Look down at your hands for a second. They’re remarkable appendages that have helped humanity survive and evolve over thousands of years. But have you ever wondered what it’d be like to replace them with baseball bats instead? Well, wonder no more: WHAT THE BAT? is the first VR game brave enough to explore this bold new idea, and it’s out today on the Meta Quest Platform for $24.99 USD.
If you’ve played Triband’s previous game, WHAT THE GOLF?, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of how WHAT THE BAT? works. It has over 100 short levels—some might only take a few seconds to beat, while others last a few minutes—built around the core idea of having wooden bats as your hands. This can range from seemingly mundane tasks like trying to toast bread or brush your teeth to more complex ones like painting or playing basketball with an elephant (just one of several animal pals you’ll have in the game).
We spoke with Game Director and Triband CEO Peter Bruun to find out more about WHAT THE BAT?, how they came up with its charming soundtrack, and why they like releasing games that make people laugh.
Tell us a bit about Triband. How did you end up making comedy games?
Peter Bruun: Triband was founded in 2016. We fiddled a bit with a small non-golf game called WHAT THE GOLF?, and without any effort at all, it became an instant global all-time international evergreen hit throughout the world and universes. After randomly stumbling into success, it’s easy to convince yourself that it was all you and that you actually know what you’re doing. That also happened to us.
What was the inspiration behind WHAT THE BAT?
PB: By coincidence and pure luck, we were introduced to baseball by a local guy called Mike in a sports bar on one of our trips to the United States of America. Happy to be part of an exclusive club of people in the know, we started production of a so-called baseball video game. We later learned that baseball was more common than we thought.
Inspiration for our games comes from everywhere: video games, memes, animals, the internet, goofy practical jokes, and stupid situations from everyday life. Part of the production took place during the COVID-19 lockdown, which is why a big inspiration is the weird dreams you get after watching too much TV.
Is it challenging to make a funny game in VR?
PB: Yes, actually, it’s one of the most challenging things in the entire universe. People who attempt to do it are absolutely mad, because it’s just so hard, challenging, impossible, and extremely difficult. We didn’t know this when we started working on this game, and by some super lucky coincidence, we succeeded anyway. I don’t know how it happened, as I remember very little from production—just that we started and that the game was done. The time in between is a blur.
What lessons did you learn from WHAT THE GOLF?, and how did they help shape the development of WHAT THE BAT?
PB: The main takeaway from WTG was that everything is golf, and we didn’t use that for WTB. Instead, we just changed it a little out of pure laziness to “everything is baseball.” Our advice to everyone is to not make things harder than they are. That’s almost always a sub-optimal strategy.
There seem to be a lot of animals in the game. What do they have to do with baseball?
PB: In the beginning, baseball was actually played primarily by animals. The animals built baseball stadiums in every major city and came up with rules so complicated that humans would never be able to figure them out and steal the sport. Eventually, that happened because the animals made too much money and went on to invest in blockchain-based startups.
Today, both players and spectators of baseball pretend that they know the rules and that they make sense when they really don’t. Next time you meet a baseball fan, ask them about the rules, and you’ll quickly realize they don’t know what they’re talking about.
The theme song is really catchy. Who did you work with on the soundtrack and sound design? What was that experience like?
PB: All music in WHAT THE BAT? is composed by Sune “Køter” Kølster, who also worked on WHAT THE GOLF? We asked ourselves: “What’s baseball music?” and we realized that every baseball stadium has its own organ and organ player. The game’s score is played by a full symphony orchestra, and the organ parts are played by Anders Koppel, the Danish Hammond organ rock icon from the 1960s. We couldn’t help but feel a little bit starstruck. The sound design for the game was done by the always amazing Ali Cedroni.
WTG had levels that could last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Is it the same here? What’s the process like for coming up with these levels?
PB: Yes. Some levels are short, and others longer. If you find yourself in one level for more than three hours, you’re probably doing something wrong (or enjoying it too much), and you should ask your VR friends how to complete it. They know.
Our process for coming up with levels is quite chaotic but so fun to do. It feels a bit like improv theater, where ideas can come from everywhere, and you’re not allowed to say no. We make a billion prototype levels and boil them in a big casserole. We keep putting new things in, and in the end, we cut most of it out and only keep the good levels. And then voilà, you have a WHAT THE? game!
What’s your favorite level or activity in the game?
PB: I really like the farming levels—putting all your eggs in one basket feels great. Ah, but the space chapter is also nice. The level where you have to make space satellites kiss is lovely. No, no, wait. Playing fetch with the dog is also great. No. Ahh, it’s impossible to choose. You’ll have to play the game and see for yourself.
You’ve now tackled baseball and golf. What’s next for the WHAT THE? universe?
PB: We’re all about surprises, and if I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise. But I can tell you that we have too many silly things in store for you, and they’ll be available sooner than you think.
Triband is on a mission to make everyone laugh. We love surprises and going with silly ideas. VR felt like the perfect place to make something fun, and we’re always searching to expand the WHAT THE? universe and thereby make the world a more uplifting and silly place.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
PB: No, not personally, but I asked the nice people in our studio and they quickly came up with this list of things they want to share.
You can experience the hilarity of WHAT THE BAT? for yourself on the Meta Quest Platform.