I know you weren’t expecting my newsletter for today, but since I’m going to have a very busy next week, I’ve anticipated the release of my roundup! This afternoon I’m flying to Paris to then go to Laval to attend Laval Virtual, one of the oldest events about virtual reality, where I’ll be as an attendee, a virtual speaker (about the game HitMotion: Reloaded), a host of the AWE Nite Florence (featuring great speakers like Charlie Fink… ), and also as a.. I can’t tell you the last one because it will be a surprise!
I have written a little blog post about my participation there. It’s going to be very interesting and very busy… I hope to meet you in Laval!
Top news of the week
Epic Games releases Unreal Engine 5
Epic Games has finally released the latest iteration of its popular game engine: Unreal Engine 5. UE5 is going to bring with it many innovations (e.g. an improved UI, a totally redesigned audio studio), but its two main features are: Lumen, a new lighting system, able to create realistic real-time lighting; and Nanite, a real-time rendering feature that automatically selects for any given 3D asset what is its ideal polygon count to show it in the current frame, and decimates the asset on the fly (think about it like an automatic 3D LOD generator). Thanks to these features, UE5 is going to show impressive real-time graphics with unprecedented quality.
UE5 also features functionalities for open worlds management, for easy generation of cities, and realtime automatic loading/unloading of the assets of the various blocks while you walk inside the environment. The PlayStation 5 demo for Matrix Resurrections was able to showcase that very well, and the great news is that the city of that demo will be released for free as a sample of the engine.
All these tools look amazing also for the creation of very realistic VR experiences, but actually, we should hold our enthusiasm: both Nanite and Lumen are not available for VR yet, and Epic has not announced any kind of improvement of the workflow for development for Oculus Quest 2, either. This means that while great, Unreal Engine 5 is not disruptive for us VR users and developers, yet.
VR developers have anyway already started to use this engine: Epic has confirmed that some PSVR 2 games are in the work by developers that use Unreal Engine 5. On Reddit, I have also been able to watch the video of an indie developer showcasing its game Cradle Of Sins made with UE5, and another developer publishing a tutorial on how to get started with UE5 for PCVR. There is a lot of excitement in the Unreal Engine VR communities, and I can’t wait to see what this is going to bring us in the long term.
Together with this amazing launch, Epic Games has also announced RealityScan, an application, currently in beta for iPhones, that lets you scan physical objects and reconstruct their 3D models on the fly with photogrammetry. The CEO of Sketchfab has tried it and said that it works quite well. This is for sure something that can be useful for the whole XR ecosystem.
As a Unity developer, I am a bit envious of all of this. But given the fact that the most important features of this engine are not available for VR, yet, I don’t feel compelled to do the switch. But it’s great to see that the competition between these engines is bringing always more realism to the digital world, and I can’t wait to see what all these improvements will bring in the long run when all these cool functionalities will be applied also to VR and standalone headsets.
More info (Unreal Engine 5 Official Website)
More info (Unreal Engine 5 Official Launch Blogpost)
More info (The Verge on UE5)
More info (Nanite and Lumen not available for VR)
More info (PSVR 2 games in the work using UE5)
More info (Cradle Of Sins, a PCVR indie game developed using UE5)
More info (PCVR UE5 tutorial)
More info (RealityScan)
More info (Alban Denoyel on RealityScan)
Other relevant news
Meta cancels the F8 event, but keeps pushing for the metaverse
This week we had a bunch of updates on Meta.
First of all, the company canceled its usual F8 developer conference. Probably at this moment where there is a lot of internal re-organization to focus on the M-thing, Meta has thought that it was better not to have an event that has always been heavily focused on its social media efforts. The Connect, instead, has been confirmed for this Autumn.
In the meanwhile, Meta is still working very hard to shape its m**averse. It has just selected Spain as one of the main worldwide hubs for working on the metaverse, and it plans to hire 2,000 people there. It is working on some form of virtual currency, that has been internally named “Zuck Buck” (I love this name, actually). It should not be based on cryptocurrency like Libra, but just be virtual money similar to Robux in Roblox, and we can expect it to be used in virtual worlds.
It is also still working on its own chips, but the plans there are not going as expected. A report from The Information states that the new RayBan Stories should have been based on a proprietary Meta chip, nicknamed Brasilia, but given the continuous delays, a more reliable Qualcomm chip will be used. Manufacturing chips is not an easy task, and Meta is realizing this the hard way.
News worth a mention
Apple WWDC is back in June
Apple has announced that its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will be held in an online format from June 6 through 10, free for all developers to attend. It will be another moment in which we’ll wait for the “one more thing” moment announcing XR glasses that is not going to happen.
Actually, this is the first time that there is a least some chance that an Apple headset gets announced because all the rumors talk about a 2022–2023 release window, but the fact that the event still online makes it slightly less likely. Let’s see!
Meta is working on Quest social home and better Air Link
Meta is keeping its update pace of the Oculus Quest software very high. And in the latest update, it has just added a new feature to let users navigate inside the Quest Home environment. This will pave the way for the future multiplayer social home. BTW, if you like me, were curious about those pink circles appearing in Oculus Home… those will be the points where you can teleport in this new version of the environment.
On a separate note, according to some leaked features in the firmware, Meta is also experimenting with a special USB Wi-Fi dongle to guarantee a proper high-bandwidth stable connection between the PC and the Quest for Air Link. There are no official announcements about this, though.
Some news on the metaverse
Some interesting pieces of news about the M-word from this week:
- Second Life co-founder Philip Rosedale has released another super cool interview with PC Gamer about the metaverse. I love this practical vision, and the aim he has of a hype-free and dystopia-free virtual world
- Snoop Dogg has shot a music video in The Sandbox. But more than a music video, it looks like a commercial for its space in The Sandbox and for smoking weed (this last one doesn’t surprise you, I guess)
- Avi Bar Zeev has written another one of his amazing blog posts, this time about the hype cycle of the word “metaverse”, which in his opinion may not last for long
- Vive has launched two products about NFTs and cryptocurrencies: Vive Wallet and Vive Bytes. It’s interesting that HTC is keeping the name Vive both for VR and Web3 solutions.
Some news on content
- VR MMO Ilysia opens access to its beta for $9.99. The developers claim that it is very different from Zenith
- Eolia is the newly announced follow up of Rhythm Of The Universe: Ionia
- Little Cities has been reviewed both by Upload and Road To VR, and they agree that it is a very cozy and relaxing city-building game
- Road To VR has positively reviewed Moss: Book II
- Walkabout Minigolf has just released a new DLC with new environments inspired by the game Myst. This is a crossover DLC I was not expecting
- Levitation looks like an amazing mod of Half-Life: Alyx
- Amazing painting application Painting VR releases on April 14th For Meta Quest, PC VR
- Green Hell VR on Quest gets its first very positive reviews and a “Recommended” badge by Upload
- Super Kit is the just-announced sequel of To The Top
- Demeo has just been released on PC in flatscreen mode
More info (Ilysia — Beta Access)
More info (Ilysia vs Zenith)
More info (Eolia)
More info (Little Cities review — Road To VR)
More info (Little Cities review — Upload VR)
More info (Moss: Book 2 review)
More info (Walkabout Minigolf X Myst)
More info (Half-Alyx: Levitation)
More info (Painting VR)
More info (Green Hell VR)
More info (Super Kit)
More info (Demeo)
Lumus announces two new optical systems for AR glasses based on reflective waveguides
SadlyItsBradley has made some cool 3D renders of Project Cambria
Roblox introduced layered clothing, for better clothing of its avatars
Linus Tech Tips has hosted Lucas from LucidVR and his very cheap DIY haptic gloves
“Return To Monkey Island” will be a new game by Ron Gilbert. Yes, this news is not VR-related, but… Monkey Island is back, I think the whole world should know!
News from partners (and friends)
Join the On|Metaverse summit
I am in the team organizing On|Metaverse Summit 2022, the first international B2B summit on metaverse and virtual transformation in Italy. Yes, there is the M-word in the name, but the event is going to be very cool with some international speakers like Tony Parisi and Suzanne Borders (we are still updating the speakers’ list and the agenda on the website). The event will be held in Milan and online on the 21st of April.
We are pleased to reserve a special -20% discount to the community of this blog, valid for the purchase of both online or in presence tickets. Just use the code ONMETA02COUPON when you buy the ticket and you are good to go!
Watch XpertVR podcast
I have had a nice chat with Evan from XpertVR for his podcast… we talked about XR, my job, and the M-word! You can see the recording through the link below. Learn more
Some XR fun
It’s hard to be a developer of the simulation of the world
You can now feel like Chris Rock thanks to VR. I love our community.
Crypto, crypto, crypto
One day all my Monkey JPEGs will be yours, son
Thanks Meta for giving us developers access to raw dat… nevermind
I am confused, Meta itself is confused
This is rickrolling taken to another level
(Thanks Bobby Carlton for the link)
Donate for good
Like last week, also this week I won’t ask you to donate for my blog, but to the poor people that are facing the consequences of the war. Please donate to the Red Cross to handle the current humanitarian situation in Ukraine. I will leave you the link to do that below.
Let me take a moment before to thank anyway all my Patreon donors for the support they give to me:
- Raghu Bathina
- Eduardo Siman
- Jonn Fredericks
- Jean-Marc Duyckaerts
- Reynaldo T Zabala
- Richard Penny
- Terry xR. Schussler
- Ilias Kapouranis
- Michael Bruce
- Paolo Leoncini
- Bob Fine
- Nikk Mitchell and the great FXG team
- Jake Rubin
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- Jennifer Granger
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- Francesco Strada
- Sikaar Keita
- Ramin Assadollahi
- Jeff Dawson
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- Andrew Sheldon
- Chris Madsen
- Tracey Wong
- Matthew Allen Fisher
- Horacio Torrendell
- Andrew Deutsch
- Fabien Benetou
- Tatiana Kartashova
- Marco “BeyondTheCastle” Arena
- Eloi Gerard
- Adam Boyd
- Jeremy Dalton
- Siciliana Trevino
- Joel Ward
- Alex P
- Marguerite Espin de la Vega
- Lynn Eades
- Donald P
- Enrico Poli
- Vooiage Technologies
- Liam James O’Malley
- Paul Reynolds
- Hillary Charnas
- Wil Stevens
- Brian Peiris
- Rhys Coombes
- Francesco Salizzoni
- Alan Smithson
- Steve R
- Matias Nassi
And now here you are the link to donate:
(Header image by Epic Games)
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