1. VirtuaTyKing's Avatar
    Article: How Game Mechanics Change In Virtual Reality-photo_by-cerevrum-1000x563.jpg

    In 2016 three major trendsetters in virtual reality Oculus, HTC and Sony released consumer headsets. It took at least three years and thousands of developers to explore boundaries of VR technologies, create new interactions patterns and test various game mechanics. No new unique game genre has been created yet, but many existing mechanics have evolved because of both the possibilities and limitations of VR.

    Its time to figure out how exactly game mechanics change in existing genres. Here are four key examples:

    movement system limitations
    ways to avoid movement system limitations
    body ergonomics and tracking system
    motion-controller possibilities

    MOVEMENT SYSTEM LIMITATIONS
    Shooter games have changed most dramatically. The reason is a motion sickness issue which doesnt allow you to move completely naturally using a motion controller. Its important to synchronize a users head movement with camera position to ensure comfortable interaction in VR. As a result, many early VR shooters are designed as shooting galleries with movement area limited by the tracking systems capacity.

    It doesnt mean that no shooter game allowing movement with controllers exist. For instance, Sony, unlike other companies in the industry, tends to use classic ways to move around games.

    There are a number of ways to avoid the motion sickness effect while completing game scenarios and still to move around game actively. A frequent response is movement via teleportation. Some players, however, find teleportation breaks the feeling of immersion.

    WAYS TO AVOID MOVEMENT SYSTEM LIMITATIONS
    However, some game developers decide to challenge the motion sickness issue by creating completely new ground for game mechanics. Take the project Budget Cuts for example. The whole game is based on the teleportation feature. It is not perceived as a least-evil solution but rather plays an integral part of the game. Thus, the developers implemented teleportation into game scenarios in a way that fits inside the world.

    Isnt it a cool move: to turn avoiding a limitation into a main feature of the gameplay?

    If we continue with the teleportation feature, it blends in well with slow motion effects (like in Space Pirate Trainer) which can be implemented in a shooter and in the end can lay the groundwork for better interaction in VR. Players can also be constrained in movement by having a virtual platform to stand on. While the player cant move beyond the platform, the platforms themselves can move in space. Thats how Hover Junkers does it. These are all different ways to reduce the possibility of motion sickness by making it one of the central features of the game.

    ERGONOMICS AND TRACKING SYSTEM
    Any new input systems inevitably see new game mechanics developed. In the case of VR, these changes are pretty fundamental. Now we dont simply look at an image, we appear inside of it. Thanks to tracking systems in headsets and motion controllers in hands, the human body is not only a part of virtual reality but also a means of interacting with the environment. Thus, ergonomics can influence gameplay as well as open new opportunities (and set limitations) for existing genres.

    Now precise body movement can be incorporated into game mechanics.

    Tracking systems introduce sometimes quite interesting game practices, for example, doing actual squats and dodging bullets. When doing physical puzzles a user is expected to place their controllers in different positions. New experiences can be created with fairly basic actions as well. For example, picking apples and eating them by bringing your hand to your mouth to regenerate health, or moving an arm to a shoulder to grab a sword.

    All this physical activity is worth consideration when developing game dynamics, levels and session duration. This is as important as remembering ergonomics and the weight of VR devices.

    MOTION CONTROLLERS
    Using motion controllers in VR games is a topic for discussion itself. In shooter games, gun reloading is now a new part of the gameplay. In some projects it is a very substantial part of the gameplay. Different variations of movements, gestures and button presses offer various ways to reload. It all takes an effort from a user to manage.

    By the way, realistic weapon targeting is also possible in VR. Now a user carefully positions the controller to align a rear sight and a front sight. The image of the controller itself is brought into virtual reality and the number of its operating elements increases. For other titles, additional layers of virtual buttons and panels can appear in VR, allowing the controller to access a wide range of tools.

    In the end, locations and environments in VR become more impressive. Playing in VR dramatically changes the experience in genres where such impact is important, for example, in action-horror games, quests or exploration games. All four aspects outlined above are related not only to the game industry but other segments, too. The list of opportunities which VR technology gives is endless. Some of them are known (sound, social interactions) and some are yet to be explored.

    This post is contributed by Denis Tambovtsev, co-founder of Cerevrum Inc.

    Source: How Game Mechanics Change In Virtual Reality
    12-15-2016 03:33 PM
  2. pjs37's Avatar
    A good read. I have always argued that developers are still trying to sort out what new mechanics we can derive from VR that we cannot have with a traditional system and which enhances the entertainment of the game in a meaningful way. The first developer to really sort that out well will likely become very succesful.
    12-15-2016 05:34 PM
  3. Graham Devereux's Avatar
    Its really interesting how you mention how different developers are addressing locomotion and it will be cool to see what becomes the norm in the coming years. I recently saw a few new vr games which use the swaying of your arms to move you forward in the game. On of these, Climbey, has you grip and sway each arm like exaggerated walking in order to move around the play space. Hope to see more innovations like this in the future.

    Here is a link to some gameplay if you want to check it out:
    12-16-2016 02:10 AM
  4. Cale Hunt's Avatar
    Its really interesting how you mention how different developers are addressing locomotion and it will be cool to see what becomes the norm in the coming years. I recently saw a few new vr games which use the swaying of your arms to move you forward in the game. On of these, Climbey, has you grip and sway each arm like exaggerated walking in order to move around the play space. Hope to see more innovations like this in the future.
    Climbey is super cool -- what other platform could have a game based solely on climbing a wireframe structure?
    12-16-2016 10:36 AM
  5. Graham Devereux's Avatar
    Climbey is super cool -- what other platform could have a game based solely on climbing a wireframe structure?
    Its not necessarily the climbing aspect of this game that could be transferred to other games but the locomotion. While the video only shows it a certain points, instead of teleporting or other methods to move around on the ground the game has you swing your arms left and right as if you are walking. Although I haven't personally tried it, it could lead to a immersive experience as many claim that teleportation can be jarring.
    12-16-2016 07:50 PM
  6. Cale Hunt's Avatar
    Its not necessarily the climbing aspect of this game that could be transferred to other games but the locomotion. While the video only shows it a certain points, instead of teleporting or other methods to move around on the ground the game has you swing your arms left and right as if you are walking. Although I haven't personally tried it, it could lead to a immersive experience as many claim that teleportation can be jarring.
    I remember the first time I played Island 359 I couldn't figure out how to get up the ladders. The rest of the game was teleportation (which I don't mind at all) but at the ladders you had to actually grab the rungs and act as though you were pulling yourself up. It's neat when games break your focus with something so natural.
    12-30-2016 10:39 AM
  7. pjs37's Avatar
    I remember the first time I played Island 359 I couldn't figure out how to get up the ladders. The rest of the game was teleportation (which I don't mind at all) but at the ladders you had to actually grab the rungs and act as though you were pulling yourself up. It's neat when games break your focus with something so natural.
    Yup I always enjoy those things, unfortunately the rest needs enough of a break in reality it gets sort of awkward at least for me.
    12-30-2016 12:09 PM

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 10
    Last Post: 12-20-2016, 10:06 PM
  2. Replies: 9
    Last Post: 12-19-2016, 11:28 AM
  3. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 12-18-2016, 02:21 PM
  4. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-15-2016, 07:02 AM
  5. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-14-2016, 06:12 PM
LINK TO POST COPIED TO CLIPBOARD