With the Oculus Rift now available for Pre-order we put our brains together to come up with some vital considerations that everyone should bare in mind when creating content for VR.
Virtual reality is already proving itself to be an invaluable tool. It allows those who can’t afford to travel not only to see and experience foreign landscapes, but it puts us in the shoes of others we haven’t yet met. It helps us to find something in common with people we may never expect to. This kind of immersion into the environments and experiences of others takes us beyond staged-looking, photoshopped images. Instead of feeling confronted with an ad, we are made someone’s guest, we are made travellers, and we are made comrades.
Virtual reality goes beyond cheesy 3D glasses from the cinema that work half the time and make us nauseous the other. For those who haven’t been keeping up with their tech news, VR headsets such as Oculus Rift give you a full 360° view of another scenario, removing you from the current and immersing you in an alternative ‘reality’. But there’s much more to a great VR film than spherical footage:
The very nature of VR makes objects appear tangible, as if you could reach out and touch them. Anything that appears unnatural to the rest of the landscape will affect how immersed the user feels.
You’d be stupid to ignore the 360° capability of VR. So what’s behind the user needs to be as interesting as what’s in front. Furthermore you need to give the user time to to explore your wondrous content and be aware of how long you want the user to be in each environment. The user needs to feel the freedom to explore but you must strike a balance between freedom to move and ensuring the user is aware of the specific elements you want them to engage with.
If you can make it fixed position, make it fixed position; simply because with movement comes an array of technical considerations/limitations but if you require the user to move around and interact then you must make sure it feels as natural as possible, otherwise you will lessen the immersion.
Sound design is a fundamental part of the VR experience but is too often sidelined. Sound creates just a strong an emotional response as something visual and when the two are used successfully, especially with binaural sound, the effects can be extremely powerful. Sound adds an extra layer to the user’s immersion and as a result another layer of emotional engagement.
- Look to the future
The VR field is rapidly advancing; new headsets, peripherals and techniques to extend the virtual reality experience. As a result you’ll find that shortly after you’ve released content there will be ways you could have improved it. So with that in mind, when there’s an opportunity, do not hesitate, take advantage to continually update your VR experience.
Keep these words of advice in mind but don’t take them as the be all and end all of VR. Go out there and experiment for yourself, or come and have a chat with us!