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Sweeney Town

This was the "launch title" for the VR Bike, released in late 1995 with the first production bikes. It depicts a pastoral New England setting, with bike races, mountain bike trails, a bike jump, and several easter eggs. Mostly the software is about exploring and experiencing the environment. It's not really a game, outside of the bike races.

There are a lot of nice little audiovisual touches, considering the technology we were working with (486/66, VGA, 8MB RAM). There are local delivery trucks, butterflies, buildings, and oddities such as "Stoneyhenge" and the superstuff pit.

Like all subsequent titles it's fully networked; up to four bikes can be hooked together with serial link cables, and users can see each other in the virtual world, enter races together, and even physically "feel" each other by bumping virtual bikes together -- the collision is reflected in the bike's pedal resistance.

Sweeney Town debuted the other basic features that also appeared in future titles, such as variable simulated wind (from the fans beneath the monitor), positionalized audio, fully explorable worlds (go wherever you want), and meticulous virtual physics that reflect back into the pedal resistance.

The game was pretty much in continuous evolving development from when CyberGear first started in 1992 to when the Tectrix VR Bike was released in 1995, but the early going mostly revolved around me learning 3D graphics, doing lots of successively less-crappy prototypes, building the company, and dealing with the parallel development of the bike hardware.

Later we added weight compensation, LifeCycle-esque exercise programs, and heart-rate monitoring and control. Heart rate control can be a pretty intense physical experience.

Credits: at various times the following CyberGear people worked on Sweeney Town: Thatcher Ulrich, Peter Lehman, Mike Benjamin, Bryan Lewis, Aaron Bobick, Tony Koselka, Kerry Kurian.

Some pics:



tu@tulrich.com | Thatcher Ulrich