EVEREST VR™ - thor
EVEREST VR: The Seeker Expedition is now available as a free update for owners of our VR Experience on Vive and Rift. The production is a creative and editorial collaboration with the team at Seeker that brings the stories and the science of Mount Everest to life in an immersive narrative format only possible in virtual reality.

Merging interactive documentary with the immersion of virtual reality, EVEREST VR: The Seeker Expedition lets users explore a fully navigable, real-time 3D reconstruction of Mount Everest and discover fascinating accounts of man´s encounters with the world’s most iconic mountain.

In a series of audio guides, contextual infographic sequences and ground-breaking 360 video filmed on Everest, the experience conveys multiple perspectives of the mountain. They range from the geology of the Himalayas to the impact of climate change on Everest; from the effects of high altitude climbing on the human body to the summit experiences of mountaineer Conrad Anker, expedition captain Lakpa Rita Sherpa, and geologist and author Mike Searle. Norbu Tenzing, Vice President of the American Himalayan Foundation and son of Tenzing Norgay provides a unique account of Sherpa culture and of his father´s historic first ascent with Edmund Hillary in 1953.

The Seeker Expedition also incorporates unique 360 video footage filmed by the VR Explorers, documenting their successful 2016 summit attempt. It provides an unparalleled perspective on the real world conditions and environment facing Everest climbers.

You can find more information on our collaboration here . I hope you enjoy this new expansion to EVEREST VR!

Community Announcements - thor
When we first conceived of EVEREST VR, our goals were to use the evocative power of VR to recreate some of the key emotions involved in summiting the highest peak in the world but also to use the technology to allow people to engage with geography and history in a completely new way.

With this second major free update of EVEREST VR we give you a little bit of both.

Some of the major changes are in the mode called 'God Mode' that you can access directly right from the lobby. Many of you asked us if it was possible to climb the whole mountain at a human scale. The new God mode was specifically conceived to give users the freedom to explore the terrain in any way they saw fit and engage with geographical and historical data immersively. All of this you access by moving naturally within the whole mountain range with the very important addition that you can now choose at which scale you experience it. Thus you can choose to go all the way down to a 1:1 scale where you can see other climbers and major camps and where each step and hop on the terrain will correspond to real life locomotion. But you can also become a mile-high giant, straddling the peaks like they were small mounds in a sandbox. Experiencing terrain in such an immersive way at different scales gives you a completely new appreciation for the topology and the nuances of different parts of the mountain.

On the historical side, we are proud to be able to include photographic material from the actual 1953 Hillary Expedition courtesy of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London. This material can be accessed from various info points along the path to the summit in God Mode and are positioned in such a way as to reflect where they were originally taken during the iconic expedition where Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first reached the summit. We have also included 18 of the best known routes used to summit so that you can get a feel for the various strategies used to conquer the mountain.

On the experiential side, we added one key moment in the summiting that we always thought was missing: The ascent of Lhotse Face. This part of the climb is both technical and physically punishing, ending in the infamous Death Zone. Rising between Camp 2 and Camp 4, Lhotse Face is a nearly vertical wall of ice 1,500m (5,000 feet) high. The roped ascent is usually done in two phases with one night spent in Camp 3, perched precariously right on the icy face itself. In this experience you will go from Camp 3 and up to Camp 4 along with a group of climbers in a single row. We feel that with this addition, you now have a fairly accurate collection of all the key moments of climbing Everest. If you´ve personally made Summit, do let us know whether we captured the most meaningful moments. If not, we think this is as close as most of us will get.

Finally, we have decided offer EVEREST VR at the same price of $14.99 across all platforms. And this update is of course free for our existing customers.

We hope you enjoy this addition to our product and thanks for all of your excellent feedback.


Community Announcements - thor
When Steam VR launched, Valve used EVEREST VR to create a short mixed reality segment for their launch trailer. The Sólfar and RVX teams were kind of inspired, so we decided to build some special code in Unreal Engine that allowed us to capture participants on a green screen and accurately composite their reactions against the real-time scene rendering in VR. All of the footage you see is captured in real-time from EVEREST VR, no beauty pass in post production. The participants in the trailer are all students from the Technical College in Reykjavik. For most of them, it was their first time in VR. Big thanks to the school for the green screen facility and to the students for climbing with us. And shout out to Wang Hao @Directive Games for the UE4 mixed reality coding.

It´s not perfect, but we think it´s a good first experiment. And we´re working on more mixed reality content as we get our capture and compositing pipeline into good shape. Hope you like it!
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

Everest VR

I made good on my promise last week and booted up Everest VR [official site] to see what the mountain-summitting experience really had to offer. I was especially curious after seeing so many negative reviews calling it out for being a very expensive tech demo with not much to do. I’m sorry to say that I actually concur with that assessment.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

“If I only could be running up that hill with no problems,” sang Kate Bush in her ode to the very real dangers faced by mountaineers attempting to summit Everest to this day and by Mallory and Irvine in 1924 in particular.

Luckily for Kate Bush, Everest VR [official site] – S lfar Studios’ attempt to encapsulate something of the experience of climbing Everest in virtual reality in the safety of your living room – has now been released.

I need to work on the snappiness of my intro text. WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE NEWS PYRAMID? Oooh! Maybe you could summit a news pyramid in the follow-up game?

… [visit site to read more]

Aug 2, 2016
Community Announcements - solfarstudios
I am happy to announce the release of EVEREST VR, the very first product of Sólfar Studios, co-developed with RVX. It’s been nearly two years now since Sólfar Studios was founded with the goal of bringing people to impossible places through transformative virtual reality experiences.

As an impossible place for most people, Everest ranks quite high. At the same time its stern beauty and majestic presence is something that everybody should experience at least once in a lifetime. One of the promises of VR is precisely to be able to do that, so we decided to put it to the test.

For us as veterans from the game industry, approaching this new media was a great learning experience. Did we want to create a game or an experience? Did we want to tell a story or allow the user to create their own? What was our target audience and what would their expectations be?

We decided early on that EVEREST VR would not be a game.

The reasons for that are twofold. On the one hand, the level of graphical fidelity that we were striving for would be prohibitive for us to reach except for a few chosen key locations, considering the size of our team and budget. Secondly, once we grasped the level of immersion that we could achieve by focusing on a few key locations and the fact that it was actually possible to capture the sense of awe of being immersed in a majestic landscape, we decided that this would be an experience that you would want to share with as many of your friends and loved ones as possible. That meant having the experience as accessible as possible, for people of any age and computer literacy, as well giving people the opportunity to experience all the key moments within a sensible time span.

This is why we chose 5 key moments in summiting EVEREST and tried to recreate them faithfully and as gorgeously as current hardware allows. Following the logical sequence of locations as you come closer and closer to the summit, you are free to go through each of these moments at your own pace, but also to go back to them and enjoy the scenery from different vantage points.

Finally, we also allow you to experience the landscape from more of a cartographical point of view in a special ‘God Mode’, where you tower over the mountain range like a giant. This mode we foresee to develop further, adding infographic layers and historical tidbits so that the product truly becomes an interactive atlas providing both emotional experiences as well as more pedagogical insights.

As I said before, we have strived to maximize the graphical quality of the experience but at the same time we wanted this to run well for the majority of current users. This is why we integrated various middleware solutions to the Unreal engine such as Simplygon, Granite from Graphine and trueSKY from Simul to make the most of the content we had, but also and not least, we integrated solutions from Nvidia that allowed us to push the envelope of what was possible on their range of cards (970 and up) significantly. This included integration of MultiRes (and soon Lens Matched Shading) that reduces the peripheral resolution of the rendering target, reducing overall rendering time without affecting the visual quality; and integration of Turbulence to give realistic and real-time simulation of blizzards and spindrift.

On the flip side, this also meant that we didn’t have as much room left to optimize for AMD, so current performance on AMD is not as aggressive and we currently list 480 as our minspec. We are actively working with AMD and Epic to improve that, but we also provide access to some graphical settings that users can tweak and adapt to their current hardware and comfort level. Reprojection can help for many levels as there are few fast moving objects in our scene (except your hands), making reprojection artefacts less visible.

I hope you all enjoy EVEREST VR and that you come to appreciate the beauty of the mountain as we have through these last year of development. I amazed myself a couple of months ago by tearing up during a certain scene, even after having experienced it repeatedly for months and months. In that sense a beautiful landscape is like music, it can move you and surprise you again and again even when you thought you know it by heart.

Kjartan
CEO, Solfar Studios
Product Release - Valve
EVEREST VR™ is Now Available on Steam and is 10% off!*

Experience what it feels like to climb Mount Everest in a series of first person challenges as you strive to reach the top of the world. Incomparable visual fidelity combine with player agency in a VR journey that feels both real and emotionally stunning.

*Offer ends August 9 at 10AM Pacific Time
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