Why the Best VR Games Are Designed with VR Platforms in Mind

vr game loading human virtual reality

VR is a unique medium, and its full potential has yet to be realized. We know it’s great for gaming, that it’s a powerful new exploration of film, and that it has numerous other practical and entertainment uses, but we aren’t yet sure how far we can take it. What we do know is that you can’t beat an experience developed specifically for VR with one that’s simply upgraded from a 2D platform.

That’s not to say a ported game can’t be great—many of them are, especially those that felt like a natural fit for virtual reality before the technology was feasible. But those games that are made with this technology in mind enjoy a clear advantage, as they can make full use of the potential of the platforms they’re intended for.

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The Little Things: Why Small Details Make a Big Difference in VR

Loading Human Details in VR

At the start of the 2010 movie Inception, a movie about creating believable dream worlds that fool their occupants, Saito, a wealthy businessman, realizes he’s dreaming thanks to an out-of-place detail. He spots that the material his rug is made out of doesn’t match up with reality, thus breaking his immersion and revealing to him that he’s trapped within a dream.

Virtual reality can be very similar to the rules of dreams within Inception—it’s the tiny details that make or break immersion. The believability of a game world hinges on the tiny touches that developers put in to make their worlds feel lived-in. Continue reading

Is There Room for Mods in Virtual Reality?

Mods in VR

There are few communities surrounding video games that are as dedicated to innovation and creativity as the modders.

Whether they’re recreating the entirety of the Gameboy title Link’s Awakening in the game engine for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or simply hacking Skyrim to replace all the dragons with Macho Man Randy Savage, there’s no denying that gaming has more variety and flavor as a result of the modding community’s inventive adaptations of popular titles. Continue reading

How Crowdfunding Video Games is Invigorating the Industry

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I love crowdfunding. Sure, I’ve had a few duds among the projects I’ve backed, but for the most part, it’s been a positive experience. There’s nothing quite like knowing you were part of the creative process of some wonderful new project or seeing your name listed in the “special thanks” section in a game’s end credits.

But backing these projects is about more than personal satisfaction. Crowdfunding video games helps ensure that risky titles—those that push against mainstream ideas about what games are or can be—keep the industry thriving and innovative. Without crowdfunding, we wouldn’t have the Oculus Rift, Shovel Knight, or FTL, three of the most exciting creations of the past few years.

It’s not just about getting games funded, either. Crowdfunding is also a barometer for consumer interest, and high popularity can spur publishers to pick a game up and bring it to the attention of an even broader audience. There are few things more inspiring than a good rags-to-riches (or indie-to-classic) success story, and sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer fertile ground where the first seeds of such stories can take root.

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The Big Bluff: Believable Peril in VR Video Games

Peril in VR Video Games

You can’t die in a video game, right?

As much as developers try to make games feel authentic and immersive, players are always aware that what they’re going through has no real-world consequences. The stakes in a video game won’t carry into real life, and it’s hard to forget that.

With VR, there’s an opportunity to give players a more immersive experience than ever before. Continue reading

Five PlayStation VR Launch Titles to Get Excited About

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The PlayStation VR is nearly here, and it’s coming with some of the most exciting and innovative games of the year.

While there are plenty of titles to choose from, some stand out more than others as a perfect introduction to virtual reality and all of the wonders that the technology holds. But with so many brand new game franchises debuting with the PS VR, it’s hard to know which launch titles are going to deliver the most enjoyable experience. Continue reading

Gotta Go Fast! Speedrunning Virtual Reality Games

Speedrunning virtual reality games

Among all gaming communities, there are none quite as dedicated as the speedrunners.

Playing the same segment of a game over and over to find the quickest way to complete a challenging level, seeking out bugs and glitches to skip large portions of play, and even counting motion frames to achieve pixel-perfect maneuvers, speedrunners pride themselves on breaking games apart to finish them in as little time as possible.

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The Spark of Humanity: Believable NPCs in VR Games

Believable NPCs in VR Games

Let’s face it—video game characters can be a little weird.

Take the Phoenix Wright series, for example. Every single character in the game is designed to stand out as an unusual, entertaining, and quirky individual. The game is built this way both to make text-heavy gameplay more enjoyable and to help the player keep each character separate in their mind.

While this kind of flamboyant character design is fine for traditional gaming, virtual reality requires a little more nuanceTo help sell an immersive experience, characters have to be believable. What’s more, considering the in-your-face nature of the virtual reality experience, there’s a danger that over-the-top characters within games can startle or disturb the player more than is intended. Continue reading

The Best of the Best: Finding the Perfect VR Game for You

Compelling VR storytelling using contrasting environments in video games.

We all like different games.

Some of us go nuts for action, shooters, or platformers—games that require quick problem solving and lightning-fast reflexes. Others prefer more methodical games—puzzles to be solved, relationships to be developed, and the organization of resources. And some gamers even enjoy farming simulators and other peaceful escapism. There really is something for everyone out there.

When it comes to virtual reality gaming, there are a lot of options for players to choose from—most major genres of games are represented by the growing library of titles available for VR devices, and many more are in development.

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Mass Appeal or Niche Audiences? VR Games Find Their Focus

glowing chamber in Loading Human

Virtual reality is a really hot topic for the media at the moment.

Not a day goes by that the mainstream press isn’t singing the praises of the new, emerging medium, or showing off the incredible potential of the technology. From its use as a medical aid to making learning more accessible, it seems like there’s nothing VR can’t do and no group that can’t benefit from its effects.

As wide-reaching as VR’s capabilities may be, though, when it comes to VR gaming, there’s a very specific audience that developers are attempting to woo. The audience for a virtual reality title is currently a fraction of the gamers who’d play a traditional video game, and one of the big challenges that game studios face is broadening the niche market to reach a wider gaming audience.

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