The idea behind Submersion is simple. You find yourself in a mini submarine in an unknown environment that contains mines, obstacles, and other submarines. You need to destroy the other submarines or sneak past them to steal their resources in order to survive.

You're given the following to help you along your way:

  • Sonar. If enabled, Sonar shows the threats within medium range on the screen within your sub. However, other submarines can find you much easier when your sonar is enabled. For optimal stealth, it's best to turn sonar off.
  • Ping. You can choose to send out a ping. This allows other subs to locate you by sound, but grants temporary range to your sonar.
  • Torpedo. Fire a deadly torpedo. It makes a great amount of noise and takes a long time to reload, but usually only one shot is required to take down another sub.
  • Mine. Drop a mine. Perfect for stealth, these mines don't show up on passive radar, but you need to somehow lure your enemies into them...
  • Lights. Your sub has front headlights, granting much-needed visibility in the depths. However, you may want to turn these off for optimal stealth.

With the above behaviors and environment, you end up with a rather simple game, but one that is engaging in VR for the following reasons:

  • The underwater atmosphere is far more compelling in VR. In addition, certain aspects of the game can be claustrophobic, increasing the tension and immersion.
  • Movement is in an issue in VR. By placing the character in a slow-moving vehicle, it fixes the rotation-by-looking issue and also mitigates simulation sickness by not making sharp movements.
  • Visibility is a key factor in this game. During dogfighting, torpedoes will be coming at many different angles. You will need to look at all angles to be able to avoid them. Someone without a VR headset would be at a huge disadvantage. Likewise, there will be various screens in the sub. You will need to look to the screens to get critical information or to control certain things (e.g., torpedo cam).

Challenges:

  • Performance! Using a special UE4 build, I was able to address the aliasing issues present in the Gear VR. However, performance is still an issue. I'm carefully adding functionality incrementally and testing performance along the way. Given progress so far, I'm thinking it won't be feasible in the short term to have a network game up and running. Instead, I may instead incorporate AI, we'll see...
  • The underwater atmosphere/lighting in providing to be a bit difficult to get right. Especially with the limited resources of the Galaxy Note 4. I have yet to figure out a way that is both efficient and looks right.

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