An update to the SteamVR Beta included an interesting note hidden among the standard fixes.
Increase limits of what we thought was humanly possible for controller motion based on tracking data from Beat Saber experts.
Whoa whoa whoa. That’s quite the well-written update there Aaron Leiby, but we’re gonna need more detail than that. You’re telling us some folks are moving so fast playing Beat Saber that it required a Steam update to account for their incredible speeds?
A more detailed comment from Valve’s Ben Jackson offers some more information about the update:
The tracking system has internal sanity checks to identify when things go wrong. For example, if our math says you are *behind* your only basestation, clearly we made a mistake, because we wouldn’t be getting any signal from behind the basestation. One of these checks relates to how fast we thought it was physically possible for someone to turn their wrist. It turns out that a properly motivated human using a light enough controller could go faster (3600 degrees/sec!) than we thought.
Playing a VR game so fast that it required a Steam update? That’s something way beyond an everyday achievement or even the standard bug fix for an early access title like Beat Saber. There is somebody out there — nay, perhaps it is a small group of super humans — who are capable of moving so fast that Valve had to change their expectations about what humans are capable of doing.
I wanted to know more, so I reached out to Jackson over email. It turns out, Valve is home to some expert Beat Saber players and it was the new Expert+ mode in the game that drove them to “push the limits,” as Jackson explains:
We have some high skill Beat Saber players working at Valve. One of them was playing it while testing, which led to us capturing data where he was approaching and occasionally exceeding (by a tiny amount) the old limit. I would credit Knuckles (which places the center of gravity closer to the center of your hand) with making it easier, and Beat Saber “expert plus” mode with the motivation to push the limits.
I would bet that everyone working on VR controller tracking has taken notice of Beat Saber, due to its combination of popularity and extreme controller motion.