An Interview With Peter from Red27 Studios…

Red27 Studios’ very own coding genius Peter (in his own words ;-)) was recently interviewed for Captain D’s PC Gaming Website.  A transcript of the interview can be read below, or you can check out the published interview here.

1/ How did Awesome Soccer come about?  Did you just wake up one day and think “I want to code an old-school footie game”, or was there more to it than that?
Well, it boils down to me having two passions in life – Football and Computers!  But ok, perhaps there’s a little more to it than that… :-)

Back in the 90′s I used to write games for the Amiga, and whilst I was still at University I produced a very small and very limited Sensible Soccer prototype (basically just a scrolling pitch!) as I adored the game that much.  University eventually ended and I got a “proper job” within IT (not the games industry alas) so the games writing took a back seat and I forgot all about it.

A few years ago, I was using the excellent WinUAE Amiga Emulator to reminisce about those great 16 bit days, and I came across the Sensi prototype, and I had what you might call a lightbulb moment and the idea for Awesome Soccer was borne...
As an aside, for me, I still don’t think anything has evoked as much emotion in gaming terms as the Amiga did, and that was what I really wanted to try and capture.

2/ What made you choose Java as the development language – familiarity with that language, ease of porting to various systems / operarating systems, or something else?
Primarily because I am just genuinely very fond of Java.  The arrival of Java 1.6 update 10 was just a revellation in terms of graphics performance and made Java a wholly viable language for game development in my opinion.  Added to that, Java has, as you mention, stunning portability (for instance I’ve recently added a Linux version of the game alongside the Windows and Mac versions).

3/ If you had to choose, which would you say was the best ever 16-bit soccer game – Kick Off 2 or Sensible Soccer?  (Or something else, even.)
It’s a tough question.  KO2 on the Amiga when it first came out was just astonishing – my friends and I played it so much it was just untrue!  At Uni we had this massive league system with so many players and such interest that we had to hook up a video splitter to show the games on another TV in a different room as one room couldn’t hold enough people!  Yes, I realise that this could be deemed a little sad….

Then Sensible Soccer came out and that pretty much took over the crown straight away – and our Sensi league if anything was even more popular in terms of numbers than the KO2 one.  Add to that I was pretty much unbeatable on Sensi at the time that may help sway my decision… ;-)

But seriously, in my humble opinion, Sensible Soccer just about edges it.

Some other games with honourable mentions would be Emlyn Hughes International Soccer and Match Day II (with some serious hours spent on both!)

4/ Do  you think that modern footie games – the latest FIFAs, PES, etc – have just become too complicated to be much fun anymore?
I remember being really impressed with the pseudo 3D look of Fifa 96, and I truly enjoyed the novelty of the original ISS on the Playstation (the commentary gem of “That’s an early bath” for a yellow card still amuses me to this day).  The battle through the last decade between Fifa & Pro Evo has been really interesting; I was firmly in the Pro Evo camp for the vast majority of that time, however, the recent Fifa editions have really pushed the genre forwards massively – so much so that when my young son and I got Fifa 2010 for Christmas, we were both finally won over and we are now Fifa converts!

Regarding the complexity of the controls, I think it all boils down to the amount of time you can afford to invest in playing and learning all the various skill moves and controls.  There has to be a balance between accessibility for the casual gamer and rewarding the hardcore gamer that is willing to spend hour after hour practising and playing online.

This was one of the reasons I wanted Awesome Soccer to be totally accessible right away whilst still providing some serious entertainment via the ability to score some amazing goals without having to go on to YouTube for a 20 minute tutorial…

5/ You’ve had a positive reaction to Awesome Soccer in terms of game reviews, has this been reflected in terms of sales?  Did you have any real expectations in terms of the game’s commercial viability, and have you met them (or do you look like you might do)?
Candidly, sales so far have been ok, but with definitely room for improvement.  The reviews have, I feel, been very fair; they recognise the beauty of a game which is so immediately rewarding in terms of fun and enjoyment, but also recognise that in a market with such stiff competition, there needs to be an increase in the number of features and the depth that the game offers.  I wholly intend to address these areas going forwards.

6/ We’ve talked privately about a possible future project for Red27 Studios… is there anything you’re willing to go public with at this stage? (!)
Well, I really want to continue with the evolution of Awesome Soccer, and as I just aluded to earlier, I want to add a lot more features and depth, as well as refining the game play and graphics.  And let’s just say that with a certain International tournament coming up, you might just see another step on the Awesome Soccer journey…  You heard it here first!

7/ I love the way the Indie market is producing football games that would probably never see the light of day in the commercial sector – Awesome Soccer and the New Star Soccer series for instance – do you think the big companies are ever going to think they should be getting back to the roots of gaming and creating games in the fashion of the great 16-bit titles?
Alas, I really can’t see it happening.  Today’s blockbuster titles are simply too huge and involve hundreds of highly skilled people working on them for upwards of a couple of years and involve such large sums of money that the risks are too great.  However, I do love the Indie scene, and the level of professionalism and quality (especially considering the limited resources available to your average Indie Game developer) continues to amaze me, and long may that continue!

8/ Okay, you probably knew this questions was coming somewhere… what football team do you support?
I’m a lifelong Manchester United fan (ok, insert opinion here…).  [Ahem... as a Liverpool fan I would normally make a comment, but with the season we're having so far...] I’m lucky enough to be a season ticket holder, but due to having a family, I only tend to go to the more “glamourous” games now against Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal (and the Champions League games), passing on the ticket to friends and family for the others.  Yes, I know – shameful!  But back in the day I was fortunate enough to see them play in some incredible stadiums like the Nou Camp, the San Siro, Stadio delle Alpi and the Bernabau amongst others.  As an aside, for me the San Siro certainly stood out – the atmosphere and acoustics when it’s full are quite simply breathtaking.

I’ve actually started taking my son to the odd game this season and despite a bit of a fright during his first game (Streford End Tier 2 was a shock for him to say the least – definitely not a place for Prawn Sandwiches!) he’s now fully got the bug and wants to go all the time!  Not that he really had that much of a choice… ;-)

9/ Red27 Studios?  What’s the significance behind that name?
Red27 (or variants thereof) has always been my callsign for online games, especially Unreal Tournament and more recently the amazing Call Of Duty series.…but the rationale for that?  I think I’ll keep you guessing on that one…  :-)

[I'm guessing it's linked to a famous Manchester United player who wore the No.27 shirt?]

10/ If you were to give aspiring game designers one piece advice, what would it be?

Persevere.  Keep going.  Don’t give up.  And at those difficult times when you really do just want to give up, remember this very appropriate movie quote:

“If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it…”

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One Response to “An Interview With Peter from Red27 Studios…”

  1. CaptainD Says:

    You still haven’t told me where “Red27″ comes from! (Or even if my guess is close or not…).

    I liked Awesome Soccer and have never actually managed to make a decent computer game myself, so I guess I can live with you being called a genius… :-D

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