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PAX Dev – VR / AR Roundtable 30 August 2017

This talk was hosted by Kat Harris of Microsoft Hololens.

Top VR games over the past year:

Experiences that came up during discussion:

Development Tips

VR/AR Beyond Games?

There are tons of applications for this technology beyond games. Medical, architecture, design. Some examples were discussed.

A self-driving car experiment where people, in VR, were put into a self-driving car. After cruising on a boring road for 30 minutes, something suddenly jumps in-front of the car. Sometimes the car detects it and stops, other times there’s a collision. Some people reacted with horror, some slept through it (even during the collision!)

Museum tours – being able to explore a museum remotely and get a personalized experience.

Happy Atoms – A game about playing with atoms to build molecules. You can use atoms as blocks, attach them manually as you please, then scan the result to see what kind of molecule you made!

Cognitive Dissonance

This is the concept of “presence.” How do we keep players feeling like they’re in the game? The number one rule of VR/AR is to never break presence. The instant it’s broken you have issues.

Common causes for breaks are a low framerate, moving in VR but not in reality, strafing, fast movement in the peripherals. To combat this, having an anchor really helps. An anchor means a box or grounded place the player knows is safe. Sometimes that means a chair to replicate the one they’re sitting in, or an operator’s control box.

Motion sickness is still an issue and it’s related to the state of presence. Interestingly, sailors and pilots (anecdotal evidence) seem to handle motion sickness issues much better than typical users. Probably because they’re accustomed to the causes of motion sickness in VR and are now used to it.

Eagle Flight is an interesting experience where you are an eagle flying in the sky. The game apparently plays very well while gliding, but as soon as you dive and move really fast it can induce sickness. To remedy this, Eagle Flight narrowed the player’s field-of-view so that only visuals directly forward! This mostly worked, but still created a sickness issue for some people.

Tech Wishlist

What do we want out of VR/AR? Why isn’t it here already?!

Standardized Experiences

There are no standards in this wild, wild VR world. We’re currently in a VR war, kind of like the console wars. Many different headsets, each with their own kinds of controllers, room-scale or not, the player’s physical height (and physical abilities in general). It’s extremely hard to develop in this environment.

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