So yesterday, I got a text on the DWVR line from someone saying they wanted a two hour station to play some Beat Saber. OI course I put that reservation into the system but I had no clue just who it was coming over to the arcade. That night comes along and he arrives asking about the high scores page for Beat Saber and I of course was thinking, “oh sure, like you’re going beat my Expert scores” but I was way wrong.
I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember, playing the NES and SNES as a kid, and also for as long as I can remember, video games have been thought of as a lazy and unhealthy hobby. Now with Virtual Reality, things have changed as your whole body is the controller, especially so with Room-Scale VR. The thought is still taking some getting used to even for me, but playing video games can be some solid exercise. Already, we're seeing some amazing stories come about of people who, in combination with a good diet and healthy eating, are using VR games to loose a whole lot of excess weight and are having a blast doing it.
After just three-ish years, the modern day VR industry has done it; it's peaked. Nothing in the future will ever be better than this...
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?
Publicly released in November 2015, Valve's Steam Controller gave PC gamers the gamepad that they've always wanted. It shared the ergonomics of the XBox 360 controller, which many gamers consider it one of the best gamepads of all time, but more importantly it brought with it the software that allowed for users to customize what every button did (which is what PC gaming is all about). Since the Vive was released, we haven't seen much customization offered by developers as to how players interact with their VR games. Now Valve has released SteamVR Input in beta and we have a level of control similar to that of the Steam Controller.
Google recently held it's 2018 I/O and during the keynote it unveiled a slew of new software and services as well as updates to many of their current offerings, but the one that caught my eye the most was the announcement of Google Duplex. I am very interested to see what Duplex brings to the table as for what it actually is, a much more "intelligent" version of the Google Assistant that we currently have on our phones and Google Homes, but it also got me thinking of what the future of games and VR games can be with this level of tech.
Typically a term used for consoles, a "Killer App" is the game released on that respective console that is just so good that gamers just have to cave in and buy that console in order to play that game. Nintendo has always had Zelda and Mario games as their killer apps, Microsoft has had Halo and Gears of War, and Sony has had Ratchet & Clank, Uncharted, and The Last of Us. Over the last few years, people have been wondering if VR would get a killer app. There have been a lot of standout VR games over the last couple of years like Rec Room, Lone Echo, Arizona Sunshine, and GORN among others like the recently released Skyrim VR, none have quite assumed the mantle of VR's killer app. Maybe we have that game now with the release of Beat Saber.
A YouTube video was recently uploaded by Crowbat titled "How different Counter Strike VR can be" and it really helps to put things into perspective. I touched on this in a March blog post how people often post in announcement trailers or Reddit comments asking developers to not make a game be exclusive to VR and they make a claim that there's barely any difference between VR games and non-VR games other than the 3D. One of the most popular and competitive shooters of all time is Counter Strike, so it's great that the video from Crowbat has used it for his comparison.
I recently saw some gameplay of an upcoming VR game for the PSVR called Bravo Team and it shares a common issue that a lot of moderate budget games have as well as games releasing on more mainstream VR platforms like the PSVR. They have some decent polish to them and look like they will offer a lot of content/play time to the player but when it comes to their gameplay mechanics they are dull and take no chances. When I saw the gameplay video linked below, I couldn’t help but think to myself the whole time that I was looking at some gameplay of a mobile game for phones and tablets, and that sucks.
This sentence, or a form similar to it, fills the comments sections on YouTube trailers, Reddit posts, Facebook videos, etc… for so many VR game announcements. Just recently, I saw it happen for the YouTube teaser trailer for Cyan, the company that made classic Myst games and more recently Obduction, which is called Firmament.
I came across a post on /r/vive recently that talked about mixed reality (not the Windows platform) and seeing the same player in the gameplay recording and it got me thinking about player avatars from the player's perspective in VR games. Should we have a standard/shared player avatar with our stats linked to our profiles (SteamVR, Oculus, etc...)?