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Ncik @ Radivarl  


Golf Club / Golf (J2ME)

As you may have noticed on the earlier pages, I've done a lot of golf games over the years. I don't know why. I don't particularly enjoy the sport in real life - it's just one of those pigeon-holing things that can happen in a small studio. Not that it's a bad thing. It got us repeating Tiger Woods job, after all.

Come 2004 though, we wanted to release a golf game of our own, not tied to a particular brand. Kind of like a combination of Tiger Woods 2004 and Pub Pool. Golfing, but with a bit of fun.

We also had an opportunity with Motorola to get a game embedded on their upcoming new RAZR handset. That was a very nice little flip-phone device, and to get a game embedded on any device is a good deal to arrange (see Munkiki's Castles). We also wanted to release the game independently through the regular operator portals, and as a result we released two versions of this game: "Golf Club" as a general download, "Golf" on the RAZR. At the end of the day, it was essentially the same game though.

I took the opportunity to rework quite a few bits in the rendering and golfing engine I'd used in the previous Tiger Woods titles. A number of things such as re-engineering the top-down preview renderer, adding heightmaps to all the holes, and improving the general ball flight & roll mechanisms. All small enhancements, but they were nice to do when the previous Tiger Woods game has been so rushed.

On top of that, the game went down a new and different "cartoony" look. The menuing also had a major rehaul to try and really step up the pace from my previous titles. In all, the whole game took a significant step sideways in terms of graphical styling to really differentiate it from the more serious games as we didn't want to step on our own toes.

A few other new additions made it into the game. The version embedded on the RAZR had this relatively new (for the time) concept of playing the game and then sending an SMS to a friend with your score in it which could then be competed against. It sounds very primitive by today's standards, but using the text feature of the phone to directly compete in a downloadable game was relatively new in that day and age.

On a lighter side, of course we had to create our own golf course again (much like in dbi Golf). It was a bit easier this time - less pressure to make things feel serious and realistic.

Even little things like having the characters occasionally blink on the menus lightened the feel of the game. This was probably the most enjoyable golf game to create.

That said, we could always do more...

2005 Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Golf (J2ME)

(You might have noticed that the year has suddenly come to the front of the game name - this is because if you've got a phone that lists three truncated "Tiger Woods PGA T..." games, picking the one you want is annoying. Additionally, some handsets (cough - Sharp! - cough) used the first 16 characters of the MIDlet name as the game identifier - as a result, you couldn't have two games whose name difference occurred after the 16th character of their name)

Having done a lot of engine reworking for Golf Club, the final Tiger game I worked on was, in my opinion, a huge leap in presentation and gameplay from the others, and even from Golf Club itself. The course data now included height data for each hole, the renderer was much more impressive and faster, high end handsets included bézier curve blending of the vector course data to give everything nice smooth edges (compare the bunker edge above to the fairway edge in the TW03 screenshot), we combined the top down and 3D views into one screen (instead of requiring the user to flick manually between them, like we did in the previous titles), there were a ton of game modes (including challenges, and golfing legends you could unlock and play against), items and skills to buy and upgrade, a trophy cabinet that recorded everything you'd achieved, the front end menuing felt a lot more polished and a better match to the console menus, ... All in all, this game had a ton more stuff than the previous ones.

We even included a password you could unlock if you completed everything in game that would unlock something in the console versions, so there was some interesting tie-in marketing opportunities there too. I don't think anyone actually made that big of a deal about that though. This was the second of my games to get a BAFTA nomination though.

The one final thing I will say about these games - having spent months devleoping a game, it's always very easy to lose perspective on how good it is, and also to get sick to the back teeth of it. Out of every mobile game I've ever produced, TW05 is the only one I'd still today put onto a new mobile if I got one and play through to completion. ... Well, depending on what mobile device I got, maybe not the only one...