A few words about VRChat and Tower Unite


#1

(TL;DR At the bottom.)

First of all, I love both games

  • These are just some observations I’ve had as they’re quite similar, with both of them relying heavily on social interaction. I’d like to hear what everyone else’s thoughts are. Feel free to disagree or bring up your own points as well.

    After talking on Discord with a few friends, we noted that some people might feel like VRChat’s popularity is a threat to Tower Unite’s success. Why do I think this assumption is made? They’re both social experiences with no real endgame objective, and rely heavily on the community to perpetually keep them interesting. This might lead some people to believe that they’ll be competing to become the definitive social “hangout” game; here’s why I think they won’t.

##Fundamentals and goals of each game

  • VRChat and Tower Unite do not share the same fundamental goals. In short, Tower is about playing games, earning units, and customizing your experience with others, while VRChat is about showing off custom avatars, custom maps, and building your experience through communicating with others.

##The future of each game

  • I predict that both are going to thrive but have very different communities, because they attract different kinds of players. “The Best of Everything” was a slogan of Gmod tower, because it combined the best features of community made Garry’s Mod servers into one convenient place. There were gamemodes, the theater, the condos, and the shops. The social experience was more of an addendum as the community grew larger, and came to be embraced by the developers. Most were in early GMT for the minigames, as shown by the player counts in the gameworld servers which were usually twice that of the plaza.

    VRChat has none of this to offer. I believe the most polarizing difference of all is that Tower was designed around playing games with others. There are no player homes in VRChat, barely any fun or working minigames, and no shops to buy anything because there is no currency. It’s an example where, if you ask me, too many things are left to the community. It’s at a point where there really is no “vanilla” experience, because there is little to no core of the game at all. It becomes what the community makes it.

##Virtual reality as a selling point

  • With the advent of affordable VR headsets, many people have flocked to VRChat to get the most immersive social experience. There’s no doubt that playing in VR gives you a greater sense of presence and scale, and is a feature that has been requested multiple times for Tower Unite. It was even mentioned in the original Kickstarter, and was available in the (very) first builds of Tower Unite if I recall correctly. As many of you know, though, it was removed with an Unreal engine update which essentially killed it off for now. Call VR a gimmick or a marvel, it’s one of the major reasons VRChat has had any success at all; it was its only claim to fame. If it were released in desktop-only mode on steam today under a different name, it would be bringing nothing new to the table that other games haven’t already done before (and inarguably better), and likely would fade into obscurity.

##In defense of VRChat

  • VRChat is not a bad game. Let me make this clear. Not only is it a free experience, so you didn’t waste your money if you don’t like it, but it’s playable in desktop mode to be more accessible to anyone with a computer. On top of this, VRChat has a level of customization that few or no other social games have reached, rivaled possibly only by Second Life. This is because the entire game is in Unity, an often underestimated platform. It’s shown to be extremely powerful when used correctly, with games such as Kerbal Space Program being able to accurately simulate aerodynamics and universe-scale physics in Unity.

    VRChat’s greatest strength comes from the fact that you can create very advanced avatars and maps in a relatively easy-to-learn environment. No programming knowledge needed, and with a few tutorials on Youtube, you could be rigging your own models within a couple of hours. The downside is that the skill floor for learning Unity is still more than what some people are willing or able to learn, so it’s not for absolute beginners.

    It should be said that using VR with not only a headset, but with hand controllers as well is a surreal experience. To become someone or something else entirely, complete with head and hand motion brings an unprecedented level of presence and online interaction. When you talk to another player, your body language as well as your voice is sent through to them, more than just a virtual mouth moving on a character. It’s so real feeling that sometimes you might lose your sense of self, at least in my experience in longer sessions.

##Final thoughts

  • If there’s any takeaway from this, it’s that there are always improvements to be made in both games. Neither of them is out to replace the other. We’ll always have Tower for gamemodes and condos, and VRChat for Virtual Reality interactions and more advanced customization.

    It doesn’t have to be a choice between one or the other. Both Tower and VRChat excel at what they set out to do, though improvements could be made in each of them. Maybe Tower will get VR Support some day, or VRChat will have more advanced games to play, but for now, just play whatever you’d like. That’s all.

(TL;DR) Tower Unite and VRChat are not competitors since they have vastly different intentions as a game.


#2

Personally, I would love a VR implementation, even if it were just in the Condos and Plaza. I do believe in one of their dev-logs that they actually mentioned something about VR, and how they didn’t know about the mechanics of VR before it came out, so they don’t know if they would add it.
The problem with adding it is that you would likely see people teleporting places because of VR. This can ruin the immersion for other players. If they had a smooth locomotion, that alienates the players who get motion sickness from that kind of motion. Probably the best solution to this is just have something in-game that lets players know who else is in VR. Like maybe there is a VR bubble above their head, or the other players can see the teleport line/circle thing, so they can at least see where the players are headed.
However, there are many solutions to immersiveness for everyone for a VR thing. You could make it so that only condos allow VR. You could make it so that there are VR only servers. You could do a lot of things.

However, the main issue with VR is probably gameworlds. Teleporting in a game like Virus would give a massive advantage to the VR players. Probably only a few gameworlds could support VR. The games that wouldn’t really give an advantage, like Minigolf.
There are workarounds for things like Zombie Massacre. Zombie Massacre is a top-down game. So in VR, you could use one VR controller as a movement direction and the other controller as a fire direction, all from a top-down perspective so that players don’t get motion sick.

All in all, I would love VR implementation. Seeing the plaza and condos in VR would be incredible, and I can guarantee I would break down in tears if I got to walk around Lobby 1 in VR.


#3

I don’t even know how VR would work in Tower, how would you transition from a first person perspective (Plaza) to a third person perspective (Minigolf, Ballrace) while in VR? It would obviously be, at best, really strange to play ball race in VR, or, at worst, nightmarishly nauseating for some.


#4

Minigolf could be done in a way where your camera isn’t following the ball. You get to walk around a little mini world basically. An example of a game like this would be Kittypocolypse. In this game, there is a mini world underneath you, and you are not in the eyes of anyone. For minigolf, you could just point to determine power and direction.


#5

There’s many reasons why we haven’t implemented VR into Tower Unite at this stage.

First reason is when we first discussed it, VR was at a very early stage (there was just Oculus and a little bit of Vive). Room scale VR then started happening, and the whole scene changed.

Adding VR to Tower Unite is a huge task. We’d have to:

  • research into what things people would want to be VR in our game
  • figure out what Game Worlds could have VR and which cannot
  • decide if we’re gonna use Oculus or Vive
  • grab our own set of headsets (which will be costly upfront)
  • change the UI (or make new UI) just for VR
  • update the artwork to make sure it works for VR
  • add new VR movement controls
  • ensure FPS is VR ready
  • test extensively

And that’s just to get it going! After that we’d need to:

  • add new features that give players reasons to use VR, such as moving objects around or moving arms
  • handle networking all the VR players and their interactions with other players
  • and discover any new VR features we want to add

While there are some users that have VR, we find that it would be best to focus on features that can be used by every player (VR or not). Not everyone can afford a VR headset or a computer rig that is powerful enough to run it.

Our goals are vastly different. We’re not making a VR game. We’re making a virtual world party game.


#6

That sounds kinda cool, it might be kinda awkward sometimes though, when you making a shot in a cramped area.

Now, what could you do for Zombie massacre? The game pretty much requires a top down perspective.


#7

With Zombie Massacre you could again do the world view, but have everything that your character can’t see submerged in either a blur or darkness. One controller controls movement direction and the other controls the direction you fire. You can probably have an option to move the world with your character, or you could have the option to physically press a button to move the camera.


#8

Yeah, I guess it’s easy to forget how much goes into implementing it. I’d much rather see Tower Unite version 1.0 release on time rather than beta version 0.1 with VR support within the same time frame. Thanks for the response.


#9

It’s nice to read someones thoughts on this written out. Whenever someone is speculating on the future of tower I’ve seen multiple people start to compare it to VRChat’s success. I don’t think the two should be compared for two reasons: Custom Player Models and Gameplay.

Custom Player Models
Before VRChat blew up I’d see a lot of .webms pop up on sites of Hank hill and Agumon hanging out at a tavern, and people were always asking what game they were looking at. Being able to pick from a massive catalog of recognizable characters leads to hilarious scenarios you thought you’d never see in a game. This leads to youtubers and streamers coming in getting views because they’re petting anime girls as Peter Griffon while a Darth Vader dances in the background. These youtubers capturing “random” humor with recognizable franchise mascots starts blowing up, which of course snowballs into popular memes. The dreaded “Ugandan Knuckles” was a massive boost to the games popularity, and I hear people who don’t even play many videogames saying his stupid catchphrase. If you like this meme that’s fine, it was kinda funny just done to death.

This is where I think one of Tower’s greatest weaknesses comes in: the horrible player models. No offense, its early access and they are just place holders and I get it. But if you don’t feel like being a whacky skeleton or a bopping milk box, your only option is a Disney club preteen.

Where VRchat is garnering all its interest, Tower is probably scaring away potential customers at the moment. You have three options to represent yourself, and two of them are basically gag models. I was so pumped when they were working on the knight model and I just remembered its gone.

I think Workshop Player models will be one of the updates that brings a bigger batch of new players because aside from the novelty of well captured arm and hand gestures, It’ll now have the primary ingredient of VRChat’s popularity. We’ll be able to accurately represent ourselves in our virtual space, as well as create interesting scenarios with recognizable characters.

Gameplay
This is where you’re really comparing apples to oranges. Gameplay is something that Tower Unite is jam packed full of, and VRChat is barren of. Not saying that as a reason Tower is better, but as a reason why you shouldn’t compare the two.

Tower offers variety in gameplay so it can scratch a wide assortment of itches, whether its just golf and bowling or intense FPS. We’re only at roughly half game worlds playable and no arcade yet, but there is fantastic variety already. If all these games were built around VR controls, they’d be very different and much more enduring to play.

Meanwhile VRchat offers the opposite. The main draw to gameplay is the well captured body controls. This doesn’t really fuel gameplay scenarios, but it fuels social interactions greatly. There are fewer activities with no sort of progression or reward systems in place (as far as I know correct me if I’m wrong). VRchat focuses almost exclusively on the social aspect, and I honestly think its more of a chat program than it is a videogame. MSN Messanger had bowling AND Uno. Not a jab though, Its core goal is creating virtual social environments and they have excelled. They never promised a variety of games to play, that’s something Tower promises and excels at already.

Sorry for the wall of text.

(TL;DR):
VRChat’s popularity is almost completely owed to custom player models leading to youtube popularity and memes. This is something Tower will be capable of in the future but currently is not. Tower encourages a social environment but also puts a huge emphasis on gameplay variety, something VRchat does not. Throw in the VR factor and you’re comparing apples to oranges.

(Also I am still salty about the knight player model getting scrapped.)


#10

I will still never understand this. You keep using room scale as an excuse to not implement it. That’s a terrible reason not to do it. Not all VR games need room scale. Subnautica is played seated with a gamepad and it’s one of the best VR games out there. Roomscale is not at all a requirement for VR. This game doesn’t need roomscale and you shouldn’t waste your time on it. As for what could work in the VR, the whole game would lend itself well to VR. As for Vive or Oculus, steamvr natively supports both, so if you add support for one, it automatically supports both. New movement controls are unnecessary as this game wouldn’t need roomscale. It already has controller support and that’s fine. As for a reason to use VR, the added immersion is plenty enough of a reason. Every flat screen game would be better in vr, just for the immersion alone. Feeling like you’re inside the game is incredible. Again, networking is irrelevant because it would function identically with or without VR. The only valid point is making a new VR ui.

Tl;dr Forget about roomscale. It’s far from critical. Add head tracking and a new HUD and you’ll have a fantastic VR game.

Edit: also, as for the number of users that have VR, just look how much VR support has been requested for years now

http://forums.pixeltailgames.com/search?q=VR%20support

Besides that, you could attract a whole new user base of VR users.


#11

Made in Fuse, no less.


#12

That would be the idea: If you would use your hands and body IRL to do it, implement that for VR controls. I’m not sure if shooting guns against non-VR players would be balanced though.

Since at least two years.

Not to forget past and future Hardware if you rewind in the talk.

If you mean Frames per Second, just optimize it to at least 90 on appropriate Hardware. Not sure if it’s still correct but a few years back that was the number Valve gave for experiences that didn’t make people sick.

I’m not so sure, Valve seemed pretty generous in supporting VR experiences in the past…

Where’s the mutual exclusivity? See PAYDAY 2.

Just to be clear, I don’t see it being a priority right now at all. Not even soon. As soon as it’d be reasonable to implement appropriate VR controls, it might put TU right up there to what they call “VR killer app” though.


#13

I’m not a Steam Partner so I don’t know how far this goes (And if it includes headsets) but I thought I’d drop this here real quick:

If you’re a developer interested in participating in the developer kit program, you can apply on your Steam Partner page. Log in and look for “VR Developer Kit Request” along the right side of the page.