In Virtual Reality, it is seemingly accepted that objects appear weightless when interacted with.
Designers will develop the VR experience around this, like Job Simulator only providing small, light objects to pick up, or Fantastic Contraption making the entire world out of air-balloons to give an ‘explanation’ for the lack of mass in the objects.
We think that weight is an enormously important factor to get a sense of physicality, establishing a true ‘virtual reality’.
We also think that haptic feedback isn’t absolutely necessary to provide this feeling, as visual stimulus is a big factor in establishing physicality.
This project draws inspiration from Koert Van Mensvoort‘s work on “What You See Is What You Feel“: ‘Exploiting the dominance of the visual over the haptic domain to simulate force-feedback with cursor displacements’, and its practical application “PowerCursor“, where the graphical representation of the cursor is decoupled from the actual position of the cursor, where on-screen objects influence the behaviour of the cursor’s movement, simulating friction, mass, pressure and other physical influences.
That’s why we propose a project where we simulate weight in Virtual Reality by disconnecting the avatar from the direct control of the VR motion controllers.
Feedback of decoupling, user experience of physical influence, etc. [w.i.p.]
As a final project, the students participating in this interface research have made a system for Unity that allows multiple interface devices to be connected to control a character in first-person perspective.
It also features a gesture-system in which programmers can link together ‘acts’ (like move arm, turn hand, open/close fingers etc.) to create a gesture to interact with the virtual world.
They have made a first level in which the player can perform some interactions to showcase the system, and to show the differences between the various input devices.
Students went to visit the C.A.V.E. at Fontys to test out some of its capabilities in relationship to immersion and virtual control.
Three applications were tested there: The Physics Simulator, Arachnophobia and Acrophobia. While Arachnophobia and Acrophobia were good showcases of therapeutic virtual reality simulations, The Physics Simulator proved to be the most relevant application to our research.
An interesting aspect of interface design is Natural User Interface:
In computing, a natural user interface, or NUI, or Natural Interface is the common parlance used by designers and developers of human-machine interfaces to refer to a user interface that is effectively invisible, and remains invisible as the user continuously learns increasingly complex interactions. The word natural is used because most computer interfaces use artificial control devices whose operation has to be learned.1
Beside researching the abstract, fundamental theory of the experience of media like immersion, this research is also focused on applying game design theory to be able to develop a good user experience for the interface devices that are being researched.
Below are two excellent videos about the Oculus Rift, developments in Virtual Reality gaming and how new inputs are being used in VR. An interesting point is made about the Oculus Rift excelling in providing a feeling of “presence” in a virtual world. Continue reading →
One of the most interesting implications of Virtual Reality and new interface devices is the potential of providing a new dimension of immersion to games. But what exactly is immersion? What are the distinct characteristics of immersion for games? When does a player get immersed in a game? And how do you design for that to happen? Continue reading →