It's not every day you invent a new sport, but that's just what CCP has done with their new PS VR project.
This week we’re excited to launch Sparc onto PlayStation VR. It’s a project that has evolved from early prototyping, so we thought we give the PSVR community a bit of insight into the origin of Sparc.
Our small studio is based in Atlanta, part of CCP Games, creators of the long-running space MMO EVE Online. Originally formed to be a virtual reality research & development team (called “VR Labs” internally), our task was to explore the rapidly developing world of virtual reality, and to start learning what it meant to create compelling interactive multiplayer experiences in virtual space.
In our early days, we were working with a Frankenstein’s monster of hardware, hacked together with code, extension cables, and many rolls of gaffer’s tape. We created a VR prototypes for spinning virtual EVE ships, kicking over stacks of blocks, and throwing fireballs at targets. From that early exploration, we knew we wanted to make an experience centered around player-to-player interaction in virtual space. And when we put two players in the same virtual room and let them throw stuff at each other, it got really interesting.
Every Spring, CCP holds Fanfest, an event in Reykjavik, Iceland, where EVE Online players meet for several days of panels, parties, pub crawls and more. As part of that event, CCP likes to show off a bit of what the rest of the company is up to, so we were asked to bring several of our VR prototypes to EVE Fanfest 2016.
One of those early VR prototypes was an experience that we called “Project Arena”, and it wound up really grabbing people’s attention at Fanfest. We had many people queue up multiple times to play over and over and we saw some great matches play out between the competitors. Even in that early incarnation, players were having a lot of fun, and we could see the potential for something special and exciting. That excitement, coupled with an overwhelming response to our early “mixed reality” test video , led us to the decision to make Project Arena into a real product.
Creating a Virtual Sport
We liked the social dynamics of a 1v1 sport, but instead of translating a real-world sport into a VR version, we decided to try to make a sport for VR, a virtual sport, one only possible in a virtual world.
We’ve been calling it a “vSport”, and we approach our design decisions from the perspective of designing an actual sport. While we’ve tried to have some fun and funky character customization options, your avatar in the game is meant to be a representation of you, not some fictional character. We think of your VR gear as your sports equipment, just like you’d need a tennis racquet or a baseball glove. If you get tired from playing a particularly intense game, we have Courtside, where you can take a step back and just watch others play for a bit while you recharge.
Sparc is Here
Sparc is finally here, and we’d love for you to try it out. Join us online in the game for a friendly match, then join us in the Sparc forums to tell us about your experience. We are listening and looking forward to your feedback and tales of glory.
See you Courtside!