The majority of virtual reality experiences – particularly those designed for motion controllers – require physical activity from the player. But not all users will be able to duck, weave and crawl around.
Triangular Pixels’ Katie Goode (pictured) says despite the ‘assault course’ nature of Unseen Diplomacy, it has still been developed with accessibility in mind.
“Physically disabled users can still play the game – and this goes beyond just button remapping,” she says.
“Many players cannot crawl around on the floor due to either unseen disabilities, old age or even being in a wheelchair. For those players, we had to create variants which were wheelchair-friendly, with widths of spaces being the width of a chair, having tools on a table rather than spawning on the floor, and making sure that lasers don’t go too low for those players.
“This wasn’t a small amount of work, and we would not have needed to do it if players were just in a cockpit, but it greatly opens up our audience.”
While it’s important to ensure your game is accessible, devs should still feel free to experiment with how active they want players to be.
“Unseen Diplomacy is one of the most active VR games available, with players being asked to crawl through vents, roll under and dodge past lasers and running between points – while actually having to walk themselves around a large environment,” says Goode. “Although, I can say for sure that more active games are harder to develop.”
Alternatively, the required level of immersion in your virtual world may require a more sedentary experience. Seated players will soon forget that they’re sitting on a nondescript chair if they believe they’re in the pilot’s seat of a starfighter.
“Designing a cockpit-based game is a little easier, because the player is contained and restricted to a very specific and limited set of abilities,” says Orth. “It allows you to control the experience a little more and has the ability to reduce motion sickness due to the static HUD and geometry that’s always onscreen, moving with your gaze as a single object.
“This allows the player to have a visual point of focus to stick to during the experience. Unfortunately, most cockpit-based games also are built around flying something, so there’s a balancing act there.”