Sunday, 1 January 2017
It is easy sometimes to forget that virtual reality can be applied (potentially in a very successful manner) to many other areas and not just games; though it is great testament to games development as a field that consumer end devices like the Oculus Rift and the Vive are being advanced from it.
So, in 2016 there were developments towards this; and an example of that is the IMAX and Starbreeze partnership which has the latter's StarVR headset (pictured below) at the heart of it (see Engadget article here for more details on this development).
More on Starbreeze and the StarVR device itself with its enhanced field of view here. It will be fascinating to see what application areas like motion pictures/film/VFX do with virtual reality in 2017, as opposed to the trajectory the medium will take with computer and console games.
Owlchemy Labs has recently showcased work which, whilst terming it mixed reality, is essentially their approach towards answering the growing need of showing what an immersive VR experience feels like for the player/user to greater audiences. It's easy to envisage so many uses and applications areas for this as the medium is becoming more and more popular.
A VR game which came out in the latter part of 2016 which I can definitely recommend is DEXED, from Cambridge-based developer Ninja Theory.
This works both on the Vive and the Oculus Rift (and Touch, which I blogged about recently) and other than a great VR game is also strong evidence of just how inspirational game jams can be as this game was in fact the product of an in-house game jam idea. The game is also built on Epic Games' UE4, more on this here.
Crytek, another major game engine player next to Epic and Unity also finishes 2016 with a new version of their offering in this area, CryEngine. This is version 5.3.
The official site here lists all the additions you need to know about; I can highlight the beta addition of Schematyc which is essentially CryEngine's take on Blueprints (for the UE4 afficionados amongst you).
Though this one is actually a beta feature at the moment it is an important enhancement to the engine in my view, given the access the Blueprints approach offers on UE4.
I mentioned Unreal 4.14 (and its new features) in a blog post yesterday but Unity too leaves 2016 and enters the new year with a significant amount of developments (as an engine/piece of software that is).
Currently this is on version 5.6 (which is beta) and contains features that many Unity developers would find very convenient such as -and this is just one example- support for Google's Daydream View (which is a device I blogged about yesterday).
For the many (other) improvements and additions one could refer to the official blog post here that covers these comprehensively.
For the first post of the new year, EGX Rezzed is an indie games expo event that takes place in London during spring time, and one we visited with the undergraduate Games courses here at Bournemouth University last year.
This year, the event takes place between the 30th of March to the 1st of April in London again and will have it appears a dedicated Unreal dev area; showcasing Epic's growing interest in smaller developers, an area traditionally monopolized by Unity.
More info on this here at the official Unreal blog.