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The Point - How rockets & cars made the best sports game in yearsGameSpot's Danny O'Dwyer discusses how much time & talent is required to make a beautifully simple game, and how Rocket League feels more like real football than FIFA & Pro Ev.
[MUSIC] I spent thousands of hours of my life playing video games, from the days of my Omega 600 all the way to the current generation of consoles. [MUSIC] But I've also spent thousands of hours playing football on concrete playgrounds across fields in Ireland, on hackney marshes and even here in the open. [MUSIC] Football, soccer, whatever you call it. There's a reason it's so popular. First of all, it's wonderfully simple. A ball, two goals, some legs, and a bunch of physics. To the uninitiated it might seem like a bunch of people just running around after a ball, but look a while longer and you'll realize why it's called the beautiful game. Somewhere between the certainty of where he wants to place the shot and the reality of where it lands, magic is made. It's a feeling that gamers are all too familiar with. And while modern video games are often big complex things with lots of buttons and moving parts, there' a lot to be said for beautiful simplicity. This brings on the point about how sticking rockets on the cars made one of the most enjoyable futbol games of recent memory. and how there's nothing simple about making a beautiful simple game. [MUSIC] Rocket League was released by Californian developers Psyonix on Playstation 4 and PC earlier this month. It's a game where you play soccer while driving a car, so quite how the team managed to not call it "soc-car" [MUSIC] It's anyone's game. Game's take place in an enclosed dome on either side. And though a standard game is 3 by 3, you can play with as few as one per team or as many as four. Along with being nimble and fast accelerators, the cars are all playable to fall of a variety of jumps and spins. It's pretty simple press the button to jump plus the direction to spin your car. Just like in footy your body is a tool to move the ball into the goal. The entire ball needs to cross the line, there are no weapons but you can pick up boosts to help you get a speed advantage. You can play online with strangers, friends or against bots. Games are 5 minutes long and it's an absolute blast. It's a simple idea right? Soccer with cars, got it Seems like video games should have made this years ago, but even the simplest of ideas has to start somewhere, and would you believe it, this story starts with one of my favorite online games of all time. Man, you know I love any excuse to talk about [INAUDIBLE]. [UNKNOWN]. [MUSIC] Come get me bro. Boom. Unreal tournament has always been a shooter which encouraged experimentation. The original game launched half a dozen game modes spread across a wild variety The map styles and sizes. It was mod friendly, too, and even launched with a mutator system which applied bizarre modifiers to each level, stuff like instagib, low gravity, or the more you kill people, the fatter you get. Perhaps it wasn't what we call balanced today, but it was Fun as hell, and this was a staple of the [UNKNOWN] life span. [UNKNOWN] programmers bored by this sense of anything goes, took to making their own bizarre maps and mods. Unreal Tournament 2003 continued this trend WIth several new game modes perhaps the strangest and most memorable of which the bombing run a form of American football where players score goals by shooting field goals and running in touchdowns with a big metal ball. However that version of UT also has the groundwork for some vehicles that never quite made it into the game. Typing summonvehicles.bulldog into the dev console would spawn a jeep with rockets. But it wasn't actually useable in the game. That is until a bedroom programmer named Dave Hagewood decided to wrap a motor around it, creating a new type of vehicle combat game. This caught the eye of Epic games, who then hired Hagewood to develop a brand new motor for their upcoming game. Maybe, you've heard of it. It's Unreal Tournament 2004's Onslaught Mode. For me, Onslaught was the reason to be play UT 2004. Much like football, I devoted hundreds of hours to capturing points and murdering people with cool new vehicles. It was an absolute blast. It had a lot of moving parts so games would often be immediate blow overs or never ending stale mates. Sheer number of tactical options made it hard for large teams to work in unison. But there was something in there, something amidst all the vehicles and waypoints and guns. An idea. An idea worth exploring. For David his time working at [UNKNOWN] inspired him to start his own studio [UNKNOWN]. According to this wonderful interview on gamasutra the team used their experience with the unreal engine to form a business helping other studios with their unreal games. This work helped them fund their own projects. And while working on these games, they kept toying with their Unreal car projects. All the while, the world of UT kept growing. DeathBall, an Unreal Tournament 2004 soccer mod, had gained [INAUDIBLE] Watch footage of this game alongside Rocket League, and the two are remarkably similar. But seven years of tweaking allowed them to refine this idea. They fine tuned the speed of the car, made the arena simpler, changed the location of boost pads, and gave it a sleeker style. So by the time the game launched for free on Playstation Plus earlier this month, it was so immediately playable. The wonderfully satisfying and fun that the online services of [UNKNOWN] set up couldn't deal with the load, and promptly crashed. So here's the thing. Rocket League is absolutely brilliant. You've probably gathered that from the reviews, the twitch streams, and from all your mates telling you about it. But it's something else. For somebody like me who has kicked around a leather ball for untold hours, who's played FIFA and Pro [INAUDIBLE] for years and year, and years, rocket league is something very special. It's the closet thing to real football That a football game has ever gotten. I love footie games, from [INAUDIBLE] soccer all the way through [INAUDIBLE] and then [INAUDIBLE] of FIFA. But all of those games have one thing in common. You can control an entire team. You play as a unit, 10 people, working as one mind to get the ball into the opposing team's net. But that's not actually ow football works. You don't play as a team. You play on a team and with that comes an entirely different style of play. It forces you to take a role, a striker up there to score. A winger who crosses the ball in from the side or a goalkeeper protecting the net. And much more powerfully by playing on a team with others it forces your ego to the surface It makes you want to impress others with your skill and crucially, not to let the team down. It's in that way that Rocket League is more like a kick event with your friends than any football game before it. That cold sweat when you're the last man in back with less than a minute to go on the clock. Rocket League has that. The humiliation of missing an open goal in front of your teammates because you just slightly misjudged the angle of the Your approach. Rocket League has that. And that feeling where you have a spot on the goal that you're sure you can hit, and you kick the ball, and it hits it. Rocket League has that, too, and that's really special. Because in traditional soccer games, crucial elements of interacting with ball, momentum, power, accuracy. All of these are handled by statistics, and the In rocket league, your car is your legs, your chest, your forehead. You take the ball back, you dive in header in cross, and you speed off the strike from outside the box, clearing the ball of the line with a bicycle kick, doing keepie uppies with your teammates, hammering the ball off a concrete wall for a rebound. going up for the cross, playing off my bot, dribbling around the last defender. While games like FIFA concentrate on this spectacle of football, the team, the players, the competition, the diving, the corruption, Rocket League rests on more familiar ground, passing the ball to your mates, scoring the absolute screamer, and having just one more game Before the sun sets. And while it may seem like a perfectly simple game in concept, it's took devoted developers over a decade of tinkering to make it feel so simple. Psyonix have accidentally on purpose created the most football-like football game ever made. A game of one touch indoor PSI folklore just with cars and rockets and a selection of dashing hats. And how fitting it is that this game comes out during the summer, the time of year when people spend more time outside and fewer games already. Maybe once the sun's gone down, perhaps you could sit down for a couple of games of Rocket. Fall in love with Rocket League because, just like real football, it really is a beautiful game. [BLANK_AUDIO]