The development of virtual reality in 2017 and how it’s affecting gaming
Virtual reality is progressing quickly. In just a few short years the technology has gone from the fringes to the mainstream and it is showing no signs of slowing. There is now a wide selection of VR headsets to choose from and few areas are benefiting more from the technological advancement than the gaming industry. Virtual Reality opens up new possibilities for gaming and with dozens of upcoming titles, the industry is taking advantage.
We’ve come a long way from the early days of virtual reality. Arcade machines and products like the View-Master could grant video gamers a new experience but now, these machines look dated and basic. This new leap forward in virtual reality has a lot to do with the prominence of the Oculus Rift. The company’s flagship design was funded through one of the most highly-publicised Kickstarter campaigns of all time. The campaign raised almost $2.5 million but within just a couple of years of development they would earn a whole lot more after Facebook announced that they had purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion.
But the Rift isn’t the only virtual reality headset on the market today. There are cheaper options like the Google Daydream View and the Samsung Gear VR or pricier models like the Playstation VR. There are also the luxury models which can cost a small fortune. The HTC Vive will cost upwards of $600 for the equipment alone but for many, it’s a price worth paying.
VR has many areas of application but generally, the industry has become most closely associated with gaming. Virtual reality just gives game designers more opportunity for innovation. Let’s take a look at some of the unique benefits of the technology and what effect it is having on video games in 2017.
Virtual Reality is an immersive technology. With surround sound and a visor, the players feel like they’re in the game. It’s a 360-degree experience and gamers can’t just look away from the television if they feel like.
This immersion is perhaps most effective in horror games. Jump scares are easy and with the right combinations of music and sound effects, players get terrified. This is reflected in the number of horror titles being released for VR headsets. Supermassive Games’ The Inpatient is a psychological horror game scheduled for release in November 2017. In the game, players’ actions dictate what happens and voice recognition allows the user to directly interact with non-playable characters. VR only enhances this.
Another genre which is benefiting from the immersion of VR is the first-person shooter. Virtual Reality shooters are a little different to titles like Halo and Call of Duty Handheld sensory controllers make aiming very different to the flick of a mouse or analogue stick but that hasn’t stopped developers from making them. The Vive has titles like Survivos’ Raw Data while PlayStation has the popular Farpoint, developed by Sony. There are obvious problems in the first-person shooter genre with things like player movement but game designers are taking innovative steps to adapt to the technology.
Virtual Reality allows developers to create far deeper and more detailed worlds for the games to take place in. The sights, sounds and ability to look around means designers can give gamers an experience they wouldn’t usually have.
One of the main selling points of the casinos in Las Vegas is that they are open every hour of every day. It’s good for customers but quite the costly venture. Now, companies like eGamings have used Virtual Reality technology to recreate the sights, sounds and opening hours of the casino. Sites like Betway Casino have virtual gaming sections on their websites which can give the user the full Vegas experience from the comfort of the home.
But some gamers aren’t after comfort which is where VR helps take world creation to the next level. In Lone Echo, developer Ready At Dawn has created a game set in outer space where players take control of an android. Users have the ability to move around in zero gravity by simply pushing off the in-game environment. If that’s not a new experience for gaming then nothing is.
Nonlinear Level Design
Platform and puzzle games have come a long way in the last two decades but VR can take them to the next level. VR allows developers to create completely nonlinear settings as well as using creative problems which can only really be achieved with a virtual reality headset.
Lila’s Tale is currently being developed by Skullfish Studios and utilises one of the unique features of VR. In the game, the central character, Lila will follow wherever the player’s eyes move in this puzzle platform game. Another example of a planned game utilising VR’s strengths is Toran, a sci-fi puzzle game currently being developed by Really Interactive. Players must solve simple connection puzzles in a complete 360-degree setting thanks to the freedom afforded by VR technology.
These games are just some examples of the incredible innovation happening in the virtual reality gaming industry right now. VR is another tool for developers to create some truly unique concepts. The technology’s ability to immerse the audience is unrivalled and once they’re in, developers can construct complicated nonlinear game designs in whole new worlds. If things are this good after just a few years of mainstream development, imagine what 2018 will bring.