Virtual reality isn’t like other forms of gaming media.
It’s not just about the headset or the 3D sound—the entire experience of playing games in VR is different, and when it comes to game development, studios working on VR titles are going to rely on completely new ideas and directions to take advantage of the unique virtual reality perspective.
While it’s not entirely easy to predict what gamers will see from the future of VR, some trends are already visible. Here are a few things that all gamers can expect to see change as virtual reality finds its audience:
Virtual reality is really blowing up in popularity right now.
Everywhere you turn, there are new stories about exciting developments in the technology, and announcements of brand new games that make use of VR to create immersive, enjoyable experiences.
But with so many games appearing on your radar, how can you find the perfect titles? Which games are must-have, medium-defining experiences, and which ones look flashy, but are ultimately skippable?
Looping dialogue is the bane of every gamer’s existence.
Plenty of games focus on the experience of building relationships with non-playable characters. As a player progresses through a game, however, it’s easy to spot when corners have been cut with dialogue trees that feed back into each other. We can often end up being subjected to the same lines of exposition delivered multiple times as we seek to have more thorough conversations with characters within the game.
As virtual reality comes to the forefront of gaming, though, these shortcuts are going to have to disappear. Creating realistic, lifelike characters means new and innovative ways of building conversations with NPCs—and that means that gamers will be able to become all the more invested in the companions we pick up on our digital travels.
Nobody likes to lose.
At the same time, though, video games need to have a challenge to them—if a puzzle doesn’t provide any opposition, it isn’t actually all that enjoyable to play.
Historically, adventure games have never been particularly shy when it comes to making hard challenges for the player. Some of the most popular titles in the genre force players to try a variety of different tactics and approaches to particular puzzles before finding the intended solution.
This approach doesn’t work the same in virtual reality, though. As the VR medium is built around selling the player on the realism of the game world, constant failure at the hands of peculiar puzzles does little more than break immersion and take the player out of the game.
Adam Jensen saves the planet in Deus Ex.
Gordon Freeman saves humanity in Half-Life.
Commander Shepard saves the entire galaxy in Mass Effect.
Video games like to have a big scope. A large threat that’s going to wipe out life as we know it is a powerful motivator, and it’s one that games rely on regularly to push forward the action. While not always the case, often the bigger a game’s budget is, the more likely it is to put the fate of the universe in the balance.
But what about virtual reality? Are such big-scope battles and scenarios required to keep players interested?
A pile of medkits and ammo mean a boss fight is on the way.
Getting into an elevator suggests the game’s about to load a new segment of the level.
Coins, jewels, rings, or any other form of treasure should always be collected, and will never weigh the player down. Somehow.
There’s nothing like sitting down in a packed theater for the newest Hollywood blockbuster: the smell of popcorn, the quiet, excited chatter, the plush seats, and the slowly dimming lights all enhancing the experience. The excitement is palpable on a movie’s release date—all of us gather in one place to see something we’ve been waiting ages for.
Film has long been associated with some of our greatest stories, and modern technology is expanding that storytelling potential to new horizons, making this an exciting time to be a film fan.
“How do you walk in Pokemon GO?”
It’s a common question that’s been cropping up as of late. The launch of the incredibly successful mobile game from Nintendo has seen a lot of players get confused as to how to actually do basic things in the game, such as moving around, accessing items, and catching Pokémon.
Exposition in a game is necessary to help players understand what’s going on—otherwise players are left floundering. Yet games with long, wordy introductory sections, mind-numbingly obvious tutorials, and explanations of simple game mechanics do little to help a player get immersed in a game.
Recently, in celebration of Sonic the Hedgehog’s twenty-fifth birthday, a local arcade ran a speedrunning competition for the first zone of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. Not one to attend a gaming event without preparation, I spent a while practicing the levels using the Time Trial mode of the game’s mobile remaster.
For days, I whizzed through the same few levels over and over, trying to beat my times and learn faster routes through the game. Every time I managed to improve on a previous time, I was hit with a wave of satisfaction which kept me pushing to attain faster and faster times on each level.