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Virtual-O: – The Most Realistic Orienteering Simulator

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Many elite runners have used Catching Features as part of their o-technical training – Thierry Gueorgiou being one of them. The newcomer “Virtual-O” sounds like Catching Features on steroids: Beautiful graphics and vegetation, a living environment (not just the CF Gorilla) – and more realistic game play.  Even Oculus Rift (VR) is to be supported.

Developer Peter Furucz has worked on developing Virtual-O for more than a year, and has now decided that the hardest work is finished – and that he needs to start building a community – get in touch with people – including elite orienteers – who want to use it for playing or training.

Fully featured orienteering simulator

– My objective is to create a fully featured orienteering simulator that will be used by orienteers from hobby to top level to improve their map technique, Furucz explains.

Virtual-O is not yet available to the public, but a few videos have been published which shows an example of the game play (see one of them below). According to the developer, the hardest and most important components are finished – currently work is being done on running speed model, compass physics model and direction disturbance model (for those realistic compass trainings).

A closed test round (Alpha testing) will start in a few months time for selected volunteers. Contacting Virtual-O on Facebook or Twitter should be a good way to connect with the developer. See also the webpage of Virtual-O.

– Orienteering can be a bigger sport

One special goal for Furucz with Virtual-O is to make newcomers to orienteering familiar with the sport before heading out into the forest and getting lost.

– I think that we could overcome the steep learning curve with the first lessons of orienteering in a (realistic) computer game. My dream is to create some sort of “newcomer” mode to open orienteering to new people not “touched” by orienteering yet.

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The competition

The competition for the newcomer Virtual-O consists of aging Catching Features and Finnish Suunnistussimulaattori. Catching Features is a great game which can be used to improve your orienteering skills considerably, but the “Catching Features 2″ unfortunately never came along. There is still a community playing Catching Features regularly – last week around 1500 online game plays were registered.

Suunnistussimulaattori has graphics and game play which takes it a step forward compared to Catching Features, but for non-Finnish people it has never really catched on – the name might be part of the reason (try Googling it from memory), installation and game play was also quite challenging when testing it.

Thus there is definitely a place for Virtual-O – it will be very interesting to see where this is heading. A realistic orienteering simulator – easy to understand with fun game play – would be great for the sport!

About Jan Kocbach

Jan Kocbach is the founder of WorldofO.com - taking care of everything from site development to writing articles, photography and analysis.

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