An upcoming VR game features a new movement system designed to let players traverse the length of their room again and again to unlock much larger walk-around virtual environments.
The “WalkAbout” system by Oklahoma-based Tekton Games rotates the view of a world at the press of a button so that a hallway can be moved to the far end of the physical room. The system freezes a view of the virtual world while drawing focus to the bounds of your physical room, as provided by the “chaperone” boundary system on the HTC Vive. In case you’re unfamiliar with chaperone, at the edge of the play space it displays a grid that looks a lot like the holodeck in Star Trek. This warning system can let players see the outline of their real-world room to keep from bumping into things. Those boundaries serve as a visual anchor with WalkAbout so players can then align their bodies, and the world, to maximize walk around freedom.
The system’s creator, Brady Wright, even tracks the number of times a player turns a certain direction so that, inside VR, you see floating dust particles moving in the direction you should turn. If you turn that direction you’ll stay untangled. The system is part of an upcoming horror VR game from the company, The Dark Within.
If you have a 15-foot-long VR room the system seems like it would be fairly effective, but players in shorter rooms might find themselves turning around too much.
“Out of all the locomotion techniques I’ve seen and tried, this one seems to be the least disorienting and most physically comfortable,” Wright said in a prepared statement.
The support in SteamVR for walk-around VR experiences has lead to a number of innovative strategies to emerge for allowing freedom of movement. Budget Cuts uses a comfortable teleportation mechanism and The Gallery lets you pick out precisely where you want to teleport to maximize the walk-around space.