Train2Game News nDreams investment

nDreams Ltd., the UK’s largest independent developer/publisher solely focused on virtual reality (VR) entertainment software, today announced that it has received an investment of £2.0 million, the first of a two-stage round. 
Mercia Technologies PLC, the technology-focused investment business who has invested £4.1 million into nDreams previously, funded £1.0 million of the latest round. The rest of the investment comes from a group of angel investors.

The nDreams investment follows the recent launch of the award-winning The Assembly (view trailer) on Sony’s PlayStation®VR, coming after its number one debut on Oculus Rift and successful release on HTC Vive. nDreams also recently released Danger Goat (view trailer), its first title for the Daydream, Google’s new high-quality mobile VR platform that launched on 10 November 2016.

Patrick O’Luanaigh, nDreams’ CEO and Founder, said:

“We’re delighted that Mercia are continuing to support our growth by taking part in this investment, which is the first of a two-stage round. We’re also very pleased to welcome a number of private investors, all of whom have hugely successful business backgrounds and a wealth of knowledge and experience. I’m so proud of the team that we have assembled here at nDreams. This investment allows us to continue building on the momentum we have achieved, and to develop VR games and experiences of the very highest quality.”

Mike Hayes, Mercia’s Investment Director, Digital & Digital Entertainment:

“The continued progress of nDreams is an example of Mercia’s success in investing and mentoring UK technology businesses. We congratulate the nDreams team and believe that the Company has an exceptionally exciting future ahead, operating at the forefront of the VR content development.”

nDreams was one of the first game studios in the world to focus on VR software, and has been working on virtual reality since 2013. The company has also launched Gunner and Perfect Beach on the Samsung Gear VR and has several VR games and experiences in development.

Train2Game News 3lb Games create VR movement script

​3lb Games has created a movement script for the Oculus Touch and the HTC Vive to help abate the motion sickness endemic to virtual reality (VR). 
3lb Games built a suite of tools to aid developers in choosing the most appropriate movement system for their game or application.

The system allows users to better signal their intent to move. It improves the connection between their intention and their perception.

By eliminating sensory conflict, you can significantly reduce one of the biggest contributors to motion sickness. When intent is aligned with action, the process of VR movement feels both intuitive and natural. 

Unlike other movement systems, this package contains a number of different movements for a broad range of games. You can even mix and match some of them to create a unique locomotion system.

This is the first asset ever approved for the Oculus Touch in the Unity Asset Store.

The movement system is a comprehensive package for the Oculus Touch and the HTC Vive. It can also be modified for other VR headsets. It includes the following modes:

●       Hand-Guided Movement

●       Point and Shoot Rotation

●       Teleportation (NavMesh)

●       Flight/Grounded

●       Stick Rotation (Oculus Touch only)

●       Quick Stick Rotate (Oculus Touch only)

●       Forward Blink

●       Non-Touch (Oculus Touch only)

●       Line Arc System

●       Rubberband Movement

●       VR Fade System

Sources are included.

The goal in creating this system and making it available to other developers is to create a common language and experience base for VR development. The studio intend to build a natural, immersive VR experience that will eliminate motion sickness in this exciting new medium.

You can find the Oculus Unity Asset Store link here.

You can find the HTC Vive Unity Asset Store link here.

Train2Game News VR Animation

Limitless, Ltd. today announced a new cloud-based animation toolset that allows rapid prototyping of animated VR content inside a virtual reality world. For the first time ever, anyone working on VR content can intuitively animate characters in real time within the VR world itself – and accomplish this at least 16 times faster than with current animation software.  By making VR content faster and easier to create, developers can run more experiments and create more compelling content for VR, including games and films that involve interactive character’s.

The new animation toolset is the first-of-its-kind and does not require professional training.  Limitless CEO and Founder Tom Sanocki saw the need for great VR content, but was watching VR directors and animators spend countless hours going back and forth between computer software and the VR environment where the content lives. Putting VR content creation inside the actual VR world eliminates the time-consuming back-and-forth between the computer and the VR environment, and also allows those without professional training to become VR animators on the spot.

According to Sanocki, “We are all animators at heart – we learned at an early age by playing with our toys.  We just need to remove the barrier formed by our software so we can all create stories using the inspiration that we already have inside of us.”

“I’ve seen the future of VR animation, and Limitless is getting it right,” said Bobby Beck, CEO/Founder Artella and CEO/Founder Animation Mentor.  “They are paving the way in VR animation for both professionals and the masses.”

The animation editing tools in the Limitless Creative VR Environment are strong enough for developers to use for prototyping, yet easy enough for anyone to animate.  Using a VR headset and hand controllers in the Limitless Creative VR Environment enables rapid prototyping for newcomers that would otherwise require weeks of intensive professional training. Plus, Limitless has a tutorial character within the VR environment to help walk anyone through the animation process.  Film directors, for example, can change the way a character moves, looks or acts instantly in real time.

Professional animator Jon Collins, who has previously worked at Pixar, ILM, Blue Sky, Blizzard, and ToyTalk, currently leads UX and animation as the Creative Director at Limitless.  “As a layout tool, this dramatically increases the rate at which sequences can be assembled and iterated on in CG. What would have normally taken me an entire day to do,  I can now accomplish in less than an hour,” said Collins.

“It has always frustrated me that although I can visualize motion and timing quickly and easily, the process of replicating these movements in CG with traditional animation software is time consuming and non-intuitive,” Collins added. “With the Limitless Creative VR Environment, both of these restrictions can be overcome in a matter of hours by anyone. By connecting a person’s innate ability to move their own body in beautifully rhythmic ways directly to VR characters in real time, the process of animation becomes much more intuitive and enjoyable.”

The Limitless animation tools can be used with any VR environment and character that has been imported into this part of the Limitless Creative VR Environment platform.  In October, the company will be opening the platform and animation tools to a small group of studios and partners to make sure the company is solving the right VR problems while keeping content creation easy.

Sanocki concluded, “Right now the biggest need in VR is good content and that is largely driven by characters. Forming a deep emotional connection with the characters we care about hits the core of mainstream entertainment. Our platform solves the tricky task of creating interactive characters in VR, and now makes it easy for anyone to animate those characters in real time.”

Train2Game News Huge VR Investment

​Another half a billion dollars was invested into virtual and augmented reality startups in the third quarter of this year, with a record $2.3 billion dollars invested in the last 12 months.
Q3 2016 saw the 9th straight quarter of investment trending upwards, as the money flowing into AR/VR is now being driven by major Sand Hill Road VCs and corporate investors. With check sizes averaging $9.3 million (or $16.4 million excluding seed deals) in the quarter, AR/VR investment is rapidly going mainstream. Details are in Digi-Capital’s new Augmented/Virtual Reality Report and Deals Database.

The mainline VC and corporate world accounted for 86% of the number of investors in AR/VR startups in the third quarter. The big name financial investors included Fidelity, Intel Capital, Softbank, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Sequoia, DCM, Qualcomm Ventures, Raine, CITIC and more. The roster of corporate investors joining the fun added Amazon, Alibaba and News Corp. So while specialist AR/VR VCs drove the early investment market, growing confidence and check sizes has led to the number of mainstream investors accelerating.

Excluding Magic Leap’s massive rounds in 2014 and at the start of this year, the overall growth trend for AR/VR investment has now been upwards for over 2 years. In the context of more general concerns about tech market investment, that continued confidence on the part of serious investors that virtual, augmented and mixed reality are the fourth wave of consumer technology change is even more impressive.

As investment has continued to grow, the balance of where the money is going has become broader. While Magic Leap’s $793.5 million round was astonishing, it took less than $4 of every $10 invested into the market. VR/AR solutions/services was the next largest category, with video following close behind including NextVR’s $80 million round from heavyweights like CITIC, Netease and Softbank. Moving beyond AR head mounted displays (“HMDs”), VR HMDs still took in a respectable level of investment despite the presence of major corporate competitors like Facebook, Samsung, Sony and HTC/Valve. AR/VR peripherals, games, advertising/marketing, applications, tech and distribution startups also raised substantial amounts.

As the AR/VR market goes through the well-trodden path of hype cycle, facing reality, liftoff and maturity, the smart money is looking to the long term. VR will be big. AR will be bigger (and take longer). While exact market timing is impossible to predict (as evidenced by the unanticipated success of Pokémon Go), folks who know how early stage investment markets work are betting increasingly heavily on AR/VR’s potential.

To help foster growing AR/VR investment, Digi-Capital is holding its private quarterly Reality Check forum for AR/VR CEOs, corporate divisional heads and VC General Partners to do deals and solve industry issues in October.

Train2Game News Oculus Rift available at GAME 

The highly-anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) system is now available at GAME.
With great offers, demos and expertise, GAME will be the best place on the high-street and online for gamers to get into VR. There will be no better deal on the high street thanks to GAME’s trade-in and finance packages and in addition GAME Reward customers will earn 2 per cent credit on every purchase, earning over £10 back on Oculus Rift.

Instore demos* with GAME experts can be booked online and will allow gamers to both sample immersive gaming, and receive advice on making sure their PC and home set-up will deliver the very best experience.

*Oculus Rift demo experiences are available at the following stores from the dates listed. Demos can be booked through Oculus Live:

·         GAME Manchester Trafford, intu Trafford Centre, M17 8DF                                   22nd Sept

·         GAME West Thurrock, Lakeside Shopping Centre, Essex, RM20 2ZQ       23rd Sept

·         GAME Metro Centre, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, NE11 9YG                       23rd Sept

·         GAME Bluewater, Kent, DA9 9SP                                                                 23rd Sept

·         GAME Glasgow (Union St), Glasgow, G1 3RB                                             23rd Sept

·         GAME Nottingham (Victoria), Victoria Centre, NG1 3QN                             24th Sept

·         GAME Stratford, Westfield, London, E15 2EN                                              24th Sept

·         GAME Watford, Harlequin Shopping Centre, WD17 2TH                             24th Sept

·         GAME Merry Hill, Merry Hill Centre, West Midlands, DY5 1SR                   25th Sept

·         GAME Cardiff, Capital Retail Park, CF11 8AZ                                              25th Sept

Check out www.game.co.uk for more details

Train2Game News VRTGO 2016 Announced

The organisers of VRTGO have announced the return of their popular future-gazing VR conference and expo.
Entering its successful third year, VRTGO is one of the most established industry VR conferences in the world. This year, VRTGO is going BIG.

This event will see an array of exciting demos that will show the power of VR for business as well as entertainment. In addition, the people who are creating the best hardware and content for this emerging frontier will all be showing their latest and greatest.  Attend and learn about the future potential of virtual, augmented and mixed reality.

Sign up for the early bird all access pass today – click HERE.

The conference will welcome talks from Framestore, Hammerhead, Epic Games, Rewind Studio, ARM and many more.

“VR is pushing the boundaries of interactive experiences to a level only dreamt of in sci-fi, we are constantly developing magical new ways for people to be immersed in new worlds.  An example includes our award winning “Field Trip to Mars”, where school children were taken to Mars in a school bus.  We will be attending VRTGO to share our projects and meet other VR specialists”, said Karl Woolley, Head of VR Studio, London, Framestore.

Steve Jelley, Joint MD of Hammerhead VR said, “we pick and choose our events carefully and we’re excited to be exhibiting at VRTGO this year as they always have an engaged audience, and speakers that bring lots of insights into our rapidly expanding industry.”

Carri Cunliffe, conference director said, “We are excited to have so many great companies involved and we will be announcing more very shortly.  As always, we will have provocative panel discussions, outstanding speakers and amazing demos. This year, social VR will be a main theme as its emergence is changing the worlds of business and pleasure alike.”

See www.vrtgo.co.uk to buy tickets and see more information.

Train2Game News Edinburgh Digital Entertainment Festival

Edinburgh Digital Entertainment Festival (EDEF) today announces a spectacular range of panel discussions and keynote speeches, covering Gaming, Virtual Reality + Future Technology and Next Generation in Arts & Entertainment. 
The iconic Assembly Rooms will host the inaugural festival from 4 to 28 August alongside the Fringe Festival. 

Event Cinema and Live Events

In the first major festival of its kind – EDEF will include: 24 days of event cinema, with screenings of world-renowned art exhibitions, theatre, opera and ballet performances as well as special events that bring the “live” experience into the cinema.  Transforming the Assembly Rooms’ iconic music hall into a state-of-the-art cinema, audiences can discover digital theatre screenings, from Benedict Cumberbatch in  Hamlet, to Matthew Bourne’s ground-breaking dance productions, plus art exhibition screenings including a portrait of Ai Wei Wei and the works of Vincent Van Gogh. Special events include sing-a-longs, the cult-hit  Dune with a live electronic sound mix and an interactive evening of gaming weirdness in  Rab’s Videogame Empty.

Virtual Reality, Gaming and New Technology

Audiences are invited to discover the immersive world of virtual reality and explore how technology is shaping the future for art, entertainment and creative minds.  The unique festival will host a Virtual Reality ’cinema’, an exhibition of new technology and interactive arts in the  Tech Hub from broadcasters to independent games, which will be open daily, alongside gaming and coding workshops for young people in partnership with Microsoft, Lego Education, Minecraft and BBC Micro:bit, curated by the Big Learning Company.

Discussions and In-Person Demonstrations

·    Gaming focus 8 and 9 August

·    Virtual Reality + Future Technology focus 15 and 16 August

·    Next Generation Arts & Entertainment on 22 August

The festival’s  Ideas Studio presents keynote speeches and panel discussions from industry leaders from gaming, virtual reality, and performing arts.

Speakers announced today include NASA-funded scientist Peggy Wu, who will discuss her cutting-edge work in using VR to help astronauts as they embark on deep space missions. 

Sol Rogers, CEO and Founder of REWIND:VR, who will introduce the possibilities of VR across different industries having recently worked with Björk, Lexus, Rolls Royce and BBC home. 

Joe Stevens, CEO of Whispering Gibbon, will explore the future of the 3D printing for virtual worlds, while Tanya Laird, Director at Digital Jam Ltd, convenes Scotland’s first ever VR Writers Room.  

Sarah Ellis (RSC) and Tawny Schlieski (Intel) give insight on their upcoming collaboration with The Imaginarium Studios for RSC’s November production of  The Tempest; 

Flo Buckeridge, General Manager at National Theatre Live, will discuss how the theatre industry is embracing digital innovation; and 

Will Saunders, Creative Director, Digital at BBC Studios presents  Thinking Outside the Box – exploring the battle for attention in an online world.  

William Burdett-Coutts, Festival Director EDEF, Assembly and CEO Riverside Studios said:

“Our ambition is to bring together the world of arts and entertainment with digital technology – to show the best of what is happening right now and provoke the conversation about what comes next. The festival offers a diverse range of activities, allowing audiences to explore the future of the entertainment industry in an ever-growing digital world.“ 

Outside the festival, Edinburgh’s George Street comes to life with food stalls, a bar and the innovative Picturehouse Travelling Cinema, hosting a classic film programme of science fiction, musicals, short films and a selection from the BBC Series, Play for Today.

For more information or to book tickets, please visit edef.co.uk or call 0131 623 3045.

Train2Game News PlayStation VR at EGX

Sony Computer Entertainment UK have announced that PlayStation®VR will be at EGX this September, giving fans the opportunity to experience the immersive world of Sony’s innovative virtual reality headset ahead of its 13th October launch.
Visitors to the PlayStation stand will have the opportunity to get hands on with a selection of highly anticipated PlayStation VR titles including RIGS Mechanized Combat League and PlayStation®VR Worlds with more to be announced in future.

To avoid disappointment, visitors can pre-book appointments for a PlayStation VR demo at EGX. Bookings will be made available on http://trypsvr.com/.

Taking place from the 22nd-25th September at the NEC in Birmingham, EGX attendees will also have the chance to play Gran Turismo Sport™ before it speeds onto PlayStation®4 for the first time this November.

All PlayStation VR demo participants will need to be in possession of a valid EGX ticket and be 12 or over. Further PlayStation VR demo slots will be available on http://trypsvr.com/ in the run up to EGX, with a limited number of walk-in demos available across the four days.

For further information on PlayStation®VR visit playstation.com/psvr or follow us @PlayStationUK.

Train2Game Develop VR Panel

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Tandem Events has confirmed the creation of a new advisory board for its new VR conference and expo taking place in November.

The advisory board is made up of seven VR professionals who will help the team at Tandem Events to curate a conference that is both compelling and informative.

The panel is a mixture of developers from inside and outside the games industry and steer the conference programme that will include sessions on the VR and AR opportunities outside of games.

The seven advisory board members are:

Patrick O’Luanaigh, CEO, nDreams
Sam Watts, Operations Lead, Make Real
Jonathan Newth, CEO, Focal Point
Solomon Rogers, Rewind:VR
Jamie Macdonald, Co-Founder, Mindwave Ventures
Keith Russell, VR Consultant
Steve Jelly, Joint MD, Hammerhead VR

“At Mindwave Ventures we see great potential in the use of VR for amplifying the impact of existing therapies in mental healthcare,” commented Jamie Macdonald, co-founder at Mindwave Ventures. “Develop:VR recognises that VR is not just about games and brings together the wider VR community from different industry sectors. If you’re doing VR you’ve got to be at Develop:VR.”

Patrick O’Luanaigh, CEO of nDreams added, “Develop:VR is a great opportunity for virtual reality developers to share their insights and expertise with the community, and it’s fantastic that Develop recognises the importance of VR as an emerging medium by giving it such prominence at the conference. I’m delighted to be speaking about developing for the next generation of mobile VR at this event, and we look forward to dissecting our two original games for Daydream, Google’s platform for high-performance mobile VR.”

Andy Lane, managing director, Tandem Events commented, “From our years of organising Develop:Brighton we know what makes for a great event so we’re really excited about Develop:VR. With our advisory board we’ve got a stellar line up to help us cultivate a conference programme that’ll help our delegates realise the potential of VR and AR both inside and outside the games industry.”

Develop:VR is brand new event focusing on new commercial opportunities that Virtual and Augmented Reality present to today’s game developers, together with highlighting the tools and techniques needed to produce chart-topping VR and AR content.

Train2Game News Michael Bay working on VR

The Rogue InitiativeThe Rogue Initiative and Michael Bay have announced a partnership to develop original entertainment properties with a focus on virtual reality and interactive hardware.

The new collaboration will produce immersive, virtual adventures offering gritty, danger-close action coupled with Michael Bay’s signature style and storytelling that fans all over the world have come to expect from his blockbuster action films.

This is Bay’s first foray into interactive entertainment; he will direct and The Rogue Initiative will produce and develop original content in cinematic-style VR.

Pete Blumel, co-founder and CEO of The Rogue Initiative, said: “I’ve enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Mr. Bay and couldn’t be more excited to work with him and truly leverage his unique vision and incredible depth of experience to this amazing new medium. We’re all absolutely thrilled to be working with such a cinematic powerhouse in the field of action entertainment.”

Bay said: “I’ve known Pete for a long time, and he’s put together a great team. I’m excited about building new visual worlds for this innovative medium with them.”

Cathy Twigg, co-founder and Chief Production Officer of The Rogue Initiative, said: “We take a comprehensive approach in producing our IP for the entertainment landscape, specializing in film, television and interactive experiences with a focus on virtual reality. This enables The Rogue Initiative to align with our partners in expanding our IP to various other platforms and media. We’ll be bringing this approach to the properties we co-create with Mr. Bay as well.”

The Rogue Initiative officially launched earlier this year with several projects in development.

The company will seek further investment and strategic partnerships to develop its slate of upcoming cinematic, interactive VR, film and television projects for platforms and distribution channels, including Sony Playstation, Oculus, HTC Vive, Samsung GearVR, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, feature film, network and cable television.

Hrish Lotlikar, co-founder and CBDO of The Rogue Initiative, said: “We are producing entertainment properties for a global audience and continue to seek investors and partners internationally that would like to collaborate in developing and distributing our content.”

Michael Bay will join The Rogue Initiative as a strategic advisor, along with veteran film and television Producer Lynda Obst (whose credits include Interstellar, Contact, Sleepless in Seattle) as well as other recently added advisors, including Cliff Plumer (President, Jaunt Studios at Jaunt VR), Matthew Cohan (President, Bay Films), and Cody Simms (Executive Director, Disney/TechStars).

For more information about The Rogue Initiative and its collaboration with Michael Bay, please visit therogueinitiative.com.