[Research Project] VR Multiplayer Sword & Magic SAO-Like With VR Chat And Beat Saber Elements

DISCLAIMER: Contents of this post might change we delve deeper~

1. Origin and Goal

Most VR games that focus on combat on the market nowadays are more focused on physics based single-player games similar to Gorn or Superhot. That is not to say that these games are bad or boring to play, they definitely are very fun to play and a delight on the senses. Most of the time at least. While swinging around a giant battleaxe and tossing an empty gun to snatch another one out of the air is very exhilarating, often you’d just find yourself flailing your arms around wildly thus tiring yourself just as quickly.

This Research Project will be mostly focused on the aspect of immersive gameplay with the hopes of creating a sense of depth for players to explore and master. Taking the concepts from Beat Saber, VR Chat and Sword Art Online(SAO) that made them so popular and noteworthy, we are aiming for an experience that possesses the rhythmic immersion Beat Saber brings, the open-ended mingling and relaxation VR Chat can provide as well as the depth and mastery a VRMMORPG can deliver.

2. Key Concepts And Ideals

Magic: Regarding magic, we hope to reach a level of casting magic similar to the world of the long time favorite of many: Harry Potter. What this will entail, ideally, is players swinging their controllers (wands / staves) in a set pattern while shouting out spell chants.

Sword and Board: This is not just limited to swords and shields, we hope to create a variety of weapons that all possess their own individual traits and unique effects. E.g: Using a flaming torch to fire a mid-range sword slash also incorporates flames into the fold, setting enemies on fire from a safe distance. And yes, skills. We will be taking much inspiration from SAO, but not all of it, to form the core of the combat system.

Elements: Fire -> Water -> Ice -> Earth > Wind. Spells and skills of different elements will have greater / lesser effect on certain other elements.

Interactivity: Everything is interact-able. Everything. Maybe.

Multiplayer (Co-op & PVP): For our initial development and design direction, we will mostly just focus on the Co-op and interactivity between players when placed under different situations and stresses. E.g. Time-limited puzzles, 30 second round competitions or chatting around a table. In terms of co-op we plan to implement a simple dungeon style mode for players to progressively pass through increasingly difficult rooms that are designed to challenge and force players to think and act quickly as a team.

Distance-Based Voice Chat: Another point we wish to explore is the usage of real-time voice chat within the game based upon distance. Contrast that to traditional communication methods where players are always fully audible to one another.

Customization: Players can create their own equipment and weapons piece by piece, completely to their wishes. This is also extended to skills, spells and abilities. [Currently not in consideration]

Art Style: Low Poly. Cartoon-ish. Can ensure that even from a distance with a VR headset with a lower resolution, objects, other players and enemies can be easily recognized.

Environment: Just like an immersive experience should be like, we hope to add a multitude of different environments that require the player to approach each with different mindsets, skills and tactics. E.g: A dark with potholes on the walls and ground where enemies can pop out of will require players to constantly wield a torch or cast fire spells to light up the environment. An open prairie with tall flowers that plant based enemies hide in to launch their attacks at players.

3. Mechanics

Casting Skills / Spells: This is where the Beat Saber inspiration comes in. Firstly, to initialize a skill / spell, a player needs to place their controllers in set positions then press a button. Next, markers in the form of balls or boxes will appear in the air before the player, marking the path they have to swing their controllers through. The player will have a limited amount of time to trigger the markers and the casting phase ends the moment the player triggers the final marker. [The final marker only appears when the player has triggered a corresponding amount of markers already]. The player’s completion rate will affect the damage / effect of the skill in question. On top of that, experienced players will hopefully be able to smoothly swing through and trigger their skills / spells much faster than most players, adding a level of mastery for players to strive for.

Skill Levels: When a player successfully casts a skill / spell, they gain skill experience according to the completion rate. Skills levels have no limits but every 20 levels gives a 1% buff to the effect and damage of the skill.

Movement: Defaulted to moving around using the trackpad on controllers but the aim is to allow both controllers and something similar to a treadmill like the Omni. Otherwise, we hope to implement a few other methods of movement. Such as: Blinking – Short distance teleportation, Dashes and Knockback.

Multiplayer: The game will be coded in with a server-client type multiplayer model, very similar to how Minecraft hosts their servers. One player hosts the server and everyone connects to that server. Since this will be in real-time (with combat and other similar aspects), the server will trust data from the client meaning that it’ll be very easy to cheat and edit your own skills / values. However, if you have control of the server you can moderate most of the cheating/hacking that will occur.

4. Limitations

Advances to the technologies related to VR and obtaining a greater immersive experience have greatly reduced the difficulty developing and learning the process of making a VRMMORPG-esque game. However, technology has not advanced to a level where we can create a game like SAO.

Currently, the greatest limitation we face is the need to worry about different kinds of equipment and the unique limitations each have. For example, the Quest is quite handy in that it’s an all in one piece of equipment. However, it can’t support the player placing their hands behind their head or crisscrossing their hands on top of one another. A big downer for a game that will expect the player to do a lot of hand swinging.

Another limitation/concern in question is the dilemma of the player turning around. Currently the player moves with the trackpad on their controllers but to turn, they have to turn their body. If they’re using a headset that requires a wire, they can easily trip over themselves while spinning and turning in game (especially if it’s the dungeon mode).