Monday, March 02, 2015

With Valve Now Building VR Headset With HTC, Virtual Reality Must Either Go Mass Market Now -- Or Never

Vive is a newly announced VR headset from HTC, it's developed in partnership with Valve, and this is the kind of virtual reality experiences Vive is promising:

More from Engadget:

Despite HTC's involvement, the Vive isn't some smartphone-centric VR contraption like the one Samsung's already created, either. Since it's meant to be a top-tier VR device, it's going to plug straight into your PC for access to all that juicy 3D content. In fact, it's unlikely that a smartphone ever could've provided the horsepower needed to deliver the sorts of experience Valve is after here.

And confirming rumors from last year, here's the clincher:

The Vive's big, titanically huge draw is that it supports full, room-scale environments, so VR explorers can get up out of their seats and walk around the virtual objects in 360 degrees.

As usual, part of me thinks "Whoa", another part of me thinks, "Smells like Teen Spirit." (Because Nirvana's classic came out in 1991, right around the first time VR was being super-hyped.)

One thing is clear: With Valve now directly involved in virtual reality hardware manufacturing, it's now or never for the technology.

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Reddit's /SecondLife Gains Over 2,000 Subscribers, Begins to Become Interesting

SL Subreddit

/SecondLife, Reddit's largest Second Life-related subreddit, recently gained over 2,000 subscribers, and while it's largely been a repository of Spammy/self-promotey blog and YouTube links up until recently, the growing number of users are starting to add more interesting/useful content, especially conversation threads. Here's a few recent favorites:

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Watch Janine Explore the Depths of Sunless Sea in Her First Paste Video Review

Sunless sea video review main
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Still on the fence about trying out Sunless Sea, the roguelike-like(like?) from the developers of Fallen London? Then I have just the thing. Over on Paste Games we've just started dipping our toes into video reviews, offering brief impressions and cut-together action demonstrating recent video games that have caught our eye. First there was Life is Strange, then my good friend Austin Walker's video for Darkest Dungeon. As for me, my very first video for the site focuses on (as I'm sure you've already guessed) the seafaring (or zeefaring) strategy game Sunless Sea.

It was certainly tricky to do, because Sunless Sea is a pretty low-key game. It moves slowly and steadily... It's actually very relaxing to play, except for all the surprising little horrors that it likes to quietly unleash on you. It's definitely not the easiest subject for a 3 minute long video.

So did I pull it off? I'm not sure, but I'll let you be the judge.

If you want to read my written impressions of the game, I wrote about it back when it launched in Steam's Early Access program last summer. Although a lot about the game has changed since then, my impressions have remained pretty much unchanged. For a written review of the game in its finished state, however, PCGamer and Eurogamer both have excellent write-ups.

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Virtual Mondrian Museum Opens March 7! (Partner News)

Virtual Mondrian exhibit

Mondrian 3D is a new virtual art experience from DXmedia, sister company to NWN Partner DXExchange, and as the same suggests, it's a 3D virtual museum presenting the works of the legendary artist Piet Mondrian. It's co-developed by Active Worlds Europe (licensed from the original Active Worlds) and Dr. Marty Bax, a Mondrian expert who is providing art history insights, background stories, and contacts with other experts in the field.

Mondrian 3D launches its first exhibit, "From nature to Nature", on March 7. Click here to register for a free pass.

After the break, contact info and a promo video!

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Top Six New World Notes Posts from Last Week!


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Friday, February 27, 2015

Rod Humble's Cults & Daggers Inspires Deep Thoughts on Religious Belief

Cults and Daggers Religion Game

The Game That Let Me Mourn My Lost Faith is a good long weekend read by Nathan Grayson on Kotaku that as it happens, is how Rod Humble's new Cults & Daggers game inspired Grayson to think long and mournfully about losing his faith. This reflects something Rod told me about the game when it launched: "This is a game about the religions that did not make it and the people who devoutly believed in them. It takes a view point that individuals make a difference in the trajectory of a belief. My hope is that people of faith and non believers will both enjoy it, there is nothing in here which is likely to offend anyone, but some I hope to provoke thought."

For Grayson, thought is often provoked by the game's very user interface:

Religious experiences are, in some ways, as personal as they are universal. The underlying systems [in Cults & Daggers] might function similarly—might even lead to similarly dire ends if misused or mismanaged—but the rest is as much behind your eyes as it is in front of them. Viewed in that light, Cults and Daggers' minimal window dressing functions as a strength. Players can layer their own experiences, their own values, on top of the no-frills menus and numbers. They can think more about the religions they practice or preach. Or the ones they used to.

Grayson mentions the religious aspects of Black & White, the classic PC game lead developed by Peter Molyneux, and as it happens, I once wrote how that game provoked thoughts about religion in its own way:

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Star Trek Fans Remember Leonard Nimoy in Second Life

Leonard Nimoy Second Life Star Trek

Ciaran Laval has a good list of Star Trek-themed places in Second Life that are mourning the loss and celebrating the life of the late Leonard Nimoy. For a time, as Ciaran recalls, the great man's face was literally created as a giant bit map on the Second Life world, which I hope someone does again this weekend. (And if they do, please let me know in Comments.) Until then, take a look at Laval's list here.

Posted at 03:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

High Fidelity is Hiring: Must Love Virtual Reality, Awkward Avatar Baseball, Spinal Tap References

You read that High Fidelity raised $11 million last Wednesday, now here's Philip Rosedale and team making the announcement as High Fidelity avatars:

Read much more on the High Fidelity blog here, including details on who they're hiring:

We are hiring right now for many open positions in engineering, design, and content development – so if you’ve considered diving into VR or wondered whether now it the right time – it is! Our work is fascinating and challenging, with a wide range of components from physics to network streaming to character animation, graphics, lighting, and distributed computing.

Hopefully some of those hires help with avatar puppet manipulation, because I gotta say, it still looks pretty awkward and off-putting. I know it's seriously impressive from a technical perspective that High Fidelity is already doing real time animation with lip sync with multiple avatars, but anyone who doesn't know that (i.e. most of the world) will probably find it off-putting. (Then again, that's what the money's for.)

Oh, in case you're wondering why Philip's post is called "This one goes to 11", it's from this:

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Posted at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Iconic Second Life Designer Nylon Pinkney Tells All in the Latest Episode of The Drax Files

Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

For those of us who regularly watch Draxtor Despres' Linden Lab-sponsored mixed-reality mini-documentary series, The Drax Files: World Makers, this particular episode has been a long time coming. Draxtor finally got the chance to sit down with Nylon Pinkney, offline wedding photographer and online fashion designer, and neither of them disappoint.

Nylon Pinkney has been one of Second Life's most popular (and esoteric) creators for years now. From the Deimos Boardwalk to Tableau, her distinct painted technique and vibrant style have been a mainstay of Second Life for the better part of a decade. Because of this I was pretty excited to see what she had to say...

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