VR flies high this week

Etihad Reimagine

These are exciting times for VR, especially when you can literally take a walk in the clouds with your favourite stars. In a bold and exciting new move Etihad is launching a virtual reality movie starring Nicole Kidman, set on one of their plush Airbus A380 double decker. Viewers can experience this aircraft first hand as the movie takes you through the plane. What I would have liked to see though is a better trailer. I think the one released was a bit of a lost opportunity to really get people watching.

E-Bay Virtual store

The world’s first virtual reality store by E-Bay and Myers is a brilliant concept. While it might not have the refined edges and scale and I am not too sure about the way the information architecture is structured I think the look, focus and navigate mechanism is an excellent system of trying to sort out complex structures. It reminded me of another Indian retail company that approached our agency wanting to make a virtual reality store run on a browser (since this was before VR became so mainstream. All in all, award winning stuff for the people who rolled this out.

The history of Mario

If you are a fan of the Mario series of Nintendo games, then scour the web for the VR experience of the history of this game. Akin to a virtual reality animated presentation you get to watch little Mario run and jump around as you see pictures of the popular titles of this series.

Raw Data

Now this is an interesting concept for a VR game. I do know that the frame rate and flicker problem in VR causes nausea while playing some games. I am curious though about what the sensation of motion like running while you are standing still really does for you though? This game eliminates that forward motion altogether by fixing your location and pinning you to another co-op player with some cool guns and swords. Looks like an interesting title to pick up, What I do observe from the video is that VR does require a considerable amount of movable space for you to play in. The guy almost takes out his tv screen with his waving motions.

Preparing for next generation gaming.

 Next generation gaming PS4 vs X Box One

I woke up to a lot of technology news today. News was coming in from E3 that the new PS4 and X-Box have been previewed and were all set for a holiday launch. Exciting news in its own, this was also followed by the fact that iOS7 had also been previewed along with a revolutionary Mac Pro by Apple in an entirely different forum. It seemed to be a good day for tech enthusiasts the world over.  

Gamers have been waiting a long time for these next generation consoles. The media has been rife with speculation over what these two consoles had in store. Which is nothing new.  I remember seeing the last PS3 and Xbox being launched in India years ago. I always wanted to buy either, but have kept putting that off and viola we have two brand new consoles coming our way. I remember back then a friend of mine and I were awed by the graphics on the PS3 at that time. These days I doubt that would be the case with PC gamers having enough power in their GPUs to compete easily. Whats more PC games are become more visual with less hardware requirements.  When these consoles do hit the Indian markets I expect there to be an all-out marketing blitz by both parties. The PS4 being the cheaper model is probably going to beat the X-box for a cash strapped Indian gamer. This said, how expensive will these games be? In India especially I expect the PS3 will see a price cut and probably a lot of takers. And who knows, the PS2 may finally be laid to rest here. These consoles are targeted at more mature gamers, I doubt a lot parents will splurge on the hefty price tag for their kids to take one of these new consoles home.

Gameplay in its essence will not change with these two new consoles. Yes with the touch controller that the PS4 is providing, we may see a few innovations. But really do you think that swiping and flicking actions that we have come to associate with casual games on tablets can really be made to good use in a full-blown gaming title? I am sure someone will crack it.

The games that really caught my eye were two IPs that have already left their marks on gaming. The return of Garrett in Thief and Faith from Mirror’s Edge. While I have to confess I never really played either of the original games to their completion, these two new titles do look like a lot of eye candy.

 From a hardware standpoint I found both consoles to be quite unappealing. While the last time these consoles went head to head you had the pristine white X-box was visibly well differentiated by the glossy black PS3. Now both of these devices look like black boxes. I’d have loved to see a little bit more styling on both. Currently though I kind of prefer the look of the PS4 to the new X-Box.

The question to be asked by all in the communication field is with games becoming more cinematic, when will we sit up and sign them on for product endorsements?


The cult of Counterstrike

If there is one game that has truly caught on with the Indian masses it is Counterstrike. Having sold over 25 million copies abroad and taking the battle to earlier multiplayer market leaders, Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament, nothing has ever quite comes close in the Indian sub-continent. With multiplayer gaming part and parcel of every game the next step in evolution has been social gaming now being married with this concept. The story of how Counterstrike still holds Indians enthralled has something to do with the fact that you don’t  really need a powerful machine to play it. You had gaming parlours that were opened across the country whose sole business were hosting on the spot Counterstrike games. So much so that next to ‘NFS’ this is the next game that became a household name in India.

So why talk about something that is already common knowledge? Yesterday saw me in Lamington road once again to pick up a replacement of a Samsung monitor (that’s a story in itself). I was pleasantly surprised that while waiting in one of the shops, the shop owner received at least three to four enquiries for the new edition of Counter Strike Global Offensive. My interest piqued, I asked him how many enquiries for the game he was receiving. According to him he gets around 50 queries for the game in a week, which is quite impressive considering people want to shell out for the original version of this game and not buy it off the streets pirated.

As a digital strategist this set a small bell ringing somewhere.  I am quite certain in the months ahead we are going to see some brand organising a gaming championship based on CS Go very soon. After all the gaming championships in India are held primarily on three platforms – Counterstrike, Need for Speed and Cricket related games. If SKOAR magazine for example is going to have its yearly gaming exhibition, you can bet that this will be one of the things on the agenda. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gillette thinks of it as well.

Closer to home though, my office seems to prove that this game still holds its place in the hearts of the gamers what with certain employees having caught the Counterstrike bug. If people can squeeze in a little time, you definitely catch them trying to take pot shots at each other. It can be both quite hilarious and stress relieving at the same time and seems to strangely build a sense of camaraderie amongst the players in real life. What remains to be seen is how this new version, Counter Strike Global Offensive will curry favour in India. If the queries at Lamington Road (and the fact that the game is out of stock there) is any indication, Indian gamers are all set to be ‘Countersrtuck’ once again.


The Oculus

I first heard about the Oculus Rift from a friend of mine, who had put up a post on Facebook. Now the post had no description about what the Oculus Rift really was, yet being a fellow gamer, I decided to look it up. We’ve all seen virtual reality headsets in movies. Some of the famous ones that come to mind is Keanu Reeves in Johny Mnemonic and Michael Douglas in Disclosure. The Oculus Rift, ties todays hyper-real games to what for the better part is a virtual reality headset to use by plugging it into your PC.

The Oculus Rift is the brainchild of John Carmack from id Software, the creator of the all famed computer game – Doom. As a proof of concept Carmack has introduced the Oculus Rift developer kit that includes the headset and a bundled version of doom. They say seeing is believing, though I haven’t seen it yet, I am quite the believer.

However, this by far is just the beginning. If you think about this and marry this technology to some other existing technology, the results are exciting. For example, what if you could have a wireless Oculus rift and combine it with a Sony Play Station Move controller or the X-Box Kinect. Not only would your perspective be rendered perfectly in virtual reality, so would your gestures. That would really make for an immersive experience.