VRTGO is an annual conference & expo held in the UK, focusing on the future of VR for both entertainment and serious applications. This year VR Dominion was lucky enough to get an invite to the event and we sent along our UK correspondent Craig Cook to check it out.
The expo held at The Baltic in Newcastle was more aimed at providing an opportunity for developers to network rather than your traditional E3 or CES.
The show focused on talks from various industry leaders, from construction and media to established gaming brands. The Keynote was given by Sony's Jed Ashforth, Senior Game Designer for PlayStation VR with other speakers including:
Joe Robins - Community Evangelist Unity
Patrick O’Luanaigh - Founder & CEO nDreams
John Nejady - Associate Producer CCP Games
Solomon Rogers - Solomon Rogers Founder/MD REWIND
Will Eastcott - Will Eastcott CEO & Cofounder PlayCanvas
Jason Lovell - Senior Product Manager – Tablets, Wearables & Accessories (SEUK)
Jonathan Newth - Jonathan Newth Focal Point VR
Marie Gilmour- Innovation Programme Manager at Crossrail
Joe Stevens - Ceo & Founder Whispering Gibbon
The presentations covered a large range of VR related topics and it was exciting to hear how different industries are looking at ways to integrate VR into their tool sets. During the Samsung session the official UK price of the Consumer Version Gear VR was announced; At £79 it comes in close to $99 USD price tag and should hopefully ensure it's success in the UK market. Also announced was a single player free-roam mode for Eve Valkyrie, this mode allows players to enjoy the scenery and explore the Eve Valkyrie universe without having to engage in combat.
Demo opportunities were limited but there was a perception neuron kit on display and I was fortunate enough to try the arm and glove section of it. It was incredibly accurate to the point i could tap each fingertip to my thumb with no problems at all, I can see this technology alongside a kinect type tracking system being very good at motion capture and it would certainly make a brilliant controller in virtual reality, however its currently priced at $999.00 for a 18 Neuron set which will of course hurt its market penetration and therefore its support.
Sadly there was no PlayStation VR of HTC Vive demos to test, but CCP Newcastle did provide a Crescent Bay prototype to try out their upcoming Eve Valkyrie game out on. After a short wait and a chat with the developers i got my hands on the new kit and had a good look.
I know its not the latest prototype but Crescent Bay was still a significant improvement over the DK2 model, it was lighter, much more comfortable and the built in sound was brilliant, even with spectators all i could hear was the sound provided by Valkyrie. The tracking volume had also increased over DK2 and i took advantage of that to have a good look around the cockpit of the fighter.
Everything seemed so much clearer than the DK2, to CCP Newcastles credit, they have designed the game from the ground up to work only in VR and it does so remarkably. Valkyrie is by far the poster child for VR and it lives up to its reputation and surpasses it.
The VRGo chair which is currently seeking funding on KickStarter was also on display, i tried it with an Arch Viz exploration demo and was again surprised at how well it worked. You could lean slightly to creep forward in game or lean full in and walk at full pace, while spinning on the chair turned your avatar in game. It was certainly a more realistic alternative to the likes of the omni treadmill for home consumer use.
It's great to see dedicated VR conferences like VRTGO are starting to gather more momentum; I'd like to send out a big thanks to the guys at nDreams for the invite and hopefully we'll get the opportunity to attend again in coming years.