This is translated version of Q&A part of the original interview with GAMEPLUS.
To read the full article (Korean), click here.
VIRTUAL REALITY FOR EVERYONE
Interview with GAMEPLUS
Q1. Please tell us about the GAMEPLUS and PaperStick.
Q2. It’s very impressive that you designed both mobile VR game and its own controller. Have you ever made a game before?
> Yes, but it was just for fun. There’s a long way to go. Before that, I used to sell the ‘RESTBOARD’, an armrest for a desk which I invented.
Q3. So how come you have the idea of PaperStick first?
> Due to the lack of controller, it was quite hard to design a game for Cardboard, not to speak of demanding to buy expensive Bluetooth controller. That’s why I decided to design the paper controller.
▲ Google Cardboard
Source | Google Cardboard
Q4. What was it like developing the PaperStick?
> Image recognition technology using camera was already there, so any developer who has interest in it could make it without much difficulty. So I devoted most of the time to making user-friendly design.
Developing PaperStick itself had been plain sailing, however, considering the properties of image recognition tech using camera, it was tough to design the game having its restricted recognition rate in mind. But the biggest challenge of all was dealing with motion sickness. I’ll explain this later in this interview.
▲ PaperStick Ver. 1 (above) and Ver.2 (below)
Half-folded version (below) is better recognized compared to bar-shaped version (above).
Q5. PaperStick had been reported several times through the foreign press, which lead to this interview consequently. Have you ever had some inquiries about utilizing PaperStick since then?
> Anyone can use the PaperStick without permission because it is not patented tech. I received some inquiries about how to apply image recognition engine to a game.
Q6. There are two games out now which using PaperStick, 'Poppist VR' and 'Milky Dive VR', and I found that the PaperStick can perform various actions in the game from shooting to running and jumping. What else can the PaperStick do?
> It can do so many different things as long as it overcomes its limited recognition rate. You can feed and pat your pet with the controller like it's your hand, or even drive as if it’s a wheel.
I think the most practical use, however, would be for the laser beam UI and the natural locomotion system. Because locomotion and UI are very essential elements of most VR contents.
▲ 'Poppist VR' (above) and recently released 'Milky Dive VR' (below)
'Poppist VR' is a shooter which you shoot the marked balloon, and 'Milky Dive VR' is a platformer you can use the PaperStick to control direction and speed and to jump.
Q7. PaperStick is free and two games are selling for ￦1,000 each. Assuming some expenses and time would have been invested, It seems more than moderate pricing. I wonder what is your main purpose for selling those games.
> The prime object of the PaperStick project is having as many people as possible experiencing VR controller at the lowest price. By the same token, I recently released the 'Poppist VR' free.
Q8. As the VR hardware market gets bigger, the aftermarket is also expected to expand accordingly. Do you think you'll going to develop the game along with the PaperStick then?
> I think we will see the built-in hand tracking camera on mobile VR system soon, and I think it may be very powerful but cheap. In terms of its performance and function, hand tracking controller would be great forward compatible to the PaperStick. When those controllers become common enough, maybe I might stop developing the PaperStick.
Q9. I would like to know GAMEPLUS’s future plan. First of all, do you have any particular genre you want to develop next?
> Whatever it would be, I would try as long as I could be sure that is original and worth to do. It doesn’t have to be a game actually. I just got a patent for the sports equipment as well.
Q10. Games from GAMEPLUS currently support Android only. Do you have any plan to support iOS or any other mobile device?
> I haven’t decided the next game platform yet. I’m considering it with all the options, but VR is top priority in any case.
Mobile device is kind of accessible gateway to experience VR. However, it becomes less legible if it takes diamond shape sub-pixel arrangement. I think it would be better to start at least browsing the internet on the mobile device comes stable.
Q11. Then would it be possible to see PC or console games?
>Yes, I’m considering PC and console along with mobile platform.
I think the high-end VR equipment ought to have good value for its price, and to do that it requires full body tracking. I could support different platforms if there’s anyone who offers full body tracker at reasonable price. I’m also thinking of the games for the entry-level VR devices too.
Q12. This is the last question. Do you have anything you want to say before you go?
The inventive way out of the VR sickness, the biggest challenge of VR.
> (following Q4) I would like to explain the VR sickness and my own research on this matter in detail.
It was pretty easy to find someone who suffers from VR sickness on online communities. As a developer, I felt bad for those people who had that problem, include myself once. For that reason, I kept posting some solutions of my own for that matter on my Facebook.
VR Sickness occurs quite commonly in the first person view games. In severe cases, it is almost impossible to walk on a few steps. The first person view had been expected to be the most effective way to show VR immersiveness. But if it were too uncomfortable to walk in those games, it would be the most big challenge that developers and might-be Killer title must deal with from even on the planning stage.
That’s the main reason that i focused on studying the comfortable locomotion method on relatively simple VR games, and the part of the result has gone public on the cardboard game that recently released. This is more elaborated explanation on that result which is hard to give solely on the game.
Source | GAMEPLUS
The image above is showing why motion sickness occurs when you use gamepad on sliding locomotion system.
When the direction of the stick, the player tilts to move, and the controller, the player holds, are not match each other, the motion sickness occurs as much as the difference in angle between the stick and the controller. In VR, the player moves around much and finds it hard to see controller within sight. Therefore, the player can't hold the controller in the right direction all the time and can't see the stick's and controller's direction easily.
To prevent the confusion, it is the first important requirement having stick moves accordingly only its direction regardless of the controller.
. . .
But when the player attempts to make quick switch, it still remains as a problem that regular stick or trackpad can’t help maintain the sense of equilibrium(sense of balance).
Player uses both directional information obtained from the fingers and sight(visual) from long before. When you see the standard monitor, it is easy to know the direction of movement because the game screen and the outside area of the monitor are clearly distinct. However, it is hard to figure out the moving direction in VR due to its wide FOV(field of view).
Game needs to show something stationary in the screen to use visual information of VR, but it can take the risk of interrupting the immersion sometimes. So I felt the necessity of supplementing the information needed to sense of balance instead of visual information.
Then I found the effective way to do so. It can help the player extend one’s somatosensory system and I’ll explain how it works below with the image.
Source | GAMEPLUS
On the right, you can see how the player grips the VR controller generally. The player grips it with five fingers and palm and then use it with entire arm.
Our hands do have favorable condition compared with other body parts to receive somatosensory input due to the numerous cutaneous sensation on hands and the proprioceptors distributed to the joints, bones, and muscles of the forearm.
That is the second important requirement to improve the existing one-finger stick control system to let the player know the stick’s tilting direction through the somatosensory system.
. . .
The ‘Leaning Control System(LCS)’ I designed is the system which satisfies all requirements as mentioned above. This is how it works :
Source | GAMEPLUS
LCS employs the whole controller as a stick, so the player can get the direction of the stick intuitively. Furthermore, its range, reaching almost 90 degrees, allows the player to control the speed of walking through rushing. These make it possible to learn how to control faster than any other means.
Particularly, physical interactive games which support weighty peripherals such as guns or swords are very suitable for hardcore gaming as it stimulates somatosensory system much more. Of course you can see the same improvement when using rather light PaperStick.
When you use PaperStick, however, you should hold it upright to stop moving because there is no 'Move' button due to its lack of sensitivity. 'Move' button has to be provided by default basically so the players make a move only when they are pushing the button.
There is no restriction on applying LCS to VR peripherals. From mobile gear to high ends, it is applicable to any hardware only it can recognize its lean.
That’s it for my explanation. I have patented the system built upon the main points I said above, and, as humble contribution towards popularizing VR, I decided to provide the right to use of LCS free.You can immediately apply LCS to your VR contents under development or already developed, as a patch in that case.
I hope that this invention could give VR lovers joy and happiness, and I really appreciate Virtualworld letting me have such a precious opportunity to tell my ideas to people. Thank you.