Craft World’s Hypergrid International Expo starts Friday

HIE Welcome Center. (Image courtesy Hypergrid International Expo.).

This year’s Hypergrid International Expo kicks off at 11 a.m. Pacific Time on Friday, October 6 at the HIE’s Auditorium in Craft World grid, featuring an opening party with music from Zoree Jupiter at 11 a.m., Arianna Nightfire at 1 p.m., and Forest Azure at 10 p.m. Pacific Time.

“The three artists will bring us an international mix of songs on a unique music stage built by Nyx Breen with a sort of crosswords in all languages theme,” Thirza Ember, one of the planning committee members, told Hypergrid Business. 

The event, which showcases the diversity and various cultures in OpenSim, will run through Saturday and Sunday, September 8. It is open to all hypergrid visitors and will be broadcast live on the HIE YouTube channel.

The hypergrid event attracts exhibitions, artists, and speakers from all around OpenSim. Please see the full schedule on this link.

The main activities will take place on Saturday and Sunday starting from 9 a.m. Pacific Time. Three different sessions are planned each day — two sessions dedicated to talks in the normal conference format and the other session to artistic displays.

The teleports to the different regions are located at the Welcome region of Craft World grid.

The hypergrid address is Welcome.

The hypergrid address to the auditorium is 4.

Addresses to the other areas dedicated to the event are 2 and 3.  

Craft World is an ideal place to host the event because the different language groups needed for the event are already operational there, it is a popular grid, and many of the presenters already have avatars on the grid, said Thirza Ember in an interview.

Exhibitions, art, music, and speakers from around OpenSim

HIE Auditorium. (Image courtesy HIE.).

This year’s event features over 70 exhibition booths covering three OpenSim regions and showcasing work from different people around OpenSim, including grid and region owners and OpenSim creators and artists. The exhibitions will take place at the Expo Park next to the Auditorium region. Different exhibitors will tell the story of their grids and regions, advertise their grids and regions with textures and using personalized booths or by providing their web page links at the booths, showcase any projects they have, and give away freebies, souvenirs, note cards, and other items which are usually in full perm.

Art performances and music will take place at the Auditorium — which consists of four sims — including four art performances by Range Darkstone, Lampithaler Artist, CapCat Ragu, Tosha Tyran, and Cherry Manga.

This year’s event speakers are drawn from different OpenSim grids, including Craft World, OSGrid, Pangea Grid, CreaNovale, and SV3D. They will address a range of topics and issues from the experience of living in OpenSim to technical tricks with scripts. HIE streams the audio using Discord so as to be heard across region boundaries. You can find the presentation subtitles in-world through the HIE groups.

Presentations in five languages

Speakers at the HIE event give their presentations in five languages — French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish — unlike the OpenSim Community Conference where all presenters speak English.

However, the audience in the HIE does not need to know the languages in which the speakers are presenting because they can follow all of the presentations through subtitles in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. By allowing for presentations in languages other than English, the event will give a chance to people who want to make presentations in those languages and also embrace cultural variations in language and other things.

The event is organized by Mal Burns, James Atlloud, Kelso Uxlay, Tosha Tyran, and Thirza Ember. However, there are other volunteers, including the streaming and filming team, translators team, booth makers, admins, greeters, speakers, planning committee, and performers.

Valve Hires Creator Behind Popular ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ Mod

Like many of Valve’s best titles, Half-Life: Alyx (2020) is a lot more moddable than your average game, which for PC VR headset owners means hundreds of new modes, missions, and mini-games. Now one of the HLA’s most talented modders announced they’ve been snapped up by Valve.

Nate Grove was responsible for two of the best HLA campaign-style mods, Incursion and Re-Education—both of which are uncannily Valve-like in pacing, setting… everything.

Grove says in a tweet that “a HUGE contributing factor to my hire was my work on my Workshop items Re-Education and Incursion. It was a dream for me (and many others) to work at Valve and I think this highlights the importance of supporting integration of community work into any game. It only makes the product (and the industry) stronger.”

While clearly a capable modder of one of the best VR games to date, Grove is no gaming industry neophyte. Now a level designer and artist at Valve, Grove comes to the company from Annapurna Interactive, which is known for publishing award-winning titles such as Outer Wilds, Stray, and What Remains of Edith Finch. Grove also created custom assets for both HLA mods, which is probably par for the course for someone who’s already spent nearly a decade as a professional digital artist and environmental designer.

What does this mean for Valve, VR and everything? It’s too early to speculate, since the company is by nature a black box that only occasionally sneaks possible hints about upcoming headsets in SteamVR updates. In fact, Grove says the announcement above was their “last post here” on X, formerly Twitter.

If it makes you feel better though, you can always comment “Half-Life 3 confirmed” in the comments.

‘Laser Dance’ Coming to Quest 3 in 2024, From Creator Behind One of Quest’s Best-rated Puzzle Games

Thomas Van Bouwel, the developer behind popular VR puzzle game Cubism (2020), is nearing launch of the long-teased mixed reality game for Quest that turns your living room into a moving grid of lasers straight out of Mission Impossible.

Update (October 3rd, 2023): Van Bouwel announced Laser Dance is coming to Quest 3 and Quest Pro sometime next year. There’s no release window yet, however users looking to get early access can become best testers. Check out the new teaser below:

Original Article (October 24th, 2022): Called Laser Dance, the Quest game aims to turn any room of your house into a laser obstacle course—basically recreating the old laser hallway trope you may recognize from a ton of films, TV shows and video games over the years.

There’s no word on release dates yet, although progress is looking good. Check out a work-in-progress level of Laser Dance in action:

Van Bouwel came up with the idea over the two-day Global Game Jam 2022 earlier this year, and has since fleshed out the game to include parametrically-generated laser patterns based on room size and layout, meaning the action should dynamically fit to your space and serve up a challenge no matter how big (or cluttered) your space.

Although the game has been shown working with Quest 2’s monochrome passthrough, the indie dev is no doubt positioning Laser Dance for release on Meta Quest Pro, which is capable of more realistic passthrough AR thanks to its five external sensors, offering a higher resolution color view with improved depth-detection.

We’re looking forward to learning more about Laser Dance, as Van Bouwel is excellent at creating deceptively simple gameplay that really makes you think—look no further than Cubism, which has also kept lock-step with passthrough and hand-tracking updates on Quest since its initial launch in 2020. If you want to follow along with progress on Laser Dance, check out the game’s official Twitter.

Former Oculus CTO “unconvinced” Mixed Reality Apps Will Sell Headsets (like Quest 3)

Less than 48 hours after Meta fully unveiled Quest 3, John Carmack, legendary programmer and former CTO of Oculus, expressed doubts about mixed reality’s ability to increase headset sales.

Carmack departed Meta late last year, concluding what he called at the time his “decade in VR.” Still, it’s clear the key cohort in Oculus’ genesis story has a lot to offer when it comes to all things XR.

While Carmack doesn’t mention Quest 3 by name, it’s fairly clear he’s talking about Meta’s first consumer mixed reality headset, having tweeted a message of skepticism about the headset-selling power of MR apps:

“I remain unconvinced that mixed reality applications are any kind of an engine for increasing headset sales. High quality pass through is great, but I just don’t see applications built around integrating rendering with your real world environment as any kind of a killer app. I consider it interesting and challenging technology looking for a justification. The power of VR is to replace your environment with something much better, not to hang a virtual screen in your real environment. In all the highly produced videos demonstrating the MR future, the environments are always stylish, clean, and spacious. That is not representative of the real world user base. There is certainly some value in the efforts, but I have always thought there was much more low hanging fruit to be grabbed first.”

Photo by Road to VR

In a follow-up tweet, Carmack maintains he’s not criticizing the future of augmented reality, but rather how MR-capable VR headsets are being served up today:

“I am specifically talking about MR in todays [sic] VR headsets. The magical, all-day wear, full FOV AR headsets of people’s dreams would be great, but they don’t exist, even in labs with billions of dollars.”

Meta announced relatively few MR games for Quest 3 at its full unveiling last week, emphasizing that 50+ new VR games are coming by the end of this year, many of which will feature “MR features” of some sort.

Still, increasing headset sales to rival Quest 2 ought to be a big focus for Meta, as the company revealed at Connect 2023 that it had just broken $2 billion in Quest game and app revenue to date.

While impressive, it signifies a dramatic slowing of content sales over the past year, putting Quest 3 in the metaphorical hot seat to continue the upward trend if Meta intends on defending its $4 billion-per quarter investments in its Reality Labs XR division.

Early Bigscreen Beyond Pre-orders Slip into Q4 Delivery Window

Bigscreen announced its thin and light PC VR headset, Bigscreen Beyond, is facing delays in production, which the company says will see shipping dates for initial preorders pushed later into October and November.

Bigscreen CEO Darshan Shankar says in a blogpost that manufacturing bottlenecks have led to slower-than-expected production rates, making for what the company calls “approximately 25% of the target [production] rate” in some bottlenecks than previously projected.

Bigscreen says around 20% of US-based pre-orders initially quoted for a Q3 shipping window will be shipped by next week, with the rest expected to be completed by November. Most of those Q3 pre-orders were made in February, which was the company’s “biggest month of sales.”

“The remaining 80% will take another 2-7 weeks to ship. We aim to complete all Q3 preorder shipments by November 6-November 19,” Bigscreen says, noting it will reach “full capacity” production by November.

Meanwhile, the company says more recent pre-orders given a tentative Q4 shipment date are still on track, which includes both US and international orders. Here’s the proposed schedule moving forward:

Image courtesy Bigscreen

Bigscreen details a number of issues that contributed to the delays, including important calibration machines lost in customs on the way to a China-based parts supplier, and being out of stock of certain IPDs as they await additional headsets and parts to be produced.

“We’re taking this seriously,” Bigscreen CEO Darshan Shankar explains. “Solving these bottlenecks requires significant effort with multiple flights to China and our team in California working until 5AM. To ensure we improve our manufacturing and calibration bottlenecks, I will personally remain on-site at our factories in China for the next month to ensure ramp up goes smoothly. In addition to these new machines, we will begin a second night shift at our factories to improve production. We’ve also doubled the size of our LA factory team in the past 2 months.”

The tiny SteamVR headset sets itself apart from the competition by offering a much lighter and compact design than traditional PC VR headsets. It does this by including high-resolution microOLEDs, pancake lenses, outside-in SteamVR tracking, and a custom facepad made specially for each customer to insure zero light leakage. Check out our review of Bigscreen Beyond to learn more, and hear our full impressions about what has undoubtedly become a pioneer in VR headset design.

New Quest Dev Tools to Add Leg Estimation for More Convincing Avatars

Meta announced that it’s offering new developer tools for Quest headsets to make avatars more realistic. The company also unveiled a Quest 3-exclusive upper body tracking feature that supports a much wider range of body motion.

Announced at Connect 2023 late last week, Meta showed off some new features coming both to Quest 3 and the rest of the Quest platform.

On Quest 3, Meta says it will be able to use inside-out sensor data to optically track wrists, elbows, shoulders, and torso—or something the company is calling ‘Inside Out Body Tracking’ (IOBT). The Quest 3-exclusive feature also tracks where your legs are relative to your torso, making avatars capable of bending forward and peering over a cliff.

Image courtesy Meta

By using this upper body data to extrapolate lower body actions, the company says it can make avatars replicate more natural movements than traditional inverse kinematics (IK)-based methods.

The company also announced a feature called ‘Generative Legs’, which is headed to Quest 2/3/Pro in December. The developer tool is said to create more realistic leg movement using either three-point body tracking or the Quest 3-exclusive IOBT. It’s capable of recreating more natural standing and sitting poses, a more lifelike gait when walking, and also supports jumping, ducking and squatting.

Since it’s essentially guessing where your legs might naturally be in any given situation, Generative Legs won’t account for individual leg movement like a dedicated tracker might, such as a SteamVR tracking puck or Sony’s Mocapi motion capture device—that means your avatar can’t do karate or breakdance.

Still, it’s pretty impressive how much better the whole system is in comparison to standard IK. Granted, Quest users won’t be able to pull of the fancy footwork CEO Mark Zuckerberg did on the virtual stage at Connect 2022 last year, but it’s starting to look pretty close.

Check out Meta’s Generative Legs and the new Quest 3 upper body tracking feature in action in a Meta-built showcase app called Dodge Arcade:

Quest 3 Brings a Big Change to Controller Tracking Coverage

Meta Quest 3 brings with it new ‘Touch Plus’ controllers that do away with the tracking ring that’s been part of the company’s 6DOF consumer VR controllers ever since the original Rift. But that’s not the only change.

Editor’s Note: for some clarity in this article (and comments), let’s give some names to all the different 6DOF VR controllers the company has shipped over the years.

  • Rift CV1 controller: Touch v1
  • Rift S controller: Touch v2
  • Quest 1 controller: Touch v2
  • Quest 2 controller: Touch v3
  • Quest Pro controller: Touch Pro
  • Quest 3 controller: Touch Plus

6DOF consumer VR controllers from Meta have always had a ‘tracking ring’ as part of their design. The ring houses an array of infrared LEDs that cameras can detect, giving the system the ability to track the controllers in 3D space.

Image courtesy Meta

Quest 3 will be the first 6DOF consumer headset from the company to ship with controllers without a tracking ring; the company is calling new controllers ‘Touch Plus’.

Tracking Coverage

In a session at Meta Connect 2023, the company explained it has moved the IR LEDs from the tracking ring into the faceplate of the controller, while also adding a single IR LED at the bottom of the handle. This means the system has less consistently visible markers for tracking, but Meta believes its improved tracking algorithms are up to the challenge of tracking Touch Plus as well as Quest 2’s controllers.

Note that Touch Plus is different than the company’s Touch Pro controllers—which also don’t have a tracking ring—but instead use on-board cameras to track their own position in space. Meta confirmed that Touch Pro controllers are compatible with Quest 3, just like Quest 2.

Meta was clear to point out that the change in camera placements on Quest 3 means the controller tracking volume will be notably different than on Quest 2.

The company said Quest 3 has about the same amount of tracking volume, but it has strategically changed the shape of the tracking volume.

Notably, Quest 3’s cameras don’t capture above the head of the user nearly as well as Quest 2. But the tradeoff is that Quest 3 has more tracking coverage around the user’s torso (especially behind them), and more around the shoulders:

This graphic shows unique areas of tracking coverage that are present on one headset but not the other

Meta believes this is a worthwhile tradeoff because players don’t often hold their hands above their head for long periods of time, and because the headset can effectively estimate the position of the controllers when outside of the tracking area for short periods.


Photo by Road to VR

As for haptic feedback, the company said that “haptics on the Touch Plus controller are certainly improved, but not quite to the level of Touch Pro,” and further explained that Touch Plus has a single haptic motor (a voice coil modulator), whereas Touch Pro controllers have additional haptic motors in both the trigger and thumbstick.

The company also reminded developers about its Meta Haptics Studio tool, which aims to make it easy to develop haptic effects that work across all of the company’s controllers, rather than needing to design the effects for the haptic hardware in each controller individually.

Trigger Force

Touch Plus also brings “one more little secret” that no other Touch controller has to date: a two-stage index trigger.

Meta explained that once a user fully pulls the trigger, any additional force can be read as a separate value—essentially a measure of how hard the trigger is being squeezed after being fully depressed.

What’s Missing From Touch Pro

Meta also said that Touch Plus won’t include some of the more niche features of Touch Pro, namely the ‘pinch’ sensor on the thumbpad, and the pressure-sensitive stylus nub that can be attached to the bottom and used to ‘draw’ on real surfaces.

Sony Drops a Slew of PSVR 2 Game Announcements and Updates

Meta wasn’t the only company churning out VR news this week with the unveiling of its long-awaited Quest 3 mixed reality headset, as Sony tossed out a slew of PSVR 2 game announcements and updates for its surprise ‘VR Day’ on Thursday.

Here’s a look at everything Sony announced:

Brand New Games

Journey to Foundation

Adapted from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, in Archiact’s upcoming roleplaying game Journey to Foundation you play as Agent Ward, a spy with the Commission of Public Safety. The immersive adventure challenges you to disguise, hack, and blast your way through Asimov’s groundbreaking sci-fi universe using the most advanced tools the Galactic Empire has to offer. Coming to PSVR 2 on October 26th, 2023. Wishlist here.

Heroes of Forever

Heroes of Forever from Lucky Mountain Games is a multi-dimensional arcade cover-shooter for PSVR 2. Prepare to travel across time and space to purge a corruption that is creeping across dimensions: go solo or team up in four-player co-op mode as you shoot your way through an infinitely expandable range of levels, unravelling the mysteries of the multiverse. Coming to PSVR 2 in 2024.

Tiger Blade

Initially announced in June, Tiger Blade bills itself as a high-octane VR action experience that combines fast-paced sword combat and punchy gunplay. Set in an alternate Korea, you play the role of a deadly assassin working for the Horangi chapter of the Tiger Clans. Ordered to steal a mysterious package from a rival chapter, you are shocked to find the object of the heist is a tiger cub. Coming to PSVR 2 on November 17th, 2023.

The Foglands

The Foglands is an atmospheric 3D roguelike shooter from Well Told Entertainment tasking you with discovering new paths, and uncovering old secrets. Run into the unknown, fight monsters, scavenge loot, and try to make it back before you are swallowed by the Fog. Coming to PSVR 2 and PS5 on October 31st, 2023. Pre-orders now live.

BLINNK and the Vacuum of Space

Developed by indie studio Changingday, BLINNK and the Vacuum of Space is billed as an autism-friendly VR adventure. Step aboard the space station Norpopolis where you’re tasked with collecting a cast of space creatures with your handy Vacuumizer 5000. The emphasis is on “fun, stress-free interactions without any fear of discouragement,” the studio says. Coming to PSVR 2 October 10th, 2023. Wishlist here.

PSVR 2 Ports & Updates

Among Us VR

Initially brought to VR by Schell Games, Innersloth, and Robot Teddy for Quest and PC VR, Among Us VR is bringing the immersive VR version of the hit multiplayer game to PSVR 2 sometime soon. Play with up to 10 players to sus out the Impostor and eject them from the airlock. No release date yet. Wishlist here.

Tin Hearts

Created by Rogue Sun, a studio founded by members of the team that created legendary adventure game Fable, Tin Hearts is a narrative puzzle adventure that centers on a tale of love and compromise. It’s already available on the original PSVR, however a free PSVR 2 update is coming this holiday season. A playable PSVR 2 demo is coming October 17th.

Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs

Resolution Games has done a lot to make Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs feel like the early Angry Birds games—no microtransactions and all of the fun of smacking over elaborately-constructed wooden forts holding evil green piggies within. Challenge yourself to bash through each three-dimensional puzzle to defeat Dr. Frankenswine, and create and share content with the online level builder. Owners of the original PSVR version can upgrade for $10. Coming to PSVR 2 October 10th, 2023. Wishlist here.

Ruinsmagus: Complete

Ruinsmagus: Complete was actually released on PSVR 2 by Japan-based studio CharacterBank a little over a week ago, bringing the JRPG’s mysterious ruins, ancient artifacts, and fierce battles to Sony’s latest VR headset for the first time. Previously launched on Quest and PC VR headsets last year, Ruinsmagus: Complete puts you in the common boots of new guild member, setting you out on a mission to strengthen the guild with your magic, resources, and wisdom across 25 story-driven quests. Buy it on PSVR 2 for $30.

Paper Beast Enhanced Edition

Paper Beast Enhanced Edition launched on PSVR 2 and PS5 on September 27th, bringing the extraordinary origami-inspired adventure to Sony’s latest VR headset for the first time. Launched on the original PSVR in 2020 by Pixel Reef, Paper Beast was widely praised for its innovative gameplay, unique aesthetics, and surreal universe. Owners of the game on PS4 can upgrade to the new version for $5. Buy it on PSVR 2 for $25.