Playable at four, “After-H” is first thought to eight players. The weapon is plastic, more immersive, remains optional. CORENTIN LAMY / “THE WORLD”
The e-sport is a possible future for the VR ? Two years after the release of the major virtual reality headsets, the equipment rate of the homes is still desperately low, and the future immediate commercial technology seems rather to be found in the medical fields, or cultural, or on the side of the arcade game rooms specialist.
Yet, some continue to believe in a mass-market success of video games in virtual reality. And begin to put their balls in anticipation of a future evolution. There’s work : even today, most of the games for the helmets of VR are short play experiences designed to be fun for a few minutes. SmartVR knows something that, up until now, the French company has worked on projects for companies, or on experiences with the ambitions to be reasonable, in the image of Top Floor, dot dizzying in which it is to walk in a fragile balance on a beam of metal.
Guns futuristic plastic
With After-H is available since February 8, on the online shop of SmartVR and in some arcades, the company intends to spend the second and propose ” one of the first FPS [first-person shooter, jeu de tir à la première personne] in VR “. A balancing act that has nothing to envy to that of the hero of the Top Floor.
Today, virtual reality, practiced as a sport, it’s simple : it doesn’t exist. To see what it could look like, it was back to the Living room Virtuality, which was held from 8 to 10 February in Paris. There, in the midst of a Salon more often reserved for conversations felted between professionals, the stand of SmartVR was.
See players wearing virtual reality headsets, strapped to a PC in the back, no surprise here person. However, it was more unusual even to Virtuality, cross four of a sudden, spread over a scene of 10 square meters, holding it firmly guns futuristic plastic. The wall, the screens were broadcasting what players saw in their headphones. On the side of the stage, two ” casters “, commentators, explained, enthusiastic, challenges, and the progress of the current game.
Make a game balanced
In fact, After-H is a quite classic, sort of equivalent futuristic Counter-Strike. Two teams of four players are opposed in the ruins of a martian base. Some features bring a touch of originality, such as the presence of a radar, ammunition management, or even a sighting aid, but it is the immersion in this arena of virtual reality that differentiates the game from its competitors.
Jean Mariotte, co-founder of SmartVR, sets out the three pillars, which, according to him, allow a game to claim the status of a title (e-sports : the balance, the absence of a luck factor, and a spectator mode.
On balance, it is even estimated that the VR ” will bring a new dimension “. For him, not just reflexes or the play of the game that will make the difference, but also the physical dimension. In After-H, to crouch, bend, or turn quickly and precisely, it should not only be skillful of the mouse : it is especially necessary to have a perfect mastery of his body : “I think the players VR e-sports are going to have to have a physical training led more than on a Counter-Strike or Call of Duty. “
For the spectator mode, which allows everyone to monitor the performance of the ” athletes “, there are still areas of improvement possible :
“The difficulty it is to make a 2D rendering of a 3D experience immersive… Necessarily, when following the match, a screen, it has nothing to do with what you can live with a helmet. It may be that in the end you will be able to spectator mode you will be able to follow it with a VR helmet, to be at the heart of the experience. “
A goal that is not for now, the low diffusion of virtual reality headsets who are not really a priority for the company.
Unite a community
And this is where the shoe pinches. It is not enough to proclaim itself a “game e-sport” for the future. He must first unite a community large enough and committed to that emerge champions – and, more importantly, to attract sponsors. Two prerequisites before reaching the true popularity, to fill the rooms.
Special offer for students and teachers
Access to all of our content in unlimited from 8,99 euros per month instead of 10,99 €
Except that the virtual reality helmet is still very far from being popular. With two small million copies sold in December 2017, a year after its release, the Sony (which works not on PC, so not with After-H) is a leader in the industry. The competitors are even more behind.
But for Jean Mariotte, no need to fill stadiums. The short-term goal is to reach out to, ” quickly “, 10 000 players per week, thanks to the Steam version of the game, which should be available before the end of the year on the online shop. A number that, according to him, enough to be able to pretend to give birth to a scene of e-sports. For the time being, the game is only available on the platform of the developer, with an offer that its price (€200 excluding vat per month for access to the entire catalog) reserve the de facto professionals.
The market arcades
He recognizes, however : this is not on the computer that is going to play out the success of After-H. Or, in any case, not before 2020. By then, it is the market of the arcade that is designed SmartVR. “This is a first step : there are a hundred rooms in the world with which one works. “Some of them have already adopted the game, in the image of MindOut, in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris.
Jean Mariotte keep in mind a hope a little crazy : the see open rooms free roam (” free exploration “) of several hundred square metres, which recur in the actual size of the obstacles to the arenas of the game. There, players will no longer be confined to their room or to the booth (” cabin “) is an arcade, but will be able to run really on the field of battle, in the image of what is already the ” laser games “.
Jean Mariotte is considering it as a mode of ” premium “, in which the players involved will face the other champions, between two workouts in their living room. Even if he can’t “unfortunately” not now announce where will these rooms, the first could, it is, in any case, his wish to open by the end of the year.