Overcoming Limitations Of Current VR

I was browsing Reddit today and I came across THIS post by /u/smithysjvr in which he brought up a common problem that many VR games suffer when it comes to leaning around cover. While it wasn't the first game to offer a lean or cover mechanic, ever since Gears of War released on the XBox 360 lean and cover mechanics have been in almost, if not more than, half of all shooters. It even made it's way into RPGs that featured a lot of shooting mechanics, like the Mass Effect series. So what's the problem with leaning and VR?

You could be playing a VR shooter like Onward or Pavlov and you approach a corner that you start to lean around in order to just reveal your head and upper chest. Of course you're doing this so that you reveal a minimal part of your body while still getting a view of what's around that corner, all this making it difficult for an enemy shooting at you to miss as there's less of you able to be hit. The problem comes in when you remember that the only thing with sensors on you are your head and your two hands, that's all that's able to be tracked.

Because of that tracking issue, you might be leaning in your physical world, but the game doesn't know that and therefore your in-game avatar is actually stepping out all the way around that corner. In hist Reddit post, /u/smithysjvr suggests that developers add a button binding the player can press so that the game will know when the player is "locked in place" and therefore any horizontal movement by the HMD is a lean. While this would work, I think this is a fix that should become the standard for two primary reasons.

I'll get the reason out of the way that's more subjective, not everyone will share this same opinion on this. For me, what makes VR so great is just how one to one it is to real life, which is why I'm so drawn to room-scale VR and things like arm-swinger and jog-in-place artificial movement systems over things like smooth locomotion and teleport, and of course room-scale movement beats them all but is of course not something every game can use. In traditional flat games, if I want my character to attack and swing a sword then I click left mouse button or push the X button on a gamepad; however, in VR games, if I want my character to attack and swing a sword then I literally just swing a sword that I'm holding in my hand. If I want to crouch, I don't hit any key or button, I literally crouch in my room. This "lock in place" idea sort of goes against this. I'm now having to use one more button that impacts my player movement that artificially changes what my real world body is doing. Again, I know many people will disagree with this, or more likely just not care, so now the more objective reason I don't like it.

Both Vive and Touch controllers have a limited number of buttons, although this is more pertinent for the VIve than the Touch. That's a button that could be used for something else. Yes, I did just talk about how the 1:1 nature of VR is what makes it so great, but we're still going to need different buttons for many aspects of games, like bringing up the SteamVR/Oculus Home menu, the in-game menu, bringing up the inventory/character stats menu, other actions that just are not practical for real world actions like starting to sprint versus run as well as jumping, and many other interactions in a game. 

So, how do we fix this? My answer has something to do with why I got into the VR Arcade business in the first place. PCs will only get cheaper and more powerful over time, same with the VR headsets as their resolutions, FoVs, refresh rates, and general features will get better and they also get cheaper. These are the same reasons that arcades in the 70s and 80s went away as gaming consoles came around. The difference with VR Arcades is that space is always going to be a limiting factor, there will always be people living in apartments, dorms, or just in houses that they can't dedicate a whole room to being clear of space for room-scale movement. In addition to this, VR is going to have new tech coming out for years and this tech is going to be very, very expensive, which means VR Arcades will be the only way for a majority of people to get access to these things, even if they already have VR set up at their personal home. Things like haptic feedback vests, haptic feedback gloves with individually tracked fingers, omni-directional treadmills, and sensors to attach to your ankles, knees, elbows, and lower back. That last point is my suggested fix to this problem. We just need more tracking data points on the human body. Just like with a mo-cap suit that people wear for movies using CGI or doing cut-scenes and animations for games, the game will actually know when my legs are staying put and yet my head and shoulders are leaning around a building's corner.