Air Punch : The origins of Punch Dash

By Loïc Lorriaux, designer at iLLOGIKA.

In VR, locomotion is a hot topic at the moment. Behind the word locomotion, is hidden a major challenge in VR: How to move players in a vast virtual world without making them sick? We now have different locomotion techniques, that go from movement point by point (teleportation) to continuous translation guided by the controller (often called “smooth locomotion”).

Left : Lone Echo (Ready At Dawn — 2017), Right : The Climb (Crytek — 2016)

By studying different games and experiences, some quickly caught my attention: Climbey, Lone Echo and the Climb. They have in common a particular type of locomotion where the movement is done by grabbing a surface and pulling it towards yourself, moving you closer to that surface. By having the player be physically involved with the virtual locomotion, this system is highly immersive without provoking motion sickness in the player. By comparing this with other locomotion systems, I asked myself if having the players’ head move during locomotion cancels out motion sickness.

From this interrogation, Air Punch has emerged: A game in which the player moves by punching. The idea is to associate virtual locomotion with a motion that moves their head (even just slightly). A great example of this concept is Climbey, in which the player can thrust themselves multiple feet in the air without getting nauseous. In Air Punch, we move the player according to their hand movement: Punch forward to move forward, in the air to jump, and do a hook to go around an obstacle. At the end of each movement, the player is frozen for an instant so that he gets another chance to hit before gravity brings him down. This technique allows freedom of movement in every direction. After playtesting with colleagues, I am confident enough to say that by having the player be physically implicated during locomotion is a highly efficient way of fighting motion sickness in VR.

Air Punch remains a prototype, and the Punch Dash method still has many opportunities for improvement that we would like to explore in the future. In the meantime, you can download the prototype now on itch.io.

Discover the fun of Punch Dash, and don’t hesitate to give us your feedback!