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Five ways to keep it comfy in VR

Last updated: January 2019

What you will get from this page: Five big tips on how to keep players comfortable in your VR content, and ultimately, get them immersed the experience.

Use familiar visual cues so the player knows where to look

Use visual cues, such as a reticle, to signal to players where they should look and what objects to interact with. For example, place a reticle next to an object that changes size when the player looks at it, signalling to them that they can interact with it. Or, use a progress bar that indicates when the player can begin to interact with an object.

reticle

Keep the style consistent

People want to be immersed in an extraordinary world, one with vivid, imaginative landscapes; they want to be taken into the world of their maker. But that doesn’t mean your content has to be high-poly with incredible life-like graphics. Keep the style consistent to help the user feel immersed.

lands end

expect you to die

floor plan

waltz of wizard

Anything’s possible in VR, just keep it consistent. From the top: Land’s End, by ustwo; I Expect You To Die, by Schell Games; Floor Plan, by Turbo Button, and Waltz of the Wizard, by Aldin Dynamics.

Slow it down

Don’t rush your players directly into major action, such as running, shooting or combat. Let them look around and check out the scene they’re in. Add in rest points between the action, and make it possible for players to do things with small gestures and movements.

Test your content on a variety of players–young, old, experienced and casual–and learn how to accommodate varying comfort needs.

fair valley

meantime

Two games that provide a relaxed VR world: Fairvalley, by Dual Good Limited, above, and below, Meantime, by Team Meantime.

Finally, here are a few general tips to avoid players getting nauseous:

  • Maintain a visible stable horizon line
  • Don’t show sudden acceleration or deceleration
  • Let players choose their own height
  • Give them the option to sit or stand
Use cues that provide correct depth perception

To create comfortable immersion it helps to understand depth perception.

Depth perception comes from an array of depth cues. These are split up into binocular and monocular cues. Binocular cues provide depth information when viewing a scene with both eyes. Monocular cues provide depth information when viewing a scene with one eye.

We use two binocular cues and 15 monocular cues to perceive depth. We use 7X more cues to perceive depth with 1 eye! Understanding how we see depth with 1 eye helps us to build more comfortable, VR scenes.

Binocular cues are:

  • Stereopsis
  • Convergence

Monocular cues are:

  • Motion parallax
  • Depth from motion
  • Kinetic depth effect
  • Perspective
  • Relative size
  • Familiar size
  • Absolute size
  • Aerial perspective
  • Accommodation
  • Occultation
  • Curvilinear perspective
  • Texture gradient
  • Lighting and shading
  • Defocus blur
  • Elevation

Examples of how to design for correct depth perception:

  • Familiar size: borrow from the real world and size and scale objects so that they look and feel real to the player
  • Texture gradient: Objects that are farther away or higher up, should have a lighter shader/color than those that appear closer
  • Motion parallax and Occultation: Consider how to place one object in front of another to create a sense of depth

If there are not enough monocular cues our eye will make up a different story. See the image below.

monocular clue

Movement in VR helps us to perceive depth. See how the picture below looks strange because we can’t move around in it.

depth perception

Let players choose how to view the UI

Give players some choice in how they see and interact with the UI. Let them walk up to, or away from, UI elements like text. Attach the UI to another character that the player activates by looking or pointing at it. Finally, when a player chooses to see the UI, position it so that it’s in the middle of where their gaze naturally falls, not to the side, above or below it.

cosmic trip

A screenshot from Cosmic Trip by Funktronic Labs.

headmaster

A screenshot from Headmaster by Frame Interactive

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