Where to begin? I had plans in 2020 to start work on my next game after doing a final fix for Hitchhiker.
Of course, life changed almost overnight and, like many others, I found myself working from home. Luckily, I do have a dedicated office space at home so my working routine could resemble some remanence of normality.
I was conscious though of suddenly not having a definite split between work and home life. Normally I would leave the office and drive home where as now it was just the closing of a door that signalled the end of the working day. During the early months of the lockdown I wanted to support my family as much as possible so I decided that once I turned my PC off for work, I wouldn’t turn it back on until the following day so I could focus all my attention on them. As a result, all game development stopped.
Over the past few weeks, as life has started to move along once more, I have been thinking again about starting a new game. However, rather than trying to think of an idea that I think may get the most downloads or achieve the best review scores, I have decided instead to focus on a game that I myself would like to play.
The games I played growing always fell more towards the arcade style of gameplay. They had their challenges but offered the player a way of doing something that in the real world might be incredibly difficult if not impossible. I feel that games of this generation of lost that somehow. Games are now able to recreate complex physic systems that more reflect real life. An example of this would be the Forza motorsport franchise. The latest Formula one game also offers simulation modes for drivers who really want to test their skills. While I understand that some players enjoy this level of precision, I feel it takes something away from the enjoyment factor. If we as mere mortals don’t break at the exact right moment, we end up head first in a crash barrier. I know, of course, that there are a host of assists available which can help us by telling us when to break or even applying the break for us, but I’ve always thought that is just treating the player like an idiot.
On the flip side, cast your mind back to the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. Here you could perform any number of crazy tricks while hurtling down a mountain side at break neck speed. All without a single “assist” in sight. The game naturally gave the payer a chance. Those who were more experience would naturally get better scores or open sections of the level that were difficult to navigate but the baseline gameplay was accessible. To my delight the recently released remake of these games has captured that baseline perfectly.
As a result, I had decided that for my next game the core gameplay will not be based on insane levels of precision or timing. Instead it will offer an accessible baseline on which the player can improve and master.
With the gameplay concept concluded I had to decide what genre of game I wanted to make. I decided on golf. Now don’t stop reading right away because contrary to what many might say, its not the most boring sport in the world… at least not in my opinion.
Growing up I played most of the Tiger Woods games from EA and loved them all. It was very sad when EA decided to no longer develop the series after there last team up with Rory Mcilroy.
HB Studios came to the rescue slightly with their game “The Golf Club”. However, like so many games these days they opted for a much more realistic gameplay experience.
Now anyone who plays golf will know that the game can be insanely frustrating at times. If I am then playing golf in a game, I don’t want to experience that same frustration. I want to be able to smash the ball in any direction I chose and for it to polity oblige by landing where I expect.
So as a result, I will be making an arcade golf game.
However, I do know that there have been many of these games before, so I wanted to try and add a twist to it. So for my version instead of the game being set on a golf course, it will be set in urban areas. I am also thinking of ways of allowing the player to explore the level on foot in-between shots with ways of improving / changing the gameplay experience for their next shot. In short think Tony Hawks meets Tiger Woods.
Here is a video of some early swing concepts and style