Teleportation is quickly becoming the standard VR movement, even in games where it’s not appropriate. Motion sickness remains an unsolved problem, so jumping from location to location is the best option available. It might work for some experiences, but it can undermine the mood and setting of a game like Skyrim, where exploration is a major feature.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based developer VRemedy Labs aims to solve this problem. The company’s website promises their work is “Revolutionizing Locomotion in VR,” and its blog details the efforts taken to create “exciting movement without the nausea.” The company is building their new game, I Hate Heroes, with locomotion that throws out everything we know about designing nausea-free VR play. Flying makes people sick; it has flying. Walking makes many want to vomit. The game has walking. However, a series of subtle tweaks reduces nausea for most players. If the experimental locomotion in I Hate Heroes works, it could add some interesting new options to the range of locomotion alternatives out there. Some of these you’ll have seen before but others are brand new.
VRemedy has also been experimenting with boosted movement- one step to the right translates to meters of in-game traversal- tractor beam guns that work like grappling hooks, and “space fabric” movement where players can “grab” the air and pull themselves in any direction. Various tweaks are applied to all of these locomotion modes to reduce nausea, and players will have the ability to amplify or turn them down to suit their needs.
Space Fabric Movement
VRemedy Labs cofounder Richard Oates told the MIT Technology Review that the end goal of all this research is to work with headset makers to reduce nausea and provide developers with tools that can control it. “We want to break the mold of having [VR] experiences that are nauseating and awesome or comfortable and boring…And instead make games everybody can play and play at their own pace.” Or, as the VRemedy blog succinctly put it, “Teleportation sucks…and we can do better.”