Tag Archive

Batman Arkham VR Coming To PC On April 25th

Posted on April 3, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

Warmer Bros Interactive Entertainment will be bringing its’ first person VR simulation of the dark knight to Windows when Batman Arkham VR launches on HTC Vive and Oculus Touch on April 25th. Arkham VR will support the Oculus Tocuh controllers and HTC VIVE wands for motion enabled gameplay such as putting on the famous cowl or hurling baterangs.

Batman Arkham VR was originally released on PlayStation VR during the Fall of 2016 and allows players to experience life as both the Bat and Bruce Wayne. On PlayStation it was priced at $29.99 USD, no word yet on what pricing may be on PC.

Here’s the debut trailer:


EVE Valkyrie Wormhole Update Now Live

Posted on February 16, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

CCP Games has rolled out a new major update to EVE: Valkyrie on both Windows PC and PlayStation VR that introduces Wormholes to the multiplayer space dog fighting title. Wormholes are essentially weekly challenges that will introduce players to advanced encounters and gameplay types that will test their piloting ability.  Each wormhole encounter will feature a different rotation of available ships, visuals that will help differentiate them from one another and special Wormhole only loot that may be available for a limited time.

Here is how CCP described Wormholes on their developer blog:

“Each wormhole also comes with its own pre-selected set of Ship Loadouts, which will automatically be assigned to your Launchtubes when you enter. Everyone gets the same set of Loadouts, fully upgraded, whether they normally have access to them or not. This provides an excellent opportunity for pilots to try out Loadouts that they might not currently have access to, or rarely fly, but also gives each wormhole its own distinct feel – its own little meta-microcosm.”

Wormholes are available in a separate matchmaking queue and these limited time events do not affect a pilot’s overall standings such as leaderboard rank, kill-death-ratio or other stats but players will still earn XP while participating in Wormhole events.

Also newly available is the Leagues Alpha system – Valkyrie’s answer to ladder matchmaking where players are placed in a specific pool. No longer constrained by your pilot rating players will find themselves assigned the rank of Emerald at the beginning of their League Alpha career and have a chance to ascend through the aptly named Sapphire, Ruby and Diamond ranks. CCP also wrote a blog about the basics of the League Alpha feature on their official Valkyrie league.

Here is a basic primer on the League Alpha feature provided by CCP and how it will work in regards to planned seasons:

“Seasons work in three key ways:

  • They give players more opportunities to be promoted within the Leagues
  • Seasons provide definitive end points where rewards can be given
  • Most importantly, Seasons can offer a clean slate so that cumulative data is not a governing factor in measuring our best pilots

In many ways, the alpha release of the Valkyrie League can be regarded as a Season in itself. Once the alpha is underway, we can see how the systems are holding up and then more accurately plan our first true Valkyrie Season.”


Shift Controller To Offer Room Scale Like Experience Without Sensors

Posted on December 28, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Virtual Reality motion controllers can add to the immersion of an interactive experience but setting up various base-stations and sensors can be a daunting task for the less hardcore among us. The Shift cross-platform controller purports to offer a simpler solutions for VR physical presence with a set of motion controllers linked to a pair of sensor armbands worn on the upper arm. Produced by San Francisco based start-up Finch, the Shift is said to match the functionality of the much more expensive HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

How does Finch achieve  these results without the need for multiple sensors in the users physical space? By employing the “inside-out” tracking technology that wraps multiple sensors inside of a device, a technique that is being used by Microsoft & partner’s upcoming line of affordable VR headsets. A player’s hand position are monitored through a set of IMU sensors – similar to the technology already found in the PlayStation Move, Wii Remote and smart phones for gyroscopic movement. By the end of 2017 Finch says that they will launch a “PC – Smartphone bridge” allowing players to use the cameras and sensors in their smartphone to provide room scale equivalent experience.

Developers and early adopters can already pre-order the Finch Shift controller DK1 (developer kit) for $179 USD on their website, with an expected shipment date of Feb 2017. Finch will be launching KickStarter for the controller with the consumer version aiming for a Q3/Q4 2017 launch. They’ll be showing off the controller at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show next month as well.

According to their website the Finch Shift controller will support a number of platforms & engines including Google Android, Samsung GearVR, Unity 5.x, Unreal Engine 4.x, Steam VR, Oculus Home and Microsoft Windows. We’ll have more information on the Shift as it becomes available.

Want to see the Shift controller running in real-time on a Google Cardboard set-up? Here’s a video of one of the developers using an alpha version of the hardware:


GaymerX Year Four Preview: Luna

Posted on October 5, 2016 by Ellen McGrody

At last weekend’s GaymerX Year Four, we had the chance to play Funomena’s upcoming VR puzzler Luna. The colorful LGBTQ-focused games convention felt like a perfect fit for developer Funomena, founded by former Journey team members Robin Hunicke and Martin Middleton. Bouncing off the release of educational title Terra, Funomena is developing Luna alongside the games Woorld and Wattam, co-developed with Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi. The studio is absolutely ripe with talent and I was endlessly excited to see what they had done in virtual reality.

As with their games, Funomena’s booth was bright and eye-catching, with gorgeous signage and friendly developers ready to show off the title. After having played Wattam at Day of the Devs last fall, I wasn’t surprised when I saw Luna’s unique art in action. With Luna, art director Glenn Hernandez has gone after a papercraft aesthetic. Through the lens of an Oculus Rift, it appears as an ornate pop-up book. The game’s design invites you to reach out and touch every little detail in its various dioramas. Luckily, the Oculus Touch controllers make this exceedingly possible and enormously engaging.


The developers at the booth presented Luna as a story about Bird, a tiny bird who’s made a mistake. You, a mystical floating pair of claws, have to help Bird by exploring its memories. Using the Oculus Touch, you reach out and untangle constellations to discover places that represent Bird’s travels. It’s a tactile experience that uses virtual reality to its fullest.


It comes together in an almost magical experience. When you don the headset and immerse yourself in the dioramas that Funomena has crafted throughout Luna, every little action comes with some surprise attached. In solving the game’s puzzling constellations, I found myself reaching out with both hands to grab at stars and pull them to the right place. I moved my head to examine the new islands of memory that I had created with Bird, and when I was done solving puzzles, I reached out to pet Bird and it reacted with a happy little chirp.

The further I dove into Luna, the more I discovered. Music and sound effects evolved and changed as I got through the puzzles, only to be rewarded with a larger island diorama that I could create myself. In your left hand, you receive a palette of natural features like trees, which you grab and place onto the island with your right. I had a lot of fun reaching out and creating a cute little paper forest. I tried grabbing a tree that I’d placed and suddenly I could manipulate it by making it grow or turning my hand like a dial to change its color.


Funomena promises that this was but a small slice of the game’s larger story and I can’t wait to see more. I’m excited for the possibility of more challenging constellations and deeper explorations of the creative features. I imagine there’s a deeper message behind Bird’s story that I’ve yet to uncover in the demo alone.

Luna has been announced for release alongside the Oculus Touch sometime later this year. The game appears to be virtual reality exclusive, but I was unable to discern wether or not other VR platforms were in planning stages. Either way, this is absolutely a title to watch, and we’ll have more on the game as it comes.


Snakebyte Announces A New Range of Controller Solutions & Accessories

Posted on August 11, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Having a reliable controller is one of the most important aspects when it comes to an immersive gaming experience. Hardware vendor Snakebyte announced a trio of products today that are aimed at bringing a new level of control to the emerging world of Virtual Reality, as well as aiding PlayStation 4 players in the endeavors and lastly facilitating communication regardless of platform of choice.

First up is the VR: Controller which is designed with Virtual Reality in mind – compatible with a number of different devices via Bluetooth the VR: Controller will work wirelessly with devices like the Samsung Gear VR. Android TV Set-top boxes, Amazon Fire TV and smartphones / tablets.  For PC gamers who might use the VR: Controller with an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive but with no Bluetooth connectivity the VR: Controller comes equipped with a packed-in mini-USB cable. When connected with the USB cable the VR: Controller will be read as a standard HID device by Windows.


Honestly the inclusion of Android specific Back, Home and Menu buttons sets the VR: Controller apart from its contemporaries.  For gamers using a Samsung Gear VR the inclusion of these buttons could easily make it the controller of choice for mobile VR.

On the PlayStation 4 front Snakebyte is prepared to bring what looks to be a solid alternative to the official Dualshock 4 controllers in the form of the Game Pad 4. Offering all of the standard buttons that players expect this controller is 100% compatible with existing PS4 apps and games according to Snakebyte’s marketing materials.


Lastly, SnakeByte also announced a mono headset that bridges the gap between Sony and Microsoft’s latest console offerings. Head:Set is a mono headset aimed at easy chat communication that works regardless of your console of choice. If you own both systems having a headset that will work with both consoles is a huge win, especially if you’ve been shouting into your Kinect to send voice messages.

If you want to know more about Snakebyte’s hardware offerings check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

The above images were provided by Snakebyte via marketing materials. 



Oculus Driver V1.4 Breaks Popular Cross Platform Game Solution ‘RIVIVE’

Posted on May 21, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

A new update to the Oculus Home platform, driver version 1.4, breaks the community created cross-platform enabling RIVIVE modification. RIVIVE allowed owners of the HTC Vive to play Oculus home exclusive titles like EVE: Valkyrie and  Lucky’s Tale without owning an Oculus device.

It appears, according to CrossVR’s research as posted to Reddit, that the latest Oculus Home Update adds a new DRM check that checks whether or not the users Oculus headset is connected to their online platform. While RIVIVE is able to spoof the presence of a headset locally, it does not communicate with Oculus’ servers meaning there is no current way to circumvent the new DRM present in driver 1.4.

Here is the full post from CrossVR:

New Oculus update breaks Revive from Vive

Some users like StarGateCommand have speculated that this new DRM scheme could be part of a long-term plan onthe part of Oculus to  fracture the market.


Personally, I am all for open standards in VR, as the medium is so new and there are so many different competing standards I can’t help but worry that millions of people will invest in platforms that could be dead within a couple of years.  As it stands right now, this early on, Oculus is kind of the defacto “VR Company”. For non hardcore / enthusiasts users surely the name Oculus carries more weight than VIVE, Google Cardboard or OSVR. Here is hoping that in the long run VR developers can decide on a set of open standards or we could quickly see the death of a number of platforms as exclusive games become walled off behind one VR platform or another.

What are your thoughts on VR exclusivity and walled gardens when it comes to emerging technologies like Virtual Reality?


Further Oculus Rift Delays Due To Microsoft?

Posted on April 12, 2016 by Broken Joysticks

Today Oculus announced further delays on Rift shipments, potentially as long as two months for some customers, sparking outrage amongst VR fans. The company confirmed once again that the delay was due to a component shortage, and that they were shipping units as quickly as possible. Oculus still remains tight-lipped on what component exactly has caused the shortage, but that hasn’t stopped Reddit users from speculating. Multiple theories, ranging from issues with the camera used to track the headset, to a lack of wireless Xbox One dongles, were made. According to a post to Reddit by a supposed Oculus employee, under the alias ‘cvinsider’, it may be due to Microsoft.Read More


With Commercial Release The Oculus DK1 Has Become a PaperWeight

Posted on April 7, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

I knew this day would come eventually but I didn’t think it would be this soon. With the release of Oculus Home and the Oculus runtime V 1.30 the original Oculus Rift Development Kit 1 (or DK1) has been left behind in favor of its more robust successors – the DK2 and the recently released consumer version, the CV1. As I packed up my trusty VR headset today in its elegant black case because these latest drivers have made it an unusable paperweight. Read More


Oculus Rift Launch. Things Begin to Look Up

Posted on April 3, 2016 by Broken Joysticks

The 28th of March was the exciting big launch date of the Oculus Rift, when the premium VR headset would ship to those who had pre-ordered it. Except… It didn’t. Oculus originally generated a lot of excitement by shipping some units early, with some Kickstarter backers of the original devkit, who were promised a free consumer version, receiving their Rifts on launch day. In spite of this promising news, only a small amount of units actually went out to a handful of customers who pre-ordered, and only US Kickstarters received their free Rift. A considerable amount of people who were promised their Rift in March, myself included, had the date pass by without any sort of update from Oculus.Read More


GDC Vive Review: Universe Sandbox ² VR

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Renee Gittins

Valve took over a large section of the Game Developers Conference to show off the Vive and virtual reality games coming soon for the device.

Universe Sandbox ²’s VR mode was one of the stars of the demos. Universe Sandbox ², by Giant Army, has previously impressed me with its gorgeous space simulations, but seeing and interacting with them in virtual reality brought the experience to a completely new level. Planets zipped by my head, I threw suns and moons out into the nether and the rings of Saturn swirled beautiful around me after I displaced the planet.

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Oculus Shows Their Hand: Launch Title Prices

Posted on March 16, 2016 by Renee Gittins

Oculus revealed the prices of their release titles at the Oculus Game Day event. The event was held in San Francisco, just outside of the popular Game Developers Convention, dozens of games intended for launch were being shown.


There is a huge range of prices for the launch content, Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games listed as $4.99 while there are several $49.99 and $59.00 titles. Below is a list of the launch games, their “comfort” rating, and their prices:

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Pre-GDC Bootcamp Prepares the Next Generation of Public Figures in Games

Posted on March 16, 2016 by Renee Gittins

This last Sunday, the Games Diversity Alliance hosted a bootcamp called “Amplifying New Voices” at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The event was hosted to help prepare diverse developers that are rising in the game industry for the challenges that await them.

Oculus was the main sponsor of the event and also provided a number of the mentors who worked with the small teams of developers. Other sponsors included Intel, who has been working extensively to promote diversity in the game industry, GDC, Funomena, and Zebra Partners. In addition to receiving one on one mentorship, networking opportunities and some nice swag, the attendees were also provided with a $1,000 travel stipend, All Access badges to GDC (which currently cost $2,099), and access to a professional photographer who was taking headshots for us to use in the future.

The following application guidelines were posted on the site for Amplifying New Voices:

We’re seeking mid-career games and VR developers who offer perspectives that are currently under-represented in the industry, especially those who are not yet an active public figure. This includes women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and anyone who is willing to share how their perspective adds to the “diversity of thought” in our community.

Specifically, the following guidelines are a good rule-of-thumb of who we are looking for:

  • 4+ years in the games, VR, and/or entertainment industries

  • 2-3+ titles/projects shipped or work-in-progress

  • A developer role, including game design, software engineering, art, animation, production, audio design, etc.

  • Represents diversity of thought in the industry

  • Fewer than 2-3 major speaking or media events

Luckily, I was accepted as one of the attendees and was able to experience the event firsthand.

Robin Hunicke

Robin Hunicke.

My mentor was Robin Hunicke, who has extensive experience in game design, production and public speaking. Her public speaking skills are highly regarded within the industry, especially by other women in the industry. She will be on stage as one of the hosts of the Game Developers Choice Awards being held tomorrow.

I was honored to have her as my mentor for the day and greatly enjoyed her supportive yet critical advice. My group itself was diverse, including men and women from various countries, backgrounds, ages and identities. Robin made sure to give us each advice tailored to who we were, both as we wanted to represent ourselves and while taking into consideration how other people will view us.


We had three breakout sessions, one of our biography, one on speaking and one on answering interview questions, and the amount of consideration that must have to go into self representation in each of those blew me away. While some of the advice felt like it should be obvious, hearing it directly and in the context of our behaviors and responses made me realize how novice I am in the skills required to present myself well.

There was no dancing around that my gender would color how I was viewed. I was informed in a very matter-of-fact manner that my personal examples would be more highly criticized, that many questions directed towards me wouldn’t be on my talk, but as my experiences or opinion as a woman, and that I would have to fight to not be dismissed because of my gender.

Before Amplifying New Voices started, I was unsure if I would get much value out of the event. It blew my expectations out of the water and I feel like I have gained invaluable knowledge and connections for the advancement of my career and image.


While I can’t provide the same tailored feedback and knowledge that I received to you readers, I would like to share my notes, in hopes that they will be of help to others:


Your biography should be short and goal-driven. Consider who you are writing the biography for and what you are trying to convey before you begin writing. When you write your biography, use empathy and don’t stylize your writing. Write all of the points you think you should cover, then work on editing and trimming it down to a few short, impactful sentences that highlight the essentials of how you want to be seen.

Several revisions on my biography resulted in the following:

Renee is a multi-disciplinary leader with expertise in software engineering and creative direction. She is the CEO of Stumbling Cat, creator of Potions: A Curious Tale. She led engineering and server development at Fixer Studios, designed and developed cognitive evaluation mini-games and health management systems for X2 Biosystems.

Renee is a passionate advocate and connector for developers and diversity in the game industry. Renee organizes game-jams, panels, job fairs and other developer events as a board member of IGDA Seattle, contributes to Broken Joysticks, and actively mentors game development students at Foundry10.

Public Speaking

Assert confidence to the audience and show that you are in command of the subject you are speaking on. Ensure that your talk has a narrative and flows across its points without any jumps. The audience should all be able to answer why your talk is important after listening to it.

Use few words on the slides themselves and use pictures and examples where possible. It is your job as a speaker to expand upon your points, not the job of your slides.

Public Relations / Interviews

Consider the image that you are trying to present and keep your image focused on those points. Feel free to even write down the points you want to stress and keep them on you to reference for the directions you should steer all questions.

While media in the medium, reports are the filters and they are looking for stories that will bring traffic their way. They look for new stories, ones that relate to current events and holidays, show conflicting views of popular held opinions, or are unusual or sensational in some manner.

Finally, the medium itself greatly varies the form of responses. For all media and interview questions, keep responses small so that they can be used for soundbites and also so that they cannot be taken out of context. When doing pure audio interviews, make sure to smile while talking, which is apparent in your voice. Similarly, in video interviews, use intentional body language to compliment your words.


Preview: Dead & Buried Multiplayer on Oculus Rift with Touch

Posted on March 16, 2016 by Renee Gittins

A few blocks away from the ongoing Game Developers Conference, Oculus hosted an exclusive preview event for their launch titles and other games coming to the Oculus Rift shortly after launch. One of the games being shown was Dead & Buried, a gunslinger game that makes use of the Oculus’ Touch controllers.

Dead & Buried is being developed internally by Oculus Studios and the noticeable intent of the game is to highlight the Touch controllers. While Oculus has previously showcased their single player mode of the game, at the event they set up four stations with Dead & Buried and placed four players together at a time in a 2v2 shootout. Of the dozens of games at the event, it was clearly the most popular to both play and watch, gathering a bemused crowd of developers and media. 


Read More


Oculus Rift Priced; Internet Freaks Out

Posted on January 8, 2016 by Kenny Keelan


Paradigm Shift

In case you missed it or you’ve been living underneath a gaming rock for the last little while, Oculus announced a price and start date for shipping for its Rift VR Headset: 599$ USD and March 28th. As one can expect, the reaction was generally the same as it is with things that have been hyped a lot: “gaming company does a thing; the internet freaks out.” I could talk about the reasoning behind such pricing, why some people think it’s outrageous, why I think it’s perfectly reasonable and should have been expected, and why expectations were set differently by Oculus, but that’s not entirely what I came to write about, here… what I’m talking about is how, at least, as far as the gaming industry is concerned, the internet freaks out about damn near everything the mainstream and it seems that there’s always something to complain about, no matter how reasonable or logical it is.Read More


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