Immersion has received much fanfare with the recent launch of TouchSense Engage for mobile games and the unveiling of a new category of games, Games You Can Feel, featuring haptic technology.
Our mobile games evangelist, Bob Heubel, recently sat down with Keith Pichelman, CEO of Concrete Software to talk to him about his game, PBA(r) Bowling Challenge, and get his perspective on why haptics will make a difference in today’s world of immersive gaming.
BH: Keith, you recently decided to update PBA Bowling Challenge with Immersion’s Gaming SDK. Tell us about the new effects in your game. What does it feel like? How easy was it?
KP: Yes, we’ve used Immersion’s Gaming SDK to add tactile feeling into our bowling experience. When you play the game you can feel the bowling ball strike the pins or fall into the gutter, and a few other effects throughout the game. Integrating the SDK was not a problem for our developers, and when it came time for designing the effects to match our game, Immersion’s team of effects designers really came through.
BH: How does that change the experience in your game?
KP: We’re interested in anything that entices our audience to play more and there’s a fun element to feeling the ball strike the pins. The tactile effects make you feel more connected to the action of the game. You’re not just using your finger to fling the ball down the bowling lane to see the result. You’re actually feeling the result of your action. With Immersion’s technology, we’re not adding a single buzz feeling. There are variations, depending on whether you’ve knocked down all of your pins, just a few, or landed in the gutter.
BH: That sounds like you’ve achieved a console rumble pad experience. How is it different?
KP: It is like the console rumble pad experience, except there are other elements in the game that are decidedly mobile. For one, you can control the spin of your bowling ball by tilting your phone. This element keeps you connected to the experience all the way down the bowling lane until you get that pay off of feeling the collision with the pins. The Google Play multiplayer option with leaderboards is another feature that makes PBA feel fresh every time you play it. Even though we spent a lot of time getting the audio elements just right, we realize that mobile gamers often switch audio off when in public places, so having tactile effects in the game helps fill in the experience when this happens.
BH: What about battery consumption?
KP: We’ve learned that the vibration only consumes about as much battery as audio playback, so it really is not a concern. In fact, if you played our game from full charge to totally empty on a Samsung Galaxy phone, you’d only consume about 1 percent of battery because of Immersion’s technology.
BH: That’s true, our TouchSense technology is designed to control the actuator in a way that minimizes battery consumption. What else sets PBA Bowling Challenge apart from other mobile bowling games?
KP: PBA Bowling Challenge is a fully licensed PBA game that is set-up to play like you are an actual bowling professional starting your career and rising through the ranks by winning tournaments. Within that environment we added side challenges that allow you to unlock and collect special bowling balls, each with different bowling characteristics and powers.
BH: The game does look, sound and feel great, Keith. PBA Bowling Challenge has more than 10 million downloads on Android alone. Sounds like you’ve made a popular game. What’s next for Concrete Software? Do you have any other games we can feel?
KP: Yes, we have a jellyfish puzzle game named Jellyflop! and an NHL licensed game named NHL Hockey Target Smash right now that you can feel. We hope to have more in the future.