Compound Is Getting A Quest 2 Version, Too

Not only is excellent VR shooter, Compound, getting a full PC VR release soon – it’s coming to Quest 2, too.

Developer Bevan McKechnie confirmed as much to UploadVR following the reveal of last week’s news that the full version of the game was nearing release on Steam. Currently there’s no official timeline for when this version will be fully revealed and released, but stay tuned.

Compound Confirmed For Quest

The 1.0 release of Compound will round out the randomized, retro-influenced shooter with overhauled reloading, a new weapon and plenty of other additions.

The game is inspired by early shooter hits like Wolfenstein 3D. We’ve been keeping our eye on this one for some time thanks to the hugely enjoyable early builds that demonstrated smart VR combat and immersive design. “This is a VR shooter with a rejuvenating sense of direction and an understanding of how to keep players rooted in the action,” we said in a 2018 (!) preview. “Compound may be a nostalgia-fueled love letter, but it’s got a lot to learn from.”

We’ll make sure to have a full review when the game leaves early access later this year.

Will you be picking up Compound on Quest 2? Let us know in the comments below!

The Virtual Arena: London’s Immersive Time-traveling Experience

The application of XR into the attraction and amusement landscape is covered by industry specialist Kevin Williams in his latest Virtual Arena column. An amazing immersive adventure based in 1605 London is experienced with the launch of The Gunpowder Plot.

The Gunpowder Plot

The creation of an immersive experience that audiences will be prepared to pay ticket prices to participate in has been a constant challenge. The mixing of the right level of immersive, with live performance and themed environments has been attempted as both stage performance, art installation, and attraction. And London played host to the latest adaption of this process into the mainstream.

Based on the historical character Guy Fawkes, and the turbulent period of English history he was embroiled in, Layered Reality has launched The Gunpowder Plot. This is an immersive experience, combining theatrical theming, and live performance, alongside immersive projection, and virtual reality.

The Gunpowder Plot
Image credit: KWP

Located on Tower Hill in the shadow of the historic Tower of London, the Tower Vaults venue has been transformed into an entertainment space, bar, and dining hospitality. The developers have previous experience in offering this level of immersive entertainment, following on from their successful deployment of Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience – which we reported on previously.  

Layered Reality in collaboration with Historic Royal Palaces and Figment Productions has been working to launch this ambitious historical reinterpretation of the gunpowder plot. Figment Productions, best known for their work in creating the ‘Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon’ theme park attraction; has worked hard to create a virtual recreation of the London of 1605. The developer employs over 50 actors to be represented virtually within this experience, including accurate period costumes.

The developer does not stop there, representing the old London landscape, with the Thames, the original London Bridge, and the surrounding castles so lovingly that you will want to be able to visually navigate the streets of the historic city – eventually lost to plague, and the Great Fire of London. The VR elements of the experience are broken into three distinct portions of the overall adventure for the audience. With the crossing of the Thames by rope, a harrowing night crossing across the river, and an audience with the King!

The Gunpowder Plot
Image credit: Mark Dawson

The adventure is a true immersive experience and builds greatly on a more theatrical representation of the immersive elements. A troop of well-known stage and screen actors fill the cast – led by Tom Felton, better known for his portrayal of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies. It is the interweaving of the immersive technology with the live actors that has become a signature of Layered Reality’s artistry.

The Gunpowder Plot
Image credit: KWP

In groups of up to 16, guests are transported through time, with their guides being real actors, using their performances to immerse the audience, complemented by the theming of the vaults. Along the way there are sequences where guests don HTC Cosmos Elite VR headsets and immerse further into the action sequences of the story, concluding with the group having to agree on the moral decisions they should take impacting the conclusion of the adventure. The whole experience lasts over an hour and is broken up with the signature-themed pub area, halfway through the adventure, for the guests to mingle.

The Gunpowder Plot
Image credit: Mark Dawson

Aside from the obvious opening night jitters from the technology, the overall experience was an amazing undertaking and offered a compelling and fun adventure. Only wishing that we could have spent longer admiring the incredible historical recreation rendered virtually of the old city. The experience will be moving from soft opening to taking bookings and is expected to be the first of many immersive themed experiences based on popular properties.

In an interesting quirk of history on its own, the location of The Gunpowder Plot experience is situated in the same vaults that some 28-years ago housed the Legend Quest VR experience. Developed at the time by pioneers, Virtuality, in collaboration with Virtual Reality Design & Leisure, the first true multi-player fantasy VR game was incredibly rudimentary but pointed to the abilities of this fledgling technology. Jump forward to 2022, and again the Tower Hill location offers a tantalizing glimpse of a future in a technological endeavour that will start a revolution in guest entertainment.

Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple Likely to Release Mixed Reality Headset in January 2023

Industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a respected figure in all things Apple supply chain leaks, says the Cupertino tech giant is likely preparing to launch its long-rumored mixed reality headset early next year.

In a Medium post, Kuo outlines a few key points based on how he gathers the industry is headed.

In short, Kuo posits that Meta is slowing down investment in VR hardware due to looming economic recession, but this will provide others opportunity to play catchup as market share shifts away from Meta to companies such as Sony, Valve, Pico, and HTC. It’s not VR, its Meta’s core business that’s taking a hit.

Kuo says there’s still a “vast” potential demand for VR headsets in China which could be filled by companies with ready access to the Chinese market, such as ByteDance subsidiary Pico Interactive and Taiwan’s HTC.

Apple is also tapped to fill growing demand. Codenamed N301, Apple’s MR headset will “likely release in January 2023,” Kuo maintains, and is set to “favor the continued rapid growth of the headset sector,” adding that it’s “the most complicated product Apple has ever designed.”

“Although Apple has repeatedly reiterated its focus on AR, I believe Apple AR/MR supporting video see-thru could also offer an excellent immersive experience,” Kuo says. “Therefore, the launch of Apple AR/MR will further boost the demand for immersive gaming/multimedia entertainment.”

N301 is said to combine VR displays with passthrough cameras for both VR and AR applications. Check out the roundup below for all of the rumors surrounding Apple’s MR headset:

What We (think we) Know About N301 Mixed Reality Headset

The post Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple Likely to Release Mixed Reality Headset in January 2023 appeared first on Road to VR.

Satirical VR Shooter, The American Dream, Hits Quest Next Week

Satirical VR shooter, The American Dream, arrives on Quest next week.

Developer Samurai Punk will bring the game — which first launched on PC VR and PSVR back in 2018 — to the standalone headset on June 30. It will cost $14.99. Check out a trailer for the Quest version below.

The American Dream Quest Version Revealed

The American Dream pictures a reality in which America uses guns as tools for daily tasks. You’ll go through several scenarios like opening beer cans, playing catch and flipping burgers with the aid for firearms. The game is intended to be a satirical take on American gun culture.

We first reviewed the game in 2018, praising its unique premise though adding that it suffered from some pacing issues.

“Using VR’s unique potential to tell powerful and insightful stories with stark, reflective criticism is on display in ways we haven’t seen before,” we said. “The humor won’t land for everyone and the message will likely get misinterpreted or lost by some, but The American Dream raises questions that are absolutely worth discussing regardless of your stance on gun laws. This VR experience, despite the quirky visual style, is not for the faint of heart.”

Will you be picking up The American Dream on Quest? Let us know in the comments below!

Meta Research Suggests High Brightness HDR Key To VR’s Future

Meta research suggests VR’s most transformative gains in telepresence and visual realism may come from advances in display brightness and dynamic range.

Speaking on Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth’s podcast, the company’s head of display systems research talked about the enormous gap in brightness between the 100 nits provided by Meta’s market-leading Quest 2 headset and the more than 20,000 nits provided by its Starburst research prototype. The latter can match even bright indoor lighting while far exceeding today’s highest performing high-dynamic range (HDR) televisions, which top out at around 1,000 nits.

Douglas Lanman, Meta’s top display researcher, referred to this gap as what “we most want, but can least deliver right now.” The prototype is so heavy at 5 to 6 pounds with heat sinks, a powerful light source and optics, that looking into Starburst comfortably requires it be suspended from above and held to the face by handles. While we know Sony’s PlayStation VR 2 display will bring HDR to consumer VR for the first time, its exact brightness and dynamic range is unknown.

“You mentioned that you sort of feel your eye responding to it a certain way,” Meta Research Scientist Nathan Matsuda told Tested’s Norman Chan when he tried Starburst. “We know that there are a variety of perceptual cues that you get from that expanded luminance, and part of that is due to work that was done for the display industry for televisions and cinema, but of course when you have a more immersive display device like this where you have wide field of view, binocular parallax and so on, we don’t know if the perceptual responses actually map directly from the prior work that had been done with TVs, so one of the reasons we built this to begin with is so we can start to unravel where those differences are, where the thresholds might be where you start to feel like you’re looking at a real light instead of a picture of a light, which will then eventually lead us to being able to build devices that then content creators can produce content that makes use of this full range.”

For those who missed it, Meta offered an unprecedented look at its prototype VR headset research this week paired with the announcement of a goal to one day pass the “visual Turing test“. Passing the test would mean making a VR headset with visuals indistinguishable from reality. On Bosworth’s podcast, Boz to the Future, Lanman detailed the challenges in advancing VR displays toward this goal in four ways — resolution, varifocal, distortion correction, and HDR — with the last described as perhaps the most challenging to fully achieve.

Lanman:

In these [Starburst] prototypes we’ve built, you look at a sunset… And if we wanna talk about presence, you feel like you’re there. You’re on Maui, looking out at the sun going down and it sets the hairs on your neck up.

So this is the one we most want, but can least deliver right now. Where we’re at is just running studies, to determine what would work? How could we change the rendering engine? How could we change the optics and displays to give us this? But high dynamic range, that’s the fourth, perhaps king of them all.

The Starburst prototype, pictured below, demonstrated an implementation of extremely bright visuals in VR with high dynamic range (HDR), which Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg described as “arguably the most important dimension of all.”

While Starbust’s brightness significantly improves the sense of presence and realism, the current prototype would be “wildly impractical” to ship as a product, as Zuckerberg put it. If you haven’t dived into it yet we highly recommend making the time to watch Tested’s full video above as well as listening to the podcast with Lanman and Bosworth embedded below. As Meta’s CTO said, the prototypes “give you the ability to reason about the future, which is super helpful because it lets us focus.”

We also reached out over direct message to Norman Chan at Tested because his exclusive look at the hardware prototypes, and the comment he made to Zuckerberg that Starbust was “the demo I didn’t want to take off,” suggests HDR is likely to be a critical area of improvement for future HMDs. Where the gap between Quest 2’s angular resolution and the “retinal” resolution of the Butterscotch prototype is 3x, the gap between Starburst’s brightness and a Quest 2 is almost 200x, meaning there’s a larger chasm to cross in brightness and dynamic range before being able to match “pretty much any indoor environment,” as Lanman said of Starburst.

“The qualitative benefits of HDR were striking in the Starburst prototype demo I tried, even though the headset’s display was far from retinal resolution,” Chan wrote to us. “Getting to something like 20,000 nits in a consumer headset is going to be a big technical challenge, but I could see incremental improvements in luminance through efficiencies in display panel transmittance. What excites me is that producing HDR imagery isn’t computationally taxing–there’s so much existing media with embedded HDR metadata that will benefit in HDR VR headsets. I can’t wait to replay some of my favorite VR games remastered for HDR!”

UploadVR News Writer Harry Baker contributed to this report.

Steam Summer Sale Includes Half-Life: Alyx At Half-Price

The Steam Summer Sale is on now until July 7 with big discounts on VR games including Half-Life: Alyx.

If you haven’t played one of VR’s most polished games games you can grab it now for just $29.99. The discount is in place for the duration of the Steam Summer sale that kicked off today.

Over on Quest, Meta’s summer sale includes discounts VR titles up to 40 percent for a couple more days. Meanwhile, on Steam, you can scour for deep discounts on some classic VR games like cooperative puzzle game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes for just $5.99 or space flight simulator Elite Dangerous for $7.49. More recent titles like The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, Pistol Whip, Star Wars: Squadrons, and Budget Cuts 2 are steeply discounted as well, priced at $21.99, $19.49, $9.99, and $7.49 respectively.

There’s a lot more you can look through over on Steam with a bunch of notable offers, like survival game The Forest for $4.99 and shooter Payday 2 from 2013 with its VR mode that was added in 2018 available for just 99 cents.

Head on over to Steam to check it out and let us know in the comments below if you spot any more interesting discounts or have any purchase recommendations.