Mojang AB, the Swedish video game developer, released a VR free update to the Windows 10 version of their ever-popular game, Minecraft.
The updated, issued on August 15th, will let Oculus Rift owners immerse themselves into the world of Minecraft in Virtual Reality. Mojang had already released a Minecraft version exclusive to a virtual reality headset: the Samsung Gear VR. After many months of hard work to make a successful port of Minecraft for the Gear VR, the VR team at Mojang began working for a version compatible with the Oculus Rift.
Features for this Oculus version of Minecraft include a built-in keyboard and mouse support, Multisample Antialiasing (MSAA) support for improved image quality, optimized performance with Windows 10 DX11.
It also comes with additional render distance options that make use of the more powerful VR cards and more extensive and granular setting customization options that allow fine-tuning the experience to taste, and this is on top of the previous feature set from the Gear VR version.
It also features more extensive and granular setting customization options that allow fine-tuning the experience to taste, and this is all on top of the previous feature set from the Gear VR version.
What about VR nausea?
The update includes some exciting changes to help diminish the sickness, and nausea felt during VR gameplay: a Virtual Living Room and various changes in how the player character moves in the game.
The first feature is sort of an “emergency button” that will eject the player from the Minecraft world into a virtual living room, where they can keep playing Minecraft on a 2D screen inside the game, players can return to the normal view by pressing the button again.
The second feature is various changes in how players move, the most significant and noticeable change in how players turn in the game. For example, instead of a smooth arc, the camera movement is broken into 22.5-degree turns — a series of jerky, abrupt jumps as the player turns around.
While it sounds rather weird, Mojang says that it significantly improves the game experience, something backed up by testing from Microsoft: the jerky movement helps reduce nausea, without having players lose control of their game.
These changes prove necessary, as one of the weaknesses of VR gaming is its propensity to cause simulator sickness in users. Gamers can experience illness given that their brain is convinced that what the player is being presented with is real, and not an illusion.
VR gaming can cause nausea and discomfort in game-submerged players. Hopefully, further testing can bring forward more features to help reduce simulator sickness in VR gaming.
About the Oculus Rift
The Oculus Rift is a Virtual Reality headset, developed by the American virtual reality technology company Oculus VR. The product was born following a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2012, where the once-independent company managed to raise $2.5 million to fund the project.
As stated by the company itself, the Rift is first and foremost a gaming device. Nonetheless, the Oculus Rift can also be used for watching spherical 360° videos, stereoscopic spherical (360° 3D) videos, and ‘virtual reality movies’, and social applications are in development. The company, Oculus, was purchased by Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion.