right combination of hardware), and a smart way to leverage the company’s broader hardware portfolio.

A VirtualLink to the Past

AMD’s own versions of the Radeon RX 6000-series cards include USB-C across the board, which, for VR in particular, would allow the cards to support the VirtualLink standard—a USB-C ‘alt-mode’ which was designed to provide VR headsets with data, power, and video through a single port.

Indeed, the company’s marketing says the port can “power head-mounted displays with just one cable for a modern VR experience,” though the timing is pretty odd given that the VirtualLink standard was initially introduced in 2018 and has since been abandoned. On the flip side, Nvidia was early with support for VirtuaLink by including USB-C ports on its first wave of RTX 20-series GPUs, only to eschew the power on the latest 30-series cards.

Still, as far as we know, a USB-C port on the RX 6000-series cards should mean that VirtualLink devices could work just fine, and headset makers could always devise their own single-cable headset connection based on the card’s USB-C port.

Variable Rate Shading

Image courtesy AMD

The RDNA 2 architecture of the 6000-series GPUs also supportS Variable Rate Shading which allows fine-grain control over the shading rate from one frame to the next. This can be used to essentially lower the resolution of some parts of the scene (say dark areas or those without much detail) while maintaining full resolution in important, or high detail parts of the scene.

For VR headsets specifically, the Variable Rate Shading feature opens the door to more precise foveated rendering, which could be static (to match lens distortion) or active (to align with eye movement). AMD hasn’t shown its own VR-specific solution (like Nvidia’s Variable Rate Supersampling) but the underlying tech to support this kind of foveation is there under the hood.

– – — – –

We’ll be looking forward to getting our hands on AMD’s 6000-series cards to see how they handle upcoming high-resolution headsets like HP’s Reverb G2 and memory hungry games like Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020).

Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/amd-radeon-rx-6900-xt-6800-xt-price-release-date-specs/

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Crowdfunded AR Startup Tilt Five Secures $7.5M Series A Investment

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Tilt Five, the startup behind the eponymous AR headset for tabletop gaming, today announced it has secured $7.5 million in Series A funding.

The funding round was led by SIP Global Partners with participation from BITKRAFT Ventures, Galaxy Interactive, and games industry veteran Ken Birdwell, who is known for his previous work on the Half-Life series at Valve. Jeffrey Smith of SIP Global Partners is said to join Tilt Five’s board of directors.

The company says its Series A will be used to hire additional employees, build partnerships, and expand available content.

Founded in 2017 by Jeri Ellsworth, Tilt Five launched its Kickstarter campaign late last year hoping to attract $450,000 to bring its AR headset to life. Within only 24 hours Tilt Five was fully funded, going on to garner over $1.7 million throughout the month-long campaign. Including current pre-orders for the AR headset, this brings the startup’s overall funds to nearly $10 million.

Image courtesy Tilt Five

Tilt Five uses a similar projection-based technology to Ellsworth’s first AR headset system, CastAR, which attracted $15 million in venture funding before closing down in 2017. Similar to CastAR, Tilt Five includes AR glasses, a special retroreflective game board, and a 6DOF wand controller—all of which is made to work with multiplayer interactions in mind, both local and online play.

Tilt Five’s tech isn’t based on the same sort of wave-guide optics as conventional AR headsets though, which gives it a few important benefits over conventional designs; the headset actually projects the image via two head-mounted micro projectors and tracks the wand controller via inside-out sensors.

Image courtesy Tilt Five

This allows Tilt Five to achieve a reported 110-degree field of view, which is far and away larger than HoloLens 2, Magic Leap 1, or even the Nreal Light headset. Also, because it relies on PC, tablet, or smartphones to drive the experience, it only weighs 85 grams. Still, it’s limited to the playspace of the special gameboard, however judging by the startup’s early crowdfunding success, it’s clear there’s plenty of tabletop gamers out there looking for a more immersive experience.

“Tilt Five was founded on the idea that we can bring family and friends together to play in the real world, enhanced with the magical capabilities of immersive 3D technology,” said Jeri Ellsworth, Tilt Five CEO. “While the tech giants invest billions in far-off solutions, this investment expands our ability to deliver on a proven set of technologies resulting in an affordable, social and wearable device.”

Tilt Five says it’s ramping up production now with the intent of shipping kits to Kickstarter backers and pre-order customers over the next two quarters. It’s base model kit currently available for pre-order, Tilt Five XE, includes a pair of AR glasses, a game board and single wand— priced at $359. Larger format kits including three AR glasses, three wands and a gameboard, are said to arrive sometime next year.

Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/tilt-five-investment-ar-glasses/

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