We know you loved the review of Drunkn Bar Fight last week and that’s why we took the time to sit down with Keith Kirby, CEO, The Munky, and the man responsible for the fun and hilarious game. We talked about what this game does really well, why it’s different and how it can fit into you workout. But beyond that, we also got a glimpse into how a game evolves from thought to workout and all points in between. We also had a chance to discuss VR’s role in future fitness versus where AR may come in and change the game.
VRFI: Clearly this isn’t just another boxing game. Take us through the development of Drunkn Bar Fight.
Keith Kirby: We originally designed a completely different game than we ended up making. Our first concept was called “Slow Motion Fighters”. We planned to have two MMA fighters in the ring moving in slow motion. The players could walk around the fighters and grab their body parts and move them in any direction they choose. After we built it, we realized that players tended to stand behind the fighter and grab both hands and fight first person. It became quickly obvious that it would be more fun to be the fighter then to control the fighter 3rd person.
VRFI: Why a fighting game? Why in a bar?
KK: Fighting seemed like a natural fit for an immersive VR experience. Games allow people to do something that isn’t socially, legally or ethically acceptable but deep down many of us have an innate desire to do. Drunkn Bar Fight gives the player the thrill of acting irresponsibly without the trip to the Police Station or ER.
VRFI: What technology does the game use and how does it compare with other experiences?
KK: The game uses a technology called IK – Inverse Kinematics. Many triple A games also use this technology (Grand Theft Auto, Madden) but we knew we didn’t have the budget or the staff to make our characters look as great as those other games.
VRFI: Why drunk (though we had a lot of fun with the angle)?
KK: In fact, we knew that, at best, our characters would look drunk. So, we turned an problem into a feature.
VRFI: Were you aware of how much of a workout the game was going to be when you started?
KK: This was our first VR game. We didn’t realize we were creating an aerobic game when we started. But, once you stir up trouble in the bar, the game can become quite a workout. Drunkn Bar Fight is one of the few VR games that encourages you to really move around your playspace. You need to swing your arms, duck your head and really keep moving to stay on your feet. For many people, their heart begins to race once the game begins. Players aren’t even thinking about how much energy they are using, they are just focused on the experience. It isn’t until they take off the gear that they realize they are tired.
VRFI: How do you feel about people using this game for fitness?
KK: I would be so happy to find out if someone was receiving a true benefit from our game besides laughs and giggles. There are a lot of things I think we could do to make the game more useful for fitness. We are always happy to hear from players about how they think we could improve our game. We have received several suggestions related to fitness and they are currently on our roadmap.
VRFI: Please talk about the gameplay and why the nuances of being drunk and in a bar are important to the game play (and the humor of the game!).
KK: Our game is much different than the other VR fighters. We tried to make a social game. A game that is fun to play in groups. The other VR fighting games are styled after Punch Out. They are trying to make a challenging single player experience. In our game it feels satisfying to hit an opponent. They often go flying out of reach. It makes you feel powerful. In the other games, they can’t do that because it would slow their game down too much. We also allow player to pick up objects in the bar then throw them or use them as weapons.
VRFI: Are there any updates planned? We’d love to see some kicking action in this game!
KK: We are doing updates as often as we can. Usually every month but sometimes more often. We are adding two new bars and 20+ characters. We are adding local social gameplay so people watching can become players in the game with a joypad. We are adding a feature where you can use your cellphone to take a picture of your face and then import your likeness into the game. And yes, we have Vive Trackers. We are planning to add full body tracking to the game which would mean….Kicking!
VRFI: Does fitness come into play when you’re designing a game? If so, at what point and in what way?
KK: I need to do more research into this area. Since so many players have requested fitness features, that means there is a market for fitness related titles.
VRFI: How do you see fitness and vr evolving together?
KK: I know there are a lot of folks out there that enjoy running or lifting weights. They are better people than me. I need competition to drive me. I enjoy sports like tennis or basketball. I think there are a lot of others like me. VR can provide the competition and make the user forget they are burning calories and make them have fun while they are doing it. AR might actually have a bigger impact on fitness in the long run though. AR has the ability to provide fantasy while still allowing the user to be aware of their environment.