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DKoding

VR Game design?

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I've been working on a VR game for some time now.

 

I've come to the realization that stuff that works in first player FPS's don't work as well in VR - mainly because the way locomotion works, where you teleport around instead of walking/running usually.

 

Also, VR, especially the HTC Vive (and I guess Oculus Touch) with 2 hand controllers, gives a lot of new opportunities for new 'stuff to do' in a VR title that would be fun in VR, but not so much using a controller. Just picking things up and throwing them around is fun - aiming at two enemies simultanously with a different weapon in each hand also.

 

Do you guys have other ideas? What would you like to see in a VR game that would not be feasible in a FPS? What have you always dreamt about doing in an FPS that is now possible in VR?

 

My ideas:

 

- Smashing objects together (heads, cymbals etc)

- Aiming and shooting a bow

- Real sword/shield fights

 

What are your ideas?

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Another point that VR offers more so than others is data modelling and control over views.

 

For the first time we have a practical way for users to hold, control, and position complex detailed forms in three dimensional space, while being able to quickly look around a larger volume and track far more content in a more reliable manner. 

 

You can do things like, pick something up, hold it from one point, 'grab' it at another and rotate. Playing with shape and volume is going to be an option unlike interfaces before this. 

 

As a designer you're also not limited to only two points of control from the user's hands, but rather you could even quickly swap between anchors within the 3d space. Picture interacting with a deformable dough like substance. The most obvious interaction is to "pick it up" with either controller/hand, and interact with it between those two points. But what if you add a 'hook' in 3D space? Or more than one? What if your 'hand' controllers can quickly pick up and move the 'hooks' and easily control whether they hold or let go of the 'dough'?

 

I feel that the important thing to always remember when thinking of VR is to consider what it is we can do to present and interact with information and models in ways that were simply too cumbersome with previous designs. 

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VR gives immersion, it gives accurate depth perception for fully-sighted people, and for the Vive particularly it grants rather accurate tracking of the hand's position and orientation.

Leverage that.

In brainstorming we are able to come up with tons of ideas, basically anything at all that works in the real world. Anything the player would want to do in any place is fair game. Easily popular, any game where you want to immersively go to a place that humans normally cannot go, perhaps because of environment, or distance, or scale, those have an enormous number of viable paths. Virtual 3D tourism has been a thing over a century with people buying and selling stereoscopic views of exotic places. Alice in wonderland style environments where you can become big, or you can become small, and in both you can manipulate the world. For environments you cannot normally play with, imagine games were you pick up hot lava, or can have super-strength, or can fly, or can do things underwater or inside rock.

Gameplay itself must stand on its own. If VR is the only thing then it won't work. But if the game mechanics are inherently fun or become particularly fun due to the immersive nature of the system, that can work to your advantage. Also, some people have vision problems including partial or no sight in one eye. Though they won't get the depth they should still be able to enjoy the game.

In a product we are rapidly working through the finaling process, we found many things that were accidentally surprisingly fun due to the immersive nature. When modelers built some small objects for the game world and we reviewed the on the Vive, everyone loved getting on their hands and knees to play with the tiny things. The first request was to make the tiny objects interactable so the person could pick them up and manipulate them. Several VR games and VR experiences have used the perception of physical scale for unexpected moments of delight, where working with tiny objects or feeling like a tiny bug in an enormous world are both satisfying. They are not enough to be the gameplay by themselves, but the immersive nature can contribute to gameplay and story.


Build a game that is fun. Leverage the fact that the world is immersive around you to help improve the fun. VR itself is not enough to create a good game, a poor game in traditional displays will still probably be a poor game in VR. But VR can become a contributing factor to the design to help a fun game become more fun and more involved.

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I've come to the realization that stuff that works in first player FPS's don't work as well in VR - mainly because the way locomotion works, where you teleport around instead of walking/running usually.
Everyone's been assuming that regular locomotion is terrible for VR and that we just shouldn't do it -- hence the FPS games with teleporting/etc.

e.g. the Oculus Tuscany demo where you would use the left-thumb stick to walk around made everyone feel sick, so obviously it's a bad idea...

...but...

I've been playing a heap of Onward, which supports Vive's room-scale free movement to walk small distances, but mostly relies on traditional locomotion mechanic of a left-thumb stick, and is perfectly fine! It felt weird for about the first 30 seconds of playing the game (like you were going to stumble/fall), but after that, it feels fine.

 

I'm now convinced that traditional "thumb stick movement" is actually fine for VR, as long as you're using a modern headset (not a DK2), and the movement speed is quite slow (Onward is a tactical FPS so is fine -- but something like TF2 would still be a terrible idea).

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