Regina company creates new immersive VR hockey game
Regina-based tech company Melcher Studios has created an immersive virtual reality hockey game that immerses the user in the action on the ice.
The new VR title is unique because of its use of a real hockey stick in its gameplay.
The origin of Hockey VR began three years ago when Melcher Studios created a simple version of the game to entertain fans during a hockey game. It was then that Dwayne Melcher and the rest of his team knew they had to develop the idea.
“We said, ‘we should go further’ and actually create a more appropriate version of it,” he explained. “With full AI integration and peripheral development.”
The studio designed and manufactured the “RealStick Attachment” so that the Oculus Quest controller can be securely connected to a hockey stick. Inside the game, the stick is fully rendered. This process came with some problems according to manufacturer and software engineer René Dufour-Contreras.
“What we’re doing is taking the Oculus controllers and we’re using them in a way that’s not what you’re supposed to be,” he said. “You can’t have the controller too far away, otherwise Oculus says’ no the arm shouldn’t be that long ‘, so there’s things like that where we just learned that’ oh we can’t actually do it that way. “
Eventually, the challenges with the software were overcome. However, the team had to constantly verify that the controls and physics of the game emulated real hockey as realistically as possible.
“With something like that, we make sure the calibrations are correct, making sure it looks real,” Melcher said. “We’re lucky that down there (the studio offices) is actually a hockey training center, just by chance. They sent some of their students at different times to test it out and give their opinion. “
Feedback from students as well as team members who are longtime hockey players made the game feel extremely immersive and real.
Besides Hockey VR, Melcher explained that there are many applications for VR to use in training. The studio is currently working on a training program for firefighters that will allow trainees to operate a real fire extinguisher equipped with accessories similar to RealStick.
“It’s very realistic and very natural,” he said. “And you feel like you’re in that environment, like an area that’s caught on fire, and now you have to put it out.”
As for the use of Hockey VR, Melchar said the reviews online are overwhelmingly positive and people use it both for training and for fun.
“Some people use it just for fun,” he said. “But we actually had parents respond to us, where they downloaded it for their kids and their kids used it to practice their training, practice their shooting, or even get a few extra reps in the garage. “
Melcher and his team are thrilled with the good feedback and plan to support the game with free updates to expand the gaming experience.
“Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be releasing a one-timer feature, sort of thing,” he said. “So you can actually shoot with a timer. And we have other things planned as we approach the first quarter of 2022. ”
Hockey VR can be viewed and downloaded from the Melcher Studios website.