Screen shake? Camera cuts? 'Most of this is not viable in VR,' says Battlezone dev

"We’ve spent our professional lives finding ways to make playing on a flat screen some distance away from you be...immersive," says Rebellion's Tim Jones. "Most of this is not viable in VR."
"Even a little screen shaking feels like someone has grabbed your head and started shaking it. Not pleasant at all."

- Tim Jones, of UK studio Rebellion Developments.

The game industry's ongoing conversation about virtual reality was reinvigorated this week by the launch of Sony's PlayStation VR headset, which is more affordable than the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive but comes with its own design idiosyncracies.

A bunch of developers who've built games for PSVR recently spoke to Gamasutra about their experiences dealing with its unique design challenges, as well as the lessons they'd learned about VR game development in general.

Tim Jones, of UK studio Rebellion (which launched the VR tank game Battlezone on PSVR this week) had a particularly useful bit of advice for any fellow devs jumping into the realm of VR: forget what you know about how to create an immersive game, because it doesn't apply in VR.

"We’ve spent our professional lives finding ways to make playing on a flat screen some distance away from you be as immersive and in-your-face as possible," he said. "We shake and swing the camera, use cinematic editing techniques to show you what we want you to look at and dial up the intensity on everything to try and grab the attention of our media-fatigued minds."

"Most of this is not viable in VR," he continued, noting that common game design tricks like shaking the screen or doing a camera cut when something big happens don't work at all in VR. "The way we ultimately dealt with this was by trying everything out in VR. A cool idea is worth nothing until you implement and try it out in VR to see how it feels. This has led us to dial down a lot of the visual tricks we’ve grown accustomed to using for wowing the player."

For more of Jones' comments on what Rebellion learned in making Battlezone for VR, as well as lots of other intriguing insights from the developers of VR games like Thumper, Superhypercube and Allumette, check out the full Gamasutra feature

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