FuturLab’s Dave Gabriel discusses the pitstops and gear changes it took to fine-tune Tiny Trax, launching for PS VR tomorrow.
As Tiny Trax speeds to PlayStation Store tomorrow, I’m excited to see the result of two years’ work – and I’m very proud to tell the story of how the game evolved.
Whilst this type of game now seems like an obvious fit for VR, we had a few false starts getting here.
In early 2015 PlayStation was keen to receive VR ideas and originally, we looked at a drone racing game. Something we hadn’t considered was how the VR locomotion would affect gamers’ heads and stomachs… and given that I, along with our MD James Marsden, were particularly prone to simulation sickness, it was back to the drawing board (via a quick trip to the bathroom…).
Tiny Trax puts giant racing tracks around you, with toy cars zipping past inches from your face.
The directors at FuturLab saw that I was keen to learn and possibly help find a solution. I was lucky enough to be given all the hardware, software and time needed to get stuck in and explore the world of VR.
I looked at sports, toys and games that people play while seated. We agreed that a good course of action would be to use VR to improve on an existing real-world seated experience – which led me to the idea of slot-car racing in VR.
It ticked all the right boxes:
- The player didn’t need to move, so there would be no motion sickness.
- We’d be expanding the core experience of slot-car racing, by creating tracks anywhere we desired – from a beach to alien planets.
- The track itself could be any shape too, as the laws of gravity need not apply!
As our design team was engaged with work elsewhere, I had the task and the privilege of coming up with ideas that could be included. While the track creation tool was being made, the design team asked me to look at what would make interesting and fun tracks. When the designers were ready to look at the tracks they picked their favorites, suggested a few changes, and the tracks were locked down.
During the course of the game’s development, we had to swerve a few obstacles and took a few sharp corners – for a start, ensuring the steering system was fair, but also encouraged players to take risks; and optimizing the AI.
My nitpicking probably tested the patience of the directors and the rest of the team – particularly when we pulled the game from certification to make some additional tweaks. That was a risky move, but one we felt was necessary to ensure we delivered a fun, rewarding game. Hopefully you will agree!
Tiny Trax will be available for PS VR at PlayStation Store starting tomorrow (July 25th).
Plus! To celebrate the release of Tiny Trax, we’re giving our awesome Twitter community the chance to win some amazing PlayStation hardware, plus copies of the game itself. Click here to find out more.
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