‘Pokémon Go’ Studio’s New Game, ‘Peridot’, Leans Further into AR Gameplay

‘Pokémon Go’ studio Niantic announced Peridot today, its latest game which the company says leans further into AR than prior projects.

When developer Niantic launched Pokémon Go back in 2016, many heralded it as ‘the first major augmented reality game’. But as I argued at the time, it really wasn’t ‘augmented reality’ at all… but merely a ‘location-based’ game (lest we want to call Google Maps an ‘AR’ app as well). Niantic has since tacked on a few more actual AR capabilities to the game over the years, but location-based gameplay largely remains its foundation.

But, the studio’s long term goal is clearly to move into the actual AR space. Over the years Niantic’s vision of a world-scale augmented reality platform has turned the company into a powerhouse within the industry, with investors most recently valuing the company at $9 billion.

And now the company’s latest game, Peridot, is starting to lean further into proper AR capabilities.

Announced today, Peridot sounds like Tamagotchi crossbred with Pokémon… Peridot’s core gameplay revolves around raising creatures called peridots (or ‘dots’ for short) and then breeding them to create new unique combinations over time (battling them doesn’t seem to be on the docket however). The company says there’s lots of unique combinations of dots to be discovered, based on the way they are raised and the characteristics of the parents of a baby dot.

And with Peridot, AR is more central to the gameplay, says Niantic. While we don’t yet have an entirely clear image of the AR tech underlying the game, the company says that “Peridot is played in camera-based AR,” and the game will actually identify some aspects of the environment which will become part of the gameplay.

“Dots are clever, and can recognize different real-world surfaces such as dirt, sand, water, grass, and foliage,” Niantic shared, as an example of the game’s AR capabilities. “When your Dot forages on one of these surfaces, it will obtain different kinds of foods accordingly—like kelp from the water or prickly beets from the sand.”

Image courtesy Niantic

The game’s announcement trailer (above) also suggests that Peridot will detect geometry in the scene and may utilize occlusion and light estimation to more realistically integrate the game’s creatures into the view of the real world. Granted… Niantic’s Pokémon Go trailer infamously implied the same kind of functionality but turned out to be vastly overexaggerating the AR components of the game.

Screenshots of the game also suggest Peridot may be able to recognize some common objects inside the scene, like a player’s real dogs.

Image courtesy Niantic

We’ll have to wait for the full game to launch before we can see how well these features really work and just how central they are to the gameplay. It shouldn’t be long though, Niantic says that Peridot is soft launching in beta this month in “select markets” on iOS and Android, and access will expand over time.

The post ‘Pokémon Go’ Studio’s New Game, ‘Peridot’, Leans Further into AR Gameplay appeared first on Road to VR.

Epic Games Offers 3D Scanning On Smartphones Via App In Limited Beta

Epic Games unveiled its new 3D scanning app for smartphones called RealityScan.

The app uses smartphone cameras and photos to create high-fidelity 3D photogrammetric models of real-world objects for use on digital platforms. You can take a closer look at how it works in Epic’s new promotional video, embedded below.

In the video, the user takes a number of photos of an object — in this instance, the armchair — which then allows the app to create a 3D model that can be used in digital experiences and scaled and positioned as required.

Epic says that the app “walks users through the scanning experience with interactive feedback, AR guidance, and data quality-checks” and can then create a model “almost instantly.” The resulting models can be uploaded to Sketchfab (which Epic acquired mid-last year) and used across many platforms, including VR and AR.

The app was developed by Epic in collaboration with CapturingReality (acquired by Epic last year) and Quixel. It is now in limited beta on iOS — the first 10,000 users will be granted access on a first-come, first-served basis with wider access rolling out later in Spring.

This isn’t the first app to offer a form of 3D scanning on smartphone devices, but it is perhaps the most high-profile crack at the concept yet. 3D object capture will likely play a big role in VR and AR’s future. Headsets like the LiDAR-equipped Varjo XR-3 allows users to scan their environment and present it to others in real-time while  games like Puzzling Places showcase the creative potential of photogrammetric data as well, offering puzzles composed of real-world objects and places, scanned into the game as 3D models.

You can join the limited beta for RealityScan on iOS now, while spots last, via TestFlight. Android support will arrive later this year. You can read more about RealityScan here.

GDC Day 4: ARVORE, Hyper Dash, Emerge Wave 1 Haptics & More

The fourth and final day of GDC 2022 has come and gone. Don’t be too sad though — we’ve got lots of interesting interviews with VR developers straight from the show floor to cheer you up.

It was a great week at GDC last week, with lots of interesting news over the course of the four days at the show. Alex and Skeeva from Between Realities were checking it all out for us as UploadVR Correspondents, pulling some fantastic developers aside for interviews each day.

On day one, they spoke to Walkabout Mini Golf developers Mighty Coconut, Zenith developer Ramen VR and more.

Day two saw them speak to Polyarc about Moss: Book 2, along with Fast Travel Games on Cities VR and Virtuoso. Day three brought some hardware into the mix, including demos and talks with the developers of the upcoming Lynx R1 mixed reality headset. They also caught up Tilt Five and Owlchemy Labs, developers of Cosmonious High (releasing later this week).

For the fourth and final day, Alex and Skeeva first checked in with ARVORE, developer of last year’s Yuki and the Pixel Ripped series. When questioned about any new Pixel Ripped content or releases in the near future, Rodrigo Terra from ARVORE was tight lipped but did mention an upcoming collaboration with Holoride (who make VR experiences designed to take place inside moving cars) that might satisfy fans of the series.

Rodrigo also said that the studio is working on a few new projects, which could release this year or next, so keep an eye out.

Alex and Skeeva also spoke to the developers of Hyper Dash, who revealed a new free game mode will release for the title on April 1, called ‘Ball’. Triangle Factory CEO and Co-Found Timothy Vanherbergen insisted it wasn’t a joke, despite the release date, and described the mode as “Rocket League but with guns.”

Last but not least, there were some interesting discussions with the developers of the Emerge Wave 1 haptic device, which uses sound and vibrations to provide a new kind of haptic feedback, and the developer of Finger Guns, an FPS shooter using hand tracking technology coming to Quest this year.

What was your favorite news or reveal from this year’s GDC? Let us know in the comments below.

GDC Day 3: Cosmonious High, Lynx Mixed Reality Headset & More

Another day, another round of GDC 2022 coverage. Today is day three and the Between Realities crew hit the show floor again to bring you more interviews with VR/AR developers.

If you missed the previous two days, it’s been pretty jam packed already. Day one saw Alex and Skeeva talk to the developers of Walkabout Mini Golf, Zenith VR and more, and day two brought us interviews with Polyarc (Moss Book 2) Fast Travel Games (Cities VR and Virtuoso) and others.

Alex and Skeeva kept up the incredible pace today, speaking first to Owlchemy Labs (Job Simulator, Vacation Simulator) about their new game Cosmonious High, which releases next week.

They also caught up with the teams behind Patchworld: Sound of the Metaverse, Altair Breaker and Snapdragon Spaces.

Last, but definitely not least, Alex and Skeeva gave the upcoming Lynx R1 mixed reality headset a try and spoke to Stan Larroque from Lynx about the hardware.

When asked how far along everything was, Larroque said that things were “pretty mature” on the software side and they were “in the process of manufacturing” the hardware at the moment. The headsets were meant to ship next month in April, but Lynx has been affected by the ongoing global supply chain issues, which will mean a short delay.

“We were supposed to deliver in April but we’re going to face some issues with the supply chain,” said Larroque. “I think you can expect the first headsets to come between June and July. It’s a matter of weeks, we have some weeks of delays here.”

Keep an eye out for our GDC wrap-up show tomorrow, where Skeeva and Alex from Between Realities will join Ian live in the UploadVR virtual studio to discuss their hands-on experiences over the last few days.

You can catch that live on our YouTube channel tomorrow at 4pm Pacific.

Watch: New Look At Magic Leap 2 Headset & Controllers

A video shared by Magic Leap earlier this month gives us our most comprehensive look at the design of the company’s upcoming Magic Leap 2 AR headset yet.

It shows us almost every angle imaginable of the headset and its controllers.

As reported in late January, the Magic Leap 2 specs suggest it will be a best-in-class AR headset, aimed at the enterprise market. Compared to the Magic Leap 1, it’s lighter in weight, twice as powerful and features an eye box that is twice as large. This is just the tip of the iceberg — you can read more spec specifics here.

We had previously seen photos of Magic Leap 2, but this new video gives a full 360 degree overview. Plus, it gives a clearer look at the headset’s accompanying controllers. As reported earlier this month, the controllers feature cameras on the sides, used for onboard inside-out tracking.

We had seen some unofficial pictures of the controllers at the time, but this new video gives us our first official look. The two cameras are present on the sides, but you can also see what looks to be a trackpad on the top of the controller.

This style of inside-out tracking, using cameras on the controllers themselves, is being employed by other companies as well — leaked images from last September suggest that Meta will use a similar onboard camera design with its controllers for Project Cambria.

Magic Leap 2 will target enterprise markets on release, but specific pricing info and release window details have yet to be revealed.

Top 10 Features We’d Love For Apple’s Mixed Reality Headset

All reports and rumors point to a mixed reality headset on the horizon from Apple. But what Apple features do we want to see supported on this upcoming headset?

Credit to The Information for the mockup drawing of Apple’s headset, featured above in the cover image of this article. 

While initially thought to launch this year, it now seems that Apple’s unannounced mixed reality headset could be pushed to a 2023 launch. Nonetheless, last week we assessed how Apple’s key competitive advantage will be its long history of software and operating system development, matched with an extensive feature set and intuitive, integrated design.

This week, we’re going to run through our list, in no particular order, of existing Apple features that we’d love to see support on the company’s mixed reality headset. Apple is all about parity and integration across its ecosystem of devices, so it’s fair to expect that it will leverage many existing features (and the familiar branding behind them) to bolster the user experience of its headsets.

Keep in mind — some of the features listed below are fairly safe bets, while others might be further down the pipeline or simply more speculative/hypothetical in nature. Here’s our list:

AirDrop

AirDrop is one the best features across Apple’s ecosystem and it would make perfect sense on a headset. 

People mostly use AirDrop to share photos between phones, but its functionality extends well beyond that – you can use it to send links to a secondary device, share contacts, send files between devices, and much more. Integrating AirDrop into Apple’s headset would allow users to quickly share content with each other and between their existing Apple devices and the headset. This would come in handy when trying to send your headset a link from your phone, for example, or when trying to quickly transfer a VR screenshot or video recording across from the headset to another device. 

iCloud

iCloud support seems like a no-brainer, if not near guaranteed, inclusion on an Apple headset. Like other Apple devices, this would seamlessly sync content between all devices as well as back up your headset to the cloud in case it needs to be reset or you upgrade to a new headset in the future.

Likewise, this would allow system-level integration with iCloud Files, allowing you to access the same files from your headset, phone and computers at all times. It would also sync your VR screenshots, videos and app data across all devices, providing another easy way to access content you create in VR from another device at any time. 

Sidecar

Sidecar is one of Apple’s recent features allowing an iPad to operate as a mirrored or second display for a Mac computer. It works wirelessly and remarkably well, in my experience, providing users with an easy two-monitor setup while on the go.

We’d love to see Sidecar’s functionality extended with new features for the mixed reality headset. Instead of using another device as a second monitor for a computer, it would be awesome to see Sidecar add support for using an iPad, iPhone or other Apple device while in mixed reality. Perhaps something similar to Horizon Workrooms’ remote desktop, allowing iPads and iPhones to be tracked, represented and usable in mixed or virtual reality.

Pushing the idea even further, it would be cool to see Sidecar allow an iPad or iPhone to work as customizable peripheral accessory for mixed reality — a physical device that you could pick up and interact with, tracked by the headset, displaying some kind of custom content while using the headset.

FaceID

FaceID remains one of the most reliable and fast methods of face-recognition on the smartphone market. As VR avatars get closer to photo-realism, user authentication and authorization is going to be increasingly crucial. While we don’t know what sensors to expect in Apple’s first-generation headset, it would be great to one day see FaceID adapted for VR using face tracking sensors to verify the owner of the headset. It would be equally useful as a way recognize different users on one headset, allowing the headset to automatically switch profiles for each. 

iMessage

Apple’s now-infamous blue bubble iMessage system is standard among Apple users. Much like how users can send Facebook Messenger messages on Quest 2, it would only make sense to see iMessage supported on Apple’s headset.

Facetime & Memoji Support

On existing Apple devices, Facetime now supports audio and video calls. Being able to accept audio Facetime calls while using Apple’s headset would be great, but it would also be fantastic to see Facetime expanded with additional made-for-VR functionality. One option would be to add a new option for VR calls, allowing headset users to talk and interact with each other on call in 3D virtual space with personal avatars. Apple’s Memoji system seems like a natural system to use for VR avatars in these instances, akin to Meta’s recently updated avatar styles.

SharePlay

SharePlay is a newer feature, only recently launched as part of iOS 15. Tied together with Facetime, it lets users sync up video and audio content with each other, so they can watch/listen together at the same time. The obvious next step for SharePlay would be allowing headset users to join a SharePlay session together in VR cinemas or home environments, similar to Horizon Home.

AirPlay with VR Casting Support

One of Quest 2’s best features is the ability to cast your view from VR onto a computer, TV or other Chromecast-enabled device, so that others can follow along. It would be remiss of Apple not to include a similar feature at launch for its own headset, and AirPlay would be the obvious way to do it.

AirPlay works similarly to Google Cast, allowing you to share your screen or content with other AirPlay-enabled devices. Being able to seamlessly share your view in VR to a Mac computer, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV or other device would be fantastic.

2D iOS App Support

One of Meta’s big 2021 Connect announcements was expanded support for 2D apps, like Instagram and Dropbox, coming to Quest 2. However, the app selection is still quite small and still expanding. Apple has a slam dunk opportunity to one-up Meta instantly here, by adding support to run all, or at least most, existing iOS and iPad OS apps in 2D on its headset.

The headset is rumored to feature one of Apple’s proprietary processors, perhaps on par with the M1 Pro chip. This should, from a tech perspective,  make it a possibility for native 2D iOS/iPad OS apps to run on the headset.

This could even work similarly to how iOS app support worked on the iPad at launch. Some apps had iPad-specific designs and features at launch, but many didn’t. To this day, iOS apps that don’t have iPad-specific support can still be run on the system — instead of a native iPad app, you simply use the app as it’s designed for iOS, but scaled up and enlarged to fit as much of the iPad’s screen as possible. Developers can choose to add support for a native iPad version of their iOS apps, which will automatically run instead of the iOS version, once implemented.

A similar approach could be taken for 2D iOS and iPad OS apps on Apple’s headset — supported at launch, but mostly running the same iPhone and iPad versions you’re used to. Developers could then choose to add headset-native versions of the apps over time, which would take full advantage of the platform.

Apple Wallet/Apple Pay

Entering details like a card number while in VR is a huge hassle and switching quickly between real life and VR to enter some text into your headset is never fun. If implemented, Apple Pay would remove the need to enter any card details in your headset and would use automatically suggest cards that are already stored in your Apple Wallet.  Having this connected functionality in VR would be a huge time saver, allowing new headset owners to purchase experiences in a hassle-free way just by linking their Apple account. 


What features do you want to see on Apple’s upcoming headset? Let us know in the comments below. 

Mario Kart: Live Multiplayer Now Works Splitscreen With A Single Switch

A new update for Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit brings splitscreen mulitplayer functionality, allowing players to use two physical karts with one Nintendo Switch console.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit released last year and brings the famous arcade racing franchise to your home, using a camera-equipped toy kart to turn your home into an AR Mario Kart course on your Switch.

Using a Nintendo Switch console, players can connect to the kart and control it using the Switch, mapping out an AR-powered course around your home using cardboard gates that can be placed around you on the ground.

One Home Circuit kit comes with the game, the kart and the required gates to map the course. Multiplayer was supported at launch, but only with multiple Switch consoles — each player would have to use their own Switch along with their own physical kart.

Now, with a free update, splitscreen multiplayer is supported, allowing two physical karts to compete against each other using just one Switch system. This means that a family with just one console can purchase two karts and play on the same system. In addition, the base Home Circuit kit is now discounted for Black Friday at multiple retailers, bringing the price of one kit down to $59.99 from $99.99.

There’s also some other additions in the 2.0 update, including a new Relay Race multiplayer mode, which allows 2-4 players to use one kart, taking turns controlling the kart via mid-race switches.

There’s a new Luigi Cup added to the Grand Prix as well, along with some new cosmetics and customization unlocks.

Check out our full review of Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit from last year.

Niantic Launches Pikmin Bloom, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite To Shut Down

Over the last week or so, AR mobile game developer Niantic has opened one door and closed another – Pikmin Bloom is now available, but 2019’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be shut down in 2022.

Back in March, Niantic announced it was working on a Pikmin mobile AR title in partnership with Nintendo. As of last week, Pikmin Bloom began rolling out to several countries — it’s now available in almost all major markets, including Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa, Middle East, the US, Canada.

Like many other mobile AR games, Pikmin Bloom follows the rough framework and precedent set by Pokemon Go, Niantic’s first and most successful mobile AR title. However, Bloom takes a slightly different approach to the concept — Bloom is more idle, focused more on simply walking around than actively visiting locations or searching for something. The more you walk, the more pikmin you’ll obtain.

Overall, the game seems to markets itself more as a glorified pedometer with a few game elements thrown in. There’s also minimal AR content compared to other Niantic titles. In fact, the only true use of mobile AR appears to be when you send Pikmin to fight mushrooms, which can be viewed as an AR overlay similar to catching Pokemon in Pokemon Go.

In the same week, Niantic also announced that it will be shutting down its 2019 mobile AR game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

Wizards Unite, the studio’s first game to follow in Pokemon Go’s footsteps, announced that it will close on January 31, 2022 in a post on the game’s website. The game will be removed from store fronts even earlier, from December 6 2021.

We weren’t huge fans of Wizards Unite, but it’s just one game of many — Niantic has announced and released a few IP-focused mobile AR titles in the wake of Pokemon Go, but so far none have managed to catch on in the same way.

Let’s hope that changes with Transformers: Heavy Metal, the next Niantic AR game set to release sometime this year.

Niantic, Hasbro Announce Transformers: Heavy Metal AR Game Coming This Year

Transformers roll out (onto mobile devices)! Transformers: Heavy Metal is a new mobile AR game using the Niantic Lightship platform, set to launch later this year.

Niantic, Hasbro, TOMY and Very Very Spaceship are partnering up for the title. While the game will use the Niantic Lightship platform, development will be lead by Very Very Spaceship. Lightship is Niantic’s “planet-scale” AR platform that provides developers with an SDK to build AR experiences on a global map, similar to Pokemon Go and other Niantic AR titles.

Transformers heavy metal ar game

As you might expect, Transformers: Heavy Metal will center around key franchise characters such as Optimus Prime and Bumblebee fighting against the Decepticons. Here’s a synopsis from Niantic with a bit more on what to expect:

In TRANSFORMERS: Heavy Metal, players will join the Guardian Network, a group of humans who have banded together with the Autobots in a war against the Decepticons. As a Guardian, players will uncover hidden regions across Earth to find resources and battle Decepticons in turn-based battles, either solo or with friends.

According to Niantic, Transformers: Heavy Metal is set to launch globally later this year. However, it will enter “soft launch” in select markets soon. This is pretty standard for most AR mobile games nowadays — recent releases like Minecraft Earth or The Witcher – Monster Slayer have rolled out in smaller countries as a test before expanding to the global market.

To sign up for more info on the game and to find out when your region will be eligible to participate in the game’s beta, head over to the Transformers: Heavy Metal website.

Niantic previously announced another mobile AR title for launch this year, in partnership with Nintendo and focusing on the Pikmin franchise.

Music-Themed Pokemon Go Fest 2021 Event Begins July 17

Pokemon Go Fest 2021 will run on July 17 and 18, offering various special events and rewards to celebrate the game’s fifth, and Pokemon’s 25th, anniversary.

Tickets are available in-app now for $4.99 — much less than last year’s price of $14.99 — and will grant you access to both days of the event.

pokemon go fest 2021

The main part of the event is themed around a music festival, where you will be the show leader. “Help Professor Willow and the team leaders put on an incredible concert celebration by choosing between certain Pokémon to join the festivities. Complete this Special Research for special rewards, including an encounter with a Mythical Pokémon, a shirt avatar item, and an exclusive avatar pose!” This Special Research event will be available on the Saturday from 10am to 6pm (local time).

In addition to the main Special Research event, there’s other stuff to take part in over both days. Hourly habitats are returning from last year, available on the Saturday from 10am to 6pm (local time) and will include four habitats (Jungle, Desert Mountain, Ocean, Cave) over one hour rotations, with certain Pokemon appearing more frequently in select habitats.

Raids on Saturday will feature Pokemon such Hitmontop, Cranidos, and Deino, meanwhile Shiny Whismur, Chimecho, Audino, and Tympole will all make their Pokemon Go debut during the event. The Global Challenge Arena also returns this year, available on Saturday.

On the Sunday, the focus is on raids, with the opportunity to catch any Pokemon you may have missed the day before. There’s also extra XP and rewards attached to certain activities on the Sunday — you can read about those here.

The event also features new music tracks produced by Junichi Masuda, a legendary Pokemon music producer.

All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg — for Pokemon Go fans, there’s a plethora of content spread across the two-day event. To see the full schedule and all the details, check out the Pokemon Go blog.

Pokemon Go Fest 2021 begins on July 17.