Integration: Redstorm Entertainment, Inc.
Game Studio: Massive Entertainment/Redstorm Entertainment
Release: March 15, 2019
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is an action role-playing game (sequel to Tom Clancy’s The Division from 2016), in which the player struggle to rebuild the Washington. D.C. and fight villains after a smallpox pandemic.
Redstorm Entertainment integrated the features based on Tobii’s experience of adding eye tracking to the prequel. With this in mind we could create a feature set based on earlier integration. The design vision focuses on the core activities of combat and exploration and find aspects of how these tasks can be supported by eye tracking features. We also reasoned on, and allowed, that the eye tracking features could be a mix of explicit features (a clear contribution to the experience) and subtle features (barely noticed, but missed if they are disabled).
The first aspect addressed exploration to enhance situational awareness. Good understanding of the environment is vital as you move your agent in the city to notice threats and identify objects of interest. The suitable feature in this kind game genre is extended view as it allows the user to perceive the environment intent-driven without having to turn the camera and changing your movement direction.
The second aspect is taking cover. The Division 2 significantly emphasize the value of hiding from incoming bullets, ignoring this and you will not survive for long in combat. While in cover you can re-position the agent to another cover position to get a tactical advantage, so concealed movement is a basic game mechanic in combat. For us, providing and making use of the gaze signal in a game, this mechanic is a perfect match. While in cover you simply can look at another cover position and move to that spot, without having to re-position the camera. This reduces the need for constant camera movement. For gamepad users, this effect is even more beneficial as camera movement is slower. Furthermore, the feature embodies a more fluent gameplay as you do not need to rotate the camera and have the crosshair centered on the spot you want to move to. Cover at gaze features smoothens the interaction, elicit a sensation of skillfulness and extend the agency a player perceives to have during combat.
The third aspect involves identifying enemies. By simply glancing over the enemies the enemies are tagged to provide visual feedback that you have noticed them and get further information about the enemies. Similar to Cover at gaze, the idea behind the features is to make use of your eyes to scan the surroundings without the need to rotate the camera. This will get the task of obtaining situational awareness a more fluent and intuitive experience.
The fourth aspect concerns engaging the enemies. An enemy can be targeted by simply fixating eyes on them and pressing the Aim button. Aim at gaze and Throw at gaze embodies this principle by having the target mechanics rewritten to follow the gaze position. Without eye tracking, you need to reposition the crosshair to the target spot or area you intend to engage. With eye tracking, this activity is made more intent-driven eliciting a sensation of skillfulness and agency.
The last aspect is to make the UI intent-driven. Removing the cluttering effect from the UI elements and instead have them faded in when you are interested in them will allow the player to perceive the game world in pleasant way. Although The Division 2 is a game with relatively discreet UI elements, any chance to maximize perception of game world is beneficial to produce a sense of presence.
The story of eye tracking in Tom Clancy’s The Division is a prime example on how to base design choices and opportunities on the core activities you do in the game. We focused on combat and found several ways we could support this activity by making clever use of the player eyes in conjunction with the normal input methods.
Cover at Gaze
While in cover the user can plan and move to the next cover position by simply looking at that spot. This will enable a fluent gameplay as you can use your eyes to select the spot you want to move to. Simply look at the cover you want to move to and press & hold the move button. This decouple aiming from the activity of moving between covers, meaning you don’t constantly have to move the camera.
Extended view is a feature to automatically rotate the camera according to user’s intent to get a wider view of the surrounding, which facilitate a sensation of presence.
Throw at Gaze
Throwing in The Division 2 is improved with eye tracking. As the user press the throw button an arc appears with end position at the spot where the user looks at. This adds both to the sensation of empowerment and quality of life as user’s intent and interest drives the throwing mechanism.
Aim at Gaze
Aiming is made more intent-driven as you look at the spot or enemy your want your gun to aim at. This will extend the agency and elicit a sensation of skillfulness.
Removes the UI elements when the user expose no intent to look at them. This to produce a sense of presence as the game world is not filled with HUD elements.