Minecraft In VR: A Dizzying Experience:

Minecraft is one of the most popular games on the market, and it’s no surprise that it’s making the jump to VR with a little help from Oculus. However, the experience might not be for everyone.

Two Options

The demo used the combination of the Rift HMD and an Xbox One controller. At the start of the game, you are transported to a virtual living room. You can use the screen in front of you to play Minecraft, or you can press a button on the controller to enter the game in first-person view. In this alternate view, you can look around by turning your head, but you can also use the right analog stick to rotate the camera by a few degrees.

The short demo was a tour of sorts. After learning the basic mechanics of the game, you would travel to other parts of the built world to kill a few zombies, watch a series of flaming arrows, and play with some chickens. The game would end after you reached a chest filled with priceless gems. Initially, it seemed strange that there were two ways to play the game, but after a few minutes walking around in the pixelated world, I found out the real purpose of the living room setup, the hard way.

Minecraft VR At Xbox Spring Showcase 2016

The Nausea

On my first playthrough of the game, I briefly played in the virtual living room before hopping into the actual Minecraft world. However, the feeling of nausea came around after a few seconds in the unique VR view. Throughout the demo, I had to be cautious about the speed of my head turns and my character’s overall movement. When combined, those two actions can result in a dizzying experience.

Eventually, the nausea somewhat subsided near the end of the demo. However, there were issues with the game recording software, so video footage wasn’t available. I had a slightly better experience on my second run through of the game (which is the video included in this story), but my dizziness lingered as I made my way through the map.

Nausea has not been an issue for me in most of the VR games I’ve played. Even EVE: Valkyrie, with its fast-paced space flight action, didn’t make me feel sick, but Minecraft, a simple game of creativity and survival, gave me an uncomfortable experience in VR. It seems, then, that the virtual living room was created for those who might have issues playing the game in a true VR mode.

Back To The Drawing Board

Even though there are two ways to play the game in VR, Minecraft doesn’t pass with flying colors. There needs to be a way to fix the issue so that everyone can play the game as it was meant to be presented in VR instead of opting to play in a virtual living room.

We are now less than a month away from the release of the Oculus Rift, and the addition of Minecraft to the company’s VR content should attract more people to try out the device. But in its current state, the user experience for Minecraft needs to improve. Otherwise, there will be a group of players that will feel left out from the real experience due to the game’s nauseating effect.

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  • Joe Black
    I hear the nausea issue is much less pronounced for the Vive.
  • DavidC1
    Nevermind VR. I get dizzy in Minecraft just playing on PC. I get used to it as I play longer, but usually no longer than 2 hours. Something about the game I guess.

    Remember the HL2 dizziness issue few years ago?
  • 8R_Scotch
    I hear the nausea issue is much less pronounced for the Vive.

    In Minecraft or in general?

    Seems obvious that the principal factor is movement by controller, instead of some analog of walking or some way of detaching your movement from your body like a platform, cockpit or vehicle.

    Speed of movement is also an issue and acceleration moreso, your body doesn't move like FPS or Minecraft, when you walk you accelerate a bit before moving, then decelerate before stopping... the instant stops and moves don't accompany the expected G forces that your body expects. There's also the issue of lateral and backwards speed not being equal, but I believe that's secondary.

    Why on earth there would be a way to move your view other than moving your head and turning is beyond me, that's more or less guaranteed to cause nausea, like in first-person games that take over the camera all of a sudden.

    What's odd is that these things have been pointed out/discovered by Occulus itself, they mostly apply to FPS, but first-person whacker/miners are obviously just as bad. Shouldn't be a surprise for them, and I was kind of impressed that they announced Minecraft as a launch title for the Rift.

    It's not that easy an issue to fix, you'd need to overhaul movement, speed and acceleration in the game, which requires you overhaul and rebalance enemies and maybe distances. That'd take creating an alternate version of Minecraft, so not that simple to resolve.

    And I agree with DavidC1, I also get dizzy on desktop Minecraft, just try making a spiral staircase to your underground mine/tunnels and going up them fast, with the walls/steps hitting you on the face constantly as you jump. Imagine that on VR...