CVR 2017 Recap: I Want To Buy Everything

One of my favorite events last year was the first ever Consumer Virtual Reality convention in Vancouver, BC.  I’m a little discouraged by all the conventions I miss out on in LA and San Francisco, so I was overjoyed to be able to attend one in my own town (why are ‘virtual’ virtual reality conventions a thing yet).  This year I bought tickets as soon as they appeared, but a year ago I never even imagined that I would be helping run a booth at the event with the Vancouver VR Community.

The Vancouver VR Community is a recent organization designed to connect and showcase the amazing work that’s being done by local developers.  Since joining, I’ve been surprised to find out that some of my favorite VR games were made on Victoria island, or in leaky condos and basement rentals in town.  It’s really cool to be able talk with all these passionate people that are shaping the future of so many industries.

When I wasn’t at the booth waving around a foam-board cut-out of our deer logo, I was on the floor looking for the latest software and tools.  The event organizers did a great job in bringing a huge variety of experiences and applications to the show floor, but unsurprisingly I gravitated to the games.

I got to try out ‘Edge of Atlantis,’ which is a rogue-like/diablo style action RPG which is currently running a kickstarter campaign, as well as ‘Kung Fu Shadow Fist,’ which is a first person Streets of Rage game in which you are pretty much always punching distance from something if you so choose.  I also got to be a Tiger and fight my friend (also a Tiger) in ‘Tooth and Claw’ and solve clever physics based puzzles in ‘Awaken’.  I got to check out ‘Manastorm,’ which is a card-based combat game that satisfies the imagination of any MTG, Yugioh or Hearthstone player.  To my surprise, ‘Chroma Lab’ and ‘Chocolate’ were on the floor being represented by TH-er, whom seem to have amazing plans to bring what is basically an art gallery of wondrous exhibits that would be impossible to experience in real life.

I’m sad I didn’t get to try out all the titles (‘Vindicta’ looks like a ton of fun) but the convention definitely put a ton of great work on my radar.  It is so fulfilling to see these developers showcase their work, get feedback, and ultimately bring people into the worlds they have been crafting for months.  I really enjoyed seeing all the children gush with enthusiasm about ‘LlamaZOO’s’ app on canine anatomy or about the staggering variety of creature mutations in ‘Mutato Match.’  Overall, this is the kind of thing the industry needs more of: putting the future into the hands of everyone, and enriching their lives with experiences they could not have in real life.  Here’s looking forward to 2018!

Announcement: The Vancouver VR Community web platform is LIVE

I know I’ve been quiet for the last couple of weeks but I promise you it wasn’t because I got wrapped up in Owlchemy’s Rick and Morty VR game (OK but I did spend a while in it)… It’s because I teamed up with an awesome crew/posse of folks and we created the Vancouver VR Community. I hinted at it in my last post, but I have moved my Vanncouver VR events calendar over to the community where it will now live and be merry!

While none of this would be possible without the team, here’s what I’ve contributed so far:

  • Conceptual art for our logo
  • Exercising my photography skills, I have been doing event shooting
  • Managing the shit out of the Trello board, I have acted as project lead
  • Fostering and reaching out to the local VR network
  • Writing blogs, focusing on a monthly recap of all local happenings
  • General THINK TANK steez

I hope some of you will join us on our Discord server and our Facebook group as well. I feel like I’ve said what we are all about over and over, so instead of saying it here, I’m going to link to our announcement blog.

There was a vacancy for an inclusive, open, grassroots-driven community for virtual reality in Vancouver, and I am excited to be a part of something that I hope will impact others in the future.

Announcement: selective VRMY of DARKNESS content to be moved… where now?

I have some really exciting news. Over 9000 level exciting. For me, at least. If you’ve been following this blog since its beginnings as well as my Twitter, you might have noticed various callouts for getting together my Vancouver VR Events calendar which is currently living here.

Starting at the end of this month, I will be moving it to the Vancouver VR Community (short form: VR Vancouver) website!

I teamed up with the folks who run the Vancouver VR Community on Facebook (pssst join us!) to create a really awesome web presence. We’ve got a “soft launch” coming up next week, and then we’ll hopefully be live and running for the end of the month. I’m extremely passionate about all this, starting to create small merch like buttons and stickers to hand out at CVR 2017.

Another resource that will be leaving this blog will be the gamedev resources. We are also looking at helping others learn how to create for virtual reality from our community website. Kial’s gamedev blogs about learning Unity dev will still live here, but our resource links will be leaving at the end of this month, replaced with a link to the website!

I’m also really proud of the logo we’ve created together. It’s crazy that my ugly conceptual art would look so beautiful as an end product! I wrote a blog post on the community website (it’s sort of the only thing that’s up right now, haha) and I am really looking forward to writing more blogs, and photographing our meetups.

I’ll be posting more details closer to the date, but if you live in Vancouver, or if you are interested in the local happenings here in the VR space, please get at me! Truth is that I have big dreams, and I hope to help and support others’ big dreams too.

Happy Birthday, HTC VIVE! Here’s our favourite 10 VR experiences to celebrate!

Yesterday was the one year anniversary since the HTC VIVE reached the much-anticipating grabby hands of the consumer (we were one of them, and even stood outside for the delivery person), and to celebrate, there’s a Steam sale through this weekend, and we figured to share our top 10 (5 from myself, and 5 from Megasteakman) favourite VR experiences to date.  These picks are in no order at all, it was already tough enough to pick only 5!

M. Lovecraft’s Top 5 Picks

Accounting VR for whatever strange reason it may be… Is still my favourite VR experience to date. Perhaps I am so engaged in the world that Justin Roiland throws his Rick and Morty viewers into, I felt like Accounting VR was the first time that made me realize the narrative potential of virtual reality: the strange, the unknown, the surreal. The voice acting is on point as we can always expect from Roiland, and I’m looking forward to what else Crows Crows Crows and Squanchtendo have in store for VR.

Holopoint is by far, one of the most active games for virtual reality, and with that said: I completely suck at it. Even though I’m terrible, I still really enjoy the challenge of keeping up, and it makes a great cardio work out if you can make it far! I can’t wait for wireless VR headsets because it’s natural for first time users to tangle and coil the cord.

Audioshield is another great light cardio game that allows you to use music from your PC’s library, or YouTube (albeit it takes some processing time) and will generate a level where you punch red and blue (sometimes purple) balls flying towards your face. I once did Savant’s ‘Zion’ album in full on hard mode. I don’t recommend doing this to yourself.

Smash Party VR gives me the nostalgia factor I never thought I would get in virtual reality.  One of my favourite shows when growing up in the 90s was MTV’s Downtown, and Goat makes a little cameo as one of the watcher’s of the cage arena. It’s a simple game and there’s not a lot to it, but I found it enjoyable, and it’s awesome seeing other people such as Chris Prynoski creating for VR.

VR The Diner Duo is an asymmetrical multiplayer game, which is something I want to see a lot more of, and PSVR kills with it.  The person in the headset is a cook, putting together burgers with different ingredients, and another player has a game controller, and is a waiter, yelling out the orders. Or just saying it normally… I’m just a yeller. Insanity ensues! A lot of fun.

Megasteakman’s Top 5 Picks

Vanishing Realms
This experience was so spellbinding and mind blowing that I kept having to take breaks to ground myself before adventuring onward in what felt like a first person Zelda game. I had never before felt so immersed in a virtual world, and can’t wait to journey back for chapter 3!

Battle Dome
While it unfortunately doesn’t have the player base it used to, I use to love hopping into this game every weekend for really tense and strategic firefights. Squatting behind cover was a great workout that left me sore for days.

Google Earth
I nearly cried after the introduction. The scope of this app was beyond what I thought was possible, and seeing my parents visit the places they grew up entirely from memory really made me feel a strange sort of transcendance from being a meer human meat puppet.

VRChat
Social interactions in VR are absolutely insane. Positional audio coming from characters of all shapes and sizes in a shared virtual space is a game changer, and something that I think will become much more common place as adoption rates go up. VR Chat does it right!

Quanero VR
As a filmmaker, this one got me really excited about virtual reality storytelling. Being able to rewind time to get a different vantage point made me feel like a director lining up the perfect shot, and definitely showcases a brilliant way for audiences to become participants in a linear narrative.

A lot of our top choices are FREE, or are on sale for the Steam VR Anniversary sale this weekend so be sure to nab any titles you’re thinking about getting!

What are your favourite VR experiences to date?  What do you hope to see on the HTC VIVE in the year 2017?

We got trackers!: HTC VIVE Tracker Mounting and Pseudo Unboxing

Well, we did it. It was 2AM and the HTC VIVE Trackers just went live on the HTC VIVE accessories webpage at the end of March. We had ourselves an adventure since the trackers came out in the United States before Canada, and we drove down for some Target browsing (I personally enjoy their cosmetics section haha), and of course, a trip to the states isn’t complete without Mexican food. Kial is playing around with a lot of mocap (motion capture) and I’m really just along for the ride (and usual QA, calibration sorts).

 

As another note, when the HTC VIVE Trackers were released in Canada, I was pleased to see that HTC changed its stance on its ludicrous standard $65 shipping, no matter what you purchase. Last year, I ordered an extra link cable, and cable box which were very small items, and HTC insisted that $65 was the standard shipping.  At the time of writing this, I believe they changed their shipping to $35 for tracker shipping in Canada.

What’s in the box?

The boxes are in line with the HTC VIVE branding with an all-black exterior, and bright blue labelling.

The tracker was nicely packaged, with the tracker to greet you upon opening the box, and the dongle and appropriate technical literature sitting below the tracker’s cardboard tray.

One thing to note right away is that the dongles are essentially “married” to their tracker and it’s probably important to not mix them up.  Similar to wireless mice and keyboards, if you buy two of the same wireless keyboard, the dongle that it comes with, will not work with any other keyboard other than the one it came with.  Also it’s interesting that the dongles require 18 inches of space away from the computer.  I kind of wish the technical guide said why that is, but perhaps we can chalk it up to interference, or reach.

Mounting the HTC VIVE Trackers

I had begged Steve Bowler of Cloud Gate Studio to reveal his secrets in mounting their trackers, but found that a lot of devs and makers are forced to create their own mounting solutions for the time being.  It’s pretty awesome that HTC decided to go with the standard 1/4″ inch screws, which are compatible with a lot of camera tripod mounts and accessories. Steve recommended that I didn’t go his custom metal route as his team ended up with bouts of metal splinters, and that he is hoping to sell their metal mounting clips in the future.

While waiting for Steve and his team to hit the market with their solution, we had to find our own.

After hunting for hours on Amazon Canada, here’s what we’ve ordered:

(Note that we are still waiting for some of the items as some of the products weren’t available for Amazon Prime unfortunately.)

Initially we used the clip mounts to attach to regular shoes instead, but Kial found a “better” (ugh) solution.  He found some knock-off crocs from the Japanese $2 store Daiso. As much as I had to admit, the solution was great as we only needed to use one mounting screw – very simple!

The one tracker clip mount we still have is still a very high profile, so hopefully one of the other items will allow us to lower that profile, creating less jittery movement when it’s mounted onto a belt clip.  We’ll update later this month once it arrives!

Hoping this gives other folks some ideas for mounting their trackers, and if you have a better solution, please share it with us, we’d love to hear from you!

In the meantime, here’s our pal Ace doing some dancing to do some troubleshooting.  Best troubleshooting ever:

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ Green Ranger inspired nail art

As a kid who grew up primarily in the ’90s, I remember when the Japanese invasion came into North America with the likes of Sailor Moon, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I only found out later that the shows were dubbed and the Japanese versions were completely different.  Nonetheless, I am still a fan of those English dubs and remakes, and today marks the first Power Rangers film to come out in 10 years.

So to celebrate, I pay homage to my favourite Power Ranger of all time: the Green Ranger.

My toy collection is a strange one: I collect Sailor Moon figures and wands, Breaking Bad paraphernalia, StarCraft merch, and the strangest nook in my collection? My Green Ranger figures, Dragonzord, various Dragon Daggers.  But only the Green Ranger. I remember when Power Rangers was released on Netflix again and I didn’t feel like it was as good as when I had remembered as a kid, but when Twitch streamed all Power Rangers, all the time – there was that special magic being shared with about 68,000 other people on Twitch spamming the chat channel:

  • blblblblblblblblb
  • GREEN GUY
  • GREEN DUDE
  • TOMMY NO
  • WHY IS HE WORKING OUT IN THE ARCADE

Small, little things that might have missed me when I was a kid, now being shared with people of all-ages on the Internet.  Absolutely incredible.


This small scale Dragon Dagger is perfect for nail photos. I may or may not have got it for this sole purpose.  It comes with a sticker book but it didn’t really have to. The sticker book is VERY ’90s, so it runs in the theme.

In either case, if you feel like attempting this insanity and don’t mind being seen in public with Green Ranger nails, here’s how you get this hawt look (I started saying this when I made my first ‘technailogy’ post and now I can’t stop):

  1. Use your favourite base coat and apply one layer to your nails. Let dry.
  2. Apply thin layers of green polish to your nails.  You may need 2-3. Let dry.
  3. Pick your highlight nail for the helmet.  I picked my ring nail as it was cut shorter.
  4. Using a fine nail art brush, paint the black visor on the helmet nail.
  5. With the same brush, use the smallest amount for the helmet dragon’s eyes, nostrils. Clean brush.
  6. Using a fine nail art brush, paint a silver mouth piece.  Clean brush.
  7. Using a fine nail art brush, paint some darker green fine lines to help shape the helmet dragon.  Clean brush.
  8. Using a fine nail art brush, paint white outline around the black visor. Clean brush.
  9. Using a fine nail art brush, paint some tiny teeth along the black visor’s outline.  Clean brush.
  10. Using a fine nail art brush, paint a tiny red dot in the centre. There’s some gold around it, but I left it out.  Clean brush.
  11. Using a fine nail art brush, paint the lip shapes – note that you will need to wipe a lot of excess as a little goes a long way. Clean brush.
  12. Use a gold polish and paint diagonally.  I didn’t really know what I was doing here so feel free to go ham.
  13. Using a fine nail art brush, paint the Green Ranger’s crest’s icons randomly on your nail.  I did a bad job so you should really do better than what I did.
  14. Top off with your favourite top coat and you’re done!

Was it worth it?  Of course it was.

Polishes and materials used:

  • Nails Inc. – Hyde Park
  • Julep – Payton
  • OPI – Jade is the New Black
  • OPI – Black Onyx
  • OPI – Alpine Snow
  • Essie – As Gold as it Gets
  • Essie – No Place Like Chrome
  • Joe Fresh – Cherry
  • Seche Vite top coat
  • Fine nail art brush from Daiso

My personal Zelda: Breath of the Wild review, experience (and scoring system thoughts)

Foreword: This is a bit of a personal post – I am currently on vacation and wanted to do some lighter, candid personal posts for this week. If this isn’t quite your thing and you’re looking for the usual virtual reality banter and gamedev, carry on and check back next week!

To Switch, or not to Switch?

To queue, or not to queue, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
A lack of outrageous #NintendoSwitch fortune.
While sleeping and waiting endlessly, what games may come?
With a only a lawnchair, who would this endure,
But for a hope of a neon joy-con after pre-order death?
– (written over Twitter with the help of @chaostheorem)

And so I turned to Twitter in a last minute decision: should I buy a Nintendo Switch? Should I just get Zelda? What shall I do, Internets?

When I was growing up, Zelda: Ocarina of Time was one of those magical milestone memories I have as a gamer. I am lucky to have parents who humoured my hobby and got me the game for Christmas and playing Zelda titles (or Donkey Kong Country titles) became a holiday tradition. Now that these games are either not being made as frequently (or not being made at all), a part of that gaming equivalent to somewhat of an intense wanderlust has been lost… Until now, in the year 2017, when I reluctantly got my hands on a copy of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Wii U.

Before I dive into my experience with Breath of the Wild, there were already so many memories in the purchasing process:

  • I was contemplating buying a Nintendo Switch and standing in line at midnight. However, I decided not to due to the hardware failure reports.
  • I kid you not, my partner and I drove around director James Wootton for 2 hours frantically looking around for a copy of Breath of the Wild so he could play with his kids on the weekend.
  • After finding out that Amiibos had an interesting role in Breath of the Wild, I searched far and wide for Amiibos – things that I swore against buying due to my KonMari process.

Driving around the entirety of the Lower Mainland made me wonder if my parents had to do the same when getting me my gift of Ocarina of Time and boy oh boy, as a non-parent, I absolutely lived vicariously through “the hunt”, knowing that the joy I felt as a kid would be passed onto his children.

In either case, I bought a Wii U shortly after I returned from Ireland in the year 2013, anticipating for a new Zelda game. The Wind Waker HD was released. Then Twilight Princess HD. But after waiting and waiting, a new Zelda title never happened, and my Wii U wasn’t being used at all, in favour of more interesting happenings on PC. What better way to say farewell to my Wii U than to get the latest and greatest Zelda, and also the last Wii U title? With Amazon Prime’s 20% off, next day shipping, I couldn’t resist: Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Wii U it is.

My vacation in Breath of the Wild‘s Hyrule

Playing Breath of the Wild was a vacation. A literal vacation for me because I literally had to take time off of work to finish it.

That’s right: 94 hours and 23 minutes, and not even half of the game was complete at 47.09%.

But it was also a vacation because it was a complete escape, and regardless of what some people might think, a lot of memories in my personal gaming experience.

Over the years, I’ve lost my finesse as a console gamer shortly after the release of Nintendo 64. I admit it, I’m too dense to follow 3D worlds like Super Mario 64, and Ocarina of Time is the last game that I could play without getting completely lost. My dexterity with newer controllers just isn’t the same as it is on a SNES. I traded in my intense console focus for APM in StarCraft and economy management. The reason why I am mentioning this is that my time and experience with Breath of the Wild wasn’t a solo one – it was an experience I shared with my brother, and my partner.

What I mean by all this is that I wasn’t able to do most of the driving – I found myself struggling with the combat, I found the damage to be very intense, I found some (okay, only some!) shrine puzzles to be difficult… Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not an easy game. It’s challenging, not for beginners, not for the faint hearted. Remember the first time you encountered the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time?  It was like that for me, but for the entire game. With that said, there was so many zen-like experiences, exploring Hyrule by climbing (when it wasn’t raining), picking up ingredients, experimenting with food combinations, and generally screwing around:

  • Talking to random people without your clothes on
  • Setting things on fire
  • Finding out that your weapons conduct electricity
  • Experimenting with different approaches to literally everything

This game is whatever you make it to be, and it seems like everyone has a different play style that works for them, which is one of the beauties of the game.

With that said, I don’t find Breath of the Wild to be a perfect game: the menu UI is a nuisance, the weapon durability is over the top (see: not durable at all), the world is too big at times, there’s no easy way to store your recipes, the fetch quests are too travel intensive, and this game is probably a working completionist’s nightmare (see: 900 Korok seeds vs 100 Golden Skulltulas in Ocarina of Time).

So, how am I supposed to score Breath of the Wild?

Interestingly enough, the recent mob mentality that Zelda: Breath of the Wild should be a 10/10 and nothing less was a bit terrifying to me. I understand undying passion – I practise it myself, but I don’t think other people should be ridiculed for having a different opinion. This is one of the problems we are experiencing in the current, political climate as well: “you’re either with us, or against us”.  There is no grey – only black and white – and I think this is a very dangerous way of thinking.

Saying that a game is absolutely perfect, flawless, is saying that there is no room for improvement. There is no need to explore any further, which to me means that we won’t see improvements in future games, future titles. In general, I believe it’s important to be critical – I personally strive to better my work, learn as much as I can, find ways to improve – and I apply this to games as well.

If anything less than 10/10 is considered to be “bad”, then why don’t we scrap the entire system of numbers, and use the YouTube rating system: thumbs up, or thumbs down?

We don’t use this system because it’s not flexible – it’s one extreme to the next and doesn’t allow for any meaningful critique.  It’s just fast, and lazy.

I really appreciate my brother’s rating system because although it’s not conventional, it makes a lot of sense to me:

  • Very rarely is a something 0/10 or 10/10
  • Every game starts at a 5
  • The first 2 points (either negative or positive) is based on how far would you go to recommend it
  • The expanded points are given based on the efforts, and enjoyments

So, based on this rating system, is Zelda: Breath of the Wild a 10/10?
No. It’s an 8/10 for me, which is a really, really good score:

  • I would wholly recommend this game to people
  • I found the combat to be very experimental, refreshing, fun
  • This game is a legitimate feat by the team – the world creation is huge
  • The English voice acting leaves something to be desired, and often knocked me out of immersion
  • The scope of the game required more quality of life changes with cooking as the game relies so much on it
  • Oh man, I REALLY wanted a roll action for snappier movements
  • I was wanting something a little more with the final battle

HOWEVER… Did I have fun?  Will this go down as one of those archetypal great moments and memories for gaming for me personally? So. Much. Yes. I had 10/10 fun: all the irresponsible late nights staying up, the running around finding Amiibos and a copy for our friend Wootie, all the little moments of joy in small discoveries, thinking about the game all day at work and looking forward to playing with my two favourite people in the world… As a working adult who rarely has time for video games… This brought me back to my childhood, and for that, I’m so, so thankful for Zelda: Breath of the Wild.


For further viewing, check out The Making Of: Breath of the Wild on Youtube:

Webcomic Name Fan Comic Competition: Virtual Reality

I’m a pretty big fan of Webcomic Name comics.  Such a simple concept, but yet reflects so much of my own life. (See: Eyeliner.)

I’m super humbled that the guys over at NVRMIND gave us the opportunity to try out their new app (which is in beta) called ANIMVR.  It’s super cool, and it just cracked open the door of what stop motion could look like in the very near future.  So obviously when I saw that Webcomic Name was having a fan comic competition, I just had to give it a shot of my own.

And virtual reality themed too (obviously).

Ready for the “mind-mushingly bad” from us over at VRMY of DARKNESS?

Well, you asked for it! (Say that in the Jaina from Hearthstone voice.)  I owe it to Megasteakman on killing that ANIMVR animation and my pink blob dude looks terrible because it was the first ever time I ever used a WACOM tablet. (I’m not used to it at all!)


Webcomic Name:  webcomicname.com
NVRMIND: nvrmind.io

Full disclosure: The ANIMVR beta key was provided, enabling our team to create this content.

Animating in the Air: The Magic of ANIMVR

Animation is tough.  Like REALLY tough.  Like most other creative endeavors, the techniques to learn and possible workload are endless, but animation is also magical.  NVRMIND has brilliantly designed a VR animation program that captures and streamlines the magic of animation in 3D space.  ANIMVR succeeds in bringing the difficulty of making animation down while still keeping robust features that make the process way faster.

It’s harder than it looks!

While I’m not an animator personally, I’ve used countless animation programs with varying levels of success.  Creating a good animation interface is extremely challenging: there’s a ton of tools, settings, keyframe interpretations, modes and other options that can really clutter and distract from the process of creation.  ANIMVR excels at keeping everything out of the way, while keeping important options easily accessible.  The button layout was perfect, and after 15 minutes everything became second nature.

Since I’m pretty bad at making traditional animation (the kind that doesn’t interpolate a model or rigged 2D drawing between keyframes), I was quite intimidated at having to redraw the character in 3D space on every frame, but luckily the inclusion of ‘timelines’ allowed me to break up the characters I made into different objects which could be cloned and moved independently per frame.

The ANIMVR interface

I wished there was a way to group these timelines together so when I cloned or deleted a frame it would do the same for all the other pertinent objects.  I found the best way to work was to animate one object until the end of my project, remember the amount of frames and then animate the other objects for the same amount of frames, but I found everything would often get out of sync (thankfully the developers put in a frame offset for each individual timeline, so I’d often be able to put the elements back into sync).

The ‘timeline’ layers were extremely powerful while being incredibly simple and easy to understand (everything on that timeline layer flashes when you select it, so you can see how many objects you accidentally drawn on that layer).  Everything on this the app had an incredible level of polish, although I had problems with the eraser tool not being able to destroy small sections of my lines, and the colour brush lacking some important customization like brush size (or at least no feedback for brush size).  Overall, nothing got in my way of making some really fun stuff in under an hour.

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I was surprised it turned out as well as it did: my first hour in the program!

While I really enjoy VR gaming and experiences, my real excitement for the technology is in making computing more natural and less abstracted.  The mouse and keyboard, while extremely efficient and precise, don’t feel as fun (or as healthy) as manipulating objects through more human gestures and actions.  Crouching, reaching, stretching, walking as you draw an animation in the air not only breathes life into your creation, but into your body as well!  Here’s to the future!

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Yahahaha! You animated me!


ANIMVR is currently in beta and looking for other artists to try out their app!  See more details on their Twitter:

Full disclosure: This press key was provided for the creation of this content.

Pokémon GO Plus Review and First Impressions

As we are celebrating Nintendo Switch Eve, I’ve got my lawnchairs at the ready (if needed), not one but two mobile chargers, a warm coat, a scarf, and the latest and greatest to my queue survival pack: a Pokémon GO Plus.

pkmngonails_05

The Pokemon GO Plus package: wrist strap, and the Pokemon GO Plus device. Not pictures: Quick start instructions.

I tried my absolute darndest to avoid spending my REAL monies on Pokémon GO, but I couldn’t help myself. The way I justified it was that I don’t have a gym membership. I just found out gym memberships can cost anywhere from $25 a month to more than $60 a month. Not that I am knocking that – I think it’s great to invest in health and fitness… And to me, that’s what I paid into when I pulled the Amazon Canada trigger on a Pokemon Go Plus on a Saturday night after midnight. (Because if anyone knows how to party, it’s me.)

So how the heck does the Pokémon Go Plus thing work?

To actually use the device, you’ll need the following:

  • Pokemon GO app installed on your phone
  • Enabled Bluetooth
  • Pokemon GO Plus device (obviously)

While I am not entirely sure if you need to pair the device to your phone in your Bluetooth settings beforehand, you can definitely spot the device in your Pokemon GO app settings:

IMG_1595.PNG

Pokemon Go settings screen for the Pokemon GO Plus

Once you see a Pokemon GO Plus device under ‘Available Devices’, you’re ready to connect it using the Pokemon GO Plus icon in the upper right hand side.

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Ensuring your Pokemon GO Plus device is connected.

Note: If you accidentally connected your Pokemon GO Plus device, you can always disconnect it by tapping the icon again. It will be greyed out again.

Once the device is connected,  you will be along your merry way. Unlike your usual routine, you won’t need to have the app open – you don’t even need your phone to be unlocked! Just go for a walk, and the device will buzz/vibrate with a different coloured light, depending on whether it’s a PokeStop, or a Pokemon:

  • Flashing green: Pokemon
  • Flashing blue: PokeStop
  • Flashing once red: Pokemon GO does not have reception
  • Rainbow with long pulsing: Success with catching/getting items
  • Long red after pressing on flashing blue: Pokestop too far
  • Long white after pressing on flashing blue: Your bag is full
  • Short red after pressing on flashing green: Pokemon fled

Once an action is confirmed, your mobile device will get a notification


The battery for the device reportedly lasts about a month with daily use and uses Cr2032 type batteries.

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How do you use it and what benefits are there?

If you are a transit commuter, you’ll know that catching Pokemon may be a part of your daily routine. I commute with a car, and here if you are caught with you phone while driving, you will have a $500+ ticket slapped on you. Not worth it.

I’m the type of Pokemon GO player that actually has to make the effort to go for walks on my lunch break from work. (But with that said, I love that it does force me off the computer and get some fresh air.)

All you need to do is press a button when the device flashes green (for Pokemon) or blue (for PokeStops) and the whole “gameplay” (if you want to call it that) is automated.

With that said, the chances of catching a Pokemon are about 30% and it will only catch Pokemon that you have already caught.

Experience wise, you will receive 25 XP for Pokemon that have fled, 150 XP (100 base XP for a successful catch and 50 bonus XP for a first throw). You will also receive 3 candy, and 100 stardust.

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Wrist strap option beside the back of the Pokemon GO Plus.

I just carry my Pokemon GO Plus device on its own. I may or may not pay for it in the future, but the strap is so unattractive and cheap that I would rather clip it to my sweater when I am not using it. It’s also inconvenient to require a screwdriver to attach the device to the strap. Design-wise, it would be easier to have slots to feed the strap through.

So, is the Pokemon GO Plus worth it? What’s the verdict?

If you are looking for something to help you play the game without being attached to your phone, I think it’s worth it. I find that my daily walks at work have allowed me to walk faster and maintain my heart rate because I am not tied to constantly checking my phone. All the Pokemon I catch are the icing on top of the cake, and the device really shines in keeping my bag well-stocked.

If you’re expecting to come out on top, or use it as a replacement for playing, this device won’t do it. If you’re looking to keep your bags full, maintain your pace and speed when going on your “PokeWalks”, enjoy the 30% of Pokemon that you get without even trying, the Pokemon Go Plus does the trick.

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Official Niantic Pokemon GO Support pages: support.pokemongo.nianticlabs.com

Photos: Taken by me with a NikonD700 and Nikon 35mm f/1.8 and makeshift light box