Jump to content
Double Fine Action Forums
Sign in to follow this  
EMarley

No one's talking enough about the importance of swivel chairs for VR

Recommended Posts

So who's tried virtual reality? I've tried VR phone apps and something jumped out at me that I've never seen reviewers mention: at some point, you're going to want to look behind you. And if you're sitting down, twisting yourself around to do that is uncomfortable. So either play the game standing, or... *drumroll* use a swivel chair!

Of course, for some games the discomfort of looking around is part of the immersion, like the one where you're sitting in a wheelchair being pushed through a spooky asylum. You can turn around to look at the orderly that's pushing you, but you're clearly only meant to see him from the edge of your vision, using a swivel chair in that instance would be immersion-breaking. But for many other games, like the pioneering VR episode of the Spanish TV series El Ministerio del Tiempo, you're going to want to be able to look all around you with ease.

I'm guessing that Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin will be like the asylum one, where you'll be discouraged from looking directly behind you. DF already said that it's a game best experienced sitting rather than standing. Plus, I think PSVR uses cables? In which case spinning around too much would be a bad idea as well.

Thoughts?

Edited by EMarley

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The scene shown in the video they released did have Raz strapped in, and if I remember correctly, they mentioned that he will remain that way, and they've managed to have that work within the story of the game.  So, I'd imagine that the game wouldn't require 360 degree movement.

I haven't yet tried any modern VR.  I played an arcade VR headset from the early 2000s at Boston Bowl, and I rode in a virtual reality simulator in the mid 1990's.  I was hoping to get a chance to play the VR games when I was at PAX East this year, but they only had limited slots to play, as they required reservations.  And the reservations filled up fast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been experimenting with VR since the DK2, own a Vive, and have started to tiptoe into VR game development when I have found some time (a bit too busy to dive in extensively yet but I will get there eventually).

I think at the moment the biggest thing holding the medium back is the 'motion sickness' issue with movement controls. While I have played many traditional FPS games with VorpX and had an absolutely amazing time (without any issues with motion sickness), apparently it is problematic for enough people that developers have often abandoned locomotion controls in favor of teleportation, and if it's a room-scale game, teleportation combined with your ability to physically walk around the space. Teleportation is terribly immersion-breaking for me unless there is a reason for it that makes sense in the world (like Raz's clairvoyance), and the room-scale experience of physically walking around in the space, while amazing and captivating, has serious limitations. Firstly, most people have a small space to walk around in, and secondly, it limits the amount of time you can sustain your engagement with the game.

It looks like Rhombus of Ruin has creatively avoided these pitfalls with solutions that make sense in the game world and story, which is great! I really dig that and I want to play it! It seems like a solid approach in this initial wave of VR development, all the while there are unsolved motion-sickness issues. Solving those problems will ultimately open up vast possibilities, though. Wouldn't you love to ride Raz's levitation ball in VR? ;)

Due to the fact that traditional movement controls cause motion sickness for many people (in particular the yaw axis of rotation - turning left and right) it seems quite difficult to simply build on the progress already made in the world of game design, and many devs are instead looking for new ways to tell stories for VR as if it is an entirely new medium. That will lead to some awesome creativity, which is exciting, but surely we can also find ways to translate traditional game movement to VR too, and let players run around in worlds much more enormous than their bedrooms\living-rooms without relying on teleportation, or an in-game vehicle or platform as in Hover Junkers.

This line of thinking also led me to swivel chairs. To me an ideal first-person VR game experience might just be on a swivel chair with motion controllers. This way I can relax in a chair and play the game (and thus immerse into it for a while), control yaw with actual bodily movement, which should help avoid one of the triggers of motion sickness for many people, move forward\backwards with controller buttons, and move any avatar hands\tools\weapons using the motion controllers. With this kind of setup we get some kind of balance between room-scale immersion and traditional first person game-play that allows exploration of vast game worlds. This avoids limiting the game design to serve the limitations of the player's physical play area, and avoids depending on some kind of teleportation.

It might not be quite so simple.. I'm just throwing some thoughts out there! I'm very interested to research and experiment with motion sickness triggers and figure out ways to mitigate it, and ideally overcome it all together. Maybe some kind of acceleration\deceleration smoothing based on golden ratio curves or something... I figure there are hacks to get around human physiology, we just need to discover them. I'm excited to muck around more in Unreal and see if I can discover something new.

One other thought that has occurred to me many times when trying early VR games... I would really love for more developers to give the player configurable control options, so that even if the developers choose teleportation as a primary mechanic, if someone doesn't suffer motion sickness and wants a yaw control on their controller, they can have it. Arbitrary limitations can be quite frustrating, especially when you go from having an incredible first-person experience in a game not designed for VR using VorpX, but then have severely limited options for movement by comparison in native VR titles. This doesn't really apply to Rhombus of Ruin, but it has come up for me in many early VR games. Another quick additional note, this time for anyone trying VorpX, it seems to work better on the Oculus (well, I've only tried on the DK2) because of Asynchronous Timewarp, which I think decouples the tracking FPS from the rendering FPS. When playing games not optimized for VR through VorpX on the Vive, when the frame-rate of the game tanks, the jerkiness of the tracking can mess you up. When I played VorpX games on the DK2, they generally felt smooth as butter. Vive support for VorpX is also newer and will probably improve over time.

OK, one more small addition... I guess my ideal would be a situation where it is not all that complicated for developers of non-VR focused games to add VR support as an option. VorpX has given many people a taste for what that could be like, though it hasn't solved the motion sickness issues for those who experience them. Naturally all this stuff is easier said than done, but I can't help but feel that every game which is 3D but avoids VR support all together is missing out on giving it's content a new lease of life and a way to be appreciated more intimately. Sorry to spill a big hunk of text here haha. These thoughts have been swimming around my head and this thread triggered me to share them. :)

Edited by edit
another small addition

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having been fortunate enough to get a chance to play the demo, I definitely concur with your hypothesis that swivel chair is the way to go with this game.  Since Raz/the player will be in a seated position for most (if not all?) of the game, that feels natural.  And being able to swivel will definitely cut down on some of the extreme neck-turning I found myself doing, as I was so curious to see absolutely every inch of that virtual world.  So while swiveling won't help with the up-down head movements, it will certainly help with the side-to-side, I think.  
Fortunately I have a swivel chair ready in the wings, like it's been waiting it's whole life for this very moment (as have I)!

I should be clear, though, that the VR headset is quite lightweight and comfortable, so it's not like being unable to swivel would cause some sort of undue strain on the neck/head/body.  I just think a swivel chair would make things that much easier. ^_^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/31/2016 at 6:07 AM, edit said:

Wouldn't you love to ride Raz's levitation ball in VR? ;)

Oh man, if they could figure out a way to make that really work, then that would be incredibly fun!!!  

:razbalance:

Edited by Nasubionna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...