May 18, 2016 8:00 AM | Joel Couture
#SelfieTennis pits players against themselves in a surreal game of tennis, one where they can try to play properly or just smash the strange, tennis ball head spectators. And they can also take selfies using a selfie stick, because when a ball is flying at your head at high velocity, you should definitely also be worried about how you look to your Instagram crew.
We talked with Julie Heyde, self-proclaimed #ChickenBitch, of VRUnicorns, developers of #SelfieTennis, about the thoughts that went into making the ridiculous sports title and how they worked to ensure players wouldn't get motion sick while killing tennis-loving weirdos.
What is #SelfieTennis?
#SelfieTennis is a VR room-scale game for the HTC Vive.
Why play tennis all by yourself? What made you develop a tennis game for one player in VR?
We were brainstorming weird ideas one late eve while working on another game (RAGNAROKvr) and Milan said: "Let's make a game called #SelfieTennis where you teleport back and forth on the court while playing tennis with yourself. Horatiu cranked out the first version the next day (while we were suppose to work on RAGNAROKvr) and asked me if "I would like to play with myself" in the evening. I fucking loved it!
What difficulties did you face in making a game where one player is firing a ball at themselves? What work did you do to keep this from feeling disorienting in VR?
Horatiu did his magic. That's it. I'm hyper sensitive to motion sickness and movement in VR, so we have a lot of knowledge in the team on how to avoid making people sick. Horatiu has timed the teleportation and delay perfectly and we playtest everything we make to the extreme to avoid making #PukeSimulators. So yeah, smart design, good code and a hell lot of testing among us, friends and during showcasing events around the world - we travel a lot and constantly work on the road. PS. Vive works on laptops. Just a hint for anyone who wants to become a Vive Nomad.
#SelfieTennis involves some ridiculous behavior (like attacking the crowd) alongside its representation of the sport. Why did you include these sillier elements? What did you feel they brought to the game?
Horatiu had characters in the original version so I could get my aggression out in the office. We even had the kill score back then. He later removed the kill scored, but put it back in when I went hysterical crybaby over not being able to track my killing.
Taking selfies of your character provides a fun diversion in the game. Why specifically mix taking pictures of yourself inside a sports game?
We all agreed that we needed a #SelfieStick in the game back in November 2015, but we didn't do much about it until right before launch....when I started shouting at the guys for not having fixed it yet. Everyone loves taking photos of themselves. Just glance at Instagram. No one cares about food pictures anymore.
How has posting those selfie pictures to social media helped the game?
It's a fun gimmick. We were the first to have the feature it seems and now other developers started copying. Facebook for example. that's cute. We started a trend.
What other features will you be bringing to #SelfieTennis in the future?
Currently crunching like crazy on a #HeartUpdate with loads of juice. It's hopefully live when these words are posted ;-). Next update will probably be a physics update. We're working on #SkiJump in parallel and we're a tiny team with only a few of us working full time, so we don't really have time for anything else than making silly unrealistic sports games. But who cares about reality anyways? We have VR.