Microsoft began taking pre-orders for its $3,000 HoloLens Development Edition today in anticipation for its launch in March 30.
Kudo Tsunoda, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, announced that Fragments, Young Conker, and RoboRaid will be included with the hardware to showcase the gaming capabilities that augmented reality opens up. Early purchasers of the new hardware will include game developers, and Microsoft is looking to create an ecosystem of software that will help it sell the consumer version of HoloLens down the line.
Fragments puts gamers in the middle of an augmented reality crime drama that unfolds in their living room. Players are able to investigate clues and solve crimes by interacting with characters that sit on their couch and talk directly to them.
Young Conker takes the popular squirrel created by Microsoft-owned developer Rare off platform gaming and and into the real world. Developed by Asobo Studios, the game changes based on what environment the gamer is playing in.
Rounding out the launch games is RoboRaid, which was previously playable at E3 last year as Project X-Ray. RoboRaid is a first-person shooter that has invading aliens literally ripping through the walls of the room you’re in. You use the Clicker to shoot at the waves of alien robots as they fly into the room shooting lasers.
RoboRaid uses spatial sound as a gameplay feature, alerting gamers which direction to turn when they hear the wall crumbling. The game was created by a team of eight people over the course of 12 weeks at Microsoft.
The Development Edition also runs an enhanced version of Skype, which allows people running Skype on any Windows device to interact in the holographic world.
Rounding out the non-gaming apps is HoloTour, which offers users 360-degree panoramic displays of places like Rome and Machu Picchu. HoloTour allows users to actually walk around locations like Rome’s city streets complete with 3D sound to create the illusion that one’s there.
This summer, Microsoft will release Actiongram for HoloLens which is a holographic storytelling medium for the platform. It will allow developers to blend holographic content into real world settings, allowing anybody to create emotionally compelling and humorous videos.
Several non-gaming apps included with HoloLens will help developers, including HoloStudio, which will allow developers to easily create 3D in 3D—at real-world scale. This app also teaches developers how to use the HoloLens interaction model of gaze, gesture, and voice within games and other applications.