Rocket Falls

Strap into your jetpack and battle for resources against other players in a virtual post-apocalyptic reality.


A True VR First Person Shooter

Our favorite genre as PC gamers is the online multiplayer first-person shooter. While there are “classic” games such as Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 that have been retrofitted to work in VR, no new game has been designed from the ground up to take the genre to the next level in VR. Therefore, we made the game that we have been dreaming of playing ever since we saw the potential of Oculus.

Rocket Falls is inspired by Quake, Tanaurs, and countless Half-Life modifications. Our favorite parts of each of these games have been reimagined for VR. During testing we have had several VR "LAN parties" in Rocket Falls; these have been the most fun gameplay experiences my beta testers and I have had in a long time.

Game Mechanics. Strap into your jetpack and battle for resources against other players in a virtual post-apocalyptic reality.

“After the rockets fell there was barely anything of value left in this world. The resources that were not destroyed are fought over by competing rebel factions. Now, we fight to survive.”

Each multiplayer online game lasts ten minutes. Players join either the red faction or blue faction. After spawning, each team attempts to gain control of a capture point surrounding scarce resources. To reach the resources players must use their jetpack, but they need to make sure not to overheat or malfunction, either of which will cause them to fall. A jetpack can overheat if used continuously; and will malfunction if hit by a laser from a player of an opposing faction. An overheated or malfunctioning jetpack will emit black smoke; a properly functioning jetpack that is producing thrust will emit a bright flame in the color of the player’s faction and a white exhaust trail that can be seen by enemies. A player can also use their rocket launcher to attack and defend the resources. The explosion from the rocket blast will deal damage to an enemy player. A player from a faction must remain next to the resources for a period of time to secure them--the capture point will change from green to the player’s faction color. Players from the other faction may neutralize the point to the green color, and then re-capture the point by staying within the capture point for a period of time. At the end of the ten minute match, the faction that had control of the resources for the longest time wins

Capture point concept Railgun hit concept

Innovative Features

Making a great VR FPS requires more than simply using an Oculus to play a traditional FPS game. Rocket Falls was designed to include:

  • VR FPS Controls;
  • VR Heads-Up Display (“HUD”) and User Interface (“UI”); and
  • Iron sights for aiming weaponry.

VR FPS Controls. A control scheme that enables gameplay throughout and across the vertical dimension has been created. We developed a control scheme which works for both a FPS and for a flight simulation type game. On the ground the control scheme using the gamepad is one that most FPS gamers will find very familiar. When the jetpack is enabled the gamepad control scheme seamlessly transitions to include jetpack throttle and the walking directional control becomes a body orientation and thrust vectoring control. Run the Rocket Falls tutorial for a hands-on “crash course” Here's a video of the tutorial..

Controls

VR HUD and UI. We have tried to adapt features that have made cockpit-based games so successful in VR to the multiplayer FPS genre. Rocket Falls implements a unique real-space HUD that allows the player to feel as though virtual gauges are floating in front them while being on foot or flying through the air. When the jetpack is switched on, the player is wrapped in a minimalistic virtual cockpit that helps provide orientation reference in the air.

Flight HUD

Displaying the entire virtual cockpit around the player

In-game HUD

In-game view of HUD and virtual cockpit

Iron Sights. The intuitive feel of using iron sights to aim weaponry eliminates the awkwardness of face aiming with a dot in the middle of the screen, a problem that has stifled the adaptation of first-person shooters in VR. Using iron-sights to shoot makes aiming fun and intuitive and feels more like real-world target shooting with a "cheek weld," instead of moving a cursor in the center of the screen with your face. Also, the ability to switch the iron sights from one eye to the other makes aiming comfortable for anyone, including those in the left-eye dominant minority.

Railgun Aiming

To-do List

  • Swivel-Chair Mode. Making sure the default control scheme felt right took a lot of time. We have been testing an initial version of a swivel chair mode, but because of the HMD aiming and turning in air, it is still under development. It worked great on the ground, but needs additional work for the flying mode.
  • Player Animations. Animations including inverse kinematics to convey other players current aiming direction and weapon choice.
  • More Maps. There are currently three different maps that each lend themselves to different gameplay experiences. We would like to create additional maps that provide further gameplay varieties.
  • Server Browser. More robust server browser to enable players to know more about the servers and games that they are joining.
  • Event Messages. In-room "event messages" to provide further context to game events and scoring attribution (e.g., "HappySlice Joined Blue Team", "HappySlice forced eggbert to crater").

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