Bristol’s Upcoming Immersive Showcase to Display VR Prototype’s From Triangular Pixels & Anagram

Next week in Bristol, UK, the South West Creative Technology Network Immersion Showcase (SWCTN) will bring together eight tech pioneers to display the future of immersive technology. Of these eight prototypes, two will use virtual reality (VR) while another will utilise augmented reality (AR).

Smash Hit Plunder
Smash Hit Plunder

The first of these comes from Triangular Pixels – the team behind Unseen Diplomacy and Smash Hit Plunder – in the form of  Responsive Content Generation Tools. This suite of tools is designed to make VR content faster and more efficient to make, whilst also allowing VR players to adapt content to their individual needs. This is especially useful for VR gamers with disabilities, allowing videogames to adapt to users rather than the other way around. For the showcase Triangular Pixels will be demoing content created by the tools, allowing visitors to see how the software adapts to the space its played in.

Then there’s the Realtime Stagemaker Toolkit from Anagram. This prototype project is actually two components. Starting with the Realtime Stagemaker Toolkit, a Unity plug-in, the software allows for the real-time manipulation of assets by the entire team. Followed by an artistic VR experience called The End is the Beginning, produced in collaboration with the Freud Museum, where participants lie on a virtual version of Freud’s couch.

“Immersion is a slippery process. Right now its one of those creative ideas that means different things to everyone. And that’s just great, because it’s a space full of possibility,” said Jon Dovey, SWCTN Project Director, in a statement. “I can see two strands at work. One is about a complete whole-body experience of being surrounded by content in, for instance, immersive theatre, art installations, and dance floors; the other where these kinds of wraparound sensory experience are industrially re-constituted through various forms of technology – notably virtual reality, but also augmented and mixed realities.”

“The basic design principle for our immersion theme has been that the industrial and creative development of the newly emergent platforms might be driven by talent with expertise in existing forms of immersion,” he continues. “We wanted to know how storytellers, theatre, filmmakers and artists might work with technologists to keep the field of immersion open and fresh; not stuck forever into a sweaty box attached to the front of your head.”

As for the AR prototype, this is the work of VIKA Books. Called Baby BSL: Where is the Bird?, this project is an AR book combining illustrations, videos, print and smartphone tech to inspire families to use British Sign Language (BSL).

The SWCTN Immersive Showcase takes place on 12th July 2019, at the Watershed in Bristol. For any further updates keep reading VRFocus.

Smash Hit Plunder to Receive US Physical Release on PlayStation VR

British virtual reality (VR) indie developer Triangular Pixels launched its long-awaited dungeon demolition title Smash it Plunder for PlayStation VR last month. Today, the studio has announced that North American gamers will be able to buy the videogame in physical form from retailers in December.

Smash Hit Plunder is a comical co-operative adventure where players can throw, shake, eat, burn and generally annihilate everything in sight. Players find themselves cast as a young mage inside sprawling ghost-infested Castle Carvasso. Having inherited this medieval home the castle is then magically locked up by a ghostly debt collector and it’s up to the player to wreak havoc throughout the grounds to find enough hidden treasure to pay off the debt and win back their home.

The campaign itself is split into three modes, each offering its own unique challenges. For example, players can race against the clock in Treasure Hunt to gather as much loot as possible within the time limit, comb the grounds for a specific piece of treasure in Scavenger Hunt, or explore the castle at their own pace in Free Play. Additionally, each of these modes can be played in local co-op, bringing a friend along to help in the challenges.

“The couch co-op experience is an important aspect of gaming for many people, and Smash Hit Plunder really succeeds in translating that for the VR medium,” says Mickey Torode, director of publishing at Perp Games. “The game can be a cathartic single-player campaign, but also offers a high-energy multiplayer arena to team up with or challenge friends.”

Smash Hit Plunder

Alongside the co-op modes, Smash Hit Plunder also features up to four-person verses modes, enabling three players to challenge the VR Mage in special dungeons with Poltergeist Panic or Jewel Duel modes.

Thanks to Perp Games, Smash Hit Plunder will be available from North American retails on 14th December, retailing for $29.99 USD. For any further updates on the title, keep reading VRFocus.

Review: Smash Hit Plunder

Usually when describing a videogame it is customary to specify which genre it is part of. In this case, it is difficult to pin down exactly what genre Smash Hit Plunder belongs to. This indicates early on that developer Triangular Pixels are throwing away the rule book with this title. Luckily, this decision yields positive results.

There is a semblance of a story in Smash Hit Plunder, in that the main player, who uses virtual reality (VR), plays a mage who has returned from magic school to find a debt collector called Mordred has taken control of your family’s home and fortune. As a result, you need to ransack the castle to find items of value that can used to pay off the debt.

Smash Hit Plunder

This basically boils down to ‘smash everything in sight and gather loot’. There are some simplistic puzzle mechanics in place that let you get more valuable loot, but in essence the gameplay involves picking things up and throwing them. It is deeply cathartic and satisfying, particularly since using the PlayStation Move controllers gives it a sense of weight and presence that will leave you smiling.

Where Smash Hit Plunder really comes alive, however, is in multiplayer. The title makes good use of the social screen to allow more players to join in alongside the VR player. Three gameplay modes support co-operative gameplay, the ‘Treasure Runt’ which basically involves gathering as much loot as possible in a timed mission; a Scavenger Hunt which involves locating specific items and a Free Play mode which lets you explore as leisure.

There are also two competitive gameplay modes, Poltergeist Panic and Jewel Duel, these feel like real party games that invite gleeful sabotaging of opponents, with the social screen players playing using a Dual Shock 4. That the VR player is stuck using teleport while the social screen players can move freely is a little frustrating, and does seem to give a slight advantage to the dual shock players

The graphics are polygonal, presenting the blocky Minecraft-ish style that suits the tongue-in-cheek feel fairly well. Though set in a gloomy castle, there’s plenty of colour to keep it pleasant, and the loot you find sparkles in a satisfactory and easily noticeable fashion.

Smash Hit Plunder

Overall, Smash Hit Plunder works best as a social party game. There’s a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from smashing things to bits, and its is pleasing enough to explore and look at. Some more hidden unlocks or other secrets (apart from the secret rooms, but tend to be slightly too easy to find) might have given the title a longer shelf life. As it is, its worth pulling out for some amusing group videogames, or for when a de-stressing session is needed. Still worth buying for parties and social gatherings.



  • Verdict

Tear it up Next Week When Triangular Pixels Release Smash Hit Plunder

British indie developer Triangular Pixels has been working on its PlayStation VR title Smash Hit Plunder since 2014. After four years of work the team are this week nearing the end, with a launch date planned for this Friday, 5th October 2018.

Smash Hit Plunder

Smash Hit Plunder is a light-hearted physics-based tear-it-up experience inside a haunted medieval castle. As the studio explains it: You play as a mage – you think you’ve just inherited the castle of your dreams from your family, but actually it’s been magically locked up by a ghostly debt collector. Now it’s down to you to find enough hidden treasure in the castle to pay off the debt…”

Featuring sprawling dungeons filled with treasures to find, players will be able to fight ghosts, munch on food, start the odd fire or two and generally cause a bit of chaos. Smash Hit Plunder includes a full narrative, five game modes and progression unlocks.

This isn’t purely a single-player experience either. Thanks to PlayStation VR’s social screen feature a friend can join in the adventure during ‘Treasure Rush’, ‘Scavenger Hunt’ or ‘Free Play’. For even more multiplayer fun up to four players can go head-to-head in hide-and-seek ‘Poltergeist Panic’ or fight for possession in ‘Jewel Duel’.

Smash Hit Plunder

Being the Cornish-based studio that they are, Triangular Pixels has even included support for Kernewek, the Cornish language. Katie Goode, Creative Director of Triangular Pixels said: “Being based in Cornwall, we saw that it was important to support local culture. Cornwall is a magical place and was of great inspiration while making the game – and some of our levels may be recognisable to the its residents. We wanted to do our part in keeping the local language alive and allowing our neighbours read in their own language.”

Smash Hit Plunder will be available both digitally via PlayStation Store and physically in stores thanks to Perp Games. You can pre-order the title from Amazon and GAME for £24.99 GBP. For any further updates from Triangular Pixels keep reading VRFocus, and of course keep an eye out for our review.

Breaking onto PlayStation VR: Smash Hit Plunder Coming in 2018

UK development studio Triangular Pixels has today announced that Smash Hit Plunder will be launching on PlayStation VR. Revealed as part of Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe’s (SIEE) Paris Games Week press conference, the virtual reality (VR) exclusive Smash Hit Plunder will launch via the PlayStation Store in 2018.

Smash Hit Plunder PlayStation VR screenshotSet in a medieval castle sprinkled with ghostly inhabitants, Smash Hit Plunder sends the player, as a young Mage recently returned from magic school, on a quest to delve into their family’s fraught past. Alas, the Mage’s family squandered away their large fortune and rapidly lost their home to Mordred, a devious spiritual debt collector. With your quest now being to rebuild this fabulous wealth, players must use their spell-infused wands – played with either PlayStation Move motion controllers of the DualShock 4 control pad – to uncover treasure, coins and crowns the hopes of buying back their home. This is done by destroying, looting and wrecking everything insight.

Players will charge through multiple dungeons and secret rooms, set things on fire, attack sneaky spirits and smash as much as possible to find all the hidden gold. Smash Hit Plunder includes a full single-player campaign featuring a spooky boss and five different gameplay modes.

“We are so proud to finally be able to reveal Smash Hit Plunder for PlayStation VR. We’ve been working for over three years on making a title that really makes the most of VR, and it works so well as a party game too – allowing everyone in the room to enjoy the game together,” said Katie Goode, Creative Director for Smash Hit Plunder at Triangular Pixels.

Smash Hit Plunder PlayStation VR screenshotIn addition to the single-player campaign, Smash Hit Plunder has been designed to take advantage of the PlayStation VR’s many multiplayer opportunities. Up to four friends can either help the VR Mage through the main campaign or battle each other in manic versus modes using a specially-designed 2D social screen for the TV, using DualShock 4 controllers.

“Triangular Pixels are experts in creating comfortable and fun VR experiences,” says Technical Director John Campbell. “We believe that great VR means letting people explore, which means having lots of different locomotions options so everyone can find what works best for them.”

Smash Hit Plunder will launch on PlayStation VR at an unspecified date in 2018. The official trailer for the PlayStation VR edition follows below and VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest from Triangular Pixels.

Triangular Pixels bringt die Haustiere in die VR

VR-Enthusiasten mit Haustieren kennen eventuell das folgende Problem: Man möchte ein Room Scale VR-Spiel spielen und räumt dafür alle unnützen Gegenstände wie Stühle oder Tische aus dem Weg, um freien Platz zu erhalten. Man taucht ein in die VR und vergisst alles um sich herum. Plötzlich tritt man aus Versehen auf die geliebte Katze, die arglos entlang schritt. Um dieses Erlebnis und die damit einhergehenden Schuldgefühle zu vermeiden, hilft der Vive Tracker, den man an unterschiedliche Objekte oder an sein Haustier befestigen kann. Dies dachten sich auch die bisher eher unbekannten Entwickler von Triangular Pixels und nutzten den Tracker für ihr Projekt.


Triangular Pixels Entwicklung einer Lösung basierend auf dem Vive Tracker

Die Spieleentwickler von Triangular Pixels erhielten ein Vive Tracker Entwicklerset, dass als Basis des Projekts dient. Die Entwicklerin Katie Goode postete am 15. März über ihre Fortschritte. Denn darin sieht man ihre 10-jährige Katze, die eine modifizierte Jacke mit integriertem Vive Tracker trägt.


Die Arbeit an diesem Projekt startete erst vor Kurzem, es befindet sich also noch in den Kinderschuhen. Dahinter steckt natürlich die Idee, VR-Nutzer zu warnen wenn sich ihre Haustiere oder Kinder im Raum befinden, um unerwünschte Kollisionen zu vermeiden. Sollten sich die Entwickler entscheiden, das Projekt Open-Source zu machen, können andere Unternehmen solche Warnsysteme in ihre VR-Erfahrungen implementieren. Die Katzenbesitzerin Goode stellte übrigens klar, dass der Tracker leicht genug ist und die Jacke komfortabel sitzt, sodass sich die Katze nicht gestresst fühlt. Wie es aussieht, wenn Haustiere mit Vive Tracker in die VR implementiert werden, sieht man in diesem Video:

Das Unternehmen Triangular Pixels dachte übrigens schon vor dem Erscheinen des Vive Trackers über solch ein Projekt nach. Damals wollten sie es in Form eines Halsbands an der Katze befestigen. Der Vive Tracker selbst wird aktuell an ausgewählte Entwickler verteilt. Im späteren Jahr wird er für jedermann käuflich zu erwerben sein.

(Quellen: Triangular Pixels, uploadvr)

Der Beitrag Triangular Pixels bringt die Haustiere in die VR zuerst gesehen auf VR∙Nerds. VR·Nerds am Werk!

Vive Cat Tracker Video Shows Purrrfect Use Of New Add-On In Action

Vive Cat Tracker Video Shows Purrrfect Use Of New Add-On In Action

Last week we reported on a rather purffect application for Vive’s new Tracker. Indie developer Triangular Pixels is using the device to keep tabs on their pet cats, thus not bumping into them when wearing a headset. Today, we’ve got a first look at it in action.

Triangular Pixels posted the below video today. It shows a runthrough of the team’s HTC Vive launch title, Unseen Diplomacy, with the tracker enabled. A blocky black and white cat, visually consistent with game itself, makes a nuisance of itself as a player infiltrates a secret base. At kinds gentle nudges are needed to keep the path and at other times the cat sits and stares — likely in bemusement — as the player fights off a swarm of drones.

Oh it also walks off the site into a lava pit, too, but that’s only in VR thank goodness. The best bit of the video though as to be the final minute set inside Valve’s The Lab where the cat obliviously sits next to the small robotic dog that scurries around the hub world.

As you can imagine, perfecting this project without making it immersion-breaking is going to take some work, and you can follow its progress over on Twitter. Triangular Pixels will also soon start accepting donations for the project.

As for release? Well, the Vive Tracker itself isn’t out yet. It’s expected to go on sale to developers soon for $99.99 with a wider roll out taking place later in the year. Hopefully Triangular Pixels will be able to get the cat tracker up to snuff by then; our pets will be thankful for it.

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Bring Your Cat Into VR With This Awesome Add-On

Bring Your Cat Into VR With This Awesome Add-On

If you own a cat/dog/baby and an HTC Vive then you’re probably familiar with this scene. You’re playing your favorite room-scale game with all of your chairs, desks and other items cleared out of the way. You have a free space to run around in and forget about the real world, moving into the virtual one. Except all of a sudden you stumble and kick something soft. Something that moves. Something that runs away.

Then comes the guilt.

I’ve accidentally kicked my cats in VR more times than I care to count and each time it weighs heavy on my soul. That’s why I wrote about why I’d want to stick the new Vive Tracker on my pets when it releases later this year. Unseen Diplomacy developer Triangular Pixels has been thinking along the same lines, only it’s got its hands on one of the Tracker development kits and is already working on a real solution.

Yesterday the team’s Katie Goode posted up images of a modified cat jacket that sported the Tracker, worn by the developer’s 10 year old feline.

Work on this project has only just started, but the idea is to alert VR users to when their pets or children are in the room by bringing them up within the given experience. That way you can say goodbye to any surprising collisions with friendly pets. We’d love to see this open sourced so that any developer could include it in their VR experience and the virtual world becomes a bit safer for our furry friends.

Goode clarifies that the Tracker is light and the jacket is a comfortable fit, thus isn’t causing her cat any distress.

I can’t help but wonder if I could pick my cat up and use it as a flamethrower in VR, but PETA might have something to say about that.

This is actually something Triangular Pixels has been thinking about for a while, long before the Tracker was announced. In fact the team even submitted its own idea for a tracked-collar for the cats for a Viveport competition last year.

It’s early days for the project, then, but we’ll keep our eyes on it. The Vive Tracker itself is shipping out to select devs now for free and will be available at $99.99 later in the year.

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Brynley Gibson On 2016’s Impact, His Favourite Experience Of The Last Year And 2017 Plans

Last month VRFocus was in attendance at Develop:VR in London to take in the talks, the experiences – good and not so good – and also to talk to some of the attendees. One such discussion took place with Brynley Gibson, a former Executive Producer at SIE London Studios working on titles such as PlayStation VR Worlds and current Head of Studios at Curve Digital Entertainment. We took the opportunity to ask Gibson to take stock of 2016 and ask him what 2017 might hold in store for both him and the virtual reality (VR) industry.

Develop:VR / Develop VR

Kevin Eva, VRFocus: 2016. Do you think it has been the year of VR?

Brynley Gibson: I think it’s getting there. We’re almost at the end! No… it’s the beginning. It’s not just going to be a single year. If anyone was thinking it was gonna just sort of stop; we need to go through really the next decade with the way it’s going to grow. Based in terms of the user base, also the technology, and also our skills as developers. The people making the experiences. There’s so much happening right now in terms of talks, in content coming out, in things to look at and learning; that I guess the acceleration of learning – that’s the thing I’m finding really fascinating right now. So people are seeing stuff, learning from somebody else, implementing that and… I think we’ve got a good few years ahead of us of very rapid growth. In terms of how we make games- sorry, VR experiences- and what those experiences are. And then wanting to see how the actual marketplace grows inside that. That’s a separate question.

VRFocus: What would you say was the most exciting VR experience that you’ve come across this year? The one that’s actually made you stop and go “Ooh! That’s really good.”

Gibson: I know what this is actually. Because I was just really blown away by something I played at Develop in the Summer and it’s Triangular Pixels. Something called Unseen Diplomacy. Which is a room space VR experience where you essentially some sort of spy and you have to break your way into a secret facility and stop the bad guys. In essence. Now, what it does so brilliantly is using the room space to completely baffle you and forget you’re actually in a very small space. So it has you crawling around in circles, in spirals and crossing back over yourself. And as you’re crawling through vents or edging yourself along a very thin strut above some people walking below you, you do so sort of forget. And it’s a very stylised experience, but very believable. The sheer level is where it really comes into its own.

Unseen Diplomacy VR

VRFocus: So there was both a physicality and also a specific need for accuracy there with that?

Gibson: Yeah. I mean, I played it in front of loads of loads of people just wandering around, and you’re there with and you’re there with your shoes and socks off crawling around, like a crazy person. But it didn’t matter. I now guess that was the strength of the emotion that was there, because people got over very quickly how ridiculous they were being in reality.

VRFocus: Would you say that is one of VR’s biggest hurdles that it needs to get over still? The whole sense of… embarrassment almost, about VR?

Gibson: Yeah… I think it goes away actually, on a decent experience. I’ve not really had a problem- I mean I’ve done a lot of reviews where you’re kind of, maybe working with marketing teams or something so you bring a lot of people in, and everyone has a go and work through. And because that immersion can take people very quickly, it can be you know seconds really, before some… they’ve forgotten. They’ve got their headphones, on obviously they’ve got the headset on- they can’t see anything. They do forget and they very quickly are sort of natural, and it’s just them and the experience. And it’s only when they come out at the end they suddenly go “Oh! I’m surrounded by people.” So, I haven’t seen it as a problem. I think we’ll get used to it more and more as time goes on.

VRFocus: What’s the one thing you want to see happen in 2017 with VR – above all else?

Gibson: Well, I’d like to see lots of people buy VR headsets…!

VRFocus: Well, don’t we all(!)

Gibson: So, yeah, that. Defiantly that! Yes… In all seriousness with a bigger market it will raise the possibilities of what people make. Because essentially, the potential returns will increase and people can take greater risks on their ambitions and what they can do. I guess from a creative point of view I’d like to see some new genres being found, so whether that’s a new take on something that already exists in games or film. A twist on that. Or something that feels totally new to VR and can VR only be in VR. I mean, we’re just scratching the surface now, I think, of genre and what you can do in VR. It’s all out there. People just need to go for it and see what they can come up with in their imaginations.

DevelopVR - Virtual Umbrella Pic

VRFocus: Brilliant. So what does 2017 hold for you personally?

Gibson: Well, I’m very busy doing a mix of self-published titles that we’re doing for Curve [Digital]. So we’re sort of building some games we’re going to release – but they’re not VR based. Just for digital distribution through Curve. But we’re also working on a number of other projects and some of them are VR – I can’t really get into the details right now. But hopefully you’ll hear about it soon enough!

When the time is right VRFocus will certainly bring you updates on those projects. Did you agree with Brynley Gibson? Let us know in the comments.