1GAM November 2015: Little Tennis

Aaahhh… each month the difficult decision on what game idea to realize. Hmm, should I try something classical, e. g. a simple jump’n’run or tower defense thingy, just to have made one and gain technical insight? Or should I dabble at a fresh idea of which I do not have a clue if it works out, if it will make any fun, or I even can finish it given my time  constraints?

For November I actually wanted to try something new – a classical Tennis match extended by some interesting extra rules. So obviously I had to create a (more or less) classical Tennis game first. Turned out that it took my whole November 1GAM time resources to finish that halfway acceptable. I had to shift the “interesting extra rules” part to December and consolidate in November for something rather “traditional”.

Nevertheless, I´m content with the result. It became a somewhat casual, straight forward Tennis experience. It´s possible to play a full three set Tennis match – either against a computer player or against another human player. I think it´s not only possible to have fun but also to build some skill, eventually becoming a master of this game. Still I´m not fully content with the controls.

I always had the old Tennis game of the original GameBoy in mind as a rough vision for how the gameplay should work out. Back in the 90’s me and my school friends played that Nintendo game for hours, sometimes even during class, and often via the GameBoy crosslink. In my opinion this digital version of Tennis stands out especially because it utilizes the quite limited input scheme (digipad, A button, B button) of the original GameBoy to emulate a believable Tennis feeling.

When I placed this game on itch.io I made a small but IMHO interesting observation. There are only very few games that try to emulate / simulate a Tennis match, see here. As it seems, everyone is going for a “crazy” game idea, like mixing Tennis with Transylvania or with sweet cookies or with football or similar. (And, ok, my intended “interesting extra rules” version of Tennis would be / will be similarly “crazy”.) Therefore the “normal” Tennis sport gameplay is quite niche. A good sign?

What didn’t I implement (yet?):

  • Side changes after the points. That makes sense in reality, but in a virtual match I think it´s nice to have. Also it´s likely to confuse people that are not so firm with the Tennis rule set. Other from that the rules (inlcuding the tie-break) should be implemented as given by Wikipedia – if I understood everything correctly.
  • Gamepad input. I think the fun factor would increase hugely as gamepad input generally implies a higher timing accuracy.
  • Music. I deliberately abstained from adding music during the match, because I could only imagine it being annoying, annoying, annoying. Instead I aimed for the typical sound effects of the ball bounces and racket hits to create the atmosphere of matches seen on TV and experienced live on the court.
  • Physics. Apart from collision detection the code does not utilize Unity3D´s physics system. No force adding, no gravity. The ball´s position is calculated purely by vector lerps which again get modified by some cosinus formulas. That seemed to make sense, as I did not want to create a hardcore simulation but rather a casual fun 2d game.
  • Varied shot types, e. g. lob, smash, back/forehand. Due to lacking time, but also because I could not figure out an input scheme that is easy enough to use.

Play “Little Tennis” online here: http://jireugi.itch.io/littletennis

… and stay tuned for my game next month when I finally add the “interesting extra rules”!