Simplex Controls & Interface

When you open Simplex and click through startup screen, you will be presented with a blue ground plane and some floating 3D interface elements that are just out of view. Because the VR view is quite constrained, these UI elements are meant to stay out of your line of sight until you need them. To use this UI you will have to just glance slightly left, right, or down. We don't put any UI above eye level because it will be in the way when you are making tall buildings, and glancing up is uncomfortable. This layer of UI elements, which we call the Cockpit, is about half a meter (~2 feet) away from your head, much closer than the scene. The image below-right shows the current modeling Cockpit layout in Simplex. The Cockpit UI is (approximately) laid out on a sphere that is centered at your head.

Cursor Positioning and Movement

Today, when you use Simplex you'll be using a Mouse or Gamepad. These two devices share a cursor, which will appear as 3D version of the standard 2D cursor. Because we're in VR, the cursor lives in the 3D scene, but since the Mouse is a 2D input device, the cursor movement is still in a 2D plane, but this plane is attached to your head. So, when you look around, the cursor will "stick" to your view, and hence you can use look-pointing like in other VR apps if you wish. But you can also move the cursor with the mouse or left stick on the gamepad. 

This might feel a bit odd at first, but you'll find that it is actually very fluid, once you get used to it. We think it is actually faster than regular 2D mouse-only input, because you can get the cursor close to your target very quickly by looking. This is a big help with the gamepad, which is less accurate than the mouse. 


Standard Buttons

In 2D interfaces the UI is relatively standardized. We have the left mouse button as the primary click/action button, and the right mouse button does secondary things like bring up a popup menu. But we also have a keyboard, and we often use modifier keys like shift/alt/ctrl.

With a Gamepad we don't expect that you will also be using a keyboard, so the controls are more complex. The gamepad has left and right Triggers as well as left and right Shoulder Buttons, then left and right Sticks, and finally four other buttons - A,B,X,Y. We're going to be using all of these in some places. However the the most important things to know are that:

  1. Left Stick moves the cursor
  2. Left Trigger and the A Button are both equivalent to Left Mouse button
  3. Right Trigger is equivalent to the Right Mouse button

Similarly, Simplex supports the Oculus Touch controllers, which have a similar set of buttons to the Gamepad, in addition to being 3D-tracked. With the Touch, Both the Left and Right Triggers act like the Left Mouse button. This is because most of the time in Simplex, you can use either hand to carry out interactions. The A and X buttons act as the Right Mouse, in the few places where that is relevant (eg popup menus). However, there are many other touch-specific control schemes throughout Simplex, because many unique things are possible with Touch's two-handed 3D tracking. We have collected up all this information in one place on the
Oculus Touch Controls page.


Cockpit Tracking & Positioning

The Cockpit will translate with your head movements, but it can't rotate with your head all the time (or you'd never be able to glance at the widgets!). So, we have a "smart" tracking system - if you look left or right long enough, the cockpit will rotate around the up axis to track your head movements, and if you stay still for a second or two, it will lock back into place. It always stays level, though. The little capsule at the center of the Cockpit indicates the tracking state - green for stable and orange for tracking. You can double-click on the capsule to toggle auto-tracking on and off (red means off). You can also left-click-drag on the capsule to reposition the cockpit relative to your head.


Undo/Redo and Menu Bar

The Undo and Redo buttons are two blue arrows, in the middle of the Cockpit. These are shown in the images directly above, in the Cockpit Tracking section. As in any Windows application, Ctrl+Z is the keyboard shortcut for Undo, and Ctrl+Y for Redo. With the Oculus Touch controllers, the B button is Undo, and Y is Redo.

There is also a set of buttons in the lower-right region of the Cockpit, which are used to perform various actions:

Import - load external mesh files into the scene. Currently only .OBJ meshes are supported, with or without texture maps. Right now these meshes are loaded as single objects into the scene, the parts of the mesh cannot be manipulated independently. See details on the file browser below.

Export - write an .OBJ file for the current scene. Unfortunately writing out the texture-map information is currently not supported.

Load - read a saved Simplex scene file. 

Save - write out the current scene to a Simplex scene file. Note that currently imported Meshes are only stored as reference paths. When you load a scene file back in, the mesh file is loaded from its original location (or path relative to the scene file at time of saving, if the absolute path is no longer valid). 

New - Discard all objects in the current scene, ie create a new empty scene

Quit - exit Simplex


Action Panels

On the Left side of the Cockpit are the Action Panels, which are the main interface you will use to create and edit scenes in Simplex. There are currently 3 panels - Primitives, Tools, and Materials. You change which panel is visible using the small strip of icons at the top, much like a standard Tabbled dialog interface. With the Oculus Touch controllers, you can also quickly cycle through the panels using the left/right axis of the Left Stick


For more details on the Primitives and Materials panels, see Creating and Editing Scenes, and for the Tools panel see Simplex Tools.