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Twitch Streamers & Cosplayers Team Up For Mixed Reality Dungeons & Dragons Campaign

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Tabletop gaming meets next-gen technology in this live action RPG series.

A handful of popular Twitch streamers, well-known cosplay artists, and producers are teaming up on a brand new Dungeons & Dragons campaign which will be broadcasted in real-time across Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Live. Unlike the dozens of other D&D-based live streams littering the web, however, this one-of-a-kind RPG series will incorporate real-time visual effects powered by mixed reality and projection mapping technology.

Starring well-known internet personalities ZombiUnicorn, TheSushiDragon, Darth Lexii, and Alex Drastal, InstaQuest follows an eclectic group of hardened warriors on a dangerous quest through a war-torn land.

Season 1 Campaign: A regal Barbarian, an explosive Artificer, a Druid with a wild side, and a Ranger with a love for all that’s cuddly and cute have joined the Adventurer’s Guild in pursuit of fortune and glory. However, with each new quest they take on, they descend deeper into the political frenzy of a world at war over dwindling energy resources. Competing imperial regimes vie for the allegiance of the ragtag adventurers. It is up to the players to decide who to trust and which path to take. The consequences of each action last throughout the entire campaign, and will ultimately decide the fate of heaven and earth.

Using a series of in-game visual elements brought to life via a massive screen incorporating 600 square feet of projection mapping with over 24 Million individual pixels, Game Master Joseph “Jobo” Bohan is able to activate certain enemies, digital assets, and spells based on the choices of each player and the particular scenarios they find themselves in. Based on the video provided, it appears as though Jobo will trigger these elements via a tablet device. Each of the visuals presented were created using the Unreal Game Engine, resulting in high-quality animations, textures, and lighting.

“Tabletop RPG storytelling balances exploring an open-world sandbox with keeping players ‘on the rails’ to meet the GM’s plot–hopefully without players knowing they are being steered in a certain direction,” stated Notes producer Jay Stone. “We endeavor to follow this philosophy using Jobo’s experience as a GM by preparing game elements to be triggered based on the choices the adventurers make. This means we are creating scenarios with certain enemies, digital assets, and spells that may never make it to the screen during the show.”

At the end of the day, however, Dungeons & Dragons is all about the player and their decisions. While InstaQuest’s mixed reality technology provides captivating visual content for viewers, it’s ultimately serves to enhance the story.

“As proud as we are of all the technical wizardry that’s gone into InstaQuest, the show is ultimately all about the players and the story they co-create,” added producer Parker Howell. “We’ve got a team of rising superstars, self-created artists who’s characters reflect their real life archetypes. The light, the dark, the sublime, the chaotic–the only way for them to move forward is to realize the alchemy of their fellowship.” 

Season 1 of InstaQuest kicks-off Saturday, July 25 at 1PM PST via Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Live.

Image Credit: InstaQuest

Source: https://vrscout.com/news/instaquest-mixed-reality-dungeons-and-dragons/

AR/VR

Editorial: Facebook’s Hand Tracking Push Signals Next Steps In VR

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New demo apps posted to Facebook’s App Lab experimental release channel for Oculus Quest point to the future of the company’s efforts to define the next generation of personal computing.

The demo apps in question are called First Steps and Tiny Castles and both rely on open-air gesture-based interactions.

“Look ma, no controllers!”

First Steps is a tutorial experience that debuted in 2019 with the original standalone Oculus Quest headset. It showcases a variety of interactions that can introduce players to the basic concepts of virtual reality. After all, many people that put on VR headsets have been trained to interact with computers for decades in specific ways, like pushing a mouse or finger across a flat surface or pressing down buttons on a gamepad or keyboard. Kids in the 21st century are likely to grow up with interfaces that make these interactions seem archaic. While that assertion might be criticized by people who understand the efficiency achievable with mouse and keyboard over 8 or more hours of work per day, there’s still a trend in personal computing toward computer interfaces that understand more of an individual’s natural language.

Can a kid one day pick up a VR headset and get to different worlds and meet up with friends without needing to be taught anything new? I’m sure people at Facebook and Apple and many other companies are trying to figure out how to make that happen. But right now, for folks that have been trained on existing computers, you have to be taught that virtual reality is different from what you know already. We’ve introduced enough first timers to VR to see that many people need to be taught to actually reach out with their hands and lean forward with their body to interact with some things in a simulated world. That’s where First Steps comes in — it teaches those concepts by way of Facebook’s Insight tracking system and the Oculus Touch tracked controllers held in each hand.

The newest version of First Steps exchanges those controllers for hand gestures like pinching, making a fist, or holding your index finger and pulling it as if you had it wrapped around the trigger of a gun. Here’s the description for First Steps on App Lab, emphasis ours:

If you’re a developer, you should check out how hand tracking can replace your Touch Controller experience. This experimental version of First Steps showcases how your Touch Controllers can be replaced with hand tracking, and add a new dimension to your application. Our development team did not have to redesign new mechanics, but were able to replace Touch Controllers with Hands without a heavy lift

Hand tracking on Quest 2 doesn’t come close to matching the precision of tracked controllers. While Facebook continues to improve hand tracking quality with smarter software, you can take just two swings with First Step’s simulated ping pong paddle — one swing with a controller and one without — to see how big the gap is with current hardware between tracked controllers and hands. For certain applications that gap may never be crossed. But what if Facebook makes another standalone product line that maybe uses pancake optics for a slimmer feel while equipping it with cameras tuned for better hand tracking performance? And what if Facebook populates that headset’s storefront only with the best apps that have been replaced with hand tracking best practices outlined in this experimental version of First Steps?

Take a look at the text description for the second new App Lab listing, Tiny Castles, emphasis ours again:

Tiny Castles is an “action puzzle game” built from the ground up using hand-tracking. It’s an experimental project developed internally at Oculus to test necessary interactions for a hands-only game experience.

The parts we’ve emphasized from the descriptions of these latest App Lab submissions suggests Facebook is starting to get as many developers as possible onboard with hand tracking support. Facebook already tested a $199 price for standalone VR headsets both with 2018’s Oculus Go and more recently refurbished original Oculus Quests. Can Facebook bring compelling VR to the masses at $199 with a hands-first all-in-one VR headset?

First Steps and Tiny Castles with hand tracking could certainly be a step in that direction.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/editorial-facebooks-hand-tracking-push-signals-next-steps-in-vr-6044cbb704123a792a1269f9?s=rss

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Population: One Welcomes Rookies During Saturday’s Community Day

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VR enthusiasts are invited to participate in Population: One Community Day, a special opportunity to find experienced players who will share tips and tricks, party up for some matches, and pass along helpful strategies in BigBox VR’s top-selling battle royale game. Community Day begins now and extends throughout the remainder of the day.

Continue reading on VR Fitness Insider.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/population-one-welcomes-rookies-during-saturdays-community-day-6043dacb3c1ddc0229a78768?s=rss

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Resident Evil 7: How VR Elevates An Already Great Horror Game

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Resident Evil 7 is one of the best horror games in recent years and its VR support is still, over four years later, exclusive to PSVR. We take a look back at the title, analyze what makes it work so well in VR, and imagine how great Resident Evil 8: Village could be with VR support.

Some mild spoilers for Resident Evil 7 follow below


Resident Evil 7 and VR Horror

Let me preface this by stating that I’m a nerd for horror. I love the challenge of a new horror game. There’s something so raw and exciting about being terrified and that’s why I love horror games in particular. With the rise of VR, horror is getting more chances to truly shine. That’s why I jumped at PSVR on day one and awaited a true showcase of its horrifying potential.

I’m driven to play horror games in VR in search of the answer to one simple question: Can this game scare me more than I’ve ever been scared before? The launch of Resident Evil 7 VR in 2017 answered that question in spectacular fashion. 

With VR now solidified as a well and truly established platform, we have the capacity to be scared by developers to levels that we could only have imagined way back when the first Resident Evil game came out in 1996. After the brilliantly spooky showcase of Resident Evil Village and the internet’s collective obsession with tall vampire lady, I got to thinking about my terrifying experience with Resident Evil 7 in VR and what it might mean for the future of the series. 

Resident Evil 7 was a huge departure for the franchise as a whole. Just how Resident Evil 4 changed camera angles for a more personal approach, Biohazard placed you in first-person—as close to those molded and grotesque Bakers as possible. This after all, was a giant lateral sidestep for the series. Not in terms of quality, but in terms of its roots. This was the return of Resident Evil the survival horror game and away with the games that tried to have unnecessary over-the-top macho action.

Following Resident Evil 4, the next two main entries in the series went for bolder and bigger setpiece action sequences. Resident Evil 7 on the other hand was much more focused, offering a more stripped back and primal experience. As series producer Masachika Kawata said in an interview with us back near the game’s launch, they were hoping to “make an experience that’s more intimate which allows for higher immersion.” They more than succeeded.

Read More: How Capcom Is Bringing ‘Resident Evil’ Into VR For The First Time

Adding VR into the mix was like holding a magnifying glass to the horror genre as a whole, amplifying everything. The tension, the scares, the action, and the incredibly detailed environments all came to life like never before. The Baker mansion itself feels like a character when you’re this invested inside its walls. 

So, what makes Resident Evil 7 and it’s VR mode so damn terrifying? As the first game made using the RE engine, Resident Evil 7 is a very good-looking game. Even the inevitable visual compromises made in VR have very little impact on how gorgeous it is. In fact, seeing things in VR allowed me to see many more details that were just not as pronounced when looking at a flat TV screen.

Everyone is aware of that infamous dinner table scene with the Baker family. The difference it makes when it’s not only Ethan, but you, the player as well, getting some kind of horrendous rotten meat shoved in your mouth really ramps up the intensity and disgust. 

Not only that but every single confrontation is transformed. I’ve played the game since without VR and the scares, fights, and key moments of high tension are, while still powerful, just feel a little flat (pun intended) without VR by comparison. The boss fights gave me goosebumps, especially with Marguerite in her four-legged form.

Having to physically look around with your head to locate where she could be crawling all over the walls felt incredibly haunting. When you hear those 3D audio sounds to let you know that she’s behind you and you have to look over your shoulder, it really sends a chill down your spine; I never want to do that again. 

The moments where nothing is happening are probably the parts where VR makes the biggest change, as strange as it sounds. There were two occasions in my first playthrough where I literally paused the game and had to stop due to simply unbearable tension.

This happened when wading through the water in the introductory section and when crawling through the pitch black vent on the abandoned Annabelle ship. The atmosphere alone is what made these sections so terrifying.

The silence, the not knowing if or when something is about to happen, was all too overwhelming for me. Since I’ve played my fair share of horror games before I just knew that something was probably going to happen. Each time I removed the headset, took a deep breath, and questioned if I was ready to dive back in. 

The discomfort of being in VR with water up to your neck is something that can’t be explained, it needs to be experienced. As someone that’s already scared of tight spaces, it was a real nightmare. The rancid water bubbles in front of you as you’re trying, desperately, to keep your head above were disgusting. And then after all that, guess what? Nothing happens. You just drop out and continue. But the sheer weight of not knowing in VR meant I almost couldn’t continue. 

If you haven’t already and you enjoy horror, you simply have to experience Resident Evil 7 in VR. Despite the fact that it only uses the DualShock 4 and not any motion controllers, no other horror experience has come close for me. It completely terrified me and I wish I could experience it all over again for the first time.

And now, I want Capcom to top it. I’d love for them to scare me more than I’ve ever been scared before once again. I want to see all 9 feet of Lady Dimitrescu and that beautiful castle of Resident Evil Village in VR. They haven’t confirmed VR support (yet) but I really, really hope they do.

I’m ready to be frozen on the spot and begging for reprieve all over again.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/resident-evil-7-how-vr-elevates-an-already-great-horror-game-6043ce79c6522e69258f9c3b?s=rss

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Epson Adds Two New AR Smart Glasses To Its Moverio Lineup

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Epson’s latest wearable devices can connect to your smartphone, tablet, and computer.

Epson already has a solid lineup of AR smart glasses with their Moverio series, each designed for enterprise use. That lineup is about to get larger with the addition of two new next-generation AR glasses, the Moverio BT-40 and BT-40S.

Much like the company’s earlier Moverio BT models, the BT-40 and the BT-40S feature a slim binocular display allowing users to see and interact with the AR content. They also feature a similar design that—while not quite as bulky as the HoloLens 2—definitely appear more futuristic than conventional glasses. This, however, is where the similarities end.

Both the BT-40 and the BT40S each feature improved Si-OLED technology with full HD 1080p displays, offering a wide 34° eye-level field-of-view in high resolution. That’s like viewing a 120” screen from a distance of 15ft; not bad considering the overall size of both devices.

Image Credit: Epson

Each headset will also come equipped with USB-C connectivity, making it easier for you to connect your Moverio headset to devices such as your smartphone, tablet, and computer. Everything is managed through Epson’s Moverio Link app, available free on the Google Play Store.

When it comes to comfort, both the BT-40 and the BT40S use flexible temples that can be adjusted for various-sized noggins, along with optional nose pads. There have also been key improvements to weight distribution. As if that weren’t enough, both headsets feature hand-free navigation, allowing users to browse through AR content with ease.

The two new headsets also offer a 500,000:1 contrast ratio, meaning any unused display space will appear transparent; an improved design will give you a glasses-style form factor and optional dark shades. With all of these updates combined, you’ll be able to personalize your experience with the BT-40 and BT-40S, allowing for longer, more productive sessions.

Image Credit: Epson

As for the pricing, the BT-40S costs a bit more but comes with a few additional features. Primarily an Intelligent Controller running Android 9.0 that supports Google Mobile Services (GMS). The controller, which has an integrated touchscreen, customizable user interface, expandable memory of up to 2TB, has been designed for a large range of commercial applications.

The controller includes a slew of other features as well, such as built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, a compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, 13-megapixel AF camera, flashlight, noise-canceling microphone, audio jack, and a high-performance rechargeable battery with up to five hours.

This would allow you to operate your smart headset in nearly any professional environment, from a loud construction site to a corporate office.

In terms of explored applications, Epson has already partnered with a variety of market leaders on a wide range of projects, from drone FPV with DJI and tourism with McLaren F1 Tour to subtitling and translation with the National Theater in London, currently available for all performances. And this is just the tip of the iceberg for Epson and its lineup of AR devices.

Image Credit: Epson

In an official Epson press release, Remi Del Mar, senior product manager, Digital Experiences, Augmented Reality and Commercial Display Solutions, Epson America, Inc said, “With over 10 years in the AR market and its long history in the projector segment – having delivered high-performance optical engines and impeccable color production – Epson is bringing that same legacy to this next generation of Moverio smart glasses.”

“These new Moverio models bring advanced image quality in a binocular display with improved comfort and wearability to the rapidly increasing markets where we are seeing AR adoption grow, including industrial field service and front-line applications such as remote assistance and accessibility usage scenarios. As a pioneer in this space, we look forward to seeing how these new smart glasses are implemented by customers.”

Epson’s Moverio BT-40 and BT-40S AR headsets are available for pre-order now and will be available for purchase on Amazon and through Epson’s distribution in Q2 for $579 and $999 respectively. For additional information, visit www.epson.com/moverio.

Feature Image Credit: Epson

The post Epson Adds Two New AR Smart Glasses To Its Moverio Lineup appeared first on VRScout.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/epson-adds-two-new-ar-smart-glasses-to-its-moverio-lineup-6043c8e7e2cfd973246d59d7?s=rss

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