Sixense, creators of the STEM motion input controller, are showing off an experiment which combines their ‘STEM Pack’ with Striker VR’s weapon recoil system. The result is a weapon that feels real in both form and function, and carries beautifully into the virtual world.
Sixense’s STEM includes motion tracked controllers and optional ‘STEM Packs’, independently tracked modules which players can affix to any prop that they’d like to track in virtual reality. A STEM Pack mount was affixed to Striker VR’s prototype weapon, allowing the Pack to slide on easily. Once attached, the Pack tracks the weapon’s movements with the same precision of a STEM controller. When rigged up to a corresponding in-game gun model, the weapon quickly becomes a VR controller of its own.
Thanks to the accuracy of STEM’s tracking, and the impressive force of Striker VR’s recoil system, the real recoil from the weapon is tracked and represented in-game, with no need for simulated recoil.
This mashup between real and virtual is huge for immersion and gameplay.
First, wielding a rifle-shaped controller while virtually wielding a rifle is significantly more immersive than holding a pistol-like controller at arms length when you are supposed to be shouldering the rifle.
Second the weight, and especially the distribution of weight, is important to how the weapon handles—you can’t handle even a compact five pound submachine gun with the same speed as a two pound pistol, let alone a lengthy 15+ pound sniper rifle! Again, a match between real and virtual leads to higher levels of immersion.
And third, real recoil means that a new element of gameplay comes under user control. Controlling for recoil is a massive part of firing a real weapon accurately; simulated recoil in modern FPSs is just an abstraction. Bringing that mechanic into the game adds more avenues for players to hone their skills, more realism, and more fun.
Furthermore, the accuracy of STEM means that even the minute shake of the human arms and hands—while attempting to aim the first shot—is captured. This is another facet of weaponry that’s often simulated in FPSs, and now it can be driven by the user directly.
Neither company is saying where this relationship might go, but at very least Sixense’s forward-looking approach to interoperability means nothing can stop you from attaching the STEM Pack to a Striker VR weapon model—or anything else for that matter!