The role of pure, unadulterated fun in VR. Moving from science experiment to game.
Virtual Reality brings something new to the table in the world of gaming — the ability to reconnect with ones body after years of stationary game play. First-time VR users are often shocked and thrilled by how much they are having to use their real body to interact with the virtual world and it’s entities and objects.
VR gaming in its most basic, stripped down form needs to be completely focused on providing a player with an exhilarating, immersive and fun experience.
This fundamental idea can’t be underestimated — the act of play is one of the crucial ways in which human beings learn and discover things.
The importance of fun in any experience is not a new concept, and can be outwardly seen in software products and training materials that have been ‘gamified’ to increase engagement and effectiveness of time spent by users.
However up until recently, hardware limitations and a focus on developing new processes and peripherals has mostly relegated this emerging tech to gimmicky demos and ‘proof-of-concept’ style experiences. These were absolutely essential in their day, aiming to answer questions about how a player interacts with a virtual world, and to experiment with the players’ perception by altering their senses and making the world ‘feel’ real — but typically fail to deliver on long-term enjoyment for the player.
Uniformity of hardware and a commitment from at least 12 corporate tech giants in 2017 has lead to a greater availability of tools for developers and a lower cost of entry for the end user.
With the key issues like maneuverability, interaction and availability of processing power and hardware currently being addressed, the work can finally begin to accomplish the VR industry’s main goal — completely immersing a user into a believable and enjoyable pocket of man-made reality.
Advancements in the technology alone only serve to provide a platform for the real innovation to begin. VR headsets and peripherals continue to evolve to enable a mainstream audience to participate and interact with a virtual world as part of a streamlined, believable experience — but the smoothness and initial impact of the new technologies deployed doesn’t count for much if the user isn’t having a good time or finds themselves in a VR world where they are disinterested with the plot, mechanics or ability to progress.
People generally love the idea of being able to step into a world they can manipulate to their will, live out the riskiest of pastimes without fear of real-bodily harm and to have the opportunity to present themselves socially in exactly the way they want to — essentially re-inventing themselves as a heroic gunslinger, skillful ninja or masterful creator in a virtual reality of their own making.
VR game developers need to be consciously aware of the many different elements that generate an entertaining gaming experience and are critical to ensure a user is excited by a VR world.
Players are more likely to want to stay in the universe — as well as feel compelled to invite friends and interact with others on the platform, helping to build the community as a whole — if they are provided with rewarding and fulfilling activities and an open environment to engage with.
This is why in the creation of VU, we have placed strong emphasis on developing a world that reactively shapes itself to be more enjoyable — based on the exchange of a user’s ideas, both conscious and unconscious — through the system’s AI analysis of player behavior. By also offering users the opportunity to provide feedback on the game, a user can passively improve the game’s mechanics and ability to deliver a fun experience just by participating.
In this sense, we will be able to create a world that is ever-more inviting as additional players join and create more opportunities for interaction and fun. Our public release will play a particularly important role in testing our users’ experience and reactions to VU, as part of our mission maximize fun and engagement.
The challenge for recent VR titles is that until the experience is truly enjoyable, players won’t allow themselves to be immersed or devote their full attention — often failing to discover all of what that world has to offer.
Rewarding and persistent storytelling, as well as advanced AI, encourages player of VU to stay in the game and realize the potential of the platform. Leveraging these technologies and the lessons learned from the interactions of our users can perhaps be applied to other specific verticals to improve user experience and engagement, though it’s not on our roadmap right now.
VU is at the forefront of changing user reception to a VR game. By utilizing the combined power of AI, blockchain and a world that is responsive to user interaction, we aim to develop something special — a continually evolving, compelling and enjoyable virtual world, cultivated by a community that is invested in the universe they feel empowered and encouraged to help flourish.
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).
Learn more about Virtual Universe and VU token by visiting our website and signing up for email updates, visiting our Github, following us on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram, or being part the discussion on Telegram and Discord.