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How Haptics Enhance the Gaming Experience

January 13, 2022

With how fast the world of technology changes, it’s no surprise that haptic technology is evolving as well—in such a short period of time, haptics have become present in almost all industries worldwide.

 

Not only are haptics rapidly evolving in exciting fields such as space exploration and medicine, but they’re evolving in the fields of entertainment and gaming as well!

Following last week’s announcement of Razer’s new Enki Pro Hypersense gaming chair fueled by D-BOX haptic technology, we spoke to Félix Gervais-O’Neill, one of D-BOX’s haptic motion designers and to Richard LaBerge, Vice-President of Gaming and Technology Partnerships at D-BOX to learn more about how haptic technology is continuously evolving to revolutionize the gaming experience.

As Gervais-O’Neill explains, “haptics take advantage of a sense that’s often not used to it’s full potential in gaming. In the past, haptic technology was commonly used in the hands—but D-BOX takes advantage of it to stimulate the entire body to create a more immersive in-game experience.”

D-BOX haptic developer Félix Gervais O’Neill

Haptic technology in premium AAA games

One of the ways that haptic technology can enhance the gaming experience is with premium games, which are games developed by the biggest studios in the world such as Ubisoft. Thanks to D-BOX’s long-standing partnership with these studios, many of these premium game titles have D-BOX haptic motion codes integrated directly in the game’s engine—allowing for accurate feedback from the game in real-time.

When discussing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, one of D-BOX’s premium games, Gervais-O’Neill explained that it’s the lack of what he calls ‘haptic silence’ that truly takes the gaming experience to the next level.

“Since Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a game with a lot of history, scenic views and moments of transportation, we wanted to avoid haptic silence,” he explained. “This means we want to avoid moments in which there are no effects playing, so that there’s always a small vibration or a little something happening to your system.”

He went on to explain that this is different from a racing game in which you’ll have five minutes of action and then total silence, but that sometimes people have the false belief that the constant feedback will be overwhelming.

“We always strive to keep the experience comfortable and to avoid brisk movements that will make you tired of receiving feedback. We always have coherence and keep the game’s intentions in mind when we design. We don’t want to accentuate and necessarily put a spotlight the haptic feedback, we want it to compliment the sound and image,” he explained.

D-BOX’s motion code is currently implemented in more than 90 curated PC games from major studio partners such as Ubisoft, Microsoft and more. The list of compatible premium games is only expected to grow in the future, meaning that more players will be able to immerse themselves in their favourite games like never before! Plus, thanks to D-BOX direct input, D-BOX’s haptic feedback can be experienced with virtually all PC games.

Assassins Creed Valhalla

Increased realism & immersion

For haptic designers, the true test of the quality of the feedback is how realistic it is. This is extremely important, especially in the little moments—which is why D-BOX has created over 65,000 unique motion effects to simulate ultimate realism.

“When you’re on a boat, for example, you can feel the waves hitting the boat,” explained LaBerge. “You feel if the boat leans a certain direction, but it’s not distracting. It further immerses you in the game because it’s natural,” he said.

For Gervais-O’Neill and Laberge, the ideal haptic experience is one in which ultimately users forget that the feedback exists because of how realistic it is.

“If they realize that something is happening in their seat, then that means the immersion has been broken,” explained Gervais-O’Neill. “That would mean that we didn’t do our jobs properly.”

“It’s when you don’t have [the haptic feedback] anymore that you realize how much you miss it,” added LaBerge.

Why the D-BOX haptic experience?

When it comes to explaining why gamers should choose D-BOX’s high-fidelity haptic technology, Gervais-O’Neill explained that D-BOX really specializes in all aspects of it—so not only will the chair be valid for games, but also for movies, television series, relaxation playlists and more!

D-BOX’s haptic technology also allows for complete immersion. As Gervais-O’Neill explained, in the past you would use a big screen, dim the lights and put on a set of headphones to immerse yourself, but with D-BOX you can add the component of movement to complete the circle of immersion.

“When your body is involved, you feel even more included in the gameplay,” added LaBerge. “The haptic feedback really puts you in the game’s environment. The more immersed you are, the less likely you are to tire of the game and the longer you can play. For a gamer, if you buy a game, you truly want to be in it.”

D-BOX’s haptic feedback is also incredibly realistic, combining a series of movements, vibrations and textures to accurately re-create exactly what the game’s character would be experiencing in any particular moment.

“People may be intimidated by the chair at first,” explained LaBerge. “They worry that they’ll be nauseous or that it’ll move too much, but when they sit down they’re like ‘whoa.’ It doesn’t shake it all, it fits with the game and it’s comfortable.”

Razer's Enki Pro Hypersense haptic gaming chair

The future of haptics in gaming

So, how will haptic technology further revolutionize the gaming experience in the future? With how quickly haptics have evolved, there’s a high chance that they’ll continue to expand over the next year in ways that will allow gamers to go beyond the haptic feedback they know now. D-BOX will continue to pave the way for haptic technology in the fields of gaming, cinemas, home entertainment, sim racing and simulation and training, being a pioneer for haptic technology and all its benefits!

“I think in the future we’ll see new tools that will allow us to code our motion faster and we’ll start seeing more collaboration with studios,” predicted Gervais-O’Neill. “This will allow us to code different types of games that we’ve never coded before and to introduce new ambiances and new effects.”

“The value of haptics will really go up in studios as they look for ways to keep gamers loyal and immersed in their games. More and more studios will adopt haptic feedback as the norm” added LaBerge.

Haptic technology: making gaming more fun

Despite the numerous technological advances in other fields related to gaming, haptic technology is truly the key to unlocking a fully immersive experience.

As Gervais-O’Neill and LaBerge have explained, haptics have completely revolutionized the gaming experience.

While it may be considered an ‘up-and-coming’ technology by most, once you try it yourself, you adopt it as the only way to game—so it’s likely more and more people will be giving it a go and adding haptic technology to their gaming routines in the near future.

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