Becoming a Butterfly – Part 2: Flight
Simulator Sickness & User Comfort
User comfort is an important topic in VR, particularly as VR experiences have a greater tendency to cause simulator sickness in users. It is especially important here, as even with the basic flight mechanics described above, this simulation is already in the “intense” category. While not all researchers agree on the root causes of simulator sickness, for VR developers it is generally accepted that a primary trigger for many users is related to user movement and rotation in the virtual world, particularly when this does not match the users’ movement and/or rotation in the physical world.
In this simulation, players can fly relatively quickly (even 12 mph is quite fast when you consider how small a monarch is), bank around sharp corners, and land and take off from vertical surfaces. This means that there is a good chance it could cause simulator sickness in certain sensitive players.
In an effort to avoid this, I’ve added a vignette mechanic to this prototype that automatically activates when the player is turning. This can be more comfortable for users as it essentially narrows the user’s field of view, masking peripheral visual cues that trigger simulator sickness for many.
The mask I’m using for the vignette is based on a compound eye simulator called toBeeView, which takes images and generates a simulated version as seen through the compound eyes of a bee, butterfly, or other arthropod. (Players will be able to turn this feature off in the simulation.)
That’s all for this month’s post.
Up next: our first public build, and building a new environment as seen by a butterfly