There’s a moment in Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades where I pick up a lighter and slide my thumb forward over the controller’s thumbpad button to flip open the metal lid. I slide my thumb back across the pad to light it.
The interaction is a quick one in a 6-minute video I captured (embedded above or here on YouTube) over the weekend testing the new Index controller update for the Early Access game from RUST LTD. H3VR originally launched back in April 2016 and is among the most popular single-player VR games on Steam. In the three years since its initial early access release developers issued 72 updates, with the latest arriving last Friday and bringing Valve Index controller support.
You can see the lighter moment at around 20 seconds into the video.
H3VR Index Support
In the latest build, H3VR assigns some object interactions to the thumbpad button on the front of each Index controller. Pressing the left side of the button, for instance, can change the firing mode of a gun. Press the bottom of the button to eject a magazine. This is the same way H3VR is designed to work with the large touchpads on the original HTC Vive wands. Dropping and throwing items, though, is done more naturally with the Index controller by releasing grasp of the whole controller, including the trigger. Pull the trigger alone to pull a pin from a grenade, even though it is tempting to try and pinch with the thumb across the pad — it is not necessary.
For those practiced with earlier computer systems — even other VR controllers — the interactions in H3VR can take a few minutes to understand and learn. Once these gestures were learned with the Index controllers, though, whether ejecting a magazine, racking a shotgun, loading a revolver, pulling a pin or throwing a ball — they felt easy and empowering. Though I opened the lighter with my thumb, I could have flicked my wrist to open it too. There are other ways to interact with these objects too that I didn’t discover in the video above.
We posted a preview of the Valve Index headset but are respecting Valve’s embargo of June 28 for a full review as major updates are expected between now and then. The H3VR update, for example, represents another popular app getting formal support for the new controllers.