Some people seem to think having virtual legs in VR is impossible, but I’m pretty sure it’s more of a preference thing, and therefore it should be decided by the individual rather than the platform, at least as far as social apps go.
Facebook Meat Quest Horizon, whatever it’s called, still pushing the legless and sexless agenda they want for VR in its entirety, at least is putting a little more honesty in its marketing with trailers now featuring the floating torsos. The concern about legs that they’re mentioning is that it doesn’t look right and might confuse users who aren’t sure if their legs are being tracked. As I’ve mentioned before, some people just don’t like the idea of having weird virtual legs possibly doing whatever, and it might even mess with their balance. That’s fine if they don’t want it, and they should have the option to go without. But it should be an option and ideally not just required for everyone. As with having a massive variety of avatars to pick from, back on the ferret argument, but this post is particularly about body presence.
As far as untracked virtual legs go, apps like VRChat and NeosVR do very well have support for legs in all tracking modes, even the desktop version, and while it may have the potential to not look right at times, in honesty it looks fine most of the time, of course speaking as a non-full-body user as well. They have systems that combine inverse kinematics with animation blending and such to at least provide convincing enough motion that does its best to match up with what parts are and aren’t tracked. Those who want more tracked presence can do so with the right equipment and the system will most likely work out, depending on the rig of the avatar itself and the tracking environment. If anything I’ve seen funnier behavior when people are tracking their full self.
Apparently some leaked thing got out about either the Quest 2 or its successor having the ability to track more of the user’s body, and not just for advertisement reasons, so they may not have totally abandoned the idea to give Horizon users the privilege of legs in the future, but maybe only for those who have whatever device will do it. The technology to do so is here already elsewhere, at least in a forms that require at least a ltitle more hardware, but it totally exists, and is therefore possible. At the time, it usually costs at least $300 USD plus whatever tax and shipping for the direct tracker versions, and only seems to work with PC-connected headsets for now, as well as potentially having a ton of open USB ports, but there are more budget options that have their quirks in exchange, like depending on a bunch of cameras with AR trackers or even finding another use for the Kinect. It would be nice to see a quality option well under that $300 USD price point, and there are some I have my eye on that hopefully follow through, supply willing.
There’s also the concept of facial tracking, which Facebook is more likely pursuing over body tracking, and there’s definitely advertising reasons behind it. Particularly the desire to force someone to watch ads in order to continue with something and not just let it run while doing something else for however long some of these overly long phone ads go. Yes, I have seen them exceed the standard 30 seconds many times. Past that point, it’s practically an infomercial, and if it’s not showing me a better way to do things so stuff doesn’t fall all over the place in black and white, I’m not interested. I also have far less enthusiasm about the ad breaks in large football games as well. At least on the non-advertising side of things, facial tracking might bring the possibility of more direct expression if it works right. If not, uncanny valley all the way. Or at least looking really drunk.
As far as I’m concerned though, I’m fine not having facial tracking stuck to me, for all the potential things that could go wrong there, and would rather figure out the legs myself later on, whenever it happens. If so, ideally I get around to it before a scenario where Facebook under any name would buy out the VR space could happen, or another scenario where this idea of theirs totally falls over and somehow brings the unrelated rest of the VR space with it due to public perception of VR being a “Facebook Metaverse thing” and nothing else. I just find it a neat thing to do and would like to not have to tie everything to a real ID thing. And ideally use hardware without absolutely requiring online logins in general, which means I might just be avoiding Windows 11 later on anyway. Any progress toward Linux being more viable for gaming is a good thing to counter that, as I really don’t want to have to deal with Macs any more than I already have to. Even as fine as I am with the idea of signing in to an Xbox and using the Game Pass thing there for the time, I really don’t want to need that same kind of login to use my computer in general. I already didn’t like the idea for graphics card settings.