VR Notes #4: Amazon Marches Towards Web-Based VR, Where’s Apple?, VR Needs John K., And More

Amazon Web Services Announces Amazon Lumberyard — A Free, Cross-Platform, 3D Game Engine Integrated with AWS and Twitch

The summary says it all:

New game engine helps developers create the highest-quality games, build cloud-connected gameplay features, and build communities of fans on Twitch; beta available for free download today.

New AWS service, Amazon GameLift, lets game developers quickly scale their session-based multiplayer games to support millions of players with AWS’s highly available cloud infrastructure.

Some more pieces will need to be developed, but Amazon could be the first major player in web-based VR. They have the monstrous capacity no one else has. And they have all those Amazon Web Services developers.

Gamasutra confirms a VR connection down the road:

The latest, Amazon-internal version of the also supports Oculus’ SDK, though the beta version you can download today does not. “We just need a little time,” Frazzini says. The engine, after all, is currently in beta.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Web-based VR is covered in this Voices of VR podcast: #240: Tony Parisi on Alternatives to Walled Garden Platforms with the Open Web & WEVR and in this one: #40: Tony Parisi’s vision of a Metaverse built on top of the open web with WebGL and three.js, and current limitations & challenges of cross-platform VR web development.

Even Samsung has quietly admitted defeat with the Walled Garden approach and released a web browser for the Gear VR. That opens the headset to any VR available via the web, outside of what Samsung itself offers.

Samsung made a Gear VR web browser: Here’s what you need to know

Samsung is launching a beta version of “Samsung Internet for Gear VR.” It’s basically a virtual reality web browser. The idea is that – with this new browser – you will no longer need a dedicated app to access content that is otherwise available through a website (including videos from YouTube).

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

But you can bet that Amazon will still go with a Walled Garden approach. Expect a headset ala Gear VR and Amazon Prime VR.

Meanwhile, I ask: What Will Apple Do?

The current iPhone 6 screens are inadequate for VR:

iPhone6VRYT001

iPhone6VRYT002

I still think Apple could fork the iPhone and iPod Touch by releasing an “iPod Touch VR Edition” with a higher-resolution screen. The only problem with this is Apple’s pricing. iPod Touch prices are absolutely ridiculous:

iPodTouchPrices020916

And a new one with a larger, higher-resolution screen would probably have a price that would invoke scorn in all but religious Apple fans. But for people who see China is pumping out higher-resolution phones with larger screens at lower prices, Apple’s pricing is inexcusable.

It seems Peter Brantley caught some of my enthusiastic VR tweets. I recently half-joked — since the book publishing industry once was filled with multiple conferences per yearon Twitter:

VRBooksConferenceTweet01

Brantley composed this for the book publishing industry: Letter to the trade: small stories, growing fast.

So, for publishers, the choice is not whether to ignore this new art form, because it is not “book-like,” or instead to dabble in a few exploratory rich creations with select partners. Rather, the choice is whether to embrace an entirely new artistic medium and aggressively attempt to understand it, help a new group of authors create works of both fiction and non-fiction experiences for it — or to watch that medium emerge anyway and become an engrossing, ubiquitous form of entertainment and education, subtracting time away from traditional books, and sitting in the same merger of technology and media interests that we see with film, video, and TV.

They won’t get it. They still don’t do compelling book trailers — and those are flat. Expecting them to jump into something so different, VR, is a leap way too far. There will be places for writers in VR but I think this is something book publishing won’t ever be able to do. They’ve become committed to killing eBooks over print. They’ll avoid VR and hope it’ll go away as their digital and print sales continue to sink. Their writers, however, better fight and kick and bite to get into VR (just as Dennis Potter said writers should do to get into television).

(Brantley also wrote the more abstract: Writing for the Holodeck: True Stories for a Digital Age.)

I’d been avoiding even reading a description of this VR due to its title: Butts. But @stroughtonsmith made me watch it. See it here. It’s not X-rated at all. No, really, go see it otherwise the rest of this post will make no sense to you.

VR needs the mad genius of John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren & Stimpy. Butts is something that had to have been inspired by John K.:

Based on his blog, I know John K. is not a fan of computer animation. But I think his objections are mainly based on how soulless it can be — and has been. He could inject soul into it. Anyone reading this who leads a VR company and doesn’t snap him up will regret it later. Shower him with money and leave him in complete freedom. He will make you tons of money. And push VR forward in ways no one can even imagine.

And finally, someone has tried the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium — which has a 4K-resolution screen — with a VR headset. Let’s see some screensnaps before the video:

XinGearZ5YT0003

It has a zippered case with extras:

XinGearZ5YT0005

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The Field Of View (FOV) seems a bit narrow, though:

XinGearZ5YT0015

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Annndddd …

XinGearZ5YT0052

… maybe that’s why Sony has yet to release the Z5 Premium in the U.S.? They ‘re going to put Marshmallow in it first?

This I find very, very hard to believe:

XinGearZ5YT0054

806 ppi and the pixels can still be seen in VR?! The Cardboard app can’t do 4K VR? So, Sony might have to wait for, what?, Google’s version of Android with VR built-in?

There’s another YouTube video about the Z5 Premium and VR. Again, some screensnaps first:

Z5VRYT001

Z5VRYT002

Z5VRYT003

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Now the two videos:

And one more video about an entirely different approach to a VR headset:

The VR field is getting very exciting and things are accelerating faster than I expected.

Previously here:

Virtual Reality category

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