How to create sports games?

I got most interesting question which I didn’t reply via email, but thought to bring the question here:

I’m addicted to sports games, like you (NHL11), and wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes to create such realistic graphics.

Do you know how the developers go about actually creating these games? Do they hook up individual athletes to a system that creates the code? What about non-marquee named athletes; how do they get the movements just right?

If you can direct me to a website or blog or anything that could help me, I’d greatly appreciate it!

Even though I’ve said that “everything except NHL series is just hype/trends that die away” and even though I’ve been playing those games since ’93 (*cough*) I hardly consider myself addicted. (After all, I didn’t play those 2001-2009, since ’95 emulation version was much better)

Now with that being sorted out, I’d like to say that:

  • Graphicswise I could imagine indie devs being able to simply do different skating, shooting, passing (etc.) animations. There’s talented artists who can handle them, so it doesn’t get any more difficult.
  • Similarly there’s physics libs and engines (Shiva, Unity, Leadwerks come to my mind at first) can help create stunning systems.

Technically, I believe it is possible for indies to create a such hockey game that it could somehow compete with the big studios. How much money there is to be used of course affects how minecrafty players you’ll see.

The bigger issue – in my opinion – is getting licenses. It’s quite far fetched to get real NHL player names & faces in the game. And that’s where indies need to be creative.

Creative as in what one small Finnish studio has done. They created a floorball league game. To get idea about the quality, check this demo video:

These guys managed to snatch the licenses for player names both in Finland and – I think – also in Sweden. The reason is that floorball isn’t not a such big sports as for example football (compare number of hockey games: 100+ and floorball games: about 1) and from what I heard (from a gaming magazine – might be wrong) is that the league guys wanted to support that these kind of games gets done which might help make the sports also more popular.

If you have any other opinions, please feel free to share.

I’m Downloading World of Warcraft

There’s some things one must try before age of 30. One of them is testing World of Warcraft. I actually don’t even remember if I’ve ever tested the game (somehow I remember making some orc but who knows), so to make sure, I’m downloading it.

I mean… maybe it’s good to actually try the game.

And no, I don’t intend to play the game. Just create a chap and kill some rats and get a bit of idea what’s there. Seeing things on my very own orc eyes.

Why Minecraft is successful (anyone thought Markus might have something to do with it?)

Yesterday I went through some web pages ranging from discussion about farmville versus minecraft to grinding & slot machine mechanics and some other posts that explained why Minecraft is so successful.

I think develop interview with Markus has some seeds closer to the truth.

Here’s some reasons that – in my opinion – didn’t make Minecraft so successful:

  • Game features
  • Technology
  • Mechanics
  • Being alpha version (see also above – it was the “telling that it’s alpha…”)

Sure. Games need features, accessible technology and good use of game mechanics, but I think those aren’t the things that really caused success (alone).

I didn’t buy Minecraft for the reason that I heard that it was good. I bought it because I was interested to know what is this indie game that had sold worth half a million euros (or whatever the number was back then). Sure, I liked to dig few days but then it became bit boring and everybody else was building space crafts and Sauron’s eyes while I had a floating wooden bridge (pretty nice though).

Here’s some reasons that – in my humble opinion – do matter:

  • Stories, stories, stories: everything around Minecraft is about “telling stories”. I never heard anyone giving hype to the “features” but talking about “the stuff somebody did/recorded” or “how Markus is genius when he does this and that”
  • “Paypal froze my funds” story
  • The “people are buying the game so fast our servers are jammed” stories
  • Proven track record of sales (even before the “Paypal froze my funds story”)
  • Showing (successful) sales numbers: “Here’s how many have bought the game, and more people are buying it”
  • Perception in one’s mind: “What is this game everybody is talking about? Since all those people love it, I must buy it too.”
  • Telling story about “just alpha, and sells gazillions”
  • Success that creates more success.

And even more important:

  • Markus left his day job. He sort of “gambled with his life”. Took a risk.
  • Markus worked hard and was dedicated to make things happen. He had enough experience about games (Minecraft isn’t his first game) and spirit to visualize what might happen. In his words “I always knew I could make a living from games” (Well, he couldn’t visualize the 12-15 million EUR sales)

I think it’s bit false to say why “Minecraft” is so successful. I think eventually it boils down to the person behind the game. I have no trouble believing that if Markus had chose to do different game, he’d eventually would have been successful – not sure if it’s Minecraft Great Big Success, but at least Somegame Big Success.

Minecraft is the product of hard work and dedication. Sure, you can try argue and talk about mechanics about slot machines and whatnot (that’s of course important too!), but when looking reasons for success, I believe it’s important to look also the person behind the product.

39 days and counting… zero inbox, easily

I made some new year resolutions where first goal was to decrease amount of stuff. One of the really Good Things I did was that I reworked my use of email. Currently I do this:

  • I have secondary Google mail account, and primary gameproducer mail account
  • All newsletter subscriptions, announcements, and stuff goes to google mail (if you email press@ or contact@ or whatever, all goes there).
  • I removed almost all newsletter subscriptions that I could: I concluded those are close to pointless. I use other things like Twitter to hear about the important stuff.
  • I bought iPod Touch and use the default Mail program.
  • Whenever I get emails, I mainly move them to Trash.
  • If there’s something that I can consider, I reply there right away.
  • Project related emails go to my project folder (named “Zombies”), I have only one of these.
  • I have no “archived”, all that goes to Trash.
  • 98% I check email while sitting on sofa, I never check it during the day. I also have IMAP account on my main desktop computer for the reason that sending large attachments is easier that way. I think I’ve sent less than 5 emails (or so) via main computer, all goes mainly through iPod Touch.

Conclusions is: get mobile device for IMAP emails, have 2 accounts, don’t archive anything – trash ‘em, have one project folder, never check email while working, remove all junk.

This has worked tremendously well for me, and I think it’s now possibly 39th day with clean inbox and I feel I haven’t put any effort on this. It just stays clean, I don’t “try to keep it clean” or take any pressures. It just stays empty.

What can happen in a zombie game? Need help creating list of encounters/events

I’d need some help. I’d need a list of things that happen in zombie plots (think of typical urban scene: zombie infection occurs, everybody panics and gets eaten, and group of “heroes” spend tons of shotgun shells).

I’m thinking stuff like:

  • Found gasoline!
  • Empty ammo stash
  • Zombie behind the door
  • Flat tire

Et cetera.

If you type a comment, mention if you want your name for the credits, and I might consider it. *Cough*

Help me out, shall you?