Media & Entertainment

Survios’ First-Person Shooter Shows How Addictive VR Will Be


[tc_aol_on code=”519496219″]

I want to play again. My arms are sore from shooting a virtual bow-and-arrow and slashing robots with a lightsaber. My heart is racing from dodging drone missiles and defending my teammate. And my mind is spinning from the possibilities. I want to play again. And I won’t be the only one.

The game is called Raw Data by virtual reality startup Survios. It’s perhaps the most advanced first person shooter in VR.  Built by a team that’s been together for five years and a company for three, it’s the culmination of all Survios’ research into how people want to play.

Unlike most VR experiences today, it doesn’t feel like a demo. It’s something worth coming back to tonight, tomorrow, and next week, like great console and computer games. Survios isn’t so overwhelmed with the novelty of VR that it forgets what’s actually fun.

Raw Data_Screenshot_2
Team up to fight robots using guns and swords in Raw Data

“Good game design includes progression and retention mechanics that” Survios’ co-founder and Chief Creative Officer James Iliff tells me. “It drives users to genuinely want to come back and continuing to level up, unlock classes, get new weapons, and open up new levels.”

So that’s how Survios built Raw Data.

A Game, Not A VR Demo

The story is that an evil corporation is secretly stealing human brains, putting them into cyborgs, and selling them for profit. Your goal is to infiltrate their headquarters, extract the Raw Data about their sinister scheme, and escape so you can expose them to the world. But while you download the evidence, you’re attacked by wave after wave of robots.

Raw Data_Pistol
Dual-wield weapons in Raw Data

Thanks to the HTC Vive VR headset and its motion cameras you place in the corners of a room, you can actually run around a 15-foot by 15-foot space inside Raw Data. You’re able to duck and dodge, find cover behind computer terminals, and charge at your enemies.

You start with a pistol on your hip and a lightsaber on your back. By squeezing the grips on the Vive’s hand-held motion controllers, you can grab and dual wield them. Pull the trigger and the gun fires or the sword extends, and tap the extra button to slow things down to bullet time so pinpoint some head shots.

But what makes Raw Data feel addictive is that it’s constantly changing. After each wave get new weapons, like a pump-action shotgun where you actually line up your hands to aim down the iron sights, and a bow and arrow you nock, pull back, and release to fire. The enemies get smarter and stronger, advancing from lemming machines s to gun-toting soldierborgs to nimble ninjabots.

Raw Data_Screenshot_3
You actually stretch out your arms to nock, draw, and fire your bow and arrow

And you’re not alone in Raw Data. You can fight alongside a friend in their own HTC Vive playspace, and talk over the headset to coordinate strategy or call for help.

Iliff believes this all contributes to what he calls an “active VR experience” rather than one where you just sit and watch. By thrusting games into the action, he says “we can activate their primal instincts — where they don’t need to be trained to play, where you take advantage of people’s natural intuition.”

There’s no pop-up that teaches you to shoot the bow and arrow, you just feel like you need to figure it out to survive as if it was real life. Ready player 1?

From DIY To HTC Vive And Beyond

Survios wowed me a few years ago with its game Zombies On The Holodeck. The guys built it after working in the University of Southern California Mixed Reality Lab alongside Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey. Though robots are cool, there’s something much scarier about the walking dead coming to eat your brains. Hopefully Survios will give the cyborgs saw-blade hands or something to make defeating them more urgent.

Zombies On The Holodeck
Survios’ old game Zombies On The Holodeck

But what the startup learned from that Zombies game was how to build for any hardware. Way back in 2014 (VR moves fast), there weren’t any professionally-made systems available for doing full-motion virtual reality where you can walk around. Survios knew motion would make things much more fun, so it hacked together its own janky system. You had to strap on a massive backpack full of magnets for tracking location and a camera that hung above your head.

Fast-forward to today, and Survios has raised $4.2 million led by Shasta Ventures and grown its team to 35. Meanwhile, Oculus, Sony VR, and HTC have all built polished VR systems that are almost ready for sale. So rather than betting the company on one platform, Survios is using its hardware skills to bring Raw Data to all three of these headsets.

That’s no easy task when the headset launch dates keep getting pushed back. It’s hard to know how many people will buy them or how much they’ll be willing to pay for games. Survios expects to price Raw Data in the $10 to $25 range, and closely monitor reactions. Iliff believes that if VR games are about 10X shorter than traditional console games that cost $60, but is several times more immersive, around $20 will feel right.

Raw Data
People without VR headsets will be able to spectate Raw Data games on their computers from cinematic camera angles

Knowing that not everyone will be able to afford a premium wired VR headset, Survios has other plans to get people involved. It’s built the mechanics necessary so people will be able to spectate Raw Data games from their computer on Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and other streaming platforms. They’ll be able to watch from first-person or more cinematic angles.

“We trying to figure out ways to showing compelling VR experiences that don’t require a VR headset” Iliff explains. The theory is that once people watch someone else slice a robot’s head off with a lightsaber, they’ll be convinced its worth paying to hold the sword themselves. And they won’t want to put it down.

More TechCrunch

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

16 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies