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Sensible Soccer - Jon Hare Interview

by Nick Haywood on 30 January 2006, 17:40

Tags: Codemasters, Sports

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Sensible Soccer - The Details

HEXUS: So tell us a bit more about the game… What’s in it? How many leagues and teams and all that stuff? Can I take the Lower Scrotum Second Boy Scouts XI to the finals of the FA Cup? Can I take them to the European Cup Finals? Is there a World Cup in there for me?
Jon: Right then…For starters we’re covering the top 2 divisions of England, Italy, Spain Germany, France Scotland, Holland & Portugal. Then we’ve got all the European competitions, roughly 45 club competitions in total as well as the international stuff, African Nations, European Championship, World Cup etc.

HEXUS: So plenty to keep you interested then?
Jon: Well yeah, I hope so. There’s over 350 teams to play with altogether and that doesn’t include the custom teams that you can muck about with to your hearts content. In fact the custom teams are central to the single player side of the game.

HEXUS: So there’s a multiplayer online mode to Sensible Soccer then?
Jon: No, no online play at this time and there won’t be in the released game. The multiplayer is all about having everyone in the room together. We did have a good look at online play but decided to focus on the single player and same room multiplayer rather than worry about getting it all to work over a LAN or the net. The multiplayer we have now is very strong with up to four players able to take each other on in two man co-op teams.

HEXUS: So you’d rather everyone all got together around their PC, PS2 or Xbox?
Jon: You know what the vast majority of blokes do in the lunchbreak or after work or after the pub? They get a few mates around and play FIFA or Pro Evo… It’s what they do. But we’re not interested in going up against FIFA or Pro Evo with Sensible Soccer, we’re not really making the same game as those two are… Sensible Soccer can claim to be the first on stuff in football games that you now take for granted such as aftertouch, controlled passing and the like. We’ve taken a look at today’s football games and sure, there’s some nice ideas in them which we’ve added to Sensi, such as a sprint button, but on the whole, the real appeal of Sensi is how easy it is to actually play.

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HEXUS: Well if I remember correctly, Sensible Soccer was a one button and joystick affair…
Jon: That’s right, so the controls were always context sensitive… so this time around we’re taking the same approach. The same buttons do different things depending on what’s going on. If you’re on the ball, the kick button can clear/shoot/lob and chip the ball, if you’re off the ball the same button is slide tackle/Header and volley, depending on where the ball is… We’ve worked hard to capture the look and feel of play of the original Sensible Soccer, but at the same time we have updated it for the modern market.

HEXUS: Speaking of looks… how does the game look? Do you think the Sensible Soccer style of big heads and little bodies will work in today’s gaming climate? I mean, FIFA and Pro Evo have advanced their graphics engine to the point where the not just the model skin looks like a player but the model shape looks like the players too. How will Sensible Soccer compete with that?
Jon: Well first off Sensible Soccer isn’t a simulation of football… it’s not about looking exactly like the player or having authentic trim on the team strips or any of that. Sensible Soccer is about enjoying playing football in a recognizable football world, simple as that. The original Sensible Soccer was a sort of forced isometric 3D view, which was pretty much all we could do with the hardware we had available at the time. The thing is, we created a very recognizable game and we’d like to keep that look and style as that’s part of what makes Sensible Soccer what it is.

HEXUS: So we won’t be seeing a Sensible version of David Beckham then?
Jon: What we’ve got are the same big head, little bodied players that you’ve seen in previous Sensible Soccer games… You know those collectible figures? The plastic ones? The ones that have big heads on little bodies? THAT’S what our players look like… But a bit more cartoony too, like caricatures … so they sort of hint of a particular player but could really be anyone sort of thing…

HEXUS: Sounds cool! Does this mean there’ll be a tan skinned, shaven headed player in a yellow shirt with huge buck teeth that’s supposed to hint at Ronaldo?
Jon: (laughs) No, it’s not that cartoony but you’ll find that the players in each team will have roughly the same general looks as the real life versions. We haven’t licensed anyone or any leagues or anything, so we can only use a rough equivalent. But to be honest, we’re concentrating on fluid, fast, fun gameplay rather than on the more anal details of the content, which are lost on most people in any case.