Cloudhead Games’ ‘Blink’ to Bring Nausea-free VR to HTC Vive this Holiday


Cloudhead Games, the developers behind one of the first successfully Kickstarted VR dedicated games, have announced their technique called ‘blink’, a locomotion system they claim eliminates nausea entirely from VR gaming.

VR hardware is improving and the display techniques such as low persistence of vision, pioneered by Oculus and Valve over just the last couple of years mean perceiving VR imagery inside VR headsets is a whole lot more comfortable these days.


But now that nausea and VR sickness brought on by lacklustre hardware is quickly becoming a thing of the past, why is nausea still an issue for today’s VR game designers? It turns out, once you’ve removed all hardware barriers to perceive virtual worlds, you’re left with much more fundamental issues to deal with at the software design level and chief among them is locomotion inside VR.

The Oculus Rift DK2 brought us optical positional tracking, freeing our heads and bodies from a purely rotationally tracked virtual world. The system allowed free movement within the confines of the tracking camera’s FOV, which when positioned correctly was relatively generous. The HTC Vive and its Lighthouse laser tracking system expanded upon that freedom, introducing what they termed ‘room scale’ tracking – pitching their VR system as one you could explore both physical and virtual spaces with.

The Oculus Rift DK2 and Positional Tracking Camera
The Oculus Rift DK2 and Positional Tracking Camera

But no matter how good your tracking is, you’ll always be constrained by the physical world your body is occupying, especially when it comes to moving around a virtual space with boundaries beyond your physical environment. This means, designers must find ways to move players around their virtual worlds that are not natural. Using a gamepad’s analogue sticks to move around is one traditional gaming technique of course, but one that causes jarring feelings of disconnection when in virtual reality. Essentially, your inner ear disagrees with your brain – you’re moving in virtual space but not in physical.

Vive XR Elite Gets Face-tracking Add-on with Eye & Mouth Sensing
HTC Vive and Room-scale tracking

Cloudhead Games, who have been grappling with the difficulties and intricacies of VR input since their appearance on the scene back in 2013, now claim they have a solution to VR nausea, physical playspace restrictions and locomotion with a system they’re calling ‘Blink’.

Subtitled ‘Elastic VR Playspace’ the solution comprises a number of techniques (as outlined in the video above, presented by Cloudhead Games’ Denny Unger) which, when combined tackles all of the above issues: Cinematic Blink, Precision Blink and Volume Blink – a “locomotion mechanic which ensures player safety, deep traversal and complete spacial awareness in both the virtual and real world.”

Essentially, Blink employs a point, click and teleport system which removes the uncomfortable elements of virtual travel by snapping you to a position and orientation defined by you instantly thereby essentially sidestepping the issue. This technique works hand in hand with Cloudhead’s elastic playspace too, a system which subtly reminds the player of their custom sized playspace with visual cues within the game.

The techniques described in the video, will debut ‘Blink’ in the first episode of their forthcoming ‘The Gallery‘ saga. This new episode, newly revealed as ‘Call of the Starseed‘ is scheduled for release alongside the HTC Vive, currently pegged for delivery towards the end of 2015.

You can find out more about The Gallery saga over at the game’s website here.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • Curtrock

    Watching Cloudhead Games mature as a company while developing “The Gallery” is one of the most satisfying Kickstarter experiences I’ve had, on par with backing Oculus.

  • Jarom Madsen

    So good. First system that has convinced me to believe that room-scale VR can work. So exciting!

  • kalqlate

    They didn’t mention it, but I hope they share and promote the Blink technique to the rest of VR industry so that it becomes an industry standard that consumers can expect across all VR activities.

  • adilvr

    Imagine playing FPS game with HTC vive in a staduim area… :) no barrier no limit

  • Sean Concannon OculusOptician

    Cloudhead are pioneering and leading the way for VR gaming, exactly why I’ve been a huge backer from the beginning. They continue to develop industry first cutting edge features and concepts that big name developers like Cyan and Crytek continue to fail upon.

  • Killhunter

    Well, sounds interesting, but I actually do not believe that they found a working solution for this whole motion-sickness problem. I think it well take some years to get there. Above all, the display technologies have to advance.

    Funny thing is that some Sony guy just said that Project Morpheus wont have games with 50 hours of gameplay, due to VR causing nausea:

    • Curtrock

      @Killhunter: Although Cloudhead’s “Blink” method may not solve all forms of VR nausea, it certainly solves one of the MAJOR causes of VR sickness. They introduced their VR comfort mode a while back. When you pan left or right in a video game with a joystick, for some people (especially me) it produces instant nausea. Like, rip the HMD off your head, and lay down for 20 minutes, linger all day, nausea. World rotation in snaps, means the difference between me being able to use certain VR experiences, or not. Teleportation, which AltSpaceVR has been doing for sometime now, is also a nausea free way of traversing distance in VR. Cloudhead is def doing some “heavy lifting” in regards to addressing fundamental VR issues.

  • Art Polo Gabriel