They say, cricket is not considered as a sport in India. It is a religion and that’s why any video game on cricket garners a lot of attention. Pakistan-based Mindstorm Studios has been working on a new cricket game called Cricket Revolution. GameGuru.in (GG) got in touch with Faraz Ahmed (FA), VP for Games at Mindstorm Studios. Here is the whole interview:
GG: What inspired your company to come up with such a game?
FA: Cricket is witnessing phenomenal global popularity and exponential growth. All real world sports have a strong parallel niche video game market that needs to be served. That and the ever improving infrastructure for online games showed us the potential for a true community focused multiplayer cricket game that can be played over the internet.
GG :How long has the game been in development and when will it launch? Will it be able to stick to the 2008 deadline?
FA: The project is crossing its second year of development. The features should be in place by 2008, whether it hits the shelves by that time is heavily dependent upon publishing activities which will be undertaken by the publisher.
GG: Where is the company based? Is it Pakistan? And if it is, then how is the game development scene in Pakistan, how different is it from here (India)?
FA: Our development studio is in Lahore, Pakistan. The game development industry here is at its infancy and Cricket Revolution is possibly the first such major title being developed entirely within Pakistan. Certain areas of our art pipeline are however served well due to the resource pool that has been created by the relatively mature sister industries. It really is a bit too early to draw parallels with the much larger Indian industry.
GG: Has the political situation there affected game development efforts in any way?
FA: Fortunately not.
GG: Was this project meant to be a Trackmania Nations for cricket? Will it turnout to be as viral? Is it made to be viral?
FA: The in-game online component and live content facility caters to all sorts of online business models and the evolution of the game itself. All community based systems are inherently viral. The viral potency will be determined solely by the quality of gameplay that Cricket Revolution delivers, and gameplay is our number one priority.
GG: You mention fluid gameplay and techniques… even EA’s Cricket boast of them. (but they suck at it) How different will your game be? Can we expect it to be better than Brian Lara cricket?
FA: Cricket Revolution offers new ways to bowl and bat that encourages players to think about what ball they want to bowl and which shot they want to play, as opposed to thinking about how to bowl the delivery and how to play that shot. We have also made sure that the players can distinctly exploit a number of other strategic factors like the character’s talent points, the body type, match progression and stadium conditions.
Past titles have been unsuccessful at merging these aspects with gameplay mechanics in a meaningful fashion, which is something that Cricket Revolution is strongly focused on. The gameplay therefore presents a challenging playground for two players, outwitting each other while experiencing the challenges faced in the real world of cricket. These are the areas where Cricket Revolution clearly improves upon the games of the past. Whether it’s better than Brian Lara or EA cricket is something for the fans to decide. We’ve just made sure they have a blast playing it.
GG: Will we get to hear “India India, Pakistan Pakistan” chants (ambience) like in real matches or will it be just the crowd noise (bland boring) which is used in other cricket games?
FA: The game offers situational crowd moods and match relevant ambience.
GG: Bowling has been the worst part of cricket games.. No one ever wants to bowl.. And your game’s features section mentions a ‘bowling gadget’. Could you elaborate on this feature? Does it make bowling easy/way too easy? If not what exactly does it do? Does it do anything that has never been done in any cricket game in the past?
FA: The ‘bowling gadget’ is quite simple to operate and is a feature we’re excited about! The gadget is designed to help the bowler think about the ball he wants to bowl and deliver the right turn, swing, and placement without having to struggle with obscure keyboard controls. Put simply, it gives the bowler a lot more control over the delivery being bowled than games of the past. Add to that our special delivery mix and you have a recipe for an enjoyable bowling experience.
GG: What is the player customization feature like? How deep is it? What is the extent of customization you can do with it?
FA: There are a significant number of player attributes that can be customized. The game makes sure that each attribute directly translates into exploitable differences in gameplay. The customization is detailed into four areas: player’s physical appearance, batting, bowling and fielding. I think that we are the first cricket game to offer the option of different body types on the field.
GG: Will there be any “premium account” option? If yes what will be the advantages of having one? What are the economics behind it?
FA: The subscription and distribution model will be formed at a later stage with the publisher.
GG: Can only 20 over matches be played?
FA: You can choose from 5 to up to 50 overs. We expect a lot of 20 over games though.
GG: How easy are the controls. Does it rely heavily on button bashing?
FA: All controls are designed for simple operation but with powerful results. Player’s won’t have to press extra buttons unless empirically necessary. Additionally, our batting controls are focused on shot selection and not just direction and power. And no, there’s no reliance on button bashing in our game.
GG: Place fielders in any position you want, that sounds good. But will you be able to control them too or will they be on their own?
FA: Core fielding gameplay involves field placement captaincy combined with customization of fielder abilities. The fielders field automatically according to their abilities; however you can choose which end to throw the ball back to. This is especially important since the batsmen in Cricket Revolution don’t run at the same speed! There are some very unique gameplay elements that come to life in setting your field (which we will release in due time), and vigilant captaincy will take you a long way in overcoming challenging opponents.
GG: Will absence of big names be a turn-off for the game? Will people buy this game in spite of not having any licensed players?
FA: Player customization allows gamers to virtually clone their own heroes and practically be their own team selectors. Although out-of-the-box pseudo-resemblance to real world players has a bit of market, we don’t think that it really matters in our case where our goal is to focus on the multiplayer gameplay as opposed to simulated gameplay.
GG: How different will the online-offline modes be? What are the other modes one can play in the game?
FA: While the online play forms the crux of the experience, players can spend time practicing in the nets or playing exhibition matches against the computer at varying difficulty levels.
GG: Which 3D engine are you using for the game?
FA: A heavily customized version of a commercial 3D engine.
GG: What will the graphic requirements be?
FA: Cricket Revolution will deliver smooth gameplay across all PC’s that are not necessarily ‘gaming machines’. The game will be accessible and playable by part-time gamers as well. We haven’t yet released detailed graphic requirements, but rest assured, low-end PCs will get a piece of the pie.
GG :What is the minimum internet speed required for the game? Will it work on a dial-up connection which is still common in the sub-continent?
FA: No official statement on this yet. We don’t foresee any major bandwidth requirements.
GG: Any plans of tying up with IPL/ICL?
FA: These relationships will be evaluated and formed by the publisher.
- By NT Balanarayan