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New Gang Beasts Update Incoming as Boneloaf Moves to Self Publish

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One of the earliest virtual reality (VR) compatible party titles was Boneloaf’s Gang Beasts for Oculus Rift back in 2016. This week the studio has announced details regarding its next update as well as going into self publishing due to its publisher Double Fine Presents being wound down.

Gang Beasts

As part of Microsoft’s big splurge on videogame studios in the past few years, Double Fine was acquired and brought under the Xbox Game Studios banner. However, this meant that publishing arm Double Fine Presents was no longer required, shuttering operations in the process.

So this required Boneloaf to look for another publisher or do that work in-house, of which it chose the latter. In addition to this, the studio is preparing a new build which will be released as a Steam beta in July.

Currently going through testing, the new build v1.13 will feature a modified wheel stage supporting online gameplay as well as optimisations and fixes for UI, audio, costumes, gameplay, and achievements.

Gang Beasts

Here’s the full statement from Boneloaf:

“So, we wanted to let you know what’s going on here at Boneloaf. We have some information regarding Double Fine and us, and when the next Gang Beasts update is coming.

“As some of you know, Boneloaf has been working with Double Fine Presents for some time. They’ve given us advice, they’ve given us splendiferous support, and most importantly, they’ve become friends and mentors to us.

“We love Double Fine and they have been really fantastic to us. What Tim and his company built is pretty wonderful, but with Double Fine Presents winding down due to Double Fine’s acquisition by Xbox Game Studios last year, we think it is a good time for Boneloaf to stand on its own… legs and publish Gang Beasts ourselves.

“Anyway, that’s the news about Boneloaf and Double Fine. What about Gang Beasts? Currently we’re testing build 1.13, the next release. Build 1.13 is made with Unity 2019.3 and includes a modified version of the wheel stage with support for online game modes and a series of optimisations and fixes for UI, audio, costumes, gameplay, and achievements.

“We plan to make this build available for testing as a Steam beta next month. The 1.13 build will be released for supported platforms (Steam, Humble Bundle, PS4, Xbox One, and Oculus Rift and Oculus Rift S) when testing ends. We are also working on new stages and costumes, more information coming soon.”

In Gang Beasts players take control of gelatinous characters to fight one another in melee combat, with silly results. As Boneloaf continues to update the title, VRFocus will let you know.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/06/new-gang-beasts-update-incoming-as-boneloaf-moves-to-self-publish/

AI

Why Microsoft’s new AI acquisition is a big deal

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Join Transform 2021 this July 12-16. Register for the AI event of the year.


Microsoft’s recent shopping spree reached a new climax this week with the announcement of its $19.7 billion acquisition of Nuance, a company that provides speech recognition and conversational AI services. Nuance is best known for its deep learning voice transcription service, which is very popular in the health care sector.

The two companies had already been working together closely before the acquisition. Nuance had built several of its products on top of Microsoft’s Azure cloud. And Microsoft had been using Nuance’s Dragon service in its Cloud for Healthcare solution, which launched last year in the midst of the pandemic.

The acquisition is Microsoft’s biggest since the $26 billion purchase of LinkedIn. And it tells a lot about Microsoft’s AI strategy.

AI in health care

Most of the focus in the announcement was on AI in health care, which makes sense because Nuance is a leading provider of AI services in the sector.

“Nuance provides the AI layer at the health care point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. “AI is technology’s most important priority, and health care is its most urgent application.”

One thing I like about Nuance is its laser focus, which is in line with the current limits and capabilities of deep learning algorithms. Deep learning might not be very good at general problem-solving or causal inference, but it can be extremely efficient at narrow tasks. Nuance has chosen one application (voice transcription) and has narrowed down its focus to one domain (clinical settings). This has enabled the company to train its machine learning models on tons of data in that specific field and make sure that its AI solutions have peak performance and reliability.

Nuance has a series of AI products tailored for clinical settings, including a virtual assistant for electronic health records, a multi-party conversation transcription service, and a deep learning language model that converts clinical conversations into structured notes for integration into health records.

Documentation is one of the main pain points for clinics and one of the lowest-hanging fruits for AI in health care. Nuance’s AI technology is helping save time and improve the patient experience. According to the acquisition announcement, Nuance’s AI solutions are currently used by more than 55% of physicians and 75% of radiologists in the U.S. and used in 77% of U.S. hospitals. The company has also seen a 37% year-over-year growth in the revenue of its cloud service, though that is probably due to the shifts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The acquisition will double Microsoft’s total addressable market (TAM) in the health care provider space, bringing the company’s TAM in health care to nearly $500 billion,” according to Microsoft’s announcement.

Microsoft’s position in health care

Nuance’s reach in the health care market suggests Microsoft will recoup its $19.7 billion investment in a relatively short term. But being able to address this market is not a simple feat.

Other big tech companies, such as Apple and Google, already have health care initiatives that are much older than Microsoft’s. But Microsoft is especially well-positioned to take advantage of this new acquisition because of its business model.

Google and Apple are consumer companies. Microsoft, on the other hand, gets most of its revenue from enterprise customers. Its Office suite and its collaboration tools were already being used in many hospitals even before it announced its health care solution. That’s why it was already in a good spot to penetrate the market.

And if you look over at the Cloud for Healthcare page, the company has done a great job of integrating its health solution into tools that many health care workers were already used to working with, such as Outlook, Teams, Office, and messaging apps. The real advantage is the infrastructure Microsoft has built, the integration of all these services with clinical applications, and terrific data engineering that makes it possible to deploy machine learning models and data analytics tools that span various data sources.

This is the perfect infrastructure on top of which Microsoft can build an AI factory, where it creates machine learning models that provide ways to improve existing products and build new ones. The acquisition will enable Microsoft to accelerate its growth by leveraging Nuance’s reach in the health care sector. Now every Nuance customer will also be a Microsoft customer.

Beyond health care

Before the acquisition, Microsoft was already using Nuance’s Dragon AI technology in its health care solution, transcribing virtual visits, taking notes, and integrating information into patients’ health records. Now, with the acquisition of Nuance, Microsoft will also have full access to its technology and will be able to take its new AI transcription power beyond health care.

“Beyond health care, Nuance provides AI expertise and customer engagement solutions across Interactive Voice Response (IVR), virtual assistants, and digital and biometric solutions to companies around the world across all industries,” Microsoft says in its blog.

It will be interesting to see how Nuance’s technology will be integrated into other Microsoft enterprise products.

One thing that is also worth watching is how Microsoft will be able to combine Nuance’s AI with other technologies it’s experimenting with. For instance, Microsoft already has an exclusive license to OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model. Nuance’s transcription technology and GPT-3 might become a powerful combination for the enterprise.

Microsoft’s AI strategy

Microsoft might not be able to predict which company will be successful in five years’ time, especially in a field as volatile as AI. But it’s banking on the one constant that is always needed in the field: compute power. Microsoft uses its huge Azure platform to develop ties with companies, often providing them with subsidized access to its cloud-based machine learning tools. It also makes many of its investments in Azure credits, ensuring companies it invests in will be locked into its platform. This puts Microsoft in a position to both help those companies grow and learn from them. And the investment pays off when the company’s technology and business model mature.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Microsoft’s investment in the self-driving car startup Cruise, which also made Microsoft Azure the preferred cloud of Cruise and its owner General Motors. I noted at the time that Microsoft’s success is in maintaining a safe distance from developing sectors. Instead of making one big acquisition, Microsoft casts a wide net by making smaller investments in several companies.

This gives it a good foothold into many innovative sectors. As these sectors mature, Microsoft is gradually entering partnerships with the more successful startups. And when the time is right, it will acquire the company that gives it the best leverage in the market.

We can see this exact cycle with Nuance as Microsoft evolved from being Nuance’s cloud provider to its partner to its owner. And this evolution tells us a lot about Microsoft’s AI strategy, which I think is very smart, given how fast things can change in the AI industry. The enterprise AI sector has come a long way toward creating applications that can solve real-world problems. But we still haven’t figured out many things. And as new technologies and companies continue to develop, Microsoft will be watching and picking winners.

Ben Dickson is a software engineer and the founder of TechTalks, a blog that explores the ways technology is solving and creating problems.

This story originally appeared on Bdtechtalks.com. Copyright 2021

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/04/17/why-microsofts-new-ai-acquisition-is-a-big-deal/

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MLB The Show heads to Game Pass, and Mario has passed away | GB Decides 190

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On this week’s episode of the GamesBeat Decides podcast, reviews editor Mike Minotti shares some deeply troubling information about the nature of the game Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.

Also, Mike and fellow editor Jeff Grubb talk about MLB The Show launching on Xbox Game Pass, Mario’s death, and Balan Wonderworld. Join us, won’t you?

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Solaris: Offworld Combat Gets PSVR Physical Launch In June, Planned Digital Release In May

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Solaris: Offworld Combat is coming to PSVR this June with a physical release from Perp Games. According to a First Contact Entertainment representative, the digital version is planned to release a month earlier in May.

Perp Games on Twitter: “We’re not finished just yet. Solaris Offworld Combat is the next game to be getting a physical box release. Coming in June to global markets! Will you be buying it? https://t.co/5sphrqsh10” / Twitter

Solaris: Offworld Combat on PSVR

Originally, Solaris was coming to PSVR late last year around the same time as the Quest and PC VR version of the game but got delayed. Now, it’s slated for release in just a couple of months.

The latest VR shooter from First Contact Entertainment (creators of Firewall Zero Hour) is a sci-fi competitive VR shooter that feels a bit like Quake in VR due to its speed and intense arena levels. It’s a very breezy, fast-paced game that’s accessible and easy to quickly jump in and out of. The closest comparison is probably Hyper Dash.

Soalris is a notable release because other than Firewall Zero Hour, there really haven’t been many options for shooter fans on PSVR. Alvo is coming soon too, but the headset is on its last legs at this point.

The PS Aim Controller continues to be one of the best things about the PSVR platform, so I’m all for seeing more games support it, but it’s a shame games like this didn’t hit PSVR earlier in its life cycle. Hopefully PSVR 2 on PS5 is backwards compatible and it can give late-life cycle games like this one new life when it releases.

Solaris is coming to PSVR very soon with a planned digital release in May and physical release from Perp Games in June. For more on this game make sure and read our Solaris: Offworld Combat review and stay tuned for all the latest in VR.

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Black Box VR Developers Share Thoughts on the History and Future of VR Fitness

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The VR fitness genre is still relatively new, all things considered. Even though the space is still somewhat niche, it’s absolutely growing at a fast pace as seen by the number of games and players that continue to spring up. How did we get to this point though, you might ask?

Continue reading on VR Fitness Insider.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/black-box-vr-developers-share-thoughts-on-the-history-and-future-of-vr-fitness-60677f1588a4542c7b3f4922?s=rss

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