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From Minecraft to the metaverse, digital concerts are emerging from diverse platforms.
The recent in-game Fortnite concert by Travis Scott, tied to a digital only revenue stream for music labels and artists as live concerts and festivals are put on hold for 2020, is turning the music industry’s eye towards the potential of virtual concerts. Let’s look at three of the biggest digital concerts held in 2020 so far, what this means for the music industry, and how we can take it a step further using VR.
Block by Blockwest
On Saturday May 16th, Minecraft hosted the Block by Blockwest in-game music festival, produced by Philadelphia band Courier Club in partnership with the cloud platform Digital Ocean. Originally set for dates in April, the festival was postponed as servers crashed when attendees flocked online during and after Massive Attack’s opener.
The Minecraft Music Festival was organized to provide an online festival experience for artists who’s tours were cancelled and for fans who missed out on seeing their favorite artists live. All proceeds from the event went to the CDC Foundation. Throughout the event, over 134K fans watched via live streams. 16K participated in the conversation via Discord, with another 5K attended in the Minecraft servers. By the end of the event, roughly $7600 had been raised.
Block by Blockwest online tutorial
I attended the event live via its Twitch and YouTube stream. Just after 3pm PST, the concert began. Custom pixelated poster backdrops decorated each of the 3 stages to represent the artist streaming during that session. I couldn’t see distinct artist avatars on stage, however; I hope to see more prominent artist visibility in future events.
To celebrate the festival, there were large pixel blocks of fireworks and heart laser block beams. Each band’s session was a pre-recorded 20 minute session played through the server. Fans had free reign and were even able to coordinate impromptu mosh pits.
Why the music industry cares
The Block by Blockwest music concert was well received by the Minecraft community. With 112 million unique monthly players, far above Fornite’s nearly 80 million unique monthly players, Minecraft’s playerbase is far from niche. While merch sales were not available in-game this time round, Courier Club manager D.J Sutera said they are looking to grow their team and further evolve upcoming events.
As we look at Fortnite’s concert next, the in-game purchases and record-breaking streams show exactly what this in-game audience means for the music business.
Travis Scott’s Astronomical Tour in Fortnite
April 23-25, Travis Scott’s Astronomical tour in Fortnite featured multiple showtimes for players around the globe, with each appearance lasting approximately ten minutes. 12 million unique players attended the first concert, with 27.7 million unique players attending in-game over the duration of the five mini-concerts. Players were able to attend via PC/Mac, Xbox, PlayStation, iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch, making the event widely accessible to fans.
In the Fortnite concert, players’ avatars experienced a range of land, space, and underwater environments where they could swim, dance, and perform additional non-combative movements. In this instance, the shooter games’ emotive dance moves (available as in-game purchases) could be used to vibe with the music rather than to taunt enemies as is customary.
One nice surprise was the destruction of the stage that could be seen under construction at the Sweaty Sands beach in the days leading up to the concert. In the moment of the concert’s opening, the stage blew up to make way for bespoke visual effects, literally breaking the boundaries of standard live music productions.
Why the music industry cares
The Astronomical Tour attracted attention in the music industry for three main reasons; the number of attendees who participated, the commerce it developed for in-game purchases, and its promotion of Travis Scott’s new single The Scotts ft. Kid Kudi. Premiered in Fortnite, The Scotts entered the global Spotify chart at #1 with 7.45 millions streams, breaking Billie Eilish’s streaming record for single “No Time to Die” (7.167 million streams).
As we break away from the traditional format of a concert, music events are reaching a wider range of fans who are interested in new types of music experiences. In terms of the potential for artists to realize new streams of revenue, free-to-play game formats for singles and albums is a largely untapped market. Its preexisting fan base is already accustomed to spending money on in-game purchases, upgrades, and merch.
For now, creating a concert like Scott’s requires a serious team of developers. The process can take months to develop, said John Canning, executive producer at Digital Domain, while speaking to Pitchfork. It means that music labels that want to remain competitive will need to begin investing now if they hope to adapt and survive. For example, Sony Music is recruiting a team “dedicated to reimagining music through immersive media” that will leverage Sony Music’s catalog and impressive roster of artists to implement a new category of music experiences using the Unreal Engine.
Lately, we’ve focused on Facebook’s and Apple’s recent acquisitions of VR startups, but are major label acquisitions of immersive technology startups on the horizon?
Inspired by the success of Fortnite’s concert with DJ Marshmallow last year, the city of Helsinki partnered with VR studio ZOAN’s Burst Live technology platform to power a digital concert in the hopes of reinventing its annual May Day celebration that was cancelled this year.
Attendees could watch the performance of JVG—the most streamed band in Finland—perform from the iconic Senate Square streamed live. They could also login via Zoan’s Burst Life platform to create an avatar and interact with the artists by dancing, waving, clapping, and performing other actions.
“The 500 most active avatars were automatically picked to the virtual Senate Square, where the band could see them. The band – performing on a green screen – had a huge screen in front of them that showed the virtual Senate Square and the avatars, so they could interact and throw in comments like “cool hat Iloinen Tanssija in the front row” or “Put your hands up!,”” said Laura Olin, Chief Operating Officer & Partner at ZOAN, via email correspondence.
One attendee reported that while the avatars were visible to the artists, the first person POV of the avatars was controlled remotely. Only at certain points were other avatars visible to one another on screen, and gestures were also invisible to viewers, but transmitted to the artists.
To integrate the artists into the 3D model of Helsinki, JVG performed in front of a green screen, with special effects on the virtual stage. This option positioned the artists against a backdrop without risking high-bandwidth 3D live streamed volumetric capture that is still very much in R&D for live events of this scale.
Olin said the next concert will take place mid-June, with artists to be announced soon with Finish and international partners. “Our grand idea with Burst Live is to create a feeling of being there together for both the artists and audience, and overall this pilot was a great success. We believe that this kind of virtual experience has a huge potential even after the worst COVID-19 times are over,” she said.
ZOAN decided not to broadcast this event in 360 for attendees in virtual reality, however it is an integration they are planning to add in the future. “We thought that it is important to show that you can create cool content with virtual technologies and reach a wide audience, not only gamers or VR enthusiasts,” said Olin.
Why the music industry cares
Over 700,000 viewers tuned in to watch the concert stream live while another 150,000 created avatars to become active participants in the festival; a total of 10 million avatar interactions were recorded over the course of the performance. Using Meltwater’s statistics, the advertising value of the event was reported to be € 4.3 million (~ $4.7M USD)
As a multi-medium compatible event, May Day signifies the potential for massive live events to scale to include attendees from all over the world via desktop or virtual reality. After all, why sell just 7,000 tickets to a festival when you can potentially sell 700,000? A week after the gig JVG’s album was back to no. 1 on the Finnish charts.
Leveling up with VR
Minecraft, Fortnite, and May Day were chosen as case studies to demonstrate the current scale, and potential of digital and VR music experiences. Many media outlets described the above as “virtual” and “immersive”, but we are still waiting to see what this means for the first wave of VR concerts synchronized with actual real world performances.
For music fans and gamers alike, attending a concert in VR is at minimum a $400 ticket for hardware, plus the cost of an event ticket and additional purchases. An experience has to be truly phenomenal to warrant this investment from non-gaming music fans, and those who want to enjoy a special event like Helsinki’s May Day. Companies and virtual event organizers will need to offer far more than basic 360 pre-recorded concerts if they ever hope to convince fans to invest in VR hardware for the express purpose of seeing their favorite artists perform remotely.
So how exactly do we level up?
5G and virtual music concerts
On the technology front, we are quickly arriving at the ability to combine and synchronize real world events and the motions of users within virtual environments. Real-time interactivity requires massive amounts of graphical rendering processes. In a split rendering process, rendering is shared between the VR headset and the edge cloud to augment the latency-sensitive on-device tracking systems.
As 5G infrastructure becomes more widely available, rendering can be done entirely within the cloud to deliver a high-quality, low-latency experience to users. This will better allow games and 3D spaces to become platforms for full-fledged virtual reality concerts.
Business, not as usual
With audiences stuck at home, businesses are looking into new digital models, and the music industry is exploring one of its biggest pivots ever as they turn an eye to gaming and virtual platforms.
The music industry is founded on live and social events, making multiplayer and social virtual reality a ripe playground for your next virtual concert experience. In light of what is to come, Fortnite is teasing fans with their “Party Royale” island dedicated to non-combative amusement. Will the next era of gaming be defined by festivals rather than FPS (first-person shooter) games? The virtual world is full of opportunity.
Image Credit: Zoan
The post Powering The Next Generation Of Virtual Music Experiences appeared first on VRScout.
“WalkingCat” has a long history of accurate Microsoft leaks, revealing some of the company’s products and services in the past.
In late March, just after the release of Half-Life: Alyx, HP announced Reverb G2 – a “next generation” headset for SteamVR being built in collaboration with Valve and Microsoft. Not many details were given at the time other than a dark frontal image, and no further details have been officially given since.
Brightening that image showed what looked like the Valve Index’s near-off-ear speakers. WalkingCat’s image seems to show the same.
But that official image only showed the front, so the side and underside of the headset wasn’t visible.
WalkingCat’s photo shows the headset having side cameras and a knob that looks almost identical to the Valve Index’s lens separation adjuster.
In fact, the padding on the front and back of the headset also looks like Index’s. Valve is a partner on this headset, so it would seem like a good idea to reuse these high quality parts.
The apparent next gen Windows MR controllers are shown to ditch the touchpads and change to a more ergonomic design, making them look strikingly similar to Facebook’s Oculus Touch controllers.
This move would help developers because they could use their existing Oculus control scheme instead of needing a WMR-specific input approach.
Assuming this leak is real and HP prices the headset competitively, this headset could be exactly what the PC VR market needs.
Facebook offers Rift S at $400, but its build quality is low, it lacks lens separation adjustment, and the built in audio is low quality. Valve’s Index offers a wider field of view, higher refresh rate, full lens adjustment, premium audio, and controllers you can let go of- but at $1000 the kit’s appeal is price limited.
Windows MR headsets like the existing Reverb and Samsung Odyssey+ haven’t seen much market appeal, with the entire platform making up just 8.5% of SteamVR in April. A core criticism has been the use of only two tracking cameras, which limits the range of controller motion possible in games.
The headset shown in this leak could be the “middle ground” headset many PC VR gamers have been waiting for- avoiding the compromises of Rift S but staying affordable by not using SteamVR Tracking.
As with all leaks, take these images with a huge grain of salt. Even if they are real, they may not reflect the current state of the product. We’ll keep a close eye on HP, Microsoft, and Valve in the coming weeks to bring you any official information.
The post Apparent Leak: HP & Valve’s New WMR Headset With Side Cams, IPD Adjust, New Controllers appeared first on UploadVR.
Great news for those of you waiting on an update on the next project from the developer of That Dragon, Cancer; we’ll have an exclusive tease of Area Man Lives at the Upload VR Showcase: Summer Edition on June 8th (final time TBD)!
Yep, developer Numinous Games will make its Showcase debut with a first look at its anticipated VR adventure. In Area Man Lives, you run a radio show in a small town, gradually becoming engrossed in a deep mystery. You’ll chat with characters over the radio as you get to the bottom of some truly strange goings-on. This looks like it could be a real quirky treat.
The project has some history, of course. It was originally intended as an episodic series for Google’s Daydream platform, but only released its first two episodes before Daydream met its untimely demise. Fortunately, Cyan Ventures — yes, a funding arm of the studio behind Myst — helped resurrect the project as an all-new experience earlier this year. We’re really excited to show you a first look at how it’s shaping up.
Not sure what an Upload VR Showcase is? Simple: they’re video presentations we hold at busy times on the videogame calendar to announce new VR titles and reveal new information about upcoming games and experiences.
Also joining this year’s showcase is Fast Travel Games, Low-Fi, Panther VR, Play Bunker and The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. We’ll have plenty more teases leading up to the big day on June 8th, so check back for more soon!
The post See An Exclusive Tease Of Area Man Lives At The Upload VR Showcase: Summer Edition appeared first on UploadVR.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave and forced to build weapon parts for the past week, you should know by now that there’s a free demo of Marvel’s Iron Man VR on PSVR.
You might also know that it’s really, really good.
The full game isn’t out for an entire month yet, touching down on July 3rd. That gives us plenty of time to pour over this playable teaser and get some much-needed practice in. Based on our first playthrough, though, we’ve come up with a list of four things we love about the game (as well as a few things that could be improved). Read on for more!
What We Love
We’ve written about this at length at this point, but it was still hugely reassuring to get the demo in our homes and find it still holds up. Iron Man VR uses a lot of clever techniques to allow players to twist and turn unlike other PSVR titles. There are artificial turning options but the game holds up really well even if you turn your body almost completely the other way from the camera.
Flying in Iron Man VR requires you to keep your hands by your sides, so the Move controllers are almost always in view of the camera. But even if they’re not you won’t see your controllers go haywire like you would in other PSVR experiences. Aim at enemies with your repulsor blasts and, sure, Tony’s arm might not accurately extend like it would if you were facing the camera, but it still works on a mechanical level. We can’t wait to put this feature deeper to the test in the full game.
Of course, tracking wouldn’t really matter if the game didn’t play very well. But, thanks to smart movement and clever corner-cutting, Iron Man VR feels great to control. Triggers activate your jets and the Move button fires a repulsor blast (more on that in a bit). From there, everything is essentially determined by the direction of your hands. It surpasses the age-old issue of Move’s lack of analog sticks with remarkable grace.
Plus, there are some intelligent design choices that help navigate more intricate gameplay moments. Want to punch an enemy? You won’t need to worry about accuracy; throw your fist forward and you’ll lock on and dash towards the nearest foe. Plus the game will do a small bit of auto-piloting for cinematic moments, like the end of the first level in which you rescue Pepper from a jet. It can be a handful at times, but Iron Man VR largely feels great to control.
One of the key qualities that kept the Marvel Cinematic Universe so endearing over the past decade was that it didn’t forget superheroes were meant to save people, not just punch bad guys. Iron Man VR takes that principle to heart, or at least it does in its first level. Between bouts with enemy drones, you’ll return to a falling plane to put out fires, repair wings and, eventually rescue Pepper. These moments create dynamic, fresh-feeling gameplay experiences which, notably, aren’t just confined to mashing a button like they might be in a regular game. More of this, please.
The Story & Characters
One of the things that made Insomniac’s 2018 PS4-exclusive Spider-Man game such a hit was the freedom given to the developers to truly craft their own take on an iconic character. Insomniac basically designed its own alternate universe filled with interesting twists and turns for fans new and old. Iron Man VR looks like it might chart a similar path; we learn from the demo that Tony has been Iron Man for about five years and pick up with him in a similar position to the Iron Man 2 movie; he’s just handed control of Stark Industries over to Pepper Potts. We don’t get to see much more than this in the demo, but we can’t wait to see where Camouflaj (a studio that built itself on story-telling in games) goes from there.
But it’s not just the plot but also the characters and delivery. Iconic Stark AI, Friday, is given a playful makeover here, appearing as a holographic human with a personality all of her own. Pepper, too plays a major role and the moments in which you more directly interact with her (going to grab a cup of coffee, for example) suggest there’s a lot of gold to mine here. We can’t wait to see this side of the game expanded on.
What To Improve
The Performance & Visuals (At Least On Standard PS4s)
It’s painfully obvious that Iron Man VR is pushing the absolute limits of what’s possible on PSVR, both on a tracking and technical perspective. But, played on a standard PS4, this demo also butts heads with the latter factor. While the majority of the gameplay is silky smooth, we noticed a few instances of slowdown, particularly during more cinematic moments, which made movements feel clunky. I haven’t tried the game on PS4 Pro, so can’t judge how it runs there.
Visuals are also a little on the iffy side (again, on a standard PS4). While the first level benefits from having endless skies, the Malibu-set tutorial has some blurry textures and character models look a little rusty. Granted, this isn’t something we expect will change dramatically between now and July 3rd, but it would be nice.
This is a small one, but quite important to the overall flow of gameplay. As great as Iron Man VR controls, I often struggled with the button mapping, and can’t find a way to change it. After four years of playing PSVR titles, my brain is hard-wired to think of the Move’s trigger as the default ‘shoot’ button, not navigation. Similarly, the best Move locomotion schemes have used that main button as a ‘walk forwards’ option. Here, these two functions are essentially reversed and, in the heat of combat, I was tying my brain in knots trying to remember which was which.
Again, this is a small thing, so I’m really hoping some options to change the button mapping arrive in the full game.
Iron Man VR hits PSVR on July 3rd. What did you make of the demo? Let us know in the comments below!
The post Marvel’s Iron Man VR: 4 Things We Love (And 2 To Improve) appeared first on UploadVR.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is still one of the largest, most immersive, and greatest VR games out there. It may not have been designed with VR in mind when it originally released back in 2011, but this VR adaptation does a serviceable job of shoving Tamriel’s northernmost region into VR headsets.
Now Skyrim VR of course released first on PSVR, but then later came to PC VR headsets — including mods. As a result, it’s still one of the most exciting games to play because the active modding community continues to deliver amazing updates. Here’s how to install mods if you’re curious.
Last year we covered an early (and outdated) method of streaming PC VR content to Oculus Quest using RiftCat and VRidge, but it’s far from the ideal method these days. So the rest of this article will cover how to play Skyrim VR on Oculus Quest, the best options out there, and what you need to make it happen.
What You Need To Play Skyrim VR On Oculus Quest
For the most part, in order to play Skyrim VR on Oculus Quest you just need good internet and a VR-ready PC, in addition to your Quest headset. But let’s get into the specifics of what the “recommended” specs look like in order to run Skyrim VR comfortably:
- Processor: Intel Core i7-4790 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB / AMD RX Vega 56 8GB
Going above and beyond these settings is of course encouraged so that you can take full advantage of the Skyrim VR modding community and try to negate any performance concerns.
You can grab Skyrim VR on Steam at its regular price of $59.99 or wait on a sale.
Skyrim VR On Quest: Wired vs. Wireless
There are two fundamentally different ways to play a PC VR game on an Oculus Quest headset. You can plug it into your PC directly using a USB-C cable via the Oculus Link feature, which tells your computer to treat the Quest like a Rift S essentially, or you can stream PC VR content to your Quest wirelessly. Interacting with VR content in this way requires a very strong 5Ghz WiFi connection to avoid latency issues.
Naturally, there are pros and cons to both approaches. The major benefit of playing PC VR games on Quest with a wire is a dedicated connection that ensures higher graphical fidelity and avoids added latency. The quality of the streamed solution is extremely dependent on the quality of your WiFi router and the strength of your connection. But then in the case of the wireless streaming method, it’s difficult to articulate just how amazing the added value of wireless roomscale movement is. It’s truly a game changer.
To see comparisons wit ha single game focused on Link vs. PC VR content streaming on Quest, check out this breakdown of Half-Life: Alyx.
Oculus Link Cable Recommendations
If you have a VR-ready PC that also meets the minimum requirements for Skyrim VR and want to go the direct cable route, make sure that the PC also meets all compatibility requirements for Oculus Link. Then, the only other physical equipment you’ll need is a USB-C cord that is compatible with Oculus Link.
The easiest option to adopt with the least hassle is the official Oculus Link Cable, available to purchase from Facebook. It is a 5m, fibre optic cable that is relatively thin and provides good flexibility, with USB-C connectors on both ends.
The official cable is pretty much guaranteed to work, provided you have a USB-C port on your computer that is the USB 3.1 Gen 2 standard. If you only have USB-A ports, you’ll need to buy a USB A to C adapter to use the official cord. Make sure that both the adaptor and the USB-A port on your computer are USB 3.1 Gen 2.
Recently, Facebook also upgraded the Oculus Link platform so that USB 2.0 cables will work as well and as a result, all USB 3.0 cables have even higher fidelity than before.
For options other than the official Oculus Link Cable, check out our article on building a USB cable solution that works with Oculus Link. And for instructions on how to use Oculus Link with your Quest to access PC VR content, check out this Link-dedicated guide.
Virtual Desktop Wireless PC VR Streaming For Quest
First and foremost, you will need to purchase and download Virtual Desktop from the Oculus Store for Quest.
However, the default store version of Virtual Desktop does not allow you to stream games to the headset wirelessly. To do that, you’ll need to sideload a patched version of the app using SideQuest, which enables the functionality, after you’ve already bought and installed the official version.
If you don’t know how to sideload or use SideQuest, you can check out our guide on the matter here. You can find and install the alternate Virtual Desktop app by searching for it in the ‘Games and Apps’ section of SideQuest. The sideloaded version of Virtual Desktop still checks for a valid app licence, which is why you’ll need to buy the Oculus Store version first. This patch was released by the actual creator of Virtual Desktop, so it’s a legit download.
Once you have the sideloaded version of Virtual Desktop installed, you will also need to install the streamer app on the same PC from which you want to stream Skyrim VR. This is available on the Virtual Desktop website.
With the streaming app installed and opened, enter your Oculus username into the Streamer app’s menu on your PC.
Then, launch Virtual Desktop on your Oculus Quest and enter SteamVR to play Skyrim VR or any other PC VR game wirelessly from your Quest.
However, there are some important caveats: Virtual Desktop is not as much of a ‘works-out-of-the-box’ solution as Oculus Link. You’ll likely need to do some tweaking to adjust the performance, visuals, and latency depending on your personal internet quality and router configuration.
Some users get great visual fidelity with very low latency through Virtual Desktop, while others struggle to get consistent performance. It will all depend on the quality of you internal connection between your router, PC and Oculus Quest.
Here are some things to check to ensure optimal performance:
- Make sure that your Quest is connected to a 5Ghz network.
- Make sure that your PC is connected to your router via ethernet and not Wi-Fi.
- Try to play as close to your router as possible, with minimal physical interference from walls, furniture and the like.
In our experience, we’ve found your mileage with Virtual Desktop can vary greatly depending on your equipment and setup. There may also be additional steps which we’ve seen recommended by others – such as changing security settings on your router – that may improve you performance even more. You’ll just have to see what’s required for your situation and setup.
That should cover the basics of how to play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR on the Oculus Quest using Oculus Link or Virtual Desktop. Any questions? Put them down in the comments and we’ll see if we can help out.
The post How To Play Skyrim VR On Oculus Quest – What You Need And The Best Options appeared first on UploadVR.
Images published by known Microsoft leaker ‘WalkingCat’ have revealed a new VR headset sporting the HP logo, which looks very similar to the company’s previously revelead G2 Windows VR headset teased back in March.
First announced as a collaboration between HP, Valve, and Microsoft, the new G2 is said to be a “more immersive, comfortable and compatible VR experience,” an HP spokesperson told Road to VR in late March.
At the time, we hadn’t seen more than a shrouded image of G2. If the image below can be believed though, we have a bit more information on our hands as to what the G2 may actually entail.
— WalkingCat (@h0x0d) May 23, 2020
The apparent HP headset appears to have four camera sensors, two front-facing, and two on the sides, which would hypothetically allow for a wider controller tracking volume. As Microsoft is known to be a collaborator on the headset, we expect the G2 will be a Windows VR headset; it would be the first among Windows VR headsets to use more than two cameras for tracking.
A physical IPD slider can also be seen in the lower left-hand corner of the headset, something HP’s Reverb headset didn’t have when it finally launched in 2019.
The headset also appears to use two very Oculus Touch-like motion controllers, which are seemingly more ergonomic than the ones previously bundled with Windows MR headsets; the button placement suggests its offers input parity with Touch and HTC Vive Cosmos.
Windows MR controllers were largely maligned for poor tracking and flawed ergonomics when the first set of headsets launched in late 2017, so seeing a more refined design could be a smart step forward, should the images be believed.
WalkingCat has a history of authentic leaks, including some of the first photos of HoloLens 2 before it was revealed. That said, the photos may also be unofficial renders that could be no more than educated guesses at what HP has up their sleeves. We don’t have independent confirmation so we’re taking this as a rumor for now.
The post Rumor: Leaked HP Reverb G2 Images Show Four-camera Tracking, New Controllers appeared first on Road to VR.
Want a more engaged Facebook following? Looking for creative ways to leverage organic marketing rather than ads? To explore how to develop an engaged organic following on Facebook, I interview Fallon Zoe on the Social Media Marketing Podcast. Fallon is an organic reach expert who specializes in Facebook. Her Facebook-focused membership community for female business […]
The post Facebook Organic Reach: How to Develop an Engaged Following appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.
Three Expedition 63 crewmates are orbiting Earth getting ready to welcome a Japanese cargo ship and the first crew to launch from America in almost a decade.
NASA Commander Chris Cassidy will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Japan’s ninth space freighter to visit the station on Memorial Day at 8:15 a.m. EDT. The H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) is delivering over four tons of crew supplies, space experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade station power systems. NASA TV’s live coverage begins Monday at 6:45 a.m.
Cassidy spent Friday readying the Harmony module for the HTV-9’s installation while also working on plumbing tasks. He’ll spend Saturday and Sunday relaxing aboard the International Space Station before turning his attention to the Japanese and American spaceships.
In Florida, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program are in final preparations for their launch aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon on Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. They will dock the next day at 11:39 a.m. to the station’s International Docking Adapter on the Harmony module’s forward port.
Cassidy with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will welcome the Commercial Crew astronauts aboard the station when the hatches open about two-and-a-half hours later. Behnken and Hurley will join the Expedition 63 crew as Flight Engineers and ramp up space science aboard the orbiting lab.
Back onboard the space station, cosmonauts Ivanishin and Vagner spent Friday servicing a variety of Russian communications and life support hardware. The duo also continued inventorying station maintenance and repair equipment.
Team-up with friends online for a one-of-a-kind remote location-based experience.
Created by the newly launched company Adventure Lab, Dr. Crumb’s School for Disobedient Pets is a live-hosted multiplayer game brings to life the fantasy tabletop role-playing genre in a way only VR can.
You are an agent for the Virtual Intelligence Agency (V.I.A.), an underground group that uses VR technology to solve mysteries that the more traditional authorities can’t seem to unravel. Your first mission is to infiltrate Dr. Crumb’s School for Disobedient Pets to stop the mad scientist before time runs out. Disguised as animals, you and your team are swept into an unexpected maze of puzzles and games that will put your brain and brawn to the test. The team that accomplishes the mission the fastest will be memorialized forever in the V.I.A. hall of fame.
Games are hosted daily with different time slots available each day. Each adventure allows up to 4 remote players at a time, which could be made up of your friends, family, or strangers from around the globe. The host acts as your guide, a clue master, and a performer who jumps in and out of different characters as they lead you through a series of time-based puzzles. As you solve each puzzle, you move closer and closer to escaping the room.
What is really fun is that each host brings in their own unique personality to the game. Depending on what time slot you have, you could be interacting with an improv actor, a comedian, a Twitch streamer, a Youtube star, or an influencer. One host might take a goofy approach while another may be a true thespian and bring the world of theater into the experience.
Like any multiplayer VR experience, however, players get back what they put in. The more you and your group commit to the adventure, the more exciting the game can be. Or maybe this is an opportunity for you to try out your dry quirky take of Detective Benoit Blanc from the film, Knives Out.
This is just the first of many Adventure Lab VR adventures. Each story will have a range of fun content for VR novices all the way up to advanced puzzlers and will expand into other areas of live hosted entertainment. The soft launch of the product (now run for 300+ guests) has been met with positive reactions from delighted guests and industry veterans alike.
Dr. Crumb’s School for Disobedient Pets comes from the creative minds of Adventure Lab’s CEO/Co-Founder, Maxwell Planck and COO/Co-Founder Kimberly Adams. Planck was one of the co-founders of Oculus Story Studio and worked for Pixar for 10 years as a technical director on movies like Cars, WALL-E, and Up. Adams led a creative team at Facebook, developing the AR “Story Time” for Facebook’s Portal video device, and was Head of Production and Executive Producer for the Emmy Award-winning Wolves in the Walls.
Of course they are backed by an incredible pool of talented people and collectively, Adventure Lab has an impressive team resume.
During an interview with VRScout, Planck talked about Adventure Lab, saying, “I don’t look at VR as storytelling, where I sit you down and say here is a hero’s journey but you don’t play much of a role,” Planck adds, “I think of it as memory making, where you actually have something to do together.” It was during this time that Planck, who was working with Adams at Facebook, was getting into escape rooms, immersive theater, and role-playing games. He wondered how one could you bring all of those experiences into VR.
It was that thought that sparked the idea of Adventure Lab. The two then left Facebook to begin their own company. This was in 2019, right before the Oculus Quest launched.
What makes Dr. Crumb’s School for Disobedient Pets so unique and fun are the hosts. Most will assist you in your journey and guide you through specific challenges; others will serve as the antagonist. Adams talks about the importance of this role for each adventure, saying, “Having a range of hosts has been really magical. Our first host that we worked with, Jasper Patterson, was a founder of a VR company. He is an expert in the space and was incredible in the terms of giving feedback and really testing out the platform and making requests for hosting tools.” Adams continues, “But our next two hosts had very little experience with VR but were improv actors, and they took to it immediately, putting their own fun twists into the characters. They their own take on the characters, their own accents they developed, and their own way of being a host in the space.”
Adams tells me that people are still contacting her wanting to be hosts for Adventure Lab adventures.
Planck and Adams ended our conversation saying that they are excited about how Dr. Crumb’s School for Disobedient Pets and VR will connect people and give them the opportunity to create fun memories.
Dr. Crumb’s School for Disobedient Pets is the first of many adventures coming from Adventure Lab. Time slots are available for booking now over at adventurelab.fun/book. A 40 minute showtime will cost $100 for up to 4 players (that’s $25 per head). For a limited time, Adventure Lab is offering a 50% discount if you use coupon code OG-LAB-RAT.
Adventure Lab’ Dr. Crumb’s School for Disobedient Pets is available for the Oculus Quest with support for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Valve Index coming soon.
Image Credit: Adventure Lab
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