3dRudder obsolesced my review before I could write it

by: Dave -
More On: 3DRudder

In case you have never heard of it, 3dRudder is a clever little peripheral designed to address issues of character mobility in VR games, although it would presumably work every bit as well in a non-VR setting. It provides freedom of movement in three planes (roll or strafe left/right, pitch or strafe forward/backward, and yaw) and also allows for an additional motion that would typically be used for strafing up and down. Of these motions, yaw was the one that I feel was most needed in the VR setting. At least with the Rift, yaw/twisting is generally performed by twisting one of the Touch controllers, but I have never grown comfortable with that. Perhaps due to decades if ingrained muscle memory gained through flying actual airplanes, I have never been able to adapt to using anything but rudder pedals for yaw.

This became far more important just a week or two ago  - when X-Plane 11 added a VR capability that included the ability to use a Touch controller to move the yoke/joystick for a natural-feeling flight control, the necessity of a physical game controller went away. There was, however, still a control gap: there is no facility in the X-Plane VR cockpit for controlling the rudder. 

Now there is.  In theory, anyway.

I hate to get out on front of the review, but my biggest problem with the 3dRudder was keeping my feet on it. Actual rudder pedals are sturdy things, capable of handling a pair of clumsy feet shoving them to and fro without awkward moments of wondering where they went. Not so with the 3dRudder.

Until now.

With the release of 3dRudder Blackhawk, there are now foot straps to help the player keep his/her feet firmly attached to the 3dRudder itself.

In addition to that, they have also addressed what would have been another complaint: they have smartened up the logic around the dead zones. A new ‘Active Dead Zone’ feature automatically adjusts reactivity and stability depending on the movement direction and speed of the user. In a device like the 3dRudder, the dead zone in a 2-dimensional plan (horizontal movements) is like a circle of stability. In a 3-dimensional space, it’s like a sphere of stability. In VR, you need stability when you stay still. But when the action heats up, when you move and change directions quickly, you need reactivity: the more intense the action, the lower the dead zone. The ‘Active Dead Zone’ will be addressable by game developers directly from their games. In theory, this should be a boon to combatants in a game like Onward VR.

If they announce a way to make it turn easier on carpeted floors in the next week, I'm not sure I will have anything more to suggest to them in my review.

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