Dev Blog #2 - VR design considerations
My games are VR-only experiences so I invest a lot of time and effort tackling VR specific issues and limitations. Here's a summary of why I made certain design choices:
Lack of haptic feedback
I want players to interact with the environment, but they can't touch or feel it.
This led to the creation of Digby. You use him as your hands, controlling his position, target and velocity with care or a destructive intent. Getting Digby to do the dirty work means that you don't need to touch things and therefore don't miss the haptic feedback.
Then we have the problem of things that crash into you...
I want explosions and flying debris, but knocking the player around would cause nausea.
The approach I take is to freeze physics/gravity when something is about to impact with the player and slowly fade to a death screen. This gives them a chance to see what was going to hit them, but takes them away before the uncomfortable impact.
A player may accidentally move their head through an object.
We don't want to kill a player for accidentally moving into a wall, so as they collide I move them to a "limbo" view. They can then move back out to restore the real view.
I use velocity to distinguish between a temporary out-of-bounds collision and damage. If an object has no velocity, you enter limbo. If it's moving it hurts you.
Rule #1 - don't make people sick
I want players to explore, but traditional movement controls can induce nausea.
I use the Play Pit locomotion system to allow people to use physical movement and various teleporting techniques. This removes locomotion based nausea.
I need players to be able to fall to their death without causing nausea.
I play a cracking sound and show the Play Pit falling away beneath the players feet. They are then moved down in an instant and faded to a death screen.
Rule #1.1 - let players override nausea settings
The final game will include options allowing players to move via the gamepad's analogue sticks. Not everyone gets sick.
I want players to feel fully immersed in the game and have experiences only possible in VR
I find the items in the following list help evoke a sense of presence. This list drives the ongoing development of Dimensional.
* Standing while playing
* Real physical movements, walking, ducking, jumping etc.
* Physics-enabled objects reacting as expected
* Impending danger - e.g. objects falling towards you, stepping over drops
* AI characters that react to seeing or hearing you
Other lessons I've learned so far
If you want people to look around naturally you should create a standing experience (excluding cockpit-style games), otherwise the player will get neck ache. Standing encourages people to turn with their bodies rather than just their neck.
Avoid forcing the player to look straight up, quite a few people find it uncomfortable.
It's OK to make players crouch, but they will be reluctant to kneeling or sitting on the floor during a game where they start off standing.
If you have to show text, hide it as the player walks away so it doesn't become unreadable.
If you create a virtual desk that lines up with your real desk, it's quite possible to put down and pick up controllers and even find your mouse while in VR.
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Dev Blog #1: Oculus DK2 tracking volume may be larger than you realise
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Dimensional wins VRTGO 2015 VR Competition