How PS VR’s Tiny Trax evolved from drone to slot-car racer

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How PS VR’s Tiny Trax evolved from drone to slot-car racer

FuturLab on the pit stops and gear changes it took to fine-tune its new racer, out tomorrow

Hello PlayStation VR fans,

As Tiny Trax speeds into the PlayStation Store tomorrow (25th July), 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.

Tiny Trax

Tiny Trax puts giant racing tracks around you, with toy cars zipping past inches from your face.
Whilst this type of game now seems like an obvious fit for PS 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…).

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 PS VR.

Tiny Trax

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!

Tiny Trax

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 favourites, 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 optimising 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 on the PlayStation store from tomorrow (25th July). If you’re quick you can secure a 20% discount that ends tomorrow!

Tiny Trax

Finally, to celebrate the release of Tiny Trax, we’re giving our awesome Twitter community the chance to win a PlayStation 4 Pro and PS VR, plus copies of the game itself. Click here

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  • Purchased this today, and is really quite something in VR. Love it…. It’s looks simple to play, but there is some skill needed to keep the speed. Do you have any tips

    • Some tips for getting used to the controls:

      1) Get used to nailing the drifts without boosting (save the boost for the straights): Steer safely by tilting the stick about half way over just before the start of the corner (red and white curbs indicate the start of a corner). Once you’re drifting without stopping begin tilting a little further to try and hit that sweet spot and recharge your boost. You’ll find the sweet spot faster with practice, it becomes muscle memory.

      2) Often you can boost around the 90 degree corners and use the longer corners for your boost regen. A quick way to learn boosting around corners is to boost along the preceding straight, just before the start of the corner hammer the stick over in the correct direction for a split second right then release the stick. As you get better you will be able to hit the sweet spot in these 90 degree turns, saving a little boost and enabling faster overall times.

      3) When you have excess boost you can start boosting out of corners. Hold the drift in the sweet spot and once your boost is full hold X to quickly accelerate out of the drift.

      4) Pay attention to the track, if you can see there is a long straight coming, make sure you charge your boost on the preceding corners. Finding yourself without boost on a long straight can be devastating!

      5) Re-iterating no.1 because it’s so important!  If you find you keep stopping on corners pay close attention to the turning gauge. Notice if you are over or under steering. If you’re over steering ease up on the stick for a few laps, don’t worry about recharging boost you need to get used to driving smoothly before that!

      Hopefully these tips help, if there’s anything specific you’re finding challenging let us know and we’ll do our best to help you out :)

  • Hi, yeah I’d be happy to share some tips to help you all destroy the AI and be a real contender online!

    A couple of basics:

    1) Boost only charges on a corner if you are not pressing CROSS.

    2) Boost will not be used on a corner if you hold the drift in the sweet spot, NOTE: It won’t charge either, so you’ll have to decide if you’re better off recharging for an upcoming corner or if it’s near the end of the race and you’ve got enough boost to make it to the end.

    3) Over turning, under turning, or turning the wrong way will quickly bring you to a stop on the corners. You can safely get around all corners by tilting the stick just a tiny bit (but you won’t replenish your boost, so your overall time may suffer!), tilt into the sweet spot and release the CROSS button for boost regen.

    4) Tapping the boost button on a corner will allow you to regenerate your boost while maintaining most of your speed, try faster/slowing tapping until you find a good balance; this is a bit of a pro-tip really, but it can shave whole seconds off your fastest times!

    5) The AI get better as you get better to ensure they’ll still be giving you a decent race when you’re pushing for the top of the leader boards. The AI in the tropical tracks are not as good as the ones in the fire and ice tracks, and those are not as good as the AI in the space tracks. NOTE: We tried to create a bit of a spike in difficulty on the last track of each environment – you’ll need to be extra careful on Molten Ruins, there are very long straights that you need to save your boost for!

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