Preview: Sprint Vector – Can Waving Your Arms Around Improve Locomotion?
There's no lounging about in this fast paced experience.
It may have only released one virtual reality (VR) title to date, but Survios’ Raw Data has become one of the most popular first-person wave shooters available for HTC Vive. While Raw Data uses the tried and tested teleportation mechanic, for its next project the studio has decided to take on the challenge of VR locomotion in Sprint Vector, an energetic race that requires you to put in some athletic effort to win, and hopefully avoiding any ill feeling.
Locomotion is an iffy subject in VR with developers tending to go for a slower approach rather than pushing the limits of the technology and people’s stomachs in the process. In Sprint Vector, speed is not only important it’s key, as you’ll be racing against other players to complete an assault course littered with obstacles, ramps, jumps and climbing walls, all needing to be traversed as quickly and smoothly as possible.
So how does Survios go about making a fast paced, exhilarating title such as this? Well the studio has employed a mechanic used by cross-country skiers, whereby downward motions of the arms propel you forward, the faster you swing your arms the quicker you should go. That’s the basic outline but the technique needed is a little more nuanced than that. The controller’s trigger needs to be held down for the entirety of the swing, being released right at the last moment for maximum effect. And both arms must alternate rather than swing at the same time. You can’t be lazy either, there are no little motions of the arms here, just big sweeping arcs.
This ensures maximum effort by the player so that Sprint Vector is not only a race but also a workout. As the image above showcases, get this timing right and you’ll start to see lightning appear round the edge of your vision indicating maximum speed. Additionally, you’ll be able to jump across chasms – or fall down them if you’re not going quick enough – and ascend massive green neon lit climbing walls which provide a change of pace to the rest of the videogame.
Does this all make for a jarring experience or something you’d actually want to play, in fact it’s the latter. Whether its the motion of your arms or the design layout, Sprint Vector doesn’t induce those feelings of simulator sickness that many may expect when looking at these GIF’s. The subject is always a difficult one to approach due to everyone being effected differently, but it would seem that the direct approach to controlling your own speed – and subsequently making your body move more – can help mitigate those issues developers try to avoid using controls like teleportation. If Sprint Vector used first-person shooter (FPS) mechanics using the touch pad to move forward, this could very well have been the polar opposite.
From this early demo Sprint Vector certainly does things differently, a VR Parkour if you will. VR developers are still learning the do’s and don’ts of the technology and Survios has decided to tackle a major challenge head on, and only time will really tell if this is a successful solution. Sprint Vector has all the makings of another stellar experience from the Raw Data studio, and VRFocus will be following this closely.