Simple game design for out-of-home VR.

Will Stackable

VR needs to get more simple.

I’ve played more VR games than I can count and most of the time… the first 5–10 minutes of playing a new title are pretty awkward.

Just noticed the skillet is on fire in this shot. #ReadyPlayerOne

Fumbling with the headset and headphones, getting tangled in cords… and then launching a game and having to wade through complicated menus, learning the button layout and navigating tutorials.

This is a HUGE problem for out-of-home VR.

95% of out of home VR customers are first time VR users.

And with the current model, customers walk in and pay $20-$60 an hour to play VR.

Who wants to spend that kind of cash struggling to get into a game, waiting through a poorly designed tutorial or mashing on control buttons trying to move.

An immersion-breaking first experience in VR hurts everyone.

What’s one of the biggest problems?

From my convos with VR Arcades around the world (400+ on our platform) the answer is pretty clear.

Complicated controls. More first time users get stuck on the controls than anywhere else.

TAKEAWAY: Simple control schemes win the day for first time users. Out-Of- Home VR operators will eventually stop using games that get their customers frustrated and stuck.

Complicated controls kill immersion. SkyrimVR took me a bit.

Button madness.

Maybe we should expect this, at the dawn of a new medium… but today if you play 10 titles, likely you are going to be using 10 different control schemes.

10 different menu systems, movement control, button layout, selection process.

Even for a veteran VR player… it can be frustrating.

Take one of the most basic needs in any game. Moving around.

Here are a few of the movement options you might have to learn as a first time player.

Teleport is a great movement option for first time players.
  • Thumb pad as a directional joystick
  • Various teleport modes. (Too many to list).
  • Look gaze movement.
  • Swing your arms while holding a button down.
  • Swing your arms and bob your head (jog in place).
  • Ski-Jumper style. (Ninja Run style)

And then throw in the motion sickness reduction options that impact player movement.

  • FOV reduction (Google Earth)
  • On-Rails… (Rollercoaster equivalent)
  • Teleport motion sickness options. (Blink, Dash, Sprint, etc)
  • Portal movement. (Love this one! See Budget Cuts.)
  • Standing only. (Don’t let them move at all)

When you add it all up… it’s a lot for a first time VR user to “get”.

And when you are paying a dollar an hour… you don’t want to fumble around with controls.

You want to jump into a game and have a seamless experience.

For out of home VR… simple wins the day.

Choosing one movement option (teleport is great!) and focusing on building an immersive first few minutes from game-launch to game-play will go a long way to making your title more attractive to first time players everywhere.


Will Stackable

Written by

Co-Founder Springboard VR — Experience management and content distribution for Virtual Reality worldwide. Customers in 45+ countries.

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