Emerging Technologies Development Diary: entry one

27 February 2018

Categories: C# | Unity | Virtual Reality | Design | Research

About the project

My group and I have been assigned the task of experimenting with an emerging technology, specifically virtual reality, whilst conducting research into the device and its uses.

So, we've chosen to use the Oculus Rift with touch controllers. We chose this due to it being slightly more portable than the HTC Vive, which has large sensors which require a lot of floor space. Additionally, I have experience developing in VR with the Oculus Rift from my internship with Hello Communications.

Possible implementations

When thinking about what can be achieved with VR, the list of possible things to do is endless! So here is what we narrowed it down to...

Ropes

  • When googling 'VR rope', not a lot comes up.
  • Think Indiana Jones, or Spiderman with his web which he swings from.
  • Swinging from a rope in VR may not be such a good idea, may make the player feel a bit sick!
  • Rope as a form of combat? Attack enemies or hit buttons by flinging the rope out?

 Image: Spider-Man: Homecoming - Virtual Reality Experience

Gaze Control

  • Using head movement/position as a controller
  • Must keep looking at a single point whilst manipulating the other controllers
  • Perhaps like the board game 'Operation' mixed with the 'Buzz Wire' game
  • Imagine ropes attached from a controller to where the headset is pointing. So the destination of the rope is where your gaze hits and you can manipulate the rope using the controller to do things such as avoid obstacles.
  • Enlarge image
  • Enlarge image

Interactable UI

  • Worldspace of digetic UI is generally the preferred methods in VR currently
  • We had the idea of making an Iron Man type of UI
  • Layers, parallax, and the ability to drag and drop the UI wherever the player wishes

Image: The Iron Man helmet UI to give an idea of what we mean by parallax

Google Earth VR uses limited field of view during movement to reduce nausea. This is highly effective so long as the field of view is pointing the direction of movement.

Ways of reducing nausea in VR

  • Considering different tactics current applications use and an alternative/best approach.
  • Would motion blur make it better or worse? Would it even make a difference?
  • Vignette

 

Building game

  • Think of a first-person version of The Sims, where you're stood in a room
  • You can grab and drag walls to manipulate them how you wish
  • Could be a good architectural tool
  • Limitation: this will be something which is very difficult to prototype fully in the time scale we have.

Ideas we liked that had already been done

Beat Saber by Hyperbolic Magnetism. We liked the idea of 'Whack-a-Mole' meets Guitar Hero, but this game does it better with sweeping motions in required directions from the controllers. This is something which could be completed with a Wii controller (as opposed to the VR controllers) however with VR it also utilises the headset as a more immersive environment than just looking at a TV screen.

Pro Fishing Challenge VR by Opus Studio Inc. Not only does this game include fishing, but it also has a layer of customisation such as attaching different bait to hooks. This would otherwise have been something we would have liked to implement as it showcases an effective use of the rope mechanic in a game..

Ropes: maybe not!

We started by attempting to implement the rope. For this we used a series of cubes, each with a hinge, and a handle which could be grabbed with the controller. We found a few issues with this though...

Firstly, if you refer to the image below you can see that the boxes (which make up the rope) are not joined. In this image, the rope is being held from the top. The boxes do not join well together and seemed to have an elasticity.

Secondly, and unfortunately we do not have an image of this, when the rope is 'flung' around it goes a bit crazy. The boxes are all detatched and fly around the world with no real logic.

Getting the physics of this right proved to be a challenge.

  • Enlarge image

After our struggles in getting the physics for ropes functioning correctly, we did some research and found out that we would have to recreate the entire physics side of the ropes, as well as how those physics would then interact with the environment.

This blog post about an in-progress game called Eye of the Temple (http://blog.runevision.com/2017/08/july-update-trials-and-triumphs-of.html) details his progress in implementing an Indiana-style whip in VR. We felt like it would take too long to implement ourselves and we wouldn’t be able to do the mechanic justice.