Raindance Immersive Returns Next Week Both Online and In-Person

Raindance Embassy VRChat

Now in its sixth year, Raindance Immersive returns in 2021 as part of the wider Raindance Film Festival held every year in London, UK. Today, Raindance Immersive announced the lineup for this year’s event which takes place next week, featuring over 30 works from creators around the world, both online and at physical locations in London.

Viveport Cat Art

Just like last year Raindance Immersive will utilise platforms including VRChat and AltspaceVR to showcase its selection of immersive works, curated by Mária Rakušanová with virtual worlds co-curated by Joe Hunting. VR fans will be able to enjoy a selection of virtual worlds built inside VRChat, live performances on both aforementioned platforms, virtual art exhibitions, private tours, and special previews.

“Raindance immersive is back this year with groundbreaking new work by the most brilliant indie VR creators,“ says Rakušanová in a statement. “Immerse yourself in virtual worlds across the VRChat, Neos VR and AltSpaceVR platforms. Take a front-row seat for live musical and theatrical performances. See virtual art exhibitions, from animated cat art masterpieces to giant avant-garde art dolls. Take private tours of virtual worlds, guided by the creators themselves. And discover special previews of new VR games. Immerse yourself in Raindance!”

To give you an idea of what will be shown during the month-long event, here are a few highlights:

  • Virtual Worlds
    • Magic Heist – An adventure ride world inside VRChat where you fight forces that have taken over the Magic Academy.
    • Olympia – Take a short trip to the ancient world of Olympia in VRChat
  • Live Performances
    • The Metaverse Movie Presents: Alien Rescue – A cinematic VR adventure featuring live actors inside the Neos VR social platform.
    • The Severance Theory: Welcome to Respite – A theatrical performance with two actors inside VRChat lloking at what it’s like to live with mental illness.
  • Virtual Art Exhibitions
    • ArtspceVR Presents: The Popovy Sisters – Inside AltspaceVR creators ShuShu, Niko and The Popovy Sisters will host their first exhibition, a special collection of Fine-Art-Dolls.
    • Step Into Cat Art – A virtual gallery of the work of Japanese artist Shu Yamamoto.
  • Private Tours
    • Nature Treks: Together – Explore a beautiful island paradise with the creator, supports up to 16 people.
    • Rise: A Sky Without Stars – Creators Mystic Forge will take the audience on a special preview of its post-apocalyptic virtual game world.
Yuki

Raindance Immersive Awards 2021

Best Narrative Experience

  • Dagon: by H. P. Lovecraft
  • Glimpse
  • Green Fairy VR
  • Madrid Noir    
  • The Severance Theory: Welcome to Respite
  • The Sick Rose

Best Documentary Experience

  • Belongings
  • Il Dubbio Episode 2
  • My Identity Is This Expanse!
  • MYRIAD. Where we connect. | VR Experience
  • KUSUNDA
  • The Leap 1961

Best Multiplayer Experience

  • Knight of the Wailing Stars
  • Mycelia
  • Nature Treks: Together
  • “Step Into Cat Art” Online Exhibition
  • The MetaMovie Presents: Alien Rescue
  • VRium: Nymphs and ArtSpaceVR Presents: The Popovy Sisters

Best Immersive World

  • Magic Heist
  • Noir – Nocturne
  • Olympia
  • Pop Escape
  • Rocky Mountain Park
  • Unannounced virtual world (announcement coming soon)

Best Immersive Game

  • Ragnarock
  • Spacefolk City
  • Sushi Ben VR
  • The Pirate Queen: Night of Succession
  • YUKI
  • Unannounced game (announcement coming soon)

Discovery Award: Best Debut

  • Belongings
  • Maloka
  • Sushi Ben VR
  • The Leap
  • The Pirate Queen
  • VRium: Nymphs & ArtSpaceVR Presents: The Popovy Sisters

Raindance Immersive will run from 27th October – 21st November 2021. For continued updates on the event keep reading VRFocus.

‘Resident Evil 4’ for Quest 2 Review – Reanimating a Piece of Gaming History

Resident Evil 4 for Oculus Quest 2 definitely shows its age—it would be impossible not to given its lineage as a groundbreaking survival horror game initially launched on GameCube in 2005. Despite leaning on what have now become well-worn gaming tropes, RE4 for Quest proves to be an expert VR port that still manages to deliver a lot of fun.

Resident Evil 4 Details:

Available On: Oculus Quest 2
Release Date: October 21st, 2021
Price: $40
Developer: Armature Studio
Publisher: Oculus Studios, Capcom
Reviewed On: Quest 2

Gameplay

I remember playing Resident Evil 4 on GameCube back in the mid-2000s and marveling at its cinematic flair, memorable bosses, extensive weapon upgrade system, cutscene quick time events… all of it made for a potent experience that few games have lived up to in my memory since. As RE4 crosses the threshold into VR though, there’s an opportunity to see the game in a new light—pick through the good, the bad, the timeless, and the obsolete to get a fuller picture of what this game is for us today.

If you’ve played before on flatscreen, you may be happy to stop right here when I say that RE4 on Quest 2 is a pretty straight forward VR port that is a very competent translation of the 16 year-old game. It shaves off enough of the hard edges encoded in a shooter of its time (a third-person game at that) whilst giving it just enough graphical fidelity to make it feel like how your mind’s eye remembers it. You’ll like playing it in the first-person in VR. Full stop.

Now for everyone else.

It’s easy to see why RE4 is a good candidate as a VR port. It has tactical shooting that requires accuracy, puzzles that translate pretty well to VR, and a vast world to explore that will take you between 15 – 20 hours to complete. It’s not a perfect VR transplant, since its has a ton of 2D cutscenes presented on a virtual screen and abstracts away some movement stuff that detracts from immersion, but those things would have to be entirely re-imagined to position it closer to VR-native territory. It isn’t, and that’s mostly okay.

Shooting is a giant part of the game, so it’s nice to see that the Quest 2 port has done it justice. Being able to manually reload and shoot each of the game’s iconic weapons (scopes included) at endless hordes of zombified villagers and cultists feels great. You’ll find the overall pace of the VR port much more plodding than the flatscreen version since reloading, healing, and switching weapons isn’t abstracted away with single button presses. More on inventory and holstering in Immersion.

RE4 is pretty slow from a shooter perspective since most enemies don’t run at full clip or jump out from around a corner to attack you. That doesn’t mean you won’t easily get overwhelmed though. If you approach it linearly and pump away wildly, you’ll find that all of those precious bullets you scrounged up are as good as useless. Baddies typically take multiple headshots to kill, so you need to think more tactically by doing things like leading the mindless goons down hallways, tripping them, and attacking when they’re down. It’s rare to get a perfect one-shot kill without a high level weapon like a sniper rifle or maxed-out shotgun, so enemies can be frustratingly hard to dispatch when they start ganging up—especially when its a mixed group of all enemy types, which include standard, armed, explosive, heavy, and mutated baddies.

RE4 offers up a bunch of varied bosses, although killing them is usually just a matter of spraying them with bullets and revealing a specific weakness—patently classic boss battles. Still, even if the formula isn’t terribly clever according to today’s standards, all of them are beautifully grotesque in their own special ways that especially pop in VR. Lord Saddler, the game’s main antagonist, is truly a sight to behold when its his turn to shine. And El Gigante, is well, very gigante.

Image courtesy Capcom, Oculus, Armature Studio

While some of the game’s narrative is told through found notes, RE4 relies heavily on 2D cutscenes to serve up the sort of melodrama that you’d expect from an early ’00s thing that is very comfortable in its own skin as a gamey game, i.e. something that isn’t big on realism and relies on well-worn gaming tropes to deliver the action.

These cutscenes are preserved in the original, however quick time events have been altered for Touch controller input. You might need to shake you controllers up and down in a running motion to get away, or side to side to break the grip of an enemy when prompted, just like you might with a button press on the traditional gamepad. The moments when quick time events trigger is almost always unexpected, so it’s a nice jolt to the system to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The physicality of quick time movements works really well here despite being removed from the action physically. There are quick time events based on button presses, but those use trigger input, which is much easier to parse mentally instead of requiring some random assortment of X,Y, A, and B buttons (who can remember where those are anyway?).

Even by today’s standards, Resident Evil 4 is a great game for all of the reasons I mentioned above—and many of the strides to adapt it to VR are successful—although it’s impossible to ignore some of the dialogue clunk and themes that simply wouldn’t make it into a title of its caliber today. Yeah, I’m talking about how Ashley is a stupid damsel in distress whose main function—outside of a few puzzle interludes—is the object of an escort mission that basically takes up half of the game. Both escort missions and shitty female stereotypes suck, and if it were a re-imagining instead of a direct port I’d have a lot more to say about it from a writing and design standpoint.

Immersion

Did I mention RE4 is a gamey game, replete with a dude that just sort of pops up and buys whatever jewels you can find in the corpse of crows, that you blow up with grenades, that you find inside the disappearing body of Spanish villagers for some reason?

Okay, so there’s zero expectation of realism in a narrative sense, which is fine since it’s all loveable RPG legacy stuff, but I was hoping the game’s physicality would be a little more grounded to allow for a more visceral experience in VR.

Image courtesy Capcom, Oculus, Armature Studio

If Resident Evil 4 were produced from the ground-up for VR today, the first thing I’d want are physics-based enemies that feel more solid and real. As it is, baddies feel weightless, and slashing at them with your knife feels a bit like shadow boxing and hoping it dies somehow. Enemy types repeat very often, sometimes in a gang of three or four, which takes away from immersion somewhat.

Character animations and game geometry are all the same—both rock solid to be clear—but textures have been uprezzed so as not to be horribly blocky and muddy like you might expect from simply shoeing in VR support directly to the PC version. At first, I thought it looked mostly like I remembered, but when I go back and watch video of the game on GameCube, you have to appreciate the time and effort put into polishing every corner of the game. It’s also amazing to think it comes in just under 8GB considering just how large it truly is.

Image courtesy Capcom, Oculus, Armature Studio

That said, object interaction feels like a bit of a half measure. Levers, doors and puzzles operate as you’d expect, and have been redesigned to be physical objects, however found objects are insubstantial things that fly to your hand and disappear into your inventory. I think the game could do more by letting you climb ladders and remain in your body for some things like kicking down doors, which feels a bit too much of a break in immersion during a hectic fight.

As for inventory, the main inventory is present and accounted for, although you thankfully won’t need to rely on it nearly as much as in the flatscreen version.

Main inventory, Image captured by Road to VR

There are two main modes for accessing weapons and gear, both of which I actually really like.

The default is what I’d call an almost-standard configuration which puts everything you need on your person. Instead of having to reach down to your hip for your pistol though, which can be a pain when in a chair with arms, you’re given a floating weapon slot near your shooting-dominant hand and a similar ammo slot for your non-dominant hand. Simply reach out and grab either ammo or pistol and drop when no longer needed. You’ll need to rely on the main inventory more once you start getting more guns though, since you can only bind two guns to your body; one in front of you and one on your shoulder.

The second is a quick-grab config that lets you cycle through guns via an in-game UI, which lets access all of the stuff in your suitcase at the press of a button without stopping the action. Although less immersive, this is much more useful as you get more guns and need to switch between them on the fly. Gun models don’t have ammo counters, which is placed on your wristwatch along with your health bar and money collected.

Comfort

Thanks to its slower-paced nature, RE4 is really comfortable and features a host of variables to tinker with so you can get it just the way you want. Check out the table below to see just what’s on offer: basically anyone can play it and not have to worry about comfort.

There are a few moments when you need to do platforming, and there are two notable minecart rides, although these are few and far between.

‘Resident Evil 4’ Comfort Settings – October 20th, 2021

Turning

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

Movement

Artificial movement ✔
Smooth-move ✔
Adjustable speed ✖
Teleport-move ✔
Blinders ✔
Adjustable strength ✔
Head-based ✖
Controller-based ✔
Swappable movement hand ✔

Posture

Standing mode ✔
Seated mode ✔
Artificial crouch n/a
Real crouch ✔

Accessibility

Subtitles ✔
Languages English, Japanese, French, German, Spanish (Mexico)
Alternate audio ✖
Languages ✖
Adjustable difficulty ✔
Two hands required ✔
Real crouch required ✖
Hearing required ✖
Adjustable player height n/a

The post ‘Resident Evil 4’ for Quest 2 Review – Reanimating a Piece of Gaming History appeared first on Road to VR.

Despite risks, AviTron is now accepting cryptocurrency payments

(Image courtesy Bitcoin.org.)

AviTron, is testing out cryptocurrency as an in-world payment method in addition to its in-world currency, Tron.

The grid will be accepting Bitcoin and Dogecoin as payment for land rentals and in-world purchases, despite the fact that the currencies are highly volatile and pose regulatory and other hazards for grids.

Alexsandro Pomposelli

“Bitcoin and Dogecoin as payment is something new that we are going to try,” grid owner Alexsandro Pomposelli told Hypergrid Business.

He added that accepting crypto payments could help the grid lower its operating costs — and thus allow for lower land prices.

The grid is already off-setting some of its costs by running advertising. For example, the Google Adsense program has helped AviTron cut region prices by more than 65 percent, said Pomposelli.

“Bitcoin and Dogecoin payments will go to our savings so the grid has some kind of a financial backing and maybe our currency could also be backed by these two coins,” he said.

AviTron recently ditched the Gloebit, a multi-grid, hypergrid-enabled currency system because of a lack of support and recent outages and payment problems, to go back to its own Tron currency. It switched from Tron to Gloebit in late September.

AviTron’s Tron not the same as the Tron blockchain

To make things just a little bit more confusing, there’s already a blockchain called Tron, which has its own associated cryptocoin, called the Tronix.

The Tronix is currently the 28th-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, valued at $7.3 billion. By comparison, Bitcoin, which is in first place, is valued at $1.1 trillion, with a single Bitcoin currently selling for over $60,000. Dogecoin, which started out as a joke, has a market capitalization somewhere between the two, at $31 billion. It’s a favorite currency of Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

A blockchain is a public ledger — basically, a list of transactions — where all the participants keep a copy of the same list. The list is secured against tampering with an encryption-based locking system, but is not itself encrypted. That means that anyone can pull up the blockchain and see all the transactions on it. So, if someone knows your wallet address, they can see all the payments in and out of your wallet. This allows security researchers and government authorities to track money sent to ransomware groups, but also creates potential privacy problems for virtual world users.

The blockchain technology itself is free and open-source, meaning that anyone can launch their own cryptocurrency at any time.

That is not what AviTron is doing. Their in-world currency, Tron, is simply a traditional grid currency that has no real-world value.

AviTron welcome area. (Image by Maria Korolov.)

However, Pomposelli may turn Tron into a cryptocurrency, he said.

“I may go for our own AviTron Coin,” he said. “Place an infinite amount of coins available so its price would be more stable and won’t fluctuate as much. Like Dogecoin. Any coin that will be used for commerce cannot have so much volatility like Bitcoin and others. It needs to be stable.”

Cryptocurrency volatility a major obstacle to in-world use

As of this writing Bitcoin’s 30-day volatility stands at 20 percent. Meanwhile, Dogecoin’s 30-day volatility was 23 percent.

A cryptocurrency’s price is based on public interest. So if, say, Elon Musk mentions the currency on Twitter, then bashes the currency on Saturday Night Live, then promotes it again, its price will swing dramatically.

Pomposeli said there are methods the grid can use to protect against volatility, like exchanging the currency immediately to US dollars, or creating a coin that has a fixed price in US dollars.

“I can leave the money in US dollars, earning up to four percent interest,” he said. “I can also wait till Bitcoin price really dips and I buy more for less dollars. So I sell high before the dip and buy when it’s bottoming up. You need to understand the markets to know when the dip will occur.”

This is obviously a risky strategy that can completely wipe out a grid’s finances, but Pomposelli is no stranger to risky strategies. In fact, his grids have shut down more than a dozen times over the past ten years due to bad business decisions.

Security and technical overhead also obstacles to crypto use

Despite the fact that the original premise of the blockchain was increased security and easier transactions than traditional national currencies, in practice, business have found it to be the opposite.

It is difficult to guard against fraudulent transactions with cryptocurrencies, said Zetamex CEO Vincent Sylvester, and cryptocurrency exchanges have questionable security standards.

Hackers have repeatedly stolen money from cryptocurrency exchanges, such as the $97 million recently stolen from the Liquid exchange, and from blockchain networks, such as the $600 million recently stolen from Poly Network. Hackers also routinely attack individual cryptocurrency wallets and have even successfully attacked the blockchain itself with techniques such as the 51 percent hack.

OpenSim hosting company and grid operator Zetamex has tried different cryptocurrencies but had to shun them altogether because blockchain requires a lot more hardware to maintain the integrity and security of transactions than centralized systems, Sylvester told Hypergrid Business.

Vincent Sylvester

“We have had crypto, various in fact, as payment processors for region and grid orders in the past, which was only trouble and ended up being more a headache to deal with than what it provided in lesser transaction fees,” he said.

Plus, the volatility means that pricing has to be in US dollars, and all payments need to be immediately converted.

“As currency it will only work if adopted for the entire market, if you still have to convert to other currency it’s practically pointless,” he said.

There is no commerce model that would make cryptocurrencies a viable option for most business expenses and the type of transactions in OpenSim, he said.

“Cryptocurrency is a blight on society being partially responsible for both hiking hardware pricing and driving gambling addictions the world over,” he said. “Blockchain isn’t a magic word to solve the world’s ailments and it most certainly won’t provide any more useful monetary transaction medium than PayPal, Gloebit or Podex already do.

Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner also confirmed that switching to a cryptocurrency won’t reduce a grid’s operating costs.

“Adding a public blockchain doesn’t contribute to cutting down virtual world costs as it doesn’t decrease any of the costs associated with running your own OpenSim grid or renting one from someone else,” he told Hypergrid Business. 

And it doesn’t help with security or privacy, he said.

Ilan Tochner

“Accessing any online service — OpenSim, websites, or otherwise, provides information about you and your activities to the systems you accessed,” said Tochner. “Currently that information is mostly accessible just by the entities that operate those systems. Moving some of that information from their systems to a public distributed ledger doesn’t increase your privacy, improve your security, or add anonymity. On the contrary, it’s more likely that it makes it harder to protect them.”

Most of the technologies implemented in blockchains to manage user privacy and increase security, like  zero knowledge proofs or homomorphic encryption can be implemented more securely on other, better, systems, he said.

And the blockchain can’t be changed after the fact, he said. That means that mistakes can’t be fixed.

“Compare that with Kitely Market which, with our assistance, and under certain conditions, enables people to change who they bought items for after the fact at no cost,” he said. “For a example, because they mistakenly ordered the items to be delivered to an avatar belonging to the wrong grid or to a different avatar from their intended one. Doing so changes the original order information, which would not be possible if the order information was stored on a blockchain.”

Also, if a user wants to invoke their “right to be forgotten,” there’s no way to do that — which would make it hard for grids to comply with GDPR privacy rules and similar regulations.

Kitely has spent years in research on how to manage digital assets  their distribution, ownership and potential monetization on Kitely Market and other virtual worlds, he added.

Prior to founding Kitely in 2008, Tochner founded and ran an Internet security company. He also has an MBA in finance.

Instead, Kitely uses PayPal and Kitely Credits for the Kitely Market and Kitely Credits for in-world transactions.

Kitely has no intentions to adopt any cryptocurrencies at the moment, Tochner said. “The costs of doing so would greatly outweigh the benefits.”

Government crackdowns

Another problem with using cryptocurrencies for in-world payment is that governments are increasingly cracking down on crypto transactions.

Last week, the US, together with thirty other countries, met to discuss the issue and released a statement pledging to address the exploding problem of ransomware in multiple ways, including increasing regulatory controls on cryptocurrency payments.

“We will enhance the capacity of our national authorities, to include regulators, financial intelligence units, and law enforcement to regulate, supervise, investigate, and take action against virtual asset exploitation,” they said.

Maria Korolov

“The only reason the Bitcoin currency has any value at all right now is because of ransomware,” said Hypergrid Business editor Maria Korolov who covers cybersecurity for CSO magazine and Data Center Knowledge.

Traditional currencies are either backed by governments and are guaranteed for acceptance for real-world payments such as paying taxes, settling debts, and paying groceries, she said. Other common currencies — such as, say, gift cards and coupons — are backed by the companies that issue them and have value as long as they haven’t passed the expiration date and the company is still in business.

Bitcoin, Dogecoin and other popular cryptocurrencies have no such backing. They’re used for currency speculation — basically, a legally-sanctioned form of gambling — and for paying ransomware and buying illegal goods on the dark web. Actual use for real shopping is almost non-existent because the currencies are so volatile and cumbersome for companies to support and for shoppers to use, she said.

The only major company to accept Bitcoin as payment, Overstock, reported losing $700,000 last year on cryptocurrencies, up from a loss of $569,000 in 2019.

Cryptocurrencies are popular with ransomware hackers and drug dealers not because they’re anonymous, she said. “They’re not.”

It’s because they’re still mostly unregulated, she said. For normal banking transactions, banks have to comply with know-your-customer laws and anti-money-laundering laws. That doesn’t make it impossible to set up fake bank accounts and send money to sanctioned criminal groups, but does make it a lot more difficult.

“Bitcoin doesn’t have any practical, legitimate, real-world uses,” she said. “It’s worthless for stored value or as a hedge against traditional currencies because of the volatility and lack of underlying value.”

Telling people that a grid accepts Bitcoin has some marketing value since there are OpenSim users who like the philosophy behind cryptocurrencies.

But it actually hurts marketing if the cryptocurrencies are used in-world, where the prices have be posted in US dollars due to the volatility of crypto.

“When the pricing is in virtual currencies, users feel like it’s ‘play’ money and spend more,” she said. “That’s one of the main reasons games have in-world payments instead of just pricing everything in dollars. That’s why they make you buy ‘farmbucks’ or ‘gold coins’ or whatever before you can spend them — because people spend more that way. Because of the volatility of Bitcoin and Dogecoin, if those currencies are used in-world, prices have to be listed in dollars.”

Xbox Still Won’t Adopt VR as Phil Spencer Applauds Sony, Oculus & Valve’s Work

Virtual reality (VR) may have some big backers in the likes of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Facebook and Valve but once again Xbox is staying well away, even whilst heaping praise on those developing the space. In a recent interview, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has once again said VR isn’t of interest with software remaining the core focus for the console.

Xbox Series X

Spencer recently spoke during the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Tech live event (paywalled), when asked about VR he responded by saying: “I think that when we think about immersion, we think about mixed reality, virtual reality, I’ll even take it to ‘metaverse’, which seems to be the buzzword of the day now,” reports VGC. “We’re big believers in that software platform and the devices that will enable that. Absolutely. [But] we’re focused a lot more on the software side of that right now. When I think about immersive worlds and I think about the connection of a player and community, that’s something that’s very high on our investment list.”

While Xbox is digging deep when it comes to providing its gamers with the best content, Spencer still acknowledged the work being done in the VR space. “I think that the hardware innovation that’s happening is great and it’s an important enabler, [but] right now I’m deciding to stay more in the software side of that enablement. I believe it will scale better in the long run.” He went on to say: “And you know, I applaud what Sony‘s doing, I applaud what Oculus is doing, what Valve has done. I mean, there’s a lot of good players out there that have done some amazing VR work.”

This has been Spencer’s general response to the VR question for several years now, although he has previously been a lot harsher in his responses. It’s all Xbox’s fault in the first place when Spencer himself mentioned VR in his E3 2016 keynote address when talking about Xbox One X – then Project Scorpio. It was after that mention that Xbox quickly avoided any talk of VR.

Bethesda Xbox_HERO

The Xbox team might want nothing to do with VR at the moment but that’s not the case over at Microsoft or even Microsoft Game Studios. The tech giant already has devices like HoloLens 2 – as well as a consumer version – and Windows Mixed Reality on the market. On the studio side of things Microsoft owns the likes of Bethesda, that’s created VR titles and inXile Entertainment (Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds). And let’s not forget Microsoft Flight Simulator.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of Xbox, hopefully, one-day reporting that it has finally embraced VR.

Chill City Building Title Little Cities Coming to Oculus Quest Spring 2022

Little Cities

At the start of 2021 British virtual reality (VR) developer nDreams announced a $2 million fund to help co-fund and publish VR content from third-party developers. The first being brought to fruition from that initiative has been revealed today, a charming city building experience called Little Cities.

Little Cities

Created by indie team Purple Yonder, Little Cities is all about creating beautifully intricate, interwoven metropolises with residential areas, areas for commerce as well as industrial zones for everyone to work. As your city grows it requires careful balancing of these three core areas, enabling you to grow the population whilst ensuring all their needs are met.

Keeping the populous happy is your main priority, which also means ensuring crime is low by building police stations, hospitals are there to keep them healthy and schools to educate them all. Then there are all the utilities. An expanding city and its residents require access to power, water and network connectivity but they also don’t want to see them out their garden window. Little Cities will also feature unlockable buildings that’ll have their own unique properties.

You won’t be confined to one area either. You’ll be able to expand and build across several islands, each with its own unique features like mountains that block those important network signals.

Little Cities

Purple Yonder wants to make Little Cities as accessible as possible. So you’ll be able to play either seated in comfort or standing, allowing you to really lean in and see the city come to life, watching all the vehicles whizz around doing their daily chores. In keeping with the tranquil gameplay, Little Cities has a relaxing soundtrack, the gentle hum of an everyday city and the sounds of nature to further bring the experience to life.

Currently, Little Cities is scheduled to arrive in Spring 2022 for the Oculus Quest platform. Take a look at the first trailer below and for further updates, keep reading VRFocus.

Pimax to Unveil its Next-Gen Tech at Frontier 2021 Event Next Week

Pimax Frontier

October has already seen quite the influx of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) hardware announcements and that trend doesn’t look like it’ll be stopping anytime soon. Originally due to take place tomorrow, Chinese VR headset maker Pimax’s upcoming event “Pimax Frontier” will now be held next week, just a few days before Facebook Connect, promising a showcase of its next-generation technology.

Pimax VISION 8K X w_ deluxe modular audio head strap
Pimax Vision 8K X with optional Deluxe Headphone Strap

Pimax has made a name for itself in the VR space with its wide field of view (FoV) headsets which currently include the 5K Super and the flagship 8KX, both of which feature a massive 200-degree FoV. The Pimax Frontier conference will be about unveiling its next generation of VR, what the company dubs VR 3.0. Originally, Pimax’s VR 1.0 era saw the company launch its first headset, the Pimax 4K, in 2015. This was then followed up from 2017 onwards with the latest roster of devices, or the VR 2.0 era.

So by that information alone, Pimax is guaranteed to be revealing a new VR headset (or headsets) of some sort. In a press release, the company notes: “VR 3.0 provides a totally immersive experience, and will focus on three points: naturalness, freedom and self-awareness.” VRFocus would expect Pimax to maintain its wide FoV hallmark, if it does then it’ll buck the current trend of making smaller, lighter headsets that are trying to cater to the consumer market.

Additionally, the Pimax Frontier event won’t purely be focused on hardware, it’ll also delve into its own software ecosystem. The Pimax store is set to reveal new partners and Pimax Studio will introduce a series of developer support initiatives. 

Pimax Sword Lite
Pimax Sword Lite controllers. Image credit Pimax

Pimax Frontier 2021 will now be held on 25th October at 10am PDT (6pm BST), viewable via YouTube here. You can also register for the conference on the official Pimax website. Registration will also put you into a draw to win a Pimax 8KX worth €1,199.00 EUR.

Last month saw Pimax finally confirm details regarding the long-awaited Sword controllers. While customers have been able to use Index controllers, the Pimax Sword Lite finally gives the company its own in-house control scheme for customers.

As details from the conference are announced, VRFocus will keep you updated.

Build Your Own Spacefolk City on Oculus Quest This Week

Spacefolk City

Indie developer Moon Mode in conjunction with publisher Beyond Frames revealed colourful city builder Spacefolk City back in August for Oculus Quest and PC VR headsets. This week, It has been confirmed that Spacefolk City will see an initial for Oculus Quest this Thursday, with the Steam release to follow at a later date.

Spacefolk City

The single-player title is set to offer a quirky take on the traditional city building experience. Taking place entirely in space, you’ll have the freedom to construct your floating city however you wish, creating some unusual urban layouts in the process. As you’re not limited to a flat surface, you can build up or down as you see fit, just making sure everything’s connected so that inhabitants can navigate your undulating cityscape.

Like any city builder, you’ll need to encourage new residents whilst ensuring their interests and requirements are met. From building them houses to useful establishments to frequent, as you can see from the screenshot there’s a definite food theme to some of the aesthetics. This is key to making inhabitants happy, as their body type indicates their interests. A happy community means they’ll be productive and efficient, helping you further build out the growing metropolis.

Alongside all the core buildings, you’ll also be able to decorate your space city to give it that homely feel. Drop in some lighting, foliage and more, making the whole place vibrant and alive. To help keep that motivation pumping, Spacefolk City will feature a funky soundtrack of more than 20 songs influenced by late-70s electro-disco and early-80s electro-pop.

Spacefolk City

Spacefolk City even has its own backstory with Moon Mode’s synopsis explaining: “The Spacefolk are in trouble! Their sun is going supernova, and they need your help to build up their city and find a way to escape the impending solar disaster!”

Moon Mode has confirmed that Spacefolk City’s Oculus Quest launch will take place on 21st October, retailing for $24.99 USD. A Steam page currently lists the PC VR release for November. For continued updates, keep reading VRFocus.