Recently being thrust into the development of new Oculus VR project via our Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/264944598/superbike-tt-for-oculus-rift), I was keen to get the latest info on best user practices on proper VR implementation directly from the folks at Oculus last week @ GDC. Having attended 2 different Oculus talks during the conference, I noticed that Oculus was directing developers to their “best practices” guide during their discussion of current facing issues of the recent hardware developments.
VR sickness and general user discomfort seemed to be on the forefront of everyones’ minds who were directly involved in VR development. Part of this issue is that the current Oculus development hardware, the DK1 does not implement position tracking on the user, an issue that has been addressed with the DK2.
Additional culprits for causing discomfort is latency, another issue partially solved in the DK2 by Michael Abrash and OLEDs. Another solution to latency relies firmly on developers, by maintaining at least a 75mhz refresh between frames. Another somewhat abstract suggestion appears to be more commonly used, to maintain a head-driven avatar which helps greatly to fully cement the state of VR presence.
Oculus Engineer Tom Forsyth suggested in his talk that developers utilize avatars with a “meat hook” type of control, allowing the head joint to act as a parent for the rest oxample being the PlayStation Project Morpheus Move wands being used (mostly with success) to control your VR presence with a GI Joe Kung Fu Grip. Even though I was encouraged by the Sony intern that was tasked with taking me through the Morpheus demo, I could not pick up anything that fell to the ground. I’m not sure if this was an issue of the mounting position of the IR camera, or what other technology gremlin was present, but there were still clearly issues to be worked out. Needless to say, most of the current day interfaces which exist are primitive and early drafts to the true wearable tech that the VR revolution will usher in.
Another somewhat bizarre suggestion from Oculus was to default the use experience to a “soft” mode, where the most extreme elements of the VR would be reduced, or all together removed for the sake of user comfort. After showing our demo at SXSW Gaming Expo, I was able to see firsthand what first-time rifters experience when trying a game dialed to 11. Using an adjustable setting system for effects and navigation in the VR simulation would solve this issue of turning off some players with unnatural movement or intense actions.
Only time will tell if Oculus becomes the next communication platform as facebook virtual chat or will remain the fetish of a niche group of tech hobbyists, but it’s rather easy to see why Oculus would prefer to make the experience as enjoyable for newcomers as possible.