Set in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars Pinball from Zen Studios is one of the best-selling and well-rated pinball games of all time. And now, fans can feel the Force come alive in VR. Interact with iconic characters, challenge your friends, relive some of greatest moments in the Star Wars galaxy, and build the ultimate fan cave in Star Wars Pinball VR, now available on the Oculus Quest Platform, PSVR, and Steam VR.
We’ve been anxiously awaiting this release since it was announced in February. To celebrate today’s launch, we sat down with Zen Studios Producer and Project Lead Ákos Szabó.
What motivated you to bring Star Wars Pinball into VR?
Ákos Szabó: We’ve always believed that the next big step in the video game industry is virtual reality, as it can immerse the player in a game world never possible before. And of course, our player community also encouraged us to take this step. They love our Star Wars tables outside of VR, and our Pinball FX2 VR pinball tables are also very popular with them. So it was really a win-win situation for everyone. We also love Star Wars, and it’s always an absolute pleasure and privilege to add our little part to expand this huge universe.
What kind of response have you seen from the community so far?
ÁS: So far everyone who likes VR games seems really excited about it. And because of the highly popular theme, we’ve received many positive comments from players who don’t normally delve into pinball—though we’re hoping this can help change that for them! Star Wars has been a big part of the gaming universe for such a long time, and its popularity never ceases to amaze me.
Which of the game’s eight tables is your favorite and why?
ÁS: That’s a really hard question because all of our tables are so unique. They have their own personality and atmosphere, not to mention the different difficulty curves they offer. Pinball is a game that is very easy to play but even harder to master. If I have to pick one, I would go with the new Mandalorian table. I really like the flow of how it plays, and I never tire of its fantastic music.
Tell us more about the Fan Cave. How did that come about?
ÁS: We wanted to make sure that if you are in the Fan Cave, you can break free from the monotony of everyday life—to create a safe, fun place, surrounded by all these familiar relics from literally another universe. But at the same time, you can always look outside the window and see that you are still on Earth, in your basement.
How did you go about designing the 360° minigames?
ÁS: These minigames were present in the tables before, so the initial design and implementation already existed. However, the work to create them in the VR world was very intense. Pinball tables and the game itself look fairly simple from the outside, but they are really complex, complicated games on their own—especially the ones we create from the ground up, like all of these. Their amazing minigames now offer an even greater experience thanks to VR.
What advice would you give to a developer looking to start building for VR?
ÁS: The first and most important piece of advice I would give is that no matter how much time you have allocated for development, double it. That’s the minimum. VR development often involves many hidden, unforeseen challenges that are simply impossible to prepare for.
The other important thing is to have the UI and the controls as well designed and figured out as soon as possible—preferably from the very beginning of development—because a lot of time and energy is spent on implementing and fixing the proper functionality when adding features later on.
What’s next for you? Any exciting updates in the works?
ÁS: Unfortunately, nothing specific that I can share at the moment. All I can say is that here at Zen we literally never stop, and we have many exciting projects already in the pipeline, so hopefully you will hear from us again soon! But if you’re just aching to play something else I worked on that’s in VR, please try out our old-school, modernized dungeon crawler Operencia: The Stolen Sun.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
ÁS: Regardless of the difficulty, it's always a great experience to develop for VR because you can learn a lot from the unique challenges. Also, no other platform can offer players such an immersive experience, and Quest’s unique cordlessness and mobility gives anyone the freedom to play.