I was asked by the developers at MarineVerse to demo their new VR addition, called VR Regatta. Where I am from (Newfoundland, Canada), we are surrounded by water. But the water is usually frozen over, with a temperature below zero for most of the year. So to be able to take part in activities like rowing or sailing, there's a very limited time window of only a couple months.
Marine Verse's VR Regatta puts you as the captain of a sailboat, and your goal is to maneuver your craft through obstacles, which represent a bayou floating in the water. Along your path, you collect stars for points as you head towards the finish line.
The stars are a great way to get the user to understand how to steer the boat and compensate for the direction the wind is pushing you along the water.
Starting the game off, you are standing on a wooden platform floating on the water -- and may I tell you, I thought I was going to fall into the water. I completely lost my sense of reality, and for several moments I thought I was actually standing on a floating wooden platform as I learned about the different parts of the sailing boat.
When you first start up the game you are presented with several options to test out:
Each of the above leads to its own unique part of this game.
This is where most of you would probably head first. During your time in the academy, you become familiar with the different parts of a sailboat and you also learn how to go from different platforms within the game to see the sailing ship from several views. You are on sea level one minute, the next you are standing way above looking down at your ship as you move your motion controllers around, detecting items that are required for you to find on the Sailing Academy Checklist.
The only minor issue I have encountered during this stage is going from platform to platform. The details and everything works very well, but when I move to a different platform it sometimes doesn't put me on a platform. I am just over the edge of it, which means I should be falling straight down into the water...I hope it is warm and I am wearing a life jacket. But again, this game is still in BETA stages, and I am pretty sure this is a just a minor tweak to be adjusted. You will see what I mean when you watch my video at the end of this post.
Once you have completed the checklist, you are finished with your Sailing Academy training and you can easily press the menu button on the HTC Vive controller to be taken back to the main menu.
This part of the game is exactly what it sounds like. You get to sit down and just enjoy your peaceful surroundings and sail around the waters.
The thing that did it for me was when I had to sit on the floor. Getting that low allows you to view your relaxing experience as if you are actually sitting on the seat of the boat. You have control over sailing around or just taking in the great views around you.
While I was testing this feature, my 4 year old came down and yelled "Mommy...daddy is sitting on the floor again..." All I could do was laugh. Of course she asked what I was doing, and she quickly saw me sailing around -- I had the display on my computer showing what I was doing. She wanted to try, and she enjoyed it just as much as I did. So needless to say, the game is easy to pick up.
The tutorial shows you how to move your sailing boat, how to read the speed of your boat, and the direction of wind. It is a pretty basic tutorial, and I will cover this in my video review when we do a little sailing later on.
The easy race allowed me to collect stars for points and move my sailboat around the waters. It was a pretty simple experiment and worked very well during my gameplay. It allowed me to get the feel for how the boat reacted to water, and my input when I wanted the boat to turn. It was a very impressive attempt, but I failed at it horribly. With practice I am sure anyone can hit the waters and start racing around like a pro.
There were some things I found while playing this beta that could use some special attention to make this simulation more enjoyable. Again, it is in BETA, so I expect at least a few of these changes to be made before the final version is released in June.
Overall this was a very enjoyable experience. MarineVerse did a wonderful job on working on this simulator. They have a lot of work to get this fine tuned and ready for launch, but I feel with some hard work from the developers, they can really give everyone that sailboat feeling. If they added a option to have a rowing boat where you use your controllers to row your way around, I think it would be more enjoyable, rather than just using one motion at the back to steer.
The possibilities are endless with this, and it is going to be very interesting to see what kind of approach Marineverse takes on the final product. If you have a VR headset, I would say that when this is available on Steam officially, it would be a great experience to try out for yourself. Just watch out for floating whales and sailboats!