them how to hand it to someone else or
throw it across the room, and you’ve set up
the opportunity to layer on more advanced
tasks, like sorting many objects, hiding
them, or even shrinking or enlarging them.
For VR developers, the downside of giving
your users hands is that the users expect VR
environments to be more interactive than a
traditional game. When we populated our
test world with some small props, the first
thing people tried to do was pick them up.
When we let people pick those objects up,
they tried to throw them. When we let them
throw them, they expected them to bounce
and interact with other objects. We wouldn’t
have figured out that people expected all
this, but luckily, we ...
Remember when I said I’ve run a few
hundred people through our VR demos?
That wasn’t just for fun. Every time we
showed someone new what we’d built, we
used that as an opportunity to get feedback
on our software. It’s good to set up so you
can see both the user and the monitor with
what they’re seeing on it.
Sessions in VR can be long, and I don’t
like to interrupt anyone to ask questions
when they’re in the goggles, so it’s really
important that you take good notes as you
watch the tester. This lets you prompt your
testers with specifics about their experience
once they’ve taken the goggles off.
The big takeaway here is that everyone
reacts differently to different experiences
in VR, so get as many people to try your
software as you can. And above all …
Our number one rule is: Avoid making
people sick, at all costs. Yes, the alcohol and
theme park industries have made bank by
making their customers hurl, but I don’t
ever want to be responsible for ruining
someone’s day. Because VR software has
such an intimate connection to your user’s
brain — it takes over two senses entirely
— developers have a greater responsibility
than with most traditional software or
games. I’m not suggesting that there’s any
Lawnmower Man-style reprogramming
possible with VR, but bad or malicious
software definitely can make users feel
extremely uncomfortable.
When most people sense a disconnect
between the movement they see and the
movement (or lack thereof) they detect with
their inner ear, they start feeling motion
sickness. That discomfort builds the longer
you stay in the headset — the only way to get
a reprieve is to take a break.
The good news is that VR-related motion
sickness is avoidable for almost everyone. As
a developer, it’s your responsibility to ensure
your application never sags below the target
frame rate for your platform and to avoid
moving the player’s camera in ways that will
make them feel ill. To be safe, we never take
control of the camera from the user.
Every question about VR we answer just
begs another dozen questions. Many of
the lessons we’ve learned from decades of
traditional software development don’t
apply to VR, so we need people who are
excited about the possibility and ready to
create new solutions to problems we haven’t
even imagined yet. If you’d like to know
more, we regularly share our findings at
If you’d like to check out what we’ve
built, search for The FOO Show on your VR
headset’s storefront, we’re on Oculus and
Vive right now, and may be on Gear VR and
PlayStation VR by the time you read this.
Eric Florenzano
Special Section
VR/AR | FOO VR and CD Case Hologram
Watching a hundred people figure out how to grab
things gave much-needed insight into designing a
way to pick up objects that makes sense to most
users. Even simple tasks are complex in VR.
For The FOO Shows pilot, recording three
participants together meant squeezing everyone,
along with three gaming PCs and three Vives, into
a tight 20'×20' space.
Using VR, Smith was able to interview the people
behind the game Firewatch inside their creation,
something never before done. More importantly,
viewers at home could step inside too.
Many people had trouble understanding the talk
show concept, so Smith and team mocked up an
episode where he interviewed himself about his
new company. “It turns out interviewing yourself is
tough,” he says.
M52_038-40_SSfoo_F1.indd 40 6/12/16 4:37 PM

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