Cloudgate Studios today rolled the Virtual Self update for Island 359, which brings full-body avatars to the hit VR dinosaur hunting game. Now, spectators can watch you stomp on critters in virtual reality.
The idea of using your feet in Island 359 isn’t new. Cloudgate Studios started working on its full-body awareness system in January (before it even had Vive Trackers to work with), and the company first showed the system to members of the press at GDC in February.
The early implementation of full-body tracking required three Vive Trackers: one for your hips, and two for your feet, and it enabled you to see your legs and body when you looked down at yourself in the game. It also enabled you to kick and stomp on the small chicken-sized dinos that chomp at your shins. The production-ready build is a bit more sophisticated than the version that Cloudgate showed us at GDC. It no longer requires three Vive Trackers, and kicking dinosaurs isn’t the only benefit.
Island 359’s Virtual Self feature supports four different tracking configurations that offer varying levels of body tracking precision. You can use one Vive Tracker to add hip tracking, which enables you to twist your torso and bend your body and Cloudgate would then estimate your foot position. With two Vive Trackers, you can strap them to your feet, which enables you to kick and stomp in the game. This method forgoes the hip tracking, which means you can’t twist your torso independent of your head and feet. With three Vive Trackers, you can have it all with no compromise.
The accuracy of your virtual avatar’s movements increases with each additional Vive Tracker. However, the Virtual Self update doesn’t require a Vive Tracker to work. Cloudgate Studios applied what it learned from the Vive Trackers do create a relatively accurate full-body avatar with just the tracking points of the Vive HMD and wand controllers. Without the Vive Trackers, your virtual feet won’t move in line with your real feet, and your virtual hips line up accurately with your real movements. But the Island 359 Virtual Self update is as much for spectators as it is for the players.
Cloudgate added a spectator mode, which enables others to watch you play from a third-person perspective. The spectator view used to be a mirror of one eye from the HMD view. Now, spectators can watch the game with a full-screen view, from behind the player’s avatar. Game Streamers, YouTubers, and VR arcades should benefit from the stabilized spectator view that Island 359s Virtual Self update offers.
The Island 359 Virtual Self update now live on Steam.
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Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.
This is the kind of thing that more VR games should be adding. Like this game shows, even without additional trackers, it should be possible to roughly estimate the position of a player's body, arms, and even legs based on the location of the headset and controllers. This would be especially good for more social games, like Sportsbar VR, which was posted about here earlier today. A VR experience like that could be more immersive if players actually had human avatars, instead of being just floating VR headsets with hats.Reply