The Golf Club Interview – Procedural Courses!
We’ve let you wait for the whole weekend after Friday’s tease, but fear not – here’s the full interview with Anthony Kyne, Executive Producer of HB Studios, about The Golf Club (already available on Steam in Early Access mode). Enjoy!
- The Golf Club’s most prominent feature is likely its procedural course generator. Can you explain how it works under the hood? Also, procedural generation is being used more and more recently in gaming – do you believe this trend will continue?
On a basic level, we have a set of rules that are fed into the generator that create a course. The first hole tee and the last hole green should be in the same vicinity, no holes below or above a certain length, etc. The course is then created from there. We give the user some high level controls before we generate a course. How hilly they want it, how much water they want, how many holes they want. With a few clicks of a button they have something unique to play every single time.
Procedural Generation will only be seen more and more over the coming years. With the Indie scene exploding over the last few years, if guys like us want to compete with the big guys we have to rely on the machines to create levels, course, tracks, etc as we just don’t have the cash or man power to create them pixel by pixel.
- Will dynamic weather be one of the variations factored in the system?
We have a great wind system which means that each course will have the same wind for every user at that point in time. Each course has it’s own little eco system. We haven’t got rain in, but that’s something we’ll think about adding post release.
- Another interesting feature is the editor. Will this be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as well as PC?
Yeah totally, we designed the whole editor around the console controllers. Before we started development an editor on console always sounds like it’s going to play second fiddle to mouse and keyboard on the PC. But that’s not the case here, creating and designing courses with the controller is an absolute joy and the only way I and 90% of our early access community actually do it.
- Are you going to add something like Club versus Club tournaments and rankings?
We store each users scorecards for their whole career, so they can review the improvements they’ve made over time. Each course and Tour/Tournament also has a rankings attached to it, so you can compare how good you are to others out there.
We don’t have clubs at the moment, we want to get the game in people’s hands and build from there. If clubs is something they want, it’s something we’ll look at adding.
- Recently, War Thunder enabled cross-platform play between PC and PS4. Are we going to see this in The Golf Club as well and if not, why?
Yeah, we hope so. We’re quite far along in talks with both Sony and Microsoft and they’re very keen to make sure it happens. We’ve just got to prove out the flow of the content and our ability to manage any offensive content. Microsoft and Sony have no control over Steam users so if someone is creating something that is not family friendly they want us to prove to them that we can make sure we are on top of it. We’ve proposed a system, so we’re just waiting to hear back now
- What kind of experience did you have as a developer with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One? Will The Golf Club reach 1080P@60FPS on next gen consoles?
60fps is something that’s always banded around but I was reading recently that the brain can hardly tell the difference between anything over about 35fps.
My opinion is, if it feels right and it’s not chugging you’re good. Trying to hit this mythical number, for small gain, when you could be using the time to improve the overall experience of the game isn’t that important in my opinion.
- Do you agree with the general assessment that PlayStation 4 is more powerful and will remain so, despite Microsoft’s efforts with freeing GPU resources previously reserved for Kinect and, soon, the introduction of DirectX 12?
You can never tell how things will develop over a generations life cycle, powerful now doesn’t mean it will stay that way. As developers become more clever with the low level libraries, things become quicker and look better. It seems that the focus of most gamers has changed back to gameplay anyway so it’s all about which system has the most fun games coming out. Some of the biggest hits from the last year aren’t anything amazing graphically, but the game play is getting people talking and with the shift to digital purchasing away from in-store purchasing, word of mouth is just as important as big budget marketing.
- Your game uses the Unity engine. Did you enjoy working on it, and will you keep using the engine in the future over competitors such as Unreal Engine, CryEngine and the likes?
We’ve loved it, it gave us the ability to get something up and running really quickly. They’ve been great at helping us out as well. Having an engine ready to go means that out best programmers can concentrate on actually making the game. We could tell very early on, how good the game was, that makes development a whole lot more enjoyable. The idea of programmers making games from design docs and no one having an idea of how it’s going to play until near the end of development is pre-historic in my opinion. Your game will always feel like a paint by numbers piece of art rather than something that’s been played, loved and improved on. This is the reason the indies are doing so well of late.
- Looking at your history as a developer, it’s immediately clear that you have a strong passion for sports. Do you ever intend to try your hand at other genres (strategy, RPGs, action etc.), or you prefer to stick to sports in the foreseeable future?
Yeah totally, we know our sports that true, but we are all huge gamers here. There’s always plenty of ideas floating about, about what we could do next. We’ve got a few non-sport things being worked on as prototypes at the moment. So you never know what you might see from us in the next year or so!
- Thanks for your time.