- Virtual Nomads, a team of engineering students, have developed the Cycler's Hub, a device which allows users to play 'GTA V' in VR while exercising on a bicycle.
- Converting any bicycle into a VR controller, it allows for in-game effects such as increasing speed or teleporting, and a non-violence mod is installed.
- The team eventually plans to release the Cycler's Hub commercially, albeit with legality issues with Rockstar Games they are considering creating their own game to ship with the device.
With gaming peripherals being pretty off-the-rails compared to regular input devices - controllers shaped like guns, full flying configurations, insane controller setups for Steel Battalion, tons of extra buttons crammed everywhere (hell, I can't operate with a mouse that has less than 15 buttons...)- the concept of turning anything into a controller isn't too far fetched. Even so, controlling GTA V with a bike while in VR still manages to strike innovation.
We've heard enthusiastic fans try to mod GTA V into becoming VR compatible with third-party motion controls, though as far as an official GTA Vr edition is concerned, it's probably never happening. These fan efforts however are pretty inspirational, especially when taking into account that they for a good cause. Cycler's Hub, for example, wants you to get fit while playing GTA V.
Yep. Not only are they combining fitness with video games, something not even the Wii was able to do successfully, but they're combining the concept of health and physical well-being with the single most controversial video game in the history of the industry. Let's see pasty old white conservatives twist this into the leading cause of violence.
We’re in an engineering competition right now and are in the quarterfinals - Vito Lugo, Virtual Nomads
Virtual Nomads, a team of engineering students came up with the Cycler's Hub, a device which easily converts any bicycle into a VR controller for GTA V. When using the device, the in-game bike reacts just like the one you're actually sitting on, while you're observing the world of Los Santos and Blaine County (with a non-violence mod running) in first-person.
The controller also features some slight mods to GTA V, allowing the user to significantly increase their speed, to slow down time and to teleport wherever they want in the game world. The team have some further features in plan, such as tactile rumble feedback for when you're on a bumpy road and increased incline. The team is planning to eventually release the device commercially.
Of course, that would lead to some legal issues with Rockstar in it's current form - and they've got their hands full with those -, so the team is planning on developing the device in a way that makes it compatible with multiple games, not focused on just GTA V. Virtual Nomads are also considering developing their own "game" for the device to ship with, making it a standalone exercise device for non-gamers as well.
The system essentially turns your bike into a game controller, so theoretically it should work with any game. Though, if we pursue the idea after the competition finishes, we want to develop a standalone game, where we’d have a lot of different landscapes to choose between
The multiplayer feature of Cycler's Hub also allows users/players to compete with one another over the internet. Want to go on a biking trip with a buddy, except that particular buddy is half a world away? Are you on a business trip but want to go on a bike ride with your significant other? This lets you do it. You'll be able to connect with other Cycler's Hub devices over the internet, placing you into the same virtual instance.
For Virtual Nomads, this is more about winning a competition. It's about building a business which will break into an untapped market. This is big for VR, this is big for gaming - hell, this is big for GTA V and that's saying a lot.
VR is really becoming a massive part of the tech sphere globally, not only gaming. It might be most defined in the games industry, but it has applications in other fields as well. When the VR fad first gained some steam, many (including us) asked if it will be here to stay, or will it be a passing fad just like motion controls? Well, since the launch of the Rift and the Vive, that question has been answered quite clearly.
Considering that VR has established at self as the next big pillar of gaming, Rockstar would be wasting quite an opportunity by not releasing a smaller spin-off GTA game for VR platforms. While VR is far form handling massive AAA games, publishers like Ubisoft have claimed their little corner of this new land with smaller games as well. Take-Two needs to be quick on the draw if they want a slice of the cake.
Cycler's Hub is a testament to the accessibility and versatility of VR as a platform for gaming to outgrow its previous bounds. Attempts to expand the horizons of the industry in the past were few and far between, never achieving any real success. However, turning GTA V into a fitness program with VR just proves that this is the breakthrough we needed.
Would you consider getting yourself a Cycler's Hub for some GTA V exercise?