Live Story: Week 4 – Feeling The Environment

Last week, we talked about using the HTC Vive touch control system to explore our new VR environment. In this installment of our Live Story, we are going to talk about how we will use those touch controls to give our players the hands on experience they are looking for.

When designing for a VR game, focusing on how the player will control the game is extremely important. VR controls are completely different from any other standard gaming controller. Even though there is a lot to learn about the technology, it makes it an exciting time in our studio because we can create unique gameplay that a player may not have experienced before simply because it didn’t exist until now.

Our team has had to give a lot a thought into simple functions we do as humans in order to make the environment more immersive and realistic. Talking to Phil Bias, our co-founder and jack of all trades, he is finding the development process new and interesting. He’s reporting that during testing, the team is finding that showing an actual representation of a player’s hand versus showing a model of the controllers help the player feel more physically part of the game. Because of this, the team built a virtual hand to mimic how hands grip objects in the real world in order to make the controller functions look and feel natural.

With the virtual hands in place, we needed to think about how the hands would interact not only with the environment, but with the controls. The controllers provide a touchpad, grip button, and trigger that can be programmed to make the player feel like they are actually manipulating objects and moving through the virtual world. “In the real world when you grab a light weight object your finger tips are the most important contact point”, says Phil, “your fingers wrap around the object until your finger tips come in contact with the object. At which point you squeeze your fingers together until you can pick up the object.”  Just like the object you would be holding in the game, the player is able to wrap their hand around the touch controls and squeeze the trigger button in order to get the feel of actually picking up an object. Imagine seeing a sword and being able to reach down, pick it up by squeezing the controller and seeing a virtual hand doing exactly what you are doing. “It has been a lot of fun trying to understand how grabbing something with your hands actually works, its something I’ve done my entire life but never really gave much thought.”

Pam Werrell, our developer, is enjoying all the freedom the touch controls give the team while designing how a player interacts with the environment. “The hardest part is deciding what action to assign to which aspect of the controller. Currently, we are using the touchpad for teleportation, the trigger for interacting and grabbing objects, and the grip button to open and close the inventory screen.” Pam also explained more about the vibration feature and how we would be using it within our game. The vibration is going to be used to help the player feel the weight of an object or help the player feel the interaction with the object in a different way. An example of this would be how the player will experience using a weapon, such as a bow.  Pam explains that by using vibration, we can try to get the player to sense that the bow string is actually being pulled back.

There is still a lot to do when it comes to finishing the touch control setup within the environment, but our team continues to test and innovate new and creative ways to make the player truly feel part of the game. Join us next week as we continue to share our development process as our newest game comes together.

 

 

 

 

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