Jan 20, 2017
Pinheads Bowling VR - Bryan
Thank you for the feedback so far. We have made quite a lot of progress.

The details are a bit long, we are excited to tell you all about the improvements.

Major Changes

Some changes are more visible than others. The most visible changes are:
  • Performance improvements. An enormous “thank you!” to everyone who told us what hardware they were using when the game was running slow. Hopefully any system that meets the Vive minimum spec can play with at least 60 FPS. We’ve got some people trying to get that number over 90 FPS even on the minimum spec machines.
  • The Ball throw mechanic has been improved. Please try it out and get back to us. See below for more description of how to add spin to the ball.
  • Ball selection uses an actual ball rack rather than scrolling through a list on the UI screen. You can pick up different unlocked balls during the game if you wish to change your ball.
  • Options screen. In the main menu you can adjust volume levels and can pick the animated pins or the classic bowling pins.
  • Drop-down TV monitor. The display more closely tracks your height and position so you don’t need to look up as far when playing in sitting position, or look down as far for tall people.
Throw Mechanic Updates

We don't have an in-game tutorial yet (we're still in early access) so here is a longer description of the throw mechanic.

Again, it is a little long-winded but it is important in understanding the system.

There are two ways to hold the ball.

The first is with your palm down, similar to how you would hold a suitcase. This is how most people hold their Vive controller naturally. You throw the ball straight forward, palm down. This puts very little spin on the ball, and it rolls out straight.

The second way to hold the ball allows for controlled spin. The ball is held from underneath with the palm up. For a Vive controller the grip is similar to how you would curl a dumbbell. Professional bowlers spin the ball by letting it roll along their fingers, quickly dragging their fingers across the ball when they release but before the ball completely leaves their hand. The bowler's hand snaps up and over to spin the ball midair.

(Please remember to wear your controller's wrist strap. Having your Vive controller accidentally fly across the room is dangerous, as many people discovered after the release of the Nintendo Wii.)

On addition to the ball spin, there is also oil on near side of the lane. (Real oil in real life, simulated oil in the game.) When a bowler throws the ball, it slips and slides over the oil. Farther down the lane there is less oil, and eventually no oil, so the ball catches and begins to roll instead of slide.

In real life bowling, the spin on the ball lets the ball change direction mid-bowl. The combination of spinning over slippery oil causes effects that accumulate over time. The ball can hook right or left as the oil thins out, or even speed up over time with enough forward spin.

In the game, if your hand stays put after you release the ball your ball will go straight. If you slide your controller immediately after you release the ball, the motion will introduce spin. The time window is short, about a quarter of a second. The Vive controller’s motion and orientation after releasing the ball will determine how the ball tracks at release.

The right-hand and left-hand indicator on the controller should match your physical hand. That way your thumb and fingers will match our physics modeling.

But wait, there's more.

Some of the performance issues were due to graphics quality settings. These can be adjusted, but it isn't in our menus yet. When you start the game hold down the shift key on your keyboard. It will start with a small window that lets you set the visual quality level. You can choose a range between fast with lower graphics quality, or several settings with higher graphics quality.

We are experimenting with different positions for the ball racks. Right now there are two, the one slightly behind the player to the left, and once enough balls are unlocked to fill it there is another on the back wall. Unfortunately our playtesters are disagreeing about where it should go. If you have thoughts or suggestions for where you would want to place the rack (and the reasons for it), please let us know.

The sideline pins are still disabled. The update two weeks ago (3 Jan 2017) removed the animated pins from the sidelines as a quick fix since we identified it as a serious performance problem on some machines. We’re still working to get these pins back in.

In-game audio is still evolving. We currently have two audio tracks, one during the menus and another during gameplay. Please send your feedback on these songs and the other audio in the game.

Please send your comments and questions to support@midnightstudios.net.
Dec 22, 2016
Pinheads Bowling VR - Bryan
Today we’re releasing Pinheads Bowling VR to the public.

We’ve had so many people ask us to release it and get it to their VR headsets that we can't ignore them any longer. We have so much we're working on, but since the game is on hundreds of Christmas wish lists we're getting it out to you a little early.

Early access means we're still changing features. Inside the lane we're working on better throw mechanics for more realistic throws. We're working on additional lane oil patterns to help you hook the ball in real-world ways, and ball weighting changes to make the ball really eat up the lane and prevent wildly fast throws. Outside the lane we're working on pin attractions, cheerleader pins, and more animation surprises. Sounds and music are being adjusted. The game world still has wet paint, dust settling, and some under construction signs.

Even as early access, we think this is the best VR bowling game out there. We hope you’ll agree.

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