Installing Quest 2 Custom Homes & PC Game Ports Just Got Easier With SideQuest

SideQuest’s new in-headset app for Quest 2 and Quest streamlines the installation of custom home environments and popular community-made VR ports of classics like the original Doom, Quake, and Half-Life games.

The new app even makes it easier to find experimental App Lab projects that are also listed on SideQuest. You still need a PC to install SideQuest onto a Quest headset and sign up as a developer to get that access in the first place, but the SideQuest app now walks Quest owners through that process directly.

SideQuest has been available as a PC and Mac app almost as long as the first Quest headset, giving users a way to connect their Quest to a computer and sideload content that isn’t officially approved for the Quest Store. SideQuest is taking this a step further today by launching a new app that installs the platform directly onto Quest 2 and gives users an easier way to browse and install content entirely in-headset.

SideQuest Quest 2

Previously, it was possible to install the Android mobile version of SideQuest onto a Quest headset for similar results. However, the interface wasn’t designed for VR and things didn’t always work. With this new version specifically designed for VR, SideQuest can be used in-headset with much less friction.

A computer is still required for first-time installation via USB and to install the core files for classic PC games, like the doom.wad file for the original Doom game from 1993. Once the SideQuest app is installed on Quest it can be launched from the Unknown Sources tab and used to browse and download content like QuestZDoom directly to the headset’s internal storage without using the SideQuest PC app.

There’s also a section in the app for custom home environments. Users can browse from a selection of community-made home environments, download them and swap them out for the default Meta options. SideQuest is also launching new guides and presets for creating custom homes, which should streamline the process of creating and exporting custom environments.

SideQuest can even run with multitasking in Quest 2 if you move it to the side. In the below screenshot I’ve got it running alongside the official Oculus Store after using it to install the Star Trek: The Next Generation bridge as my custom home.

custom home star trek sidequest

The new app is available now alongside the original version because it doesn’t have all the features yet. We’ll be curious to see whether or not the custom homes work with Meta’s Horizon Home, which allows Quest to invite others to check out the same things in VR together.

Meta Research Suggests High Brightness HDR Key To VR’s Future

Meta research suggests VR’s most transformative gains in telepresence and visual realism may come from advances in display brightness and dynamic range.

Speaking on Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth’s podcast, the company’s head of display systems research talked about the enormous gap in brightness between the 100 nits provided by Meta’s market-leading Quest 2 headset and the more than 20,000 nits provided by its Starburst research prototype. The latter can match even bright indoor lighting while far exceeding today’s highest performing high-dynamic range (HDR) televisions, which top out at around 1,000 nits.

Douglas Lanman, Meta’s top display researcher, referred to this gap as what “we most want, but can least deliver right now.” The prototype is so heavy at 5 to 6 pounds with heat sinks, a powerful light source and optics, that looking into Starburst comfortably requires it be suspended from above and held to the face by handles. While we know Sony’s PlayStation VR 2 display will bring HDR to consumer VR for the first time, its exact brightness and dynamic range is unknown.

“You mentioned that you sort of feel your eye responding to it a certain way,” Meta Research Scientist Nathan Matsuda told Tested’s Norman Chan when he tried Starburst. “We know that there are a variety of perceptual cues that you get from that expanded luminance, and part of that is due to work that was done for the display industry for televisions and cinema, but of course when you have a more immersive display device like this where you have wide field of view, binocular parallax and so on, we don’t know if the perceptual responses actually map directly from the prior work that had been done with TVs, so one of the reasons we built this to begin with is so we can start to unravel where those differences are, where the thresholds might be where you start to feel like you’re looking at a real light instead of a picture of a light, which will then eventually lead us to being able to build devices that then content creators can produce content that makes use of this full range.”

For those who missed it, Meta offered an unprecedented look at its prototype VR headset research this week paired with the announcement of a goal to one day pass the “visual Turing test“. Passing the test would mean making a VR headset with visuals indistinguishable from reality. On Bosworth’s podcast, Boz to the Future, Lanman detailed the challenges in advancing VR displays toward this goal in four ways — resolution, varifocal, distortion correction, and HDR — with the last described as perhaps the most challenging to fully achieve.

Lanman:

In these [Starburst] prototypes we’ve built, you look at a sunset… And if we wanna talk about presence, you feel like you’re there. You’re on Maui, looking out at the sun going down and it sets the hairs on your neck up.

So this is the one we most want, but can least deliver right now. Where we’re at is just running studies, to determine what would work? How could we change the rendering engine? How could we change the optics and displays to give us this? But high dynamic range, that’s the fourth, perhaps king of them all.

The Starburst prototype, pictured below, demonstrated an implementation of extremely bright visuals in VR with high dynamic range (HDR), which Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg described as “arguably the most important dimension of all.”

While Starbust’s brightness significantly improves the sense of presence and realism, the current prototype would be “wildly impractical” to ship as a product, as Zuckerberg put it. If you haven’t dived into it yet we highly recommend making the time to watch Tested’s full video above as well as listening to the podcast with Lanman and Bosworth embedded below. As Meta’s CTO said, the prototypes “give you the ability to reason about the future, which is super helpful because it lets us focus.”

We also reached out over direct message to Norman Chan at Tested because his exclusive look at the hardware prototypes, and the comment he made to Zuckerberg that Starbust was “the demo I didn’t want to take off,” suggests HDR is likely to be a critical area of improvement for future HMDs. Where the gap between Quest 2’s angular resolution and the “retinal” resolution of the Butterscotch prototype is 3x, the gap between Starburst’s brightness and a Quest 2 is almost 200x, meaning there’s a larger chasm to cross in brightness and dynamic range before being able to match “pretty much any indoor environment,” as Lanman said of Starburst.

“The qualitative benefits of HDR were striking in the Starburst prototype demo I tried, even though the headset’s display was far from retinal resolution,” Chan wrote to us. “Getting to something like 20,000 nits in a consumer headset is going to be a big technical challenge, but I could see incremental improvements in luminance through efficiencies in display panel transmittance. What excites me is that producing HDR imagery isn’t computationally taxing–there’s so much existing media with embedded HDR metadata that will benefit in HDR VR headsets. I can’t wait to replay some of my favorite VR games remastered for HDR!”

UploadVR News Writer Harry Baker contributed to this report.

Zuckerberg: Meta Pay Is Part Of A ‘Wallet For The Metaverse’

Meta will introduce a digital wallet for use in the metaverse, as part of its Meta Pay (formerly Facebook Pay) service.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the news in a post shared to his Facebook account. Zuckerberg wrote that the company’s existing service, Facebook Pay, is now Meta Pay — in line with the brand changes taking place across the year. Zuckerberg also indicated that Meta Pay will soon include “a wallet for the metaverse that lets you securely manage your identity, what you own, and how you pay.”

He said that this will let you purchase digital items — “digital clothing, art, videos, music, experiences, virtual events” — with some form of proof of ownership. Zuckerberg said this would be important for using those items across different services: 

Ideally, you should be able to sign into any metaverse experience and everything you’ve bought should be right there. There’s a long way to get there, but this kind of interoperability will deliver much better experiences for people and larger opportunities for creators. 

Zuckerberg’s remarks on long-term “interoperability” are intriguing, and could be referencing functionality that works across a wider range of products from different companies, not just Meta. Just a few days ago, plans were announced for a new metaverse standards forum, with participation from Microsoft, Meta, Adobe, Epic Games, Unity, NVIDIA, and much more. This announcement is the latest is a string of updates from Meta and Zuckerberg over the last few weeks. Earlier this week, Meta announced a digital storefront for avatar clothing, coming soon to VR.The company also gave a peek at new research developments for VR display technology, including retinal resolution and HDR prototype headsets.

Vive Flow Gets A Business Edition & Optional Controller

HTC launched the Vive Flow Business Edition this week, an enterprise version of its lightweight immersive viewer headset.

As we covered in our review, Flow is the lightest VR headset on the Western market at just 189 grams. However, it’s a device with fairly niche use cases and some major caveats.

Flow is controlled by your phone as a rotational laser pointer, but that’s obviously not ideal for business use cases so HTC is now selling an optional $59 controller. The controller isn’t positionally tracked either though, it also just acts as a laser pointer. HTC says the controller can also be purchased by consumers.

Importantly, Flow is a tethered headset — to use the headset, it needs to connect to a USB power source. Flow only supports a very small and specific list of Android phones, with no iPhone or laptop support.

The Business Edition also comes with a two-year commercial warranty and an expedited return and replacement system, if needed. On the software side, there’s also ‘Kiosk Mode’ — this allows content to be queued or started remotely, on behalf of the user, and prevents accidentally closure of an experience.

Vive Flow Business Edition is available through Vive’s Business site for $499.

30+ VR Games Still To Come In 2022: Quest 2, PC VR & PSVR

It’s been a pretty decent year for VR so far, but there’s still a huge number of games releasing for Quest, PC VR and PSVR in the second half of 2022.

We’ve compiled a list of every confirmed title below — while some have confirmed release dates or months, there’s quite a few games without a specific date yet. Some just have a season or vague release window, but many others are just scheduled for 2022 without any other specifics.

At the very end, there’s a few games we know are in development, but without any indication of release window. Even if unlikely, a lot of these titles could hypothetically be a surprise release before the end of the year — fingers crossed.

2022 VR Games

Kayak VR: Mirage (June 28) – PC VR

A visually arresting take on kayaking in VR, this physics-driven experience lets you take part in single-player exploration and races across several stunning environments.

Wands Alliances (June 30) – Quest 2

Cortopia Studios follows up on its multiplayer spell-battling game with a new title that features 3v3 matches. Pick your spells and jump into arenas to magical combat with a tactical twist.

Vail VR (Beta, July 1) – PC VR

Competitive VR shooter Vail will be going into beta in July after an extensive alpha testing period.

Moss: Book II (July 21) – Quest 2

While already available on PSVR, this follow-up platformer starring adventurous mouse Quill will come to Quest 2 towards the end of July.

The Twilight Zone VR (July 14) – Quest 2

The Twilight Zone VR will launch with three different tales (or ‘episodes’), each essentially a mini story, that span different genres and are handled by different writers, much like a serialized TV show. A PSVR version will release at a later date — no word on potential PC VR or PSVR 2 releases just yet thought. 

Nerf: Ultimate Championship (August 25) – Quest 2

Nerf: Ultimate Championship brings foam bullet action into VR as a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter. You’ll be able to choose between different blasters and play across control point and arena modes, with some parkour mechanics thrown in for good measure. 

The Chewllers (Summer, Early Access) – Quest

This four-player co-op game will see you stand atop a tower, covering all angles as the horde or Chewllers approaches. Upgrade your weapons and repair your tower between waves to hold out as long as possible. The game will launch in early access for Quest this summer, with PC VR and PSVR releases planned later down the line.

Requisition VR (Early Access in September) – PC VR

Originally slated for a May launch, Requisition VR’s release window has been pushed as the developers relocate staff from Russia and Ukraine. The game is a survival VR zombie shooter, set to launch in early access on PC VR in September, PSVR in Q3-4 and potentially Quest 2 in the future.

NFL Pro Era (Fall) – Quest 2, PSVR

When it launches this fall, NFL Pro Era will be the first officially-licensed NFL VR game, available for Quest 2 and PSVR. It will include all 32 professional NFL teams and will let you embody the quarterback during gameplay.

Espire 2 (November) – Quest 2

This sequel will offer more sandbox stealth with some new features and mechanics, alongside a brand new second campaign designed for co-op multiplayer. It will release in November for Quest 2, but no confirmation for other platforms yet.

Among Us VR (Holiday) – Quest 2, PC VR

Among Us VR brings the viral multiplayer game into VR, where one player embodies the impostor and must murder the other members without arousing suspicion or being discovered. It’s coming to Quest 2 and PC VR during the 2022 holiday period, but there’s no specific date just yet. A PSVR 2 release has also been confirmed for when the headset launches — whenever that may be.

2022 VR Releases – Date TBC

Bonelab – Quest 2, PC VR

This highly anticipated follow-up to 2019’s Boneworks is the next title from Stress Level Zero, launching this year for Quest 2 and PC VR. Bonelab is an action-adventure physics game with a brand new story and “two years of innovation and interaction engine progress” from Boneworks. 

Red Matter 2  – Quest 2

Red Matter 2 will pick up right after the first game ended, taking you back to the mysterious planet plagued by horrific anomalies. You’re now on a rescue mission, searching for an old friend, with more environmental storytelling and puzzle solving. While it’s coming to Quest 2 this year, there’s no word on PSVR or PC VR releases just yet. 

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Retribution – Quest 2, PC VR, PSVR

This Walking Dead follow-up game is set to release on all major headset platforms late this year, giving players a chance to step back into the world with a new map and weapons — including a gore-inducing chainsaw. A PSVR 2 release is also confirmed, but not until next year.

Gambit – Quest 2, PC VR

This co-op VR shooter will see you complete heist-style missions, shooting and looting with your friends through a 20+ hour campaign. It’s coming to Quest 2 and PC VR this year, but no confirmation of other platforms yet.

Killer Frequency – Quest 2

This will be the first VR title developed by Team 17, the acclaimed studio known for the Worms franchise. However, don’t expect a Worms-like game here– instead, this horror-comedy is set in the mid-US in the 1980’s, and casts players as a local radio host that must help the citizens of a small town avoid a mysterious masked killer.

Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom – Quest 2, PC VR

Based around the titular characters of Netflix fame, Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom is being developed by Doctor Who: Edge of Time studio Maze Theory and set for release later this year on Quest 2 and PC VR. It looks like a PSVR 2 release could be in the works too, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer for full confirmation it seems.

What the Bat

What the Bat is a VR follow-up to the flatscreen title What the Golf from Denmark-based studio Triband. You’ll have a bat in either hand, but you won’t be playing baseball — instead, you’ll do just about anything else. The game is coming to Quest 2 and PC VR later this year.

Ziggy’s Cosmic Adventure – Quest 2, PC VR

Ziggy’s Cosmic Adventure is an immersive pilot sim, where you’ll need to balance between ship combat and management while rocketing through space, coming late this year to Quest 2 and PC VR.

Propagation: Paradise Hotel – Quest 2

A sequel to Propagation VR, this single player horror sequel will see you fight in new encounters with all new mechanics. The game will release on “all major VR platforms” but Quest 2 is specifically confirmed for later this year.

Broken Edge – Quest 2, PC VR

This stylish multiplayer game will see two players go head-to-head in swordfighting combat. Developed by Trebuchet and published by Fast Travel Games, it’s coming to Quest 2 and PC VR later this year.

Hubris – PC VR

This stunning VR shooter is coming to PC VR later this year, with Quest and PSVR versions in the works as well.

Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate – Quest 2

The latest game from Tokyo-based MyDearest will see you play as Hal Scion, who will use his ability to access people’s memories to investigate the murder of a futuristic city’s founder. It’s coming to Quest 2 this year, with no confirmation of other headsets yet. It will be an episodic release split in three parts, but the studio aims to have all episodes release by the end of the year. 

Paranormal Hunter

You’ll team up with up to four players in this ghost-hunting multiplayer title, set to release in early access for PC VR sometime this year.

Tea for God

After a long time available as a work in progress on Itch.io, Tea for God will properly launch for PC VR on Steam later this year. No news on whether the Quest version will see a similar full release anytime soon though, but keep an out.

Trial by Teng – PC VR

Solve puzzles and work off your ‘Karmic debt’ as you try to work your way out of hell in this satirical VR title, coming to PC VR headsets sometime this year.

Ultimechs – PC VR

Ultimechs is a pretty simple concept: it’s soccer, but instead of kicking the ball, you’re firing rockets at it from a giant mech. While the game is coming to “major VR platforms”, it’s only confirmed for release on PC VR later this year.

Ruinsmagus VR – PC VR, Quest 2

Play as a novice wizard to become a spell-wielding Magus through 26 narrative-drive quests with full Japanese voice acting. Originally set for a spring release, Ruinsmagus is coming to Quest and PC VR sometime this year.

Vertigo 2 – PC VR

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about upcoming VR FPS Vertigo 2, but it’s seemingly still scheduled for release sometime this year. Hopefully more news is on the way soon.

The Exorcist: Legion VR 2 – Quest 2

The Exorcist VR horror game is getting a sequel with support for cooperative multiplayer. It’s set to launch in late 2022 for Quest 2, but it’s also coming to PSVR 2 at some point post-headset launch as well.

Upcoming Games – No Confirmed Release Window

These games are ones we know about, but have absolutely no release date — not even a rough year window.

It’s hard to say whether most (if any) of these will launch this year, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, hence why we’ve included them.

Assassin’s Creed VR – Quest

Rumored to be titled Assassin’s Creed Nexus, we’ve not heard much about Ubisoft’s upcoming Quest title that will bring the famed franchise to VR for the first time. It could surprise launch later in the year, but we wouldn’t count on it.

Ghostbusters VR – Quest 2, PSVR 2

Ghostbusters VR was revealed at the Meta Gaming Showcase in April this year — a presentation that was prefaced with a message saying all games shown were set to launch within a year.

At the earliest, that means a launch sometime this year, but at the latest, it means a launch by April 2023 . However, it’s still possible the game gets delayed past that — we’ll just have to wait and see.

Horizon: Call of the Mountain – PSVR 2

While not a confirmed PSVR 2 launch title, Call of the Mountain’s release date obviously hinges on when PSVR 2 itself will release. And yes, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that PSVR 2 will launch in 2022 — 2023 seems much more likely now.

But hypothetically, Call of the Mountain could be a PSVR 2 launch title if the headset released this year. Don’t hold your breath though.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – Quest 2

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas Oculus Quest 2

Since it was announced last October, we’ve heard nothing about GTA: San Andreas on Quest. There’s a slim chance it launches later this year. Fingers crossed?

HeliSquad: Covert Operations – PC VR, Quest 2, Pico Neo Link 3

Only recently revealed, there’s no release window for this helicopter game coming from Warplanes studio Home Next Games.

Onward 2

downpour onward quest review header

While Mark Zuckerberg seemingly confirmed Onward 2 is in development, we’ve heard nothing since and there’s been no official announcement yet either. There’s a chance it could be announced and launched later this year, perhaps at Connect, but it’s hard to gauge how far development is.

Splinter Cell VR – Quest

Splinter Cell VRAll we know about this game is that it’s part of the Splinter Cell series and it’s coming to Quest — nothing else. It’s hard to see this releasing in 2022, given Assassin’s Creed seems likely to come first, but with so little information, it’s hard to know either way.

Resident Evil 8 VR & Other PSVR 2 Titles

As we covered above, it’s unclear when the PSVR 2 headset is launching. While a 2022 window is increasingly unlikely, Sony has yet to comment properly on the exact release.

If PSVR 2 were to release before the end of this year, then maybe we could expect Resident Evil 8’s VR support and some other titles to launch with it.


What games are you looking forward to most through the end of 2022? Let us know in the comments.

Quest Summer Sale Offers Up To 40% Off Select Titles

The Meta Quest Summer Sale has begun, offering discounted bundles of games and sale prices for popular individual titles as well.

As usual, there are a couple of bundled packs that give you a discount off multiple games (and will usually adjust the discount to exclude any games you might already own too).

The Sports Starter Park offers a 33% discount three games — Golf+, The Thrill of the Fight and Eleven Table Tennis, bringing the total price down to $36 from $54. Then there’s the Battle It Out pack, offer 28% off Superhot, Gorn and The Walking Dead Saints & Sinners, them down to $56 from $78.

The Multiplayer Favorites pack gives you 9% off A Township Tale, Demeo and Walkabout Mini Golf, down to $35 from $38.50. As is tradition now, there’s also a Vader Immortal pack that gives you all three episodes for $21 — down 29% from $30.

There are also discounts on individual games, ranging from 20% off up to 40%. Here are some of the highlights:

– Unplugged for $14.99, down 40% from $24.99

– Myst for $17.99, down 40% from $29.99

– Ragnarock for $14.99, down 40% from $24.99

– Virtuoso for $14.99, down 25% from $19.99

– Ultrawings 2 for $17.99, down 28% from $24.99

– Jurassic World Aftermath Part One for $17.99, down 28% from $24.99

– Jurassic World Aftermath Part Two for $10.99, down 26% from $14.99

– Stride for $10.99, down 26% from $14.99

– A Township Tale for $6.99, down 30% from $9.99

– After the Fall for $27.99, down 30% from $27.99

– Demeo for $20.99, down 30% from $29.99

– Walkabout Mini Golf for $10.49, down 30% from 14.99

– Eleven Table Tennis for $13.99, down 30% from $19.99

You can view the full list of discounts here, with the sale running for a week, until June 26. There’s also a new daily deal every day, available for just 24 hours, which you’ll have to check back for each day.

It’s not the only VR sale coming up this week either, the Steam Summer Sale begins in just two days. We hope to see some decent deals there as well — stay tuned.

The Story of Unplugged: Bringing Air Guitar To Life In VR

When it comes to hand tracking games on Quest, nothing really comes close to Unplugged.

Developed by Anotherway and published by Vertigo Games in late 2021, Unplugged is an air guitar game, inspired by Guitar Hero and many others, that lets you shred in VR with a virtual guitar and your real hands.

As I’ve said elsewhere, Unplugged leverages Quest’s hand tracking technology to breathe life into the imaginary act of air guitar. In doing so, it takes hand tracking to a whole new conceptual and technological level, surpassing everything else available on Quest.

“From the very beginning, our obsession was to understand how the technology is limited and try to polish that stuff,” says studio director and Unplugged creator Ricardo Acosta. “That was the very first thing. Not the graphics, not even the gameplay.”

After speaking with Acosta in our virtual studio (full video interview embedded above), it’s clear that creating a polished and tangible experience was always the goal. “I think that hand tracking is here for good,” he tells me. “I wanted to create something that worked for real. It wasn’t just another demo.”

Such strong commitment to this new form of input is a big call, especially for Acosta, who spent years as a hand tracking skeptic while working on the HoloLens team at Microsoft. “When I was at Microsoft, I was like an advocate for controllers,” he says with a laugh. “At Microsoft, they are all about hand tracking, but I was like, ‘No guys, we need controllers. Controllers are great.’ And now I’m saying the exact opposite thing.”

“On the first version of the HoloLens … you have hand tracking, but just like the blob. It’s just the hand, not the fingers.” Without full and reliable finger tracking, Acosta came away disappointed and skeptical. “With the HoloLens 2, it was a bit better, but the lag between your movement and the hand was very big, for a lot of technical reasons.”

Even so, Unplugged was first conceptualized in 2015 — well before the advent of any modern VR’s hand tracking functionality. “I remember being in a concert in Prague and I was just like doing air guitar,” he recalls. “And at some point I was like, oh, this is an interaction that could work in VR.”

“As soon as I went back home, I prototyped something … and it totally worked. It was like, oh, this is good. This is something that we could actually turn into a game.” The original idea developed into something akin to Rock Band but for VR, using controllers and the first Vive headsets and Oculus SDKs. Acosta said he quit his job at Microsoft to work on the prototype, titled Rock the Stage, over the course of four months.

“I think that it was pretty good,” he says of the Rock the Stage prototype, of which videos still exist online.  “The best thing it was that it made you feel like you were there.” But Acosta soon ran into a road bump — music games, and particularly the associated licensing, are complicated work. “You need a lot of money. You need a team of people handling all that music licensing. And I didn’t have all that back in the day. So I decided, at some point, to go back to my job.”

After continuing in Microsoft’s VR/AR division for another few years, Acosta revisited the concept in 2020 while bored at home during the pandemic. “Oculus [had] just released the hand tracking system [for Quest] and suddenly it came to me like, ‘Oh my god, I could actually rescue that…prototype and try [see] if it works using hand tracking.'”

Even in the early stages, hand tracking felt like a turning point for the previously controller-only experience. “It worked so well. . .Back in the day with the controllers was nice, but with hand tracking was exactly what it should be.” Acosta adapted his original prototype into something new, ditching controllers for something much more freeing and immersive. “When I put [hand tracking] on the prototype, it wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough for me to start polishing the experience. I knew that with a bit of work and a few algorithms on top of the hand tracking, I could make it work.”

Acosta created a video showcasing the new prototype game and posted it to social media. It soon exploded and attracted a lot of interest, especially from publishers offering funding. After discussions options with a few different publishers, Acosta signed with Vertigo Games. “They offered the best deal. And also they were bigger, and they really had a super nice vision about what the game should be.”

“At first I was a bit scared about it, because it was a super big project. We didn’t have a company together. It was complicated.” What started as a one-man show had to turn into a burgeoning team. Acosta’s wife joined as a project manager and they were then joined by a few others to make up the small studio now known as Anotherway.

“We are six people now, which is not a lot,” he says. “Very recently, we had the opportunity to grow a little bit, but we decided to stay small. I’ve been working in Microsoft for most of my career. That is a very big company and it’s amazing, but I really like working with just a very small amount of people. It’s a very creative environment.”

Working alongside Vertigo, Unplugged quickly developed into a project with bigger ambitions than Acosta had ever imagined. “I’m very conservative in terms of adding features, because I know that anything you add to a project, it will create a lot of problems, a lot of bugs, a lot of things.”

“They pushed for more staff. They wanted more music, they wanted more venues, they wanted more quality on the game and they’ve been always pushing for that. And I think that, in general, the game would have been way smaller without Vertigo,” he says.

In particular, working with Vertigo opened up opportunities when it came to the proposed tracklist. “In the very beginning we were just going for small bands. And then when we signed up with Vertigo they were like ‘No, like indie bands are cool and we will have a few. But we need famous bands.’ And we were like, oh, but that’s going to be super complicated.”

Vertigo sent Anotherway a Spotify playlist and asked them to add any songs they might want in the game. “And we were like ‘Wait, whatever music?'” It was a big mental shift.

The Offspring’s The Kids Aren’t Alright was the first major song that Vertigo and Anotherway secured the rights to. “We were just like jumping, like, ‘Oh my god, we made it.'” The final selection included some massive artists — The Clash, T. Rex, Weezer and Steel Panther, to name a few. “[Music licensing] is a very time-consuming process, and I knew that. So not even in my wildest dreams I would have dreamed about having Weezer or Tenacious D, The Offspring, or Ozzy…”

The inclusion of Tenacious D’s Roadie is particularly special to Acosta — not only is the band one of his favorites, but he had used the song all the way back in 2015 in the very first prototype. However, the song almost didn’t make it into the final game at all.

Vertigo and Anotherway initially struggled to make contact with Tenacious D to secure the rights. However, Vertigo had a trick up its sleeve — Guitar Hero legend Mark Henderson had been brought on board to assist with the game. “He was like, ‘Guys, leave it up to me. I’ll make it happen.’ So somehow he contacted the manager of Tenacious D and started talking to them.”

With Henderson’s help the rights to the song were secured. But another problem emerged — with a PEGI 12 rating, Roadie’s explicit and frequent F-bombs weren’t going to cut it. “So at another point we were like, ‘Okay, we have the song now, but we cannot use it because we are PEGI 12, so we have to take it out from the list.'”

Acosta made his peace with leaving the song off the tracklist but, in his words, “maybe the stars were in a particular position that night.” Henderson was able to get Tenacious D back into the studio to re-record a clean version of Roadie, specifically for Unplugged, excluding all the swearing.

“It was insane,” says Acosta. “Knowing that my favorite band re-recorded a song just for the game. It’s insane. It’s just amazing. And a lot of people have complained about the fact that it’s a different version of the song, without the swearing. But I’m so proud of that. To me, it’s even better because it’s our song.”

With a solid tracklist secured, Acosta and the team at Anotherway set to work on creating an unforgettable and reliable hand tracking experience. “I am a UX designer, so for me, the main important thing on anything is user experience. If the experience is not good, the whole game won’t work, or the whole experience will be shit, and we didn’t want that.”

As a result, the gameplay itself was adapted and designed to work with, not against, hand tracking. Even tiny changes mad a big difference — the size of the guitar in Unplugged, for example, is a bit smaller than a regular, real-life guitar, which helps keep your hands in view of the cameras.

“In the beginning, with hand tracking 1.0, we had to be very aware of your movements,” he explains. “We had to create the mapping so that the music charts in a way that is always aware of the limitations of the technology.”

That meant that at launch, the mapping in Unplugged didn’t always completely follow the music, leading some players to complain that the music and the notes didn’t always line up. “And we knew why, but we couldn’t do anything about it, because the hand tracking was very limited and you couldn’t move your hand that quickly,” he said.

Nonetheless, Acosta remains proud of the experience offered at launch. “In the first version, it was absolutely playable. Obviously it wasn’t perfect, but it was playable. And I think that we proved that you can actually create a hand tracking game that uses hand tracking very intensively.”

Skip forward a few months after launch and the release of Meta’s Hand Tracking 2.0 software offered huge gains for Unplugged. Not only was the technology more reliable than ever, but it was so good that Anotherway went back and re-mapped the entire tracklist for increased accuracy and challenge. “We want the game to be fully accessible for everyone, obviously. But I think that for 98% of people, the game works very well.”

Nonetheless, Anotherway are still implementing algorithms and workarounds to account for error and improve the experience — the latest being an AI system. “We’re using deep learning in order to see where your hands should be or what’s your pose or what’s your intentions. We made all that stuff so [that] when there is a problem with the hand tracking, there is another layer trying to help and trying to make the experience as smooth as possible.”

There’s more to come too. In the short term, Anotherway just released a new DLC pack — featuring songs by metal band Pantera — and are working on an upcoming accessibility update adding new features and “another thing” that is top secret but will be “really big.”

In terms of song selection, there’s definitely more on the way. “We are working to add more music all the time. We want to add free music [as well], not just DLC. Also, I want to add more indie music because I think that there is a lot of really good indie music out there.”

But what about the long term? What does the next year or more look like for Unplugged? “I cannot talk too much about it because Vertigo will kill me,” Acosta says with a laugh. “But our plans are very big. Unplugged is going to become bigger, at least in terms of features…”

“I would be very excited about Unplugged if I knew what’s going to happen. Probably like in a year, Unplugged will be very different. It will have way more stuff. That’s it. That’s all I can say.”

For a game that has already pioneered a new technology on a cutting edge piece of hardware, there could be a lot of interesting developments in Anotherway’s future.

“Unplugged is going to move forward,” Acosta said. “That is for sure. We are not staying still.”


Unplugged is available on Quest headsets and hand tracking-enabled PC VR headsets on Steam. You can read our full and updated 2022 of the game here

Swordsman Launches On App Lab For Quest, Alongside Advanced Combat Update

Originally scheduled for a late May release, melee combat game Swordsman VR is now available for Oculus Quest and Meta Quest 2 headsets via App Lab, alongside the advanced combat update launching for all platforms.

The advanced combat update adds over 1,000 new animations made possible by extensive motion capture and improvements to enemy AI prediction. While the game has been available on PC VR and PSVR for a while already, the update is available now for all platforms, coinciding with the Quest release.

On Reddit, the developers also addressed some promised features that are missing from the update, or features that are now no longer available. SinnStudio said that features like finishers, executions and grabbing enemies’ weapons were “affected by the new combat mechanics in significant ways and sadly, we were unable to complete them in time for the update.”

A Quest release for Swordsman VR was confirmed back in October 2021. Initially, developers SinnStudio wanted a full Quest Store release for the game, but Meta asked the studio to “take the direction of an App Lab release to gauge interest.”

It will be interesting to see whether the game picks up interest from the Quest user base, especially given its similarities to other physics-driven combat titles like Blade & Sorcery. We enjoyed parts of Blade & Sorcery, but also found it lacking in some features and encountered performance hitches on Quest 2. It overall felt “still two or three updates away from really escaping its tech demo roots, and … more like a preview both for what the finished product will look like.”

Could Swordsman VR scratch an itch that Blade & Sorcery: Nomad didn’t quite capitalize on? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

Anotherway Teases More Content & Music For Unplugged

“I would be very excited about Unplugged, if I knew what was going to happen.”

That’s what Anotherway director and Unplugged creator Ricardo Acosta told us in a snippet from our upcoming feature piece detailing the story of Unplugged’s development.

When I asked about Unplugged’s short and long-term future, Acosta revealed few specifics but teased a lot to come. Hot off the reveal of the Pantera DLC pack at the Upload VR Showcase, Ricardo hinted at more releases in the future. “We are working to add more music all the time. We want to add free music [as well], not just DLC. Also, I want to add more indie music because I think that there is a lot of really good indie music out there.”

In the short term, Unplugged will soon receive an accessibility update, adding features that will allow more players to enjoy the game, such as settings to help distinguish notes easier for color blind players. There’s also “another thing” coming in that update, but Acosta kept his lips sealed, only teasing that it’s “really big.” The title is published by Vertigo Games and stands as a stellar example of what’s possible with gameplay tuned for hand tracking input, with big plans over the long term.

“I cannot talk too much about it because Vertigo will kill me, but our plans are very big,” he said. “Unplugged is going to become bigger, at least in terms of features…I would be very excited about Unplugged if I knew what’s going to happen. Probably like in a year, Unplugged will be very different. It will have way more stuff. That’s it. That’s all I can say.”

What are you hoping comes to Unplugged in the next year? Let us know in the comments and keep an eye out for our full feature and video interview with Acosta this weekend.

Sony-Owned Studio Firesprite Moving To A Much Larger Office

As first reported by Video Games Chronicle, the Liverpool-based studio Firesprite is moving to a much larger office, likely indicating some form of expansion.

Firesprite are the developers behind The Persistence, a timed exclusive on PSVR, and The Playroom VR.  Almost a year ago, Sony acquired Firesprite and we later learned that the studio is developing Horizon: Call of the Mountain alongside Guerilla Games.

According to Invest Liverpool, Firesprite and Sony signed a 10-year lease on the new office, located in the Ropewalks district of Liverpool. The new office covers 50,000 square feet – a significant upgrade over the studio’s current office space, which covers just 2,519 square feet

Given the huge upgrade in space, this could signal that Firesprite is gearing up for expansion and potentially taking on more projects in the near future. Sony looks likely to launch PSVR 2 in 2023, and while we don’t have a confirmed release date for Horizon: Call of the Mountain, it could be a launch title.

Regardless of its final release date, Horizon is likely in the latter sections of development. We recently got our best look at the game yet, featuring a full story campaign and a separate river ride experience. With all that in mind, it will be interesting to see what direction Firesprite heads in after Horizon.

We now know that the headset will also be receiving VR support for Resident Evil 8, alongside ‘VR content’ for the upcoming Resident Evil 4 port, as well as a handful of multi-platform releases. You can read about every confirmed and rumored PSVR 2 title here.