Thursday, February 9, 2017

Traditional FPS games do not cause motion sickness in VR after all?

When the VR headsets were released almost a year ago, I presented in some forums my disappointment that basically no existing games were getting VR support, and that even those few that had announced support had quietly cancelled or abandoned it.

My disappointment was answered by a really angry mob of early adopter fanboys who insisted over and over and over that VR just "doesn't work" with traditional games because it causes immediate and heavy motion sickness and "projectile vomiting". My insistence that while it may have that effect, it's something that one gets used to, was met with ridicule and patronizing comments. They insisted over and over that I would just have to forget about existing games and game genres, and that VR would need and usher an entirely new and separate form of gaming, completely incompatible with any existing genre.

Even back then there existed third-party mods to some games, such as the original Doom (using a modern updated engine) and Portal 2, among others, and YouTube videos of people playing them with no signs of nausea, some even directly commenting at the end of the video how nausea-free the experience was. For some reason these videos did not dissuade these fanboys in the least, who kept insisting that VR just "doesn't work" with existing games and that I need to forget about them.

This was, in fact, not just the opinion of these users. It was the official opinion of Valve, and seemingly the majority of game companies just accepted it.

Well, what do you know, relatively recently the game developer company Croteam decided to ignore this and add full VR support to their original Serious Sam: The First Encounter game. It's kind of a hybrid between "room-scale VR" and traditional motion controls, where you can move using traditional controls (and do so really fast) even while standing up and using the motion controllers.

You can see a person playing the game here.

Two things to notice: There appears to be essentially no restriction on movement, and the movement looks just as fast and fluid as in the traditional FPS game. Secondly, no motion sickness. No projectile vomiting. He looks just fine.

I'm still not convinced that playing with your arms extended like that for hours is viable, but at least this beautifully demonstrates that traditional movements in FPS games are no problem even in VR. We just needed a game company brave enough to defy the established concepts in order to demonstrate it.

I could go back to those forums and rub those people's noses on this, but why bother.

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