Winter Plan

We’ve been in beta for a while now and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on whats been going on and share our plans for the next few months. It’s going to be a very busy and exciting winter for us and we’d like to be open and honest with you, as we always have.  I follow most of the discussions we have on discord with our beta testers. I can honestly say, those discussions really do impact the way we prioritise upcoming changes to the game. That’s not going to change anytime soon, so please join in if you have some suggestions or just want to follow the discussions.

Since the beta went live

It’s been about 10 weeks since we sent out beta keys… so much has changed! For a start, just look at the 5-a-side and 11-a-side pitches and players.

Before

After

5-a-side Before

5-a-side After

11-a-side Before

11-a-side After

The 2D camera view and zoom functionality is something that came very quickly after feedback from you guys. We’ve still got some adjustments to make to both pitches, but on the whole I’m really happy with how they look.

We’ve upgraded the servers and made our back-end code more efficient. As we add more into the game and as the user-base grows, more stress will be put on the servers. As a gamer myself I know there’s nothing more frustrating than lag, so we’ll try our best to keep on top of it!

Our main focus has been on the match engine. As I write this, we still have bugs but I think we’re past the worst of it now. Most bugs being reported now fall into these categories:

  • Giving players the option to receive when they shouldn’t have one (fake blue)
  • Struggling to receive or save the ball, due to unrealistic ball speeds

The objective of the beta was to identify these kind of bugs, so the match engine is stable once we go Early Access on Steam. We have completely redesigned the logic for receiving and ball speeds, so once they are developed and tested, we should be in a good place! 

Winter is coming...

Here’s a taste of what’s to come. These are things that we definitely want to improve or add to the game. However, the order they get released will depend on a lot of other factors, including feedback from you!

This is the new logic for resolving “fake blue” as mentioned above. There is a lot more data being passed between client & server with this new design, so we may see some performance issues creeping in. We’ll try to stay on top of it.

The size of the pitches and some of the pitch markings aren’t quite right yet. 

This is a pretty big one, which we’ve been working on for quite a while in the background. I’d expect the first draft to be done pretty soon. Then we can get your feedback before the noobs start arriving 😀 

We’re still playing around with the design & placement of the commentary text. Again, this is one which would be good to get some feedback on. We’ll also be making the in-game chat easier to use.

At the moment it’s basically non-existent… so we’ll be adding in more auditing stuff so you know exactly how many credits are coming in and out of your account. There will be a redesign of how we present footballer slots to you, but that won’t be for a while.

Something else we’re looking to redesign. We want it to be impactful, but not overpowering. It resets after every quick/custom match, but in league matches it will have some carry over.

As mentioned above, the ball speeds in both modes need to be fixed. Shot speeds will also depend on your shooting attributes.

Before we go early access, we want to change how users find/join quick match lobbies. The new design will definitely suit players who look for matches during off-peak times. 

Another thing which isn’t there yet, but something we want to introduce. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, just some useful half time and post match stats.

Got a lot of ideas on what we want to be improved. Translating them into AI code is a bit more tricky unfortunately. Obviously we want most games to have no bots, so this isn’t at the top of the priority list at the moment.

Given the long list of things on our to do list, we’re looking at early next year to go Early Access on Steam. Not everything on the list will be done, but the game should be in a good place by then. Until then, we’d really appreciate you guys trying out the game every time we release a new patch and letting us know what you think. Even once we go into Steam Early Access, there will still be regular improvements being made. You just won’t get as much free stuff as before… sorry 😀

Beta testing

It's coming soon!

As we’ve said many times, we don’t want to give you guys something that we wouldn’t want to play ourselves. We’ve had some unforeseen issues related to the match engine in the last few months. I think we are past the worst of it now, so please hold tight!

How can you help us?

Everyone we’ve spoken to has been really positive in anticipation for the release and we’re so excited to play with you guys! To make the most of the beta phase, we want to get as much feedback from you as possible. Also, it’s worth mentioning that we won’t be able to fix everything before the Steam early access release. We’ll fix the highest priority issues before going on Steam and fix the other stuff as we go. Here are the key areas that we really want to know from you:

It’s a controversial topic that I’m sure most of you will have an opinion on. What we need is detailed feedback with stats to back up your experience.

What specific action have you got concerns with and what player position & build did you select? Is the action failing too often? If so, we’d appreciate an approximate percentage of failure. Likewise for something being too overpowered.

We want to give you as much information as possible, without taking space away from the pitch. If anything on the screen is annoying you or too distracting, then other people will think the same in the future… so please tell us now! And remember to be specific. Tell us exactly why it sucks. Too big? Too small? Too thick? Too thin? Too bright? Too dull?

We’ll be monitoring the server load regularly but we’d also like to hear your personal experience. Our focus will be on reducing the latency (lag) for as many of you as possible. What we’ll need to know is your location (town/city), your internet speed and the time of day (include timezone) you tried to play. It would be great if you could try a few different times so we get a good spread of data. Please include good & bad experiences!

November update

It’s all starting to come together now as we get to the end of November. I thought I should give a brief update on what’s been happening in the development and marketing world of Super Club Soccer.

India trip

We started off the month in India to finish off month of the match engine design and get to know the team better. I spent a lot of the time drawing stuff on the whiteboard! Our hotel, ITC Gardenia, was amazing and I just had to put up a picture of the hotel lobby for you guys.

Development update

A lot of the match UI work has been done, so I should be able to get some more screenshots for you guys next week. There’s just a few small tweaks that need to be made on colours and arrows. We’ll have pictures up on the Facebook page as soon as they’re ready!

The main development focus at the moment is on the match engine, which should be coming together early next month. Once that’s in a decent state then we can try and get it to some of you guys before Christmas to have a play around with.

Marketing update

The trailer is coming very soon and once that’s published, we’ll look to get the game on Steam direct. As I mentioned previously, we’ll need all of you to vote when the time comes! In the meantime, Beefjack have been scouting out online influencers suitable for our game. Once the game is playable, hopefully they’ll make some exciting content for you guys and their followers to enjoy!

 


As always you can reach me on the forums, our social pages or via email!

Forum site: forum.superclubsoccer.com

Facebook: facebook.com/superclubsoccer

Twitter: twitter.com/superclubsoccer

Instagram: instagram.com/superclubsoccer

October update

As I haven’t done one of these in a while, this update is a random collection of stuff. We just passed 200 likes on the Facebook page so big thanks to everyone who is supporting us! We do have something planned to reward you guys, but more on that in the next blog.

Beefjack – who are they?

If you follow our twitter account, you’ll have seen we partnered up with Beefjack Promote for the rest of the year. If you don’t follow our twitter, you should! We’ve already done a few giveaways, so make sure you don’t miss the next one.

Anyway, back to Beefjack. So they’re a marketing agency who are helping us to get more eyes on the game. You will have noticed our social media accounts being a lot more active recently and they’ll continue to manage them until the game goes live. Once the game is in a playable state, they’ll also look to attract some “online influencers” to try it out. Hopefully some big names from Youtube, maybe even some ex-footballers as well. Of course if you have any links with people in the industry please reach out to us!

Game trailer coming soon!

In the release plan I previously shared, I said we’d be looking to get on Steam direct around mid October. We’re gonna delay that so we have a more polished game trailer and hopefully get some good in-game footage to use. Once that’s ready we’ll put out a press release with help from Beefjack. We’ll keep you updated on that through our social media pages.

Trip to India

This has come out of the blue really, but my personal circumstances have allowed me to take a few days off next week and travel to Bangalore! It’s a crucial time in the development of the game and I look forward to visiting the team. I’ll be focusing on the match engine logic and having 2 full days together will really help.

 


As always you can reach me on the forums, our social pages or via email!

Forum site: forum.superclubsoccer.com

Facebook: facebook.com/superclubsoccer

Twitter: twitter.com/superclubsoccer

Instagram: instagram.com/superclubsoccer

 

The release plan

Unfortunately there isn’t much to share with you guys at the moment. We’re currently working on the player animations and converting a lot of the designer sketches (haircuts, kits etc) to the unity engine. As I get screenshots that I can share, I’ll be uploading them to our Instagram page so make sure you follow that!

Dates to look out for

Something I can share with you is our high level release plan with some rough dates:

Mid November
Over the next few weeks we’ll be creating the assets to use for the Steam direct application. Steam direct (previously called Steam greenlight) is a platform that all new Steam games go on. The public can see upcoming games and vote/comment on games they like the look of. The most popular games are approved by Valve, so that’s when we need your help to get as many positive votes/comments on our page as possible! Don’t worry I’ll be spamming you guys when the time comes, so you won’t miss it.

Early December
The core functionality of the game will be complete at this point and we’ll be looking to create a press release, if we have been approved in Steam direct. There is a small chance we might be able to package it up and let you guys have a play around with it, but I’ll have to confirm nearer the time.

Mid January
Early access launch! This is dependant on the Steam direct approval, but we should be code complete by this point. Again we’ll need your help to spread the word and share with your friends. Once we do go live, we’ll start organising some tournaments on the forums for you to get involved in.

 

Concept art sneak peek

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but don’t worry I come with gifts! Firstly, I’ll just give a quick update on what has been going on since the last blog post. As expected with a new team, we had some teething problems while getting everyone up to speed. Fast forward a few weeks and the team have really stepped up their game and you’ll be able to see the high quality art work they’re producing. We’ve got JIRA set up to track the development progress and the project milestones have been set!

So as the title suggests, I’d like to share some of the concept art with you guys. As always, we’d appreciate any feedback you provide and hope you like it! Some tweaks are still being made so these aren’t the final designs, but it should give you an idea of what to expect.

Development kicks off

In my last blog post I announced the design document had been completed and shared some visuals. Since then, I’ve been working closely with two development companies on the implementation of these designs. Within a few days I received quotes from both companies and this is when things got tricky. It probably comes to you as no surprise that the first thing I looked at was the price. However, it’s important to look at more than just the cost. I’ve listed below the key points I reviewed before deciding which company to go forward with.

Cost | Importance: High

For a small start-up company, funds are limited and have to be used smartly. If we blow all our money on the development, our marketing will suck and we could have the best product but no-one will know about it! If both companies were equal on all other points, then we would obviously select the cheaper option.

Portfolio | Importance: High

Having a healthy portfolio of previous projects is really important to attract new clients. I think this applies to almost every industry, doesn’t it? As a client, it gives me much more confidence if they’ve “been there, done that”. With each game in their portfolios, I’m looking at 3 keys components:

  1. Look and feel. Mobile games are very popular at the moment, so it came as no surprise that both portfolios were very mobile heavy. From a design perspective, all of the games were visually appealing and had a professional finish. I felt both companies adequately proved they would be able to meet our design requirements.
  2. Multiplayer functionality. For me, this was the most important component. Having a framework to be able to support a large number of concurrent users is critical to Super Club Soccer. Every game will approach it slightly differently, but again I felt both companies were able to prove they could handle our requirements given their previous projects.
  3. Complexity. This is probably the hardest thing to validate, without actually playing the games they made. Our match engine is going to be complex, with calculations happening all over the place. Rather than spending days/weeks playing these games to understand them, I decided to spend some time reviewing customer feedback. If they’d only developed boring or repetitive games, people are definitely going to complain about it! Luckily this wasn’t the case and some of the games had over a million downloads. Panic over.

Understanding of the task | Importance: Medium

So you’ve managed to get a really low quote from a company with a great portfolio – happy days! But what if they’ve massively underestimated the task? Making sure the developers & designers are on the same page as you is crucial, so they structure the code correctly and you don’t have any additional charges during the project. It’s unrealistic to expect them to understand everything about your game before the project starts. However, you want to have confidence that they at least understand all the high level components of the game before handing over some money. To prove their understanding of the game components, both companies were happy to produce some documents.

Subject knowledge | Importance: Low

I think the importance of this varies depending on the genre of the game and the subject knowledge of the product owner (me). As I have been following football for 15+ years, I’m not so concerned if the developers aren’t that familiar. We will need to have suitable processes in place for me to review any football logic implemented, but that’s pretty normal for a product owner. As football is a “mainstream” sport, I’d expect some of the developers to be familiar with it anyway.

 


 

The final verdict

Given the points raised above, I’ve decided to partner with Juego Studios to develop the early access version of Super Club Soccer. They’re based in Bangalore, so we may be making a trip to South India at the end of the year! We’ll be aiming to complete development in early 2018, but look out for info on the prototype and alpha/beta releases later this year.

 

As always, you can reach me on the forums, Facebook or via email!

Forum site: forum.superclubsoccer.com

Facebook page: facebook.com/superclubsoccer

Game design document

What is a game design document?

I’m not a game designer, but I’ll try to explain the purpose of the design document as best as I can! At a high level, it is basically a requirements document for the game you are trying to build. However, the document should also outline the “story” of the game, as well as unique selling points and concept art. In theory, a team of developers could pick up the GDD and build a complete game from it. In reality, the GDD may be updated multiple times during the development phase for a variety of reasons. This could be due to a lack of funding, new technology available or maybe missed requirements.

Something you probably won’t find in a GDD is exact values for lower level details (e.g. how many experience points a character gets for training his character). It would significantly increase the length of the document without adding much value. During the development phase, the dev team can work on exact values with guidance from the game designer and product owner.

What is the current status of our GDD?

It’s done! It took a little longer than anticipated, but we felt it was better to take our time and get it right now. Some small game companies are probably guilty of starting development too soon before the architecture of the game is decided, which could lead to major problems down the line. I am really happy with the documents produced and zGames have added a lot of value to the discussions. They actually delivered more than I expected, so we have some pretty pictures to show you rather than a wall of text!

Note: The images and icons in the visuals below are just examples and being used as placeholders.

The forums

“The customer is always right! Well… most of the time.”

Why have a forum?

Having a public forum is a great way to communicate with past, present and future customers, especially in the eSports industry. If a large percentage of your user-base is complaining about the same thing, then you should probably listen to them. Even if it means a temporary price reduction or investing money into feature enhancements. Keeping your loyal user-base happy will pay off in the long run. However, having a forum can really backfire if you neglect the opinion of your customers. What was once a place for well thought out comments can quickly turn into complaints with no constructive feedback. The negativity quickly spreads and customers feel they have no voice to shape the game they spent so much time and money on.

The SCS Forums

For us, we have the luxury of getting customer feedback before the prototype is even built! As most of our users have come from Football Identity, they already have a clear idea of the game concept. By sharing their experiences of Football Identity with us, we can identify good and bad bits about their journey. Everyone’s journey was unique; How they joined, how they learnt the mechanics of the game and their interactions with other players in the game.

Each week we have a new forum topic in the feature suggestion section to keep users engaged and build some hype around the game! At the moment the forum is fairly quiet as we don’t really have anything to show for the last 5/6 months of work. Once we start building the prototype, then we’ll have more cool stuff to share!

The Super Club Soccer concept

I suspect a lot of you will be unfamiliar with turn based football games, so the aim of this post is to explain the core concepts and why some games were able to keep users hooked for almost a decade! As we’re talking about a football game, it’s hard not to make comparisons with the Football Manager and FIFA series. I’ll go through some features of both games and then explain what similarities and differences Super Club Soccer has. I won’t be able to go through everything in this blog post, so I would encourage you to visit our forums if you want to discuss particular concepts in more details.

Basic gameplay

As a player, you want to feel like you are in control and have an impact on the match result. Football Manager puts you in the managers shoes and allows you to have full control behind the scenes. FIFA games focus more on the action on the pitch, allowing the player to switch between players in their team.

FIFA has a mode called Pro Clubs which only allows the player to have control of one footballer in the team, rather than switching between all footballers. Rather than controlling real players, you create your own player and have full control over his skills and attributes. As you play more matches, your stats improve and you can specialise in particular areas with player traits. To be successful in Pro Clubs you have to find other real players, build a balanced team and every player needs to understand their role within the team.

Super Club Soccer has a lot of similarities with the Pro Clubs mode.

  • All footballers in the game are created by real people
  • You decide the attributes of your footballer
  • You have full control of your footballer during a match
  • Teamwork and communication during a match is key

The major difference between the games is how the user controls their footballer. FIFA is most popular on a console, with players using a controller. Super Club Soccer is a PC game where players predominantly use the mouse to control their footballer, giving a higher degree of accuracy. More to come on this later.

Management and tactics

Football Manager is the undisputed market leader when it comes football management simulation games. They’ve got a huge scouting network and they continuously strive to give their players the most realistic management experience. Every year FIFA adds new features to make their career mode more engaging. Unsurprisingly it is neglected by a large percentage of their audience, in favour of the other game modes. You don’t have that much control over the club finances and the scouting is nowhere near as good as Football Manager.

Super Club Soccer aims to be somewhere in-between the two. Because it’s all user created content (not real footballers), we don’t need to worry about scouting. All we do is give managers the tools they need to scout potential signings in any way they see fit. Watch replays of previous matches, view player stats and most importantly… talk to the player! If you find an inexperienced player with an appetite to learn, you can give him the guidance needed to compete at the highest level.

Rather than adjusting sliders or ticking boxes, your team’s approach to the next match will depend on your match preparation and the instructions you give. If you want to target the opposition right back at set pieces, you just tell your team and they’ll do it (hopefully). You’re not only managing the tactical side of the game, you also need to manage the emotions of your players. Remember, these are real people playing for you! Sometimes they’ll need an arm around their shoulder, sometimes they’ll need the hairdryer treatment. Honestly, I don’t think any other football game offers this level of realism when it comes to man management.

With regards to club finances, only you are responsible if the club runs out of money. You can’t ask the board for more money, you can’t buy more money with in-game credits. Do you save up for a stadium expansion or offer your star player a bit more money to keep him/her happy? You start off with a small budget, but that can quickly grow once you get a team together and start entering tournaments. You have to keep an eye on the finances to make sure you’re not overspending.

Character progression and controls

In-game your reputation increases if you perform well with your club and win trophies. However, a lot of the knowledge you gain is carried across between different saves and not really tracked. The young players will improve depending on their potential ability, which varies between each game. The level of coaching and how much game time they get also determines if they will actually reach their potential.

In FIFA Pro Clubs, your attributes improve the more you play and unlike Football Manager you decide exactly what the footballer improves on. You can unlock player traits such as new skill moves or taking set pieces. The rate of progression only depends on your performance on the pitch. No wages, no training drills and all players can reach the same level but at different rates.

As a footballer in Super Club Soccer, there is a much higher level of character customisation. When you create your footballer you decide if he’s going to be a speedy winger, a target man or a no nonsense centre back. You regularly train your footballer and select what attribute to improve. It’s up to you if you want to be a specialist in one area or be an all rounder. How well you train depends on a bunch of factors such as your wages, the training facilities at your club and your chosen career path (more on this later). As a manager, you unlock features throughout your career such as better stadiums and training grounds.

Game controls

This section isn’t very relevant to Football Manager. There aren’t any fancy controls, you just have a lot of different configurations to impact your chances of success. As mentioned above, FIFA is generally played with a controller and you can choose how buttons translate to different players actions on the pitch.

Although the controls are very different in Super Club Soccer, that doesn’t mean it’s really challenging or complex for new players. When it’s your turn you’ll get a menu with a list of available actions to perform and then you decide how to execute the chosen action. As an example, we’ll pretend you are controlling a striker and you want to take a shot. All you do is select to shoot from the menu and then click where you want to aim the shot. The power and curl on the shot depends on the execution of the action and the attributes of the footballer. If you aim right in the corner with poor shooting attributes, the shot probably won’t go exactly where you aimed.

The challenging bit is making the right decision, as each team has a limited amount of time between each turn.

Closing thoughts

A lot of what has been said may be hard to picture in your head without pretty pictures and videos. They will come soon, I promise!

Hopefully this blog post has given you a reasonably good idea of what type of game Super Club Soccer is. But please don’t make your judgement of the game purely on this post! I’ll be posting regular content on the blog and on the facebook page. Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Facebook page: facebook.com/superclubsoccer

Forum site: forum.superclubsoccer.com