Outstanding: A Multi-Perspective Travel Approach for Virtual Reality Games

Sebastian Cmentowski, Andrey Krekhov, Jens Krueger,
University of Duisburg-Essen

Alberto Mora
Oct 2 · 3 min read

How does the perfect vacation look like? Traveling to far-away places, visiting exotic landscapes, or experiencing a fantastic adventure? Humans are mostly explorers loving to discover unknown places. Hence, it is no surprise that many games offer similar experiences for the daily distraction. Individual storylines and vast open worlds invite the players to enter their very own adventure. One of the most promising techniques to raise the sensation of an experienceable and living environment is virtual reality. Instead of just controlling an avatar and guiding him on his quest, players could immerse themselves fully into the scenario and become the story’s hero.

In the last few years, many advances have been made to improve the hardware and available interaction techniques. However, one of the most significant open questions remains unsolved: How should players travel these large open worlds easily and authentically? The most immersive and natural locomotion technique is by far natural walking. Even though most of the current headsets offer spatial tracking and natural movements within the confined space of the own living-room, this is by far not enough to cover the vast extends of a truly open scenery. Of course, there are already some techniques such as the world-in-miniature (WIM) that offer long-distance traveling. However, these mostly focus on either fast or easy locomotion and risk the player’s immersion and the sensation of a believable journey. We believe that open-world VR games do not require instantaneous teleportations or exhausting virtual walking procedures. Instead, an appropriate approach would perverse the players’ immersion and spatial orientation, while conveying an adequate impression of the traveled distance and avoiding exhaustion or annoyance.

Our contribution is a novel locomotion technique for large distances in virtual environments. Instead of augmenting or altering the traditional first-person perspective that is usually used in VR games, we adapted a common feature from non-VR games: switching perspectives. Depending on the current situation and purpose, the players can choose the most appropriate perspective on their own. In the first-person point of view, they could observe and interact with the local environment in a natural manner. Reaching further destinations is easily possible by switching to a travel mode: Here, the players are disembodied from their virtual avatar and scaled to a bird’s eye perspective. In this mode, they observe their own character standing right where they were before and control him by setting waypoints. Instead of directly teleporting to a location, the players watch their avatar walking at a natural speed and get a feeling for the surrounding. Our comparative study shows that this navigation technique preserves the players’ immersion while enhancing spatial orientation and overview. In the final step of our contribution, we condense our findings in a set of design guidelines, we consider to be helpful for practitioners searching for a long-distance navigation technique.

Contact author: Sebastian Cmentowski

CHI PLAY session:
Gustatory and Other Sensations
Thursday, 24 October 2019, 11:00–12:30

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