Home / Software & Service News / Lone Echo multiplayer is like Quidditch, Ender’s Game, and Tron in VR

Lone Echo multiplayer is like Quidditch, Ender’s Game, and Tron in VR

I had to rescue my commander, who had a foot caught in Lone Echo.

Lone Echo is one of the interesting virtual reality games coming for the Oculus Touch. Set in outer space, it gives you a real feeling of moving through zero gravity on a space station, and it looks like it will have great single-player and multiplayer VR experiences.

This is one of the wave of exclusive high-end games coming for VR that will determine whether consumers adopt the Oculus Rift, the VR headset from Facebook’s Oculus division. I previewed it this week at the Oculus Connect event in San Jose, Calif., where the Oculus Touch, which players can hold independently in each hand, was introduced. The title was made exclusively for touch controls, said Dana Jan, game director at Ready At Dawn Studios, in an interview.

“Lone Echo is a first-person exploration experience, set near Saturn in the rings, where you are mining for helium,” Jan said. “It’s an open game where you are moving around. You are moving around, pushing and pulling, and navigating with the Touch controllers.”

A space walk in Lone Echo.

Above: A space walk in Lone Echo.

Image Credit: Ready At Dawn Studios/Oculus

In single player, I played as a service robot named Jack. I was an android with a human-like body. I was immediately struck at how crisp and sharp the graphics were. A human astronaut character, Captain Liv Roades, needs my help and boots me up. In that process, I learned how to grab hand holds and pull myself forward to manuever in zero g. I also used buttons on the controllers as boosters to give me directional thrust as I moved through space.

“We will probably never go into space, but we wanted to give you a feel for what it’s like to move in space,” Jan said.

As soon as I finished training, I was sent out on a space walk, accompany the commander. She directed me to maneuver on the surface of a space station and direct an antenna. I was malfunctioning, so I had to use a laser cutter to cut through the bad part and fix the antenna. I pointed it at an anomaly, and it caused some kind of flash that damaged the antenna, triggering some very dramatic music and alarms. In a state of panic, the commander urgently called me over. I had to hit a ride on a transport and take it over to her, where I discovered her foot was caught in railing. I had to saw through some metal and free her, that was where my single-player experience ended.

Then I was able to try the multiplayer, where five players teamed up against five others in a game that resembled the training missions in the film Enders Game. Our bodies glowed in orange or blue, depending on which team we were on, in an art style that resembled Tron. We had to learn how to move through the zero gravity arena, capture a disc, and send it into the enemy’s goal, while the enemy tried to get the disc into our goal. It was like Quidditch in the Harry Potter tales.

Multiplayer in zero gravity in Lone Echo.

Above: Multiplayer in zero gravity in Lone Echo.

Image Credit: Ready At Dawn Studios/Oculus

I found that I didn’t get motion sickness even though I was bouncing around the arena, which had big triangular blocks in the middle that we could bounce off of. That was because there was always an intentional attempt to use my hands to move in a particular direction, so that my head, hands, and sense of direction never got out of sync. Every now and then, the tracking was slightly off and I had to try several times to grab something.

At the start of the timed match, we had to maneuver into holes to shoot ourselves out into the arena via a catapult. That was a little hard, as I had to grip the wall and then push a button to activate the catapult. As I flew out, I course corrected with the thrusters and used my hands to grab onto handholds and push in certain directions. If you pulled the hand triggers, you could charge up a punch. Then I slugged my hand forward in a punch to hit the other virtual players in the face. If I connected with the punch, the players were disabled for three seconds.

There were a lot of tricks to flying through space. You could tap down on the right stick to stop completely, turn directions, and then thrust. It was a very tense, competitive game where I could tell who the seasoned players were. I grabbed the disc at one point and was point-blank in front of the enemy goal, but I threw it and let go to late, and it bounced off the corner without going in. Then next time I had a shot, one of the blue players moved in front of the goal and blocked it. We wound up losing both rounds, but it was really fun, with a lot of hooting an hollering.

The game is coming sometime soon as an exclusive for the Oculus Rift with the Oculus Touch. Oculus Studios is publishing it.

The multiplayer arena in Lone Echo.

Above: The multiplayer arena in Lone Echo.

Image Credit: Ready At Dawn Studios/Oculus



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Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick