Fighting games are a no brainer for VR and for fitness. Some trainers will tell you that a sparring session in a boxing ring or even hitting a heavy bag for a 20 minute sessions could outdo just about any run of the mill workout in the gym for a lot of people. With that in mind, it’s pretty obvious that when a game like VFC-This is Fighting comes to our attention, we take notice! But is this just another fighting game? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s a lot more than most out there because it is actually a multiplayer, first person fighting game. So put up your dukes and learn a lot about the upcoming game, the VR industry and fitness gaming in general with Andy Li, the voice of VFC in this exclusive interview!
VRFI: Walk us through the beginnings and the choice to build a multi-person fighting game.
Andy Li: We started searching for ideas for a VR game back in March 2016. And when HTC Vive released specifications of their consumer VR headset, a First Person fighting game seemed like the obvious choice. The wireless controllers allow players to naturally fight with their hands , a 4.5m*4.5m tracking area relatively resembles the size of a fighting ring, and the high resolution displays allow players to fight battles in outrageous virtual environments.
VRFI: Why is multi-person mode so important to this game and what does this functionality mean for where this game is going beyond simple gaming?
AL: We decided to make it multiplayer because we had a ambitious vision of allowing players to fight battles with their opponents from anywhere in the world over the internet. Imagine once a player put on the headset, he/she could challenge any player in the game and be teleported into a virtual arena to have the battle of their life. And because it is a first person perspective game, you get to size up your opponent up close, feel every hit you take (through visual effects) and every punch you make (vibration on controller), you can also taunt your opponent and hear what he/she has to say about your performance.
We also think it could be the next big esport phenomenon once VR hardware becomes more accessible and easier to use. It combines electronic sport and physical sport together, we think it is a esport in the true sense.
VRFI: Would someone with actual fighting training have an advantage playing this game?
AL: For those players who would like to rely on physical attacks, our game does have the mechanics to award heavy and fast attacks, and moving around will give advantage when dodging opponents’ attacks.
However based on our grand plan for the game, we will have a variety of fighters in the game. Different players will have different skills sort of like the traditional fighting games, some of them can draw weapons during battle, some can fire projectiles like in StreetFighters, and some will rely on physical attacks. The purpose is to bring balance to the game, to allow players with all fitness level and body types to be able to enjoy the game without being disadvantaged, even people with disabilities.
Generally speaking, as for all VR games, the technology does allow us to move around and control the game with our movements. It seems a bit shame to let all that freedom and capability go to waste. The fact is we do want to encourage people to stand up and exercise more with this game. We think it is good for the gamer community as well as the industry that we can show that playing our game can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
VRFI: Were you aware of how much of a workout the game was going to be when you started?
AL: We were aware that it was going to be quite a workout to play this game, it plays like a boxing match, we all know how exhausting a boxing match can be. But it was really when we started testing that we realized this could actually be a very good exercise. 2 minutes of gameplay is enough to get you sweaty, 10 minutes of gameplay is enough to get your back and shoulders sore the next morning, and we think 20 minutes per day of gameplay is enough exercise for a normal person, considering the amount of ground you cover by moving around and [the] number of punches you throw.
VRFI: Because it’s such a good workout, it’s obvious that this game will become a go-to experience for a lot of people looking to workout in VR. How do you feel about people using this game for fitness?
We would love to see people using this game for fitness. Apart from it providing a intensive workout session, it also trains fighting skills, stamina, and all-round muscle development.
The competitiveness is also a very good element during [a] workout. We think it pushes people further to into achieving their best results and encourages them to practice more.
We believe fitness enthusiasts are a niche market for our game. We know how much people love boxing as a training method, but it is often difficult to bring the competitiveness to it because most people are afraid of getting hurt. With this game, we don’t have to worry about that. You can punch as hard as you can and show off all your daring moves without worrying [about] hurting others or getting hurt.
VRFI: Why do you think this game will outperform others in the very competitive seet of VR fighting games?
Being a multiplayer VR fighting game will be the key to this game’s success.
The fighting games have always been about one player fighting another, no matter in VR or not, this is a fundamental character of the genre. Fighters inside the game are controlled by players’ real time physical movements, every player has his own tactics, strategies and they are subject to change whenever they see fit. So you will never fight the same fight in multiplayer mode, the game constantly changes. It brings variety and challenge to the game and that is what makes it fun to play.
Since we want it to become an esport game, competitiveness will be an essential element. Competitiveness is also another selling point for this game, it encourage players to practice, to get better.
In fact, multiplayer gaming and social networking are playing a very important role in the games industry across all platforms and all genres. We think it is more important for VR games to be multiplayer because when players are experiencing these amazing environments in VR they have the urge of sharing their feelings with their friends or other people. And we should facilitate that urge because it is good for the whole industry.
VRFI: How would you rate your game for fitness?
AL: I would rate this game 9/10 in terms of being a fitness exercise. If available hardware were lighter, more durable and wireless, I would rate it 10/10. I think with the resources and dedication invested by the big manufacturing companies, it won’t be long until we achieve all that.
VRFI: How important is the ranking system and hall of fame to your game’s success?
AL: Our plans for the online mode of VFC consist of several segments including: match making, challenge mode, competitions, rankings, spectator mode and the hall of fame. All these segments are essential for our game, they help us build player base and form communities, create followings, and hold esport events.
Match making would help allocate players with the best suitable opponent in terms of their skill level, internet connections other factors to make sure they well have a smooth match for a quick play. The challenge mode will allow players to challenge those on the leader boards to advance in their rankings (if they wish to accept). Regular league matches and special competitions will be held regularly to build up the player base and to build a community for players, and also create rankings. An interesting feature is the spectator mode, it allows you to watch other players battle from many different perspectives including third person, player views and free cameras and so on. Finally a hall of fame. All great players will be inducted in the hall of fame, these include champions, ranking leaders, and people’s champions through player voting as well.
VRFI: How do you see fitness and vr evolving together?
AL: Fitness and VR both have very bright prospects in the future and we believe they could very well complement each other in many aspects.
We have seen lots of products that are trying to combine these two elements together, bikes, rowing machines, treadmills and others as well. VR technology provides situational training in fitness and sports, and make training as fun as playing a game.
For example, in the case of our company. VFC is actually a more gaming oriented application. It is in our plans for a more fitness oriented application to be developed in the near future. It will rely more on physicality and fitness, it will calculate and display calories burnt, speed of your punches, how much distance you travelled and all the data will be stored and displayed in charts to show progress.
And in sports training in general, VR can provide very good training programs. We have seen VR technology’s contribution in golf training, baseball training, cycling training and many others. We are actually working with China’s Martial Arts Association to bring Martial Arts training and competition to schools and enthusiasts using VR technology.
VRFI: Does fitness come into play when you’re designing a game? At what point and in what way?
AL: Fitness is an important consideration for us when designing games because we truly believe that players can get fitter and healthier by playing VR games, if it was designed and executed well for the purpose.
From our experience, this needs to be taken into consideration right from the beginning, in the initial brainstorming session. It will involve the genre of the game, controls, duration of the game, intensity of movement required, and what level of fitness is required for people to play it.
The concept will also need to be tested throughout the whole development process. We also needed to gather feedback from all potential markets to refine the concept.
VRFI: What are you working on next?
AL: Our next project will also involve multiplayer and elements of battling each other, but it would involve more than just two players. It also involve weapons and an unique locomotion solution. But since we are still working hard on delivering VFC to the market first, the next project is still nor ready to reveal itself.