TheCricketGame Interview (PC)
Strategy Informer: Could you firstly introduce yourself to our visitors?
TCG: Firstly I would like to thank StrategyInformer.com for the invite and for the chance to talk about TheCricketGame (TCG). I am the co-creator of TCG and am charged with directing the production of the game in addition to business development and marketing duties. A crucial part of my job is to work closely with the development team to discuss ideas, features, design, content, etc.
Strategy Informer: Would you give us a brief description of this game?
TCG: TheCricketGame is an online cricket manager simulation in which the user is placed in charge of a virtual cricket club. The user then has the opportunity to compete against thousands of other users in a single worldwide league for prizes, reputation or just bragging rights! The user is charged with the responsibility of building a cricket team, managing the clubs financials, training players, and deciding upon tactics amongst many other things…
Strategy Informer: Could you tell us a little bit about the games features?
TCG: The list of features planned for the initial launch of TCG is fairly extensive, but I can certainly let you know of a few features that should appeal to cricket fans…
Firstly, TCG will utilise a ‘live’ match feature, where users can make those crucial tactical decisions whilst the game unfolds, rather than just selecting ‘blanket’ tactics in advance. This was an imperative part of our development plan, mirroring real life cricket in that the captain can respond to the state of play. We considered this feature to be essential.
In addition, the user will be able to advance his manager’s skills in an RPG style in order to specialise in certain managerial disciplines (like coaching, tactics, motivation and commercial). For example, you can ‘attend a coaching course’ to obtain additional points in coaching to make you more effective on the training ground…
The challenge to the user will be to turn a bunch of average village cricketers into a world-class team of legends! This will involve selecting and trading the right players where judgement is vital. Players will have ‘hidden’ attributes and so the user must think carefully before selecting any one player who seems ‘good on paper’…
He must then control the clubs finances in order to be able to increase transfer budgets, or upgrade his stadium! There is little point in having a world-class team with a third-world stadium… Throw in betting leagues, real-money challenges, buddy leagues and full user-customisation, and you will see that there will be plenty of user interaction. There really are too many features to list and so we would advise your readers to register to hear about feature updates at www.thecricketgame.com
Strategy Informer: What can you tell us about the graphical and physics features?
TCG: TCG is being designed using AJAX, Flash, ASP.net 2.0 and SQL Server 2005. This game will be browser based, using these combined technologies to develop an attractive and intuitive user interface. The match user interface will show highlights of the match using FLASH sequences with supporting commentary, supports and statistics. The user will be able to see at a glance just how well his team is performing and will be able to activate a change of tactics quickly and simply. We have put great effort into making the users experience as ‘fun’ as possible whilst maintaining the simulation feel.
Strategy Informer: What kind of support to you plan to give once the game is released?
TCG: The game is browser-based only and so we are to embark on an online beta testing phase that should help us deal with any bugs or other problems prior to launch. As soon as the game officially launches, our development team will address any issues raised in the open forums that may detract from the users experience of the game. Having played other games, we are aware of the importance of user support and will do all that we can to ensure that the games runs efficiently at all times.
Strategy Informer: Can you tell us about the multi-player aspect of the game?
TCG: Users will compete against each other in 4 regional world leagues. Each league is separate although there will be cup tournaments that will cross boundaries to find the best teams in the ‘world’. Also, you will be able to challenge any other team in the ‘world’ to a friendly match that the competing users may even decide to play for real-life credits… Users will be able to chat using an internal email service or using the community forums. The world will use a single virtual currency and so player trading and other financials will be universal between the regions. We are also looking to introduce international teams to provoke a greater degree of rivalry between the competing regions.
Strategy Informer: What are the current system requirements for The Cricket Game?
TCG: The game will be played entirely in the users browser and so system requirements are not really an issue. However, like any online applications, we would suggest that users have a broadband internet connection to improve the experience, although this is not essential.
Strategy Informer: Can you give us an assessment of the health and long-term viability?
TCG: Well, like all game projects, only time will tell, but we have carefully assessed the market in order to determine viability. I think a main factor in maintaining the commercial health of the project is to continue with feature development after launch to continuously improve the game over time. Cricket as a subject is not going away, and so the onus is on us to make sure that we continue to use cutting-edge technologies to keep the game current and exciting.
Strategy Informer: How well is the game's production going?
TCG: The production of the game is going exceptionally well. The engine is finished and we have the core modules of the game in place. We are now working on a few additional features, and fine-tuning parts of the user interface. The final stages of the development will be superficial in that we will be adding the design ‘eye candy’ which is a relatively short process.
Strategy Informer: Have you decided what the game's price will be yet?
TCG: The standard version of the game will be completely free of charge, although the user will have the option to upgrade his account to a ‘premium version’. The ‘premium’ user will have no in-game advantage, but will have an improved game experience with some additional features, customisation and statistics that are still to be finalised. The charge for a premium account is still being determined but will be nominal.
Strategy Informer: What has been the hardest part of development so far?
TCG: I would say that the hardest part has been getting the match engine to perform like a real cricket game. There are many shortcuts we could have taken to ease the pain (!), but have stood firm on what we wanted the engine to do. The engine now considers many different factors and runs on a ball-by-ball basis, and so it has also been difficult to balance these factors. For example, just how quickly should a batsman’s confidence increase, or what impact should a good partnership have? These are the types of decisions we have had to research and assess. However, I have to say I am very pleased at how the engine now performs and it now great fun to indulge in a testing session!
Strategy Informer: Do you think it's likely we'll see some changes to the current release date?
TCG: At this stage, the release date of November 2006 looks realistic, although it is a little difficult to say. There are commercial advantages in us releasing the game in time for the next Ashes series and so we will be pulling out all of the stops to do so… We will know a lot more about this during the beta testing phases that are due to commence in August.
Strategy Informer: Is there anything you'd like to say to the the Cricket community before we wrap this up?
TCG: Yes, please register at theCricketGame.com to allow us to listen to your views in developing this game. It is vital that we listen to cricket fans in what they want from TCG and develop towards those requirements. Thank you for reading this interview and we look forward to seeing you in the game…