11th August 2009 - With the release of Ashes Cricket 2009 this week, the good people at Transmission Games were kind enough to answer some questions about the game. For an insight into the latest Cricket game read what Head Designer Heath Smith and Designer Mark Houareau had to say below.
1. How long has Ashes Cricket 2009 been in development and how many people have been working on it?
Ashes Cricket 2009 was in development for two years. Over the course of the project, at least 80-90 people worked on the game in some capacity at some time, with a core team of around 30-40 artists, designers and programmers over the course of the project.
2. Gameplay is obviously the main focus of Ashes Cricket 2009. Can you detail the improvements in batting, bowling and fielding that have been implemented compared to previous cricket games?
Sure. While the batting was fun in the previous games, we wanted to give the user more control over the kind of shot they wanted to play, instead of the game picking a shot for you. We looked at cricket, and one fundamental thing batsmen do is play off the front foor or back foot. Basic cricket theory states you should shift your weight on to the front foot if the ball is coming down low (i.e. pitched towards your feet), and get on the back foot if the ball is coming up high (i.e. pitched short, higher bounce). By allowing player to choose their footwork, they can more accurately choose which shot they want to play. It's a more advanced feature that's there for players to investigate when they're comfortable.
With bowling, we've tried to give the bowler an objective for how to get wickets. If the bowler bowls a delivery with good line, length spin or swing, the batsman will find it harder to hit the ball. In this way it becomes much more of a tit-for-tat with the bowler vs the batsman. As a bowler, I won't automatically get a wicket if I bowl the 'perfect' ball, but it -will- be much harder for the batsman to hit it, then it's up to the batsman's skill - be it AI or your mate on the couch - to make sure he doesn't go out!
For fielding, we've removed the need to time a quick button press on a meter - you now control which end you want the fielder to throw to. Catching in particular was the one aspect we wanted to highlight - we wanted to try to capture some of that feeling of what is arguably the most exciting moment in cricket! When a catch comes, the game slows down and you go into a special catch camera. You basically do what a real fielder would do - follow the ball right into your hands. There's a red/orange/green stoplight system which lets you know when you have to press the button. It's actually a real heart-stopper of a moment - hopefully just like the real thing!
3. Are there any differences in the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game?
The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions are identical - right down to the PS3 trophies and Xbox 360 achievements.
4. A big thing today is the development of downloadable content for Xbox 360 and PS3 games. Is there any plans for downloadable content for Ashes Cricket 2009?
There are currently no plans for downloadable content for Ashes Cricket 2009.
5. Obviously on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions there will be online multiplayer. Can you give us details of the modes etc that will be available in these versions?
You can play Ashes, custom Test, One Day International and 20 Overs modes online, both ranked and unranked.
6. Last but not least, having shown the game to international cricket stars such as Ricky Ponting, what feedback have they given you about the game?
Ricky loves the game. He is really interested in any medium that introduces the game of cricket to the uninitiated and brings kids to cricket. Whenever we catch up with Ricky he gives us advice on areas that stand out to him whilst also informing us of what we have nailed in the game. He takes a really keen interest in the development of the game and makes himself available to the developers for the odd piece of advice.
A big thanks goes to Heath and Mark from Transmission Games for answering our questions on what looks to be the best Cricket game yet.
Interview by Craig Cirillo