Oculus VR, the company currently working on the Rift virtual reality headset, has a dedicated studio making film experiences for the Rift. Recently, Oculus Story Studio premiered its new project to Hollywood filmmakers, and now the studio has shared some more details with the public. The film, called Henry, looks absolutely adorable.
The animated short film follows the adventures of a porcupine, who loves to hug other creatures. But, since he’s a porcupine, his hugs scare others away, and as a result no one attends his birthday party. The film uses the Rift headset to achieve greater immersion in the film. Henry the porcupine will actually look at and address you as if you’re in the world with him.
Check out the new video discussing the film’s production below:
Viewers wearing the headset will be able to move their heads and look around in the film, although it’s unclear at the moment whether user input will go beyond that.
On Story Studio’s website, the team referenced some of the difficulties of making VR movies. For example, because viewers have the ability to look around, the studio has to relinquish control over the camera shots to make the film immersive. You can read more about the process of creating VR movies here.
Henry will be released in the beginning of 2016 alongside the retail launch of the Oculus Rift, and it’s being directed by Ramiro Lopez Dau, who worked on the animation for several Pixar movies. This is a cool application of virtual reality, and it hopefully marks a new wave in VR filmmaking that will come to all of the upcoming headsets. What do you think about VR films? Let us know in the comments.
Brown dwarfs have long been in a state of cosmic limbo. Though they have a few star-like qualities, these celestial bodies lack some of the fundamental characteristics that define a star; they’re cool, small, and emit for little light. This has led some scientists to argue that brown dwarfs are more akin to planets than they are to the luminous balls of plasma scattered throughout the Universe.
Game rental stores are pretty much gone, but renting downloadable games might be their replacement: Sega will soon let you download some of its PC games for short periods of time.
Today, the company announced a partnership with GameSessions, a service that lets you try out or rent PC games before you buy them. Its games will have free trials, which give players anywhere from 120 to 240 minutes to play the games. Then, during that free trial, you can also elect to rent the game for a certain period of time.
Currently, the rental option includes paying a few dollars to gain access to the game for a day. After your free trial or rental is over, you’ll have the option to purchase the game, which will immediately put it in your Steam library and transfer your save over.
This new partnership isn’t necessarily targeting American audiences. In the press release, Sega stated that GameSessions will let it expand into Mexico and Brazil and cater to PC audiences in those places.
Currently, GameFly is the other main game rental service, although that company focuses on physical and streaming games, rather than downloadable rentals. There are few services that rent games via full download–other services, like GameFly or PlayStation Now, provide players the option to stream games for certain amounts of time.
A piece of airplane that appears to match the missing MH370 jet that went missing in March 2014 was found on the island of Réunion, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar. It is really is from that airplane, it is way far from where it was last spotted, near the southern tip of Vietnam.
When Amazon announced the Dash Button back on March 31st, it seemed like an early April Fools’ joke: it had made a button you can buy that would place an order for something — a single, specific product — whenever you pressed it. But the Dash Button was very real and designed to be a convenience for helping people reorder commonly used household goods, like toilet paper or laundry detergent. They were initially available for free to Prime members, but only by invitation. As of this week, they’re now available to be purchased by all Prime members for $4.99 each.
There are 18 Dash Buttons so far, with buttons for Glad bags, Bounty paper towel rolls, Smartwater bottles, and Gerber baby formula, among others. Each button represents a…
In the ’90s, there was no Spotify. There was no Vevo. Traditional music-based channels were a cultural norm, with live shows and music-video rotations alike. But with the advent of the internet, all of that changed. Listeners can now subscribe to a library of countless songs, and music videos are only ever one search away. Our content is no longer curated by the provider, but by us, and the days of thinking “what song will I hear next” are slowly fading away.
At least, for the most part.
Guitar Hero TV is less of a singular game than an entire platform. In October, it will release as part of Guitar Hero Live, Freestyle Games’ reboot of the seminal plastic instrument series that began 10 years ago. While the latter’s live-action sets, reactive crowds and new control scheme are doing their own part to set the reboot apart from its predecessors, Guitar Hero TV is the separate, online aspect with progression elements of its own. And it could be the thing to keep players coming back again, and again, and again.
“With Guitar Hero TV, we want to bring back that feeling,” an Activision representative tells me, while strumming a chord progression perfectly during one song’s chorus. ”That idea that the next music video is completely up in the air. You might know it’s going to be punk rock, or metal, but outside of that, no one knows.”
From what Activision showed, Guitar Hero TV is easily accessible. One press of a button on the new guitar brings up what looks like a TV guide, complete with separate channels, each based around a certain genre. Songs rotate on each channel, and there’s a schedule with a week’s worth of programming: Saturday at 7 p.m. could be pop hits, followed by a midnight shift to dirty punk music. Essentially, Guitar Hero TV is a collection of music-video channels. But these are ones we can all play along with.
A bar on the left-hand side of the iconic Guitar Hero highway shows a list of names. This is the leaderboard for the current song. Whoever hits the most notes, gains longer streaks, and uses their score multiplier at the best times will rise to the top. Subsequent rewards are based on player scores, and can be turned in for certain items–these include new note highway aesthetics, and also, of course, songs.
And that’s the thing–this mode can be completely free. If you come across a song you love, you can use in-game rewards (called “plays”) to save it to your Quick Play library, ensuring you have it on-hand for the next time you want to play it. You can use real money to buy the songs as well. But refraining from doing so won’t hinder your experience at all, like many free-to-play models might. Guitar Hero TV doesn’t bar you from any content–all the songs are available from the outset. It’s just a matter of when you’ll see them.
This model borrows heavily from MTV nostalgia, but also from something more recent: Destiny. Similar to Bungie’s flow of scheduled content, Freestyle wants to find ways to keep players returning. And as it turns out, rotating content on a weekly basis might be a good way to do that.
“Keeping a player base can be hard,” the Activision representative says, nailing a series of hammer-ons during a particularly hard solo. “And we needed a way to differentiate Guitar Hero Live from the older games, because people played those ones to death. This is our way of doing something different, and we think it will keep people hooked.”
Much like Bungie reels players back in with daily story missions, weekly cooperative strikes, and weekend events, Freestyle will swap out programming every week. While Destiny players return for the promise of new loot and experience, Guitar Hero Live players will, ideally, return for the music.
“It’s not just a question of how we can get the content to players. It’s a matter of, ‘How do we keep giving players worthwhile content, and how do we keep people interested in Guitar Hero past that first release week? That’s why designing TV was more like designing an entire platform,” according to Activision.
This school of thought is very much like Bungie’s shooter as well. Although Destiny released almost a year ago, its player base is still alive and well. Freestyle is aiming to maintain a similar crowd with Guitar Hero TV.
It’s also worth mentioning another way Guitar Hero TV could be similar to Destiny: the game doesn’t have to be perfect at launch. Aside from its rotation of missions and rewards each week, Bungie has also implemented technical and mechanical changes to Destiny in an effort to continually tweak an already-released product. So while Freestyle can add songs to its roster throughout Guitar Hero TV’s lifespan, it may also apply changes that weren’t ready for its initial release.
Much like many other teams in modern years, Activision and Freestyle Games may not be considering this product just a game in the traditional sense, but as a platform that can continuously evolve, regardless of its initial status at release. It still feels like a quality game at the moment, and I think Freestyle has done enough to set it apart from the halcyon days of rhythm-based music games. But I’m interested to see just how Guitar Hero TV evolves over time, as this kind of content model becomes even more prevalent in the video game industry.
From what I’ve seen so far, Guitar Hero TV may very well be Activision’s newest version of the platform model. The curated channels, weekly rotations and a plethora of content is a beast of its own, separate from Guitar Hero Live, and on the game’s Oct. 20 release, Freestyle can see whether they perfected the platform they’ve been working on.
When Microsoft released Windows 95 almost 20 years ago, people packed into stores to be among the first lucky buyers to get their hands on this cutting edge new technology. Microsoft had an iron grip on productivity software in the enterprise, but even ordinary consumers were accustomed to paying hundreds of dollars for software. Two decades later, Microsoft is releasing Windows 10. But most people won’t have to rush out and purchase a copy. Anyone with a copy of Windows dating back to Windows 7 can upgrade for free, a first for Microsoft.