When I started looking into building a bowling game, I still had not learned how to integrate a physics engine into the games, and I thought I could create a Skee Ball game without a physics engine. In the arcade Skee Ball game, you roll a wooden ball up a ramp, and where it lands in a hole at the bottom of several concentric circles. The smaller the circle, the more points you earn.
After studying the game for a while, I determined that Skee Ball does indeed need a physics engine; I created Blindfold Bowling first, and then started on Skee Ball.
The difference between Skee Ball and Bowling is that bowling is a two dimensional problem – you roll a ball towards pins and they knock into other pins. If the pins move too far, they fall down. In Skee Ball, you roll a ball up a ramp, it flies through the air for a few feet, and then drops into one of the circles and rolls into the hole at the bottom of the circle. That adds a vertical component to the two dimensional problem, hence its needs a 3D physics package.
Fortunately, the Skee Ball problem can be solved using a two dimensional analog of the game. Instead of tossing the ball up in the air and landing in concentric circles with a hole at each circle’s bottom, you could also roll the ball down a ramp where there are successively larger V shapes. Imagine the highest V is about twice the width of the ball. The next lower V shape is about 4 times the width of the ball, the next 6 times and so on. As the ball rolls down the ramp, if it hits one of the arms of the V, it will follow that arm down to the hole at the bottom of the V. If it misses the arms of the V, it will continue rolling down the ramp to the next lowest V, eventually hitting the arms of the lowest V, or ending up in the gutter.
That’s how we built the game, and Blindfold Vee Ball gives a very similar experience as Skee Ball. When you tap the screen to insert a coin, you hear 9 wooden balls rolling into a slot where you can then launch each of the balls by swiping up on the screen. If you swipe too quickly, the ball goes beyond the top V, and you get no points. If you swipe too slowly, the ball lands in the gutter. If you swipe just right, you can score from 10 to 100 points per ball.
So that’s where the name “Vee Ball” came from. And the name “Skee Ball” is copyrighted.