Locomotion issues are a major point of contention in the VR gaming scene right now. On the one hand, motion sickness is a real, verifiable problem that does plague a significant number of people that try VR, especially for the first time. Some developers are using subtle design techniques to combat this, while others are simply designing their games to cater to a variety of playstyles. And in some cases, companies are creating brand new forms of interaction in the games we play.
When you’re in VR, the digital and physical meld together in a very unique way. While your eyes and senses believe they’re in a virtual space, your physical body still resides sitting at your desk or standing in your room. The wires and size of your space are just as much a limitation as the technology itself. That’s where locomotive solutions such as the Virtuix Omni, WizDish, VirZoom, and personal movement-based solutions all come into play. Now 3DRudder represents another alternative form of locomotion while in VR.
The 3DRudder is a ground-based foot pad that you place beneath your chair and rest your feet on it while seated. By leaning and pressing your feet in different directions, it translates to moving your character inside the game world. It reminds us of the Stinky Gaming Footboard. That device’s applications were limited for the non-impaired, but it presented a clever solution for one-handed or otherwise disabled gamers. The 3DRudder doesn’t appear to be targeting that subset of the VR market, however.
“Designed to be used while seated, the circular 3dRudder disc makes movement in VR as natural as driving a car or walking down the street,” the press release states. “Pressure sensors and heel-toe movement help you effortlessly move front/back, left/right/, rotate left/rotate right, and up/down with minimal fatigue. Small, fluid moves make it easy to navigate, jump, crawl, run, shoot or otherwise survive, for example, in a post-apocalyptic virtual world.”
The latest iteration of the device, the 3DRudder wireless, was announced today. Most notable is the long list of compatible platforms from all Windows PCs, Android devices, Steam, the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream, and more. The wired version, while much more limited, does feature support for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
Peripheral devices like the 3DRudder have been known to pop up like this during events such as CES only to see manufacturing abandoned as excitement dwindles and support vanishes. I don’t think the 3DRudder is the end-all be-all of locomotion solutions in VR, but it will certainly appeal to certain gamers wanting more flexibility within their virtual spaces.