Games very often take inspiration from TV and film, finding common ground in the visual nature of the mediums, but all to often, some of those ideas don’t translate too well. There’s similar things to be said for when games are the inspiration for films, but the classic 1982 film Tron sidesteps that problem
Finding common ground in the very visual nature of the mediums, there’s an awful lot of crossover between games, TV and film. All too often, something is lost in translation, and we’re left with bad licensed films and tie-in videogames. That wasn’t such a problem back in the late 70s and early 80s. Steven Lisberger, who wrote and directed the classic film Tron, only had Pong to serve as his first point of inspiration.
That and precursors to Snake couldn’t help but be built upon and expanded once Jeff Bridges was put into his monochrome jumpsuit and transported into a series of games within the computer. Over the years, the Light Cycle has been by far the easiest to translate back from film to games, but the iconic Disc Arena fight has largely eluded us. It’s just not quite as intuitive an idea when using a controller, relying to a certain degree on auto-aim and automation. VR changes that.
CCP have taken a step away from the space MMO and dogfighting of the Eve universe, and as you enter Project Arena for the first time, you get to be Kyle Flynn.
It’s not exactly like Tron’s Disc Arena, but the inspirations are clear to see. You have a single disc attached to one of the two in-game forearms, and this acts as both your throwable weapon and your shield. It can take a few hits, but it cracks under the strain and can only take so many direct hits before it breaks. You have to throw it in order to repair it, as the game forces you to actually take part and play, and this leaves you relatively defenceless for a few seconds, even if you do have mini shield pads on your wrists that let you bat away a disc with a little extra precision and timing.
You face off against another player who could be anywhere in the world, but in this case was stood opposite me, just as they were in the game. The one fundamental difference being that this VR arena had us at opposite ends of a corridor, as opposed to the much more open space we were really in. It gives you surfaces to bounce the disc off, giving it a less predictable route before it reaches the back wall and homes back to your wrist – you don’t need to worry about avoiding discs from behind, as they deal no damage to you.
My battle was a tense, standoffish affair, neither of us really able to take advantage of our openings. There’s different tactics that you can use, as seen in the mixed reality trailer above, to block an incoming disc and then throw a fast disc to strike a quick hit. My throwing wasn’t as precise as all that, and so I went a different route, trying to bamboozle my opponent by bouncing the disc off walls and hoping that it lands a hit. I was rather lucky that it actually did on one occasion, giving me a slim lead and the overall win.
What’s nice with this and CCP’s first long term VR experiment, which gradually morphed into Eve: Valkyrie, is that they’re showing once again the kinds of things you can actually do with VR. Project Arena still has some way to go, as CCP look to try and create one of the first VR eSports, but it’s already a very cool, very nicely implemented idea, as they cross another of those dream VR games from the wishlist.