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Preview | TRAVR: Training Ops

December 16, 2015

TRAVR: Training Ops is an Active VR demo developed by Virtuix Inc and included free with every Virtuix Omni VR Treadmill. It was first revealed during the treadmill’s  2013 Kickstarter campaign as a stretch goal after the project had passed $1,000,000 in crowdfunding. The goal for an extra $100,000 was met, with the campaign amassing a total of $1,109,351. You can see the TRAVR announcement here [LINK].


Image source - Virtuix


(Incidentally, some have remarked that I bear a resemblance to the character depicted in the announcement)


Image source - sutekiB


The demo has evolved a lot since then, and I’m not sure that fire-breathing dragons have made the cut, but I’ll be sure to clarify this point when I review it next month!

From the July 2013 announcement:


“TRAVR demonstrates the game dynamics of free move/aim/look with analog player direction and speed when using the Virtuix Omni. This demo will be designed to help developers integrate the Omni into upcoming VR titles using the most dynamic and compelling motion and control modes available today. This mini-game will be a test bed for innovative movement paradigms and will demonstrate coding methodologies.”


It must be said that the goal stated above was incredibly ambitious, given that they had yet to implement de-decoupled moving and looking in their prototype, and at the time there was no viable way to have de-coupled aiming. Nevertheless, within a month of delivering the first consumer Omni to a day-one backer, they had demonstrated all of these features in the video below, which paired an Omni with an HTC Vive developer kit:



Serendipitously, the end of this video’s URL happens to be ‘fPs’ (the abbreviation for first-person shooter). I want to go on the record here and say there have been times during the Omni’s development when I have felt there was some mysterious force conspiring to ensure that this time, VR will succeed as a medium. While there’s no doubt you can trace every breakthrough to the hard work of many teams and individuals, I do believe in destiny, and perhaps this is one of those moments when it reveals itself?


As one of the ‘Omni Pros’ (people selected to demonstrated the Omni at public events), I’ve played multiple builds of Training Ops, and look forward to testing the newer levels next month. They share a common design, based around navigation, aiming, and competition. This latter was implemented thanks to the introduction of a leaderboard which presented you with a score for each round and level. This score is a product of your speed through the course, and your accuracy in shooting correct targets, minus points deducted for shooting incorrect target and being hit by projectiles fired from flying drones and stationary turrets.


Image source - Virtuix


The leaderboard, even in single player acts as a powerful motivator to keep playing. It is extremely gratifying to see your score improve as you increase your mastery of the Omni and your fitness. On the public debut of the leaderboard I had the honour of competing against several other Omni Pros, and found that it transformed the experience. Although we were taking turns; adding a competitive, social element to the play amplified my engagement and make the experience so much more exciting an adrenaline-pumping. I did not have it all my own way as the others began to catch up and overtake my score. I had to crawl my back into the lead (which I retained in the end), which I’d never had to do before – and my time on the Omni was so much better for it. Make no mistake, Active VR will breathe life into social VR and competitive VR eSports.


Speaking of which, today Virtuix announced they have been secretly working on a competitive multiplayer arena-style shooter! Not much is known about the new demo currently, but they will reveal it publically at CES next month. I will hopefully be able to attend the event and maybe even be one of the first to compete in Omni Arena! Check out my news report here: [LINK].

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