We’ve been hard at work in the labs on something pretty special… Subtitles! At Owlchemy we strive to make VR for everyone, and we always knew subtitles could bring VR to more people than ever before. As with any Owlchemy update, though, we had to get it just right.
When we set out to create subtitles we knew it was going to be an ambitious feature to address. The elements of space and presence in virtual reality added a whole new dimension to the challenge that demanded we tackle things with a fresh perspective. After a boat load of research, prototyping, and user feedback, our subtitle system defines a new standard for VR. We are incredibly proud of the result and are confident our players will love it!
Our subtitles are both functional and playful. No matter where you look, the subtitles are always visible and can help guide you back to the speaker. Transparency helps keep them unobtrusive and integrated into the world, while high contrast ensures they’re legible no matter what you’re looking at. Step away from the speaker and they’ll enlarge; turn your back and icons ensure you know exactly who’s saying what.
Having subtitles feel like they “belong” in the world was a huge priority, so their use of space and seamless presence was vital.
Using Subtitles in Vacation Simulator
To toggle subtitles, we’ve added options at the start of the game in the Museum, as well as in-game via the player’s backpack.
Both options allow players the flexibility to toggle subtitle options from the start of the game, or anytime while playing if needed!
We’ve also included multiple language support for subtitles. Supported languages include English, German, Spanish, French, Korean, Japanese, and the lost-but-then-recovered language of Binary (use at your own risk).
Localization is never an easy task, and proved even more challenging with a script that has So. Many. Puns. Luckily, we had some fantastic assistance from Oculus (thank you!), and the end result is well worth the effort, allowing even more players to enjoy the ridiculous characters in Vacation Simulator!
Plenty of subtle polish went in to the subtitle system. Everything from the character icons to the font size were designed to make them comfortable to read while still fitting within the game world.
All the little touches are what really make the subtitles shine! In-game speech bubbles appear at the depth of the speaker so they feel anchored in the space, and players don’t need to refocus their eyes when looking between the characters and their dialogue. No matter which way the player looks, the subtitles always face them and has an arrow that points back in the direction of the speaker. Subtitles also go semi-transparent when they’re obscured by another object in front of them. This softer appearance allows subtitles to be larger and more centrally placed, which reduces eye strain, helps issues with eye convergence, and keeps subtitles out of the periphery where they could cause motion sickness. All of these small details add up to a deeply tested and natural feel in VR.
For our content creators, subtitles appear on-screen in Spectator Mode, making it easy for anyone outside of the headset to follow along with the audio.
It’s not just Bots, either! We added subtitles to any object with voiceover audio! See what the sea shell has to say, or chill in front of the television in the Resort all day.
Subtitles was a much-requested feature, and we gained a ton of knowledge building it that we hope other VR development teams can learn from, as well. We’re very excited to hear what everyone thinks, and hope subtitles allow even more players to [VACATION] to the fullest!
The subtitles update for Vacation Simulator is available now on SteamVR and Oculus, with PlayStation VR coming soon. Subtitles will be in the Oculus Quest version of the game at launch as well—more to come Soon™ on our holiday launch date for Vacation Simulator on Quest!