Interviews: VooFoo Studios - Hustle Kings
Posted by James Newton
We go poolside with the developers
Two weeks ago we reported that PSN pool title Hustle Kings was set to receive an update bringing Move and stereoscopic 3D support. We tracked down the developers VooFoo Studios and fired a few questions their way.
Movemodo: First of all, please introduce yourself and your role on Hustle Kings.
John Kearney: Hey, my name is John Kearney and I worked as Art Director on Hustle Kings.
MM: Might our readers know VooFoo Studios from any previous titles?
JK: Nope, Hustle Kings is our first game! VooFoo was founded back in July 2007 and we've been incredibly busy since then! Everything we do is based on our own in-house technology which gives us a lot of control during the creation process. The only downside of that is that it took us over a year sitting in a dark office to get it up and running before we began developing a proper game.
MM: Hustle Kings has been available for a while now – how did you feel about the game’s critical reception?
JK: We didn't have a clue how it'd be received but at least knew how much we enjoyed playing it in the office. The fact we had great fun was a good indication that some people would like it but hey, you never know for sure! Some game sites unfairly reviewed a very early version of Hustle Kings which meant that it was buggy and lacking important features/polish – that was a little disheartening. However, since release the reviews have been extremely positive so it's been great! The current Metacritic average of 81% is something to be proud of for our first title. It was and still is exciting to read reviews and receive feedback.
MM: We’re seeing a lot of Network games updated for Move and 3D support now. Is this something Sony is pushing or did it seem a natural fit?
JK: It's clear that Sony value the Move and stereoscopic 3D, so naturally wish to support them with great titles. However, the decision to go ahead and do it was entirely ours. As soon as news of the Move had made it into the public arena, many PlayStation gamers cited Hustle Kings as the perfect example of a game that would make the most of such a great control method and we agreed! It was a no-brainer so we began working on it as soon as we could. The 3D was a natural progression as it became clear that both technologies would result in the ultimate virtual pool experience.
MM: Other developers have said that Move is too precise. Did you have any difficulties fine-tuning the controls into a workable experience?
JK: Too precise? I'm not sure what they mean by that! As far as we're concerned, precision is critical to the gaming experience as the last thing we'd want is gamers struggling to aim their virtual cues correctly. The precision of the Move is part of the reason why it works so well with Hustle Kings.
MM: Obviously many gamers have been used to DualShock controls for Hustle Kings now. Is there much of a learning curve to adjust to Move controls?
JK: There's a learning curve but we've done all we can to ensure the controls are intuitive. We believe that both control methods are great and the one you go for will just depend on your mood. Dualshock players shouldn't have too much trouble adjusting to the Move controls.
MM: Please give us a quick rundown of how Move controls work – aiming, setting power, camera control and so on.
JK: To line up your shot, simply hold the trigger and aim in the direction you'd like to look – the cue will then rotate into position. In addition, you can hold Circle to slow down the movement for fine adjustments. A quick twisting action will chalk your cue at any time and when you're ready to take your shot, press the Tick button and then use a realistic back and forward motion. The speed and steadiness of your arm motion will directly impact the accuracy and power within the game.
MM: Is a Navigation or Dualshock required or recommended for Hustle Kings, for example viewing the table?
JK: Although there are fewer buttons on the Move, we managed to find an elegant solution to ensure players are able to play without requiring any additional controllers.
MM: The big question is – will playing Hustle Kings with Move, in 3D, make you better at real pool?
JK: Absolutely! Using your visual judgement to line up a shot is a huge part of playing pool, and doing this on a virtual table that looks close to the real thing means you're helping to train your eye first and foremost. In addition to this, taking a clean shot with the Move requires a fluid, straight back and forward motion just like in real pool so I do believe that you can learn a lot from playing Hustle Kings.
MM: Please tell us a bit more about the upcoming downloadable content for the game – what do the new tables and modes bring to the game?
JK: A lot of what we do is driven by awesome community requests and feedback. The upcoming DLC features Carom Billiards which is very popular in France and some other EU countries. It's a very tactical game and requires a lot of skill (tables have no pockets). We knew nothing of the rules (they're quite simple and therefore accessible) before developing it but it can provide a very different and enjoyable experience to the other modes in Hustle Kings. In addition, we have a UK sized pool table and balls, which again feels very different. Our accurate physics model means you get the subtle nuances of the real thing. A lot of UK players requested this table so we are happy to oblige! In addition, there are some great looking new ball sets and cues and a pack of hardcore trickshots to really test out your pool skills.
MM: With YouTube support, online play and now Move and stereoscopic 3D, is Hustle Kings the complete pool package now?
JK: It's certainly getting there. It's true to say that there's a hell of a lot of content for a downloadable game. There aren't many game types and features left for us to implement so if you take all of the DLC into account, it's probably the most comprehensive console pool game ever created.
MM: Will you continue to work on Hustle Kings after the next round of DLC lands, or do you have other projects up your sleeve?
JK: We're really proud of Hustle Kings and will definitely continue to support if so long as there is a demand for us to do so. The professional sport of snooker is currently going through a transitional phase with a lot of new exciting variations in the pipeline – we'll be keeping a close eye on those developments! Aside from that, we do have other projects up our sleeves and there's a lot of creativity in the team right now. We've expanded since the creation of Hustle Kings so we feel confident of raising the bar with our future projects.
Our thanks to John Kearney and the team at VooFoo Studios for their time. The Move update is available now, and we'll have a full review in the near future.