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11. January 2016

 

… however the ultimate question of price remains unanswered.  In an interview on the Guardian, HTC CEO Cher Wang announced the February 29th pre-order date, with wider commercials sales beginning in April.  Perhaps of more interest from the interview is just how much HTC is betting the company on Virtual Reality.  Suddenly HTCs involvement with VR seems a great deal more…  significant.

 

From the Telegraph article:

HTC will start taking pre-orders for Vive, its virtual reality headset, from February 29, its chief executive has confirmed.

Cher Wang told the Telegraph the company had chosen to refocus on virtual reality (VR) and away from smartphones, saying the company was now "more realistic".

Vive has been developed with game maker Valve, designed to fully immerse its wearer in their virtual environment while playing games. It will go on wider commercial sale in April, and will compete with Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and Sony's PlayStation VR as the technology finally enters the mainstream. Its price remains unknown.

 

From the linked interview:

When asked what went wrong, Wang doesn’t dodge the question. “Our flagship is in direct competition with several others, we have had some problems with it for two years,” she admits.

“I think the problem was competition – Apple, Xiaomi, these companies spend tons of money on communications and marketing, they pump a huge amount of investment into the market. There are a lot of Chinese competitors.”

--snip--

So will HTC finally fold up its smartphone business this year?

Wang doesn’t deny this as vehemently as expected. “Now we are more realistic. We feel that we should apply our best design to different type of sectors,” she says. “Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important.”

 

I have been an HTC fan for several years, starting back with the HTC TYTN right up until the HTC One, which I recently gave up on and replaced with a Galaxy S6.  They are capable of making a high quality and innovation devices when they set their mind to it.  As I mentioned just a few days ago HTC has the opportunity to win the VR war before it begins.  Seeing now that they are basically betting the company on it, I can’t help but cheer for them.

GameDev News


9. January 2016

 

If I am completely honest up front, right from the very beginning the HTC Vive was an also ran to me.  The Samsung GearVR was first to market, while the Oculus Rift certainly had the brand recognition and the majority of the press.  Suddenly however with the pre-orders of the Oculus Rift, most of that press is suddenly quite negative.  First because the VR controllers were  delayed, although frankly this talking point is a pretty minor one.  No, the big reason for the negative press is the sticker shock.  Earlier comments from Luckey Palmer (Oculus founder) had people expecting the rift to be around $300 so a $600 price tag was certainly a suprise.  Couple that with the incredibly high system requirements and incompatibility with the majority of high end laptops, suddenly the Rift lost a heck of a lot of momentum.

 

Of course the Rift isn’t the only horse in this race.  Ignoring Google Cardboard and GearVR, the two major players in the space are Sony with the PlayStation VR and HTC/Steam with the Vive.  With the sticker shock, the PlayStation VR had a huge opportunity here as the PS4 requirement is many times cheaper than the PC required to power the Oculus Rift (and assumedly the Vive).  They could have won on the price point alone… then this happened.  If you thought $600 was a painful price point, an Amazon.ca leak had the PSVR priced at $1,125 CDN!  (@800USD).  Of course this is only a leak at this point and I have trouble believing that Sony would actually price it at the same price point as 3x PlayStation 4s but crazier things have happened.

 

This entire process has given HTC a gigantic opportunity.  Does everyone remember the classic Sony “mic drop” price announcement for the original PlayStation?

 

And with the single comment of "$299" at E3 in 1995 the PlayStation won and the Sega Saturn died.

 

Right now, HTC has that exact same opportunity.

Totally Off Topic


6. January 2016

 

The event many people have been waiting for… the ability to order an Oculus Rift of your own has now arrive.  You can now pre-order an Oculus Rift today by clicking here.

 

So, the news everyone is waiting for… how much exactly is the Rift going to cost?

image

 

GULP!

 

$600???  Wow…  that’s pretty much double what I was expecting.  Not that I was particularly excited after discovering that my machine can’t even run the Rift.  You see, if you own a laptop that has Optimus technology… it doesn’t work with the Rift anymore, they broke compatibility with version 0.7.  If someone at Oculus is listening, you might want to put it in big bold letters OCULUS RIFT DOES NOT RUN ON 99% of LAPTOPS!

 

So, a very high price point and incompatible with laptops…  I don’t exactly expect a VR explosion.  Let’s just say I am suddenly much more excited for the HTC Vive.  I will say however, I have a GearVR and I absolutely love it.  That said, it was also $100.

GameDev News


4. January 2016

 

I covered this briefly in another tutorial but I’ve noticed enough people searching for it, I decided it deserved a post of it’s own.  The GearVR software has a special developer mode that enables you to run GearVR applications without being inserted in a GearVR headset.  This tutorial shows the process of enabling developer mode.  Obviously you need a late model Galaxy S6/Note phone to follow along.

 

It is also available as an HD video.

 

Enabling Developer Mode

  • Swipe down and select Settings gear icon
  • Tap Applications
  • Tap Application Manager
  • Locate Gear VR Service, tap
  • Tap Manage Storage
  • Tap VR Service Version Several times
  • Swipe Developer Mode on.  Now you can run without the Rift (great way to record video by the way…)

 

If successful it should look like this:

Screenshot_2016-01-04-15-32-54 [347917]

 

Use the Developer Mode toggle to turn devmode on and off.  Be aware that while developer mode is enabled your phone is going to flicker like mad as it alternates between each eye.

 

Video Version

Programming


4. January 2016

 

We recently covered getting started in GearVR development using Samsung’s GearVRf library and the Unity Engine.  Today we are going to finish it off with coverage of getting started using the Unreal Engine.  As with the Unity tutorial, although this is focused on the GearVR, most of the instruction should be equally valid for all Oculus Rift devices.  Of all the game engines, the Unreal was actually the easiest engine to get up and running with the GearVR.

 

There are a few pre-requisites before getting started:

There is a video based version of this tutorial available here and embedded below.

 

Configuring Unreal Engine

In order to be able to run code on your phone we need to add the Oculus Signature file to the application.  With Unreal Engine, this is configured at the engine level which is handy as you only have to configure it once for and it will work with all future projects.  If you haven’t already, sign up for an Oculus developer account, then get your key.  This will generate a file that we need to copy now.

The directory you want is [Unreal Install Dir][Version]\Engine\Build\Android\Java\assets.  In my install it was:

image

 

Creating a Project

You can use just about any settings, but these ones work well.

image

This will mostly just set presets that are mobile friendly.  Click Create Project when ready.

 

Configuring Your Project

If not done already, load your project in Unreal Engine, then select Edit->Plugins:

image

 

Now verify (or turn on) the GearVR and Oculus rift libraries and plugins, like so:

image

 

Now select Edit->Project Settings:

image

 

Locate Android SDK on the left hand side then on the right configure the location of your Android SDK install.

image

 

Now go to Android, set the Android minimum level then click the Configure Now button:

image

 

While in the Android settings, be sure to enable GearVR support!

image

 

Build Your App

 

Now build and package for Android, in the File Menu, select Package Project->Android->Android (ETC2):

image

Pick a location for the generated APK then Ok.

image

For the record, Unreal Engine Android builds are really really really slow.

 

When complete this will generate the APK file to run on your phone, as well as a pair of BAT files to quickly deploy to your device.  The noOBB batch file doesn’t copy data, only the updated executable.  Keep in min,d, you need to have your device either tethered or running wirelessly over adb to deploy.  This means removing it from the GearVR, which is an annoying process.  If you don’t need to fully test VR functionality, it might be faster to work in developer mode. [Link soon]

 

Video

Programming


See More Tutorials on DevGa.me!

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