Oculus and Crytek Explore New & Novel Methods of VR Locomotion

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Oculus has teamed up with Crytek to share a series of VR game design learnings. The second and latest post in the series explores eight prototype methods for moving or rotating in virtual reality.

Keeping players comfortable in VR is the very first step to creating a compelling experience, but so far there isn’t one method of locomotion that makes sense for all types of games. The best VR games we’ve seen to date are those which pair the right locomotion method with the right gameplay, so experimenting with the two together before diving into production is important.

Hands-on: 'Sprint Vector's' Breakthrough Locomotion Could Inspire an Entirely New Genre of VR Games

Luckily Oculus and Crytek have invested time in experimenting with new VR locomotion schemes and is sharing their learnings with everyone. The latest post in Oculus’ “Developer Perspectives” series includes a video playlist showing eight prototype methods for moving and rotating in VR:

In the post, the authors stress that developers should aim to pick the right locomotion scheme, or combination of locomotion schemes, that fit their specific project goals:

For anyone checking out our video playlist for the first time, our advice would be to first think about how you want to combine different methodologies to find the most successful concept for your project, as most have pros and cons that need to be balanced depending on the project. In our playlist of experiments, we tried a wide range of different methods. Some failed. Some worked. Some may create physical fatigue. Some required combining with different techniques to show their potential.

They also describe three methods that they found particularly interesting:

Charge Float Jump

Charge Float Jump is a method that lets you charge your jump. The longer you hold the jump button, the higher you will rise in the VR space. You can also tweak the gravity settings so that instead of descending at a natural speed, you float and glide. Without a visual aid this can feel a bit different, but when you jump quickly and then transition to floating, it can feel smooth. Both a cockpit and a “Constraint Scheme” visual aid work really well in reducing sickness for this method of locomotion. This movement would work really well for a hang-gliding or wingsuit game. It feels really instinctive, and we think it has a lot of potential. Try it out!

HMD Acceleration

This movement is just straight-up a lot of fun. It’s a combination of different prototypes, and it’s a way of initiating movement by looking in the direction you want to go. You tilt your head forward, you move forward. Tilt your head backwards, and you go backwards. In combination with “HMD strafing,” you can also tilt your head to the side and together, it makes you feel like you’re a pinball on a table, rolling around, or you can move through the world like you’re a snake. While this functionality can be a bit nauseating, it’s super fun, especially when you apply a visual aid. An infinite runner using this locomotion would be really interesting—put obstacles in the world, collection points, maybe add in “Charge Float Jump” functionality, and you can move rapidly and intuitively through VR.

World Rotation

“World Rotation” uses the Oculus Touch controllers. You pull a trigger, then move the controller left or right to rotate the world. This can feel very natural. We experimented with this method in a few ways—one that showed a lot of promise was applying a body and weapons to an in-game avatar. This meant you could take a rifle into your hands, use the rotation to scan the scene, and then release the trigger once you acquired a target you wanted to shoot. It feels very natural and, in combination with “Head Tilt Acceleration” and Strafing, it has all the makings of a compelling VR first-person shooter experience. If you’re interested in designing a VR FPS, it’s worth playing around with this method.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Phillip Lo

    Great ideas, but I’m concerned about the ergonomics for the neck using these methods for prolonged periods.

  • Pedro Kayatt

    Most of this methods don’t look comfortable at all, I will try to implement some and see if I still alive after that. Hate to be VR sensible, but at least I can test if methods are really useful..

  • Trackers… Put two VIVE Trackers on feet and gently move feet for walk, than walk or run in place for run. Move forward or backward depending on position of headtrack in relation to feet. Our brain needs feet movement to belive you are walking.

    • G-man

      yeah no it doesn’t your brain knows you are walking on the spot. that sounds awful

  • lazasta

    This just seems plain stupid

  • Michael Wentworth-Bell

    This is the “Control Theatre” locomotion system we put together for Espire 1 VR stealth game
    We think with this method you can have full freedom of movement, while minimizing VR sickness and maintaining immersion.

  • Joe Black

    They should use sensors to detect neural activity to control velocity. This is old tech, but could not really gain a foothold while the mouse, keyboard and various other controllers ruled for traditional gaming. It could maybe be ideal for VR.

  • Well, interesting that they’re researching…very useful videos. But some teleportation mechanics they’ve studied are just absurd :D

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    The simplest solution : get used to VR locomotion, play a lot of crazy locomotion games a little bit more everyday until you are fully resistant. Problem solved forever. VR Virgins and the left behind will hate VR anyway, because they cannot afford it.

    • Jason Mercieca

      YES thats what i did, your answer is 200%correct, try until u r brain adapts, for the very few that really try and cannot the world should not go dam and spoil the trackpad locomotion for others, trackpad system like ONWARD is the only solution, still major dev are still searching, OMG it must be true the saying, qualifications does not bring intelligence and even less common sense!
      Those who cannot adjust playing in trackpad (best available movement imitation to real life) are people who either dont put the effort to get used too or they greatly suffer of motion sickness and would need a totally reality ruining motion movement system (like teleport, its a horrible system immersion breaker) just to play the game, offer them the option to teleport thats ok BUT offer the people trackpad movement also (like game onward), i totally hate and will never support a game that has no option to trackpad movement like game onward, less than that and it becomes useless to me, all dev has the duty to accommodate as many people as possible..

      • Peter Hansen

        For me to work in VR without getting sick, linear movement has to be:
        1. fast
        2. instantaneous
        3. non-accelerated (constant speed from the start)

        Also I have to sit.

    • So will never be for general public. Most people will try VR for the first and last time in their life.

    • G-man

      the answer is to stop wanting to walk around for miles in vr.

  • Jason Mercieca

    The best locomotion system has already been discovered, im sure many will agree, like GAME ONWARD, trackpad locomotion, its the most identical to real life, and imitation to real life is what most immersive and natural, all other types of locomotion are really breaking the ingame immersion the headset is meant to give.
    So well they are the expects but i think some people just quits on trackpad locomotion after only a few tries, so instead of ruining the locomotion system to make those people happy why not make an effort in giving proper instructions of manner in which people can get used to play in trackpad locomotion, once there brain adjusts they be so glad they continued trying cause most people will get used to it, im a good example, at first i felt dizzy and worse but after 1 week of few tries per day im immune to it, i can evem play doom bfg in vr jumping, running and even aerial plane dog fighting games.

  • NooYawker

    It’s an interesting locomotion scheme. Any research into locomotion that removes the need to use your controller is good. In action games using the controller to move will always be a hindrance. Aiming, shooting, reloading gets to be too much in the heat of battle.

  • Nausea, nausea, nausea… I will continue using stereoscopic 3d games without nausea. VR has too much concerns

  • Peter Hansen
  • Jagick

    An omni-directional treadmill large enough to allow for sprinting, which tends to involve long strides. As well as some sort of harness to allow for jumping and hurdling over objects but keeps you over the platform. However, it must not be a physical ring that encircles you at the waist, thus ensuring your arms constantly hit it when you walk naturally or stand idle. It must also not have some large arm directly above you that you are sure to hit when reaching up aiming upwards suddenly.

    Until this is designed and perfected, the best we’ll have is track-pad locomotion and room-scale.

    • Potato Sorcerer

      Why is everyone pretending that the virtuix Omni doesn’t exist?

      • Jagick

        Because the virtuix omni while nice does not offer all of those things. In fact it has at least one of the things I stated in my comment that it shouldn’t have.

      • G-man

        because it essentially doesnt. they dont sell to consumers. the price is way more than they said it would be.