7th June 2009 - All Age Gaming's affiliate CricketGaming.net interviewed the Lead developer of Ashes Cricket 2009, Robert Walkley of Transmission Games. Robert was kind enough to answer several key questions about the game. The full interview is below. To get more information of this game and all other cricket video games on all platforms go to CricketGaming.net.
"As we know Ashes Cricket 2009 is coming closer and people are really excited about it. To make this game more exciting, CricketGaming.net conducted an Interview with theLead Developer of Ashes Cricket 2009, Robert Walkley (Transmission Games). Rob has answered all the questions regarding the Gameplay, Graphics, Features and of course, System Requirements and Cheer Girls."
CricketGaming.net: What are your expectations for the game and how excited are you about it being released?
Rob: We're incredibly excited to be close to releasing the game! The team here at Transmission Games and Codemasters has worked really hard over the last two years and it's a pleasure to have finally announced it and be nearing release! We've had some great feedback from those who've played the game, and we're really pleased with what we've been able to achieve.
CricketGaming.net: The Gameplay is the most important aspect of a cricket game. How much work has gone into it and how much of it has changed?
Rob: We agree! Gameplay has absolutely been front and centre of everything we've done on this project. A huge amount of work has gone into Ashes Cricket 2009, and from the code side, we've literally written the game and engine from scratch. From the content side, we've been working hard to try to replace most of it, with all new player, stadia and kit item models and we've added large amount of new animation and commentary content. When you sit down and spend time with Ashes Cricket 2009, you'll discover that under the hood, this is a totally new experience. Ultimately we hope you'll feel that every aspect of the gameplay has been implemented with a fresh approach and that we've delivered important improvements over the previous games.
We've gone out of our way to make every aspect of Ashes Cricket 2009 feel deeper and more dynamic. In particular, we want the player to feel like they are in control, and not at the mercy of fixed or random behaviour. We want the players to feel like if they hit a six, it's because of their skill, and not because it's been predetermined by the game. If you manage to catch the ball in the slips, it's because the skill and variety of your deliveries has worn the batsman down and forced them into edging the ball, and not just because you're bowling with a highly skilled bowler. We've also worked really hard to make every play feel different, you'll find that no two plays are ever quite the same.
Both batting and bowling in particular have been given massive focus. Allowing the user to control the footwork and having much more accurate placement of shots has made the batting far more interesting and rewarding. We're also really pleased with how balanced and engaging the bowling and fielding are now against the batting. As much as I love the immediate pleasure that comes with pulling sneaky singles and diving for the crease, I actually prefer the pay off that comes along with luring the batsman into a fall sense of security over time. When you finally stump them by mixing the speed and placement of a delivery, it's incredibly rewarding. It's an even greater pleasure doing it against other people, especially against your mates! Because of the balance we've now achieved between the batting and bowling, I find the competitive multi player experience totally addictive and is without a doubt my favourite aspect of the game. If competition against your mates isn't necessarily your thing, we've also got a really engaging cooperative local multi-player experience. Now when you're on the couch in a batting partnership with your friend, your running is independent of each other, so it's up to the two of you to work as a team to call when to go for it and try to run. This means you'll need to make sure you're playing as a team so that you don't run for the same crease!
CricketGaming.net: Have you included additional commentary for user created players?
Rob: No, we haven't, but it's a great idea to keep in mind for the future. The biggest challenge may prove to be convincing one of our highly esteemed legends of the game to read out pages and page of common names , otherwise we'd have to synthesize the pronunciation of your name, which probably wouldn't work out so well. We've got new commentators on board, and we've put effort in to make the commentary less repetitive and more appropriate than it's been in the past.
CricketGaming.net: Will there be any option to update the game online with the latest player stats?
Rob: Our focus has been on the core experience for Ashes Cricket 2009. Over time we'd love to add features such as these, but it's not planned for this release. Since the reach of Cricket games is limited compared to say football, baseball or basketball games, it's really important that we prioritise and focus our efforts. It means we won't always be able to offer every feature available in other sports games, but what we can offer is an experience that's unique to Cricket. Ultimately however, the more people that get behind our game, the more features we'll be able to offer in future releases!
CricketGaming.net: BLIC, the batting style of tail-enders was like top batsman and they were able to play quality shots. Is this still the case?
Rob: In Ashes Cricket 2009, we feel we've reached a reasonable balance in how tail enders feel. They'll not only have fewer shots at their disposal, but as a player you'll need to take fewer risks to survive. This is a delicate balancing act of course, because we don't want players to feel that all hope is lost with low order batsmen. It'll certainly be harder to time and place shots, and when your batsman finally falls, you'll hopefully feel it's because you mistimed and/or misplaced a shot and not simply because of the batsman you were playing as.
CricketGaming.net: Will world-class fielders like Gibbs, Symonds be better in the field than others? For example are they more likely to make one handed diving catches?
Rob: We have a pretty comprehensive and accurate player database in AC2009, and the skill of your players will change over time based on your on field performances. All of these attributes carry through to how players perform on field. We're ultimately still constrained by the number of animations at our disposal, but player-specific animations are on the cards for next year.
CricketGaming.net: When you started development of this game, what came first, gameplay or graphics?
Rob: Without question, it's the game play that's received our overwhelming attention, especially on the technology side. If the graphics are improved, that's also great, and it'll hopefully serve to make the game play more enjoyable, but it's not where our primary focus lies. To give you an example, for the first six months of production on cricket, the players were actually cylinders! All of the attention given from the programming and design team was about how we can open up the game experience and put the player in control and not just about how we can make the same game look better. We've always known that no matter how good we make it look, it won't cut it to simply improve the visuals.
We've got a very talented and hard working art team, who I think have been able to pull off a pretty amazing job. We've also got a programming team that has worked hard to provide the artists with a tool chain and work flow that empowers them to make the best visuals they can. They've been able to make the whole visual appearance and atmosphere in India feel extremely different to say Australia, and many locations will be instantly recognisable from the pitches alone! The same thing must be said for the audio designers. From sound alone, you'll really be able to tell the difference between playing twenty over match in Karachi as opposed to say playing a Test at Lords. We firmly believe however that these aspects are ultimately there to serve the game to help it deliver increased immersion and shouldn't simply exist for their own sake.
CricketGaming.net: Is Super-Over or Bowl Out available in the T20 format?
Rob: As great as it would be to include these, it's pretty rare that you draw in a match, and placing so much focus there would mean we spend less attention on the rest of the experience. We've got lots of features exclusive to the twenty over format in Ashes Cricket 2009, we've implemented free hits and the atmosphere and pacing of a twenty over match feels much much different to a test match. AI batsman will play much more aggressively than they will in say a test match and will be more inclined to take risks. Ultimately however the game is Ashes Cricket 2009, but we're really excited by the contrast the twenty over format provides in our game.
CricketGaming.net: Any idea about system requirements of the PC version?
Rob: Sure, ultimately for best results you'll need a machine that can keep up with the equivalent graphics power of the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360, so you'll be looking at a 2Ghz+ CPU with 1GB of RAM, with a good Shader Model 3.0 card with at least 256MB of VRAM.
CricketGaming.net: Is there any special feature in the game like player getting injured on the field, sweating or may be bandages on fingers or hands?
Rob: Players definitely get injured in our game, which reduces their confidence and stamina, and it's really quite funny watching bowlers give the batsmen a hard time! It doesn't quite go down the the level of detail of bandages on fingers though. We certainly experimented with sweat patterns that change over time but they didn't make the cut this time around. There are quite a lot of features that we play with but ultimately end up dropping to better focus on other areas. Over time we'd love to provide all of these nuances, but as any cricket fan may imagine, no matter how much detail we offer, it can never be enough! There are also certainly features in our game that we haven't discussed yet .
CricketGaming.net: Is the PS3 version or Xbox 360 version patchable?
Rob: This is certainly possible now for both of these consoles, and it's great to know that yes, we are certainly able to offer patches. Right now our focus is to deliver the best experience we can straight up, but we also appreciate that there'll be some really great feedback that can only be provided post release. The development team is really keen to help improve the game wherever we can and want to develop a strong long term relationship with our customers. There are always many features the team would love to improve or add, so the desire is certainly really strong, but it's no reason for us to deliver something we're less than proud of straight out of the box from day one.
The development team also has some really powerful tools for adjusting all aspects of the game in real time, and there's a strong desire for us to support the hard core fans wherever we can, and we'll be aiming to get pretty involved with the community post release. There are lots of wonderful possibilities with Ashes Cricket 2009 and we're taking a long term perspective to our relationship with our fans.
CricketGaming.net: Can we expect any special modes like Season or Career modes in the game?
Rob: There are certainly both official, unofficial and custom tournaments in our game. You can place your custom player into a team and over time you'll earn skill points, which you can use to increase your players strengths in key areas. As for a fully fledged career mode, it's a natural progression that we'll heads towards.
CricketGaming.net: In our opinion one of the most exciting things in T20 cricket are cheer girls. Will we be able to see in Ashes Cricket 2009 T20 matches?
Rob: Haha, I must confess, this didn't sit very highly in priority on our 'to do' list . This does touch however on an important point, that it can be these subtleties that help convince you that you are taking part in a real life cricket match. We've got music and stadium announcements in game, and proper in stadium scoreboards, which really help bring the stadium to life, and in future we'd love to keep expanding here, because these seemingly small features have really improved the atmosphere in AC2009. Personally I'd love to see pigeons and seagulls on the field, ultra close ups of individuals in the crowd and all these wonderful little aspects that help make cricket a sport we love to watch.
CricketGaming.net: What would you like to say to the fans of Ashes Cricket 2009 and other gamers about this game?
Rob: We really hope you enjoy Ashes Cricket 2009. We've worked really hard to deliver a fresh new experience that's even easier to pick up and harder to put down. We also hope you enjoy the improvements we've made to the way batting and bowling works, and think you'll find the gameplay much more balanced as a result. We hope that if you've never played a cricket game before, it will be even easier to pick up and enjoy with family and friends.
Finally, the team at Transmission Games has been really excited to take up the challenge to create Ashes Cricket 2009, and it's been a bit of a dream opportunity for the hard core cricket fans amongst us, and we really hope you enjoy it! We'd like to sincerely thank all of those who've taken an interest in Ashes Cricket 2009 and hope you have as much fun playing it as we have!
"I suppose this is so far the best Interview which is at least clarifying the doubts of people regarding features and system requirements. We are thankful to Rob who took out some time for answering these questions."
Well there you have it, another great interview from the CricketGaming.net team.