Jump to content
The Dark Mod Forums

Onward, VR infantry simulator


woah
 Share

Recommended Posts

At some point I want to make a general VR thread (or maybe I will just make per-game threads like this, not sure) but I've owned a Vive since June and I have to share this game. It's been out for less than a month and it is already one of the most incredible gaming experiences I've ever had and the only VR experience that I keep coming back to. I should say that it's not that all of the other VR experiences are junk but rather they are not designed well for longevity.

Onward is essentially a realistic modern infantry simulator--think Insurgency--but in VR. While it's still early in development (it's on Steam Early Access), it has the main features of a good infantry simulator: no hud or death messages, realistic damage model (usually 1 shot means death), rewarding guns, slow gameplay (not for impatient types), good maps, etc etc. But what makes it special is not just the immersiveness of it being a VR game (and yes the immersiveness is incredible--especially in tense situations where you're cooperating with your team), but rather the "designed for VR" implementations of its communication system, gun mechanics, and locomotion system.

Here's a great video of the game (NSFW language). Video is currently recorded from the left eye and that's why you don't see them looking through the sights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xliyz5l5oe4

I won't get into too much detail because most of this can be inferred from watching the gameplay, but one uses the Vive controllers to manipulate firearms as you would expect (manual reloading of magazines, racking the slide, blind shooting from behind cover, looking down scopes by just bringing the scope up to your eye, just about any other sort of 3 dimensional manipulation that you can imagine). Voice communication is always on, is attenuated based on proximity, and is affected by the environment (and enemies can of course hear you too). If you want to use the radio, you need to bring your hand up to your shoulder and pull your Vive controller's trigger button. The locomotion system is a combination of roomscale and trackpad artificial locomotion. If you want to peak around a corner, crouch, go prone, play dead (yes this works), jump, etc etc, you just do it in real life and the game does a pretty good job of matching your virtual body as seen by others to your actual one with IK (of course there are hilarious bugs as you can see in the video above)

However, it is not just the aforementioned "serious" aspects of Onward that make it a great game but also the social experience enabled by VR. I have just as much fun messing around with people in this game as I do playing seriously (and mixing the two). I guess that's why I chose the above video. Once you get immersed in the game it really feels like your teammates are right there next to you (nevermind totally forgetting your RL orientation). I'm not exaggerating when I say that one's personality can be conveyed to a certain extent through the head and controller tracking (in combination with one's voice). It's unlike any gaming experience I've ever had before and it's the first game that's made me feel like VR is truly the future of gaming.

Here's another funny one:




A few other notes:
* Aiming is difficult

Just like in real life, it is very difficult to aim well. Sniper rifles are particularly difficult. And I've found that this improves the experience rather than frustrating it. See, this is the first game I've played where suppression actually works and where snipers aren't overpowered. Even in a game like Insurgency twitch shooting is a possibility. The mouse is the problem, and I say this as someone that also loves M&K twitch shooters. Sure, a PVC gun stock can be made for like $10 USD and it really helps with aiming rifles (I built one), but motion controllers in VR will never afford someone the precision and control that one has with a mouse. I think this is a good thing.

* Lack of simulator sickness despite artificial locomotion

Now when I had first heard about this game I was not confident that simulator sickness wouldn't be a huge issue for people that are sensitive to artificial locomotion. And yes there are extremely sensitive types that this game won't work for (just as there are people that can't even be in the same room as someone that's playing an FPS game on a monitor). However I've been amazed with not just how comfortable Onward's locomotion system has been for myself but for most other people as well--especially people that are otherwise quite sensitive. My first session, I played 10 minutes, 30 minutes on the second time, and thereafter there hasn't seemed to be a limit (I played 4 hours continuous yesterday, felt fine during and afterwards). Note that I could have probably played much longer in the first two sessions but I was following some artificial locomotion adaptation best practices where one intentionally does not play until they get sick.

In fact, before Onward I was a little bummed about VR in general because I felt that VR's locomotion problem would severely limit the types of experiences developers were willing to make. That may still be true to a certain extent, but I feel like Onward is proving that you can make compelling VR experiences with artificial locomotion assuming you adopt a similar movement system. For the sensitive, other "comfort" options would certainly help too (e.g. dynamically restricting FOV based on acceleration).

Edited by woah
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesring. So, uh, how does one move around in those games?

 

You have the goggles on and some sort of gun prop.. but then what?

 

You moon walk in place to move forward?

 

Sorry if I sound silly, but I don't know anything about VR games. I did try some developer version of Oculus Rift in a car simulator some years ago, but that felt like drunk driving after 50 shots of strong alcohol... I could barely see where I was going.

Clipper

-The mapper's best friend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesring. So, uh, how does one move around in those games?

 

You have the goggles on and some sort of gun prop.. but then what?

 

You moon walk in place to move forward?

 

Sorry if I sound silly, but I don't know anything about VR games. I did try some developer version of Oculus Rift in a car simulator some years ago, but that felt like drunk driving after 50 shots of strong alcohol... I could barely see where I was going.

 

Have to establish some preliminary stuff first: All of these VR games have their own locomotion systems (lots of experimentation going on now) but I have to say that with respect to artificial, smooth, translational locomotion, Onward is a step above the rest. By "artificial" I mean that one is not moving their virtual body in sync with their actual body. By "smooth" I mean translational movement that is not teleportation/instantaneous but continuous movement as you would expect in any normal desktop monitor first person game. It should be noted that most developers have been hesitant to support artificial smooth locomotion because they are afraid of inducing simulator sickness in people. Most single player and multiplayer VR games are using point-to-point teleportation and you can imagine how that limits the type of experiences that are possible. For myself this was kind of a real bummer because teleportation is very immersion breaking for me. But with Onward's success I expect that many other games will start incorporating something similar to Onward's artificial smooth locomotion system in the future. It just "feels right" and is easily adapted to. As mentioned in my original post, "comfort modes" using e.g. motion induced FOV restriction will also help (motion is sensed at the periphery of one's vision and even slightly blacking out the periphery helps with tolerability, see here

)

 

 

But on to the movement scheme:

 

When setting up the game, you specify your dominant hand and height. The dominant hand is used to hold the pistol grip on firearms and the non-dominant is used for movement (among other things)

 

So, the Vive controllers have those circular steam controller trackpads on them (that can also be pressed in and combined with the thumb location to simulate many different buttons). The trackpad on the Vive controller in your non-dominant hand is used for translational movement relative to the direction the Vive controller is pointing in the virtual space (and independent of your head direction). Imagine a vector extending from the origin (center) of the trackpad to your thumb location on the trackpad, the direction of which determines your movement direction relative to the direction the Vive controller is pointing in the virtual space and the magnitude determining the speed at which you move (so with your thumb in the center of the trackpad the magnitude of that vector is 0 and thus there is no movement, and at the periphery of the trackpad the magnitude of the vector is maximized and thus your movement speed is maximized).

 

With this setup you can fine tune your direction and speed without your head direction interfering with movement. The trackpad is slightly concave so it becomes second nature to find the origin. You do not need to press the trackpads in to trigger movement--just rest your thumb on it. (constantly pressing your thumb in would probably be fatiguing) It is easy to adapt to this movement system because your brain always has a good sense of the direction which your non-dominant hand is pointing in (which is the direction the Vive controller is pointing). Even when using your non-dominant hand to help steady and assist in aiming a firearm (the non-dominant controller can also "attach" to your firearm), the sense of direction is pretty intuitive. Movement speed is further adjusted by taking into account the player's stance (the more upright you are, the faster you move), whether you have a firearm raised or lowered, and the pitch of the controller relative to its comfortable resting position.

 

There is no artificial rotation in the game. If you want to rotate, you need to do so in real life. (turn around in real life) Artficial smooth rotation from the first person perspective seems to trigger simulator sickness in just about everyone, whereas for most people artificial smooth translation can be adapted to--especially if it is designed well like Onward. The movement speed is generally pretty slow in Onward which helps with adaptation and there are very few unexpected movements. The only artificial rotation system that seems to work well is when (1) you're in a cockpit and you expect that kind of movement (e.g. racing game or flight sim) and (2) you rotate the player in fixed increments rather than smooth motion (for example, I believe Altspace VR has an option for 15 degree fixed increment rotations).

 

And of course if your place space is big enough, you can just walk around in the virtual space. With the Vive, there's this thing called "chaperone" which overlays your place space bounds with a grid when you get close to them (can be adjusted, my place space bounds only appear as a rectangle on the floor so as to maximize immersion).

 

Side note: I was really surprised to see that the PSVR demos at E3 were using artificial smooth rotation with the gamepad's joystick. IMO this was fucking insane and it shows how clueless those developers were. The PSVR will be limited to a little over 180d of tracking, so in order for it to be tolerable they should be using fixed increment artificial rotations that simply shift the 180 degrees in which the player has synced rotation. For first person experiences, I'm guessing you're going to be seated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for the great write-up. I hadn't seen the locomotion system explained yet. Translational movement via trackpad is no problem for me, but any kind of smooth, artificial yaw is killer. My biggest impediment getting this is the multiplayer aspect. My schedule isn't open enough to be a reliable team mate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the great write-up. I hadn't seen the locomotion system explained yet. Translational movement via trackpad is no problem for me, but any kind of smooth, artificial yaw is killer. My biggest impediment getting this is the multiplayer aspect. My schedule isn't open enough to be a reliable team mate.

 

Well, I think you should give it a shot anyway. The rounds are now limited to 6 minutes so people are focused on the objectives. (the soon to be added point capture game mode will be different, of course) I could see you getting at least a few rounds in with your schedule and to be honest just about everyone sucks right now, haha. E.g. everyone goes wild when someone gets a sniper kill that would have otherwise been rather unimpressive with M&K haha.

 

Also, as long as you play less than two hours, you can refund the game on Steam.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recent Status Updates

    • peter_spy

      What a lovely game, perfect way to relax before sleep.
      · 2 replies
    • STiFU

      Anyone here clocking in some times in Neon Light?
      · 0 replies
    • JackFarmer

      Boris Johnson's resignation does not change the fact that Australia is home to 29 million kangaroos and Wales has a population of just over three million.

      If the Australian kangaroos were to invade Wales, one resident would have to fight almost ten kangaroos at a time.
      · 8 replies
    • peter_spy

      Deathloop – what a mess of a game. I'd love to see a post-mortem on it some day. I hope Arkane is doing okay though.
      · 27 replies
    • OrbWeaver

      I like house-cleaning and taking out the trash.
      · 3 replies
×
×
  • Create New...