To simplify this category of VR I am going to divide the software between applications and Games. Applications are programs written and designed with a functional approach, for example controlling your home cinema system. Games are as you can imagine a selection of art and software built solely for entertainment and education through direct user interaction.
NASA are unsurprisingly big supporters of VR, they have been for longer then the consumer market has been interested. Reading a fascinating article in the Houston Chronicle they peel back just what NASA have been doing with this software. As a digital form that can be sent up to the ISS the training programmes and simulations they have created are not just used on earth. While the ISS prototype is literally a laptop stuck to somebody’s face the user gets the necessary effect. Learning to install a new part in exact movements can be the difference between life and death for an astronaut.
One of my favourites in the VR App market is Google Tilt Brush. Imagine discovering Paint for the first time on an early computer while taking a bucket load of LSD. Starting with a black three dimensional space and a pallet of paint you can turn the emptiness into whatever pops into your head. Tilt Brush was actually used by Chinese artist Cao Fei to produce one of the highly prestigious BMW art cars, this radical new approach is certainly a favourite for me.
Oculus has announced it’s VR for Good workshop. This event is designed to encourage creatives and developers to come up with positive social applications for VR. Filling the rooms with skilled individuals and the support to help great new projects take shape, should help birth better integration of VR into our everyday lives. Applications for this closes on the 6th April.
As a platform for innovation and new things VR sees some very out there creations, this includes one of Steams number one VR games, Gorn, known for its excessively bloody cartoon combat. Coming up soon is a new game from developers Kite and Lightning, Bebylon. Featuring mario kart/smash brothers style fighting and immortal babies this looks to top the bill for crazy VR experiences.
Pixel Ripped 1989 is set to be a 2018 hit as it finally lands on steam after its successful 2015 kickstarter campaign. The story follows a schoolgirl Nicola who descends Jumanji style into the digital world through a console. Once inceptioned one more layer into the digital world you must contend with evil powers attempting to climb up the rungs to reality.
Space Junkies by Ubisoft looks to be an incredible addition the VR shooter category when it releases. Ubisoft as a major player are no mook when it comes to putting out a polished looking product. If the mechanics are also as good as they look then this could be a major player for casual and esports gaming alike.
For those looking for something a bit more unnerving, Elijah Wood in Transference might be the experience for you. Tapping into film-like qualities this title might just manage to feel a little too real, and if it achieves that it is certainly going to be on of the VR greats. Another title by Ubisoft but on the more cerebral side as it looks at replaying PTSD memories for someone.
These are but a few of the raft of interesting content coming out for VR. Keep an eye out for our June update after the E3 conference where we expect even more exciting things.
By Joe Turner-McMullan