Our personal license version of the game uses online multiplayer through steam matchmaking. While that is good for home players especially if the internet connection is strong, for our events, we are using public wifi or a wifi dongle which is not optimal and reliable for multiplayer connectivity.
LAN multiplayer without using steam was therefore a must-have feature of the commercial license version of the game, so that connection is reliable and latency is low for a satisfying experience.
Another benefit for LAN is it allows you to start up your game without even requiring to connect to the internet and also not having to launch your Steam account. (Steam VR will automatically be started when the game is launch without Steam launching or you can use it in Steam Offline mode). This means faster setup time and less headache (Steam updates!)
Most VR game developers are adults and when we make VR games or apps that are using 6 DOF tracking, we tend to forget that when kids play VR games, they are at a much lower height level. This can actually make the gameplay experience terrible.
Our first game IgKnight Food Fight was designed to be setup in a minimum space of 3m by 3m play space (YES for all 4 players!). Visually this makes the design of the setup great as it is almost 1:1 positioning for the VR players on the same team as well as showing spectators a 1:1 representation of the spectator screen and the real life view.
Basestation Placement – 2m height minimum at the far ends of the table
PC Placement – We usually place a small table in the centre of the play space where the virtual table (brown rectangle above) is at and we place the 4 PCs, router, multiplugs (you need around 10 – 15 sockets) below the table. Ideally the power socket should be right below the table. Throw a table cloth over the table to hide the wire mess underneath.
TV – Place just 1 outside the play space and connect the TV to a hdmi cable from the table. We use a HDMI switch so that we can toggle between the different PC screens when needed. Usually we use the spectator mode so that you can see all players from just one screen.
Calibration – The headsets are calibrated in the centre line on the side they are standing at (at the purple circle facing the arrow direction). We use the quick calibration method in the developer tab in SteamVR settings.
As a previous owner of Singapore’s first VR arcade and running over 150 VR booth events over the past 2 years, one of our biggest bugbear is that we cannot serve our customers fast enough when our VR stations is crowded. When you have 200-300 people at an 4 hour event, you want to try to keep each player game time to about 1 minute so that you can potentially cover all people in the 4 hour time period.
For first time VR players especially, there is a learning curve for VR interface. Some games like Fruit Ninja VR are really easy as you just need to cut the fruit and the game starts which is why it has been a favorite to use at events. Most games do not start immediately and they have to learn to navigate through the menu to get to the game. Our facilitator will guide the player and the current methods available for most games are:
Use your voice to guide as the players can’t see the facilitator. This depends on the facilitator’s ability to communicate clearly and concisely.
Move the players hands to guide them which is not easy given that the facilitator has to use the TV screen to aim the controllers at the menu. Some people may feel apprehensive of being touched as well by someone who they cannot see.
Wear the headset ourselves to demo what to do. This is very time consuming.
When making our first game IgKnight Food Fight, we knew that we wanted a game that has a really short turnover, especially for the commercial license version where most players are likely to be new VR players. Hence we made sure that we created a control panel for the operator in the commercial license version so that they can control the game options on the display screen such as:
Change Kids/Adult scale
This is really essential for our own use at our event VR booth and we hope that it will benefit anyone who purchase our commercial license version and achieve faster turnover time and of course a better user experience for their customer.
Have you ever watched someone play VR game? Most of the time people look goofy or even stupid wearing a VR headset even when they probably feel awesome in the game as spectators cannot experience what is in the virtual world.
Mobile VR headsets have it worst as by default there is no TV screen or monitor where spectators can at least see what the user is seeing.
For most VR content on PC VR headsets, by default we can see the gameplay action from the player’s point of view. However, VR players tend to move their head around to look at the virtual environment and while it feels natural to them, many spectators find it nauseating to watch.
For a better spectator viewing experience like at an event booth or arcade VR station, we would recommend a 3rd player point of view. After all, nobody spectates a sports match from a first person point of view. The same should be applied to VR spectator viewing.
For IgKnight Food Fight Arcade, we included a 3rd person spectator view. There are different modes which you can choose depending on where you place the display screen:
Static mode from a point where you see the whole action happening from a position and angle that we think is optimal. We have one on each side of the table and one in the middle.
Rotation mode where the viewing position and angle will rotate around the exciting food fight.
Free roam mode where the VR operator can move the viewing point to anywhere in the scene. This is useful as this allows you to adjust any angle (and FOV too) you want.
Using the Free Roam mode and a green screen studio, we were able to align the spectator camera with a real camera capturing the players to composite a mixed reality view.
Ever used your Vive or Oculus controller and felt that something was not quite right when playing some games? In our VR games, we use generic motion controllers for every hand interaction and while that makes designing games more easily, it always felt to us that it is immersion breaking. Using a sword to a gun or simply as hands, they should feel different. Hence when the Vive Tracker was created, we were extremely excited by the possibilities and accessories that will be made by 3rd party retailers.
The premise of the Vive Tracker was simple. You attach the tracker to any object and it will track the object in the virtual space. There are also some pins which make it easy to add buttons to the tracker. This will enable developers to create their own controllers that feel more like how the virtual object should feel.
However, up til today the only accessories that you can purchase for your Vive Tracker are:
Racket Sports Set
Full body tracking TrackBelt and TrackStrap by Rebuff Reality
We have seen a few other examples but they are all custom made and not sold. We understand the reason is because unless there is enough demand for VR, the mass production cost of making mass market accessories will be too high to make it viable. However as developers, we strive to push immersion as high as possible and we feel that other than vision and audio, tactile and haptic feedback are the next most important factor.
For our upcoming title IgKnight Golf to be released on the major game distribution platform, we have the standard version with the usual controllers. We have already a event version ready to play and we designed this version for use with the custom golf controller. Once you play the game with a golf club controller, going back to using the generic controller feels very unsatisfying and you will feel like that is the way it should be played.
We can provide licensees a example design of how to convert a real golf club into a VR controller with the Vive tracker. (or we can make one for you on a case-by-case basis).
In IgKnight Food Fight, if you get hit by food regardless of who threw it (the opponent, your teammate, or yourself), you will see a splatter covering your screen. If you are an owner of the Bhaptic Tactal, you get to increase the immersion by feeling it as well!