Size matters — playing with scale and perspective in Virtual Reality platforms
Size and scale matters. With leaps being made in the fields of augmented reality, virtual reality and spatial computing, we are presented with an entirely new medium for content creators and producers of training programmes or simulators to work with.
We often look to big movie screens and projector setups to transport or fully immerse ourselves in a story or simulation, but VR offers a sense of scale, unlike any other medium. In VR, that feeling of immersion and connectedness is much more profound because the sensory input that the user experiences is that of true scale. This is especially true of content that has been designed for full stereoscopic VR.
In a true VR platform that utilizes both users positional and orientational data via 6DoF (six-degrees-of-freedom) controllers, the common feedback is that of connection with the virtual world and avatar the user is controlling. This enables developers to build content that works to elicit or make use of those feelings to enhance the experience or encourage users to take a particular action.
The obvious applications for this level of immersion and connection are already in place and being developed further; VR environments have already been proven to be more effective in helping users to generate and retain memories and as such have been successfully deployed in fields like MedTech and education to serve as a tool for rehabilitation and training.
In terms of gaming, there are some interesting tricks that can be deployed for new and exciting gameplay elements. VR has naturally progressed towards building environments that mimic the real-world — mostly in an effort to enhance realism and aid in an easy and comfortable experience in lieu of realistic graphics and interactions. However, the technology is at a point now, with 4k headsets, better tracking, and minimal latency, that we can actually start to forego realistic proportions while maintaining that sense of immersion to deliver interesting and unique gameplay elements in our game offerings.
Developers have played with perspectives and utilized VR for unique perspective-based gameplay in the past to great success, but few have yet managed to capitalize on the attachment we feel as gamers to the world we helped shape and the avatar which acted as the catalyst for the time we spend in that world.
With VU being a persistent virtual world, where a users’ input and interactions have a visceral and lasting effect — we have the opportunity to employ some of the great gameplay options around altering the players’ perception of scale and size within the virtual world. Any features we implement into VU around this theme serve as more than simple proofs-of-concept for unique gameplay but sit as part of a dynamically generated set of events that a user may find themselves part of.
In VR environments, having been entirely built around tricking to brain into perceiving the input from the VR headset as ‘real’ — playing with scale and perspectives can have profound psychological effects, especially when dealing with matters of self-perception — so this is definitely an area of inquiry for us.
Ciaran Foley is CEO of Ukledo and Immersive Entertainment, Inc. a Southern California virtual reality software company developing a new virtual engagement platform called Virtual Universe (VU).
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