VR Growing Pains

One of the things we are very passionate about at Valve is helping the industry create a whole new set of VR experiences that people love. We want to make sure that the exposure that the world gets to VR is really great and it doesn’t make people sick/sore/unhappy.

Surprisingly this is actually somewhat controversial. While many people can get sick easily if they are in VR experiences that move the world around them without the player actually moving, there are some people who are (mostly) immune to it. They can play some of the FPS games adapted for VR or just “tough it out” to try experiences. I’m the last person who is going to tell them they can’t do that to themselves, but I do get concerned when these people are excited about sharing those experiences with their friends and I certainly advise software developers working on new VR titles to make experiences that will be enjoyed by a wide audience, not just that 20%.

Another way to think about it is you don’t want the reviews of your game to read like these (actual reviews)-
“New X Title ‘Y’ Is Beautiful and Engaging and It Makes My Neck Hurt”
“With a little luck, (and dramamine for motion sickness) the VR mode will make it to the final release”
“I intentionally limited the amount of barrel rolls and hard turns as to avoid the dreaded ‘hot sweats’”
“In the demo I played stick-yaw was the method of turning, which made me a little motion sick by the demo’s end”
“X will test your skills… and potentially your stomach”

The bottom line is that the real audience isn’t going to tough it out, train themselves to avoid sim sickness or anything like that. If your game doesn’t get this right your audience will be extremely limited. There are already some fairly well known techniques to do this right but we are all learning more- again, the key is honest testing.

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