Virtual Reality in the Design of 3D Games
Video games are no longer limited to characters fighting battles, completing missions, and conquering foes in two-dimensional space.
Now, there’s virtual reality—known as “VR”—a technology that meshes video games with the real, three-dimensional world. Blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, VR is helping create gaming worlds that are more realistic and immersive for today’s, technology-obsessed gamers. But this new technology hasn’t been a surprise to everyone.
For video game designers such as Dana Jan, the trend towards 3D-based games has been a long time coming. As a veteran with deep experience at high-profile game studios, Dana has helped lead the evolution of immersive video games. Higher resolution graphics, more expansive worlds, and more responsive gameplay all make for a video game that commands a player’s attention.
It’s a constant challenge to create a robust, open gaming world that can handle the data workloads needed for immersive gameplay. On the front end, Dana designs gaming environments with clues placed at just the right places for players to find and advance in games. Data processing on the back end has to handle high frame rates and high-fidelity body movements to keep up the best gaming experience.
Here are a few words of wisdom from Dana:
The Freedom of VR Worlds
“Part of the beauty of VR is we try to use lighting, to basically design environments with objects, cues, details that would maybe help people along. But, ultimately you’re as free as you are [in real life].”
Dana strives to create open gaming worlds where players can explore freely—just as they would in the real world. Clues placed subtlely throughout the virtual world help players advance in the game. It’s this potential to discover new and exciting places that’s key to holding the attention of gamers.
Tuning Virtual Reality Gaming Performance
“Performance is a big deal for us… You have to render 90 frames per second, otherwise it gets really uncomfortable for the user. So, we optimize a lot of our experiences.”
In a data-intensive technology such as VR, frame rate makes a big difference to the gaming experience. According to some game developers, VR games with less than 90 frames per second are likely to make users feel disoriented and nauseous. Not exactly the kind of immersive experience that game developers want their players to have.
Massive Data Workloads
“These [VR] worlds are very large… The speed that we can load and unload objects is a critical factor in terms of unlocking the freedom of your [gaming] experience.”
All the data storage and real-time computing that goes into running a VR game has to happen somewhere. CPUs, GPUs, and other devices are responsible for handling the physics computations from players’ movements during gameplay. For cloud-based video games, computing and processing is often done in a network of datacenters around the world.
With more immersive experiences, VR games might continue to move out of the realm of “virtual” and augment our everyday lives.
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