Golf is one of those sports that really tends to translate well to simulation, especially when it comes to motion controlled games. In 2010, we saw EA bring Tiger Woods to the Playstation Move a move that would eventually lead to the destruction of my plasma screen (note to everyone, use the strap). That experience, before I destroyed my TV, was pretty fantastic and it simply seemed natural to practice in that way. Problem was the controllers back then weren’t completely amazingly accurate, like they are now (with the Vive), and they also weren’t fully immersive. Now let me paint you a prettier picture.
Imagine you are standing on the tee box lining up your drive. You bend down, set your tee in the ground, and then line up your shot. After you swing your view is shifted to the ball as you track it to its final destination. Upon it stopping, you are teleported to the ball to take your next shot. You swing again and this time land on the green, and that’s where the magic of the Vive really takes over. Utilizing room scale you will be able to walk around the green, bending down at all angles to see the creases and hills on the green, reading it, lining up for the perfect shot. You walk behind the ball and crouch, then walk around the hole and crouch down again. Using the power of the Vive you are able to accurately line up you putt, which you execute flawlessly thanks to the amazingly tracked motion controls on the Vive.
That image I just painted above is what Ghost Machine is looking to accomplish with their latest still to be named title, which was announced during the Casual Games panel at SXSW Friday. Previously Ghost Machine has released a number of vehicle based VR games, including a racing game, a motor bike game, and a game that puts you in an F1 fighter to fight off an alien invasion (yes, like in Independence Day), but this is their first effort that takes the player out of the cockpit environment and into the world. A bold step, but one that will likely work well with the Vive.
Golf may well be a sport that is perfectly suited for the unique constraints of the Vive system. One of the strengths of the Vive is the ability to walk around a 15’x15’ room (or larger if you add more base stations), however this is also one of its current limitations, because once you reach a wall you can’t continue further. There are people working actively on solutions for this, but all the demos shown at GDC featured a room based activity that didn’t really ask you to leave the boundaries. With golf, you likely wouldn’t have to deal with that barrier, and 15’x15’ should likely be enough space to walk around in to say, line up a putt, which is truly the only reason you would need to walk in a golf simulation. This is a title that if executed well, could be a massive hit, although I think we will likely see a Rory McIlroy VR game (EA just renamed their PGA tour series from Tiger Woods to Rory) at some point in the future from a company like EA.
The title will be available on the Oculus Rift and on the Sony Morpheus as well as the Vive. We will be among the first to get a hands on demo of this game when it is ready. Be sure to stay tuned for more updates on this title in the coming months.