A Control Room, VR and Dual Screening

Posted 2015-04-23 16:58:46 by Daniel Dowsing/Dan Page

Wazzup! Remember that? I’m bringing it back. It’s Daniel here, star of the blog series critics are calling: ‘not that bad’, ‘it passed the time whilst I was on the loo’ and ‘stop calling this number’. It’s time once again for some juicy enlightenment about a little game called Salvaged. Oh you’ve heard of it? You, my friend, are officially part of the cool gang. Let’s do this!

We’ve discussed the artistic and design direction for Salvaged in previous posts aaaand this post is going to be no different. But don’t threat! Because we’re also going to look at some of Salvaged’s technological feats too. High fives all round.

command room2

Players spend their time within ‘the Control Room’ of Alex Pieterson’s ship. From here Alex – and the player – are able to guide their agents through each mission. If you remember back to an earlier post I talked of the experience of the game and how it comes to define the game’s design. In the case of Salvaged we want the player to experience being a commander giving orders to their agents, we want to give them the rush of creating a good strategy and seeing it pay off but we also want them to experience the loneliness and isolation of being a leader. The Control Room as an environment and game space becomes symbolic of that. The player has everything at their fingertips – they can hire agents, buy new equipment, upgrade the ship and complete missions – made possible by multiple screens within the room that they’re free to interact with at any time. There’s even an AI for company – but more on him next week.

But Daniel, you cry, how do I control this gaming marvel? Surely no mortal control method exists! That’s where you’re wrong. Here at Opposable Towers we have three control systems planned for Salvaged! Yes, three. You can pick your jaw up off the floor now…

Salvaged has been designed for the PC/MAC audience firstly, so it can be played using the trusty mouse and keyboard combo on a single screen but here’s where things get interesting; if you have a tablet device with the Salvaged app downloaded onto it you can use your tablet to control the game! You give the orders using your tablet and the game responds. Remember, the experience is about being the commander so using this dual screen control methods allows the player to fulfil that experience. How does this system work? Well it uses a little technological marvel created here at Opposable Games called One Touch Connect™ which allows different devices to interact and work together.

We’ve also beenbuilding Salvaged from a very early stage to work in virtual reality (VR). So when you finally get your firm-but-tender hands on the game you’ll be able to slap on a VR headset and experience the game in Alex Pieterson’s shoes.

command room pic

Designing a game for VR has its own particular set of challenges and rules that are still being made and broken, many of which were discussed at great length at our SouthWest VR Conference.

We’re lucky when it comes to Salvaged as we don’t have to worry too much about the simulator sickness that VR can bring on in people. It’s a complex topic caused by a number of factors that’s still being researched with great vigour by companies such as Oculus and Valve.

With the relatively high refresh rate and low-latency of the Oculus Rift DK2, the most common offender frequently faced in the realm of VR sim sickness tends to be movement in a virtual world not mirrored by a user’s body. This usually occurs in first person shooters or other games without a fixed point of reference (such as a car or spaceship in the player’s sight). The advantage we have is that Salvaged is a seated experience; we needn’t simulate movement beyond that of a person’s head, which keeps sim sickness to a relative minimum (though this will always vary from person to person with the current state of developer kit hardware).

We’ll hopefully be bringing support to as many VR headsets as we can get our mitts so when we finally see the consumer version of the Rift, and hopefully the Vive, Salvaged should be a pretty comfortable game to play in VR.

We’re fascinated by the potential of VR to be a gaming platform here at Opposable Games. The technology is still young; developers like ourselves are still playing and learning to fully understand it, but it’s our hope that Salvaged will be the first of many true full-scale gaming experiences for VR.

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