Fast Travel Games, the creative minds behind the popular virtual reaiyt (VR) title Apex Construct, have spoken out about their feelings on free locomotion within VR titles. The option of motion has always held the risk of inducing motion sickness with users and, for sometime, has been avoided by a number of developers. Now, speaking in an interview with gamesindustry.biz, Fast Travel Games co-founder Erik Odeldahl revealed the studio have given a lot of thought to free locomotion.
“We said that everybody – every single person that puts on a headset – should be able to play it,” Odeldahl said: “That doesn’t mean it should be an easy game; it’s actually a physical thing. If you do things wrong in VR, people will get sick. We said everybody should be able to play our game, and that means we support sitting gameplay, standing gameplay, and room-scale gameplay.”
Apex Construct is a first-person adventure title with gameplay divided between exploration and combat. Players needed to feel comfortable within VR to be able to see the experience through to the end of it’s six-hour campaign. At the time Apex Construct initially release, the market was “dominated by fifteen minute experience”, Odeldahl added. With that said though, Fast Travel Games built the title without free locomotion as an initial movement option.
“Early on we decided to build a game that didn’t support free locomotion, it is something that exposes a lot of people to motion sickness. If you implement this badly a lot of people will feel ill.” Odeldahl explains.
“In the VR landscape things change super quickly right now,” Odeldahl added. “We playtested the game a lot, and not a single one of our testers said anything about free locomotion… When you playtest, people will often respond to what is in the game and not necessarily to what is missing. If we had asked people afterwards if they missed free locomotion, they would probably have said yes. We should have studied this way more carefully.”
Apex Construct would get support for free locomotion which was added to the title after After Travel Games got feedback from Paris Games Week. The inclusion of the motion option was met with mixed reviews with “most of the people that complained, complained about our shitty free locomotion in the game.” Odeldahl added. Though the team worked to add the system to the title, it was clear that it would need further improvements to make it a truly immersive experience.
“Luckily, the numbers we’re seeing are just way, way higher than we thought they would be. It turns out that, across all of the platforms we released on, 46 per cent played the game using free locomotion. It’s a mind-bogglingly large percentage. Half the players of our game use free locomotion. The people that voice their opinion online, who gave us the one and two star reviews, they were not a vocal minority… When you see angry voices online, if you’re a VR developer, check your numbers.” Odeldahl added.
Apex Construct is available now on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality and PlayStation VR. As Fast Travel Games and other developers continue to find the best well to implement free locomotion into their titles, VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest so stay tuned for more.