"Finding that perfect balance between player comfort and immersion was one of the biggest challenges."
-Andrew Scharf details some tricks the Skyrim VR team used to adapt the open-world game to VR.
Creating a VR game comes with its own set of unique challenges, but, as the Skyrim VR team can attest to, adapting an existing game as a VR title is also a difficult endeavor. Speaking to VRFocus, Bethesda Game Studios lead producer Andrew Scharf shared some of the ways the dev team had to alter or introduce features to make the 6-year-old game look and feel natural in VR.
As with many VR developers, the team behind Skyrim VR knew that finding a way to handle in-game movement would be a significant challenge. While the original DualShock controller scheme can be used in the game, Scharf says that the team decided that the best way to present Skyrim as a motion-sickness free experience was to give players additional control over things like field of view and locomotion.
"VR is a very personal experience, so it’s important to allow players that flexibility. If you want to relax on the couch, you can play the game using the DualShock controller," Scharf told VRFocus. "We offer the teleportation movement type for those who may be susceptible to motion sickness, and direct movement for those who prefer smooth locomotion. Optional FOV Filters are also in place to help alleviate any discomfort while turning or moving fast."
Another challenge facing the developers came as a result of the limitations of the PlayStation VR setup itself. While some PC virtual reality setups offer multi-camera room scale VR, the PlayStation VR only uses one camera and can only track objects appearing in its cone of vision.
So while players may want to turn their body around to see something in the game, that movement would mean that the PSVR would no longer be able to track the PlayStation Move controllers used for motion controls. After some tweaking, the team found that making some parts of the UI stationary helped overcome this hurdle.
"Early on, we found that this was a bit of a challenge players would put on the headset and then turn all the way around and start going in a random direction," explains Scharf. "One solution to help keep players facing the right way was to anchor important UI elements so if you can see the compass in front of you, you’re facing in the right direction."
The full interview with more information on how Bethesda brought Skyrim to virtual reality can be found over on VRFocus.