Here it is, the long-awaited VR update with support for Oculus Rift (and possibly other VR devices assuming they all work in exactly the same way which they probably don't). The trick is that all these updates become long-awaited as long as the wait is long enough.
This took a long time to finish, mainly due to unresolved problems in the Unity implementation of Oculus Rift. To be polite, lets just say that totally new technology is involves a steep learning curve for everyone, and be happy that we were eventually able to get it mostly working properly in Insignificant.
A few odds and ends to make VR work more smoothly were added, including an adjustable Field of Vision, as well as an easily accessible button to re-center the VR camera in case it gets out of sync, which seems like it happens a lot. It's the same as the POV switching button (the V key on keyboard or clicking in the right stick on controller).
Whether you have a VR headest or not, this update has some exciting new features, so lets cover our bases with the above video!
A cross between a Tamagotchi and the original Game Boy, this #Only90sKidsWillUnderstand device enters into the player's possession as a family heirloom of unknown origin, running a romhack designed to help with the Outsider's daily tasks by exiled Sciencemancer Cinnabar. Players can meet him and talk a bit more about the Tamagacha in the underground river area.
Not quite 8-bit, we stuck to the 2-bit color depth of the original gameboy, which effectively restricted artists to 4 shades of one color. These kinds of visual restrictions give the Tamagacha a low-tech feel, hopefully allowing it to feel at home next to the papercraft UI elements.
Replacing the older menu, which was in desperate need of a visual cleanup, this device appears in 3D space and serves as the player's menu. All of the same functionality is there, reprogrammed to work on this little device. Notably, all the icons in the Tamagacha are done in this pixel-art color scheme, many of which turned out very well!
Obviously a low-tech 3D menu would draw comparisons to the pip-boy in Fallout, but this device is different enough and has enough of its own peculiarities that calling it Insignificant's version of a pip boy would be reductive.
Hop on Popups
After researching what works and what doesn't work in VR, it was clear that the biggest issue most people have is with user interface elements appearing directly on the screen. This makes health bars and text appear to be printed on the user's eyes, making them focus and refocus their eyes in a very displeasing way.
In service of this, the Tamagacha has offloaded the entire menu to a handheld device, and various in-world popups have been added to replace the context clues that appeared on-screen.
We utilized these paper objects to make these popups more fun and visually appealing than before, if a bit more janky at times. It's a process!
Freedom Of Speech Bubbles
We've reworked the conversation system in this update, rewriting ALL npc dialogue, and adding functionality with VR.
It was unfortunate that we had to restrain movement for previous iterations of the npc dialogue system, so in addition to making the chat window appear over the npc's heads, we removed the question-askin' part of the system to allow players to always maintain free movement while talking to npcs.
Npc conversations flow much more easily now, consisting of tidbits they will run through every time you interact with them. While it seems a bit more streamlined, all of the same functionality remains; certain dialogues will unlock other dialogues with certain other npcs, and others will grant the player helpful and flavorful entries in their Compendium.
This was a tough one to solve, because the concern is always that the text will be unreadable, but the actual text on screen is virtually the same size on both. With all of these elements we have to assume people are also playing the game on a monitor or a tv screen, both of which should be able to render the text large enough to be read comfortably.
One issue we ran into is that our horribly low resolution Oculus DK1 was so low res that it was nearly impossible to read anything comfortably. But at a certain point, we had to assume that no one in their right mind would seek to use such a low resolution screen for anything other than testing purposes.
Let us know if any of these new elements like the Tamagacha or Npc chat bubbles are tough to read and we'll try to do something about it in the future!
Text is apparently a big problem in the VR development community if forums and help articles are to be believed. Many even call for the eradication of text in games, in favor of voiceover. That's not really an option for every game, especially those without a ton of money! Who doesn't like reading stuff in games though? Little off the beaten path texts often contain the best flavor and lore, so at least consider this an experiment to find a home for text in the VR experience.
Version 0.29 Release Notes
Visit this page for the full release notes, and early access people can check their inbox for a download link to the new version of the game. But wait, there's more!
Everyone can head over to the demo page, and download the demo for a freshly updated demo which includes these VR features!
Insignificant Holiday Cheer
For next time, we'll be working on the next story chapter, wherein players encounter the Onion Knights. No more details will be provided other than to say that their knightliness involves actual onions.
We've updated the Insignificant Quest Tracker, which means we're one step closer to being finished! It's all about that carrot on a stick.
Remember that we're still recruiting people to visit our Steam Greenlight page and give us a button click which for some reason ultimately determines Insignificant's success or failure as a game!
I will be taking a long weekend for end of the calendar year, non-denominational festivity pleasantries and then Scrooge myself back to work on the next story chapter. I wish you all happy non-denominational festivity pleasantries yourselves! Please enjoy them exactly as much or as little as you wish to!