Dust off your running shoes and get ready to navigate city rooftops like a parkour pro. The latest game from developer Joy Way, STRIDE lets you grab ledges, jump from roof to roof, vault through windows, slide down cables, and swing from hooks. And it’s out today on the Oculus Quest Platform.
STRIDE features three modes: Endless, Time Run, and Arena.
In Endless Mode, infinite level generation proceeds through five difficulty levels, from Harmless to Expert. As things begin to move faster, snipers shoot more often, and drones drop more bombs for an adrenaline rush like no other.
Time Run is a pure parkour mode. The task is to get to the finish line as quickly as possible, competing for the best time and setting records to climb the leaderboard. There are no opponents in this mode, so players can train at a more relaxed pace and explore locations in search of the optimal path. We think players will enjoy this more relaxed version of the STRIDE experience, but will also find something exciting in the competition for landing in the leaderboard.
Arena takes place in a realistic, procedurally generated city. The player’s task is to complete quests within a set amount of time: run through checkpoints, collect a series of cases, and eliminate all opponents. The danger of falling from the rooftops, the pressure of the ticking clock, and enemy fighters who shoot to kill will add to the thrill.
To celebrate the release of STRIDE, we sat down with Joy Way CEO Anton Ulishchenko and Game Designer Dmitry Khabarov.
What was the original inspiration behind STRIDE? How, if at all, has the game changed over time?
Anton Ulishchenko: Our team was tasked with finding and developing an original and fun concept for the game. One of the main ideas was to make the movements in VR as synchronized as possible and similar to movement in real life—in order to avoid any barriers to entry and provide players with a comfortable feeling from the mechanics. The team did a great job with this! I think we managed to create a new standard for movement mechanics in VR action games, and many of our players agree.
Dmitry Khabarov: I’ve been a fan of parkour for a long time. I love games like Mirror's Edge, Titanfall, and Dying Light, and I’ve been watching STORROR every Monday for several years now—and recently almost every day. I’m also a big VR fan. At some point, this love for VR and parkour came together and the idea for STRIDE was born.
Initially we planned to make a story-driven game, but then we decided to release arcade game modes first to get feedback from real players and think about how to develop the product further. As a result, the arcade modes became a full-fledged game, but we’re also working on a story campaign.
We worked a lot on the mechanics of parkour and made a mode that works well for them, with guns and AI bots to add even more action. That became Endless Mode. After that, we got down to designing the other two modes: Time Run and Arena. We finished Time Run quickly enough, but Arena needed a bit more tinkering. We had to make new enemies, as well as a new visual aesthetic, which we strived to make more realistic. We really wanted to capture the feeling of doing parkour on real buildings, and we think it turned out great.
A significant number of players asked to add more difficulty to Endless Mode. Other players still had issues with mastering the game mechanics, so we decided to completely remake the tutorial. This doesn’t mean we dumbed things down. We made sure to keep forcing the player to learn and practice the mechanics of movement. We also added the option to play Endless Mode on an easysetting, which allows beginners to get used to the mechanics a little. We also made the bots a little easier at the start of an Arena session. We think we were able to strike a good balance that allows less advanced players to get the hang of the game while providing good practice for the more advanced players, too.
In Time Run mode, we started off with bots, but we soon realized this wasn’t a good fit. So we took them out to let players focus on technique, speed, and mechanics to finish the run without the distraction of enemy bots. Once we made this choice, we started production of levels in the visual style of the Arena.
As we continue developing STRIDE, look forward to new levels of Time Run, new locations and quests for the Arena, as well as other tasty updates in the near future.
How did you decide to combine parkour and a shooter?
DK: After having made the first prototype, we realized that something was missing. And we soon realized that adding a shooting element was just what was needed. Once we added this feature, the game felt a bit like an action movie, kind of like the scene from Casino Royale! Nevertheless we decided to leave simple parkour in the Time Run mode. Initially, it also had opponents, but we realized that this was not suitable for this mode and decided to remove them. For fans of pure parkour, there is an opportunity to turn off shooting in the settings and do a full-fledged parkour adventure.
Did you encounter any technical challenges while optimizing for a mobile chipset? How did you overcome those obstacles?
AU: As our technical artist Vlad would say, the main technical challenges for the development team were: adaptation of the project for several platforms, optimization, transferring procedural generation to Oculus Quest for Endless and Arena Modes, as well as reworking the logic and physics of bots and completely reworking all the game assets, which the team did a great job at the cost of crunches, but with a wild desire to realize it.
What’s your favorite part of STRIDE?
AU: For me, that’s Endless Mode. We have an analysis that shows that people have played this mode for 50+ hours. And I can understand them—Endless gives a state of flow.
DK: My favorite mode is Arena. I love the drive and freedom that you feel while running on rooftops and fighting bots. And then there is the easter egg (of my face!), which is also very fun. I’m glad it was added to the game!
What’s the best reaction you’ve seen while demoing or playtesting the game?
DK: The most memorable reaction was when one of the players did a physical somersault during the game. Although this was one of our main goals to make free movement, it was very cool to see!
How do you think VR and AR will continue to change the face of gaming moving forward?
AU: VR makes it possible to create very immersive gameplay. The technology will evolve over time and become even more convenient and affordable to use. The quality of the content and its variety make the gaming platforms themselves develop, and vice versa. So the more doors we open, the more popular VR becomes. We’re very pleased to be involved in this space.
I also think the future belongs to multiplayer games with social interaction. In VR, it’s very cool to communicate and spend time with friends. We’re also working in that direction.
DK: Personally, I often imagine how VR versions of large, flat PC games would look, and I think that this is not only quite realistic, but it will be sooner rather than later, and it will be really fun to play. The rules for the development of VR games are just being formed, and we, like other developers, are trying to contribute to this process. Over time, the VR industry will move from smaller projects to large, complex AAA games.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
AU: I want to say a huge thanks to our community, testers, players, bloggers and editors for their support along the way! We hope that our game will bring the players a lot of positive emotions and that wonderful buzz of adrenaline. This is the basis of our mission and the driver of Joy Way as a company.
DK: You, the players, can influence the development of the VR industry by supporting your favorite developers, games, or game genres by buying games, spreading the word about the games you love, and also giving the developers your honest feedback. Play only good games.
Check out STRIDE on the Quest Platform today.