The wait is over, adrenaline junkies! Fresh off its closed beta, Sprint Vector is now available on Rift. The mutiplayer parkour racing game pits up to eight players against each other in a high-stakes intergalactic competition run by Mr. Entertainment. In your quest for glory, you’ll have to scale towering pyramids, plunge into alien ruins, and sprint for your life.
To celebrate the launch, we spoke with Survios CCO and Co-Founder James Iliff about Sprint Vector’s smooth locomotion system, hectic gameplay, and more.
Since launching the closed beta on January 19, what kind of responses have you seen from the gaming community?
James Iliff: The community response overall has been really exciting for us. A limited version of Sprint Vector has been out in arcades for a few months, so we’ve heard some feedback from that, but the beta was the first opportunity for players around the world to experience the true hooks of the game: eight-person multiplayer, solo challenge maps, and global leaderboards. All our players emerged from the beta loving it and wanting more.
We teamed up with Alienware for the Alienware VR Cup and held the finals at CES, so we’ve already been able to meet some amazing sprinters who legitimately have VR esports in their sights. Finally, on our Discord channel, we’ve had players share awesome streams and highlight reels, plus people chatting up the devs to see if they’ve beaten their high scores in the beta. We hope to see more of that friendly competitive trash talk into the future—it’s been pretty epic (and Mr. Entertainment definitely approves)!
What would you point to as the highlight of the Alienware VR Cup? How do you think VR will continue to impact the world of esports moving forward?
JI: The highlight of the Alienware VR Cup was bringing together these amazing players and hearing their experiences mastering the gameplay through their arcade play sessions. More than anything, the studio was so excited to see the game become an esport that was genuinely exciting to watch.
VR naturally combines esports with traditional athleticism, and in Sprint Vector you have this perfect mix that requires both mental and physical strength. At the VR Cup, we got to witness the evolution of a new type of esports player who thrives in this focused yet fun competitive environment.
What was the inspiration behind Sprint Vector?
JI: Like with Raw Data, we started by examining the feelings that we wanted to evoke in our players. In Sprint Vector, we tap into the adrenaline rush of extreme sports, including the hyper-focused mental state induced by intense competition. Most people never get to feel what it’s like to go crazy fast, climb insanely high, or plummet into unknown depths. In Sprint Vector, you can actually feel the rush as you race.
But most of all, Sprint Vector is a game show—as media mastermind and host Mr. Entertainment loves to remind you—and we want our players to feel like contestants in front of millions of viewers, where they can grab the spotlight not only with incredibly fast finish times, but also by hamming it up or being really funny. It’s everyone’s chance to be a star. That’s why we really encourage interaction between our players: it pulls you deeper into the game.
The result is a mash-up of game shows’ madcap humor, the fierceness of world-class competition, and a touch of good-natured sabotage—all in a colorful, stylized space-punk setting. It’s fast-paced, frantic, really fun, and a great workout!
Speaking of, your games to-date incorporate a lot of physicality. Is that a deliberate goal when you start developing games?
JI: Active VR has always been a core philosophy at Survios. We believe that for VR to be truly immersive, it has to be physically as well as mentally engaging. Sprint Vector wasn’t designed to be a fitness game, but fitness has turned out to be a beneficial side effect of the Fluid Locomotion mechanics. We’ve had several players express that they want Sprint Vector just for the “exergaming” factor.
What lessons learned from Raw Data did you apply to Sprint Vector?
JI: Ultimately, we make games that make the player feel incredible—whether that’s intense combat or, in this case, insane speeds. In order to achieve that goal of affecting the player in a transformative way, we have to tackle some of the biggest design challenges in VR. After making Raw Data, we saw locomotion as a clear issue that has plagued the industry at large. With Sprint Vector’s Fluid Locomotion, we feel very confident that we have a movement system that can comfortably keep people in VR longer—and encourage them to physically engage with the game on a deep, instinctual level. In this way, we can hit that perfect flow of “easy to learn, hard to master,” where anyone can pick up the game and feel like a superhuman parkour adrenaline junkie—but to get that perfect time on a challenge course, you’ll need some time to learn all the little nuances.
A lot of people who've had the opportunity to play Sprint Vector have praised the locomotion—what were the challenges you faced to achieve smooth locomotion?
JI: Fluid Locomotion started as physical climbing mechanics that we developed over two years ago for the earliest prototype of Sprint Vector. From there, we built onto the locomotion system, adding more intuitive motion mechanics to encompass running, jumping, and flying. But the biggest challenge was actually making it fluid enough to interpret the variety of ways people move and help them achieve what they expected—we refer to these subsystems under the umbrella term “intended motion.” Finally, there was an intense amount of tuning that went into adjusting the variables behind all these systems to make sure everything flowed nicely from one action to another, with lots of testing on players of all comfort tolerances.
What do you love most about developing games for VR?
JI: Everything is new, so everything is a challenge. We have to figure out a lot of fresh new things from scratch, and if we’re lucky we get the chance to make our own rules. It’s exciting, and with every new project we learn something new about VR as a medium.
For those new to VR, what settings do you recommend to maximize comfort and fun in Sprint Vector?
JI: For the easiest Sprint Vector experience, we developed “comfort mode” especially for people who know their limitations. For all players, going through both the basic and advanced tutorials is a crucial aspect of the game. It’s easy to overexert and overextend while playing the game, so technique and form are everything. Use the tutorials and you’ll be a sprinting champion. As we like to say: run smarter, not harder!
How does the Survios team have fun with Sprint Vector?
JI: We host internal Grand Prixs! But the QA team pretty much smokes everyone; they’re all esport pro level at this point.
How do you incorporate community feedback when building games?
JI: Live demos at events are the strongest testimonials to the game. We’ve taken Sprint Vector around the world, allowing a range of casual and hardcore gamers to play evolving versions of the demo. That gave us insight on what was authentically fun and what we needed to take back to the drawing board and refine.
Which map was the most fun to build?
JI: Machine Death. It’s all in the name.
What are your top tips to get ahead in multiplayer?
JI: We built in a ton of twists, turns, traps, boosts, power-ups, and platformer shortcuts for everyone to use wisely and strategically against their opponents. And as I said earlier, definitely play through the tutorials and work on your technique in casual races or on the solo challenge maps so you run smarter, not harder.
What are you working on next?
JI: Up next is the immersive music creation tool Electronauts, which we recently showcased at the National Association of Music Merchants show to great reception, and we’re constantly prototyping all kinds of new VR games and experiences.
How can fans get in touch with the Survios team and discuss all things Sprint Vector?
JI: Our official Discord server, discord.gg/survios, is really the best place to reach us for conversations since there’s almost always someone on from our team. You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
Thanks, James! We can’t wait to start sprinting!
Check out Sprint Vector today on Rift. We’ll see you in the arena.
— The Oculus Team