Finding time to exercise is one of the greatest obstacles to exercising at all. So when I exercise in VR I need every minute to count. One easy way to maximize my efficiency is to choose one game and stick with it, but more often I like to mix things up with several games that target different muscles and offer a variety of intensity levels. For example, if I have an hour to devote, I’ll choose a ten-minute, low-intensity, warm-up game to get the blood flowing, two twenty minute games that are high intensity, and I’ll finish things up with a ten-minute cool-down to gradually bring my heart rate back down to resting.
Structuring a routine like this meant setting timers, closing down the game, and opening new ones. This presents several obstacles. One is having to keep an eye on the clock. Continually checking the time breaks immersion, and worse yet is when the clock doesn’t start and then I completely lose track. A second obstacle is opening up the SteamVR overlay – which doesn’t always function – to close a game out. Third is navigating through my hundreds of Steam games to find the next one to open.
I’ve simplified this by categorizing them under “exercise games” so I can navigate them more quickly, but even still this means navigating through several menus in SteamVR. In between games I can be pretty exhausted and the fine motor control needed to check those little boxes with the controller’s laser pointer feels like a chore and not like a workout.
All of this meant that a 60-minute workout became a 65-minute process. Five extra minutes may not seem like a lot, but on top of getting everything else set up and equipped, it’s time that I don’t always have to spare. Luckily there’s a hidden feature built into SteamVR that will give you the most bang for your buck: SteamVR Playlists
With this tool, you can create custom game playlists that will automatically load games for a preset amount of time before automatically closing it out and loading up the next one in the sequence.
To enable this feature you’ll want to right-click the SteamVR status windows > select Settings > Developer > Demo > then “Show Playlist Menu”
This will add a new item to the SteamVR drop-down list, titled “Playlists.”
Now you’ll select the “Playlist Editor”
Now you can begin populating the playlist with your favorite workout games.
- Give each entry a name
- Select the games executable (usually found inside C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common)
- Set duration under the “Total” field. (Note: Duration is given in seconds, not minutes)
- Add more games by choosing the “+” symbol in the lower left-hand corner
- Save the playlist as something memorable, like, “workout.vpl”
When it’s finished it should look something like this:
The total time duration will be noted under the entries. It will be a little longer than an hour, because by default the editor allows 6 seconds for the games to transition.
When you’re ready to run your workout playlist, you can either launch it from the editor by selecting “Play” in the lower right-hand corner which will launch the Playlist Player or by selecting “Playlist Player” from the same drop-down menu where you found Playlist Editor:
Simply choose “Run” and your workout will be ready to begin!
Did this trick change your VR workout? Tell us how in the comments below!