Day 96 - The "Play Pit". VR locomotion for standing experiences
The Play Pit locomotion system aims to create a nausea free VR experience that allows the player to stand and move around the environment even if they only have a small space to play.
Watch the video and download the DK2 demo to try it out and be sure to come back to give your feedback.
Watch a video with a more detailed explanation here
Download the demo
The demo shouldn't be very demanding on hardware and you can change the graphics quality using keys 1 to 9. Setting 4 or 5 is recommended.
You will need a gamepad to play and to be able to position your camera so it can see you when you're standing.
Built for the DK2 using Unreal Engine and Oculus SDK 0.6
The demo is an example of a locomotion system and does not represent part of an actual game.
10 coins are hidden in the demo. Test your exploration skills and see if you can find them.
VR developers aim to make you feel immersed in the worlds they create, but standing experiences also need you to be aware of the physical boundaries of your room and the available tracking volume. As it turns out, you soon adjust to this dual presence and the VR experience is still fun and immersive.
The Play Pit shows the following items inside VR:
1. The tracking volume - a grid will appear as you approach the boundary of your tracking volume to warn that tracking will be lost.
2. Physical boundary - a permanently visible grid on the floor reminds you of the size and shape of the area available in your room to walk around in.
3. The camera - the location of your tracking camera is shown. Arrows show you the direction to the camera when you turn away. We focus action at the camera location. This gives you the most reliable tracking and stops you getting tangled by wires.
4. Your desk - the location of your real desk is shown as you get close to it. This stops you bumping into it, provides a sense of orientation and lets you steady yourself or even put your controller down.
Various complementary approaches to movement are required to provide a satisfying experience.
An instant change of location that doesn't change your orientation.
Look at the floor where you want to move to and press the teleport button. Your Play Pit moves with you, keeping the same orientation. Not very exciting, but it's quick and simple.
Points of interest
Automatically move to the optimum location and orientation to examine or interact with an object.
A green arrow identifies a point of interest when you look at it. Click the teleport button to move to it. First the environment fades out leaving only the chosen object. Next your gaze follows the object as it moves to the optimum viewing position (at your tracking camera). Finally the environment fades in revealing you are now at the original location of the object. Sounds weird, but you need to experience it to get the idea.
When physical movement is required
You're told where to stand in the Play Pit before you complete the teleport.
In some cases you need to physically walk through doors or step over / around obstacles. When you choose to teleport to such a area, an icon slides into your Play Pit. Position and rotate your shadow over the icon to complete the teleport. You're then stood in the ideal position to complete the physical movement required.
Reposition your Play Pit
Choose the location and orientation of your Play Pit to better examine or interact with objects of interest.
Hold down the teleport button. Slide a copy of your Play Pit around the environment using your gaze. Your left analogue stick allows the Play Pit to be rotated. Release the teleport button to move to the new location and orientation.
This allows you to position the tracking camera over an object of interest or angle your Play Pit to make the most of your available floor space to walk around the object.
Drive your playpit
Although not recommended, you can drive your Play Pit around the environment using traditional FPS controls. This is only for hardcore gamers who have desensitised themselves to VR movement. Find the controls in the demo.
A standing experience
Don't waste the opportunity provided by the Play Pit - walk around, turn your whole body, duck down, explore like you would in real life.
Do take care though and move slowly. If the camera or software glitches you may unexpectedly encounter a wall or other obstacle.
Zero tolerance on tracking failures
Losing positional tracking can be a quick cause of nausea as your environment suddenly stops responding to your change of position. Close objects cause the problem more than distant scenery.
Tracking can be lost if you move outside the tracking boundary, cover sensors on your headset or, in the case of the DK2, look behind you.
Rather than risk nausea I remove all close scenery when tracking is lost and show a message in the distance stating what is happening. This temporarily breaks immersion, but in my opinion is better than the alternative. The player soon starts to learn how to prevent the loss of tracking.
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