VR Locomotion Design - Techniques and Best Practices

A number of useful locomotion techniques that improve comfort in VR have emerged over the years, thanks to the effort of many developers, innovators, and researchers. This section describes some of the more widely used techniques to maximize comfort, usability, and accessibility.

Design TechniqueConcepts Included
Improved Turning and TeleportationBlinks, snap turns, quick turns, quantized turns, smooth turns, position warp, projected avatars, teleport portals.
Minimizing AccelerationDuration and frequency of acceleration, quantized velocity, stepped translations, axes of movement, camera elevation, soft camera collisions.
Reducing Optic FlowRealistic walk/run speeds, vignettes, occlusion of surroundings, temporal occlusion, peripheral vision occlusion, texture detail.
Environmental ConsiderationsMovement on slopes, forward movement, distance from walls, elevators and stairs design, slope and stair teleportation.
Sensory ReinforcementFramerate and head tracking, independent visual backgrounds (IVB), simulated activities, spatial sound effects.

The importance of supporting multiple techniques

People have different physical needs, control preferences, and responses to discomfort triggers. It’s important to test your application with as many people as possible to learn about user expectations and identify any scenarios that are likely to cause discomfort. This will help you select locomotion options that will allow your audience to move the way that works best for them.

Simplify the experience for choosing comfort options

While it’s important to provide useful options for locomotion, too many can overwhelm the user. It’s a good idea to offer a choice between recommended, comfortable, and advanced settings when the application is launched for the first time.

  • Recommended: Settings your team believes to deliver the best overall experience.
  • Comfortable: Settings that provide the most comfortable experience. Users generally know their tolerances for comfort in VR, and choosing between this and recommended settings will be an easy choice for most of them.
  • Advanced: Settings that provide a full range of customizations. Mostly for users who have specific preferences for how to control their movement.

Users often have strong preferences for how they interact with virtual environments, and they may share negative reviews if the app doesn’t provide the locomotion features and options they prefer. While there is still much to discover about locomotion and comfort in VR, there are some control systems and comfort features that users have come to expect. Therefore, it is important to support them whenever possible.