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QA for Virtual Reality Games Is About Creating a Whole New Visual Vocabulary

Quality assurance for a virtual reality game is about more than weeding out bugs. As David Bowman, director of production at Crytek–who just announced a new VR game called Robinson: The Journey–tells The A.V. Club, it’s about creating a whole new visual language…and making sure that users don’t physically get ill.

He says, “In virtual reality, motion is really the critical element because you don’t have a camera that’s controlled by the game. You are the camera. Where your head turns, that’s where the camera looks, so anytime that we take what you see and it differs from what your inner ear tells you your head is doing, you get sick. And so we spent—one small example—we spent 20 different iterations on falling. We said, ‘Okay. Here. We’ll let go and you’ll fall.’ What happens when you fall in VR? Well, you throw up. It’s a bad thing; don’t do it.”

“People will take it for granted, just like we do in movies, where you say, okay, what happens when someone is having a conversation between two people on screen?” he continues. The camera looks over one person’s shoulder, then it looks over another person’s shoulder, and now we take that for granted, and we go, ‘Oh, they’re having a conversation.’ It’s the same thing in our game. In the VR experience, falling—the solution for falling—was, ‘Oh, he fell. Look, you can see he started to fall, and then it went to black, and that means he fell.’ So that’s one small example of just a lot of research that it takes to get the right experience there, and also to build that new vocabulary for people who are doing VR, because VR is different than 2D games.”