One of the most important design considerations for VR is locomotion. In this article, let’s take a look at the different ways of moving around in VR.
Traditional Artificial Locomotion – Pressing a button on a controller/keyboard moves you in a certain direction.
Example -Using WASD keys on the keyboard or analog stick on a gamepad
Pros – Easy to create such controls as they are common in the gaming world in FPS games.
Cons – In VR, such movement is very unnatural as your eyes tells you that you are moving but your body do not feel the same way (which is one of the reason why VR can make you vomit). Recent developments (as seen in the tactical military shooter ONWARD) has finetune the speed of movement in the different direction to improve this way of moving.
1:1 Movement – Moving your physical body will move your virtual body exactly the same distance and direction.
Example – For the HTC Vive, you can walk within the tracking limits of the lighthouse sensors and your movement is mapped exactly in the virtual world.
Pros – Very high immersion and zero level of puke-inducing.
Cons – Require a cleared space to use the VR headset as physical obstacles still exists even if you dun see them in the virtual world.
1:X Gain Movement System: Moving 1m in real life will move X distance in-game
Example – RE’FLEKT came up with this system to solve the problem of walking around a large 4m by 2m object (car) within a 4m by 4m trackingspace.
Pros – You can walk further than using 1:1 but still feel comfortable and it feels natural.
Cons – Moving vertically will cause nausea.
Teleportation – Disappear from your current spot and appear on another spot.
Example – Normally by pointing at a spot on the floor and pressing a trigger to switch your position to the spot. By far the most common method of movement in HTC Vive.
Pros – Allows you to move further than the physical space available without making you nauseous.
Cons – Makes the user lazy to move in the physical space as teleportation is a more relaxed method of movement.
Motion Sensor Movement – Moving the controller in a specific way will move your virtual body forward or in a certain direction.
Example -For the HTC Vive, methods developed include running/moving up and down in place (RIPmotion) or swinging your arms as if you are walking (arm swinger)
Pros – Partially simulates the walking motion to move and it makes it feel more comfortable than artificial locomotion
Cons – You will get quite tired if you have to do this constantly for a long time to move around.
Treadmill – Walking on an omnidirectional treadmill to simulate the direction that you are walking in.
Example – Check out the Virtuix Omni.
Pros – Fully simulates the walking without having the space constraints
Cons – The device is expensive.
Grabbing 3D Space – You move the virtual world instead of moving your physical body.
Example – Using the Unreal VR editor to do game development in VR.
Pros – It gives you absolute freedom to move anywhere as in truth you are stationary while everything else is moving. This is useful when you are using VR as a creation tool.
Cons – There is a learning curve to using this tool as it is opposite of the way we usually move.
Rail Movement – A certain action or event trigger cause your virtual body to move in a predetermined route to a fixed location
Example – In the mobile VR game, You Are In A Maze, by Booster Pack, choose the path to move towards to by looking at the orb to trigger the rail movement towards it. Or a ride experience like a roller coaster.
Pros – This allows interactivity for headsets without requiring a controller. In a more passive format like 360 pictures/videos where you normally don’t do more than just looking around, this can allowing the user to move around by choosing the direction to move and activate the trigger, thus playing the rail movement in that direction. RunSocial and WoobaVR are some of the mobile VR apps that have been featured previously that use this function very successfully.
Cons – Open world exploration is not possible and how it is used may make it easy to get simulator sickness.
Thrust Movement – Pressing a button makes you move towards a direction that you choose based on a separate control.
Example – Flying on a broomstick or a spaceship or even Iron Man style in the HVR Demo
Pros – Gives you the freedom to move in all directions, can be very exhilarating.
Cons – Might not be for everyone, especially for people with fear of heights.
Other Unique Movement – Some games have their own unique movement system which makes the experience special.
Example – Windlands uses grappling hooks to swing you around the world like Spiderman.
Example – Our very own 9 Grids VR game allows you to switch from 1:1 movement to a grid jumping movement.
Pros – This makes for unique gameplay.
Cons – Can be quite nauseating still if not design properly.
Experimental Techniques – Redirected Walking
This technique makes you move in a circle while you think that you are walking straight.
Pros – Can create an unlimited path in a small room
Cons – Still in the experimental stage