You only need 10 minutes with a keyboard and mouse set-up to find out that moving around in VR is completely different from anything else in gaming. Here we take a look at some of the techniques developers are using to put you into VR, not only so you can feel like you’re somewhere else, but so you won’t be nauseous when you start exploring.
Unfortunate to say, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for locomotion in VR games—at least not the kind we’re used to when playing games on monitors or TVs. While clever hardware solutions like the omni-directional treadmill Virtuix Omni, or entire VR parks like The VOID do an excellent job of approximating endlessly walkable terrain, VR developers are thinking about the average user—the person with some room, a headset, and controller(s)—and they want that user to be able to explore expansive spaces in virtual reality comfortably.
Developers have been experimenting with just how to do this, and there’s now a number of different virtual reality locomotion techniques that provide comfortable experiences.
So far there’s nothing better than dancing with your own two feet, and Valve’s Steam VR platform takes this to heart in the soon-to-release HTC Vive.
Creating a large-scale tracking volume means you’ll be able to walk right up to in-game characters, look under desks, hide behind mounds of treasure – truly experiencing virtual scenery like never before. Provided you aren’t tangling yourself up, you’ll definitely be surprised at the level of immersion you can achieve.
Both Oculus and Sony offer large-scale tracking volumes, but are emphasizing a balance in standing and seated gameplay for now. Our multiple experiences with both Rift and PlayStation VR have been a positive one, and we hope to see more opportunities to engage in more standup gameplay.
A good cockpit makes a world of difference, because there’s something innately comforting about having a solid feature in your foreground while you screech around corners in Project Cars, or blow up enemy wraiths in EVE: Valkyrie.
A vehicle not only adds a weightiness to your movements (which ought to be restricted by a physics engine), but also allows you to assume your natural sitting position, making for an easier 1-to-1 match-up that your brain really wants when its turning in directions it’s not actually going.
This is a boon for both developers currently making racing/flight/space sims, but also the players who will automatically step in needing nothing more than a chair and their smattering of peripheral goodies.
Vehicles are nice. We like them. But when you have a room big enough for a boat, why not … have a boat?
StressLevelZero’s upcoming title Hover Junkers is a ‘VR only’ post-apocalyptic shooter that lets you hunt down your friends online using the game’s junk-encrusted hover boats. Although these sorts of ‘roomscale vehicles’ are still underused in current VR games, they not only address a problem, but actively use it as an integral game mechanic.
The game comes out first for HTC Vive in April and in Q3/Q4 for Oculus Rift, and we’re hoping other devs follow suit.
All three major headsets (HTC Vive, Ouclus Rift, PSVR) suffer a similar problem regardless of how much tracking volume they provide: when you hit the wall in the real world, you’re going to need a way of getting past it in the virtual.
Teleportation is a novel way of addressing a number of things that induce nausea in VR, like the dreaded ‘yaw stick poison’ – or when you use the right stick of your controller to turn your POV.
Virtual spaces like AltspaceVR, Cloudhead’s Blink, Epic Games’ FPS Bullet Train, Convrge and many more use teleportation to excellent effect, often including either a line-of-sight cursor or a ghostly outline that can be controlled by the player. Newly revealed title Budget Cuts directly uses teleportation as a gameplay mechanic with their unique portal system.