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VIRGO’s dreamy Water Planet drips to Steam this summer

When we last saw Water Planet in the summer of 2016, the virtual reality game accompaniment to electronic musician VIRGO’s EP of the same name, it had just been ushered through Steam Greenlight. But that was sometime ago, and after hearing nothing but crickets for nearly six months, its release window is finally upon us. Water Planet will be released on Steam for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and even PC in Summer 2017. When listening to VIRGO’s music, it’s hard not to dream up the world of Water Planet on your own, as the synths lend themselves to the…

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Low-poly puzzles restore light to a dark world in a new game

Virtual reality is still in its early days, and being young, has a lot of issues that need ironing out. But sometimes developers can’t pinpoint everything, which is why the vast majority of developers are releasing games on Steam Early Access—to crowdsource Quality Assurance testing, in a way—before a grander, more polished release. And joining the ever-growing Steam Early Access club for VR is Awaken, a new puzzle slash rhythmic music game from developers Blueprint Reality, Inc. and sound design by BAFTA-award winning composer Jeff van Dyck. At first glance, Awaken looks like cuter, digital version of the board game…

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Superhot VR’s new update challenges you to beat the game in 10 minutes

In our friends at Versions’ end of the year wrap-up of their favorite virtual reality interactions of 2016, Superhot VR stood out. Superhot VR takes after the bullet-time videogame it spawned from, except with one clear difference—as your actual head and body moved, as did time. This lends itself to a variety of great VR-bound interactions: punching people in the head and watching them shatter ever-slowly, catching a gun in mid-air. Yet one stood out above the rest for our list: ricocheting a minuscule bullet off a pistol. In an update to the Oculus Touch-exclusive game, Superhot VR is going to…

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VERSIONS 2017, Speaker Spotlight: Charlotte Furet

The F_T_R are an interdisciplinary design studio working at the intersection of speculation, imagination, prediction, and realization. On their website, they bid themselves as “Innovation Architects.” And as the creators of projects such as the haptic suit Skinterface and the digital display of bioluminescent bacteria Living Pixels, The F_T_R have lived up to that description. At our upcoming VERSIONS 2017 conference, Charlotte Furet, a designer at the F_T_R, will be a featured speaker during our “Sensing Stories” panel. Born and raised in Paris, Furet received her BA in Architecture from Barnard College and a dual masters in Innovation Design Engineering from…

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Explore a dark, sacred world inspired by Finnish folklore

In some beliefs and cultures, the separation of Earth and Heaven isn’t so cut and dry. In some, there’s an odd space that finds itself sandwiched in between: a point of connection between the ground we know and the sky, whether it’s materialized by a tree, a totem, a mountain, a pillar, or anything sculpted by nature or man. In Axis Mundi, a virtual reality game borne of the recent “waves”-themed Global Game Jam, the so-called connection between Earth and Heaven is a grim place. Designed in Finland by Hu’ng, Kalle, Essi Tommila, Antti Kytö, and Mirka for the Global Game…

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A VR short film has been nominated for an Academy Award

While last year the Emmy’s recognized the Oculus Story Studio short film Henry, this year another awards ceremony is taking notice of virtual reality—the Academy Awards. Pearl, a VR short from Google, has been nominated for the 2017 Academy Awards for Best Animated Short Film. Pearl, released in 2016, stands out among the 360-degree, mobile VR, and room-scale VR tales told by Google’s Spotlight Stories. The short is directed by Patrick Osborne, the same of the Oscar-winning short Feast, which screened before the Disney film Big Hero 6 in theaters. But Pearl is a different beast than Feast, because it plops the viewer directly…

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Nothing like a 2-bit beach, 8-bit sounds, and real sand to get in your shoes

I’m not a beach person. I don’t like when sand gets in my shoes. And I don’t like wearing sandals to avoid that very problem either. I live in San Francisco, where the beaches are notoriously windy and cold, not sun-kissed and surf-ready. When I think of beaches, I often wish I were thinking of something else. But Virtua Walker ‘87, a virtual reality game borne from last weekend’s Global Game Jam, imagines a different kind of beach—one that I might even fancy walking along. The 2-bit color limited Virtua Walker ‘87 was developed by the Scotland-based Robin Sloan, Paul…

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Chrome-tinged cats come to life in this colorful VR music video

Most virtual reality music videos feel the same. They’re all impressive on a technical level, rotating 360-degrees so viewers can take in all their surroundings. Yet little of them inject the most integral feature: interactivity. That is, except for Tyler Hurd, an animator known for injecting life into those typically stagnant virtual reality music videos and making them colorful, fun, and most of all—somewhat playable like a game. At the Tribeca Film Festival last year, the animator unleashed “Old Friend,” a zany, psychedelic dance party where the player shimmied alongside a cartoonish conductor. In Hurd’s follow-up, a collaboration with Viacom NEXT, interactivity roots…

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An old, controversial science-fiction film is being reimagined for VR

Who asked for this? We’ll probably never know. But anyways: the “cult classic” science fiction film The Lawnmower Man is coming to virtual reality. Beyond the VR world already in the film, to actual VR. The 1992 film is being resurrected by the VR distribution company Jaunt, according to an announcement made at the Sundance Film Festival. “The original movie was a film of unsurpassed imagination and creativity with its ground-breaking use of VR back in 1992,” said Jim Howell, a rights holder for the project, in a press release. So far no director, cast, or other information has been announced,…