How the team behind EVE Online designed a new virtual sport.
The team here at CCP Games’ Atlanta studio is thrilled to be a part of the PlayStation VR story at this year’s E3. We consider ourselves lucky to have the opportunity to build games for this new medium, and we’re excited to confirm that our upcoming competitive VR game Sparc will be coming to PlayStation VR later this year.
The Origin of Sparc
Early on in our experimentation with standing VR gameplay, we began pushing on the physicality of the experience. We knew that virtual reality could transport players to completely new and unique locations. Could we use VR to transform the space in front of your TV or monitor into a virtual court where you could actually meet and compete with other players? What if it’s meant to be “you” playing the sport and building your own physical skill instead of a fictional character? Can I read my opponent’s movement during play and use that to my advantage? And just how fun is it to throw stuff at your friends?
The Core of the vSport
Our design philosophy is that Sparc is a virtual sport, or vSport – a unique full-body experience only possible in virtual reality where your VR hardware is your sporting equipment. The game play is physical and energetic. Players use their PlayStation Move motion controllers to throw projectiles across the court at their opponent, while at the same time dodging, blocking or deflecting what’s incoming. The speed and pacing of a match is dictated by the players’ direct actions and reactions.
Similar to a real-world sport, we’re establishing a “regulation” court size and shape so that players can build their skill against fixed standards. The team is focused on Sparc’s 1 vs 1 gameplay for launch. With that said, the most common gameplay question has been “Can we play doubles?”, so it’s on the radar.
Beyond the game’s 1 vs 1 core gameplay, Sparc includes challenges for players to engage in on their own, designed to improve their skill through practice of the fundamental physical actions like throwing and deflecting. Working on the basics solo will help against real, human opponents. We think of them like batting cages for baseball or automatic ball launchers for tennis.
In addition to expressing themselves through their playstyle, Sparc also includes a range of visual customization options that allow players to inject personality into their avatar.
Virtual sport. Real Competition.
We’ve built Sparc to encourage connection and competition in an online community. Players can join one-on-one matches with friends online, or find opponents via matchmaking. Once connected, players can watch neon-lit matches unfold in person and queue for their next match in VR through Courtside, a freeform social area for spectating in VR. It’s the virtual equivalent of meeting your friends at a local tennis court and watching another game taking place (or for the old-timers among us, when we used to line up to take on the local Street Fighter champ at the arcade).
We’re making Sparc to deliver fast-paced fun, physical competition. We want to create plasma-clad sporting champions in living rooms via the virtual court, where challengers will meet and compete with other players from around the world. We look forward to seeing you Courtside!