There is something about the game of bowling that just allows you to take a break for a few games and try to bowl that perfect 300. Maybe it’s picking out the right bowling ball, maybe it’s the music that is playing, or maybe it’s playing with other players that just brings the environment together? So when I heard that developer, ForeVR Games made a VR bowling game where you could bowl, play with others, and even have a variety of different bowling balls to bowl with all in the comfort in your own home, I had to learn more. So I reached out and the co-founder and CEO, Marcus Segal, and co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Mike Doom, were happy to talk about their game, ForeVR Bowl, and talking about Virtual Reality.
Interview with co-founder & CEO, Marcus Segal and co-founder & Chief Creative Officer, Mike Doom
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at ForeVR Games?
Marcus Segal: “I’m the co-founder and CEO of ForeVR Games.”
Mike Doom: “And I’m the other founder and Chief Creative Officer.”
Growing up we all played some type of games. What was one of the first systems you gamed on and your favorite game that you played? Also, what was that one Virtual Reality moment that you knew you had to create something for the platform?
Marcus: “You’re going to force me to go into the way back time machine on this one! I started on an Apple II. My friends and I made simple games and traded them. I played a lot of Oregon Trail, Karateka, and Choplifter. A friend’s older brother gave us a copy of “Leisure Suit Larry” which was pretty scandalous at the time.”
Doom: “Atari 2600 was my first and Joust was the game that inspired me to pursue games as the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. A big ambition for a 6-year-old!”
Marcus: “My VR “Aha” moment wasn’t tied to playing any particular game. There are many incredible games and experiences to have in VR. For me, getting into VR was more about creating games that had the potential to accelerate adoption of VR and bring people together in play.”
Doom: “Epic Dragon on the DK1. Dive bombing as a dragon controlled with my head brought me into the game more than I had ever known before. I knew I had to dev in VR; it was just a matter of time.”
Your first game ForeVR Bowl just released for the Oculus Quest and Quest 2. What can you tell us about the game and are there any plans to bring the game to other platforms such as PlayStation VR, Steam, and/or Viveport in the future?
Marcus: “Our team is really excited to share ForeVR Bowl with the world. This project started during the peak of the pandemic and was born out of a desire to enable play for people of all ages and abilities and across geographies. We hope to bring our game to other platforms later this year.”
You really have over 75 collectible balls that each has its own throwing style? What are some of your favorite ones?
Marcus: “It’s true! My favorites right now are the Alien Head, the Unicorn, and the Fish Tank. I am truly terrible with the Fish Tank but I just love looking at it. Mike is obsessed with hand-tuning each ball. It makes sense because we have different alleys and oil patterns and we have yet to find two people that throw the exact same way.”
Doom: “It’s actually 100 balls now! I’m a HUGE fan of the Stingray. Whipping that one down the lane with heavy spin makes the pins pop when I hit a strike. It just feels and sounds amazing.”
I like how there is that social aspect where you can get up to four players and just have fun bowling together like if you were in an actual bowling alley. Was it always the plan to incorporate this social aspect into the game and did you find it to be an easy task to implement into the game?
Marcus: “Social and multiplayer have been a part of the plan from the beginning. I think that developing our physics engine was the most challenging aspect of creating this game. A realistic bowling experience and throw mechanic was essential here.”
Are there any fun things that the players in the game can characterize themselves such as different hats or other items?
Marcus: “ForeVR Bowl features Facebook’s new Avatar 2.0 system and it has a LOT of options for expression. We have also created a dance floor in our Studio 300 Alley with a banging soundtrack!”
Right now there are 6 different alleys. Do they, like the bowling balls, have a different aspect like one alley may be slicker than others for example, to them, or is it more of theming?
Marcus: “Each alley in the game has a unique oil pattern, sound track and NPCs.”
And you plan on adding more alleys on a regular basis and can you give us a clue on what the next alley will be?
Marcus: “We are going to be adding new alleys throughout the year. No hints! We would love to hear what our Community would like to see.”
Is there anything special about the bowling mechanics that the players will want to know about?
Doom: “First just try to roll straight. That’s the first major hurdle for all new bowlers. Try using Rolling Gold and hit between the 1 and 2 or 1 and 3 pins. That is called the “pocket” and will yield the most strikes. Also, remember to line up! Put one foot on the dots below your feet and use that as your starting point. Adjust left or right depending on how you roll.”
Do you have any tips for bowling that perfect the game in ForeVR Bowl?
Doom: “Practice, practice, practice! Research as many real bowling mechanics as you can on YouTube. They directly translate over to our game with almost one-to-one accuracy.”
Sound can help with the immersion. How important was it to make sure the sound was important for the game?
Doom: “Sound is 50% of the game! Joey, our producer and audio designer, and I went to a real bowling alley and recorded the folly you hear today (thank you Kearny Mesa Bowl!). We took that and created 3D spatialized sound with programmatic pin effects that are different every time you roll.”
Graphics in VR also help with the immersion when trying to get things such as the lighting and reflections just right. Did you find anything challenging that you were not expecting when creating the different alleys, bowling balls, and other parts of the environment that came across?
Doom: “VR has different challenges compared to other platforms due to its unique display. We had to spend a lot of time optimizing and rethinking our normal approach. BUT it wasn’t anything too challenging thanks to Oculus’ wonderful SDK. The Facebook team over there has been instrumental in helping us achieve great results.”
If you entered a door into the VR dimension and you could be anyone from any time, but the only caveat is you would have to bowl on a regular basis, who would you be and how do you think you do in today’s times?
Marcus: “OK I love this question. I can be anyone from any time and I get to bowl on a regular basis? Am I a real person or an imaginary person? If real, I will be my grandpa Jack (who I never got to meet) and will bowl with my mom who is 84 and still talks about him. If I can be an imaginary person, I will be Iron Man.”
What are the top 3 things you learned when making ForeVR Bowl that will carry with you?
“1. A great game starts with a great sim.
2. The right music is essential in VR. It was not something that I paid enough attention to in other games that I have worked on.
3. The “Butt Ball” – Doom may disagree with me on this but I think it’s impossible to make work.”
Doom: “We shall see! Farts are funny and we’ll figure it out :-).”
With the alleys of VR content continuing to go for that perfect strike, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience ForeVR Bowl?
Marcus: “ForeVR Bowl is the best bowling game ever created … other than maybe the original version 7,000 years ago which must have been awesome too.”
Doom: “It’s one of the deepest games you’ll ever play in VR. It’s just like the real thing but it also goes beyond to enable play not possible IRL.”
I really want to thank Marcus and Mike for taking their time out of their schedule to give us a closer look into their game, ForeVR Bowl, and for also talking about Virtual Reality.
ForeVR Bowl is out now for Oculus Quest/Quest 2 on the Oculus Store.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.