With the Rift, you are taking unprecedented control over the user’s visual reality; this presents an unprecedented challenge to developers.
The question of “What makes for effective virtual reality?” is a broad and contextual one, and we could fill tomes with its many answers. Virtual reality is still a largely uncharted medium, waiting for creative artists and developers to unlock its full potential.
As a start, VR requires new ways of thinking about space, dimension, immersion, interaction and navigation. For instance, screen-based media tends to emphasize right angles and forward motion, and the edges of the screen are always present. This leads to what cinematographers call “framing” of shots. But in VR, there is no screen, no hard physical boundaries, and there’s nothing special about right angles. And there’s nothing to frame, unless you use real-world elements like doorways and windows for the user to look through.
Of all forms of media, VR probably comes the closest to real world experience. Just like the physical world, it surrounds you in a completely immersive environment. You can use this to create experiences that would be impossible in any other medium. We’ve been sitting in front of flat screens facing forward for too long. It is more exciting and desirable than ever to leverage the space above, below, and behind the user.
Because virtual reality is a medium that attempts to replicate one’s experience in the physical world, users are likely to have an expectation that they will be able to interact with that virtual world in the same ways they do outside of it. This can be a blessing and a curse: developers can use familiar real-world scenarios to guide users, but user expectations of the virtual interactions sometimes overreach the best practices for the medium. Balancing immersion, usability, and experience is just one of many challenges ahead of us in VR design.
This guide was written to provide you with the most basic foundations, critical for proper design of an engaging and comfortable VR experience. It’s up to you to create the worlds and experiences that are going to make VR sing—and we can’t wait for that to happen!
Be sure to visit developer.oculus.com for the latest information and discussions on designing VR content for the Rift.