The game of Disc Golf can be a fun one. Something about throwing a disc and hope that you can hit the target in as few throws as possible. Sometimes, distractions can come into play like wind or the weather, and sometimes you could be having the best game of your life. But when I heard that developer Immersion Games was taking the sport of Disc Golf and making it where you were playing as a ninja, I had to know more. So I reached out and the CEO, Bartosz Rosłoński was happy to talk about their game Disc Ninja, and also about Virtual Reality.
Interview with the CEO of Immersion Games, Bartosz Rosłoński
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at Immersion Games?
“Hello, I’m Bartosz Rosłoński, CEO of Immersion Games. We recently released a sports game on the Oculus Quest store called Disc Ninja. As a CEO I’m responsible for practically every aspect of our activities, both short- and long-term.”
Growing up, do you have any fond gaming moments, and what was that one VR experience that really drew you into Virtual Reality?
“The one VR experience that got me hooked was most definitely witnessing the possibilities of the Oculus DK1 back in 2014. I remember that it was a rollercoaster ride, something that wouldn’t impress anyone nowadays, but back in the day, it was a jaw-dropping experience. Even though DK1 was a clunky device, as one would expect from an early prototype, it showed a great promise of things to come – something we’re experiencing now with Quest 2 being not only affordable but also extremely easy to use. You couldn’t say any of those things about DK1.
As for the gaming experiences, my fondest memories are from playing FIFA 98 matches with my friends, as well as running my favorite football club back in Championship Manager 3. As you can see, there is a clear sports theme since I’ve been very active in this regard from a very early age.
For those who may not be aware, Immersion Games has been of AR and VR projects such as The Ancients and Extreme Escape. Your newest game takes a different twist of things and combines ninjas and disc golf called Disc Ninja. What can you tell us about the game?
“I can tell you that we worked very hard to make it and to bring it to Oculus. In our team, there are many enthusiasts actively involved in sports. Our desire was to create a fun and competitive game that would allow players to practice their real-world skills in the comfort of their own home, without taking away playfulness from the gameplay. We decided on disc golf because it is very engaging and precision demanding. It’s also one of the fastest-growing sports in modern times, with a 33% increase in games played from 2019 to 2020 alone. It felt perfect for virtual reality rendering.
We’ve put great effort in polishing every detail of the game, from feudal Japan stylized graphics, difficulty levels with a variety of traps and pitfalls, to the disc throwing mechanics being easy to learn, but hard to master.”
Are there options for different customization for the characters?
“There are! We made different unlockable skins for our players. And for each of them, we also added three separate tints players can choose from. Variety is important, and there will be even more of it since we plan to expand the quantity of collectibles in the upcoming patches.
Of course, Disc Ninja being a virtual reality game makes it trickier – after all, you can’t see your character outside of the wardrobe. There are no immersion-breaking moments when players can see their characters in game. Speaking of wardrobe, we placed a mirror for the players, so they can see how the skin looks and feels for them.
What’s of great importance to me is that everything is unlockable through playing, with some of the collectibles easier to find than others. We got some pleasant feedback from players enjoying searching through the maps for the spots, where the team has hidden some of the collectibles – like a separate game within a game.”
What can you tell us about the throwing physics of the game, and did you find anything surprising when you were trying to get them just right?
“Making physics right was probably the biggest challenge we faced while working on the game. We have repeatedly reviewed and tested our mechanics, as they play a crucial role to ensure the fun factor of the game will be preserved.
We knew from the start that regardless of how we’re going to make it, there will be players that won’t like it. It is relatively difficult to make an accurate throw with an object whose weight you cannot feel. Despite this, I feel like the team did their best to give players the opportunity to practice their skills and create interest in disc golf, as it is quite an appealing sport.”
What can you tell us about the multiplayer aspect and how many players can play at one time?
“Multiplayer allows up to four players to compete against each other at the same time. The player who reaches the Golden Dragon in the least number of throws wins. Soon, we will be adding other multiplayer functionalities – including a new game mode that’s focused purely on having fun, rather than aiming for the perfect shots.”
Can players communicate with each other or is it more of just acknowledging and waiving to each other?
“They can communicate via microphones, but we’re thinking about adding additional options for people who would rather just emote. While making gestures in VR is very fun, we’re looking into different ideas on how to expand the non-verbal communication. After all, we want the game to feel as inclusive as possible to everyone.”
What can you tell us about the different tournaments in the game?
“The best tournaments are those, where you compete against your friends. Trash talking is so much more fun when you know the person, you’re trying to defeat. And if they are better than you at throwing a virtual frisbee – then it is even better! To make it easy to run, we’re aiming at adding a tournament mode in the first post-release patch that’s coming to Oculus Quest very soon.”
Are there any plans for additional content or DLC in the future?
“We have so many ideas for additional content that it requires me to be very selective about it. There must be priorities, and while adding more maps, skins, game modes would draw more people to the game, quality of life improvements comes first. We have gathered plenty of feedback from the players, and adding those options is our top priority at the moment. The first update is already planned. It will feature, among others, a new “race” game mode that will change the winning criteria, as well as the aforementioned improvements.”
I really like how colorful Disc Ninja looks. Was this always the style from the beginning or did it have a different look and feel to it?
“We were aiming for this look and feel from the very beginning. When we thought about the values and skills that can be trained while playing disc golf, the ninja theme immediately came to mind, followed by the feudal Japan motif, Japanese temples, and breathtaking gardens. That’s one of the reasons why we didn’t want to do a disc golf simulator per se – you can do that in real life. But you can’t play our version of disc golf anywhere else than in Disc Ninja.”
Sound can be a very important aspect of the immersion of Virtual Reality. Watching the trailer, you can hear the leaves fall from the tree as well as the wind. What has been one sound that you feel is hard to replicate in Virtual Reality?
“The hardest sound to make for us was the one when the disc falls outside of boundaries. We wanted to inform players that they have to repeat their throw, but at the same time we didn’t want to make it too cartoonish – like when Mario dies, or something even more ridiculous.
I’d say that the sound design wasn’t that much harder to make in a sports game. We provide the players with plenty of visual feedback, so the challenge was to pair it with some proper ambient sounds that don’t interrupt the gameplay.”
Do you see Disc Ninja coming to other platforms such as PlayStation VR, Steam, and Viveport in the future?
“Before we released Disc Ninja on the Oculus platform, the game has been available in early access on Steam, and it is to this day. We’re focused on fine-tuning the Steam version to get it released by the end of the year. However, afterward, we do not exclude the possibility of entering other platforms.”
With your experience, what are the top three things you wish you could tell your younger self?
“First, I would warn myself that while game development is fun, some of the obstacles that will arise cannot be predicted at the concept stage. We are committed to delivering on time, which intensifies the search for new solutions quickly and acting under time pressure. The positive thing here is that the more projects you develop, the more you get used to it.
The second important thing I would warn myself is the importance of constant testing, retesting, and reviewing. Many times, the best ideas come along as the project is in the middle of production, which sometimes requires taking a step back. We regularly schedule project meetings attended by the entire team responsible for the project.
Having said that, another key thing I would tell myself is to show solutions to people outside the project team as well. This allows for a more objective opinion and helps to look at the project from the user’s side.”
What’s next for you and Immersion Games?
“We’re putting the final touches on the second chapter of another of our games – Extreme Escape. The game is scheduled for release in the second half of 2021. It is an interactive adventure inspired by real stories of survival in extreme situations, combining elements of survival with puzzles known from popular escape rooms.
The project aims to immerse the players in experiences evoking scenes from action and thriller movies, allowing them to test their limits in extreme conditions requiring quick but calculated reactions. There’s also a major event for us that we look forward to. The Warsaw Stock Exchange has approved Immersion Games and adopted a resolution to introduce the company’s shares to alternative trading on the NewConnect market. Joining the group of public companies is the realization of another of our key objectives for this year.”
With the content for Virtual Reality continuing to soar, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience Disc Ninja?
“Disc Ninja is not just a simple disc golf game. It is more of an adventure within the framework of a popular sport. It charms with its aesthetics, transporting the user to a wonderful place with a magical atmosphere. Besides being a fun way to spend free time, it allows you to meet with friends regardless of the distance between you. It can be an additional asset to maintain good physical condition, exercising dexterity and precision as you explore new challenges and surprises.”
I really want to thank Bartosz for taking the time out of their day and day to give us a closer look into Disc Ninja as well as talking about Virtual Reality.
Also, check out the Disc Ninja review.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I am going to see if anyone wants to play.