The Witness VR Version Would Be “Quite Problematic”

Don’t hold your breath for a virtual reality version of Braid creator Jonathan Blow’s new puzzle game The Witness. Programmer Andrew Smith said in Blow’s recent Reddit AMA that virtual reality is “quite problematic” for The Witness for a number of reasons, of which is that some puzzles could be “cheated.”

“VR is actually quite problematic for The Witness (outside of the broader issues that current seated or room-scale VR is just bad for navigating any huge open-world environment in first person) in that some of the alignment-puzzles (I won’t go into spoilers) can be ‘cheated’ by crouching down, or tilting your head etc.” he explained.

You can still play The Witness in VR, and the game’s art style “works really well,” but Smith said it would still be a “far from optimal” experience.

“[The Witness] was very much designed to be a traditional non-VR experience,” he explained. “The VR games that will really convince people are those that’re designed for the format from the ground up.

“Any kind of free navigation in VR is a hard problem. If you move around with a gamepad, but can move your head freely, what happens when you move your character up to an in-game wall and then lean forwards to stick your head through it?” he said. “Should we disconnect the camera from the head tracking before it passes through the wall? Or do we move the collision boundaries in so you can’t get close enough to any object to do that? Both are pretty bad options.”

Smith went on to say that issues of this nature are why a lot of VR games today are designed for a seated or room-scale experience where boundaries are defined.

“It’ll be interesting to see what people come up with as solutions to this stuff,” he said.

The Witness was released at the end of January for PC and PlayStation 4 and has sold more than 100,000 copies across both platforms. An Xbox One version of the game is under consideration.

GameSpot scored The Witness a 9/10.

“There are still things about The Witness I can’t make sense of–some clues I might never notice, and some puzzles I might never solve,” critic Mike Mahardy said in his review. “But the hints are there. It might not all be clear at first, but that’s okay, because I’m always learning.”

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