Valve Issues Update to SteamVR After Beat Saber Players Move Faster Than Originally Thought
Beat Saber players apparently move faster than Valve had ever anticipated.
Beat Saber is one of those games in which you look on in awe at some of the players absolutely smashing it. You know, similar to when we did the same thing at those Guitar Hero or Rock Band players as they shredded their plastic instruments in combination perfection. It seems like Beat Saber players are doing so well that the SteamVR tracking systems are having to be updated to keep up with them.
On February 8, SteamVR’s beta was updated to version 1.3.2. This patch introduces a fix that will “Increase scope of power management disabled by “Disable Power Management” button under developer settings.” a fix for “Fix for memory leak in Motion Smoothing when application’s resolution is rapidly changing.” The news at hand comes under the patch notes, “Lighthouse”.
The details for this section of the patch notes read “Increase limits of what we thought was humanly possible for controller motion based on tracking data from Beat Saber experts.”
Of course, without explanation that essentially reads as if Beat Saber has been growing superhumans capable of swinging their arms in a frantic frenzy, a new evolution of human born from the cables of VR. Thankfully Ben Jackson, a developer at Valve took to the comments to explain.
“The tracking system has internal sanity checks to identify when things go wrong. For example, if our math says you are *behind* your only basestation, clearly we made a mistake, because we wouldn’t be getting any signal from behind the basestation. One of these checks relates to how fast we thought it was physically possible for someone to turn their wrist. It turns out that a properly motivated human using a light enough controller could go faster (3600 degrees/sec!) than we thought.”
Thanks to the scientific-technological explanation from Road to VR, it’s explained that VR controllers implement two tracking methods that combine. IMU is a system found inside each controller, sensing rotation and translation with low latency and high frequency. However, IMU’s tend to ‘drift’ and can’t be relied on alone for accurate tracking, which is where external basestations —for SteamVR anyway— come in. These are used to establish the absolute position and rotation of the tracked object and corrects the drift from IMU’s.
The basestations update slowly in comparison to how fast the IMU’s are moving, apparently “in the ballpark of 100Hz vs. 1,000Hz”and until the next positional correction is processed, all the tracking is down to the IMU. The prediction systems work well with slow movements, assuming where the tracked object is heading too next by using previously used motion. However, Beat Saber is giving the tracking systems no time to predict movements, causing reverse directions to happen in higher levels of the game.
So, due to the sheer speed of some of these players are moving —especially with the upcoming Expert+ mode— it seems Valve is having to adjust the coding behind the tracking systems to cater to these Jedi masters. Or perhaps Darth Maul will be able to make use of the new update.
Beat Saber is available now on PC and PS4.