Date Night Bowling Developer Interview – Rajen Savjani on Game Features and Combining Genres

Date Night Bowling is an upcoming game that looks to bring the dating sim genre to the bowling alley. We recently got to talk to developer Rajen Savjani and ask him some questions to learn more about it! Read on for the full interview.

EIP: How did you guys come up with the idea of a dating sim taking place in a bowling alley?

Rajen: I miss the good old days of fast paced arcadey bowling games like Super Bowling on the SNES and League Bowling on the NEO GEO. Since Super Bowling is one of my favorite games ever, I wanted an excuse to bring that kind of game back. With Way Down Deep I’m always looking to bring romance into games. Inspired by real life dating events that we see take place in cities everywhere (like speed dating or social mixers), we combined an old school pixel art bowling game with a dating event (that could probably be a real thing) and Date Night Bowling was born.

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EIP: What was the biggest challenge the team faced while developing the game?

Rajen: To retain the speed and simplicity of those old school arcadey bowling games.

Kersti Kodas (Serenity Forge developer): The bowling physics was a surprising challenge. We created a full 3D physics-based bowling simulation in the background and used it to drive the values passed to the 2D version displayed to the player. Translating between the two could get odd because players were expecting more analog and replicable results than the 3D simulation typically would provide. Getting bowling gameplay to feel like a slick arcade experience while delivering realistic physics was the most difficult part of developing the game.

EIP: Is the team working on Date Night Bowling the team behind Doki Doki Literature Club Plus? If so, what were the team’s biggest takeaways from that project, and how were they applied to Date Night Bowling?

Kersti: For the most part it is a separate team.

EIP: In the teaser we can see a few minigames being played. How many minigames will there be, and how often are they going to appear in the game?

Rajen: I think there are 18 challenges (minigames) in total. In a one player game, you’ll experience one challenge between each frame. In a two-player game, you’ll have two challenges between each frame.

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EIP: Couch co-op is getting rarer by the day. Can you talk a bit about the choice to include it in Date Night Bowling, and will there be other things you can do with a friend in this game besides bowling against each other? Will the versus option in the game affect the story, or potentially your date’s affection?

Rajen: We thought this could be a fun game for couples, those dating, or just friends to play together.  Being a dating-based bowling game, couch co-op just felt natural.  

Besides bowling and the challenges, you won’t be doing other things.  But we are keeping ideas in mind if we get to do a sequel someday.

We’re doing something different with scoring in Date Night Bowling. When you’re on a bowling date with someone, the bowling score is largely irrelevant, although it affects the dialogue a bit. What’s more important is how you fare in the challenges between the frames. Just like on a real date, who wins and who loses isn’t all that important, what’s important is the chemistry you two have. How well you perform in the challenges determines whether your shared connection score is high enough to warrant another date. If it’s low, then the date was a flop. If the connection score is high, the date was a success.

EIP: Do the difficulty options have an effect on building a relationship with your date (for example, will making the game easier impress your date less)?

Rajen: The difficulty options just speed up the gameplay. They’ll make the dates more difficult.

EIP: Will there be any differences between the two bowling alleys besides the visuals and music?

Rajen: No, it’s just about the ambiance and vibe. Just the visuals and music are different.  

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EIP: How extensive will the character creation be?

Rajen: Since this is a game that takes place in the Half Past Fate universe we thought it would be fun to include characters from Half Past Fate and Land of Screens as well as introduce some new ones. There’s no character creation but each character has a few variations on the outfit they’re wearing.

EIP: Once you pick a date, is this the only person we will be talking to? Or will we be able to talk to other potential dates or other bowlers while we bowl?

Rajen: Yes, you’ll only be interacting with your date.

EIP: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Is there anything you’d like to share?

Rajen: We added some neat statistics tracking to the game so you can see how the different characters’ bowling and dating stats evolve over time.

Big thanks to Way Down Deep and Serenity Forge for answering our questions! Date Night Bowling is releasing on November 26, 2021, and will be releasing on Steam. You can add it on your Steam Wishlist here.

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