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@TurtleRock Studios Delves into #VR with “Face Your Fears” and “Other Worlds” for the Gear VR

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It can be a struggle for independent game studios to prove themselves in a world where corporate gatekeepers exist. Though this shouldn’t deter any aspiring developers, and with interactive virtual reality content essentially being a new thing for the public marketplace, this will afford another opportunity for independent game studios to prove their worth.

Speaking of studios on the grind that has recently developed for VR, Turtle Rock Studios has announced their development of two game for the Samsung Gear VR. For those who does not recognize them, Turtle Rock is an American studio founded in 2002 by ex-Westwood Pacific developer, Michael Booth and now currently ran jointly by Phil Robb and Chris Ashton, after having a brief one year stint with Valve Corporation(2008-2009). They are the original creators of Left 4 Dead and Evolve.

Now they’re working on a immersive horror and exploratory experiences. Face your fears can be likened to “Don’t Let Go(Yorick van Vliet),” where the gameplay focuses around you facing horrifying events. They’ve incorporated an eye-tracking element to it, where depending on where you are focusing your attention, will depend on how the game will scare you. Two of the in-game experiences they announce is Skyscraper(targeted towards acrophobes), and the Haunting(targeted towards phasmophobes).

To balance out this experience, they are also coming out with Other Worlds, which is similar to the experience of Ali Eslami’s re-interpretation of Rene Magritte’s Paintings, except you’ll get to explore the creative mind of artist Justin Cherry. Those this world is much more active, as explained by them “Other Worlds allows players to experience the awe and beauty of being inside a painting, showcasing three unique worlds… and explore the environment long enough and the player may see one of many random events tailored to the world they’re currently in.”

So if you own the Gear VR and want to experience some triple-A content, make sure you add these games to your VR to-do list. Meantime, in-between time you can chat it up on their forums or connect with them via Twitter @TurtleRock.

Thanks for reading!

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@NinjaTheory Releases First Person Shooter #VR game DEXED on SteamVR

It’s been barely a year since Hi-end VR headsets hit the mainstream. Within this time-frame, there have been plenty of content, exhibiting the various ways immersive media can utilized. With much prediction and researchers pointing towards 2020 being the year mixed reality content will become common place, which makes sense that development studios are joining the VR bandwagon, in order to build the skill-set and portfolio to build comfortable and immersive experiences.

Speaking of studios, Ninja Theory has recently released their first immersive game for the HTC Vive. Ninja Theory is a AAA game development studio, first founded in 2004 and powered by Nina Kristensen(Chief Development Director), Tameem Antoniades(Chief Creative Director) and Jez San OBE (Non-Exec Director), who have had the opportunity to partner with Sony Entertainment(Heavenly Sword), Namco Bandai(Enslaved: Odyssey to the West) and Capcom(DmC: Devil May Cry). They’ve also developed Senua Studio, which allows entertainment professional to control digital characters live.

To steady for the growing demand for hi-quality replayable immersive content, they’ve produced first-person dual shooter VR game, “DEXED(a.k.a. DEXterity.” DEXED was born from 8 developers within 3 months, as part of game jam. Objective of the game is to rack up points as you blast through element sensitive enemies. With one tracking controller or gun being optimized by fire and the other by ice, you must successfully take out ice and fire enemies with the right elemental projectiles, while coasting through various terrain.

What brings extreme replayability for the game, besides the various detailed combat environments, is your ability to post your scores on global and friendly leaderboards. As commented by a Steam member, “If you consider this game has been pulled together in only three months by a team of 8 persons, I find it rather fantastic. The game is very polished, the animation of the boss is very nice, the environments are splendid.” The only thing to consider, before investing 10 dollars into DEXED is whether you can stomach moving on a rail in VR.

Surely as demand for entertaining content in VR grows, Ninja Theory will utilize their assets and may even partner up with other studios to create high quality immersive games. Til then, you can purchase their game on SteamVR or connect with them via Twitter @NinjaTheory.

Thanks for reading!

@HVSGames is Upping the Ante On VR First Person Shooter Games with @DamagedCore

It is great to see development studios taken up the task of creating entertaining and captivating VR content. Who’d blame them? With the amount of space to develop in exponential increased and an unparalleled way to immerse people in the very environments they create, it would be a fools errand to not develop for the VR platform.

This brings me to High Voltage Studio. Since 1993, the studio has built a portfolio of over 90 developed games for emerging entertainment platforms, including Mortal Kombat X, Zoombies, Saints Row IV: Gat at of Hell and The Conduit. Now they are developing for the next-level of media interfaces: Virtual Reality.

The first VR game to come from High Voltage was ‘Dragon Front.’ If you like the idea of collecting cards and seeing them come alive in battle, this is a game to check out. Built for the Oculus Rift, your objective is to protect your kingdom by building a formidable deck, which could include knights, airplanes, war machines or fire breathing dragons. The battle takes place on a 4×4 grid, where you watch your cards in action.

Though, if you wants something a little more action packed, which involves you and an arsenal of weapons, then ‘Damaged Core’ is the game. Damaged Core is High Voltage second VR game to be released on the Oculus Store. The game takes place in an dystopian future, where an A.I. known as ‘Core’ is taking over robots to extinct mankind.

The gameplay of ‘Damaged Core’ is something to admire, as it takes what is perceived as weakpoints in VR gameplay and turns it into a necessary element. If you’ve played any first-person-VR game that requires you to move, you usually teleport as a means of movement, which can feel limiting. With Damaged Core, as an A.I. or software, you must ‘teleport’ or hack into different robots or mechanical devices in order to stay alive and take out the malicious A.I., Core.

Overall, with highly detailed environments, interesting storyline and well thought game mechanics, Damaged Core, as well as, Dragon Front is worth your VR to-do list. Currently it is available for Oculus Rift owners. You can stay up to date with High Voltage current developments via Twitter @HVSGames.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your take on High Voltage VR endeavors with with a comment below:)

IKinema is Putting the Body Back in Virtual Reality with IKinema Runtime

For those of us who have played virtual reality games, in which we are the character, we only see hands or tools to manipulate the objects in the world and not the characters body. This is known as the ‘Invisible Man Syndrome.’ Even though most of us feel immersed in the VR games we do play, that aspect of a missing body to fully connect with the games or CGI environment does take a little bit away from the immersive nature of our experiences.

This brings me to a well recognized motion-capture software development company, known as IKinema. Established in 2006 and based in the United Kingdom, IKinema has served prominent media entertainment studios, such as Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Microsoft, Square Enix and LucasArts.

Just recently, IKinema CEO Alexandre Perchev announced, “The body is back in the game. With Runtime for VR, developers can now create within minutes much more advanced experiences in which the body interacts accurately with the environment. They’ll be able to look down and see a complete, animated body within their virtual environment that accurately syncs with weaponry and props.”

Since the announcement, VR game development studio Impulse Gear began developing the first VR game, Farpoint, which will utilize IKinema RunTime VR to add that extra immersiveness to the game. The game is coming exclusively to Sony PlayStation VR, though the software is designed to work with Microsoft, Sony and VR compatible platforms.

On top on IKinema Runtime VR, they are also perfecting an software which will allow CGI characters and environments to react naturally to your voice. In other words, voice-activated animation. Imagine having a body in VR and being able to literally talk to in-game characters who respond naturally to what you’re saying. That sort of development will ultimately have people spending unprecedented time in VR.

There is already an established base of developers that utilizes IKinema Runtime, so it is only a matter of time until you will see the body of the avatar you inhabit in virtual reality. To learn more about how this would benefit developers and gamers, go ahead and read their post IKinema Banishes ‘Invisible Man Syndrome’ for VR Animation Gameplay.

Skonec VR Developed One of the First Virtual Reality Arcade Gun Shooting Game titled Mortal Blitz VR

It is evident, since the advent of virtual reality headsets, that developers have been experimenting and producing content for these immersive interfaces. In order for VR to reach mass appeal, there will need to be an ever-flow of hi-quality content for people to experience. For such quality content to be made, developers and artist must experiment with various and seemingly endless ways to create unique and refreshing experiences for virtual reality.

This is why Korean virtual reality studio, Skonec Entertainment, deserves some recognition. Skonec is a game development studio that has switched their objective to creating the next wave of virtual reality gaming. They have partnered up with leading companies, such as TAITO Corporation, SEGA, Adways, Samsung and Oculus VR to make their ambitions a reality.

To demonstrate their dedication to the new marketplace, they created one of the first arcade gun-shooting games for VR, titled “Mortal Blitz VR.” Initially built for the Samsung Gear VR, the game was optimized to prevent motion sickness and nausea, which tends to be an ongoing issue for comfortable extended VR use.

Mortal Blitz VR falls between science fiction and horror. This was a thought out decision since the genres “are popular content for arcade gun shooting game.” Because hi-paced highly animated VR games can start to set in motion sickness and nausea, they solve this problem by implementing relaxing investigative scenes between each skirmish. Such implementation, means longer uninterrupted gameplay in virtual reality.

Since the release of Mortal Blitz for Samsung Gear VR in Q4 of 2015, it is considered to be the first VR arcade gun-shooting game. Skonec also has Fanta VR and Idol Universe VR stashed in their portfolio. When it comes to providing a social impact, Skonec believes virtual reality will transform the way educate ourselves, which will gives kids that live in low-income areas an opportunity to affordable education.

Visite Skonec’s website to learn more and keep up to date with their latest developments.

Anshar Studios Develop A First of it’s kind PvP Intergalactic Virtual Reality Game

When the maturing of virtual reality first hit the mainstream knowledge, the sort of content showcasing this new-found interface was solo experiences. It showed that VR allowed you to visit your own personal theatre and watch a movie of your choice without actually going anywhere. It showed you can travel to different landmarks around the world without actually leaving the comfort of your own chair. You could even get knee-deep into gaming and come out with a refreshed definition of immersion. But what about the social aspect or the competitive player vs player that some of us desire. This brings me to Anshar Studios.

Anshar Studios is a game development company founded by the veterans of City Interactive games. The team is packed with dedicated minds who has hi-level experience in the fields of programming, design, production coordination and art. With this immense skill-base, they perform necessary services for companies, such as producing a fully developed game that is built for virtual/augmented reality. Depending on the company’s need, they implement Unreal Engine, Unigine and Unity technologies for platforms that include Playstation 4, Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.

With their expertise and game development experience, Anshar Studios decided to create their own Virtual Reality experience, titled “Detached.” You are the sole survivor of a corporation that was decimated by it’s rival, “over a discovery at a mining facility.” The studio was going for a less chaotic approach to the classic game of capture-the-flag, which forces you to strategize in order to survive and outmaneuver your opponent and not solely rely on your shooting ability.

As written by UploadVR, “This is where Detached’s best fun is to be had, turning into a zero-gravity game of cat and mouse,” therefore laying “a solid foundation for a unique multiplayer VR game in Detached.”

Detached is planned to be released in the first quarter of 2017, for Steam VR and Oculus. You do have the option to view the game on your monitor, if you need a break from VR. It’s not definite but they are considering making the game compatible for Playstation VR, once it is released. Even though this outer-space VR puzzle game will be available Q1 of 2017, you can pre-order the game through G2A.com.

HELM Systems Develops Creative Fantasy Role-Playing Game Virtual Reality Game ‘The Soulkeeper VR’

There is much content to be explored for virtual reality. There some horror games, 360 degree videos, social platforms, sandbox environments and on the list go. As the VR marketplace continues to grow and mainstream audiences find their own use for this immersive interfaces, the type of content available for virtual reality will undoubtedly expand seven folds.

Helm Systems is part of the businesses entering the VR marketplace, adding virtual reality fantasy gameplay to the mix. It is no doubt, that RPG games like Bloodbourne, The Witcher or Elder Scrolls, is dear to some of us gamers who look forward to becoming magical creatures or skilled swordsman through virtual reality.

Thanks to Helm Systems, The Soulkeeper VR is a fantasy VR RPG game we should add to our VR to-do list. This is a VR spin-off from their open-world episodic flat-game, The Soulkeeper. Part of the inspiration in making this game, is to mimic the way TV episodes are released, providing more depth about characters and the impact of their choices. Some of these characters come from the Nordic race, monastic brotherhood and other historical cultures.

Founder and President of HELM Systems, Myron Mortakis stated, “Every episode will feel like a whole game, because each will feature different regions… we want people to be able to roam the universe. With each episode, you unlock new regions, and each one will have a whole bunch of locations. By locations, I mean anything from a simple dungeon to a huge city.”

They expect this game to not be your traditional style open world RPG, incorporating innovative game mechanics and inventive story progression. OnlySP has a great article with Myron Mortakis and Micheal Poropat (Press Release) giving their insight about the influence and direction of the game.

The Soulkeeper VR was developed for the room-scale VR system HTC Vive, and powered by Unreal Engine 4. As you enter The Soulkeeper’s universe, you inhabit the body of a warrior or avatar of your liking. Following the same gameplay as their flat-game, you’ll have to solve puzzles and fight unholy creatures, but with both of your hands. One hand with a staff and the other with a sword.

In order to caste fireballs, you’ll have to wave your arms around and create rune-like symbols in the air with you staff. As for piercing enemy body armor, you’ll have to utilize the space in your room and be quick on your feet. This game is one the first of it’s kind, bringing another style of experience to the VR platform.

You can subscribe to Soulkeeper’s newsletter to learn more about the game or visit HELM Systems website to see the staff behind the scene. As mainstream adapts VR for their own purposes, it will be important and necessary for role-playing-games like these to satisfy the human curiosity of being someone or something else.

SkyDome Studios Enters the Virtual Reality Marketplace with Scare Tactics and Music-Generated Gameplay

SkyDome Studios is a truly independent development studio, for the main fact that is is ran by one individual by the name of Yorick van Vliet. Yorick has a bachelors degree in Media Technology, which equips him with the ability to perform all parts of the game development process, from programming to art and sound.

Yorick quit his fulltime job to start-up SkyDome studios, so that he could pursue his ambitious desire to enter the virtual reality market by the time the consumer-edition of the Oculus Rift was released. Even though his first experience with VR headsets, as with many others, brought fatigue and nausea, he felt it was going to be a ground-breaking way to experience media content in a new way.

The first experimental virtual reality game he developed was “Don’t Let Go!” in 2013. The success of the game made it the finalist in the IndieCade VRJam 2013. The objective of the game is to not let go of pre-designated keys on the keyboard while flies swarm you, a raptor roams around you and spiders crawl on you. The unexpected reactions from people playing “Don’t Let Go!” was a sure sign that VR gameplay was going to provide a new way for people to experience games.

Through this experience and his intent to enter Oculus Mobile VR Jam 2015, Yorick went on to create prototype VR game “Audio Arena,” with the help of Dylan Nagel as the voice actor and Farijal Emanuels as the lead tester.

Audio Arena is a music-generated game, where enemies spawn and move at the sound of the beat. Enemies are little circular dots that come in red, yellow and purple colors. And you are a arrow, with the duty of avoiding these malicious balls and piercing into a area-of-effect bubble that destroys the enemies.

In order to move your arrow, you utilize your VR HMD head-tilt inputs to navigate through the music-generated 360-degree environment. You can pick up power-ups and gain bonus points by bobbing to the beat of the songs. At the end of the game, your score is recorded.
Audio Arena went on to become a bronze winner at the Oculus Mobile VR Jam 2015. The prototype game is now a fully developed VR game for the Gear VR and Oculus Rift for $4.99. You can learn how he developed this game on his blog about “Generating Gameplay From Music.

SkyDome Studios is also for hire for delivering prototype designs for company or individual projects. He can program Unity projects with C# and use his experience in virtual reality production to help projects avoid pitfalls and utilize best practices for VR content. For of course, at a affordable price.

SkyDome Studios and Yorick van Vliet has to be recognized in the emerging marketplace, for his determination in creating comfortable and entertaining content for VR, which will play a crucial role in the implementation of VR headsets for the mainstream audience. It is truly impressive for one guy to take a leap of faith in this undefined marketplace, just like the creator of “ThunderBirds.” Go ahead and visit SkyDome’s website to view the full portfolio.

ZeroTransform Studio: Pioneer in Virtual Reality Gaming Experiences

When it comes to dedication in bringing the virtual reality industry to life, ZeroTranform is a superb example of it. Lead developer and Founder, Justin Moravetz, found himself departing his career in game production nearly ten years ago, to pursue the development of virtual reality. This reminds me of how InnerVision VR was started, where it’s founder dropped his job to pursue virtual reality, once he first heard about the promise of the Oculus Rift. Since then, major players have been getting prepared for their product launches for 2016.

The flagship game that sailed ZeroTransform into the deep waters of VR was Proton Pulse. The game went into immediate production when Oculus Rift DK1 was announced. Proton Pulse is a ping-pong style game that takes place on a 3D plane.
A mysterious entity by the name of M.O.A.I. has attacked your world and the only way to stop this creature is to paddle a Proton ball straight into the M.O.A.I. core. There are over 50 vibrant levels to traverse to beat the malevolent M.O.A.I. The game is currently available on Google Play, Steam and the Oculus Store.

Vanguard V is another spectacular game produced by ZeroTransform. “Driven by music, story, and innovative VR design, Vanguard V is a celebration of gameplay to welcome Virtual Reality to the world.” You enter the game as Qu, whos primary objective is to exterminate the source of parasites from planet, before they completely annihilate Earth’s inhabitants.

You’ll start off in outer space and slowly make your way to the core of Planet Earth. Just like Proton Pulse, the interface is pretty straightforward. There is no need to press any buttons while in-game. Through the use of head-tracking tech, you dodge income projectiles through the tilt of your head and shoot enemies by simply looking at them. The full version of the game will also be available through Google Play, Steam and the Oculus Store.

The team behind the development of Proton Pulse and Vanguard V includes Justin Spice (Concept Art/Art Direction), Callyn Dorval (Voice Actress), Joey Groeneweg (Screenplay Writer/ Voice Actor), Jake Kaufman (Composer /Sound Designer), Athey Moravetz (Character Design/Rigging), Jeffrey Hawthorne (Lead Coder), Gary Spindrad (Principle Sound Designer) and Justin Moravetz (Founder/Chief Developer & CEO).
The advisors to ZeroTransforms studio includes Scot Bayless (Business, Infrastructure, Financial), Doug Beck (Optical Tracking Systems), Micheal Lenzi (B2B VR), Jon Brouchoud (B2B VR) and Karl Krantz (Marketing & Media).

With the collaboration of these brilliant minds, they are able to develop engaging VR applications for immersive interfaces, such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Cardboard, PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR platforms and their related distribution platforms. If you have a VR need, you can turn to them for development, whether it be for gaming, education, business, tourism, sports, telecommunication, etc. The team has been developing VR applications for over ten years and is willing to work with you to bring your ideas to life.

Needless to say, ZeroTransform is a pioneer in developing VR gaming applications. You can learn more about Zero Transform on their website or by contacting them. Go ahead and try out Proton Pulse for yourself. You are sure to have an eye-opening experience.

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