Last night I experienced having "hands" in a VR world for the first time and it was such a fascinating experience I had to write about it as soon as possible. Now, these weren't my real hands, but they sure felt like it. Why was this such a big deal? Well, having hands brought another level of self presence to VR immersion.
The game/narrative is called The Gallery. This was the first episode in the series, and so far I've only gone through the tutorial (so don't worry about spoilers).
I really didn't know anything about what I was getting into, and was loaded into a large void-like space where a female voice warmly welcomed me. Initially, I had my Vive controllers down, out of view, and fully expected to bring them up to see either Vive controller models, or some other creative replacement (like a flashlight, mechanical tool, etc.). Instead, what came up in their place were two extremely well-modeled 3D hand, with mesh gloves on them, that didn't cover the fingers. I was shocked! The hands were exactly where my hands would be in the real world, just without arms. It felt like they were my real hands and the accuracy of movement was spot on. I slowly pulled the triggers on my Vive controllers and the hands closed into fists at the same speed as the trigger pulling. I clicked the triggers fully in, and the fists clenched just a little bit harder. I waved them around, kept opening and closing them for a time.. if anyone was watching, I would have looked ridiculous, but I couldn't get enough.
The tutorial proceeded to guide me though the movement controls and asked me to walk up and grab one of four virtual glass bottles that were placed on four pedestals. Moving so that one of the bottles was close enough for me to grab, I reached out and closed one of my virtual hands around the bottle. The mechanics worked really well. It didn't seem perfect, but the developers did an amazing job. I even tried throwing the bottle up in the air, spinning it around a couple times, and grabbing it with my other hand. It worked. With these mechanics, I think I could actually juggle, similar to real life - probably even easier because the error forgiveness of the grabbing mechanics made it easier to handle objects.
I'm now convinced that one of my VR projects will have to have hands. It's not going to be easy. I doubt there are public scripts available for this type of mechanic, but I have to try.
Have you used any VR games that feature hands as the controllers? What was the experience? If you have any recommendations, I'd love to try some more.