HB Studios recently announced The Golf Club, a brand new sports sim launching this spring on PS4, Xbox One and PC. The game will feature potentially limitless courses, all randomly generated in the game, and the promise of no load times.
Sportra had a chat with the executive producer, Peter Garcin, about some of the finer details of The Golf Club, including its upcoming beta and the potential for the game’s future.
Will the Closed and Open betas be available on all platforms?
PC: Erm, no, PC only.
And is that for the closed and open betas?
PC: Yeah PC only for the beta.
In the game you can’t adjust the distance of the golf clubs, but will there be new golf clubs for players to unlock with varying range?
PC: Down the road, probably not at launch. We’ll just have a standard set of clubs, but we’ll definitely be looking to add additional types down the road.
Is there any form of driving range in the game for players to become accustomed to each of the clubs? As there isn’t an option to adjust range.
PC: At the moment, it’s something we’re talking about, but we’re not sure if it’ll make the first cut. It definitely is something that we want to add to the game, like a practice mode. You could always create one in the course creator.
Ah yes, of course!
PC: yeah you could create a sort of testing ground, but it is something that we’re looking at, at least.
You’re looking to release this spring, and EA has already confirmed that it won’t be releasing a golf game this year, was that a big incentive to launch at this time?
PC: It definitely is an influence on our decision. It’s a good window for us to help build an audience, where we’re a new game coming to the market.
What were your thoughts on EA ending its association with Tiger Woods?
PC: No comment! (laughs) We don’t really have an opinion on it, that’s sort of up to their legal department.
‘No load screens’ is something your team seems pretty passionate about, would you like to talk a bit more about the concept behind it?
PC: Yeah, so no loading was something that we focused on a lot, early on. A lot of other golf games, the way that it works is that the holes are individual [each hole loaded separately], so you have to wait, and that’s something that can be pretty frustrating. It breaks the flow so we really focused on making the golf course continuous so when it loads the course it’s all 18 holes, or 9 holes, or whatever it is. And they’re all there in memory, so it’s all one place. So not only do you get literally no load times between holes because everything is already loaded, but you also get a better sense of place because you can turn around and see all the other holes and fairways, all that kind of stuff. And it will also load the course at the earliest possible moment, so as soon as you’ve selected the course in the menu it will start loading it in the background, so that even in the front-end menus you can preview the course and fly over it and stuff before you even get to gameplay.
So do I watch my player move from the green of one hole to the tee of the next?
PC: Well we always show you the scorecard in-between holes, so there’s a menu, and when you press a button, you’ll be ready at the tee. It’s really, really fast. You don’t have to wade through cutscenes or anything like that.
In multiplayer, we will only see fellow players’ shot trajectories and not their avatars, why is this?
PC: We haven’t at this point brought the models in mostly due to loading and memory constraints, depending on how many people are on the course and how you’ve customised your avatar and all this kind of stuff. So we’ve limited it right now to mostly just the ball trajectories, because that’s the important information you need to play the game and to make decisions about their shots so we wanted to keep it to the essentials.
Local co-op is four player, but is there a limit to the number of players that can compete on the same course online?
PC: No, well, you can have hundreds of people online playing the same course, because it’s all asynchronous, and you can play with any number of your friends. I think right now the scorecard only shows four players, but there’s no reason we couldn’t update the scorecard, it’s really only a screen space thing at this stage.
With courses being uploaded and shared online, how long does that take for a user to download?
PC: It should be seconds. It’s pretty much invisible, because you’re only downloading a very small amount of data, so it only downloads the DNA of the course, and then on the course it will create. So the course will be generated on your console, and that can take, i don’t know, two or three seconds, it’s extremely fast. It all depends on the complexity of the course.
But it will be less dependent on a player’s internet connection?
PC: Yeah it’s really only the instructions to build it. There’s no geometry stored, so it makes it an extremely small data package. I wouldn’t think that [a player’s connection] would be an issue.
All in-game characters have equal stats, but what is the bar that you’ve set? Are these players Tiger Woods great? How will players know whether an error is their fault or that of the character’s level of performance?
PC: Right now, the characters should be pretty much neutral, we spent a lot of time making sure the game never feels random or out of your control. It should feel like if you’ve made a mistake, it’s your fault. It’s pretty much down to player performance. You’re not going to be handicapped by the pre-programmed AI stats.
The Golf Club lacks Kinect or Move support at launch, will you be looking to add it soon after?
PC: I think it’s obviously something that’s a good fit for a golf game, but it’s something that you have to get right. We’ve done a lot of motion gaming in the past, and so we have a lot of experience building Kinect and Move titles, and it’s something that you definitely need to get right for it to be worthwhile. So we want to make sure that, if we do it, we get it right. But it’s definitely something that’s on our radar.
Are you looking at a retail or digital release?
PC: We’re exploring both options at the moment. It’s not something that’s completely decided, whether it’ll be retail, digital or both.
There’s been a lot of talk since the launch of the new consoles regarding the varying quality of titles across the two. Have you been able to achieve performance parity with the PS4 and Xbox One?
PC: Right now we’re looking for performance parity across everything. So it should be a very, very similar experience no matter what platform you play it on.
So might there be minor differences?
PC: It’s probably mostly on PC, depending on your specs.
Second-screen has been a big focus for next-gen, and your course creator seems like a natural fit, could that be something else added post-launch?
PC: It’s definitely something that’s on our radar. It’s not part of the launch, but it’s definitely sitting there in the roadmap.
Will The Golf Club become a yearly franchise, or something where you continuously iterated on the first entry?
PC: Right now, we’re looking at the continuous support situation. We want to move away from that ‘fire and forget’ mentality, and so we’re looking to continuously support it and to turn it into a franchise, but in the sense that it’s an ongoing thing that we support and the community grows. We continually push new content, new upgrades, new features into the game. We have dedicated support that we will keep with the game after it launches.