Hoping to see a full-fledged MMORPG with virtual reality take off in your lifetime? We may be witnessing the start of one with MetaWorld, even if it does look a little like Nintendo Wii avatars got guns and went fishing in cyberspace.
MetaWorld uses SpatialOS for its engine and is aiming for an August early access launch on Steam. Currently, the team is drumming up financial support for the project through Indiegogo. A soft target goal of $50,000 is posted, although because this is Indiegogo, whatever the team raises, the team keeps.
According to the description, MetaWorld “invites you explore a persistent 10,000 square mile, massively scaled open world together. Discover endless activities and adventure, inside a real-time physics simulation allowing thousands of visitors to participate simultaneously online.”
OK, virtual reality fans and frenemies, here’s a fun thought process: How do you simulate haptic feedback when your arms are waving around in the air? When you pretend to grab a mug of coffee, pick up a ball, or clock someone in the jaw, how does the game world sell immersion to you?
One answer might be electric muscle stimulation — yep, they’re gonna shock you. Researchers at the Hasso-Plattner Institute in Germany are apparently trying to mimic the muscle response and feel of touching, pushing, or lifting items in virtual reality with micro-shocks in actual reality.
It’s not really as “shocking” as it sounds, as anyone’s who’s ever experienced this sort of thing in its existing form as muscle therapy can attest (I can, and it actually worked, I’m still surprised to say). At its worst, it sort of feels like weird tingling or zingy pressure, not pain. It’s a cheap process, but it’s also goofy as heck, and if you were annoyed at having to plop on a giant headset for virtual reality, just wait until you have to tape a bunch of electrical nodes up and down your arms.
For a few days each year, hundreds of EVE Online
players from across the world flock to a frozen volcanic rock at the top of the world for the annual EVE Fanfest. I was on the ground at EVE Fanfest 2017
last week in
Reykjavik to get the latest on what’s ahead for EVE
and CCP’s other titles, and it was a thoroughly enlightening experience. We learned all about CCP’s amazing plans
to roll out adaptive AI-driven PvE across the game world, talked to players and developers, and heard about the next stage of Project Discovery
that will let players search for real exoplanets in space.
We also got hands-on with CCP’s immersive VR sport game Sparc, looked at Valkyrie‘s new Groundrush game mode that has players fighting inside huge structures on a planet’s surface, and confirmed that DUST 514 successor Project Nova is still in development. There were talks at Fanfest that we just didn’t get a chance to go to, and others that really have to be seen first-hand. Thankfully, CCP has recorded most of the event and has begun uploading talks to the EVE Online YouTube channel.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I’ll be running down some of the highlights of the official videos from EVE Fanfest 2017 for those who missed the event.
Remember last week when SuperData published a report on virtual reality, predicting a “steep rise” in VR adoption as we roll toward 2020? Competing analysis firm Newzoo is a bit more reserved and focuses more on the existing market rather than the future one. In its recent blog piece, it points to mobile VR being the current arena of growth opportunity, echoing SuperData’s point that the Samsung Gear has outsold everything else and dangling the idea that an Apple VR system might disrupt the market and bring in wider adoption.
“There are several factors that will contribute to the mass adoption of mobile VR, including improvement in the quality of the VR experience offered by relatively affordable mobile VR devices such as Google Cardboard, overcoming compatibility issues, and a boost in content that caters to people’s great variety of interests,” Newzoo says. “Additionally, the business model needs to be a good match. An example of this, coming from sports, that could potentially spark the mass market breakthrough for VR: the NBA wraps up its live VR experience in their subscription model. Not offering a single purchase option is a missed opportunity and limits uptake. Another factor at play is the fact that many people have their first VR experience with someone else’s device. The need to own a personal headset is not yet big enough to justify the purchase. ”
With virtual reality headsets becoming widespread and the gaming industry jumping on board the movement, could there be a dark side to this rapid adaptation? That’s the concern of some of University of Southern California’s researchers, who spoke at a lecture to present some of the unintended consequences of widespread VR penetration.
The researchers are calling for government scrutiny of VR to prevent abuse and gaslighting: “We haven’t mastered the idea of how we maintain boundaries within virtual and digital and now we’re going to start connecting all of these other systems. So maybe it’s time to start thinking a little bit more deeply.”
With that said, there actually is a VR MMORPG in development. Yoshinori Yamagishi, who formerly produced Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile, is working on a new title called Monobit VR. You can take a glimpse of this title after the break.
At the end of February, CCP Games announced a new game that has nothing to do with EVE Online or even the EVE IP. Named Sparc, the new VR game is being pitched as a virtual sport environment with competitive online gameplay and an online social space. It has the aesthetic of the Tron-style cyberspace world that movies promised us throughout the 80s, and uses motion controls to deliver full-body VR gameplay. Even the social space will have a bit of an 80s arcade vibe, with players able to gather around and watch others compete and challenge the reigning champion to a match.
Anyone who’s been to EVE Fanfest in recent years will recognise Sparc immediately. The game made its public debut as Disc Arena in Fanfest 2015’s VR Labs demo section alongside three other VR experiments, and made a re-appearance the following year with motion controls as Project Arena. Just as Project Nemesis became the release title Gunjack, this game has now graduated into a full production title with its own development team and budget. Sparc is due for release at some point in 2017 on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, and we managed to get some hands-on time with an early version at this year’s Fanfest.
SuperData was rather famously quoted all throughout the industry at the end of 2016 following its research-backed proclamation that virtual reality was the “biggest loser” of the holiday gaming sales season. But this week, the company has issued an infographic suggesting that VR is now “on the rise” and its best days are ahead of it.
Last November, the research firm adjusted its original estimates for VR sales after both Sony and Google saw significantly fewer than anticipated VR headsets sold to consumers. However, SuperData explained at the time that headsets were suffering from “supply inconsistencies,” poor sales tactics during the holidays, and the absence of high-demand games and apps to drive sales — none of which was irreversible.
The new infographic anticipates a “steep rise” in VR adoption over the next few years, though it’ll be one still vastly overshadowed by the use of TV, phones, and PCs. While SuperData suggests most of the profits are in the devices themselves right now, it predicts that by 2020, revenue from VR will near $40B US and eventually be more evenly distributed over hardware and software.
Virtual reality dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie has taken centre stage in the emerging VR landscape, growing from a tech demo developed by some devs at CCP Games in their spare time to become a bundled launch title on the Oculus Rift and launch on several other VR platforms. The game has received several major updates since its launch just over a year ago, adding a new Carrier Assault game mode, weekend Wormhole events, a competitive league system, and more.
Today at EVE Fanfest 2017 and as just announced by the official PlayStation blog, CCP Games revealed the next step for Valkyrie — and it’s a pretty big one! The Groundrush update will add a radically different way of playing the game with the first ever ground-based map, “Solitude,” which will see you dogfighting within the atmosphere of a planet and dodging through pirate structures. The update also expands co-op play to the Control and Carrier Assault game modes, adds some new Wormhole events, and adds official support for the Steam Controller. The Groundrush update officially launches on April 11th, and you can check out the trailer below.
Last summer when Pokemon Go took off, so did the lawsuits from property owners who claimed Niantic was effectively encouraging players to illegally trespass on their land. We covered two such suits, one in Michigan and one in New Jersey, and there were more — and they’ve since been consolidated into a single suit seeking class-action status.
The U.S. District Court in San Francisco is now set to decide the case, The Wall Street Journal reports this week, in a move that will likely influence future augmented reality MMOs like PoGo.
“Residents of the Villas of Positano on the South Florida coast said hundreds of people began infiltrating the 62-unit complex, parking illegally and even relieving themselves in the landscaping during late-night visits to ‘catch’ virtual characters. Another plaintiff, a New Jersey lawyer, said at least five people knocked on his door asking for access to his backyard. In Michigan, a couple said a quiet nearby park became overrun once it was tagged as a location in the game, creating a nightmare for neighbors as players stormed the area, blocked driveways and peered in windows. […] The intrusions, the plaintiffs say, amount to negligence and trespassing by the game’s developer, Niantic Inc. They claim not only that Niantic is responsible for players who physically trespassed, but also that the placement of the virtual characters is itself a form of trespassing.”
I sure hope you’re not tired of CCP Games talking about VR because CCP can’t stop won’t stop.
The video game studio known best for EVE Online has been laser-focused on the VR space for the last few years now, launching Gunjack, Gunjack 2, and EVE Valkyrie for VR and just last month announcing VR sports sim Sparc.
Today, CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson features in a new interview on GamesIndustry.biz, where he basically talks up how well VR is doing. When interviewer James Brightman suggests that only about two million high-end VR devices have sold — numbers that the analysts at SuperData said made VR the “biggest loser” of the holiday gaming sales season — Pétursson argues that two million is actually a much bigger deal that it seems to be by putting the number into national perspective.
Did you think that EVE: Valkyrie had been out for a whole year? Before you saw the headline, that is. Actually, perhaps you did anyway, perhaps the game is one of your favorite titles. If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to know that its first anniversary celebration offers doubled experience for every player for each mission flown for an entire week.
The event ends on April 4th, but you should have time to fly plenty of missions between now and then. Whether it’s a welcome addition to a game you still play regularly or an excuse to dust off a VR headset and play once more will depend on your personal preferences.
Path of Exile’s
latest dev Q&A
has a few nuggets of interest for followers of the MMOARPG. What caught our eye? Don’t expect an auto-sort button in your inventory bins.
“I had a good conversation recently with David Brevik about how large items that require manipulation in the inventory help simulate the ‘weight’ that items have in other RPG systems,” Grinding Gear Games’ Chris Wilson says. “It may be inconvenient to have to organise items, but it makes them feel real. Simplifying this down to auto-sorting or single-slot-items is a road we don’t want to take our game down.”
The team does, however, have a plan to someday add an alternate skillbar and new skills, but not shapeshifting, extra zoom tools, virtual reality, or an offline version of the game. Why no offline? Not only would it be a waste of resources, but “the game will never be in a state where the servers have to be shut down for financial reasons.”
Even if you can overlook the expense, the current lack of games, the potential for nausea, and the annoyance of wearing a clamshell on your sweaty face, virtual reality has a looming problem: trolls.
Turns out that the same internet jerks who ruin online spaces and games via text and avatar show up to do the same in virtual reality too.
As MIT Technology Review wrote yesterday, part of the point of socializing in virtual worlds is to feel the “presence” of other people — but the very benefit that makes “virtual reality so compelling also makes awkward or hostile interactions with other people much more jarring,” such as when people invade your private space or try to touch your avatar without permission.
The publication highlights AltSpaceVR, a startup building tools to help people deal with trolls. The company has some of the basics already — like a way to make obnoxious people invisible with a block — but it’s also working on a “personal space bubble” to stop people from groping your virtual self without permission, which they would otherwise do because people are gross and have no shame.