We all remember the first time we put on a VR headset, and started interacting with the digital world like never before. Alex's first experience was in the Utah desert, where I gave him a glimpse into the world of VR for the first time on an Oculus Quest. A pretty epic location for a first time player. He jumped right into our new game, HAX, and started shooting and slashing his way through robots.
As an avid PC gamer, he adapted to the smooth, VR locomotion really well, which made me think. What does the next migration of first time VR players look like? Do we have to be as timid as developers with our use of advanced locomotion?
Now, granted, some people will always feel a certain level of discomfort in VR, it's the same as 3D movies; some folks just get affected by it more than others. However, among the countless people who have demoed HAX, many of whom were first time VR players, few have felt uneasy with the smooth locomotion. This, honestly, has been a bit surprising to me. We have done everything we can as devs to make HAX as comfortable as possible, but we never expected so many first time players to be as comfortable as they were.
In the early days of VR, I remember myself saying, "smooth locomotion will never be comfortable." I was so wrong. All it took was for headsets to get a little bit better, and devs to start being smart about their art and mechanics. Sure, some games still fail at making movement comfortable, but I guarantee you it's because they're failing to adhere to some VR developer basics. For example, never move a player's camera without their consent, and don't use high contrasting and overly tiled textures. These are guaranteed to make players sick.
I'll have to write another post about all the things I've learned to keep players comfortable in VR - there are a lot of things to consider when developing a VR game.
All this to say, VR is becoming way more approachable, and developers can start stepping away from teleportation, and allow their players to turn smoothly and move freely about their environments. With cheaper headsets that have higher resolution and faster frame rates, we can finally start inviting the masses to join us in the new dawn of VR gaming.
I'm excited to see what the next few years hold for VR gaming, as I'm sure we'll see a lot more first time players joining us.
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(Alex, who composed our awesome HAX music, trying VR for the first time in the Utah desert)