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Dante Buckley’s Studio Downpour Interactive is Producing the Popular Online Mutlipalyer #VR Game “Onward”

It’s barely been half a year since the release of hi-end VR interfaces, such as HTC Vive and StarVR, and there is already an army of developers, artists and enthusiasts who is creating the very foundation of future VR experiences. In a previous post, I made a statement about the success of the VR marketplace relies on skilled developers to pave the pathway. This doesn’t necessarily mean those with over ten years of development experience, but also those who have fortified their talent with grounded knowledge.

This brings me to Downpour Interactive. This studio was created from the ambitious desire of an college drop-out, known as Dante Buckley. With a little tuition, he invested in developing his very own game, titled “Onward.” After a year of development, and finally released on Steam Early Access, Onward has received over 700 reviews on Steam, averaging out to “Very Positive” gaming experience and boasts a steady 50 players online at any given moment, which cannot be said for most online VR multiplayer games on the market.

Onward is an online multiplayer first person shooter game built for VR HMDs. It is a real-world simulation, where player must rely on coordination, communication and markmanship skills for finishing objectives successfully. There are no HUDs, no handicap crosshairs and limited respawns, giving the game its edge. With multiple maps, varying weather conditions and times of day, each match tests your combat skills and requires team cooperation.

Since it’s development, Onward grossed over $400,000, which is pretty impressive, being developed primarily by one person. Dante also created a blog tracking his progress, which includes implementation of weapon customization, new objectives, motion control inputs and Early access. In an Skype interview with UploadVR, regarding a question about comfort level, he states, “I got lucky with how people don’t really get sick. People that get sick in other games don’t seem to get sick in Onward.” A definite barrier he’s managed to overcome in a VR experience.

With Onward having an active fan base and continuous growth in popularity, Dante is currently hiring for other talented people to join his team in ensuring steady success for Downpour Interactive. The game is still in development, but you can purchase the game on Steam for $24.99. If you want to learn more about the direction he plans for his studio, go ahead and contact him.

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@GameCoder_Team Creates Macabre-style #VR Game “Sophie’s Guardian”

The early days of the immersive marketplace, is just like the early days of any innovative tech that has revolutionized the way we live. There is much experimentation, criticism, creative ideas, investments and leap of faith, all culminating into a standard and various niche content for what we know as virtual/augmented reality. VR/AR seed has been planted years ago, but now we finally get to see what grows from it. Speaking of a niche content, there’s a studio who is adding there own unique immersive experience.

Game Coders Studio is a game development studio located in Guanajuato, Mexico, who has been partnered up with Bandai Namco, Sony Interactive and Renderfarm. They utilize different game engines, including Unity, Unreal and Lodestone, which is used to produce content for PC, consoles, mobile and VR platforms. In partnership with Renderfarm Studio, they have created an immersive macabre-style game, titled “Sophie’s Guardian.”

Sophie Guardian follows a vigilante teddy bear, after a nine-year-old girl and her mother move to an aged house on the outskirts of town. As Sophie explores the house, bringing her gruffy teddy bear along, she finds a eerie room with etched walls and forgotten things. As Sophie’s Guardian, “Griff” the teddy bear, you must protect Sophie from the thins that bump in the dark.

As a gunslinging stitched-up Teddy bear named “Griff,” there are three different game modes that you can take on. Guardian mode is liken to story mode, where you must protect Sophie from the evil dolls. If you want to put your skills to the test, Gunslinger mode puts your accuracy and reflexes on edge with ever-increasing hordes. To bring your friends in on the action, Puppeteer gives your friends the power to unleash the horde on you.

With it being available on Steam, there are several achievements you can strive for. Such achievements include Insomnia(where you must survive 9 minutes as Gunslinger), I’m the Juggernaut( where you must kill 500 club dolls) and First Blood(where you must kill your first doll). Completing all these achievements will definitely make you Sophie’s true Guardian. You can check VRFocus compiled list in one of their posts.

Overall, Game Coders Studio has definitely made an unforgettable experience in VR with “Sophie’s Guardian.” And with it’s game style, with waves of enemies testing your might, it institutes high replayability, with you wanting to top your local and global leaderboards. The game is currently available on steam, but hopefully it will be made available for all VR platforms to enjoy. You can keep up-to-date on developments by following them on Twitter @GameCoder_Team.

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The Creator of Worms @Team17Ltd is Releasing Their Debut #VR Game “Lethal VR”

I do believe, even though there is much enthusiasm for immersive media, like virtual reality, it is going to be necessary for established and skilled developers to pave the pathway for future VR experiences, when everyone finally begins to embrace VR interfaces as a useful medium. Some of the experienced and skilled studios I’ve had the pleasure to write about include StireFire, Fierce Kaiju, Turtle Rock, Funomena and JanusVR. Which brings me to Team17.

Team17 is a long-standing game development studio, with over 25 years of experience, who is well known for their popular Worms franchise. You know, the game where you and your friends are gun-toting, bomb-tastic, rocket-aiming sweet little earthworms, who’s main objective is to blow the other worm off the map. Me and my friends use to play this game hours on end, months on end.

In partnership with Three Fields Entertainment, they are planning a release for their debut VR game, Lethal VR. As the name implies, you are lethal, but towards props. The game is meant to revitalize the classic arcade shooter games. You are placed in a shooting-range setting, where various props appear, where you must exercise precision and timing, while avoid hitting friendly targets, such as civilians.

In a room-scale experience, there are various locations to try out your gun skills, ranging from an futuristic shooting range to an old-western town. As seen by their trailer, you’ve the option to dual-wield pistols or if you want to practice being a ninja, shoot shurikens. Basically, Lethal VR let’s you practice being the hero action star you always wanted to be. The game is currently scheduled to be released for the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.

Asides from their first ever immersive game, “Lethal VR,” they also invite gamers to test out unreleased games through their Usability Lab. So if you’re want your thoughts to count on their next game release as well as giving construction criticism on their next VR release, go ahead and sign up. Team17 has definitely developed a fun and professional reputation, which will be exciting to see what other immersive games they come out with, hopefully. You can connect with Team17 on Twitter @Team17Ltd.

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Say Hello to @PrologueVR, a Developer and Graphic Artist in the #VR field

The very foundation of virtual reality is being realized at this very moment. Countless developers, artists and enthusiast have taken up the torch to light the way for the future of human interactivity in the digital world. With the recent release of Playstation VR to it’s core gamers, there is inevitably going to be a positive flux in VR adaption and new-found enthusiasm in experiencing media in an extraordinary way.

Speaking of extraordinary experiences in VR, Prologue Immersive has been making their mark in this growing industry. Based in Venice, CA, the studio was founded by Kimberly Cooper(CEO) and Kyle Cooper (Designer), who original founded Prologue, their independent company focused around the two-D cinematic screen. Their work can be seen in American Horror Story, XMEN, Sherlock Holmes, Iron Man 1&2 and Bungies game “Destiny.”

With an insurmountable years of experience in developing hi-quality graphic designs for major entertainment and production studios, Prologue states by “by using our ‘pure imagination,’ we are determined to offer content that will exemplify all the possibilities of the new VR / AR medium.” To help guide them in this endeavor, they have Hideo Kojima who heads Kojima Productions responsible for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Mike Viola who is the Principal Technologist at NASDAQ, as advisers by their side.

They also had the unique opportunity to try out the popular VR headsets, including Google Cardboard, Samsung GearVR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Microsoft Hololens, and a well-rounded understanding of CryEngine, Unreal Engine 4 and Unity. Through their wealth of knowledge, they’ve have been creating VR content for education and entertainment.

One such educational experience they’ve produced is “Science360,” for the Gear VR. They wanted to make visualizing hypothetical and hard-to-imagine situations much more easier by placing the students within these situations. For instance, instead of student’s using their Mind’s Eye to imagine what it’s like to travel at the speed of light, students can actually experience that scenario. Science360 has had positive reviews by VRJam and Engadget.

They’re latest immersive experience can be seen on JauntVR, titled “Memos from Hell.” If you like macabre stuff, you’ll definitely find this 360 film entertaining. As explained on Jaunt, it “is a VR film series that revolves around a graduating class of ‘Tempters’-devils trained to harvest their victims’ souls.” One cool aspect, which helps with the 360 experience, is you are the entree on the table, surrounded around demons talking about the collection of souls. Though this film is not for the weak minded.

Overall, Prologue has been creating some very impressive immersive content. As is agreed with many developers and enthusiast, if VR plans to move forward out of the niche realm to mainstream and wide-spread use, there will need to be varying kinds of content to appeal to a wide range of people, and Prologue Immersive is definitely at the forefront of facilitating this adoption. To keep up with them, you can follow them on Twitter @PrologueVR.

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@SecretSorcery is Releasing Their Fantastical Debut #VR Game “Tethered”

When the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive finally made it to the public marketplace, many were overwhelmed by the computer requirements and the price barrier they presented. Most people do not own an hi-end gaming computer, which meant for them, it would be around an $2500 investment. With the release of Playstation VR, it will be a lot easier for people to explore immersive content, especially with PS4 units in millions of homes. For these owners, it’s really about an $500 investment, and with the content coming out, will be very well worth it.

With that said, I would like to recognize one studio who is bringing gamers into the clouds. Established in 2015, Secret Sorcery is an independent British game development studio who has found an keen interest in virtual reality. Powered by experienced developers, the studio has been working on original immersive content, which includes their debut VR title, “Tethered.”

Tethered is an third-person strategy-based game, which takes place in the clouds. You are an spirit guardian who has awakened to see your land and it’s peeps ravaged by the creatures of the night. The archipelago your land is part of, has suffered the same fate, with each island’s spirit guardian held prisoner at the Nexus Totem’s. With such despair, the inhabitants of the floating islands have fell into a suicidal depression. Your objective: Free the Spirit Guardians and restore Hope.

Following the basics of an strategy game, you are in charge with building structures and upgrading the peeps. You’ll have access to various structures like the Moot Hall, Barracks and Workshop which in turn can be upgraded to other specialized structures. For example the Moot Hall can be upgraded to a Tavern or Hatchery. Speaking of Hatchery, eggs will spawn, which will add to your workforce, but beware as eggs do rot. Once enough Spirit Energy has been collected, the island’s Spirit guardian is freed from the Totem.

As most developer know when creating for VR, is keeping the experience comfortable. So Secret Sorcery implemented the standard teleportation method with an gods-eye-view. There are clouds placed around the floating islands, that can be pointed and teleported to, which provides you with a different view of the island. They’ve also employed an more intuitive interface, with a click-and-click approach. If you need a peep to hatch an spawned egg, click on the peep, then click on the egg.

The world of tethered took it’s inspiration from Hayoa Miyazaki, the master artist behind “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” Reason for this, is they wanted “a fantastical setting [which]… would free us up from the constraints of reality, offering up a magical world that surrounds the player as they step into VR.” In order to achieve this, they turned to their friend skilled in creating fantastical settings, Espen. They provided him with the base concept art, and he would refurbish it into something of beauty. Originally, Tethered was imagined as islands grounded by a planet, rather than a magical floating archipelago, until Espen came along.

Needless to say, Tethered will offer a unique experience, when it comes to visuals and gameplay. If strategy games are your thing, or simply looking for cool worlds to explore in VR, then this game is definitely a must for your VR to-do list. Tethered is currently available as a pre-order for Playstation VR. To follow updates and developments, you can connect with the studio on Twitter @SecretSorcery.

Thanks for reading!

@MaximumGames and Untold Games Develops Futuristic Intergalactic #VR Game “Loading Human” for Playstation VR and Oculus Rift

Having own the HTC Vive for some time now(more like a few months), I don’t see how anyone who doesn’t own one of these majestic interfaces can criticize it. Fact is, it act as an portal to the places you want to visit the most. Whether it be seeing the Eiffel tower full-scale or witnessing the Avenger’s Tower under siege “in-person.” Virtual reality provides a great opportunity for developers to experiment with space and storytelling.

Speaking of storytelling, Maximum Games and Untold Games have partnered, to develop the technologically advanced world of “Loading Human.” Maximum games, as described by them, “a boutique publisher of quality electronic entertainment.” Untold games, founded in 2013 and backed by a team of professional developers and artists, follows the ideas and imagination of Creator Director, Flavio Parenti. Together, they are exploring the future of storytelling.

Loading Human follows the protagonist, Prometheus Baarick, who’s dying father, Dorian Baarick, is requesting him to venture on an intergalactic mission to retrieve an energy source, the Quintessence. But his romantic interest in Dorian’s assistant, Alice, will have him contemplating about this task at hand. “Loading Human dives deep into complex questions of familial and romantic love, duty and sacrifice, science and romance.” It’s a future where technology distorts reality.

The studios plans to make this an episodic adventure, where each DLC will delve into each characters perspective, providing players a complete understanding of the technologically advanced world and the dynamic relationships taking place within it. You’ll explore memories of their past and witness their future.

The game takes inspiration from classic adventure games like Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island. If you like exploring, which VR definitely prompts you to do so, there will be various sceneries to check out, as well as puzzles to solve, adding another dynamic to the immersive game.

Loading Human is currently available for order, which you can find available retailers on their site. If you plan on owning or’ve purchased the PSVR, then this is a game definitely worth looking into. You can follow new developments and connect via Twitter @MaximumGames.

Thanks for reading!

@PenroseVR Studio Has Utilized Stop-motion Animation in their Hand-crafted #VR Film “Allumette”

When we’re binge watching a TV show or read a book, most of us imagine being inside the world of the characters or even being one of the characters themselves. What if we don’t have to imagine being in the story, but actually be in it? Maybe you can guess where I’m hinting, because the realm of virtual reality makes this possible. It makes experiencing the stories we love to hear and watch, nearly tangible. This brings me to one studio who is helping to make this an reality.

Penrose Studio is an San Francisco based production studio started by Eugene Chung(previous Head of Film & Media at Oculus VR) and Jimmy Maidens( previous worked over 12 years at Dreamwork), with the sole purpose of propelling the VR/AR marketplace. Just recently, they’ve received a $8.5 million investment during a seeding round, which they plan to hire leading engineers/artists and equip themselves with new tech to stabilize their operation.

If you’ve seen their debut VR film, “The rose and I,” then you’ll understand why they’ve been entrusted with such an investment. Based off the famous story “The Little Prince,” the film follows a sick day of the rose. The little prince, concerned for the Rose’s well being, or confusion on why a rose sneezes, spends the day with the rose, nursing her back to health. It’s an light-hearted film, which has been showcased at Tribeca Film Festival 2015.

Their latest immersive film, “Allumette,” was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl,” in which the viewer gets to experience an colorful scenery peeking into an relationship between a mother and her daughter, named Allumette.

The setting is very fantastical like, with re-imagining Venice as an floating city. One interesting feature about the film is its implementation of stop-motion animation, which can be disconcerting for some viewers who are used to smooth frame-rates at 90fps. You’ll have to experience it for yourself, to see if this kind of immersion is right for you.

As time moves forward, we can expect to see more colorful worlds and stories hand-crafted by Penrose Studios developers. With an extra few millions backing their development process, it is going to be exciting to see how far they push the boundaries of storytelling in VR. Until then, you can connect with Penrose via Twitter @PenroseVR.

StirFire Studio is working on a Post-Apocalyptic Meditative #VR Puzzle Game titled “Symphony of the Machine”

If you do not own a VR headset yet, start setting aside some dollars and treat yourself to the future. Virtual reality provides a great expanse for ideas and thoughts to flourish on, as well as providing an new means of socializing. It seems, with infinity of 3D space to work in, there is an infinity of ways to explore the inner workings of our own minds. But this is just a philosophical view.

On a more tangible note, since the release of Playstation VR, there will inevitably be another massive pulse in VR adoption, which means there are some thrilling and next-level content to look forward to. This brings me to a game studio who will be setting sail in the VR waters, starting with the PSVR.

StireFire Studios is a team of multi-faceted professionals who deal in publishing, marketing, consulting and game development. The studio is based in the mining town of Perth, Western Australia, and as they like to clarify, “Stirefire is more interested in human resources than mineral ones, and reservoirs of talent rather than fossil fuels.” They work with investors, independent dev studios and aspiring digital artist, to bring intangible ideas to being a full-fledge product.

They already have a few of their own projects to showcase their work. One such project is Orbeats, which was thier first title in partnership with WRK Studios. Orbeats is a music-centric game, in which the player works the orbs to the ever-changing beat. New tracks are unveiled as the player reaches target scores and scores can be shared with friends. Orbeat is a very entertaining game, built for anyone with a love for music, but it is still limited to the two-D screen.

But don’t worry, scheduled for beginning of 2017, they will be launching their first hi-end VR game for PSVR and HTC Vive, titled “Symphony of the machine.” It is a puzzle-based game, who’s colorful environment and puzzle reminds me of a game developed by InnerVision, titled “Thunderbird,” though Symphony of the Machine is meant to be more of a meditative game, rather than an rage-inducing relentlessly frustrating puzzle game.

Set in an post apocalyptic world, the player is atop a powerful, yet mysterious tower. In order to restore the desert-like landscape back to a habitable environment, players must direct a beam of light centered on top of the tower platform towards inscribed glyphs, which gives the player the power to control the weather of the land.

In VRFocus post, they state “Symphony of the Machine’s back story will be kept purposefully ambiguous as the main focus is the puzzle element, the tower and the surrounding landscape do provide some clues to the back story.” Stirfire Studio also removed text and narration for greater sense of “presence” and mystery.

I do expect Stirefire Studios to have plans for other VR titles, but for now, Symphony of the Machine will be their gateway into the marketplace. With an already established market for Playstation 4 gamers, this would be as good as time as any to create VR games, since the price to adopt is a lot lower than it’s PC counterparts. The game is scheduled to be released early 2017 for HTC Vive and Playstation VR. If you want to learn more about their game or future plans, you can contact them.

Thanks for reading!

@QubaVR is Exploring New Ways for People to Experience #VR

It’s great to see many professional creative artists take on the task of producing engaging and visually stunning content for people to experience in virtual reality. One independent developer I’ve had the pleasure to write about was Ali Elsami, who was one of the first to created surreal artful experiences in VR which utilizes Leap Motions technology. Which brings me to another artist which deserves recognition also.

He goes by the name of Quba Michalski, who has been an professional creative artist for over a couple decades. Born in Poland and a traveler of the world at age 16, living in places such as Middle East and United States, he has had the pleasure to experience different cultures and build a knowledge-base of his interest, which include coding, filmmaking, quantum physics, anthropology and game design.

Knowing this, it is no surprise that he gained his Bachelors and Masters of Fine Arts in Graphic Design between years 1999 and 2001. Since graduating from college, he’s been a creative director at Imago Studio(Istanbul, Turkey), Autofuss(San Francisco, CA) and Google(Mountain View & Venice, CA). He’s also an freelancer, academic instructor, web designer/coder and a writer. He’s is a full-spectrum within the creative field.

After getting his hands on Google’s Photosphere technology several years ago, he has spent those years understanding, developing and leveraging virtual and augmented reality platform, in order to provide an fluent understanding on how to effectively create immersive experiences.

In an interview with Kuula, when talking about 360 photos, he explains “good 360 photos need to withstand the same level of critique and scrutiny traditional photography has to. This means good composition, color, dynamism, lighting, resolution and direction. We should not give images a ‘free pass’ solely on the merit of the novelty of 360.” This is exactly what his current projects accomplishes.

One colorful immersive experience he has produced is Prismatic. Prismative is Quba’s first independent project after leaving his position at Google and Autofuss in 2015. This experience puts the player in infinite mirror-like illusion or kaleidoscopic environment, which is filled with strobing fluorescent lights and music to match.

In collaboration with Impossible Acoustic(audio), his latest project, The Pull, puts the viewer in a room of furniture which undergoes gravity flux. It utilizes light as a way to direct viewers gaze and a spinning fade to transition through each scene. He used a software concoction, consisting of the Octane Render, After Effects, Cinema 4D and Mettle Skybox VR to bring this project to reality. Like Ali Elsami, he is bringing a new level of experiences for people to explore in virtual reality.

His work can be viewed on JauntVR and VRideo. Quba is definitely exploring ways to utilize the infinity of space, virtual reality has to offer, so new experiences are bound to come. You can take a look at his full immersive portfolio on QubaVR.com or connect with him via Twitter @QubaVR.

Thanks for reading!

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