Facebook Plans 10,000 Job Hiring Spree in Race to Lead the Metaverse

Facebook, which already employs some 60,000 people, announced a massive expansion of its workforce in an effort to get a head start in building the metaverse. The company says it aims to hire 10,000 new employees, all in the EU.

The metaverse is loosely defined as a sort of immersive internet where virtual experiences and worlds share some level of connectivity, interoperability, and identity (ie: a shared avatar across experiences). Facebook believes that the metaverse, alongside AR and VR, represent what it often calls the “next computing platform,” which it has been aiming to get an early grip on ever since it acquired Oculus back in 2014.

If the company hadn’t already made it abundantly clear that it believes that the metaverse is the next major tech landgrab, it definitely has now. This week the company said it will hire a staggering 10,000 new employees over the next five years in order to support its effort to get a head start on building the metaverse.

“No one company will own and operate the metaverse. Like the internet, its key feature will be its openness and interoperability,” the company wrote. “Bringing this to life will take collaboration and cooperation across companies, developers, creators and policymakers. For Facebook, it will also require continued investment in product and tech talent, as well as growth across the business.”

To that end the company is planning to grow its workforce by nearly 17% with a hiring spree that will create “new high-skilled jobs” that will support its metaverse efforts.

Beyond racing toward its vision of the next computing platform, the jobs announcement makes clear another priority—growing the company’s political influence in the EU.

According to Facebook, all of the 10,000 newly created roles will seek hires living in the EU; not coincidentally company believes that “the EU […] has an important role to play in shaping the new rules of the internet. European policymakers are leading the way in helping to embed European values like free expression, privacy, transparency and the rights of individuals into the day-to-day workings of the internet.”

Specifically the company says, “We hope to see the completion of the Digital Single Market [Wikipedia] to support Europe’s existing advantages, as well as stability on international data flows, which are essential to a flourishing digital economy.”

With the offer of 10,000 new tech jobs in the region, Facebook is surely securing itself some leverage in the discussion of internet policies and regulations with will impact both its existing online business and its future metaverse aspirations.

The post Facebook Plans 10,000 Job Hiring Spree in Race to Lead the Metaverse appeared first on Road to VR.

The 20 Best Rated & Most Popular Quest Games & Apps – October 2021

While Oculus doesn’t offer much publicly in the way of understanding how well individual apps are performing across its VR storefronts, it’s possible to glean some insight by looking at apps relative to each other. Here’s a snapshot of the top 20 Oculus Quest games and apps as of October 2021.

Some quick qualifications before we get to the data:

  • Paid and free apps are separated
  • Only apps with more than 100 reviews are represented
  • App Lab apps are not represented
  • Rounded ratings may appear to show ‘ties’ in ratings for some applications, but the ranked order remains correct

Best Rated Paid Oculus Quest Apps

The rating of each application is an aggregate of user reviews and a useful way to understand the general reception of each title by customers.

Rank Name Rating (# of ratings) Rank Change Price
#1 Puzzling Places 4.93 (515) $15
#2 The Room VR: A Dark Matter 4.89 (8,024) $30
#3 I Expect You To Die 2 4.88 (1,070) $25
#4 Walkabout Mini Golf 4.86 (3,760) $15
#5 Swarm 4.82 (1,237) $25
#6 Moss 4.82 (4,987) $30
#7 YUKI 4.81 (144) $20
#8 Cubism 4.81 (477) ↑ 1 $10
#9 I Expect You To Die 4.81 (3,844) ↓ 1 $25
#10 The Thrill of the Fight 4.79 (6,241) $10
#11 Pistol Whip 4.77 (7,424) ↑ 1 $30
#12 GORN 4.77 (5,115) ↓ 1 $20
#13 Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted 4.77 (6,260) $30
#14 ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos 4.76 (908) $40
#15 In Death: Unchained 4.74 (3,044) $30
#16 Trover Saves the Universe 4.74 (1,757) $30
#17 Yupitergrad 4.73 (406) $15
#18 Racket: Nx 4.72 (1,543) $20
#19 SUPERHOT VR 4.72 (13,708) $25
#20 Job Simulator 4.72 (8,188) $20

Rank change & stats compared to September 2021

Dropouts:
None

  • Among the 20 best rated Quest apps
    • Average rating (mean): 4.8 out of 5 (±0)
    • Average price (mean): $23 (±$0)
    • Most common price (mode): $30 (±$0)
  • Among all paid Quest apps
    • Average rating (mean): 4.3 out of 5 (±0)
    • Average price (mean): $19 (±0)
    • Most common price (mode): $20 (±$0)

Continue on Page 2: Most Popular Paid Oculus Quest Apps »

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Quest 2 Anniversary Sale Offers Big Discounts on Top Games

Quest 2 was launched this week one year ago. To celebrate, Oculus has put together five discounted game bundles alongside nearly 30 other Quest games on sale.

It’s hard to believe its only been a year since Quest 2 launched, but here we are. The headset first hit the market back in October 2020, and has been going strong ever since. Between then and now the headset has seen a number of major improvements, and Facebook recently introduced a new Quest 2 base model with 128GB, doubling the storage over the original 64GB model.

If you’re looking for something new to do in your Quest, now might be a great time to find just the thing—especially if you live where the weather is starting to cool down! For the anniversary of Quest 2, Oculus has put together five discounted game bundles which are available through October 17th:

Anniversary Pack – $73 (26% discount)

  • The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
  • GORN
  • The Thrill of the Fight
  • Demeo

Fun, Games, & Friends Pack – $42 (35% discount)

  • Creed: Rise to Glory
  • Eleven Table Tennis
  • Walkabout Mini Golf

Adrenaline Pack – $53 (13% discount)

  • Swarm
  • Synth Riders
  • Until You Fall

Exhilarating Adventures Pack – $50 (33% discount)

  • The Room VR: A Dark Matter
  • Job Simulator
  • I Expect You To Die

Vader Immortal Pack – $15 (50% discount)

  • Vader Immortal: Episode I
  • Vader Immortal: Episode II
  • Vader Immortal: Episode III

In addition to these bundles, there’s also some great deals on nearly 30 individual Quest games, all of which you can see here.


Will you be adding anything new to your collection during this sale? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Quest 2 Anniversary Sale Offers Big Discounts on Top Games appeared first on Road to VR.

Magic Leap Won’t Make a Consumer Headset but May License Tech to Someone That Will

Magic Leap just gave us the first glimpse of its Magic Leap 2 AR headset earlier this week. Despite a consumer-focused start, the company has firmly pivoted into the enterprise segment. Comments from the CEO suggest there will be no consumer headset from Magic Leap in the near-term, but the company says its open to licensing its tech for the consumer space.

Despite nearly going bust last year, Magic Leap secured its near-term future with the announcement this week that it has raised an additional $500 million, alongside giving the first glimpse at the new and improved Magic Leap 2 AR headset which is due to ship next year. The company is making it clear that the device is designed (and will be priced) for the enterprise segment.

Image courtesy Magic Leap

In a Magic Leap blog post this week CEO Peggy Johnson outlined the company’s activities during her first year as CEO, and affirmed a long-term emphasis on the enterprise space. But she also said the company is open to licensing its tech to anyone building in the consumer sphere.

“While our core business objectives remain focused on enterprise solutions, there continues to be intense interest in the application of Magic Leap’s technology in the consumer space,” Johnson wrote. “In fact, we have received several requests to license our technology and will actively pursue these opportunities if they enhance our position and ability to innovate in the enterprise market.”

The last part is particularly telling… that the company will only consider lending its tech to the consumer space if it benefits its position in enterprise. It’s an interesting admission that both affirms the company’s enterprise focus while suggesting that it has no near-term plans to build products for consumers; that also sounds a lot like saying ‘we don’t want to compete with Facebook or Apple’.

Johnson, a former Microsoft executive vice president who took over as CEO of Magic Leap in 2020, writes that Magic Leap has “one of the most robust IP portfolios I’ve seen for a company of this scale,” and is clearly interested in leveraging its patented tech into an ongoing revenue stream.

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HTC Announces Vive Flow, a Compact VR Headset Focused on Casual Entertainment & Wellbeing

HTC today announced Vive Flow, its latest standalone VR headset. While the company just recently released the enterprise-focused Vive Focus 3, the Vive Flow aims for the consumer market with a compact size and feature-set that HTC has designed around casual entertainment and wellbeing apps.

Vive Flow Specs, Price, and Features

Priced at $500 and planned for release in November, HTC is positioning Vive Flow as a VR headset to help people relax, learn, and connect with friends.

Weight

Image courtesy HTC

The standalone headset aims to be both compact and lightweight; HTC says Vive Flow weighs just 189 grams, which is several times lighter than any major VR headset on the market today, standalone or otherwise.

Resolution, Field-of-view, & Audio

Image courtesy HTC

Vive Flow is said to have a “3.2K” resolution, though the company hasn’t specified the precise display. Based on the way they’ve marketed their most recent headsets, we understand this to mean roughly 1,600 × 1,600 per-eye.

Meanwhile, Vive Flow’s refresh rate is confirmed at 75Hz and the horizontal field-of-view at 100°. A diopter adjustment allows users to focus each lens to fit their glasses prescription, up to −6.0D. The headset also includes on-board audio and supports bluetooth headphones.

Processor & External Battery Power

Image courtesy Qualcomm

Vive Flow uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR1 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

While the device is standalone, it will rely extensively on external power from a USB battery pack (not included) or a phone. Vive Flow has a small on-board battery but it only lasts a “few minutes” and is designed to allow users to hot swap the headset’s tether between power sources.

Tracking & Input

Image courtesy HTC

The headset supports 6DOF head-tracking and users can pair an Android phone to be used as a 3DOF controller (head-based pointing can be used as a fallback). Hand-tracking won’t be supported at launch, though it may come in a future update.

In addition to running standalone apps, users can mirror content from their Android smartphone into the headset to watch video streaming apps, play flat Android games, and the like. iOS devices aren’t supported by the headset for use as a controller or content mirroring, though the company says they’re working on it.

Vive Flow Apps & Content

Image courtesy HTC

Beyond mirroring content from Android smartphones, Vive Flow can run standalone applications which will be served from a mobile version of HTC’s Viveport app store.

HTC says Vive Flow is built for “wellbeing, brain training, productivity, and light gaming,” and is focusing on serving those kinds of apps through Viveport.

We don’t have a complete list of the apps which will be offered at launch, but the company has given a few examples like the mindfulness app TRIPP, an original VR video series from MyndVR, and the company’s own social VR app, Vive Sync. We expect to hear more about specific apps that will support Vive Flow in the near future.

At launch, HTC will be offering a Viveport subscription plan for Vive Flow priced at $6 per month. It isn’t clear if this will allow access to the headset’s entire library of apps, or just select apps (as is the case with the company’s PC VR subscription library).

Accessories

Vive Flow carrying case | Image courtesy HTC

Since Vive Flow requires an external power source (but doesn’t include one in the box), HTC says it will be selling a 10,000mAh external battery pack. The company hasn’t announced the price, but we expect it will be priced similarly to the $80 battery pack the company has previously sold alongside its Vive wireless adapter accessory. Any power bank will work with Vive Flow, however.

HTC has also designed a carrying case for Vive Flow. Though also not yet priced, it will be included as a pre-order bonus.

Vive Flow Release Date & Pre-order

Image courtesy HTC

Vive Flow is set for a release date in November, but pre-orders start today. The Vive Flow price is $500, and pre-orders will receive both the carrying case and a bundle of seven apps.


Do you have questions about Vive Flow? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll try to get them answered!

The post HTC Announces Vive Flow, a Compact VR Headset Focused on Casual Entertainment & Wellbeing appeared first on Road to VR.

One Year Later, ‘Beat Saber’ Multiplayer is Still Missing on PSVR

One of VR’s most popular titles, Beat Saber, launched a multiplayer update one year ago today. While the Facebook-owned studio behind the game said it hoped to launch multiplayer simultaneously on all platforms, a delay to the mode on PSVR has inexplicitly stretched to an entire year. The studio says it continues to work on multiplayer for the PSVR version of Beat Saber, but won’t say what the holdup is.

Beat Saber is one of VR’s most popular titles, and it was big news for players on October 13th, 2020 when the game finally got a multiplayer update that allowed up to five players to chop blocks to the beat together.

Prior to the update’s launch, Facebook-owned developer Beat Games affirmed that it hoped to ship the update on all platforms at once, but warned the PSVR version “might” come a bit later.

“Dear PSVR players, we are doing everything we can to make sure we release multiplayer simultaneously on all platforms on October 13 [2020] but there might be a delay with the PS4 version. Please bear with us and check our social media regularly for new updates about PSVR.”

From that point forward, the company has occasionally affirmed that it’s still working on Beat Saber multiplayer for PSVR, but somehow that delay has gone on for an entire year with no explanation.

Back in March of 2021 Beat Games reminded PSVR Beat Saber players that it was still working on the feature, and said it would see the same updates as the other platforms once it arrived.

“Dear PSVR players, the team continues to work on Multiplayer and will update here when we have more to share. We’re also working to add all new Multiplayer tweaks we launched today,” the developer tweeted.

Fast forward to today, the one year anniversary of Beat Saber’s multiplayer update, and the studio has no news to share. As of this week, the studio is “still working on PSVR multiplayer,” a spokesperson tells Road to VR.

Considering that the studio initially expected to launch Beat Saber’s multiplayer mode on all platforms at once, it’s difficult to discern what could be blocking Beat Games from doing so on PSVR; even more confusing, perhaps, is that the studio hasn’t offered any detail into the situation.

It seems unlikely that it’s a technical issue given the time the studio has had to work on the problem. Platform politics between Facebook and PlayStation might be to blame, with neither side wanting to publicly fault the other for fear of calcifying the impasse. Music-licensing complications could also play a role.

While the multiplayer update hit both the Oculus and Steam versions of the game at the same time, there was no cross-platform multiplayer out of the gate. Beat Games fixed that back in September with an update that allows players from both platforms to connect using a room-code function rather than a friends list.

The PSVR version would hopefully include similar functionality to allow all Beat Saber players to play together, but at this point the bigger question seems to be whether or not multiplayer on the PSVR version will ever see the light of day.

The post One Year Later, ‘Beat Saber’ Multiplayer is Still Missing on PSVR appeared first on Road to VR.

Facebook Execs Tease “Next-generation” Headset Prototypes Following Vive Flow Leak

Seemingly in an effort to keep the spotlight during an increasingly hot month of VR announcements, Facebook teased a look at two new XR headset prototypes just a day after an apparent leak of HTC’s upcoming Vive Flow headset.

Update (October 14th, 2021): Facebook shared yet another teasing glimpse of a VR headset prototype; we’ve included it further below.

Although Facebook is expected to make major XR announcements at its upcoming Facebook Connect conference later this month, it seems the company couldn’t help but tease some of what its been working on.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today posted an image of himself looking into what he called an “early retina resolution prototype.”

Image courtesy Mark Zuckerberg

‘Retina resolution’ refers to a display which has enough pixel density that it meets or exceeds the resolving power of the human eye. With no cameras apparently on the outside of the headset, this particular prototype is likely a VR headset. However, Zuckerberg said he was checking out a range of “next-generation” XR projects from his company’s VR division, Facebook Reality Labs.

“I spent the day with the Facebook Reality Labs research team in Redmond to demo our next-generation virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence tech. This one is an early retina resolution prototype. The future is going to be awesome,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg’s post was coordinated with another from Facebook’s VP of XR, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who tweeted an image at what he says is another prototype from the FRL Research team in Redmond. The device appears to be a compact XR headset that takes on a goggles form factor

Image courtesy Andrew Bosworth

“Proud of the research Michael Abrash’s team is working on at FRL-R Redmond—excited to get an early look at some of the technologies that will underpin the metaverse (we work on several prototype headsets to prove out concepts, this is one of them. Kind of. It’s a long story.),” he wrote.

The wording suggests that the device isn’t itself an upcoming product but simply a prototype to “prove out concepts,” though he also teases that there’s a “long story” behind the headset, without going into detail.

While it could be something as simple as a non-functional ergonomic prototype, Facebook Reality Labs researcher Douglas Lanman seems to have confirmed that the headset is a display prototype in his own tweet. “I’m excited to see this preview of another headset prototype from the Display Systems Research team at FRL-R Redmond,” he wrote.

Update (October 14th, 2021): Bosworth shared another photo of a prototype headset which looks like an original Quest attached to a Rift S head-strap and with some extra hardware around it and what appears to be a rudimentary antenna sticking out of the top.

Image courtesy Andrew Bosworth

He didn’t offer any detail other than teasing, “So. Many. Prototypes.”

It doesn’t seem like coincidence that the Facebook teases happened today. Just yesterday, HTC’s own upcoming compact VR headset, Vive Flow, appears to have leaked ahead of the company’s event on Thursday. With pre-orders for Vive Flow purportedly starting on October 15th, the unspoken sentiment of Zuckerberg & Bosworth’s posts feel akin to ‘wait until you see what we’ve got up our sleeve’.

HTC likely got the message; the company’s President of Vive China quickly tweeted back to Bosworth, “Hey Boz, Nice looking research project. Want to trade for a production quality device hot out of our factory? 😎,” insinuating that HTC is ahead of the game by already having its compact headset ready for production.

With all this new XR hardware in the works, it’s certainly turning out to be an exciting month. Facebook will surely save its major announcements at Facebook Connect later this month and high-end headset maker Varjo has been teasing its own big announcement.

The post Facebook Execs Tease “Next-generation” Headset Prototypes Following Vive Flow Leak appeared first on Road to VR.

‘Lone Echo II’ Review – A Long Wait for a Safe Sequel

After a nearly two-year delay, Lone Echo II is finally here to bring us full circle on Jack & Liv’s story. Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out.

Lone Echo II Details:

Available On: Oculus PC
Release Date: October 12th, 2021
Price: $40
Developer: Ready at Dawn
Publisher: Oculus Studios
Reviewed On: Quest 2 (Oculus Link)

Gameplay

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: Lone Echo II picks up almost immediately after the original game, and has a plot that’s heavily reliant on prior knowledge. If you have any interest in playing Lone Echo II, you should really play Lone Echo first.

Now that that’s clear… Lone Echo II returns players to familiar gameplay and game structure. While on its surface one might think to classify the game as an action-adventure or adventure-puzzler, it’s actually closer to an adventure-exploration game, as it never manages to deliver much tension, action, nor puzzle intrigue.

Lone Echo II is a very slowly paced game, sometimes to a fault. While it’s nice that we get to meet some new characters this time around, this leads to extended dialogue sequences where you’re just kind of sitting around listening to people have slow conversations. Had there been more intrigue in the plot or growth of the characters, this might have been just fine, but in the absence of those things it can be a bit tiresome.

The game returns quickly to the gameplay established by its predecessor—which involves running around causally completing various objectives—and manages to deliver a similar (and sometimes magical) feeling of actually floating in and around a space station orbiting Saturn.

Just like the first game, eventually you’ll be let loose outside of a space station to explore and search out some optional quests or pursue the main objectives. This time around the area you can explore feels even more expansive, and the optional quests have a bit more pay-off as they can bring you some upgrades to your suit’s systems (though these don’t feel essential in any way to completing the main plot).

Without spoiling anything, you’ll look through various perspectives throughout the game, thanks to the hardware-agnostic nature of Jack’s android memory. Initially the game looks like it’s using this opportunity to offer more action (eventually you actually wield a real weapon), but unfortunately it winds up functioning much more like a tool than anything else, offering up little that could be called “combat.”

In Lone Echo II the environment continues to be your biggest threat and the source of the game’s conflict. There’s a single new enemy you’ll run into—the floating “tick” biomass forms which are basketball-sized creatures that will attach to you and drain your health if you get to close—but while they’re fun to watch as they float around and squish against walls, they don’t amount to particularly interesting enemies. This is mainly because they aren’t intelligent (to be fair, they aren’t supposed to be), which renders them more like dynamic environmental threats than anything truly challenging.

And that brings me to a bit of a gripe with Lone Echo II: there isn’t much of a gameplay arc. While many games teach players new skills and then puts those skills to the test through challenging situations, Lone Echo II just never asks that much of you, and subsequently doesn’t ever manage to raise the level of tension. There’s rarely any consequence for dying, the puzzles are never challenging enough to give you a “eureka!” moment, and the game’s single enemy feels more like a nuisance than a threat.

For the most part you’re leisurely going about your business in space, which can admittedly be fun thanks to a strong sense of immersion, but we already got a good dose of that in the first Lone Echo; the sequel was the prime opportunity to evolve that gameplay into something more, not just more of the same.

Lone Echo II could have been forgiven for its leisurely pace if it had a great story and characters to lean into, but those aspects feel only so-so. Though the characters are beautifully rendered and well voice-acted, the plot—like the gameplay—has a fairly flat arc that ends with an anti-climactic and slightly puzzling ending. The choice to hide a key scene behind the credits also seems odd, as I’m sure some players will take the headset off before seeing the full ending.

All in all, Lone Echo II took me about nine hours to complete, though it would have probably taken me a few more had I opted to track down all of the optional quests. Of those optional quests that I did do, I found them generally enjoyable and felt like they added to the game’s sense of freedom and discovery. Once you get out into open space it feels like there’s always something new to look at or explore.

Immersion

Immersion is truly where Lone Echo II shines. While the gameplay and story arcs might not provide a strong sense of momentum, the game—more than almost any other—makes you feel like you’re really out there, floating around in that world.

At least in the free-roaming parts of the game, the feeling of being able to simply fly to any part of the map to explore whatever interests you at the moment brings a sense of freedom that few VR games manage to achieve. Yes, it sometimes feels like you’re doing chores, but hey, if you could fold your laundry while feeling like you’re on a space station orbiting Saturn, wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity?

The sense of immersion is aided heavily by the game’s rich interactions and immersive locomotion. It’s the same zero-G movement as the first game, where you can grab onto the environment and push off of it to send yourself hurtling from one place to another. Assisted by micro-thrusters on your wrists for fine-adjustments and a bigger booster on your back for building up speed, the feeling of reaching out and grabbing the environment so frequently—or, in cases of the biomass threat, carefully not touching the environment—really makes the walls, handles, and levers feel solid around you.

There’s also still something magical about seeing objects float around the zero-G environment, especially when just about every single one is physically interactive. Sometimes its fun just to grab a floating piece of debris on your way by, give it a little shove, and watch it cruise silently into the void of space. And more practically speaking, being able to reorient objects in your hand by giving them a little twist, letting them spin in place, then grabbing them again, feels entirely natural.

Lone Echo II is beautifully art directed. It feels like there’s almost no deviation in style or graphical detail from the first game which, on one hand, is great because the first was extremely detailed, but on the other hand, it would have been nice to see some new graphical flourishes given the four years that have elapsed from the original.

Even without improved graphics, it would have been great to see more significant optimizations to the game so that most everyone could enjoy it at its best presentation.

Oculus recommends a GeForce GTX 1080 GPU and an Intel i7-6000 CPU, or higher. Unfortunately the game struggled a bit at times on an RTX 2080 Ti and an i7-6700K at Medium settings and 2x MSAA. Worth noting: I was playing the game on Quest 2 via Oculus Link, which means it was rendering at much higher resolution than if I had been using Rift S, plus Oculus Link uses some extra resources to work.

Do yourself a favor when starting Lone Echo II: disable Temporal AA, then find the highest setting that will still run the game at 4x or 2x MSAA. The game unfortunately suffers a lot from aliasing, but the Temporal AA solution adds a significant blur. Using 4x or 2x MSAA will show more jaggies but everything will be much sharper.

Lone Echo II also seems to expect SSD speeds, as I saw fairly regular popping of some large textures during my HDD-installed playthrough. Luckily its very reasonable 21GB size should be easy enough for most people to find room for on their fastest drives, even if only until they’ve completed the game.

Comfort

I found Lone Echo II’s zero-G hands-on locomotion to be fairly comfortable, though if I played for more than an hour or so I could start to feel some faint discomfort which would prompt me to take a break.

Even though it’s fairly comfortable and intuitive, Lone Echo II only supports smooth locomotion and has minimal adjustments for comfort. Snap turn or smooth turn are really the only choice you can make—there’s no blinders or other forms of comfort compensation, so it’s up to you to be careful about how you move if you want to stay comfortable.

You can easily make the game more or less comfortable depending upon how careful you are with your movement; avoid shaking yourself around violently or flying face-first into walls and you’ll be much better off. You can find a full list of the game’s comfort settings further below.

While there was some risk that Quest 2’s inside-out tracking would prove problematic with Lone Echo II‘s hands-on locomotion—due to the controllers sometimes getting lost out of sight—found this to be extremely rare during my time with the game. I think that’s because it’s fairly rare to grab anything behind you, which leaves your hands generally visible by the headset’s cameras.

The only issue I found with the controllers was that pressing the button on the side of my helmet to turn on my light was a hit-or-miss affair which usually took a few tries.

‘Lone Echo II’ Comfort Settings – October 12th, 2021

Turning (heading 4 in WP)

Artificial turning ✔
Smooth-turn ✔
Adjustable speed ✔
Snap-turn
Adjustable increments ✖

Movement

Artificial movement ✔
Smooth-move ✔
Adjustable speed (not explicit)
Teleport-move ✖
Blinders ✖
Adjustable strength ✖
Head-based n/a
Controller-based n/a
Swappable movement hand ✔

Posture

Standing mode ✔
Seated mode (not explicit)
Artificial crouch n/a
Real crouch n/a

Accessibility

Subtitles ✔
Languages English
Alternate audio ✖
Languages ✖
Adjustable difficulty ✖
Two hands required ✔
Real crouch required ✖
Hearing required ✖
Adjustable player height n/a

The post ‘Lone Echo II’ Review – A Long Wait for a Safe Sequel appeared first on Road to VR.

CEO Shares First Details on Magic Leap 2, Announces $500 Million in New Funding

Magic Leap today announced that it has raised $500 million in new capital at a $2 billion valuation. This comes ahead of the launch of its upcoming AR headset, Magic Leap 2, which it promises will be smaller, lighter, and tuned to be an “all day” device.

New Capital

Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson took to CNBC today during the channel’s Power Lunch show to reveal that the company has raised a $500 million investment at a $2 billion valuation. The company didn’t disclose who participated in the funding round.

Magic Leap had previously raised some $3 billion for its hyped AR headset which didn’t see nearly as much traction as the company hoped for. It nearly fell apart last year, and had gone as far as announcing significant layoffs, before a last minute investment of $350 million allowed it to restructure. Shortly thereafter, Peggy Johnson took over as CEO, replacing founder Rony Abovitz, and began to pivot the company more heavily toward the enterprise sector.

The First Details on Magic Leap 2

Magic Leap 2 will be the first new product from the company since Johnson took the reins. In addition to announcing the new investment today on CNBC’s Power Lunch, Johnson also teased more about the new AR headset.

Most interestingly, perhaps, she said Magic Leap 2 will be an “all day, every day” device, thanks to a more compact and comfortable form factor. This is intriguing because—if “all day” is to be believed—it suggests the headset will have significantly more battery life than the three or so hours of the original Magic Leap headset.

“These updated features lend themselves to achieving our goal of all day, everyday use, which is what the enterprise market has been asking for—a device that you can put on your head in the morning and wear all day long,” Johnson wrote today in a post on the company’s official blog.

It remains to be seen how the company plans to achieve this however. A truly ‘all day’ AR headset would be a breakthrough in the industry, as it would allow persistent and seamless augmentation of the real world, rather than donning a bulky headset for select use-cases. However, Johnson may merely be alluding to the headset being comfortable enough to wear all day, but only if it remains powered off until specifically needed. Alternatively the new headset could now include a swappable battery pack.

But bulk and battery life isn’t the only barrier to true practical ‘all day’ use. In an image of Magic Leap 2 released today we can see that the headset will still bring a notable penalty to one’s own field-of-view, similar to the original Magic Leap headset which significantly truncated the real-world FOV.

Image courtesy Magic Leap

Johnson also claimed Magic Leap 2 will include a new “segmented dimming” technology which she says will allow the headset to be practical in brighter environments, like an operating room. She didn’t elaborate on how it worked.

Magic Leap 2 will also feature improved “color fidelity,” “text legibility,” and “image quality,” according to Johnson, as well as “double the field-of-view.” We take this to mean ‘double the area‘ which is less significant than doubling the diagonal field-of-view, but it would be an improvement none-the-less, likely bringing Magic Leap 2’s field-of-view on par with HoloLens 2.

Image courtesy Magic Leap

It looks like most of this increase comes, oddly, in the vertical direction, according to a depiction shared by the company, which Johnson claims is the “largest field of view in the industry.”

Magic Leap says it plans to launch Magic Leap 2 in 2022, though it says “select customers” are already using the headset through an early access program.

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Facebook Offers up $10 Million to Draw Creators to ‘Horizon’

Horizon, Facebook’s social VR space built around user-generated content, was announced more than two years ago, but the company still isn’t quite ready to send it out the door. Instead, Facebook this week announced it is rebranding the project as Horizon Worlds, while also announcing a $10 million fund to support creators building content within.

When we tried out Facebook Horizon back in August of 2020, we found that it was aiming for a sweet spot between social VR apps Rec Room and VRChat, including some seriously impressive in-game building and scripting tools that make it possible to build worlds, experiences, and mini-games for anyone to enjoy. Since then, Facebook says it has upgraded its building tools and decided to rebrand the entire project to be called Horizon Worlds, which serves to distance ‘Facebook’ from the core name while also fitting better with the recently introduced Horizon Workrooms.

This week the company also announced a $10 million fund which is says will be used to support creators building content inside of Horizon Worlds. It isn’t clear exactly how Facebook plans to distribute the funds, or over what time scale, but it gave three examples of how creators can benefit.

Community Competitions: Later this year, we’ll launch a series of creator competitions to reward people building the very best worlds in Horizon and who are taking advantage of the tools we offer. We’ll offer up to $10K in cash prizes for the first-, second-, and third-place winners, and we’ll share more details on these competitions soon. You can sign up here to be notified when we launch our first competition.

Accelerator Program: We’ll also continue with our Creator Accelerator Program, an application-based initiative designed to give people from diverse backgrounds an advanced crash course in Horizon Worlds creation. The Creator Accelerator Program also gives people a unique opportunity to attain the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in a professional environment, including a session we held that focused on building more inclusive worlds. We just wrapped up the pilot class of this program, and we’ll begin accepting applications next month for an expanded Creator Accelerator Program set to kick off in early 2022.

Funding For Developers: Last but not least, our product teams have been working closely with a handful of external developers to explore the range of possibilities for content in Horizon Worlds. Earlier this year, we worked with developers on the theme of cooperative mini-games that are easy to learn and hard to master for two to four players. If you’re a developer, studio, or creator and you’re interested in partnering with us for funded opportunities to create experiences for Horizon in a particular theme, you can sign-up to learn more about the next set of themes here.

Ostensibly the company is hoping to attract the kind of creators that are essential to the traction of other social virtual worlds like Roblox, Rec Room, and VRChat.

To support those creators, Facebook says it has built “best-in-class” in-game building tools, with recent upgrades offering even more flexibility for individuals or teams of creators to build experiences inside Horizon Worlds.

We redesigned our creation tools UI and interactions to make the most common creator workflows more efficient and intuitive. Through new textures and improved object snapping, artists and designers are now able to bring complex environments and characters to life with greater ease. Our scripting updates have unlocked a wide variety of new VR mechanics and gameplay that scripters and programmers can use to bring their ideas to life—whether it’s using custom locally-scripted physics to craft a paper airplane or building a competitive team-based game with persistent XP progression, the only limit is your imagination.

We’re working to bring even more tools and features to the community soon, like a new feature for projectile launching mechanics and global leaderboards. We’re also building full game experiences to share with creators as templates so that they won’t need to start from scratch when making a new world.

With these new tools and monetary incentives, Facebook hopes to attract users who will populate Horizon Worlds with content that will bring other users to the platform. A newly published video shows some of the things that creators have been building in Horizon:

Horizon was initially announced just over two years ago but has quietly remained in a closed beta over the last year with no firm roadmap for a full launch. The announcement of a $10 million fund to attract creators to the platform seems to be an acknowledgement that there isn’t yet enough to do inside to appeal to a broader userbase, and we may not see Horizon open to the public until the company feels like it has built up enough content to keep people coming back. However, it better be not wait too long; after all, it also risks losing the attention of creators if there isn’t a real userbase ready and willing to explore their content.

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