Resolution Games Acquires Studio Behind ‘Carly and the Reaperman’ Quest Port

Resolution Games, a leading developer of XR content, has acquired Zero Index, the studio which helped bring Odd Raven Studios’ VR co-op game Carly and the Reaperman (2018) to the Quest platform earlier this year.

Zero Index is a game studio and consulting firm focused on B2B services within both the game and IT industry. Founded by Tomas Ahlström and Alexander Milton in 2020, the team has worked to expand the game industry in the region of Östergötland in eastern Sweden.

As a part of the acquisition, the four-person team, which is based in Linköping, will be rebranded as Resolution Tech. Ahlström has been tapped to fill the role of studio manager within Resolution Games.

“The Zero Index team has a number of impressive accomplishments under their belt, including their exemplary work that helped us bring Carly and the Reaperman to Oculus Quest earlier this year,” said Tommy Palm, CEO and founder of Resolution Games. “Demand for great VR and AR experiences is growing at an exponential rate. With more hardware choices than ever in the pipeline from tech’s biggest players, having a team experienced in bringing games to different markets and platforms will help us continue to reach new players everywhere they choose to play.”

Additionally, the studio today announced four new hires including Head of People & Culture Natalie Mellin, General Counsel Ebba Waltré, Product Manager Johan Gästrin, and Finance Director Rickard Åstrand.

This undoubtedly comes as a direct result of its Series C funding closed earlier this year, which brought $25 million to the company to help the Stockholm-based studio expand. The studio has also created several well-performing VR titles such as Demeo (2021), Blaston (2020)Cook-Out: A Sandwich Tale (2020), and Angry Birds: Isle of Pigs (2019). 

The studio most recently announced Ultimechs, a futuristic multiplayer VR sport coming to headsets sometime in 2022.

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‘Hitman 3’ is Finally Getting PC VR Support, Arriving January 2022

IO Interactive today announced that Hitman 3 (2021) is finally getting PC VR support, coming just in time for the game’s one-year anniversary.

Hitman 3 has been available across consoles and PC for almost a year now, offering VR support exclusively through PlayStation consoles—meaning only PSVR users could play.

Now in a Year 2 promo video for the game, the studio says PC VR players will finally get a crack at the action. IO Interactive says more details will follow, including technical specs and supported platforms which will be revealed on 20 January 2022, so we’re sure to learn more then.

In the video, the studio showed both Valve Index and Meta Rift S. Although the inclusion of Rift S may point to dedicated Meta platform release, most likely this means PC versions of the game will receive SteamVR support via a free update.

Image courtesy IO Interactive

Notably, the PSVR version doesn’t support PS Move, and although that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon, the video shows both Index and Rift S users immersing themselves in the game’s detailed world using their respective motions controllers. PSVR users play via gamepad, albeit spatially tracked to add an immersive edge to shooting and garrote-wiring enemies.

Other features said to arrive to the game in 2022 include ray tracing support on PC, a new game mode called ‘Elusive Target Arcade’, and something IO Interactive is calling “a major update to the game” for Spring 2022.

The studio promises post-launch support “for another 12 months” which includes new maps, storylines, modes and ways to play. Again, we’ll be all eyes and ears on the studio’s dedicated Hitman YouTube channel on January 20th, 2022.

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Report: ‘Resident Evil 4’ VR is Getting ‘Mercenaries’ Game Mode in Free Update Next Year

Resident Evil 4 launched on Meta Quest 2 back in October, bringing the survival horror game to VR for the first time. Unlike more recent ports, the Quest 2 version of the game only shipped with the main campaign, however its seems Capcom may have a roadmap of additional content in mind, as it now appears ‘The Mercenaries’ game mode is coming in 2022.

As reported by Bioharzardcast, The Mercenaries is apparently coming to Quest 2 at some point in 2022—at least that’s what an unlisted, official YouTube video showed before it was subsequently leaked and then made private. We haven’t seen the announcement first-hand to verify, although Biohazardcast uploaded a copy of the video on their own channel along with a screenshot of the video when it was still marked as unlisted.

In case you haven’t played the non-VR game on console or PC, The Mercenaries is a timed mode that tasks you with killing as many enemies as possible before the clock runs down. In the mode you’re given the choice of five playable characters, each with their own weapons and abilities. Players make their way through standalone versions of a few levels and dispatch regular enemies and bosses, making for a nice bit of content once you’ve had your fill of the main campaign.

There’s no word on whether the Quest 2 version of the game will be receiving either the ‘Assignment Ada’ or ‘Separate Ways’ DLC. With the game’s relative success on the Quest 2 platform—the original video maintains it was the “fastest-selling app on Quest 2″—it’s likely the studio is looking to increase engagement and give players a reason to come back for more with successive DLC releases.

We gave Resident Evil 4 on Quest 2 a [8/10] rating for being a competent VR port of the survival horror classic. It features newly polished visuals and a few key bits to make it feel more like a VR native, however there’s no sidestepping the immersion breaks of the game’s 2D cutscenes and some gaming tropes that haven’t really weathered the test of time. Still, it’s a great game, and the promise of more free DLC is definitely enticing.

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VR Platformer ‘Lucky’s Tale’ to Release on PSVR & SteamVR Headsets “soon”

Lucky’s Tale (2016), the plucky little 3D platformer that launched on Rift back in 2016, not only made the leap to Quest 2 a few weeks ago, but is also now coming to PSVR and SteamVR headsets.

Update (December 2nd, 2021): Playful today announced during the Upload VR showcase that Lucky’s Tale is finally leaving Oculus exclusivity as it makes its way to PSVR and SteamVR headsets, releasing on the PlayStation Store, Steam and Viveport sometime “soon”.

The studio also threw out a new trailer to show off some of the game’s updated visuals. The original article announcing Quest 2 availability follows below.

Original Article (November 18th, 2021): Playful Studios (formerly Playful Corp) developed the original Lucky’s Tale for Rift, pitching it not only as a launch title for the early consumer VR headset, but making it available as a free, in-the-box addition for all new Rift owners at the time.

Now Quest 2 users can hop around the bright and colorful world as series protagonist Lucky Swiftail, a young fox on a quest to save his best friend Piggy from a tentacular monster named Glorp.

It launches on the Oculus Store for $20 today, coming exclusively to Quest 2 (re: not original Oculus Quest). It hasn’t been confirmed whether Lucky’s Tale is a cross-buy title with Rift, however we’ll update this article once we know.

Playful says Lucky’s Tale has been remastered for Quest 2, bringing updated lighting, rendering, and remixed audio to the game. It’s also refined character movement, and imported the updated character model seen in New Super Lucky’s Tale (2020), the game’s non-VR sequel which is still only available for flatscreen consoles and PC.

Lucky’s Tale is a fun little game which serves up a few hours of pretty standard platforming fare, albeit in an immersive 3D world that sort of drags yours point of view behind the titular Lucky as you move through different worlds and encounter the evil Glorp at every turn. It’s one of those ‘fun for everyone’ games that basically everyone can enjoy.

Lucky’s Tale was developed around a limitation that sounds positively ancient; it was first meant to be played with the Xbox controller, which was Rift’s only input method for the first few months after launch—a few months before Touch was even a thing. Granted, Touch controllers have all the same buttons as an Xbox gamepad, although it goes to show just how much VR games have changed in the past few years in terms of direct user interaction and immersion.

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‘Blaston’ Studio Announces Futuristic VR Sports Game ‘Ultimechs’, Trailer Here

Resolution Games, the studio behind Demeo, Blaston, and Cook-Out: A Sandwich Tale, announced its next title coming to “major VR platforms” starting next year. Called Ultimechs, the game put you aboard a mech to play some sort of futuristic multiplayer sport.

The studio is staying tight-lipped on exactly what the new sport involves, however they say you’ll need “speed, precision and rocketry […] to defeat your opponents.” More info is said to arrive in the coming months.

In the trailer we can see a mech firing a rocket-fist at a ball, or rather a specific target on the ball that sends it hurtling into a goal area.

Image courtesy Resolution Games

There’s actually more to infer here too, thanks to a tweet made by the studio earlier this week. In the short clip below we can see four players donning Quest 2 headsets. A menu screen is briefly seen on stage where there’s an apparent loadout selection and list of available arenas. The four players battle in out and appear to guide the rocket-fists to their targets, possibly in teams of two.

“With Ultimechs we have created an entirely new gameplay mechanic that could only exist in the immersive world of VR,” said Tommy Palm, CEO of Resolution Games. “Sure anyone can kick a ball into a net, but only in the world of Ultimechs can you and your mech punch it in by firing a rocket fist and controlling the trajectory as you follow along its path. And that just scratches the surface of Ultimechs. We’ve really stretched the boundaries of what can be done in VR in this game, and we can’t wait to share more details.”

Resolution Games has developed several ground-up VR titles that are unique to the medium. Following in the footsteps of Blaston, a futuristic 1v1 dueling game that is currently rated at [4.6/5] stars on the Oculus Store, the studio says it hopes Ultimechs will grow its catalog of “distinct, original multiplayer experiences that the company is known for.”

Ultimechs is coming in 2022 to “major VR platforms,” which nowadays typically means Oculus Quest 2, SteamVR and PSVR. Heading into 2022 though, it’s likely we’ll be seeing more platforms arrive such as the long-awaited second-gen PSVR headset for PS5, and whatever Meta is cooking up with its Project Cambria MR headset, something we’re hoping to hear more about during Meta’s VR gaming showcase coming in early 2022.

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Qualcomm Backpedals on 10M Quest 2 Sales Figure, Calls It a ”third-party estimate”

Qualcomm held an investor event earlier this week where the company claimed that its partnership with Meta (formerly Facebook) had seen over 10 million Oculus Quest 2 units shipped since its launch in October 2020. Not so fast though: Qualcomm now says the 10 million unit figure was a third-party estimate and “wasn’t meant as an official disclosure of sales numbers by Meta or Qualcomm.”

Update (November 18th, 2021): In a statement provided to Road to VR, Qualcomm has clarified that the previously mentioned 10 million unit figure was the result of an estimate calculated using third-party data. Here’s the statement in full:

“During Qualcomm’s Investor Day event, CEO and President Cristiano Amon highlighted the momentum of the XR business and stated that Quest 2 has shipped an estimated 10 million units,” a Qualcomm spokesperson told Road to VR. “This number is an average of third-party market size estimates from industry analysts, and wasn’t meant as an official disclosure of sales numbers by Meta or Qualcomm. Snapdragon XR Platforms power over 50 commercial devices, including Quest, and Qualcomm’s early investments have established Snapdragon as the platform of choice for connecting physical and digital spaces.”

It’s important to note that Qualcomm knows precisely how many Snapdragon XR2s it’s sold to Meta, and it’s reasonable to infer that if the company feels confident in standing behind third-party data, then that number may not be too far off from the reality of things.

The original article follows below detailing the Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon’s original statement from its Investor Day event.

Original Article (November 17th, 2021): We’ve seen figures in the past that suggested Meta’s latest standalone headset was doing very well—possibly putting it at three times the adoption rate of Sony’s PSVR—but it was still unclear precisely how big of an impact Quest 2 had on the industry overall.

Now Qualcomm has quantified Quest 2’s success, noting that Meta has crossed over the 10 million unit mark.

“I remember talking about XR before it was popular a few years ago, and we’re very excited about our position right now,” said Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon on stage at the event. “And I’ll point you out that this is already starting. Oculus Quest 2 was 10 million units, and the success of Oculus Quest 2 had an impact on the company that is providing [it].” (see update)

Image courtesy Facebookulsu quest 2

Qualcomm is a close partner with Meta, having produced the Snapdragon XR2 chipset that drives Quest 2, as well as the Snapdragon 835 inside the original 2019-era Oculus Quest, making it likely the only company besides Meta to have such data.

And that milestone is pretty big for Meta. Back at Connect 5 in 2018, the company’s annual XR developer conference, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that he believed that 10 million VR users on a single platform was an important milestone for the company to reach in order to make a sustainable ecosystem for VR developers.

“That’s the threshold where the number of people using and buying VR content makes it sustainable and profitable for all kinds of developers,” Zuckerberg said. “And once we get across this threshold, we think that the content and the ecosystem are just going to explode. Importantly, this threshold isn’t 10 million people across all different types of VR. Because if you build a game for Rift, it doesn’t necessarily work on Go or PlayStation VR. So we need 10 million people on [one] platform.”

Crossing that 10 million unit threshold may be part of the reason the company has suddenly placed so much emphasis on building out the metaverse—and changing its name from Facebook to Meta in the process.

Whatever the case, unless Meta plans to produce its own in-house silicon, Qualcomm will very likely be there for the ride as Meta continues to reach for a yet larger userbase as its future mixed reality headset Project Cambria and AR glasses Project Nazare come into focus. Notably, Qualcomm’s says it offers “50+ designs” for its Snapdragon XR chipsets, integrating into headsets such as HTC Vive Focus 3, Pico Neo 3, and Lynx MR-1.

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Vive Focus 3 is Getting WiFi 6E Support & More Improvements for VR Arcades

HTC launched Vive Focus 3 back in late June, a high-end VR standalone with a price tag to match its ambitions as a device meant for businesses. The company recently announced updates to the software experience that will bring a host of improvements, such as support for the new WiFi 6E standard, larger tracking areas, a shared map for easier playspace calibration, and more.

The company announced the full gamut of info in a blogpost. As it is, here’s a quick rundown of the major updates HTC is bringing to Vive Focus 3:

Better PC VR Streaming with WiFi 6E

WiFi 6E is a new standard that operates at the 6 GHz frequency range, and offers a low latency and high bandwidth wireless connection for streaming PC VR content to the standalone headset.

Occupying a different frequency also helps mitigate background WiFi interference. As HTC’s Shen Ye points out, going from WiFi 6 (5GHz) to WiFi 6E allows for a total of 59 separate 20MHz channels, or 7 separate 160 MHz channels. Certification is coming soon, although availability may vary based on your geographic location.

Location-based Entertainment Mode

Location-based Entertainment (LBE) Mode was developed to enlarge the Vive Focus 3’s standard tracking area to make it easier for businesses to make the best of large spaces.

Vive Focus 3 supports a 15m × 15m space out of the box (50ft × 50ft), but LBE mode bumps that up to 33m × 30m (100ft × 108ft). That’s roughly the size of four tennis courts, which opens up more flexibility for VR arcades implementing larger format free-roaming games.

Map Sharing

The new Map Sharing feature lets multiple users share inside-out maps of a given space so you don’t need to setup or calibrate multiple headsets.

This also includes the ability to duplicate a few things specifically from one to all headsets in a group: single boundary/direction/center of map/floor height.

Visual Odometry Mode

Visual Odometry (VO) Mode is a handy shortcut so you can skip the 5-minute tracking set-up, letting users jump straight into the experience without having to draw the tracking volume. It does this by automatically setting the Direction of View and Center of Coordination once a user puts on the headset.

Ye mentions that VO mode is great for experiences where large-scale tracking isn’t really relevant, like single-player arcade games with a static playspace, athletic training, and more simple content viewing.

Conveniently, HTC has made a Hybrid Mode that incorporates both VO and LBE Mode. Start in VO mode for fitting adjustments, and then head into LBE mode to transition to the large-scale experience.

– – — – –

Check out HTC Vive Focus 3 specs below. You can learn more about HTC’s latest standalone here.

Vive Focus 3 Specs
Resolution 2,448 x 2,448 (6.0MP) per-eye, LCD (2x)
Refresh Rate 90Hz
Lenses Dual-element Fresnel
Field-of-view 120° horizontal
Optical Adjustments IPD
IPD Adjustment Range 57–72mm
Processor Snapdragon XR2
RAM 8GB
Storage 128GB (expandable via MicroSD to 2TB)
Connectors USB-C (2x)
Battery Life 2 hours
Tracking Quad on-board camera (no external beacons)
Controllers Vive Focus 3 controllers, rechargeable battery
Audio In-headstrap speakers, 3.5mm aux output
Microphone Dual microphone
Pass-through Cameras Yes

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Watch 7 Minutes of ‘Warhammer: Tempestfall’ Gameplay Ahead of PC VR Launch Next Week

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall, Carbon Studio’s upcoming action-adventure game, just got an extended gameplay video to show off some of its combat, puzzles, and rich environments before its November 17th release on PC VR headsets.

Carbon Studio says the video is taken from early in Tempestfall’s campaign, giving you a look at the realm of Death. As Lord-Arcanum, a member of the storm-magic wielding warrior class and one of Sigmar’s Stormcast Eternals, you recover lost souls of your order from the Nighthaunt hordes. Pretty heavy stuff.

In Tempestfall, melee weapons aren’t just for flailing though: they’re upgradable and have powerful, gesture-based magic spells attached to them too, so you can parry, slash, and cast spells with various effects to ward off even a large group of baddies—all without changing weapons. Of course, you can always grab a dude and just toss him if you’re in a pinch.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall is set to release on November 17th across on SteamVR headsets, Viveport, and Oculus PC. We’re still waiting for word of the game’s planned launch on Quest, which for now has been missing in action.

We’ll be putting Tempestfall through its paces in our full review then, so check back soon.

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Google’s New ‘Labs’ Team Brings AR/VR, Project Starline & Area 120 Under a Single Roof

Google is shaking things up with the reorganization of its AR/VR efforts, Project Starline, and Area 120 in-house incubator, dubbing the internal team ‘Google Labs’.

As first reported by TechCrunch, Google is shifting a few of its notable forward-looking projects into a single team and bringing them under the leadership of Google veteran Clay Bavor.

Before taking the reigns of Google Labs, Bavor led the company’s AR/VR team where he oversaw the 2016 launch of its Android-based Daydream VR platform. It was an ambitious undertaking, although it was subsequently abandoned in 2019 due to a disappointing reception to its slot-in smartphone efforts and poor market performance of its 6DOF Daydream headset, Lenovo Mirage Solo. The team also helped develop ARCore, the augmented software development kit that brought smartphone-based AR to millions of Android devices.

More recently, Bavor led Google’s Project Starline, an experimental light field display system that the company envisions as a “magic window” of sorts, allowing far-flung users to speak in a more natural way than video conferencing apps can provide—and all without the need of a headset or special glasses.

Both Project Starline and its AR/VR efforts have a shared lineage within the company, but it seems Google is adding an entrepreneurial flare to Labs with the inclusion of Area 120, the in-house tech incubator that has seen the successful launch of several startups including Threadit, Stack, Adlingo, Gamesnacks, Avera AI, and Orion WiFi.

An no, this doesn’t mean the company is reviving the 2000s-era Google Labs, which was used as a public testbed to demonstrate new projects like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Wave. An internal company memo obtained by TechCrunch states the reorganization is “focused on starting and growing new, forward-looking investment areas across the company.”

“Central to this org is a new team called Labs, focused on extrapolating technology trends and incubating a set of high-potential, long-term projects,” the memo said.

As a result, it appears Area 120 is being elevated with its incorporation into Labs. TechCrunch notes that the incubator was “three layers deep in terms of reporting to Google CEO Sundar Pichai — even though Pichai himself had to sign off on its every exit.”

Google hasn’t officially announced Labs, however the company tacitly confirmed it by acknowledging Bavor’s new title, calling it “an expanded role” that will focus on “long-term technology projects that are in direct support of our core products and businesses.”

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HalfDive VR Headset Takes Design Cues from ‘Sword Art Online’ NerveGear, Coming to Kickstarter in December

Japanese startup Diver-X is looking to launch a SteamVR-compatible headset that seems to be taking a few ideas from popular anime Sword Art Online, which prominently features a fully immersive metaverse. While it’s not a brain-computer interface like the “full dive” NerveGear featured in the show, the heavy-weight hardware presents a pretty interesting approach to VR headset design.

Called HalfDive, the Tokyo-based company says its taking advantage of the sleeping position to “enabl[e] human activity in its lowest energetic state.”

Since it’s worn laying down, the creators say they’re freed from many of the design constraints that conventional VR headset makers are used to pursuing with the introduction of things like pancake optics and microdisplays. Since the weight isn’t on your neck, it doesn’t have to be light or slim.

Image courtesy Diver-X

Instead, HalfDive is perched on a base that allows it to include things like a 10 aspherical lens stack for a reported 134-degree field of view (FOV), and what Diver-X calls a “significantly improved image quality” out of its  1,600 × 1,440 pixels per-eye dual displays.

After all, HalfDive is meant to be a mostly stationary experience, so users really aren’t meant to physically move outside of turning their heads left and right, something the company calls “4.5DOF (degrees of freedom), further calling it “virtual 6DOF.”

The company says its including support the avatar movement simulation mentioned above in addition to SteamVR base station tracking, which may be used for its still to-be-revealed controller. We’re eager to see just how that’s supposed to work when HalfDive gets closer to its Kickstarter launch, which is coming on December 6th, 2021.

That said, Diver-X has revealed surprisingly little for such a unique design concept. So far we know the system’s locomotion method will be fairly passive too; locomotion is controlled by ankle-worn controllers which depend on the degree of tilt.

Image courtesy Diver-X

A hand controller hasn’t been completely revealed yet, although a blurred image released in late September suggests it will be something akin to Valve’s SteamVR controllers (aka ‘Knuckles’).

To immersive the other senses, HalfDive also features four speakers—that’s two more than basically all VR headsets out there. The company has also made mention of a “wire-based-force-feedback-module” which it says will give the user a sense of touch.

A concept image shows a lead connecting the user’s hand and the headset base, which may allow for a basic level of resistance when encountering digital objects.

Image courtesy Diver-X

Two fans integrated into the headset provide greater immersion via wind effects and also comfortability when set on low.

Another weighty inclusion to the headset: a vibration feedback system which syncs with audio to enhance things like enemy footsteps, gunshots, and environmental sounds.

The most expensive version of the hardware coming to a Kickstarter next month will include a custom varifocal optical stack, which allows the headset to more naturally replicate vergence and accommodation—something Meta (formerly Facebook) has been working on over the years too in various prototypes.

We won’t have to wait too long to see it in action hopefully. HalfDive is being pitched on Kickstarter starting December 6th, and is slated to offer the headset in three flavors: a basic model without varifocal lenses (~$700), some sort of bundled package (~$1100), and its varifocal lens version (~$3,900). You can check out the full specs below:

Specs

  • Degrees of Freedom: 4.5dof (Virtual 6dof)
  • Optical system: Original optical system using 10 lenses. Varifocal feature supported.
  • Field of view: 134 degrees
  • Resolution: 1600 x 1440 pixels per eye (3200×1440 pixels combined)
  • Refresh rate: >=90hz
  • Dial styled IPD adjustment: 58-82mm
  • Audio: Immersive sound system using 4 speakers
  • Controller: Two hand/foot controllers
  • Tracking: Lighthouse supported / Avatar movement emulation system using foot controller
  • Camera: Keyboard overlay system
  • Interface: DisplayPort 1.2 / USB3.0 / 3.5mm audio jack / 12V power source / I2C (module connection)
  • Platform: All SteamVR application supported
  • SDK: Unity (features dedicated to VRChat) / Unreal Engine

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