X8 VR Developer Blog with Project Lead Dax Berg

Hey Everybody,

My name is Dax Berg. I’m the VP of US Studios here at Thirdverse and the Project Lead on X8. I am a 23-year veteran in the games industry and have been a VR game fanatic since I got my hands on the early DK1 back in 2012. I’m also a huge fan of the (FPS) First Person Shooters, and I’ve been playing since the genre’s inception. In fact, I’ve been an avid gamer since the dinosaur days when my PC’s monitor only had one color.

My favorite genre throughout the years has always been the multiplayer FPS. I played the original DOOM and QUAKE multiplayer when they were released, but experienced them playing LAN only. I really became hooked on this genre when I stumbled upon Gooseman’s Counterstike before its official release (back when it was only a Half-Life Mod).

Doom(1993) released in 1995

I also have a long standing love for Heroic shooters. Ever since I was a kid, I have enjoyed the way Fighting games present their heroes (but never fell madly in love with the fighting genre itself). Team Fortress classic was my initial real Hero Shooter experience and it was a major personal inspiration for the first heroic shooter I worked on back in 2001: the original Star Wars: Battlefront.

With gaming passions for multiplayer, Hero Shooters and VR (for the last 10 years) you start to see the foundation of where X8 is coming from.

Our initial questions when we started thinking about X8 was how can Virtual Reality add another layer to the Hero Shooter genre and bring something to VR that players have yet to experience?

There have been many VR games over the past few years that have solid gun mechanics. As a VR FPS, our gunplay interactions needed to be as good (if not better) than any other multiplayer shooters out there. But to make this type of game we needed more. The question posed from the onset was outside of gun shooting and interaction mechanics, how could we level up and design ways to make a Hero Shooter in VR? We started to answer this by putting a label to it.

We called these in-game experiences GVRI’s (Global Virtual Reality Interactions). Our goal was to make a Hero Shooter with a multitude of GVRI’s that change a standard key or button press with a series of physical interactions. GVRI became a core gameplay pillar to the X8 design. Today I want to share with you an initial couple of X8’s core GVRIs. I will follow up with additional GVRIs in the weeks to come.

Ability Gesture System

The ability gesture system uses movement-based gestures with the motion controller in a set order (assigned per ability) to summon a previously purchased character ability in the round’s Buy Phase. Pressing the non-dominant trigger when a weapon or item is not in the player’s hand will activate the selection part of the Gesture Wheel. Each Hero has 3 abilities on their Gesture Wheel. The upper left and upper right selections are the hero’s Basic Abilities and downward on the wheel lies the hero’s Ultimate Ability. To select which hero ability to activate by keeping the trigger held, the player will need to move their hand to the direction of the ability icon they wish to select. On selection this moves you to the action section of Gesture Wheel. Each ability has a series of waypoints that will need to be activated in a set order. The player will need to hit all points in order to move the selected ability from the Gesture Wheel into the player’s hand setting to an ability to an aimed or pre-activated state. It is important to note that players will not be penalized or need to restart for messing up the waypoint order. They will need to just connect all of the waypoints.

Movement down will select the Hero’s Ultimate Ability

Basic abilities have less waypoints and are quicker to activate than Ultimate Abilities. Initially, players will be challenged by learning the gestures. With some practice players can still gesture while moving from one position to the next, and while taking cover. While balancing, we found that some of our game testers memorize these gestures, much like fighter combos in 3D space, and can activate abilities while shooting and actively killing other players. This gesturing and shooting combination creates a visceral gameplay shooting/movement interaction truly unique to a VR experience.

Some abilities (like turrets and smokes) are proactive but others obviously need to be reactive. With other non VR Hero Shooter games, abilities are activated with a single button press or keystroke. In X8, gesturing can take anywhere from a ½ second to almost 2 seconds (which can be a lifetime in an FPS). This is why we created an advanced mechanic of Ability Banking.

Each ability has a unique pattern. Player’s need to gesture though set way-points to set an ability into a pre-active/aimed state.

Ability Banking

Ability Banking is purposefully not explained in the intro player Tutorial. The development team did not want to overwhelm beginning players and wanted this mechanic to be an evolution of reactive ability gameplay. Players can bank a single ability with a sharp downward motion or by pressing in (a traditional console L3 or R3 button) on the non-dominant stick while an ability is in the aimed or in a preactivated state. Doing so will transfer the ability and store it to the wrist. A player can bring a banked ability back to the aim state with an empty non-dominant hand by using a sharp upwards motion or a repress of the stick button. Then the player can quickly activate this ability by pressing the trigger. Each Hero tends to have a preferred reactive ability that players end up banking based off of their own individual play style. Additionally, a hero can gesture an ability, bank it, then gesture second ability (having one banked and the other in the aim/activation state).

Banked abilities can be brought back to a pre-activate state with a quick movement or button press.

I, personally, often play as Sarai and like to run on offense with a Vizor-MP (small submachine gun) in my dominant hand with 2 Stasis Pylons ready to go in my left (1 in active aim state and the other banked). When my teammate plants the Syphon, I can immediately put these pylons (AoE damage turrets) on the Syphon overlapping them like a Vinn diagram. This makes it nearly impossible to have an enemy player run in and directly diffuse without taking at least one (if not both) of the turrets out first.

Thanks for reading about one of our initial core GVRI’s! Next developer blog I will cover the Global VR Interactions of planting and defusing the Syphon (our X8 version of the Seek and Destroy ‘bomb’).



Thirdverse Inc. is a virtual reality game development, distribution and management company. Learn more https://www.thirdverse.io/.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store

Thirdverse Inc. is a virtual reality game development, distribution and management company. Learn more https://www.thirdverse.io/.