VR and Characters – Chapter 1: Adapting the height of the player

Note: This is an article of a mulit-article series. If you haven’t read the previous parts, we would encourage you to start at the Overview

Overview

Chapter 1: Adapting the height of the player (this chapter)

Chapter 2: Embedded Calibration

Chapter 3: tbd

Why do we need to adjust character height at all?

VR games are played by persons of any size: From kids, small people to giants. This challenges VR developers to design game environments in a way so they can be played by everyone, but also affects the player character, which is seen by the player himself (see next chapter) and his opponent on the other side of the field.

What this also means is that at some point, the game has to learn the correct height of the player in order to adapt accordingly (we call this Calibration).

If you played Hover Junkers, you’ve come across the calibration procedure which required you to look into a lens-kind-of-thing and confirm your height. The game will then scale the ingame character that you play accordingly, so he has the same size and arm lenght as you.

Taking it one step further

For ViKubb, we wanted to cover an additional scenario. There might be smaller people (usually kids) playing the game as well, as it is a non-violent and playful experience. That is why we integrated a threshold (we picked 1.40m for now, this might change) where the character will not scale down anymore, meaning this is the minumum height the character will get and which must be supported by the model.

Instead, if a person < 1.40m enters the game, we will scale the CameraRig up. What this means is that the size of the person, which is traversed in the digital world, is increased, making him 1.40m in the game and fitting the character again. For the player, this changes the way he perceives the game, as he seems taller. If you have tried Google Maps in VR or other games where you look down on the world, you have experienced this before. For ViKubb, this is actually a benefit as it makes it possible for smaller People to enjoy the game in the same way as a taller person.

Please see this video for a demonstration of the character / CameraRig scaling

Limitations

It should be noted that such a system can obviously be abused, as you cannot determine if the person is actually wearing the headset during calibration. That is why it is utterly important that the player does not get any benefit by being smaller or larger in the game. For ViKubb, that is the luckily case as the throwing mechanic that the game relies on is independent from the playersize.

Additionally, we limited the amount of the scaling to 0.9m min and 2.2m max. People larger or smaller will still be able to play the game, however the character representation will not work properly anymore.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2: Embedded Calibration