HL2 Nausea
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Author:  XenoKiLLer [ Sat Mar 10, 2007 5:56 pm ]
Post subject:  HL2 Nausea

Now we all know HL2 gives nausea... I just got a double dose within 24hrs trying to get through the damn canal without punking all over my keyboard and lcd monitor.

Anyone have any settings for fixing this or anything that can stop this from happening without resorting to drug addiction?

I believe I read about changing the FOV to 90. I however think that window mode should help since the lack of a hud in HL2 barely gives you any point of solid footing reference to remind your brain that you are standing still.

This is a proof that making games look too realistic is not good. Many games using older engines, HL1, old starwars fps games, and many others exhibit the same situations that give players nausea. Source is relatively an old engine, 7 years in the making since HL1. Technically it classifies as on of those older fps engines that gives nausea. The question is, what is it really that causes this problem?

Many of us have played Doom3 and UT2004. From playing very few if any have actually complained about nausea. I have played CS before, it uses the gldsrc engine as HL1, I dont get nausea. I have played FEAR, the head bobbing and pace is seriously fast - I dont get nausea. So what makes HL2 and many older fps games (such as Renegade) so dangerous healthwise?

----------------------just starting a discussion here--------------------------

If there is a reason for this phenomenon, a reason that can be avoided, we need to find out what it is exactly that makes these games standout and give players motionsickness. The purpose of this is to find out why these games make many of us sick and find a way for developers to avoid implementing the same things in future games that players may enjoy playing those games without worrying about getting thier monitor stained with their breakfast and gastric juices.

----------------------My list of possible reasons------------------------------

Lack of a point of reference - as in a well suited HUD UI design that distracts the mind from the high speeds

Improper first person motion - the speed and the bobbing is no where near realistic or is beyond realistic in a sense that you dont move like a real person.

mouse acceleration - the mouses moves ever faster as long as it is moving - this isnt helping avoid the sickness

Flashing lights and bad level design - occassionaly this is good for atmosphere but over use of this such as the canals in HL2 push for some pretty serious nausea and confusion.


Comments? Tips on fixing the situation (must be for various FPS games)

Author:  -ATHF-FryLock [ Sat Mar 10, 2007 9:52 pm ]
Post subject: 

I've never had nausea problems with HL2, or any other game. (Or at lest not with out the aid of alcohol.). One thing I think may cause your nausea may be that the game has a lot of moving objects in it. Also, if you notice, the sky box in the game has a few things that move around, like the big tower, which may be a reason. Another one may be the gritty look of the models and textures. It may also be reoccurring colors in the game. Some people are partiality color blind (they have just don't have enough receptors for a certain color), they can see the colors fine, but it is just a little straining to look at the color for long. If you have ever had unexplained head aches when you go a certain place, it may just be the color. However, that is kinda rare, and I'm sure you would of had other games with the same problem if it was that. It may also be sounds of the game, the back ground noises.

If you are a very social person it may be the talking animations look. I recently read about social people having problems with pictures that do a poor job at mimicking the looks of humans. This is more often found in females, an example is how many girls get squeamish when they see a disfigured human in a movie. In HL2 they mapped a lot of facial expressions, but no matter how hard you try you cannot do 100% with the computers we have now, because of that, the talking animations might make you feel a little uneasy.

I would say try playing a mod of the game. Mods tend not to have moving tower in it, nor as many objects that fly around, they also don't use the same color mixing as the game. If that doesn't give you problems then it may have been that. Also, try the ant-lion mod, it has a lot of movement in it, sounds, high speed fights, and about every thing else, but no facial expressions in it. If that helps, then its the animations (I doubt its that one). If you think it may be the back ground noises, just try playing it with the sound off while listening to music. (I say listen to music because with out sound I go crazy).

Those are simply my thoughts and recommendations. One of my brothers had a problem with the way the sky box was, we determined this because when he played HL2 Episode 1 he was fine when he was below ground. However, when he got to see the sky box stuff it gave him a head ache. Then he tried HL2 and noticed that he was fine so long as he was in interior places. He has also had a history of seizures though, and has a problems with a few other games.

Author:  XenoKiLLer [ Sun Mar 11, 2007 12:36 am ]
Post subject: 

I could comment on the skybox itself trying to replicate the parallax effect in motion. However, with regards to motion, I do know that Gordon is running 2-3 times above normal human speed. Games like AA, GRAW, and BF properly reflect human running speeds as nobody can run like a wild dog and keep the same pace straight on. (Im not talking about sprinting, just normal running)

Also, in the case of camera effects, it shakes way too much. Its not with the bobbing or gun fire but more on colission and shock.

On repetitive colours, this could be one reason but the most common colour around is gray. However I can agree to the lighting style as majority of the maps have briefly alternating light and dark regions which, when you are moving at the speed Gordon is, will look like a flashing series of lights. Throw in the camera jiggles and there you have one possible reason for nausea.

I guess this would be a side effect to trying to replicate reality. I do believe that games are far better and more entertaining when they atleast retain some sureal elements. Take World of Warcraft for instance, there are free MMOs out tehre that at the same time are realistic - gory aswell - but one reason why Warcraft is so popular is because the graphics are just so sureal that everyone enjoys looking at them.

Now, I dont think we can blame realism entirely. Games like Doom3 and Farcry tap close into the same quality as Hl2 however they do not, only on a very rare occassion, give nausea to a player. So what exactly makes HL2 different?


I have another opinion, I think it could be the non-stop no-loading-screen design. Instead of showing a loading screen in between or a cinematic like Doom3, Hl2 just throws you from one map to another. Let us say you are moving, and at the speeds that Gordon runs in, you suddenly stop just to load the next section of the map. In comparison, this would feel very close to riding a car at over 100kph then suddenly in a blink of an eye stopping. Im surprised I nor anyone have thrown themselves into thier screens through simulated inertia that would most likely be caused by the brain as racing games cause the body to imitate centrifugal force.

When exiting cars in HL2, the camera just unaturally moves around - this would also result in similar symptoms as above. CnC Renegade also uses the same animations for exiting and entering vehicles. Not only is this nauseating, its unrealistic as nobody exits a vehicle as if they were on a hand rail. America's Army gets this right by having a complete and proper entry/exit animation.


In your last point regarding your brother. I think it really would be with the skybox. Since a mojority of the complaints had something to do with the canals and mostly the vehicle maps - I do think the unatural and unrealistic speeds at which you move plus the off the scale paralax is causing the motion sickness.

In reality, paralax would only be constiously visible on nearby objects. A large building in the distance wont appear to move, only the objects close by. This would give you a sense of firm ground. In Hl2, the buildings in the distance to move as if they are right next to you. Add the realistic graphics and you can fool the mind that the building is real - and since the subconscious brain thinks it is real it automatically takes into consideratino that a building of that size in that distance woill not be moving. However it Hl2 is it and it isnt suppose to. This creates a sensation that you are moving over ten times faster than you are. The brain may have been fooled but the body is still firmly in place. Your body knows that it isnt moving but the brain doesnt.


We could try turning off the skybox entirely and see how this would change the game.

A skybox with background is not a bad thing and I would add great looking detailed skyboxes to my games if I could. However HL2 may have over done it with the paralax animations as the buildinds really do look like tehy have wheels and are on the move.


I do need the console commands to test them once I recover from the nausea. Doom3 never did this me... :x

Author:  XenoKiLLer [ Sun Mar 11, 2007 12:45 am ]
Post subject: 

BTW, it cant be the FOV alone. I happen to be a veteran of the Aliens versus Predator series and I am used to both 70 and 90 FOV and moving at tremendously fast speeds. Only difference, both AvP were mostly indoors with no giant skybox that had paralax. Doom3 is also indoors and Farcry is far too covered up to see a skybox not to mention that its just blue sky with a few clouds. BF series? Nah, no buildings in the distance that are on the skybox, there are distant buildings that have accurate paralax since there really are there. AA... well AA has buildings in the skybox, they dont move though just like the ones in CS1.6


Under vibrations


Take into account that HL2 not only recreates realistic visuals but also realistic sounds. This may have something to do with the problem. We all know that the source engine itself has sound problems, this could be something we arent consciously hearing but we are and it is causing the nausea.

According to the article it may also be sounds of any frequency. Hl2 has living environments, and in places liek factories and warehouses those machines are humming. In the outdoor areas, like the canals I do remember hearing a lot of background noise from the helis and several other things. All other games dont have this style of sound effect. Call of Duty may be an exception but the background sounds in the CoD series are flowing, like the mortar shell sounds, they start weak and get stronger, thena suddenly large boom, but it doenst stop right there, it gradually disappears. Also when loud sounds like explosions hit the player the sound goes off into shellshock. In HL2, the sounds just keep on going.

Author:  -ATHF-FryLock [ Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:48 am ]
Post subject: 

If you play racing games, do you get the same sensation when you play them? HL2 also has a lot of simple brain teasers, which may cause set you off when the high pace game play suddenly turns into a "wait, did I miss something" slow down. Those changes may cause you to go in and out of the mood to the game, which may cause you to become displaced. However, since your a seasoned gamer, I doubt thats the issue.

My response for the speed thing, there are other shooting games out there that you run fast in. Have any of those gave you this same problem? If you play console games, then I am sure you played halo. If so, did it nauseate you as well? If you played ET, what about that? Or Unreal and Quake? There are a lot of games where you run unrealistically fast.

Realism definitely isn't the only issue. Because it takes you a while for it make you nauseous, I think it is simply a factor. HL2 IMO has better realism than FarCry and Doom 3 in the since of the way things function. The facial expressions and the objects being moved around in combat are much more realistic, but not nearly realistic enough to pull off true realism. Doom 3 had very good lighting, for its time, but the look of the NPC humans and monster I think ruined ability for the game to draw you in the same way HL2 does. FarCry had the same issue, it had nice lighting, detailed maps, and good graphics, for its time, but just didn't have a lot of the things to make it seem as real. A lot of the objects didn't move around, the enemies just didn't look like they were detailed enough, and the lighting, though good, didn't look well on the human models. Which kept me form getting as pulled in as well I did in HL2.

I don't think the speed is the leading factor because there are plenty of other games that you move fast, and I don't hear to much about them making people nauseous. However, I do hear about HL2 doing so.

Off topic, I thought Doom 3 to be very lame, those type of games just don't scare me. Though FEAR got to me. It had scary elements that built up to the moment, rather than just placing them where ever. When the moment builds up, you keep expecting it, which is something I love.)

Even more off topic, every time I spell nauseous with out thinking about it, I get it right, but it I stop and think about it I always get it horribly misspelled. Bugs the hell out of me, makes me kinda nauseous.

Author:  -ATHF-FryLock [ Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:58 am ]
Post subject: 

Also, as for the loading, that is something that I agree may be a big factor. What I think that gets to people the most is sudden changes of game play. If you go fast to thinking to slow to thinking back to fast I think it causes to much altering of how you have to think, which may cause some people to get head aches, which may lead to nausea.

For the record, do you get head aches first. If so, do you take aspirin? If so, the aspirin doesn't fix your head ache, it simply suppresses it, so side effects of a worsening head ache will still occur. (If you ever had to do something that gives you a bad head ache, and keep on doing it, you will find that you will get nauseous after a while)

EDIT: BTW, you mentioned the mouse acceleration in your first post. I do believe you can turn that off.

Author:  XenoKiLLer [ Sun Mar 11, 2007 2:13 pm ]
Post subject: 

Yes I do play Quake and ET and even UT, running in unrealistic speeds however this only brings upo the question; "Why does HL2 and some other games cause nausea while othe rpopular FPS games do not?"

Simply must be something unique to HL2 and these games - like Renegade. Its not the vehicles because games like BF and Warrock also have vehicles and I never once felt dizzy.

When it comes to environment, Doom3 was meant to spawn an enemy behind the player in an attempt to scare them, all it did was annoy. FEAR has fully scripted events that were meant to scare visual not by spawning an enemy to kill in one shot of a shotgun. HL2 however has all its enemies already in the maps and not much of them spawn. All the scripts only run the enemy AI and weapon systems like those combine NPCs.

I dont take any drugs for this except for the puking.


I do intend on finding out why this happens - that way games nolonger have to cause nausea and future games wont ever have this issue. However I need the help of the community as tests on one person simply will not work.

Author:  -ATHF-FryLock [ Mon Mar 19, 2007 2:07 am ]
Post subject: 

Well, your going to have to find some people who have the same problem before you do can figure it out. I'm sorry to say this, but I think you have trouble finding others. Furthermore, I think you will have even more trouble getting feedback from them.

Yep, new color.

Author:  it [ Mon Mar 19, 2007 2:46 am ]
Post subject: 

just did some quick googling I found a few little things

-setting FOV to 90 in the boat/car (busted, already failed)

-some say setting a 75Hz refresh rate may help, but that depends on your monitor.

-Enable vsync to reduce visual tearing of the image. You may not notice it consciously, but your eyes and brain are definitely effected by it.

-Turn off head-bob. Often in games this bobbing motion is too exagerated and it gives the impression of hopping up and down everywhere.

that's about all I could get until I got to the "buy HL2 here free click here siezure" ads.

*edit* it might be the jarring from the airboat, too. that suckers unstable as hell.

Author:  XenoKiLLer [ Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:38 pm ]
Post subject: 

Its different for everyone. I play FEAR and I guess we all know how much "headbob" there is but it doesnt bother me. All the other settings are similar to my computer's current settings yet I still get nausea. So squares down to the skybox and parallax in combination with unrealistic movement.

In a car, you are told to look straight ahead and focus on a stationary and distant object. In real life we can look at anything in the distance (supposing you arent the driver) that is stationary and they will appear stationary. Most of us are used to that especially those of us that take long car trips and such outside the enclosed environment of city buildings. In HL2 however, the paralax doesnt seem to occur correctly. I noticed the buildings in the distance moving slightly and then consider the fact that the entry/exit animations for the vehicles are unrealistic, Gordon's walk speed is unrealistic, and the background just has no stationary objects everything seems to move. This in turn confuses the brain and the inner ear and therefore causes nausea.

That is in my case though as all the indoor maps and even some outdoor maps such as follow freeman and CSS dont make me dizzy at all.

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