For those who have been playing or developing VR content for years, it might seem ‘obvious’ what kind of settings are expected to be included for player comfort. Yet for new players and developers alike, the confusing sea of VR comfort terms is far from straightforward. This has lead to situations where players buy a game but find it doesn’t include a comfort setting that’s important to them. So here’s a checklist and glossary of ‘essential’ VR comfort settings that developers should clearly communicate to potential customers about their VR game or experience.
Update September 27th, 2022: Added new sections in comfort checklist and glossary for ‘quick-turn’ and ‘dash’ to further specify the difference between instant vs. fast motion. Added ‘comfortable for most/least’ for some glossary items as a starting point to understand which VR settings tend to be more/less comfortable for most people.
VR Comfort Settings Checklist
Let’s start with the VR comfort settings checklist, using two example games. While it is by no means comprehensive, it covers many of the basic comfort settings employed by VR games today. To be clear, this checklist is not what settings a game should include, it is merely the info that should be communicated so customers know what comfort settings are offered.
We chose these two examples because a game like Beat Saber, despite being an almost universally comfortable VR game, will have many ‘n/a’ on its list because it completely lacks artificial turning & movement. Whereas a game like Half-Life: Alyx uses artificial turning & movement and therefore offers more options for player comfort.
Swappable movement hand
English, French, German […]
Two hands required
Real crouch required
For some levels (optional)
Adjustable player height
If players are equipped with this information ahead of time, it will help them make a more informed buying decision.
VR Comfort Settings Glossary
For new players, many of these terms might be confusing. Here’s a glossary of basic definitions of each VR comfort setting.
Artificial turning – whether or not the game allows the player to rotate their view separately from their real-world orientation within their playspace (also called virtual turning)
Snap-turn – comfortable for most
Instantly rotates the camera view in steps or increments (also called blink-turn)
Quick-turn – comfortable for some
Quickly rotates the camera view in steps or increments (also called fast-turn or dash-turn)
Smooth-turn – comfortable for least
Smoothly rotates the camera view (also called continuous-turn)
Artificial movement – whether or not the game allows the player to move through the virtual world separately from their real-world movement within their playspace (also called virtual movement)
Teleport-move – comfortable for most
Instantly moves the player between positions (also called blink-move)
Dash-move – comfortable for some
Quickly moves the player between positions (also called shift-move)
Smooth-move – comfortable for least
Smoothly moves the player through the world (also called continuous-move)
Head-based – the game considers the player’s head direction as the ‘forward’ direction for artificial movement
Hand-based – the game considers the player’s hand/controller direction as the ‘forward’ direction for artificial movement
Swappable movement hand – allows the player to change the artificial movement controller input between the left and right hands
Blinders – cropping of the headset’s field of view to reduce motion visible in the player’s periphery (also called tunneling)
Standing mode – supports players playing in a real-world standing position
Seated mode – supports players playing in a real-world seated position
Artificial crouch – allows the player to crouch with a button input instead of crouching in the real world (also called virtual crouch)
Real crouch – allows the player to crouch in the real-world and have it correctly reflected as crouching in the game
Subtitles – a game that has subtitles for dialogue & interface, and which languages therein
Audio – a game that has audio dialogue, and which languages therein
Adjustable difficulty – allows the player to control the difficulty of a game’s mechanics
Two-hands required – whether two hands are required for core game completion or essential mechanics
Real-crouch required – a game which requires the player to physically crouch for core completion or essential mechanics (with no comparable artificial crouch option)
Hearing required – a game which requires the player to be able to hear for core completion or essential mechanics
Adjustable player height – whether the player can change their in-game height separately from their real world height (distinct from artificial crouching because the adjustment is persistent and may also work in tandem with artificial crouching)
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As mentioned, this is not a comprehensive list. VR comfort is a complex topic especially because everyone’s experience is somewhat different, but this is hopefully a useful baseline to help streamline communication between developers and players alike.
For developers exploring various locomotion methods for use in VR content, the Locomotion Vault is a good resource to see real-world examples.
For players with disabilities who want more options for VR game accessibility check out the WalkinVR custom locomotion driver.
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