Vehicle Combat in Virtual Reality
Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Since virtual reality headsets finally hit the mainstream crowd in 2016, we all knew it was here to stay. With thousands of games released and millions of headsets sold, it is a quickly evolving medium. Since then, there have been a variety of games made available on the new platform. Even still, there are gaps in the kind of experiences available to gamers, especially those who grew up in the 2000s era, where game companies did everything that could possibly have been done in a game game. While the single player experiences have caught up in terms of polish and gameplay variety, the multiplayer games seem to appeal to a much younger crowd. Although there are exceptions, the VR chatrooms and playrooms seem to be popular, but fail to appease a more mature and hardcore audience.
If you remember playing Halo or Call Of Duty split screen, there was definitely a thrill in the online multiplayer and gamers are dying to recreate that experience in VR. My proposal is a free to play multiplayer competitive shooter that gives gamers many different options to explore. If you remember the vehicle combat from Halo, you will remember that it forced teamwork and also gave players a challenge that could be easily conquered with a well placed grenade or shot to the head.
By adding vehicles into the mix, players will be able to drive vehicles and man turrets to defeat the opposing team. Vehicles will be driven with steering wheels and using controller triggers to accelerate or slow down. Turrets will be manned by other players who will also use the motion controllers to aim and fire at the enemy.
You may be wondering about motion sickness and how it will factor into the experience as the game is in VR and will require speed and bumpy rides. The solution comes with well realized vehicle interiors, and meshes that will 'ground' the player with the vehicle.
Last year, I spent some months contracting Unity work for a company called Thales Group. If you don't already know, Thales Group is a company that makes trains around the globe. My job was to create a VR simulator to teach new train operators how to drive the train correctly. Trainees would have to follow speed limits, open the correct doors and stop at stop lights in order to successfully complete the game. Although it was just a prototype, I learned that the brain will quickly adapt to its vision and subconsciously tell itself that you are in a vehicle. In other words, motion sickness will not occur similar to how it does not occur when you are on a train or driving a car in real life.
Similarly, players will be grounded in the vehicle they are driving as long as they believe the illusion. For this reason, my artists will have a tough job on their hands. They will have to create graphics that make players believe that they are driving a car while at the same time optimizing for online and VR performance.
Not only do vehicles provide variety to online multiplayer, they also give players an opportunity to work together and maybe even get blown up together. If done correctly, players on foot will also have fun taking down the spree-machine with nothing but their wits and some explosive power.
Update: Since this is my first blog I want to give it's readers some background of where I was in my career when it was written. At the time I had been a Unity developer for 5 years and had a game released on Steam, had worked 2 full time jobs and had also done dozens of freelance contracts.
Written By Guri Waraich
Professional Game Programmer