Waggle Words iOS Beta Now Leveraging ARKit for a New Augmented Reality Mode

We’ve been talking about both iOS and SteamVR versions of Waggle Words for well over a year; today we’re announcing Waggle Words for iOS now features an Augmented Reality mode for supported devices!

Since we are very close to releasing Waggle Words for both SteamVR and iOS, and given the advent of Apple’s upcoming iOS 11 release (which introduces ARKit for Augmented Reality), we thought we’d apply our accumulated knowledge of working in both VR and iOS and try our hand at Augmented Reality. We have been thinking about AR all throughout Waggle Words development and have intentionally architected our project in Unity to take into account future platforms and modes of play.

Waggle Words AR Mode is still a work in progress. We’re continually iterating our design to be intuitive and fun. We plan on continuing playtesting and implementing UI/UX revisions up until we launch Waggle Words. We’ve included some recent previews of Waggle Words for iOS with both AR and normal modes of play in this post. These samples are already a little out of date, but we thought we’d share our process nonetheless.

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We have some TestFlight slots available for serious people in the press, and video streamers, who are interested in Augmented Reality and ARKit.

Stay Tuned!

More to come shortly!

Spin Spell 2.1 Update – Now Supports the iPhone, iPad and iOS 10.x

Today, we’re pleased to announce the release of Spin Spell 2.1!

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It’s been a long while since we initially released both Spin Spell and Spin Spell HD for iOS. Last September, we were forced to choose between updating both games on the App Store, or allowing Apple to remove them due to their legacy status. We made the decision to only update Spin Spell (for the iPhone) and to remove Spin Spell HD (for iPad) from the App Store. We made that decision in order to support all iOS devices in the future with a single game, Spin Spell.

At the time of our initial Spin Spell 2.0 update, we didn’t announced the update due to our intense focus on the development of Waggle Words (for Steam VR and iOS) and we had yet to add support for iPad into the new Spin Spell 2.0 build.

This week, we took another pass at Spin Spell and updated the game to run on iOS 10, added support for the 12.9 inch iPad, fixed a few remaining bugs, gave Spin Spell a little more polish and leveraged some cool new Apple and Unity features!

Spin Spell 2.1 is now available on the App Store for both iPhone and iPad! Check it out!
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Styles and Customs of the 2020’s – A Dystopian VR Fine Art Exhibit of the Near Future

How do new photographic technologies shape the virtual realm? This is the question explored by Scatter and four visionary, international artists, Kim Laughton, Rachel Rossin, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, and Alan Warburton at the Carnegie Museum of Art‘s grandiose Hall of Architecture this spring and summer. Styles and Customs of the 2020s is a dystopian room scale VR art installation commissioned by the Hillman Photographic Initiative and prompted by collaboratively generated text published by DIS magazine.

Guided and supported by Scatter, each artist was commissioned to conjure a unique dystopian VR portal into the not so distant future. The impetus for each of the artist’s resulting VR worlds were prompted by snippets of text judiciously selected by each of the artists from a collaborative writing project commissioned by DIS. Subsequently, each VR world is a unique, beautiful, and slightly unsettling experience, yet all share decontextualized threads torn from the fabric of the original source text. The interrelated VR pieces are not passive experiences; the worlds require the viewer to physically move within the VR space to completely unwrap hidden meanings, mechanics, and messages. The four near future VR worlds are connected by a timeless, VR, fire lit cave. The cave functions as gateway of sorts from which the participant gently enters and exits the separate artists’ realities and acts as an interstitial respite between the dystopian VR words.

Vermont Digital Arts‘, Elliott Mitchell, had the good fortune to work with the cutting edge innovators at Scatter and DIS, as well as the four talented fine artists on this ambitious VR art project. Having roots in the fine arts as well as game development, Elliott contributed to Styles and Customs of the 2020s in the role of Technical Director and Lead Developer.

Styles and Customs of the 2020s opened March 16th and will run until September 4th at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh where you can experience the exhibit in person. Not wanting to spoil the joy of discovery for those of you who have yet to visit the museum, we have been intentionally vague in our descriptions of the artist’s VR worlds. After the exhibit concludes, we will post an update with more detailed images, videos and descriptions covering the breadth of the exhibit. If you wish to read more about the exhibit now, take a look here.

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Unite 2016 – VR Technical Solutions and How They Influence Design

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Graeme Borland, Anton Hand, Julie Heyde, Kayla Kinnunen and Elliott Mitchell at Unite ’16 Los Angeles

One day into Unity’s flagship Conference, Unite 2016 (Los Angeles, CA), Vermont Digital Arts’ Elliott Mitchell was unexpectedly invited to speak on a panel, VR Technical Solutions and How They Influence Design. Of course, Elliott gratefully obliged!

Watch the video below to hear some entertaining VR war stories from a group of VR pioneers including: Graeme Borland (Owlchemy Labs), Anton Hand (RUST LTD), Julie Heyde (VR Unicorns) and Kayla Kinnunen (Independent).

Björk Digital – Virtual Reality Taken To A New Level

Musical pioneer and artist extraordinaire, Björk, has been diving head first into Virtual Reality with her traveling art exhibit Björk Digital. The VR exhibit is a work in progress which features four VR music experiences from Björk’s “Vulnicura” album. Our resident artist, Elliott Mitchell, was fortunate enough to have had a small role working with environment art on one of the VR pieces. Checkout this video clip from Björk’s Instagram account which includes some of Elliott’s handy work!

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GDC: It Takes a Village: Growing Vibrant Game Developer Communities

In case you missed GDC 2016, and you are interested what makes a vibrant game developer community, check out the GDC Vault release of the all star panel Elliott Mitchell assembled: It Takes a Village: Growing Vibrant Game Developer Communities!

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The panel, comprised of key organizers from the Boston and Austin communities, offers the audience valuable insights into organizing events, meet-ups and co-working collectives which in turn fuel local industry growth for the future. Speakers include Elliott Mitchell (Vermont Digital Arts), Adri Mills (Independent), Dawn Rivers (Harmonix Music Systems), Michael Carriere (Zapdot), Jono Forbes (Defective Studios) & Andrew Eiche (Owlchemy Labs).

Leviathan Project: Mixed Reality At Sundance

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), games and filmmaking. Since our founding in 2008, Vermont Digital Arts has been on a mission to be on the forefront of blurring the lines between film and games.

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Vermont Digital Arts recently had the amazing opportunity to lend a hand with Leviathan Project which is currently being demoed at Sundance New Frontiers. Leviathan Project is a mixed reality installation with its roots Scott Westerfield’s best-selling trilogy, Leviathan.

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Leviathan Project is a work in progress and a result of the magic that happens when visionaries like Alex McDowell and Bradley Newman, in collaboration with 5D Global Studio, Unity Technologies and Intel work together to transcend storytelling mediums. Elliott Mitchell, Vermont Digital Arts co-founder, was brought in late in the project to help out with the final push for Sundance. Elliott worked on some VFX and Lighting Design. It was akin to standing on the shoulders of giants.

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If you are able to get to Sundance, check it out! Otherwise, here is a link to a recent Engadget article which goes more in depth about Leviathan Project. Also, checkout the Leviathan Project’s Instagram account. You might see photo’s of Robert Redford

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Leviathan-Project-Sundance-02Leviathan Project’s next stop is the Vision AR/VR Summit this February 10th and 11th in Hollywood, CA. Catch it there if you are able!