The Golf Club Interview: "Course Creator, Real-world Ball Physics, Resolution, No Issue With ESRAM & More"
HB Studios are currently working on a next-gen golf sim, "The Golf Club". The game is powered by Unity Game Engine. We recently got in touch with Anthony Kyne, Producer of The Golf Club and talked on numerous topic related to the game such as "difference between PS4, Xbox One and PC ports, Resolution and FPS at which it runs, some significant features, course creator, multiplayer, working relationship with Sony and Microsoft and many more things". Read our full interview below.
Gamepur: How would you describe The Golf Club and how is it different from other games that are already available in this genre?
Anthony: A golf game was something that we’d been thinking about for a long time, so we had plenty of ideas locked away amongst the team. One thing we decided on very early was that we didn’t want to blow our budget on licences and the TV Style presentation like 99% of sports games do. We wanted to make a game that represented the golf world that majority of us armatures play in. We wanted to spend our time and money on making the game play as realistically as possible.
Gamepur: What are the most significant features of The Golf Club that gamers should look out for?
Anthony: I think the big one has to be the procedurally generated courses. We found with other golf games of the past that after you’d mastered the set of courses that came with it the game started to lose appeal. With a few simple clicks of a button you can create a completely new course, never seen or played before.
We also realised that a lot of people wanted to create their local course. So we added an extra layer to the course generator that allowed the user to edit and create their own courses. The games only been sent out to a select few BETA testers so far but already the creativity we’ve seen from people has been amazing.
Gamepur: Sports genres are basically dominated by EA Sports games (Tiger Woods golf games if we just take into consideration Golf games part). What unique features/elements The Golf Club brings to the table that sets it apart and do you think that the game will appeal to massive fan-base of EA Sport's Tiger Woods Golf Game series?
Anthony: I think we’re totally different takes on the sport to be honest. They’ve created a game is very much based in the professional world. Competing on the most well known courses in the world against the top PGA tour players all presented in a flashy TV style. We on the other hand are more about the game of golf that we all experience as amateurs, the game that is one of the most popular in the world. A game where you and your friend can compete on an 18 hole course which you have spent days or weeks creating and something that actually created the fun, sense of achievement and frustrations that real golf creates.
Gamepur: For our readers can you explain the working of Course Creator?
Anthony: The course creator is a pretty amazing tool. As I’ve said above, with just a few clicks you can create a completely unique course with as much Water and Bunkers as you want and as difficult as you want. But with the added layer of the Editor you can spend weeks and months on perfecting you master piece. Using your creative skills to create something only in your mind or modelling a course based on a real life course that you play regularly.
Gamepur: Can you share with us the difficulties that the development team faced in developing Course Creator (if any) and how did everything work out eventually?
Anthony: We were really lucky, we only ever planned to create something that would procedurally generate a courses so the user would always have a unique experience. But we managed to achieve that very early in development. From there we started developing the more in-detail editor. At that point everything was a bonus. So we just grouped our designs into stages from the most basic needs to the “Everything we would ever want” and worked through each stage at a time. At release we’ll most probably be about a 3rd of the way through those stages, so we’ve still got plenty we’d like to do in the months and years to follow.
Gamepur: Can you please list the differences between all three versions of The Golf Club i.e. PS4, Xbox One and PC?
Anthony: Nothing, at the moment everything is the same and that’s how we’d like it to stay. The ultimate dream is to have people on the PS4 competing with friends ghost balls from their rounds on a PC. Technically it’s not an issue, it already works here in the office. It’s just about if we’re allowed to do it.
Gamepur: Can you tell us about The Golf Club's multiplayer portion and will players on different platforms be able to share courses i.e. will cross platform sharing feature be supported by The Golf Club?
Anthony: So as it stands at the moment, everything that a user decides to publish is available for others to play with no restriction on platform. This may change as I’ve stated above though.
We have Ghost Balls and Live balls that you can compete against as well. We decided we didn’t want to create lobbies and worry about connection loss and all the things that come with traditional online play. So we decided we’d give the user the ability to add friends previous rounds as a ghost. Giving you the ability to compete against it. You can also see friends balls that are on the course you’re playing and compete against that. If you lose connection, jump back in once it’s back up and continue. You haven’t lost anything or ruined your friends round. It’d quite unique and works really well. No waiting, it’s very instant and makes playing competitions a lot quicker.
Gamepur: You guys are aiming to provide a level playing field for all players with ONLY ONE difficulty setting, why did the development team decide to take this route? And in future will there be more difficulty levels added?
Anthony: Yes, I’m a huge believer in that. Our game is a very social experience its about competing with friends and we didn’t want people going into games having an easier time of it than another just because they changed a setting somewhere. We wanted to make it like real golf.
We believe that our course decide how hard or easy you want the make your round. That’s how it happens in real life.
In the future I’d love to add a handicap system, that maybe opened up certain courses but also kept a level playing field for two friends and differing abilities. It’s one of the greatest levelling systems even invented so why not use it in a game about the sport!
Gamepur: Can you explain in details real-world ball physics in The Golf Club?
Anthony: In detail, that would be along answer J, Our physic programmer actually did a full article on it on the website, which talks about it in depth. Basically though, we decided we wanted to make it as realistic as possible so we studied up on every bit of information we could find and implemented it. Head speed, stance, spin, club loft, etc is all taken into account. Each surface reacts as it does in real life and we spend a considerable time on tree collision as we felt that other games hadn’t really done it justice in the past.
Gamepur: With respect to presentation, The Golf Club is skipping some key features such as in tournaments, there is no crowd. The entire focus is on the competition rather than representing a broadcast atmosphere. On this note can you tell us in detail what were the plans of your development team with respect to overall presentation of The Golf Club?
Anthony: It was one of our key pillars for the game, we wanted to create course and tournaments that represented the game of golf from an amateurs point of view. I’ve played in many tournaments over the years and I’ve never had a crowd come out and watch me J. We wanted to recreate that!
Gamepur: The Golf Club will go through a beta testing phase on all three platforms, can you provide us details regarding content it will offer to players to test i.e. number of course and other things?
Anthony:We’re already in BETA Testing on PC, but with PS4 and Xbox One there isn’t really a system in place to let us do that with the public. It’s not too much of a hindrance to us as the game is the same on every platform, it’s just a shame some of the early adopters of the game aren’t able to help us if they’re console owners.
Gamepur: Is the release date of The Golf Club and The Golf Club beta decided?
Anthony:Beta is out, we’re currently looking a releasing an early access although nothing is set in stone. And the closest we can say for Full Release is spring. Anything more granular than that only leads to disappointment.
Gamepur: Is the Resolution/FPS figure 1080p/60, at which The Golf Club will run on PS4 and Xbox One? If YES, can you please provide us the details?
Anthony: That’s the aim, we’re running in 1080p at the moment but not quite at 60fps. I don’t think we have an actual hard figure for FPS its more about getting to a point where it feels right. I was reading an article the other day that the human brain can’t tell the difference between 50fps and 60fps anyway so as long as it feels right I’ll be happy.
Gamepur: Since The Golf Club is meant for PS4 and Xbox One, can you tell us till what extent are the features of DualShock 4 controller like Touchpad, Lightbar and Xbox One's Triggers used in The Golf Club?
Anthony: Nothing specific per controller at the moment. I wouldn’t want to cheapen the features on the controller by us shoe horning something onto them just because they’re there. If we had an idea that suited touch pad more than anything else, we’d do it! But why use it just for the sake of it, it feels fake and the user knows that.
Gamepur: From critics to fans to developers, almost everyone in the video-game industry praised PlayStation 4's unified architecture, 8GB GDDR5 RAM and its GGPU, as a developer what you have to say about PS4, how helpful have these high specifications been in the development of The Golf Club?
Anthony: Coming from the old days of development, it’s great to not have to worry about every bit! I remember working on the Sega Mega Drive and Commodore Amiga where RAM was more precious than gold.
For this project the biggest benefit has been the ability to use Compute Shaders, it means that the procedural generation is seamless. We have minimal loading times and the whole course is there to play, not just one hole. Not having to load each hole at a time makes the game very quick and easy to enjoy.
Gamepur: Coming to Xbox One, the 32 MB ESRAM has been a talk of the town and is said to be the main culprit behind multiplatform games running at lower resolution than PS4. Some developers openly admitted that it is "Bottleneck, Cumbersome, Can't Sustain the speed of GDDR5. On this note, we would like to ask you: A) As compared to GDDR5, is Xbox One's ESRAM slow, bottlenecked and cumbersome? B) How does HB Studios plan to use Xbox One's ESRAM?
Anthony: We haven’t had any issues so far, as it stands we haven’t had to do anything more than expected on either Console. Both are such powerful machines that with a bit of thought you shouldn’t have problems on either. It’s why games get better as console generations age, people think of more inventive ways to squeeze every bit of performance out of the hardware.
Gamepur: How was your experience working with Sony and Microsoft?
Anthony: They’ve both been great, we were announced last week as one of the developers on the id@xbox program by Microsoft. They’ve supplied dev kits and worked with us and Unity 3D in getting source code to us, it’s been refreshing. Sony have been equally as good, they love the game. We had dev kits very early in development, they’re always checking in with us, making sure we’re not having any problems with developing on PS4. They’ve even sent a couple a guys up here for one to one’s with the team to see how they can improve development on their console. It’s great that they care so much about the guys having to work with their stuff on a daily basis. It’s nice that they’re taking care of the small guys!
Gamepur: Are there any plans of transporting The Golf Club to hand held consoles such as PS VITA?
Anthony: It’s not in our immediate plans, although it’s something we’d love to do. I used to commute for 3 hours a day when I lived in London, so I’m a big fan on portable gaming. Especially portable gaming that improves the experience I’m having in my living room when I get home. We’ve got a few ideas floating around. We just have to create a plan to do it that won’t impact the other titles we’re working on in the studio.
Gamepur: After The Golf Club, what's next? Any creative idea you have in mind?
Anthony: There’s plenty going on, we’ve got a couple of projects in development that haven’t been announced yet. The Golf Club is going to be an ongoing project, we want to keep building on the solid foundation that we’ve built and keep pushing the boundaries. There’s also plenty of other ideas in the bank that we want to start investigating. We’re not short of work, that’s for sure.
Gamepur: Any special message you would like to give our readers?
Anthony: Thanks for the support so far, keep following us on Twitter, @thegolfclubgame and on our website for the latest news on The Golf Club. Thanks