Room-scale VR is a big deal, and developers are making a lot of noise about it.
A big question that has yet to be answered for the HTC Vive is what games will be available at launch. One of the big features to this VR setup is the ability to enjoy room-scale games and apps, but that only matters if there's a healthy selection of those games to pay for and enjoy when you get the headset. We know there's been growing support for seated VR experiences being made for both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive — Elite: Dangerous, for example — but what about wandering around and doing things?
It's looking like there's going to be quite a bit available in the not-too-distant future to take advantage of the HTC Vive's room-scale features. What's especially cool about this is how many developers are eager to share their progress as these titles are being developed.
Room-scale interactions mean a couple of different things. Out of the demos we've seen so far, it frequently means walking back and forth between counters to pick up tools so you can interact with something in the center of the room. The Portal-based lab demo, cooking demo, and Job Simulator by Owlchemy Labs fit into this category. All incredible things to try, and a great way to introduce people to Vive interactions. There are also experiences like Tilt Brush, which turns the entire space your HTC Vive lightboxes can see into a canvas for you to paint on and walk through. These are just the things we've seen in the demos HTC has been taking around the world. The things being made for Vive by other woks gets a whole lot more engaging.
If you're looking for action, the folks at Stress Level Zero turn your room into a hovercraft that you fly around to shoot at other hovercraft. The appropriately named Hover Junkers lets you decide where to fortify your floating mess box and even works as a local multiplayer game. Of course, that would mean having a space where two HTC Vive could play nice in the same building. Not overly likely, but an incredibly fun thing to think about should the opportunity arise.
If you're down for more of a strategy/action room-scale game, XLR by Metaware Limited seems like the way to go. Instead of fighting directly against your opponents, XLR is a first-person tower defense game. You do a fair bit of shooting as critters come to attack your ship, but you also have turrets that need to be deployed and maintained to help you fend off waves of attacks. The game movement is largely focused on teleporting from place to place on the map, but it's visually impressive and full of all the loud noises that make shooters fun.
Triangular Pixel's Unseen Diplomacy is possibly the most interesting of the room-scale games in development for the HTC Vive. The big bragging point for this game is that is uses every inch of your room to generate puzzles for you to wander through. You'll need to reach up to your ceiling to unscrew something, crawl through a duct on the floor to access another room, and occasionally sort through an entire wall of drawers to find what you're looking for to advance. It's the kind of thing you'll look even more ridiculous doing in front of strangers, but the game itself looks like hours of fun.
This is a small handful of the games that are under development in the open. As we get closer to launch, or if you're paying attention to the Steam store, you'll see there's a whole lot more going on. From flying spaceships to drawing doodles in mid-air, room-scale VR is going to be a big deal this year. Be sure to add the VR game you're most looking forward to in the comments below!