Business case

Merper VR.

Merper VR is a 3D character animation tool that allows to pose and animate 3D models in virtual reality.
This case study tells why Merper VR think the 3dRudder solves the locomotion problem in VR.

About...

Frederico Schliemann

Creator of Merper VR

http://store.steampowered.com/app/725510/Merper_VR/

Frederico Schliemann is a software developer who has worked more then 10 years for Microsoft on various projects such as NUI interactions for the Xbox One platform and Kinect for Windows until he decides to make the move to independent development in 2017 and creates Merper VR.
Merper VR is a 3D character animation tool that allows to pose and animate 3D models that contain a skinned mesh and skeletal structure in Virtual Reality.

The project

In 2017, when I decided to make the move to independent development, I set off to make a VR application that stood out from the rest. Specifically I wanted something that would be better in 3D/VR than in 2D/monitor so that it would justify using the system. I also wanted it to look different. I’m a practical learner and this provided me with an avenue for learning the nuances of the new medium.
This was a solo project though I relied heavily on open source libraries and many conversations with friends and family who are in the field. It came about almost organically as I was searching for a reason to use virtual reality in a way that wasn’t a gimmick. So I worked on the project of a 3D animation tool that would work in Virtual Reality: Merper VR.

Merper VR image software

Merper VR allows you to pose and animate 3D models that contain a skinned mesh and skeletal structure in virtual reality. Models will automatically resize to human proportions on load, allowing you to virtually grab a part and arrange it into your desired pose, animate poses by adding key frames, then play them back all around you. Supports reading and writing models in the industry standard FBX file format commonly used in games, allowing you to extend your existing workflows and rapidly prototype using its intuitive interface.

Merper VR was released on Steam in November 2017. Literally a few weeks after, I saw an article about the 3dRudder motion controller in one of the VR forums on the web.

I thought seated experiences would be too limiting - but with the 3dRudder that changes completely.

When I first heard of the 3dRudder, I thought it was an interesting idea. It wasn’t until I gave it a try that I got its full potential though.
I was originally very adamant about designing VR experiences for room-scale scenarios: you set up a large empty space and walk about it. This gives you the most immersion. I thought seated experiences would be too limiting - but with the 3dRudder that changes completely. Using your feet to move is the most natural way to go about solving the locomotion problem.
For me having a 3dRudder means you can use VR while seated in a workable fashion without losing the exploratory aspect of the experience. It also means that you can use it for longer periods, which in my case enables artists to do longer animation sessions.

When I want to talk about the 3dRudder, I often refer people to a piece of gym equipment used for balance, but with a USB cord . Otherwise I use the term foot controller, and when people ask further I tell them to think about how we are used to using our feet for driving cars. I would like to see the 3dRudder become a standard part of the VR setup, in particular for the devices targeting seated experiences. Hopefully it can get integrated into a bundle like Oculus did with its motion controllers to the point where developers can assume most users have one.

Integration

I used the C++ sdk to integrate the 3dRudder into my codebase. It took about a day to get the basics going which is not too far off from the final working version. It is now a permanent part of my platform. I think it would take even less if it already supported a gamepad or other similar form of input - I had to rethink the concept of locomotion entirely.
Most of my integration issues came about with first time firmware setup and initialization of my test unit, which should not affect most people. The 3dRudder team was extremely helpful throughout the whole process.