Recently, I took a trip to Skydive Toronto, a skydiving facility near my hometown. As a game developer, the whole time I was comparing the experience to skydiving into battle at the beginning of online matches.
Skydiving has been found in many online games such as Battlefield and more recently, Fortnite. It works great to let players prepare to kill each other and also choose their starting position in a fun and cinematic way. As I prepared to jump out of the plane, I was thinking of my own project, Drive By, which is a VR competitive shooter currently in development. Maybe I could figure out how to incorporate skydiving there as well.
After I jumped out of the plane, all that went out the window. All that remained was yelling, gravity and a little bit of nausea inducing parachute tricks.
You can watch the video of my skydiving adventure below.
After I landed I reflected on the experience and how I could incorporate it into an online VR shooter. Should the players parachute into the battle like they have so many times before?
The answer is hell no.
The reason is because, VR which is already infamous for causing nausea and motion sickness is not well suited for the type of movement that a successful skydive requires.
Whereas solid vehicles help to ground a player into the vehicles movement and trick the brain into thinking they are in a car, similar to what happens in real life, parachutes do not have the same visuals to help counter this problem.
Planes and helicopters are still a possibility, but even then, the range of movements possible in airborne vehicles is much too wide to counteract nausea for every case.
Grounded vehicles that have a well defined interior, a visible windshield and proper chassis balancing physics are the next big leap for next-gen virtual reality cinematic gameplay.