CatsandVR

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Oculus Connect Spotlight: Improving Accessibility Across the Metaverse

If we want to make VR available to everyone, accessibility needs to be at the center of the development process. At OC4 Speakers from D.A.G.E.R. System and ILMxLAB discussed some best practices to create accessible content for more people around the world. I am sharing a few of the insights and resources that were presented in the hope we as the architects of the VR ecosystem can help to grow the platform to be as inclusive as possible. 

Speakers at the OC4 talk.

Much of the discussions came from when the ILMX team attened the Star Wars Celebration convention to share Trials on Tatooine with the fans directly on the show floor of the convention. Over the course of the convention we served thousands of guests at their booth, including individuals with conditions that exposed usability issues in Trials on Tatooine that created barriers for some guests. 

Despite the barriers at the time, VR still presented an amazing opportunity for the team to bring people joy and Ben was sent an email from a user that inspired the team to push this initiative. Here is an excerpt that was shared at OC4.

"Hi Ben, It was wonderful to meet yourself and your team at SWCE. I would like to thank your team for enabling X to enjoy the Game. X has [...] which is why he spends so much time in a wheelchair as he is unable to steadily stand for long periods [...]. This generally means that even though he is N years old, he misses out on so much. He is truly staunch Star Wars fan, having introducing it to him when he was only two. He was unable at this time to be mobile and had to sit still for long periods, I immersed him into a world that would take him away from all the tribulations he would go through on a daily basis! We would watch the original movies daily and interestingly when he eventually went to school they thought he would have difficulty with speech and spelling and yet he would spell out planets and names within the Star Wars universe that even the teachers had to check! In any case, we owe a great deal to both Lucas film and the world that is Star Wars. X enjoyed the game so much. He was able to enjoy it within the confines of his wheelchair and with the demo being one handed, he managed very well. He was in awe of the immersive aspect of the game and technology and has firmly placed it on his Christmas list! Some things were still a little out of his reach but that didn't stop him enjoying the game, we simply helped him where required. The wires trailing from behind also didn't prove an obstacle because as I was his support, I was aware of them throughout. The amazing thing about this experience is that X has to spend time standing and moving around each day, a tiresome exercise that most would find tedious if they were made to do it as opposed to choosing too. This game although designed for entertainment will also prove to be a supportive tool to allow X to exercise without realising or even being forced to do it. We cannot thank you enough"

The experience affected the team, and sparked an interest in researching what other industries and disciplines have done to address accessibility in physical and virtual spaces. The team did much research including a great survey that is linked in this post.  This research led the team to work with Starlight Children's Foundation for the Starlight Virtual Reality program and create a experience that could be accessed by people with disabilities.  

 

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VR is a powerful medium and I was very happy to see that people understand this. I thank the team at ILMX and D.A.G.E.R. System for enlightening me to ways I can help make VR a platform for the betterment of the world. Once the video is posted I will be adding it to the post. 

catsandvr.com/blog/

 

TOKiMONSTA and TheWaveVR To Release First Full-Length Interactive Album in Virtual Reality on October 8th

LA producer TOKiMONSTA and social VR music platform TheWaveVR have announced a special interactive version of TOKi’s new album, Lune Rouge, which drops October 6th via her label Young Art Records. The VR portion of the album titled the Lune Rouge Experience will launch Sunday, October 8th at 6:00pm Pacific Time and will be available to any HTC Vive or Oculus Rift VR headset owners through TheWaveVR’s free app on Steam in the US. Programmed specifically for VR with art direction from Strangeloop, the experience will let fans explore a planet inspired by the album artwork, dance in an interstellar rave under an exploding sun, and remix a 3D world built out of  TOKiMONSTA's music.

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Lune Rouge is TOKiMONSTA’s third full-length album, and the first since her recovery from a rare brain disease that forced her to relearn how to write music. “Being able to play Coachella three months after having the surgery was very significant to me,” she recently told Pitchfork.  “If I can do something like this, anyone can.”

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The Lune Rouge Experience is the fifth flagship show to debut on TheWaveVR platform in a concert series aimed at pushing the boundaries of live music in VR. Previous shows included Ninja Tune artist Ash Koosha’s AKTUAL, as well as Strangeloop’s N-FOLD, which was released in association with BRAINFEEDER. “We wanted to do something special to support TOKi’s release, and create an entire world around the record,” said TheWaveVR’s CEO and Co-Founder Adam Arrigo. “Our goal as a company is to help artists create new experiences that let their fans get closer to their artistic vision. The Lune Rouge Experience lets fans literally step inside the album and experience her music in a new, interactive dimension.”

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HTC Vive to get a Fallout 4 VR bundle to be competitive during the holidays.

HTC VIVE™ today announced a new hardware bundle featuring Fallout 4® VR, one of the most anticipated VR titles to date. Starting today, October 2nd, customers who purchase an HTC Vive, will receive a free redemption code for Fallout 4 VR, a $59.99 value, which launches on December 12, 2017 (vive.com/fallout4-vr). Fallout 4, the legendary post-apocalyptic adventure from Bethesda Game Studios and winner of more than 200 'Best Of' awards, including the DICE and BAFTA Game of the Year, and most recently 'Best Virtual Reality Game' at gamescom 2017, finally comes in its entirety to VR. Fallout 4 VR includes the complete core game with all-new combat, crafting, and building systems fully reimagined for virtual reality.

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"Fallout 4 VR is the most anticipated title for VR this holiday, and the game development team at Bethesda Game Studios is delivering on the promise with a full-length AAA open-world game that takes advantage of Vive's incredible room-scale immersion for a mind-blowing experience in the Wasteland," said Joel Breton, GM of Vive Studios. "The promise of a game with near endless content, including hundreds of locations, characters, and quests, fully playable in VR, is something that we have been focused on providing for the VR gaming community. We are now thrilled to provide this incredible game to new Vive owners and eagerly look forward to game's launch on Vive this December." 

CatsAndVR experienced the freedom of exploring the wasteland using Vive's room-scale technology and talked to a fan who came to VRDC just for the game to see his reactions.

A Work Of Heart: Owlchemy Labs Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality @VRDC2107

At VRDC2017 Devin Reimer and Alex Schwartz (Chief Technology Owl and Chief Executive Owl, respectively) of Owlchemy presented their Postmortem on Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality.

Owlchemy Labs originally began in the mobile and PC game space back in 2010. The team created the highly entertaining and successful VR game Job Simulator, which launched as a day-one launch title on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PSVR with motion controllers. The game was a big hit with Rick And Morty co-creator Justin Roiland. The excellent job the team did with Job Simulator allowed them to gain the trust of Justin Roiland which led to Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, a collaboration with Adult Swim Games.

After listening to the postmortem I had even more respect to the Owlchemy team as the amount of effort they put into this game was truly an inspiration for game developers at all levels. 

"It was amazing to work on Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality! Everyone at the studio were already such a huge fans of the show, and the show’s universe is so densely packed with hilarious bits. It was essentially a playground in which we could build absurd and hilarious moments. As for a specific proudest moment, showing our first playable demo at San Diego Comic Con has to be up there. The fans were floored by being able to experience their favorite show in VR and to finally feel like they had stepped into the cartoon. Watching people get completely absorbed into the experience and laughing out loud as Rick insulted them to their face was an unforgettable moment."- Alex Schwartz Chief Executive Owl in an interview with the VRDC team. 

VR has a ton of problems to solve and in working on Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality the team created many additional problems for themselves. They did this out of true love of Rick And Morty as this was not a cash grab but a true work of heart. There were a ton of lessons learned throughout the process of building the game and the team shared many of the problems, solutions and hilarious prototypes. The team started from scratch as there were no 3d references for these characters at the time. 

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The Owlchemy team created mechanics to truly create a Rick And Morty world and really reinvented the portal gun with the creative liberties they took to solve problems. 

Some of the liberties include moving the shelf in Rick's garage, adding a Real Fake Door in order to not access the house, adhering to the cannon that Portals must be shot on a flat surface and then creating new methods for portals to bring objects between scenes, death in a VR game, Meeseeks issues, and much much MUCH more. Just scroll through the insanity Owlchemy made for themselves with including the Combinator in the game. That spreadsheet of possible combinations is truly the work of Evil Morty level geniuses. 

You may be aware that Owlchemy Labs was acquired by a promising Bay Area Startup recently so lets hope that they help Owlchemy continue to grow and make awesome VR content. I look forward to the future of VR if the heart that Owlchemy has is an indicator of that future. 

http://www.catsandvr.com/blog/owlgoogle

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