Little Cities will receive hand tracking support this week on Oculus Quest and Meta Quest 2.
As you might recall, we spoke to James Howard, one half the Purple Yonder dynamic duo responsible for Little Cities, last month, shortly after the game’s launch. After running through how Little Cities came to be in that discussion, James and I reconnected last week to discuss the game’s next big update — ‘Big Hands in Little Cities’.
We’re still waiting on confirmation of a specific release, but we know the update will drop sometime this week, allowing you to ditch the controllers and use your hands for the entire Little Cities campaign.
After some discussions internally and a few requests from fans, Purple Yonder decided hand tracking support would be the game’s first big piece of post launch content. “We really wanted to jump in at the deep end and see what we could do and if we could make it playable with hands and that’s what we’ve managed to do,” James told me. “It was a lot of work to get to that stage, a lot of challenges, but we’re there and it’s working really well.”
To place objects and build roads, you’ll point at an area of the map and use the familiar pinch gesture, found in many other hand tracking apps. However, movement with your hands is a bit unique in Little Cities — you close and drag your hands in a fist to move laterally, while moving fists closer or further apart will let you zoom. Moving fists in a steering wheel motion will rotate the map.
Apart from that, a lot of the remaining UI buttons and actions transferred from controllers to hands without much modification. The wristwatch mechanic, for example, works almost exactly the same as it does with controllers. “That just works really well with hand tracking because you just naturally look at your hand and that all still works the same way.”
“When you’re selecting things, if you haven’t played Little Cities, the way it works is you have like a build bubble and you pop that with your finger. And then you get a section of other bubbles which shows different options you can build. And that just works really well,” explains James.
“We didn’t really have to change much to get that working with hand tracking and it just feels really good, this kind of tactile feeling. Cause it’s not only you kind of popping these bubbles to select things, but it feels like your real hands when you’re doing it.”
The Big Hands in Little Cities update releases this week on the Quest platform. Both Quest 2 and the original Quest will support hand tracking, with players on the former being able to take advantage of Hand Tracking 2.0.
You can watch our full interview with James and check out some gameplay here (also embedded above).