Hand Tracking Little Cities

Hand-tracking is coming to small towns on Quest this week

Small towns is getting support for hand tracking on Oculus Quest and Meta Quest 2 this week.

As you may recall, we have spoke to James Howard, half of the dynamic duo Purple Yonder responsible for Little Cities, last month, shortly after the game’s launch† After reviewing how Little Cities got into that discussion, James and I got back together last week to discuss the game’s next big update, “Big Hands in Little Cities.”

We’re still waiting for confirmation on a specific release, but we know the update will be out sometime this week, so you can ditch the controllers and get your hands on the whole Little Cities campaign.

After some internal discussions and a few requests from fans, Purple Yonder decided that hand tracking support would be the first major piece of content after the game’s launch. “We really wanted to jump in and see what we could do and if we could make it playable with hands and that’s what we did,” James told me. “It was a lot of work to get to that stage, a lot of challenges, but we’re here and it’s working very well.”

To place objects and build roads, point to any part of the map and use the familiar squeeze gesture found in many other hand tracking apps. Movement with your hands is a bit unique in Little Cities though – you close and drag your hands into a fist to move sideways, while fists allow you to zoom closer or further apart. Moving fists in a steering motion rotates the card.

Aside from that, many of the remaining UI buttons and actions have been transferred from controllers to hands without much modification. For example, the wristwatch mechanic works almost exactly the same as with controllers. “That just works really well with hand tracking because you just naturally look at your hand and it all still works the same way.”

“When you select things, if you haven’t played Little Cities, it kind of acts like a bubble that you pop with your finger. And then you get a section with other bubbles with different options that you can build. And that just works really well,” explains James.

“We didn’t really have to change much to get that to work with hand tracking and it just feels really good, this kind of tactile feel. Because it’s not just that you pop these bubbles to select things, but it feels like your real hands when you do it.”

The Big Hands in Little Cities update arrives this week on the Quest platform. Both Quest 2 and the original Quest support hand tracking, with players on the former taking advantage of Hand tracking 2.0.

You can watch our full interview with James and check out some gameplay here (also embedded above).

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