VR Only Interface?

Fellow VR Gamer Devs, I’ve been researching and planning my intro into the world VR. I’m very excited about what the VR brings 3D Gaming and Movies. Being able to control 3D Camera with your Head does provide another controller, freeing up our hands to do other things. However, I’m convinced a VR Only Interface is a wise design for VR adoption. I’m a proponent for Traditional Control Systems + VR-Support. I see many Devs going the VR Only route, but, I’m not sure why? I’m very interested in your opinions on this topic.

I have a VR game I’ve been working on for almost two years. I initially thought it would be smart to support VR and traditional mouse and keyboard. I have released my game to the market, thinking I would have more sales because I support non-VR gamers as well. Turns out, that’s totally wrong. Everyone thinks the game is a VR game, so only people with VR headsets buy the game. But, that’s okay.

I have been struggling to continue supporting monitor and mouse/keyboard. The challenge is that the game is designed specifically around VR and motion controllers, and if someone is using keyboard and mouse, I have to step the designs backwards to support them. For example, the player can throw a fireball with their motion controllers. The velocity of the fireball is dependent on how hard you throw it, and the longer you charge the fireball, the more explosive it gets. How do you do that with just a mouse click? Well, you have to have a fixed speed for the fireball velocity. In addition, you can have a spell in each hand, and each spell can have a separate target. To select a target, you just point your hand at your next victim. How would I do that with mouse and keyboard? I can’t. As soon as you select one target for your left hand, the right hand would switch to the same target. Then, there are other spells which make heavy use of hand interactions as well. To cast a tornado, you create a mass of stationary air, grab it with your hands, and then give it some spin by twisting and releasing your hands. To finally launch the tornado, you stand on one side of it and then give it a push in the direction you want it to go. This is how the game play experience is designed and it feels amazing. Going back to support keystrokes and mouse movements is extremely limiting for game design and mechanics.

So, if only VR gamers buy my game, why waste time adding support for an input and gameplay method nobody is going to use?

In real life I do not choose options, press switches or select things by aiming my nose at them. I just use my head to look at stuff. Any attempt to have an invisible selection laser or mouse pointer come beaming out of my nose is so artificial as to feel extremely forced, and ruins the immersion. Pointing with your head was a clumsy mechanic to make up for a lack of hand controllers, but as soon as you have your hands in controllers, you just want to press buttons and pull levers as you would in reality.

Using a traditional controller makes sense for in-game control for seated experiences, especially cockpit games, because its a bit silly holding your hands up on a virtual steering wheel. The illusion breaks down and it feels artificial, so might as well use a controller (which is likely faster and better anyway, and offers a number of clicky buttons and touchy feely feedback). But for room scale VR, being able to pick up an item involves not just pointing and clicking A when you look at it, but you have to stretch, and use a variety of muscles in your whole arm, and millions of years of evolution has trained us to pick up items in this way. It feels very natural to do this in VR, even if your hand doesnt quite close around that solid object, or as you pick it up it intersects with the wall or your arm in a weird way… these are easily overlooked since the core motion is still so strong and natural.

Hi Slayemin, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m curious about your game, where can I find more information about it?

I’m thinking that perhaps how the game is advertised is giving the impression of VR only? Is the emphasis on VR? There are a lot of cool games coming out that give the impression VR only, but, I would really like try them without VR firstly. In fact, working with UnrealEd with Traditional Controls is one of the reasons why I’m purchasing a VR setup now to start my development in VR. It’s my belief that its not just a matter of supporting Non-VR Players, its an issue of backwards compatibility with the Players. Easing players into VR from traditional controls. This compatibility is whats going to help players make the investment and transition into VR.

I can understand where you’re coming from with the example of throwing fireballs, but, my interpretation is that mechanic requires motion controllers, not a VR headset, which is still a way to ease Players into investing in VR gear. I still think Translating that motion mechanic for use with a mouse to the best of ones ability is worth the investment in development time to put the product in reach of Non-VR users who can later be converted to VR Only users. Until the price point falls on VR and more players are using it, adding Traditional controls is worth development time.

Here’s my steam store page:

I kind of had the same thought when I began development. I believed that if I supported desktop gaming and VR gaming, then my total addressable market would be huge, and players could purchase and play my game and have it in their library, ready to go, whenever they decided to take the plunge with VR – they would have a game they’re familiar with. From what I can tell via sales, I was wrong. Nobody buying a VR game cares about desktop support, and people buying desktop games automatically assume that every VR game is incompatible.

The “way” to think about VR is in the name: Virtual Reality. The goal of a VR developer is to fool people into believing that the reality they are experiencing is as real as reality itself. This means you have to take as many senses and familiar ways of interacting with reality as possible and bring them over to virtual reality. Every concession you have to make is a step away from VR. This means that every expectation a user might have in VR needs to match their internal expectations. Make sense? So, for example, if a player sees a desk with drawers on it, they’re going to want to reach out and grab a drawer to see whats inside. If they reach out and grab the drawer but nothing happens, you have an expectation / response mismatch. The more closely you can mirror reality, the better your VR is going to be. We still have to design for the lowest common denominator in terms of hardware configurations, and unfortunately, Oculus fragmented the market by releasing Touch six months after releasing the Rift, so there’s always going to be a subsection of VR gamers who only have a gamepad but no motion controllers.

I think… it’s worth taking the time to completely segregate VR from desktop gaming. The problem is that you’re going to end up designing too many concessions into your VR game in order to support the desktop version of the game, and that’s going to hold you back and add unnecessary complexity. Instead, just dive into the deep end and don’t look back. It’s hard enough as it is to build a good VR game and launch it, let alone add in desktop compatibility, and even if you do, the market won’t care because its not going to be a compelling selling point. Going forward in my own game, I’m going to end support for desktop. There’s no viable business case for it and it just holds me back. If you’re scared of jumping exclusively into VR, you may not be ready to get into VR yet. It doesn’t hurt to wait another 6-12 months for the market size to grow into a business viable industry :slight_smile:

My Opinon:
The interface should be 3D no matter if VR or not, for my understanding of the current game industry, which is one kind of way of making interface / HUD. Especially in games made by unreal engine, HUD / interface is just some single-sided planes infront of the camera. And for the compatibility with controller, it’s an essential to make them be friendly with XBox one controller.

That’s pretty Awesome. Wizards & Zombies, one heck of a combination.

Perhaps the turnout is based on the advertisements, from what I see the emphasis is placed on VR. Virtual Reality is also emphasized in Answer to the Question of Traditional Support:

I would interpret this information collectively as this is a VR-Only product. Perhaps with some emphasis on Traditional Support you’ll see a boost in purchases from Players who want to play with Traditional Controllers.

I do understand and agree on the points of VR immersion and its very exciting. I’m also in favor of making VR control the priority. I do see value added for the inclusion of traditional controls for development and testing. Especially with Multiplayer development testing. I’m certain once the code base is setup, its reusable and should not require constant fiddling.

I’m going to start testing some of my theory with Leap Motion.