Virtual Reality is now officially a thing. I mean, an actual consumer thing. Anyone can buy it. It isn't just for NASA and Keanu Reeves anymore. The Rift is two months old now and so is the Vive, or just about.
But how long will it be a thing? Is it going to make it, and stick around in our everyday lives? Or is it gonna be a fad, like 3DTVs? The tech is solid, it's a game changer for sure. Yet, everyone seems to agree that VR's killer app isn't born yet. While Google's Tilt Brush might be fun and pretty efficient at demonstrating virtual reality's potential, hardcore gamers are still waiting for VR's "Doom". The game whose creator, John Carmack, has been hired by Oculus, so he could try and repeat the miracle by developing VR technology that goes further than tower defence games. So is VR being stalled strictly by software? Not quite, in my humble opinion.
VR experts seem to agree that VR's mass adoption will first come from gamers. But when we look at the most popular "flat games" (read "non-VR") of the moment, I would say that 95% of them involve foot locomotion of the main character. From first-person shooters to JRPGs to platformers, AAA titles all seem to share that common ground.
Shouldn't that fact alarm VR developers to try and solve this nausea-inducing, very important aspect of almost all financially viable gaming IP? And if they do realize how important it is, what are they actually doing about it?
The subject doesn't seem to come up that often on Reddit, or among VR developer communities out there. If we want VR to be successful and survive the first wave of early adopters and go mainstream, I think VR developers need to get agressive about this issue.
Which brings me to Tesla Motors. Let me explain.
Remember last year, when Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla opened every single one of Tesla's patents and shared them with all the other car manufacturers? Everyone first thought he was crazy, and then we remembered that it's Elon Musk. He did it so the electric car market had a better chance to survive. He figured out that his precious patents were worthless if the electric car industry was non-existent. He thought his company had a brighter future by helping out its competitors.
VR developers should steal that idea and do just the same. They should aggressively pursue solving comfortable and immersive locomotion in VR and be encouraged to share their learnings about it. Ideally, some major VR-invested corporation should offer a big cash prize to whoever solves it. The most memorable and immersive VR experiences so far are cockpit-oriented. Eve Valkyrie and Project Cars come to mind, among others. We know those work great because they feel natural to the gamer sitting on a couch or chair. It's no stretch of the imagination to imagine yourself in that situation. For foot locomotion, the teleportation hack is kinda cute, but let's face it, it's not viable in the long run.
So I truly hope that someone takes this idea and runs with it. Build a community around just this very precise challenge and work at it until they solve it, because once it's out of the way, the road ahead is paved in gold.