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New CognitiveVR tool lets devs see heatmaps of player behavior in VR

This week VR tech firm CognitiveVR debuted SceneExplorer, a tool designed to help VR developers analyze the way people move through and play their VR games or experiences via real-time heatmaps.

This week VR tech firm CognitiveVR debuted SceneExplorer, a tool designed to help VR developers analyze the way people move through and play their VR games or experiences.

What makes this especially notable in this, the year that so many high-profile VR headsets finally hit store shelves, is that SceneExplorer isn't a game or a piece of technology -- it's middleware aimed specifically at VR devs, which is still a relative rarity.

SceneExplorer (which has been in open beta for some time) effectively provides analytics data on how people are experiencing a given VR experience by displaying visual indicators of where people are moving and what they're looking at in a given VR space.

The question of where players are looking, for how long, and why is especially pressing in VR game development, where devs must be exceedingly careful about creating dynamic environments that respect the player's comfort.

For example, Harmonix's Jon Carter recently told Gamasutra that "we soon realized the importance of finding the right balance between “they’ve looked here long enough to trigger an interesting transformation” and “they’re just glancing over here, and it would be confusing/disorienting for us to transform the entire space,” when discussing how the studio had built Music VR, a VR experience so comfortable Carter says he felt okay asking his septuagenarian mother to play it. 

SceneExplorer's real-time heatmaps of player behavior can reportedly be viewed in a browser and shared with others, which could conceivably make it easier for dev teams to share visual references when talking through what's working (and what's not) in a given VR project.

Devs curious to learn more can do so -- and see a demo of SceneExplorer in action -- over on its website.

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