Content of the article: "A few things I think Devs should always consider when making games for VR (especially the PSVR)"
I'm sure nobody gives a fuck, but I can't actually VR at the moment (there's an electrical storm, and running wires directly from the plug socket to my face doesn't seem like the smartest idea right now) so I gone done wrote down a few of the (sometimes recurring) observations I've made over the last four years of my various PSVR experiences.
They're based on my opinions, obviously – and possibly not well thought through opinions at that – but I'd be genuinely interested to see if other people agree or not so, like, have at it.
I mean, if you're so inclined and whatnot…..
VR Games Should Always Have Generous Checkpointing/Manual Save/Save and Exit Options
Admittedly, I'm not what anybody could reasonably call young anymore but, even so, I think for most people VR gaming is an entirely different proposition than regular-on-the-telly gaming. I've been playing games for 30 years, and can easily lose a full day in a normal game without even really noticing, but after only a couple of hours in VR I'm usually pretty tired, sweaty (Mahoosive plastic and rubber headset + Brazilian climate = perspiring like a coulrophobe at a Pennywise cosplay convention) and just generally disorientated/headache-y in a way I wouldn't be if I was mooching on the couch playing a normal game.
Add in the potential for motion sickness (which, thankfully, I don't really suffer from), and I think it's imperative that VR games should always have at least one of the above options so you can call it a day when you've had enough – and without losing a chunk of the day's progress.
(Sure, you can pause and take the headset off for a bit, but given the bajillion wires needed for the PSVR, leaving it around and plugged in is just asking for a world of trouble, in my humble opinion – especially if you've got kids and/or pets.)
I'm currently playing through TWD: Saints and Sinners, for example, and whilst I get the whole "survival sim" element, the miserly Checkpointing system usually leaves me with the choice of a) playing on when I really should be quitting for the day or b), losing a substantial chunk of progress. Like, either checkpoint the game after you've crossed something off the mission list, or allow a save and quit option – even if it's just once per day.
Crappy checkpointing is also more of a problem when you consider some of the recurring problems with certain types of VR games; namely your tracking going fucking walkabout. Missing headshots from three feet away is frustrating enough at the best of times, but knowing you're going to lose a metric shit-tonne of progress through no fault of your own is dangerously close to coronary inducing.
Which brings me to suggestion number 2……
Please, for the love of the baby Jesus, really consider including laser sights (or similar) in any game that relies on tracking a Move controller as a gun
As outlined above, this is just common sense, especially if you can toggle it on or off (so you don't have to use it if you don't want to). I'm not even saying I'ma use it all the time, but knowing I could use it if/when shit's gone wonky would help in general, and also significantly reduce the chances of me having a fucking stroke.
It's also especially frustrating in resource sparse games (again, TWD: S&S is a good example) and having to use a billionty-twelve bullets that you've spent all game collecting/crafting just because your move controller has gone daft is a real ball-ache. And immersion breaking too, if we're being honest: because whilst I'm not a Fire Arms expert per se, I'm pretty sure that in the real world, bullets tend not to come out of the end of a gun at a 45° angle, for example.
Even the Aim controller isn't great in this respect either. I remember playing through Farpoint (another game with miserly Checkpointing) and there were a couple of waves/boss fights where I was increasingly contorted into weird positions just to fire "straight", and even then I'd still eventually end up like Tony Montana (if his "little friend" was made of white plastic and had a glowing ping-pong ball on the end, obviously) blindly firing off a million rounds into the ceiling and hitting exactly nothing else.
So yeah, please, please, please always consider including a laser target – or some other visual indicator – in any game that requires shooting shit with the move (or Aim) controller. If nothing else, it makes a lot of sense not to have the many, many man-hours of development and design solely reliant on the vagaries of a piece of plastic with notorious accuracy issues, right!?
Headtorches are a thing IRL…
…. and they're a thing precisely because somebody figured out that they leave both your hands free and that, 99.9% of the time, you're pro'lly going to be shining a torch in the direction you're looking anyways. Ditto for weapon mounted torches. If your game's going to use a torch, consider using either of these, please – especially if there's a lot of other stuff going on.
Maybe it's just me, but in games with independent move/turning mechanics I always end up with my body at a slightly "off angle", so any torch attached to my body (which seems to be the most popular "using torch in-game" option) is usually not quite pointing where I'm looking, and getting it to do so usually involves several minutes of me dancing around like that drunk uncle at every. wedding. ever.
I get that torches add atmosphere, etc – especially in a 360 VR world – but you can get exactly the same result from a head/gun mounted torch without the need for all the unnecessary body-popping/krumping (see again: already sweating like a coulrophobe at a Pennywise cosplay convention).
Finally, on a more personal note…
Do Not Even Think About Including Co-Op Trophies In Mostly Single Player VR Games. Just. Don't. Do. It!!
Look, I love VR, but let's not pretend it's not still a bit niche. As much as I'd love for me strapping on a big plastic headset and pew-pew-pewing the shit out of stuff to be a wee bit more socially acceptable than it currently is, I'm painfully aware that it really isn't.
Exactly none of the people in my (admittedly rather pathetic) friends list has VR, so co-op trophies are a proper ball-ache because I'm drawing from a relatively shallow pool of randoms. I've spent roughly 36 and a half years waiting for a random to show up and help me get one bastard co-op trophy in Bravo Team, and I still haven't gotten it.
Are trophies/platinums meaningless in the grand scheme of things? Yes. Will my life remain much the same if I don't ever get that one last co-op trophy from x game? Yes.
Will I still lose sleep over it because of my weird gaming OCD: Also yes.
Seriously, down with that sort of thing……
Ok, I'm done now.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading and have a nice day!!
- No party chat audio through headset?
- PSVR (on PS4) vs Oculus headsets
- The “100% Achievement” Completionists Dilemma
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