How much like real sailing is VR Regatta? How did you balance the demands of real sailing against the relaxation and entertainment of a computer game?
What are the different types of boats available to sail in-game, and how is the experience of sailing each of them different from the others?
Are the times of day fixed, or will they change while you play? For example, can you start sailing in darkness and then watch as the sun comes up?
Are there varying weather conditions, such as rain and wind?
Akalana is a fictional location, but how closely is it based on real Caribbean locations?
What inspired the team to create a sailing game together?
Why did you choose VR for this game?
What are some of the ways in which working in VR has been harder and easier than other gaming platforms?
- How much like real sailing is VR Regatta? How did you balance the demands of real sailing against the relaxation and entertainment of a computer game?
Fundamentally, sailing is a very rich experience that combines several physical phenomena: water, wind, sound, and gravity, to name a few. VR Regatta offers the most immersive experience possible in your living room, however we won’t claim it’s a substitute for the real thing (the technology isn’t quite there yet 😉). Instead, we like to say that VR Regatta gives you ‘a taste of sailing’.
Having said that, the game is created by a team of passionate sailors and we strived to hit a good balance of fun and technically accurate experience. Even though you may encounter magical flying whales and spinning golden stars, the game gets progressively more complex and serious, eventually letting you compete in a triangle course race.
Playing VR Regatta will give players who have never sailed insight into the fundamentals of making all of those elements of sailing interact, which in turn teaches them how to take their boat from A to B when B is upwind. This experience will translate well into the real world, giving someone an edge over their classmates in an introductory sailing course.
- What are the different types of boats available to sail in-game, and how is the experience of sailing each of them different from the others?
We have two types of boats in VR Regatta: a small dinghy and a big yacht. The dinghy is your learning boat and it offers great physical experience, putting you close to water and action. Both of your hands are kept busy steering and controlling the sails, and the boat is small enough that you can shift your body weight to change its balance.
The bigger yacht offers more complex experience, with two sails to take care of and even a motor! In the future we plan to develop the big yacht even further, adding more details and complexity, and eventually deliver an experience that will allow multiple players to cooperatively control the same vessel.
- Are the times of day fixed, or will they change while you play? For example, can you start sailing in darkness and then watch as the sun comes up?
VR Regatta lets you sail during sunset, sunrise, middle of the day, and under the stars, but we made a design trade-off and decided to lock the time in each individual level. This way we were able to really craft an interesting experience in appropriate mood given the time of the day, while still meeting our technical constraints and delivering the game in a reasonable timeframe.
- Are there varying weather conditions, such as rain and wind?
Currently in the game we have a fairly constant, good sailing conditions with occasional squalls. There is no rain or snow, however this might be a possibility for the future. In the 1.0 release of the game we’ve decided to focus on the weather conditions that will give players good and consistent conditions.
- Akalana is a fictional location, but how closely is it based on real Caribbean locations?
A mix of Caribbean and other locations were used as inspiration. We went through many reference photos and videos, trying to make Akalana Islands feel right. At the same time we opted-out of recreating actual real location, so we would have the creative freedom to create something truly unique for our players to explore.
- What inspired the team to create a sailing game together?
We’re all passionate sailors and technologists. When we started, there was no VR sailing game on Steam, and we couldn’t miss that opportunity. In a way, it was once in a lifetime opportunity to create something truly unique in a domain we really care about.
- Why did you choose VR for this game?
By using VR we were able to give players a taste of sailing that no flat screen-based game can deliver.
VR puts you in the middle of the action, you are surrounded by water, you can manipulate the boat with your hands and hear the wind as your turn your head. It really is a truly immersive experience, and we believe VR sailing will be a revolution in terms of how engaging sailing in your living room can be.
One of the skills you need to develop as a sailor is a good awareness of your surroundings, which is especially important when racing. VR really shines here, as it brings you the closest you can get to real experiences without getting into a boat.
- What are some of the ways in which working in VR has been harder and easier than other gaming platforms?
The most challenging aspect of developing for VR is delivering rich, interesting environments to experience, including advanced water simulation, while maintaining required performance of 90 frames-per-second. The fact that developing a game in VR means you have to constantly check things in the headset also makes the process slower.
The availability of VR hardware is still a barrier for us. Lots of people who have expressed interested in what we’re doing, but don’t yet have access to the equipment. Luckily, the prices are constantly dropping and adoption is growing.
It may not have been easier, but developing for VR in very rewarding—it’s great to be able to inhabit creations that have come out of your imagination and then share them with others in this way.