With the increase in demand for VR Games, we've been flooded with countless new versions of headsets and exciting new pieces of hardware that go along with them. We'll go through a brief history of VR, look at what improvements need to be made to the platform and what a Next-Gen virtual reality game might look like.
While Virtual reality is gaining steam lately, its origins date back more than fifty years, with some placing its history even farther back depending upon which definition is used. By most accounts, the first virtual reality headset was designed by Ivan Sutherland in 1968, though it was much heavier than today's models and only had the capability of displaying vector models of rooms and objects. This would soon change, however, when Eric Howlett designed the Large Expanse, Extra Perspective Optical System or LEEP for short. The LEEP would use depth of field in combination with stereoscopic images to create realistic scenery, a concept that laid the groundwork for all modern virtual reality systems in existence today. With time came improved graphics and with them, the first commercially released VR headset in the SEGA VR in 1991. Like modern headsets, the SEGA VR would place LCD screens into the headset and use over-ear headphones to deliver audio to the player. Various other units would be released afterwards, but virtual reality didn't take the next leap until Palmer Luckey designed the Oculus Rift in 2010, a device that had a 90-degree field of view - something unheard of in the industry at that time. Things only got better from there as Valve developed low-persistence displays which allowed for a clear, lag-free experience. Thanks to this breakthrough and the use of wireless technology, we have now entered a new age of VR where the limitations of hardware are starting to disappear.
VR Games That Have Made Their Mark
This rhythm-based masterpiece is one of the most addictive and exercise-inducing VR games currently on the market. Not only is it a joy to play, but the realistic nature of it will have you ducking and diving at super-fast speeds as you try to avoid pitfalls on your way to completing various beat maps.
I'm sure you've witnessed the storyline in many games and movies before, rogue robots have gone off the network and are bent on causing destruction to anyone in their path. From the very beginning, you are greeted with stunning visuals and before long, you really feel as if you are the character you are playing within the virtual world. The movements are very natural, and you'll find yourself accidentally dropping your guns in a moment of panic when enemies start to pile up. Additionally, the non-linear nature of the game and the in-your-face combat system helps to bring a new level of realism to the game.
On the surface, it isn't as visually impressive as some of the other VR games out there, but the movement and combat system more than make up for it. Not only can you slow time in the game, but you can use your entire body to dodge attacks from your enemies, something that a Matrix VR game will need to implement if it wants to be successful.
Set in the world of Eve Online, Eve Valkyrie differs in that there is no single-player campaign mode. Instead, you are placed into a spaceship and can travel to different multiplayer arenas where you battle it out with other players as you zoom through space. Some third-party developers have even designed a specialized vest which gives you impact feedback during battle.
Where VR Needs To Improve
One of the major drawbacks for VR games these days is the lack of true full-body tracking. Sure, full-body tracking is available, but the translation of finite body movements into the virtual world still needs a lot of work. For games to improve, the full-body tracking hardware and the coding side of things also needs to improve. Additionally, while certain companies have increased the field of view and resolution of VR headsets, there is still an issue of eye strain and glare. Developers will need to improve upon the LCD technology and create lens coatings which are designed to reduce both. While lag is certainly a problem, better hardware will eliminate the issue in the near future.
What's Next For VR
While standing and playing VR has become the norm, many consumers have complained about the strain that certain games place on their bodies after prolonged periods. In an interview a while back, the original designers of the Oculus stated that they were surprised consumers wanted to stand at all, mentioning that their first demonstrations were done in a sit-down environment. With users wanting to play longer hours, we could see a new era of VR where most games allow you to sit down during gameplay. Sure, this would lessen the immersion experience, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that we will see sensors which help us to move our virtual bodies simply by thinking it. Seems like science fiction, right? Well, not exactly, MIT engineers demonstrated similar technology whereby amputees were able to move their robotic limbs with their minds.
What A Next-Gen VR Game Might Look Like
With the current work that Nvidia is doing with hair and element physics, we may soon see a VR title that bridges the gap between what is real and what isn't. Currently, textures and visuals in games are still held back by hardware and software, but improvements in both areas will create games that provide an immersive experience like nothing before. The next generation of VR games will provide an environment where we can move freely, regardless of our physical limitations in the real world. With companies currently looking into scent technology, we may also be able to experience other sensations in next-gen VR that weren't possible before. The smell of rain, the scent of various foods, all of it will come to us as if we were right there in the virtual world we now inhabit. As resolutions improve, we'll see games which allow us to experience things in even greater detail than we can in our daily lives. In essence, we'll have a VR game which uses all of our senses in a manner that is very true to life in every way.