Demand for Oculus Quest and Rift S headsets is still outstripping supply, but Facebook is now offering a way to keep up-to-date on the situation.
The company recently added ‘Notify Me’ buttons to both the official pages for Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest. There’s an individual button for both the 64GB and 128GB models of Quest, too. Click the button, enter your email address, and you’ll be notified when stock is back. You’ll probably still need to be fast on your fingers if you’re going to get an order in time, though.
Oculus Quest has remained out of stock fairly consistently since even before the COVID-19 pandemic really set in. Following its launch last year, Facebook said the headset was selling “as fast as we can make them.” However, the company confirmed to us earlier this year that the Coronavirus situation would impact its ability to produce more units and that’s likely to remain the case.
This isn’t the only measure Facebook is taking to combat its supply shortages. Last week the company also started selling refurbished versions of the original Oculus Rift at $299. Still, with third-party sellers bumping up prices, this might be your best bet for getting your hands on a new Oculus headset as quickly and affordably as possible.
Other headsets are experiencing similar supply constraints, like Valve’s Index. It may be some time before the leading VR devices are readily available to purchase again, though some kits like the newly-launched HTC Vive Cosmos Elite are in stock right now.
London-based hardware startup TG0 launched a Kickstarter campaign last week for the Etee dev kit, a VR controller with integrated SteamVR Tracking. TG0 positions the controller’s button-less design and finger tracking as its main attractions.
While the campaign looks on track to reach and exceed its goal, $50,000 doesn’t seem like much for a hardware project of this scope, which likely requires bespoke parts and precise manufacturing. Still, we hope to see the campaign succeed, as more controller options means more choice for developers and potentially for consumers further down the road.
Original Article (April 2nd, 2020): TG0 has launched the Etee Kickstarter campaign with the hopes of raising £45,900 (~$56,000) for its VR controller dev kit. The Etee dev kit will come in two versions, one with 3DOF tracking starting at £200 (~$265) for a pair and another with 6DOF SteamVR Tracking starting at £240 (~$315) for a pair. There’s a range of higher tiers available with more unique rewards, including a version with advanced haptics and another with a cool transparent shell.
Based on a thesis that sounds… downright wrong to the ears of any VR gamer, TG0 says that “buttons are way out of date,” and touts the Etee controller’s button-less, trigger-less, and joystick-less design as its major selling point, alongside finger-sensing, which the company says detects proximity, touch, and pressure.
This is in contrast to the rest of the VR industry which has steadily coalesced around VR controllers and games which make use of use of buttons, triggers, and joysticks for key gaming interactions. TG0 says that Etee supports gestures which can be used in place of buttons.
While removing the reliance on binary controls sounds great on paper, in practice it has proven difficult in the VR gaming space because of the need for precise and highly reliable inputs.
But VR gaming isn’t the only use-case the company is touting for the Etee controllers. As a dev kit, they could of course be used for any application where motion input is useful. Indeed, VR content that doesn’t demand the binary precision of hardcore game experiences—like training, art, therapy, social, remote control, and more—could definitely leverage Etee as a more intuitive means of input than a VR controller covered in unfamiliar buttons, triggers, and sticks. We’ve made a similar point about Oculus Quest’s experimental hand-tracking feature (which of course also lacks buttons, triggers, and sticks).
Though the controllers are a dev kit at this stage, thanks to integration with the SteamVR Input system, the Etee controllers should be technically compatible with SteamVR games out of the box, though we’d expect the need to experiment with custom bindings for many games to reach a point where things are truly playable with the controllers given the need to remap buttons and other controls to Etee’s unique inputs.
TG0 says developers can expect battery life up to 6 hours of continuous use and 14 hours of standby, and that the 3DOF version of the controller weighs 75 grams and the SteamVR Tracking version weighs 120 grams.
The Etee Kickstarter campaign runs until May 11th and the company expects the first ‘Early Bird’ controllers will begin shipping in December 2020.
Beat Saber (2018) is a great tool if you’re stuck indoors and want to stay fit. To keep you up and moving, Beat Games today released their latest free track, called ‘FitBeat’, which aims to get your heart pumping to its high BMP, obstacle-laden track.
The new song, which looks to include plenty of walls to dodge to keep you on your toes, is offered through a few modes, including Standard, One Saber and 360°/90° Modes.
“We just wanted to bring you a fun song and get you pumped,” says Beat Games, which released the track today on all supported VR platforms, including SteamVR headsets, PSVR, and Oculus Quest. Like many of the early tracks, ‘FitBeat’ was created by Jaroslav Beck, the co-founder and head of music at Beat Games.
To date, Beat Saber has sold more than 2 million copies and 10 million songs via DLC, making it one of the (if not “the”) most successful VR games out there. Since being acquired by Facebook, the studio has managed to wrangle licensing deals with a number of well known artists such as Imagine Dragons, Green Day, Panic at the Disco!, and Timbaland, all of which no doubt gives them more incentive to keep the free tracks flowing.
Check out this player who already conquered FitBeat on Expert+.
StarVR One, the ultra-wide field of view (FOV) VR headset, has traveled a long and winding path on its way to launch since it was first announced in late 2018 that developers and enterprise would be able to apply for hardware. However now the company has officially opened up sales of StarVR One through select distributors in Asia, and directly through the company in the EU and US.
StarVR is now available in Japan and Taiwan through a handful of companies, including ELSA Japan Inc., Cybenet Systems, Access Co, and ASK Corporation in Japan, and Ability International Tenancy Co, Otsuka Information Technology Corp. and Axis3D Technology Co. in Taiwan. Availability in mainland China is marked as “coming soon”.
Pricing is still unclear, although we wouldn’t expect it to stray too far from its originally quoted $3,200 price tag when it was first offered through the developer program in November 2018. StarVR’s developer program was however indefinitely put on hold a short time afterwards, which was a direct result of its delisting from the Taipei stock exchange and subsequent reorganization from a public to private entity.
StarVR One, once the result of a partnership between Acer and game developers Starbreeze, is still likely well outside of the reach of consumers, appealing instead to businesses such as VR arcade operators, design firms, and other industrial use cases.
“From my hands-on time with the headset, StarVR has done a great job of achieving optical comfort. The field of view feels immensely wide, reaching to the ends of your horizontal peripheral vision, without introducing eye-strain or edge distortions that are overtly distracting. The projection of the virtual world feels correct in a way that leaves the user free to soak in the added immersion that comes with such a wide field of view. Getting all of this right is key to Presence—that uniquely deep state of immersion,” said Lang.
The headset’s claim to fame invariably rests on its absolutely massive 210 × 130 degree FOV, dual custom AMOLED displays boasting 1,830 × 1,464 per lens resolution (total of 16 million sub-pixels), and eye-tracking from Swedish firm Tobii.
Check the specs and minimum requirements below:
StarVR One Specs
Panel – 2 x 4.77” AMOLED
Display resolution – 1,830 × 1,464 per lens resolution, total 16 million sub-pixels
Refresh rate – 90Hz low persistence
Lens type – Custom Fresnel lenses
Field of view – 210-degree horizontal FOV, 130-degree vertical FOV
Eye-tracking – Fully integrated Tobii eye-tracking, including Dynamic Foveated Rendering
IPD measurement – in-software solution
Tracking – SteamVR tracking 2.0 up to two Base Stations
Connectivity – 2 x 0.9m Type-C cables, 2 x 5m Type-C extension cables, 1 x 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with microphone
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Live launch coverage is underway on NASA Television and the agency’s website for the targeted lift off at 4:05 a.m. EDT (1:05 p.m. in Baikonur), of a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, and Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will begin a six-hour journey to the International Space Station.
The new crew members will dock to the station’s Zvezda service module at 10:16 a.m. They will join Expedition 62 Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir, who will complete their station mission and return to Earth April 17 on the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft, which will land in Kazakhstan. Morgan launched July 20, 2019, for an extended duration mission. Meir and Skripochka launched to the space station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft on Sept. 25, 2019.
About two hours after docking, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open, and the six crew members will greet each other.
Today’s update introduces a brand new vehicle to the game; the Exo Mech.
VR is in desperate need of more quality mech games. Previous releases such as VOX MACHINAE and Archangel: Hellfire have proven how well VR technology works with the popular anime and video game genre, allowing players to take control of enormous mechanical titans using their own to two hands.
Thankfully, a new free update to No Man’s Sky has introduced a brand new vehicle to the constantly-expanding universe: the Exo Mech.
This past August developer Hello Games launched No Man’s Sky: Beyond, a massive free update that introduced, among other things, full VR support to No Man’s Sky. This includes dealing damage by physically punching objects and enemies, operating starships using a realistic flight stick/throttle control system, and—of course—piloting mechs.
Much like the other exocrafts featured in No Man’s Sky, the “Minotaur”—as it’s referred to in-game—features a built-in jetpack and is capable of protecting players from various environmental hazards, such as radiation, extreme temperatures, and hostile lifeforms just to name a few. The Minotaur is unique, however, as it allows players to use their mining laser while inside the cockpit.
While this mech may not be as complex or deadly as some of the other piloted robots featured in existing VR games, anyone who’s had the pleasure of piloting the No Man’s Sky starship in VR will tell you just how satisfying the experience is.
The Minotaur is available now on SteamVR and PSVR headsets alongside a handful of improvements and fixes as part of the free update.
Every month we aim to round up each and every VR game release for you in one single place — this is April’s list for 2020. Check the bolded entries for ones we feel are particularly worth your time.
Well, it’s been a while since we did these lists! No real excuse other than I kept forgetting and other stuff got in the way. Aiming to stick with it more this time like before!
And don’t forget to watch VRecap every Friday to stay on top of the top news stories, top new releases, and our weekly VR game giveaway.
If you’re a VR game developer planning to release a game soon that isn’t on this month’s list or will be released soon in the future — let us know!You can get in touch with me directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or hit all of the editorial team by emailing email@example.com. Please contact us about your upcoming releases so that we can know what you’re working on and include you in release lists!
Unless otherwise stated, all PC VR releases are the Steam versions.
Rift, Vive, Index, and Windows VR Game Releases For April 2020
Echo Games reaches out with some much-needed updates.
During E3 2019 VR developer Echo Games revealed the team would be releasing its popular zero g multiplayer sports game Echo Arena on the Oculus Quest sometime within the next several months. Nearly a year later and Quest users are still awaiting the arrival of the standalone port.
This week, Echo Games offered a much needed update on the progress of Echo VR on Quest, including a roadmap breaking down several upcoming testing phases which will conclude with an open beta free to all players.
“While we continue testing Echo VR on Quest with the community, we wanted to explain in more detail our testing phases so that players could better understand when they might receive an invite,” states the team in an official release.
Testing has already begun with the first closed alpha test group, which consists of both competitive and casual LEVEL 50 players. The team will be rolling out invitations periodically to those selected. The second closed alpha will add select players between the levels of 5 – 49 to the existing group, allowing the team to stress test public matches. It’s for this reason private matches and rematches will be temporarily disabled.
Following the closed alpha phase will be a closed beta adding those who’ve already signed up for testing. It’s at this point players will be granted access to the entirety of Echo VR; the lobby, tutorials, player vs. A.I, etc. This is also the phase where Echo Games will begin testing cross-play between Rift and Quest players. Once the closed beta finishes, the team will open up access to any and all Quest players looking to participate. More information on this phase will be revealed in a future Dev Log.
As for specific dates, there really aren’t any. The team will instead move from one phase to the next once they feel as though testing has gone well enough.
Most Oculus Quest apps are built using the Unity game engine. To add support for system overlays in Unity, developers need to update OVRPlugin to at least v13 and enable ‘Focus Aware‘ in the OVRManager script attached to OVRCameraRig.
To check when the system menu is opened and closed, developers should use the OVRManager.InputFocusLost and OVRManager.InputFocusAcquired events.
Since the system menu takes over input handling and displays controllers visually, apps should hide hands or controllers when it’s open. Facebook also recommends hiding any objects within 2 meters of the player, since otherwise there could be “unexpected visual artifacts” (likely referring to depth conflicts).
Taking the time to add this feature means users can stay within your virtual world while still quickly able to invite friends, take screenshots, manage settings, and in the future potentially even text chat friends.
As the Quest operating system expands, this could lead to true multi-tasking in standalone VR some day in the future.