The market in terms of VR creation tools is constantly expanding with more and more valuable offers and it may be difficult to understand different products to find which one would suite your project the best. To illustrate this point we will compare two looking alike products that you can use to create interactions for VR content: the VR Interaction Framework, a well-reviewed Unity Plugin known to be user friendly, and the Interaction Builder from the Interhaptics Suite.
Why these two?
Because they are similar in many points such as framework complexity, coding complexity, and what values they want to provide to developers. Both are built on 3 pillars: define an interactive/grabble object, define the body part/grabber, and events related to each interaction. Whether it is with the Interaction Builder or the VR Interaction Framework, your coding knowledge will not be under pressure to understand and create interactions. However, you will always have API/framework access to go more in-depth during your development process.
Of course, it would be lying to say that they are identical. Some features look similar but are not built the same way and for the same purpose. Some features are completely different.
Starting with the VR Interaction Framework, you will find an easy to use grabber/grabbable system. It is not optimized for precise hand interactions but will work well for any interaction based on grabbing. Also, as it is not focused on hands, there is a dissociation between “what is a hand” and “what can grab” which gives some flexibility. VR Interaction Framework is mainly using button inputs to trigger interactions and events during interactions. It is also compatible with Oculus Quest hand tracking (precisely the Pinch input to simulate the grab). Counterpart is the loss of consistency between hand tracking input and controllers’ input. The interactions are half logic-based and half physic-based. Interactions are triggered logically (with a specific input/value) but the behavior of the object is managed by the physics engine which requires a bit of extra preparation on the object itself with physics components such as joints.
On the other hand, you will find the Interaction Builder. It is focused on hand interactions on a detailed level, which means a better definition of palm and fingers to have precise interactions based on body parts. As it is working around hands themselves, the Interaction Builder is not using button inputs to trigger interactions or events, but a grab strength computed with the skeleton of the hand. It gives a realistic representation of a “grab” and makes these interactions work consistently with both hand tracking and controllers. Everything is computed in a logic engine. No complex physics component is required to create an interactive object (usually you would use physical joints and configure them).
If your project does not require fully realistic interactions and has more of a gaming approach, the VR Interaction Framework will easily help you in that way, specifically if you want to fully work in a physics-based environment. However, from its concept around the hand and a logical engine for stability, the Interaction Builder would be a default choice for any serious game, business, or professional training (e.g. any VR content requiring realistic hand interactions or VR content around Hand Tracking). Also, if you do not want to learn and spend time on the physics side of interactions, the Interaction builder will handle everything for you in a logical engine.
Test right now the Interaction Builder by downloading the Interhaptics Suite. Check our last blog post here for more news.
Bionik has made a name for itself in the virtual reality (VR) accessory market thanks to its Mantis VR headphones for PlayStation VR. This summer the company will be expanding its range with a new set of headphones as well as a facial interface specifically for Oculus Quest 2.
Rather than tailored to one headset the new Mantis VR headphones have been designed to fit multiple devices. The detachable audio system clips directly onto the head strap with a coiled cable plugging into the 3.5mm headphone jack. So there’s no excess cabling to worry about in comparison to a normal set of headphones and you can freely adjust them for the best placement.
From the details provided the new Mantis VR headphones will only clip to a rigid head strap system, so the standard soft strap supplied with the Oculus Quest 2 won’t be suitable. By the looks of it, the Elite Strap should suffice – so long as yours hasn’t managed to split. The Mantis VR system will retail for $59.99 USD when it arrives this summer.
And for Oculus Quest 2 owners looking to replace a damaged or dirty facial interface at a cheaper price than the official Oculus version then the Bionik Face Pad VR is coming. The company says the new face pad is made with “soft, absorbent hypoallergenic materials,” and “features ventilation portals for added airflow and breathability.” So it could be good for those who like to exercise in VR. The Bionik Face Pad VR will retail for $14.99.
Bionik’s latest accessories join a rapidly growing industry now that dives the Oculus Quest 2 are taking VR mainstream. From small companies like VR Cover which offers a range of add ons for multiple headsets and large corporations such as Logitech and its headphone and keyboard products, to 3D printed gun stocks, there are plenty of ways to augment your VR experience.
As the VR accessory market continues to grow, VRFocus will keep you updated.
Editor at VRFocus who has reported on the VR industry since 2015. A keen gamer since the days of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Peter enjoys covering all aspects of the technology; from the latest consumer hardware to enterprise use cases.
Larcenauts, the upcoming VR hero shooter from developer Impulse Gear, was revealed just last week, and today we’re getting our first look at the title’s gameplay.
Impulse Gear is the studio behind the much lauded single-player VR shooter (with a multiplayer component) Farpoint (2017), and now the studio is moving into the pure multiplayer realm with VR hero shooter Larcenauts. Impulse Gear’s experience working in VR shines through clearly in the first gameplay revealed today by our friends over at UploadVR.
The game’s art and character direction definitely borrows heavily from Overwatch (perhaps with a pinch of Valorant), and reads very cleanly throughout the gameplay footage. Unlike Overwatch, however, it appears that characters will be able to select from various weapons and modifiers for their abilities, as we can see part way through the footage.
The game’s reveal trailer from last week gives an overview of the many characters and abilities:
From the gameplay footage we can see that player movement is reasonably paced for VR, with most characters being able to sprint if needed. Characters with movement abilities appear to be based around dashing, which seems like a good way to enhance mobility without the comfort issues that could come from traditional jumping or gadgets like jetpacks.
On the other hand, it appears that weapon reloading is done with canned animations. While this could make sense for the pace of the game, it can feel disjointed compared to a more interactive approach to reloading which is commonly seen in VR. Similarly, while some gadgets (like grenades and smoke bombs) appear to be physically thrown by the player, others (like traps) look to be placed with a sort of laser pointer cursor. We’ll be curious to see how well these choices fit into the overall gameplay.
We shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out; Larcenauts is due to launch this Summer on Oculus PC, Quest, and SteamVR.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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 tothe battle royale title keep reading VRFocus.