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A Brief History of Sparc, Out Tomorrow for PS VR

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A Brief History of Sparc, Out Tomorrow for PS VR

It's not every day you invent a new sport, but that's just what CCP has done with their new PS VR project.

2 Author Replies

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.

CCP VR Labs

“VR Labs”

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.

Sparc for PS VRSparc for PS VR

“Project Arena”

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.

Sparc for PS VR

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 for PS VRSparc for PS VR

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!

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12 Comments

2 Author Replies

  • This sounds really interesting; thanks for your work! Is there any single player or local multiplayer modes or is this strictly an online pvp experience? Cheers!

    • Morgan Godat
      Morgan Godat

      There are Challenges where you can learn the basics of throwing and deflecting with your shield. These are played solo and at your own pace. Once you have the fundamentals down and can clear all the stages of a challenge, there is an online leaderboard for the fastest completion times. The primary 1v1 game mode, Brawl, is online pvp only. If you do hop online and there are already players on the court, you can watch from Courtside.

  • Xcaligamer1

    Been following development thank and saw the psvr Frank vlog studio visit. Looks really fun. Waiting to see how this week shakes out since I’m in tx and getting pounded with rain. This game is one I definitely want to buy

  • White_JackaL

    Just got vr about 3 weeks ago, its fun but lacking great games still, might look into this.. though being in a wheelchair do you have to stand and move about to play?

    • It is clearly not lacking

    • Morgan Godat
      Morgan Godat

      While Sparc is technically a ‘standing VR’ experience, we have had players in wheelchairs play and enjoy Sparc. In fact, we had a player in a wheelchair at Gamescom and he kicked butt, so you’d be in good company.

      Sparc’s Advanced mode requires a fair amount of lateral movement for dodging, but in Basic mode there are successful techniques that rely on blocking and deflecting without the need to dodge.

    • Hey bud. Not to diminish Sparc’s thunder with this post, because I am definitely buying their game tomorrow. But check out Archangel for PSVR. It’s a story-driven single player Giant Robot game. Can be (and should be) played sitting down. But you are in a giant robot, with each Move controller controlling a giant robot arm. It’s freakin’ intense. Once of the best VR experiences I’ve had so far.

  • How come this isn’t available for preorder on the US PlayStation Store?

  • Finally. I’ve been waiting for this one since I first heard of it. This is the type of game that could help sell headsets.

  • sandkwithhp

    Will this have cross-play with PC VR platforms?

  • Still not available in the Canadian store… :-( :-( :-(

  • Can we please have a demo?? Any game that is a new concept on a new medium draws hesitation to buy. Putting out a short demo would help so many people come down off the fence.

  • Wow, that release date crept up on me. For some reason I was thinking it was later this year. Definitely can’t wait to start playing this

  • Both Sparc and Archangel not available in Asia now?

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