Tobold's Blog
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Mouselook and video game motion sickness

I'm playing a new game, which isn't bad, but I can't enjoy it much. The game is using mouselook, that is your cursor is fixed to the middle of your screen and whenever you move the mouse, you move the camera. You walk and shoot where you are looking. And that causes me video game motion sickness, also called simulator sickness, after half an hour I get nauseous and have to stop. Apparently that is something that happens to a lot of people, although the only data available are about military flight simulators used by the air force. The reason for the sickness is that your eyes tell you that you are moving, while your bodies motion detectors (in the inner ear) tell you that you are stationary. The conflicting information causes the nausea.

Obviously if your games make people sick, they aren't likely to buy them. So what can game developers do? A scientist studied the matter in detail, and came up with a "rest frame theory". Simply stated, you get less sick if there is a point in the middle of the screen that isn't moving, where you can rest your eyes. So third-person is good, first-person is bad. And of course the less hectically the camera moves, the smaller the problem. Games without mouselook are better, because if you can move the mouse to aim without moving the camera, your view remains so much more stable. I have no problems whatsoever with third-person games like World of Warcraft. But Morrowind and Oblivion I just couldn't play.

I really wished that game developer would make mouselook at least just optional. I don't see me buying any games that use it. How about you?
Coming from a multi-gaming background myself, I played tons of first-person shooters and strategy games before I played my very first MMORPG after like 20 years of gaming other things - I don't think you could play first-person shooters, can you?

I never had a problem with mouse-look myself. I wonder if the recent uprise of targeting recticles (something the first shooters didn't have) is partially because of that "rest frame theory" as well, so more players can play those games without getting sick?
I'm one of those people who cannot play first-person perspectives for long without getting a pounding headache and feeling nauseous. That's one of the many reasons I don't play FPS games (although to be honest, I don't like shooters, so I wouldn't play one that was in 3rd person perspective either). I had to play Morrowind in third person view, else I couldn't play it for more than ten minutes.

For me, mouselook is evil! :)
Now we all know wich beta you experience right now. Have fun with your clones ;P

I do not have a problem with mouselook and i think for this game it is an essential element for now. It gives the impression for a way more responsive and action oriented combat system, rather than the usual auto-swing-target-lock system we all got bored of by now.

I admit that in this example game, they need to tune the camera for mouselook. When you have mouselook and a very distanced camera the scenery can move at lightspeed. They should lock the camera way more in a way RE4 did.
I get this from only certain FPS games.

Duke 3D
Any of the Doom games
Half Life 2.

Duke 3D was the absolute worst. I could play that for 20 minutes before i felt sick and had to stop. The moment i went outside i felt much better.

Half Life 2 was not quite as bad, but i could play at most 2 hours before i had a terrible headache and nausea was setting on.
Many people go through this. As an old school quake player, here's what I told everyone:

Start by lowering or raising the level of light in the room. Also adjust the brightness in game. You'd be surprised how much better you feel when the lighting is correct.

You may be too close or too far from your monitor. You never had to worry about it before, because you weren't playing a FPS where there was constant motion.

Another thing to consider is your mouse itself. It never really mattered before if you were right on target or not with say WoW because you didn't have to keep your cursor on your enemy to kill them. Now you do. So you should take some time with your mouse and your mouse settings and get them right. It's like a tennis racket, if it doesn't feel right it's not going to work right.

The first thing I tell people is to set your mouse settings so that a flick of your wrist ends up being a 90 degree angle. This is different for every player, so you need to get it to a comfortable spot for you. If you can get it so a comfortable flick of your wrist to the right translates into a 90 degree turn to the right, your brain will have a MUCH easier time figuring out how to translate what you'd like to do in game to your mouse movements and keyboard movements.

If you still have a ball mouse you probably need to clean the mouse. A qtip and rubbing alcohol do just fine. If you have a laser mouse you should check to make sure there is no lint or whatever built up inside the laser area on the bottom of the mouse.

One or all of those things should help considerably. If you have questions feel free to ask.

Formerly "Nobility - Bloodscalp"
I'm an FPS junkie myself so I love mouse look. It is an incedibly fluid and responsive control system if you can handle it.

I used to get terrible motion sickness back in the days of DOOM (I still forced my self to play though!!! ). I think this was due to low frame rates and jerky motion because modern photo-realistic FPS'es don't give me headaches.

One thing I find useful is to enable vertical sync. Can't see this making enough of a difference in your case though.
I have the same problem with some games that use first person view, but not all of them.

I missed some games, Half Life 2 for example, and of course didn't buy it. But, a while ago I actually finished one game called Quarantine which was making me sick, so I played in small chunks.
I'm a bit of an FPS addict, but I can tend to suffer from the motion sickness issue as well.

Aside from the purist sensation where your head tells you your moving but your inner ear doesn't, there's two other things that effect it:
1. Framerate
2. Depth of field accuracy

If you have a consistent and high framerate the problem is less pronounced, but if it jerks and stutters that plays havok with your brain element.

If the simulated view you're looking at is out of kilter with reality your brain can't quite deal with that.

For me, I found that Epic got it just about right in their shooters, whereas it took ID until Quake 3 for them to get the depth of field right.

As an aside, I find the problem goes away the more I play shooters. If you play for an hour today, stop, an hour and ten minutes tomorrow, etc., then you get used to the motion sickness problem.

Consider it "athlete conditioning" :D
Half Life 2 is the only time I've gotten this, over 25 years of gaming, seems pretty common.
It’s good to finally know what this is, Medal of Honour was my first and only FPS, thought my head was going to explode after half an hour of this game, though the “Beta-that-cannot-be-named” is not causing me the same problem.
Unless a game is completely 2d or a top view like starcraft I get very sick.

Something like WoW will even start to bother me after a while although not nearly as bad as a fps.

Some games are so bad I can still feel it after a good nights rest.

I am finding other hobbies besides video games. Its just not worth being sick from them. Most all games are 3d or first person views now. Since I've stopped playing I feel so much better and I'm not as grouchy.

Maybe one day technology will fix this problem.
i have felt this way with a few games in the past, but its never really been a big deal for me.

As for Morrowind, you should definatly give it a try. there are a few mods that improve the third person mode and actually make it possible to play in third person.
I used to get it a lot on old style FPS games - such as Doom or Dark Forces. Since technology has allowed "true" 3d environments rather than forced I generally suffer it only when I'm tired or ill.

BTW, knowing that you suffer from this I predicted this post once I worked out what beta you was in ;)
I always get a head-ache after playing HALO. I've never felt sick playing a game, though.
One thing that does get to me is when there are lots of flashing lights in a game; my eyes get sore!
Id guess that monitor size and distance from eye to monitor are important.

You want to sit far enough back so that its obvious to youre subconcious balance systems that you are sat still in front of a still box with changing pictures on it. Basically the opposite of those wraparound cinema screens with the filmed rollercoaster rides.

FPSs dont make me ill but I can get physiological effects from in-game falling eg flying mount dismounts (Im not fond of real life rollercoasters either)
The thing I tell people trying an FPS for the first time is to "slow down". With 3rd person games you can usually swing the cursor around the screen at the speed of light with no problem; however, when you try that in an FPS it's the equivalent of thrashing your head around in circles - who wouldn't get dizzy?

Until you get used to slowing your mouse movement, you can access the options and turn your mouse sensitivity down. With a low sensitivity setting it won't let you thrash your view around by moving the mouse fast.

Also, as someone mentioned earlier, it takes conditioning - you get used to it fast.
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