Train2Game News: Virgin Media Game Space

Virgin Media Game SpaceI got the pleasure of attending the launch for the Virgin Media Gaming Space last night at Blackall studios in London.

The Virgin Media Gaming Space is a new venture to promote indie gaming in the lead up to Eurogamer, where Virgin are one of the key sponsors.

The space itself is filled with many of the new indie games to try, including Spelunky and Super Hexagon. Downstairs is an area for indie developers to drop in and work together to create games with the hardware available.

There is also going to be a number of events across the time that the space is there including Game Jams and several talks with industry professionals including Mike Bithell, the developer of Thomas Was Alone.

One of the biggest attractions that is at the Virgin Media Gaming Space is the chance to try out an Oculus Rift. I jumped at the opportunity to see what it was like myself and personally was a bit disappointed but I can certainly see the potential in it.

The game that was being used to display the Oculus Rift was Strike Force Zero. A space shooter where you are a pilot destroying all things in view.

My main problem with the Oculus Rift was with me wearing glasses the headset pressed them in to the bridge of my nose causing discomfort. I did however like the way the UI would slide in to view when you looked to the left.

Regardless of my opinions on the Oculus Rift I wouldn’t have had the chance to try it out if it wasn’t for the Virgin Media Gaming Space. I urge all who can make it to visit as it is an excellent place to meet like minded individuals and play some of the latest greatest indie games.

You can read more about the space and find out about the events taking place at http://www.vmgs.com/

You can view a gallery of my time at the event below:

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Train2Game News: Where could Oculus Rift lead?

Oculus RiftThe founder of Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey, has stated that VR tech may be able to achieve “Matrix level virtual reality” within just a few years.

In a talk with Eurogamer Mr Luckey predicted a bright future for VR technology: “VR tech is still very crude,” he said, “but it’s advancing rapidly.”

The Oculus Rift device is going from strength-to-strength this year. Over 20,000 dev units have been shipped, and the company recently recruited id veteran John Carmack as its CTO. Oculus is now working on making the device compatible with Android mobile devices.

The next step beyond that would be to bring the device to games consoles. It’s simplicity means it would be a relatively easy thing to accomplish. “From our point of view you just need an HDMI input, and both consoles have HDMI,” said Laird Malamed of Oculus. “My experience has been that to get access to the USB side, that’s typically where you need software level support and that’s where you need their help.”

This could be nixed if Microsoft and Sony choose to release their own VR headsets for their respective next-gen consoles. Malamed said that the competition would be a positive thing for the technology.

“They’re big companies with lots of resources. For us we’d say good. With John Carmack coming over as our CTO, we’ve had a great Kickstarter campaign, they continue to be great supporters, but we’re still a start-up. VR’s had a lot of failures in the past, and so the more people that enter the market is good because developers that ultimately have to develop the content, they know they’ll have people playing their games which is better for all of us.”

It’s conceivable then that VR headsets could become commonplace during the next console generation. This would open up a whole new world of development.

Train2Game News: Oculus Rift gets huge funding

Oculus RiftOculus VR, maker of the anticipated Oculus Rift VR gaming headset, has secured $16 million in Series A funding.

The round was co-led by Spark Capital and Matrix Partners. Santo Politi, founder and general partner at Spark, and Antonio Rodriguez, serial entrepreneur and general partner at Matrix, have joined the company’s board of directors. Founders Fund as well as Formation 8 also participated in the round.

Oculus plans to use the funds to accelerate the development of its virtual reality hardware, software and services, and ultimately create a virtual reality platform for consumers.

“Oculus began with a single mission: to put players inside the game,” said Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR and inventor of the Oculus Rift.

“This investment allows us to deliver immersive and affordable virtual reality to players everywhere.”

Oculus garnered lots of attention when it debut at last year’s E3. Oculus has since manufactured and shipped the Rift development kits purchased in its Kickstarter campaign, allowing game developers to create Oculus-ready applications and interactive content.

Spark Capital has previous backed other forward-thinking tech ventures, which have subsequently gained massive popularity, including Twitter and Tumblr. Matrix Partners’ achievements include early investments in some of the world’s most successful technology companies, such as Apple, SanDisk and others.

“What better way to mark our first anniversary than to announce our next phase of growth,” said Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus VR.

“There are still many challenging problems to solve, but with the support of these great investment partners, and our passionate community, we will continue to hire the brightest minds and stay laser focused on delivering the very best virtual reality platform possible.”

Oculus VR originally raised over $2.4 million through its Kickstarter campaign – almost ten times its fundraising goal.

Development kits are currently doing the rounds, but no commercial release date has been set for the product.