‘Windlands’ Developer On VR Motion Controls: “Oculus Touch Is The Way To Go”

by Joe Durbin • July 7th, 2016

Windlands is one of the most tragically overlooked virtual reality games of this inaugural generation. Described by some as a Spider-Man simulator, Windlands is essentially Bionic Commando meets Myst. The game utilizes truly brilliant locomotion systems – such as parkour, wall jumping, and its core grapple mechanic – to send you leaping, swinging, and plummeting around a beautifully rendered map with a subtly engaging narrative.

Perhaps the one downside to this woefully underrated gem is that it requires you to play it with an Xbox controller on the Oculus Rift. Even though Windlands is quite successful at creating a fun, immersive game even with a more rudimentary controller, it is still somewhat disappointing to miss out on the amazing experience it would be to go full-Spider-Man through hand tracking. The HTC Vive offers an option that somewhat delivers on this goal, but the Rift remains stuck in Xbox mode until the release of Touch. 

It was therefore an absolute delight when Windlands developer Psytec Games made the announcement in May that Windlands would be getting Oculus Touch support. UploadVR recently had the chance to speak with Jon Hibbins – Psytec’s CEO – via Skype concerning the process of adapting his game for these new control styles.

Windlands

“Yes, shout it from the rooftops, yell it from the hills, Windlands is getting Oculus Touch support,” Hibbins says jovially when asked about developing specifically for the upcoming system. When asked which of the two input methods works best for his game, Hibbins’ response is surprisingly candid:

“Oculus Touch is the best way to play Windlands ever. We’ve done the best we can with the Vive controllers but, honestly the hardware is fighting us. These are both amazing devices but, for Windlands at least, Oculus Touch is the way to go.” 

On the subject of VR controls in general, Hibbins makes it very clear that he is a staunch believer in developers creating custom locomotion systems, rather than relying on blink, or teleportation mechanics.

“The future of VR is not blink, not teleportation, and not room scale,” Hibbins said. “I have been, and continue to be, very vocal about this…Fundamentally, I think that designing games around 12×12 rooms is a bad experience and not the overall future of VR. We need to focus on designing creative and useful locomotion rather than relying on these simple solutions.”

This philosophy bodes well for fans of Windlands hoping to see Touch add to the game rather than detract from it and Hibbins certainly agrees.

“You haven’t seen anything yet. These controllers are the way the game was meant to be played. People are going to really enjoy it,” Hibbins said.

According to Hibbins, Windlands Touch update will release “slightly ahead of the Touch launch” which is still ambiguously scheduled for end-of-year 2016. Looks like the Oculus Touch vs. HTC Vive controller debate is really starting to heat up.

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