Challenges in Virtual Reality

As I delve deeper into the world of virtual reality, the more challenges I find, and the more I fall in love with it. For starters, (as I’ve already blogged previously) motion sickness is a serious problem, and there are certain things you can do in your level design to avoid getting sick.

For one, you can have a wide variety of colors. I know that the artistic style of the mid 2010’s was greyscale/monochrome art with a dark finish, but that is going to confuse the player when teller have to try adjusting their eyes to an object. Not only does the player have to have accurate depth perception in the game, but also the player has to focus on the pixels instead of the screen (and sometimes particles on the screen if not cleaned properly).

Also, reflective surfaces are super tricky. Not only does the game have to render calculations for accurate reflections for TWO cameras, but sometimes the reflections (and motion in the reflection of you have ripple effects) are a little too much for the player to handle and leads to motion sickness very quickly.

Unfortunately, it seems like good level design for VR includes making large landscapes instead of small rooms. If the player has to adjust their focus from an object that’s up close to an object that is very far away, it not only takes them longer to adjust (which takes them away from their immersion), but it also triggers a little bit of motion sickness. I’ve noticed this more going from long-distance sight to looking at something close by.

Another thing that I just recently learned is to really try to nail down the dimensions and pavements of your cameras. Do your best to measure the size of your character in relation to the player, and guesstimate the distance between cameras to match the actual eyes of the player. Doing this will hopefully make it so the player isn’t playing cross-eyed.

The last and biggest problem that I’ve yet to overcome is motion in virtual reality. What is the best way to control a character in-game? Eventually I’d like to get rid of the controller and just use my hands/body. Is there an efficient way to do that? Not that I can tell yet. More on that after Mark and I finish our next project– I think we’ve come up with a super solid solution.

Testing the Portara Engine with Halo 2 Assets

In our new VRMMORPG, we are beginning to test gunplay. While starting to get the guns in order, my programmer asked me to put together a sandbox testing area for guns. I thought to myself, “What has the best, most balanced gunplay in video games?” Of course, the answer is Halo so I dug up some old Halo 2 assets (the multiplayer level Coagulation, some gun models, and of course the Master Chief player model) and began testing. So far, the guns seem to work pretty well in the Portara engine, but there’s still a LOT of work to be done. It’s very promising to see Halo 2 content running without lag on an iPhone with online multiplayer! Here’s hoping for a Halloween release!*

*please note that we will NOT be selling our game with any copyrighted material in it; including, but not limited to Halo assets.