Unreal?

To Unreal or not to Unreal? That is the question.

The question as to whether or not to add Epic’s Unreal game engine to Digital Den’s tool belt has been hanging in the air for quite awhile now. Picking up a new platform is a serious time sink, so when you’ve already got one that’s working fine for you (Unity 3D), the decision to pick up another one is a hurdle. However, by most accounts Unreal has some significant advantages for making 3D and VR spaces, so adding or switching to it is not to be dismissed lightly.

That is why regular trips to the local Unreal Meetup at Boston’s Jacob Wirth pub are a fixture on the calendar. Well, that, and also the location and company aren’t bad either.

Unreal Engine “Brewprints” Meetup and Workshop

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016, 7:00 PM

Jacob Wirth Restaurant
31 Stuart Street Boston, MA

32 UE4 enthusiasts Went

We had a very exciting Meetup last month and are looking to continue the fun by introducing “Brewprints” – the best way to combine Blueprints and brews. Got a project you’re working on? Need help? Bring your Blueprints in, and let’s workshop them together over some delicious brews.Got no Blueprints? Come for the brews! As always, if anyone wants t…

Check out this Meetup →

This week’s visit included the usual few rounds of beverages and interesting conversations. Here’s a picture of Seth, the organizer, addressing the happy crowd.

2016-02-23 20.51.57

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This time may have the tipping point, because it included Seth providing a pointer to this intriguing and persuasive demo of authoring in VR.

Apparently there will be more information available after GDC (March 14 & 15).

We’re definitely staying tuned!

Boston FIG

I had a fun time checking out the Boston Festival of Indie Games (BostonFIG) on Saturday.

In addition to a tour of the games, I enjoyed checking out some talks.

Leonie Manshanden did a extremely nice job of giving an overview of realities and strategies of marketing in If You Build It, They Will Come, and then Monty Sharma and his MassDigi Students participated in a panel where they shared insights and perspectives about their experience in the MassDigi summer program Game Devs: The Next Generation. The students were gave positively glowing reactions to their experiences, and they made it clear that Monty was responsible for giving them the ultimate in constructivist learning experiences (without them even having to know the theory and terminology behind what he was doing 🙂 Well done!

Finally, the most valuable parts of the day was attending a session where Chance Ivey and Jess Hider of Epic games presented Why Unreal Engine? — they provided an overview of their game engine’s features and strengths. Unreal is the alternative authoring option to Unity that we are using for our 3D/VR development, and we are deliberating about where or not to bite the bullet and either shift to Unreal or work with both platforms in parallel. They definitely provided food for thought, but the jury remains out for now…

VR Fun

Yesterday was a fun day for VR in the Boston/Cambridge area.

First, as announced by Verizon and posted on Cosma 3D, special Star Wars editions of the Google Cardboard did find their way into the Verizon stores to be picked up for free by Verizon customers. I got mine at the Harvard Square store, and they still had some left.

HarvardSq-Verizon-Cardboard

Friendly salesperson at Verizon store handing out Star Wars themed Google Cardboard

If you are a Verizon customer, be sure to stop by your local store before supplies run out (which they surely will).

Then later in the day I got to head over to the sold out Birdly opening reception and talk by Max Rheiner that was sponsored by Swissnex at Le Laboratoire Cambridge.

It was a wonderful event, and the Birdly experience is mind-blowing. Here is an article from the Boston Globe about the exhibit.

Want to soar like a bird? Flight simulator coming to Cambridge (Steve Annear, Boston Globe)

The opening is over, but the demo will still be available to try for the next few days. You need to stop by Le Laboratoire Cambridge in person to sign up for a time slot.

Here are the hours:
Dec 3: 12PM-9PM, Dec 4: 12PM-6PM, Dec 5: 11AM–5PM

Again, act fast, the available times will probably fill up quickly.

In general, the roll out and buzz for the new generation of VR is in full swing. Whether it will survive the hype cycle to become a full fledged “next platform” on the order of earlier generations like the web and mobile remains to be seen, but the answer should become clearer within the next few months as the Oculus Rift, Vive and other high-end VR/AR headsets hit the market. No matter what, it’s going to be interesting to watch what unfolds.

Be sure to follow Cosma 3D to get the latest news…

Workshops!

Digital Den developed and maintains Cosma 3D, an extensive catalog of the best 3D and VR content available, and we also have a collection of the latest VR headsets to view it. Now we will bring that collection and our expertise to one of your events!

You’re going to be hearing a lot about 3D and VR over the next few months. We can help you learn what it is all about, navigate the sometimes confusing and competing options, and then get you set up to hit the ground running with all of the new 3D and VR content!   Here’s just a sample of what we can bring to you.

We can also tell you how to get set up so that you, or your students, can author your own 3D and VR media. Check out our own Cosma 3D Experience Gallery to get a better sense of all of the content, hardware and expertise that we can share with you.

Please contact us if you would like Digital Den to bring our demonstrations of our applications and exhibits to one of your upcoming events! info@digital-den.org

Release!

NEW Computer Museum VR Ed. Release!

Sunday, October 18, 2015
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Champions
50 Broadway, Cambridge, MA

The “virtual edition” of the NEW Computer Museum will be published on Sunday, October 18th. Come see a demo and provide feedback for future releases of both the virtual and “potential” real life editions. RSVP at the New Computer Museum Meetup

Welcome Area, New Computer Museum v. 1.5

Welcome Area, New Computer Museum v. 1.5

The goal of the “Virtual Reality Edition” of the New Computer Museum is twofold. It demonstrates the vision of what the “real” New Computer Museum has the potential to become, and it also stands on its own as a valuable educational experience for use in classrooms. You can see more screen shots of the virtual exhibits on the New Computer Museum home page.

Vive Tour

It was an incredibly busy development time in the Digital Den studio over the summer, and the results are a new site dedicated to 3D content (Cosma 3D) and a virtual computer museum (New Computer Museum, VR Ed.). More information about both of these projects will be announced here within the next few weeks.

In the meantime, something fun came up that just demanded a post of its own, and that something is HTC’s Vive World Tour. HTC’s Vive is a virtual reality head-mounted display developed in co-production between HTC and Valve Corporation, and it is part of Valve Corporation’s SteamVR project.

HTC has made the brilliant move of taking their awesome show on the road and making it available to typical consumers in cities around the world. The video below was made in San Francisco, they are visiting Boston *this* weekend, and a little bird told me they are just about to announce new dates and cities on the tour for the fall.

HTC Vive Tour, Boston Venway (Sept. 18-20)

The tour visited 1350 Boylston St. in Boston’s Fenway September 18-20, 2015!

The HTC Vive World Tour is Here (HTC Blog)
HTC Vive World Tour FAQs (HTC Blog)
HTC Vive World Tour (Facebook)

Here are some videos about the HTC Vive headset and its technology.

Here’s a nice article that covers all of the Vive’s unique features.

Valve and HTC dive into VR with the HTC Vive, coming this year (Scott Stein, CNET)

More importantly, the tour is also showcasing what is already great technology by pairing it with some insanely great applications! It is impossible to communicate how much these videos do NOT fully capture the experience, but they give you the gist that it’s an amazing experience.

So, overall, at least some version of the holodeck is here, and Vive will definitely be a serious contender in the HMD war of Spring 2016 — be sure to catch the tour if you can!

More info…

HTC Vive (Official Site)
HTC Vive (Wikipedia)

Please note that the HTC Vive is one of a number of headsets covered on the new Cosma 3D site that Digital Den supported creating as well as the older, more comprehensive site Cosma. Check out more about the HTC Vive on Cosma 3D and Cosma

Out & About

The Digital Den team spent the weekend out and about learning new skills and sharing the latest draft of our main project of the moment, the New Computer Museum, VR Edition.

Here’s a quick recap…

First, Saturday brought a fantastic opportunity to spend the day at Google’s Cambridge office learning all about how to use Unity3D to create and publish content for the Google Cardboard and the Samsung GearVR. These happen to be Digital Den’s target VR delivery platforms, so this was a particularly timely and incredibly valuable experience!

Saturday VR Code Lab Google Cardboard – Samsung Gear VR

Saturday, Jul 18, 2015, 10:00 AM

Google Cambridge
355 Main Street Cambridge, MA

96 Members Went

This event is co-organized with the Boston Virtual Reality Group and Boston Android The Summer of Virtual Reality – Come and build VR skills or share your VR skills. We’re having an all-day hands on VR Code Lab at Google for software developers.Google, Samsung, HTC and Facebook all have VR products and big plans with staffed development teams in…

Check out this Meetup →

Juno Forbes started the workshop off in the morning by doing an amazing job of providing rigorous instruction that ranged all the way from the very basics of Unity3D programming all the way through how to publish our work for Google Cardboard.  Then after lunch Dustin Wish from Samsung gave the crowd a wonderfully detailed walk-through of how to code an application in Unity3D and publish it to the Samsung GearVR.

It was awesome to find out that the process for publishing to both Google Cardboard and Samsung GearVR is relatively painless!  Jeff Bail, one of the organizers of the event, was kind enough to agree to let us re-post this picture that he took of attendees learning to load their programs to the GearVR. Thanks Jeff!

DD@GoogleVRWorkshopByJeffBail

Saturday VR Code Lab Google Cardboard and Samsung GearVR (Photo Credit: Jeff Bail)

Then Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day to take the newest draft of the New Computer Museum, VR Edition off to a Show & Tell at the Flea@MIT.  Long-time Flea attendees had great fun stopping by to experience the latest iteration of the project, and they provided some ideas for even more cool things that we can add to the next version. As you can tell from the picture, there are some interesting folks that hang out at the Flea@MIT 🙂 Thanks to their help, the next draft of the project will be even better — please stay tuned for information on when and how to see it!

NEWCM@FLea

Flea@MIT attendees get a preview of New Computer Museum VR Ed. (Photo Credit: Neil Carlson)

New demo!

New Computer Museum, VR Edition Preview
Flea@MIT, Sunday, July 19, 2015 · 9:00 am – 11 am

Come see a new demo of a “Virtual Reality (VR) Edition” of a New Computer Museum that Digital Den is making! The application is being built in Unity 5.1 and will be available for WebGL, Google Cardboard, Samsung GearVR and Oculus Rift later this summer.

New Computer Museum, Virtual Reality Edition

The version that will be available on July 19th is actually just an early draft, so it will only include a small subset of the full version. However, there was an earlier “rapid prototype” of the full version built in SecondLife — here are a few images from that prototype to give you some sense of what the full version will be like when it is released.

The full version will demonstrate the vision of what a “real” New Computer Museum has the potential to become in the near future. It will also stand on its own as a valuable and entertaining educational experience for use in classrooms. In addition, the VR Edition of the New Computer Museum will be an exploration of how the newest wave of virtual reality products can be used in the context of museums and art galleries. Of course, it will also be an excellent demonstration of Digital Den’s expertise and skill in VR production.

Please stop by, say hi, take a look, and share your feedback!

Cool Toys

Digital Den showed off their brand new Samsung GearVR along with the rest of their VR  collection to a group of Emerson students for a Meetup at Champions in Cambridge on Sunday, April 19th. Of course, the VR concerts and movie demos where big hits!

Reboot!

It has been a long winter, but spring is *finally* here, so it’s time to get back into the swing of things.  There have been a lot of new VR headsets released recently, and more are on the way! Guess what?  Digital Den has been expanding our collection (e.g.  Samsung GearVR), and we will be getting even more as they come out. We will be showing off some new demos at the NEW Computer Museum Meetup on Sunday, April 19th from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Champions Sports Bar in Cambridge. You can see details and RSVP here on the NEW Computer Museum Meetup event page.