• HELM Systems

Navigation - compass

Hail virtual warriors and spellcasters and welcome to the third dev blog update!

We are taking a look at some of the navigation mechanics, more specifically the compass.

It's probably safe to say, we all agree that navigation in an RPG is quite important. Especially when an RPG has a lot of activities to immerse yourself in, besides the main quest(s) that is!

Traditionally we are used to on-screen radars, or compasses (in all forms and shapes) placed somewhere in a non intrusive corner on our screen, or sometimes near the edge, usually on the top side. These of course, are great and proven methods of providing players with quick, easy and useful in-game navigation, so they can find their way around the different objectives and activities that await them in the various game worlds.

In VR however, this proven method doesn't translate that well. Even though display is one of the three words that make up the HMD abbreviation, as a developer you simply cannot treat HMD as a display, as a device if you prefer. When the user wears an HMD, you want to avoid reminding them they wear a device, instead you want to make them feel they are teleported in another (magical) world, fully immersed, and not bothered with "on-screen" notifications, as much as possible anyway.

So after much trial and error, much experimentation with conventional and classic compass designs, as well as some quite unorthodox ones, we ended up going with a solution we felt satisfies both the requirements of a practical and easy to use compass, as well as the necessity for full immersion within VR.

We tried at first placing a compass in your inventory (as promised in Dev Blog #2 more on inventory in a future dev blog, near future that is XD ) and we felt it would be pretty cool to hold an actual compass in your hands that shows you different points of interest in a map. Sure, it was great the first five or six times, but much like the portal ring ( in case you missed it, you can read all about it in Dev Blog #2 ) taking an item that is used so frequently out of the inventory, grew repetitive and tiresome, so instead we had to find a way to allow the player to access it at any time, with no effort at all.

That might sound easy, but it was quite a challenge, especially when considering how many more items we allow the player to access quickly and on the fly (more on that as well in a future blog).

Finally, we ended up blending a bit of modern logic into a medieval and fantastic world. We attached the compass to the player's hand, similarly to how one would wear a wristwatch, yet with proper decorative elements, and most importantly, with proper objective or point of interest visual representation. It was important to us to make it feel more like an instrument that could be found and used in a fantasy setting, rather than a contemporary time keeping piece.

Yet it does utilize the same level of practicality a wristwatch does. At any given moment, you can effortlessly track where the next milestone for your main quest is, or where a side quest might be awaiting you, or perhaps an NPC with something important to say, or even better, some secret treasure that will fill up your coin purse significantly enough!

As with everything else in the game, it is a feature designed with the user first and foremost in mind, to allow an immersive, seamless, easy to follow and practical to use experience.

On to one more screenshot and a short video, both from inside the game:

As always stay tuned as a lot more updates will be following based on the same format, covering all kinds of cool and interesting topics, including of course combat and so much more!

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