Małgorzata:

'jeśli myślimy o tym samym Piłsudskim to to w zapisie będzie 2xs'
[więcej]

05

lut
2016

z cyklu: pograjmy jak za dawnych lat -- cz. XII. -- Dino Dini interview (EN)..

kategoria: pasje, link bezpośredni

Dublin, 18:18

and in English in plain text:

Hi Dino, I can't start my interview in any other way but asking about new and shiny Kick Off Revival project. How did it happen that you again decided to refresh the franchise?

I have been continuing game development ever since the original Kick Off, but with time passing it became very difficult to do independent game development, because of the state of the industry. I was an indie gamedev before it became a thing. That all stopped when the first PlayStation came out. A good business model for indie game development no longer existed. I didn't want to make a game in my spare time and then let it disappear with no marketing and no support from the publisher. A few years ago I tried with a game called "Buggy Wars" that was released in pre-alpha, but I shelved this project because there were not enough people interested in playing it.

Then about two years ago, Sony started communicating with me, and eventually gave me the opportunity and funding to allow me to do my game my way, where I can call all the artistic shots and not be forced into certain solutions, like 3D realism or commentary - 10 years ago you couldn't do this.

What is your mission behind Revival?

I want to keep the spirit of the original game. The primary mission is to make this game with modern hardware and modern controllers, that has the spirit of the original game and takes it further.

What's your progress so far?

The ETA of the new game is 2016. For the last 18 months I've been working part time on it, but now it's my full time job. The final product will also use some of my early prototypes, like ball interception and free kick snippets.

What does your development crew look like today? Are you a solo-development team?

It's similar to the old KO - although I designed and programmed the game all by myself, I did have a publisher who provided support in certain areas. They connected me with Steve Screech who provided the pitch and sprite graphics, tested the game, advised on football and helped to devise and tune the tactic files. He had the role of a producer for KO, in the same way Mike Merren helped me on GOAL! It's like with books - you don't do everything in isolation, you have an editor to give you feedback. So even back then I wasn't all by myself and today this surrounding group is even larger. I’ve got someone to deal with the platform-specific stuff, someone else for special effects, art, animation, testing, optimization, marketing, etc. I've got all of them to help me so I can focus on game programming and game design.

Who's your publisher and what’s the role of Sony on this project?

Sony is backing up this project financially but it's being published by The Digital Lounge - the French company run by Abrial Da Costa, who's the guy behind the relaunch of Another World. So it's bigger and more professional compared to the original KO.

How did your development environment change over the years?

Previously it was just bedroom programming and in general bedroom business. It was a 68k assembler vs Unity3d nowadays. But honestly the environment hasn't changed that much; there are obviously different languages giving you the convenience to make the game better, but in the end the whole process is very similar. I sometimes even question how much more productive I actually am nowadays, because I managed to make the original KO1 all in assembler in 15 months and only 3 months to do KO2 on top of KO1 source code. I did rewrite the entire code for GOAL! though.

Now, lyrics in your KO2 World Cup anthem say: "25 years they've played my game". What do you actually feel seeing all these people playing KO and gathering all together year after year?

I feel proud! If there is something I want to achieve with any of the art is to stand the test of time. I view what I do as an art form and my games are performances which are presented to the gaming audience thought a technological medium. To me writing a game is like writing a book or song. The ultimate goal is to create something that has a value so that it can be remembered. This is an artist's ultimate test, isn't it? So yes, I can say it looks like I created something that stood the test of time and I'm proud of that and I'm happy of this achievement.

Do you keep in touch with folks from KO-Gathering? What are your relations with the KO community?

Sure, but I don't have a day-to-day interaction with the group, as I'm a bit busy and also try to keep a little bit of a distance, because I don't find it too healthy to be right in there all the time. But I started to attend the events a few years ago. The first one was in Milan and the community treated me very nicely, they gave me a lifetime achievement award. This is a very precious thing to me and means a lot. Nowadays I'd like to get more involved into community, but the problem is to figure out how do to it so that it all works. I'd like to be involved into the development of the official competition version for Amiga. The current tournament versions aren't being developed by the source code, they are created by just hacking the executable.

Isn't it a perfect opportunity for you to get back to the community by offering your help and KO2's source code?

Yeah, it could! But first I need the community to really want it. The community can be a bit fickle. When I got back to EU in 2002 and I introduced myself to the KO association I was not received in a very friendly way. We moved on since then, but the community is its own thing and although I don't aspire to be the community ruler I still want to be the owner of the game. I view it as a protections of my moral rights. Strictly, people should ask for permission from me to modify my work. If people are playing with something that I haven't designed then obviously we start to get an issue with creative ownership. It's like people modifying a book to their own taste or editing a film, eg. Star Wars Episode IV, would that be right? It's an interesting question.

What kind of modifications are you referring to?

Most importantly, there were already many fixes made to many different versions of KO: starting from the original, through World Cup, Final Whistle, to Return to Europe. There are a whole bunch of data disks that extended and fixed the game. There was also an 'oracle' crack that was much more popular than the official versions, which is probably the most played version of my game (with possibly unknown modifications). It turned out that there was a bug that I fixed, which may have appeared in early versions of the game. And this is not what I intended as a designer! In a sense there was a version branch and a bug just became a feature. It gets worse.. people play hacked versions of my game and I don't even know whether their bug complaints are related to the version they have been playing, or if the bugs are in the crack.

What bug was it?

It was called "Penalty Box Dribbling". It seems it was a piece of code that was used for Player Manager to make the players more likely to score in the penalty area by allowing them to control the ball better in the box. And I was okay to do this for AI, but absolutely not okay to do that for a player! It goes completely against my philosophy: a player and a ball a separate entities and you don't mess with them. It turned out that, by mistake, it was active also for joystick players and resulted in players being able to control the ball differently in the penalty box. Some players who got used to this feature really wanted to keep it in and those who didn't use it considered it as cheating.

The competitive version actually has the "PBD" toggle feature.

Yes, Steve C made it as an option to be turned on/off individually for players to try resolving this situation.

How do you design games? How do you approach the unknown before you hit programming phase of the game creation process?

When someone asks me to design a game based on sport, the first thing I do is to fully understand the concept of what I based my game on. And then I look for the most important design rules for my game, as the game I simulate already has its own set of design rules. So the natural thing is to go to the actual rules of football, which have been chosen as they made this game so exciting. I call it going to the source. Unfortunately, some people making games go to the previous version of the same genre. E.g. by making a racing game they tend to see the previous racing games, and I think this is wrong. Instead they should start by learning about the sport, and trying to understand what's boring and what's exciting. Even the Formula 1 regulators adapt to make their sport more exciting and game designer has to do the same: decide which rules add and which diminish the excitement. You have to decide on what you keep and what you throw away. In KO I didn't want to have an off-side rule, because I didn't think it was necessary, but I did want the ball not to stick because I felt it very important.

The fact that the ball doesn't stick to the foot is the main stamp of KO. Was it your initial concept or was it developed during the design phase?

Right at the beginning the first thing I built was the pitch and a ball. And I made the ball an entity by itself equipped with physics. I never wanted the ball to stick as it would be like carrying the ball around, and it's not football. The most important parts of the game are the ball and the players’ feet, and making it sticky is just breaking the reality and destroying the spirit of the game. It's an identifying feature of the sport, so carrying can work fine in basketball or rugby, but not in football. This is also what makes football a difficult sport.

Have you ever considered acquiring players' and teams' licenses or was it still too expensive back then?

There is a whole heap of issues around this. One of them is that you have to pay a license to use real player names, but then also when you do that, you can end up in trouble if bad things happen in the game. E.g. When working on "Player Manager" I wanted to make random things happening to simulate real life. Like injuries, affairs or player’s bad attitude to get him involved into bar fights. Isn't that interesting? This is part of life and it would make for great game play. But clearly, if the greatest star in your game is arrested by police on drugs charges you can get into real trouble. My philosophy here is that the game comes first. If you get yourself involved in the licenses that make sense only from business and marketing point of view, it won't help your game play.

Did KO make you rich back then?

No, I didn't have a publisher that was behaving in an ethical way towards me. So no, I never got any major financial reward.

What was wrong between you and Anco?

I worked with Anco without a proper contract and without any proper agreement. It all started off as a low risk project, so we had an agreement, but it wasn't anything professional. And to be honest, Anco had done their part of the deal by allowing the game to be successful. So I was quite happy to carry on that way and I wasn't as greedy to expect anything else. Until, one day, I went to Japan to help producing KO on SNES and I was presented with a video clip of another football game submitted to them by ... my publisher. It was Sensible Soccer, so Anco was talking to Sensible Software, which made me upset. My publisher that I was loyal to for all these years dealing with the clone of my game? "What about loyalty?", I asked and got an answer: "I don't owe you any loyalty". That was pushing me too far and at that point I said "Okay, then I don't own you any loyalty either". And so I was self-funding the development of KO3 (Goal!) and jumped ship to Virgin Games.

Anco kept the "Kick Off" franchise, right?

Yeah, I couldn't take that off them, because there was no paperwork. It was a mess. And so I got detached from my creation and it's a painful lesson for me. They then continued to create new games under the same brand. What's worse, some version of them were based on my own source code not authorized by me. The lesson is always make sure that a proper agreement is in place!

Was it the case with PC version of KO as well?

The PC version of KO has nothing to do with me. Anco has done it, probably using my source code. The point is that they kept doing KO games without me and it actually caused me damage, as people see a KO game and they think: "Oh, this is from Dino Dini".

Do you still recall any funny bugs from the KO2 development works?

There were a few of them. There was a bug that would make a white player to appear on the pitch. These sprites were unused and were meant to appear only in case of an error. This mystical white player that would rarely appear got interpreted as a ball boy. Another one was the situation when ball would end up on top of the net and everybody was there looking at each other, because the goalkeeper didn't know how to get the ball. Or the one with the strange and annoying bug with the corner kick in practice mode. Sometimes, if the ball goes out with the keeper's deflection but crossing the center of the goal line the corner was called on the other side of the pitch. This is actually why I decided to rewrite everything for Goal!, because the finite-state machine I was using was not up to the task of creating these complex interactions of logic over time in the robust way. So I had to come out with something better.

Can you tell us more about the war between football games back in early 90s?

My relationship with the audience has been very difficult for all these periods. In mainland Europe there is very little bad feeling towards me, but in the UK it has been a bit different. There was that war that happened between Kick Off and Sensible Soccer. In fact both of these games owed their existence to me, because Sensible Soccer was a Kick Off clone! Sensible Software actually acknowledged this in interviews that their game was created on my KO concept, that they played KO and wanted to do their own football. I did not clone their Microprose Soccer, I did not even play It, and if there any similarities they are coincidental. It's difficult, as people just take someone's product in order to release their own, and eventually they release almost identical one, with few basic changes. I could have lived with it, but then there was this war started off by Amiga Power magazine which later took over the media. I came off really bad, as I had been silent in the media until Amiga Power published a fake letter supposedly from me, which harmed my reputation, and caused me a lot of pain.

Was there anything not implemented in the original KO that you wanted to see in game?

There were some features but I kept adding new content in the following versions of this game. At some point of KO2 (around Expansion disks) there wasn't actually much more to put in, and that was actually one reason on why I rewrote the game completely for “GOAL!”, which would have been Kick Off 3. The main feature with “GOAL!” was that I wanted a player to control running speed. And it was something I was missing from previous KOs, but that required a complete rewrite of the game as it was such a fundamental change. So the inertia (speeding up and down) was put in so that one can control player’s speed. Nowadays we have analog sticks and it's possible to control it much easier.

So can we expect this feature in Revival?

Yes, the intention is to allow you to control the speed of your player, so that you can choose between speed and low ball control or better control but with a slower run. This is true with the real sport. However, because of this can now be done by pushing the stick by different amounts, there is no need for inertia.

Thank you and good luck with your new game!