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Interview: Grip Games - Foosball 2012

Posted by Sammy Barker

Gripping stuff

With Foosball 2012 now readily available on digital store shelves, we felt like it was an appropriate time to sit down with Grip Games’ Jakub Mikyska and have a good old chinwag about the origins of the PlayStation 3 and Vita exclusive. Tune in for chatter about net code, potential sequels and PlayStation Minis.

Push Square: Hi, thanks so much for taking a break from your hectic schedule to chat to us about Foosball 2012. For those that don’t know much about the title, please could you give us a quick overview of the game?

Jakub Mikyska: Foosball 2012 is a foosball title – but it's really not that much different from any other sports game. It features single player and multiplayer for up to four people, lots of unlockables and balanced controls.

We're releasing the game for PS3 and Vita, and allowing players to purchase both versions for a single fee. That's particularly important because we've incorporated a lot of cross-platform features into the game.

You can play online against people on PS3 and Vita regardless of platform, and your progress throughout the game is also synchronised. That means that you can enjoy Foosball 2012 on your TV, with its smooth HD graphics, and then take your progress on the go with the Vita.

PS: To our knowledge, this is the first foosball game on a current-generation console. What made you want to tackle the table-top sport and bring it to PlayStation?

JM: There are a number of atypical sports games on the current consoles: darts, bowling, and even golf. We looked at all of them, and realised that they are fun because they capture the essence of those sports – so we did the same with Foosball 2012. It isn't necessarily a title about foosball, but instead a fast-paced, multiplayer-oriented game that's very accessible and brimming with depth. There aren't many games that do that. It's just fun, regardless of whether you're a foosball enthusiast or simply looking for a good time-killer.

PS: What sort of research goes into making a foosball game? Did you try out multiple tables to ensure you got the feel of the action right?

JM: We definitely played traditional foosball a lot to get the feeling of the game right. No one has ever done foosball controls on a gamepad before, so we spent a lot of time experimenting and finding the best way to control the game.

Once we'd found a solution, we had to do it all over again for the PlayStation Move. We had to make sure that it feels like controlling the real thing. We even took care of the small details, like using the Move’s vibrations to let the player feel the ball when they are controlling it. I am really satisfied with the results. The game plays great on a gamepad as well as on Move.

No one has ever done foosball controls on a gamepad before, so we spent a lot of time experimenting

PS: Foosball 2012 is coming to both PlayStation 3 and Vita. How have you found the experience working on both platforms? What have been the biggest challenges?

JM: There were some challenges, but, overall, we found both platforms to be quite comfortable to work with. PS3 was the lead platform and then we ported it over to Vita. The biggest challenge was simply trying to incorporate all of the different features that we wanted. Move controls, cross-play, game continuation, online multiplayer – it was a lot of things for our first major project. Thankfully both platforms are now fairly easy to work with, and Sony itself is extremely helpful and supportive of indie developers. That helped a lot.

PS: The game features online multiplayer. How have you taken measures to ensure the high-speed nature of the gameplay isn’t affected by lag?

JM: There are more online features than just the multiplayer. We actually took a lot of time to get the cross-platform connectivity right. The save data between the PS3 and Vita versions is automatically synchronized, allowing you to seamlessly switch between the two consoles without losing progress. That was a difficult thing to do and I am really proud of our team that we managed to achieve it.

Online multiplayer was a different kind of challenge because foosball is a super-fast sport. When you have a lag of around 50ms in a shooter or other sports game, it doesn't really matter that much. But 50ms lag in foosball can degrade the experience significantly. There are no servers between the two players that are playing online, nothing that would add to the lag, only the latency of their connections. Since release we've received some complaints from players regarding lag, so we're working on a patch that will enhance the online experience even more.

PS: It’s interesting that Foosball 2012 is branded similarly to a FIFA or Madden game. Are you planning on transforming this into an annual franchise if the first title is well received?

JM: Only time will tell whether the world is ready for more foosball games. We wanted to make players feel comfortable with the game, so borrowing a familiar name structure seemed like a good idea.

PS: Grip Games is best known for its work on the PlayStation Minis platform. What made you decide to step up to the full PSN experience? Have you moved on from Minis now, or do you still have more titles in the pipeline?

JM: Minis were always a stepping stone for us to get into full PS3 and Vita development – we always intended to move on eventually. Minis served us really well, though, and helped us to earn valuable game development experience and contacts within Sony.

To answer your question, though, we don’t have any new Minis in development right now, and are fully focused on current consoles.

PS: Thanks so much for your time. We wish you all the best with the game.

JM: Thanks for the interview, and I hope I will see you all online in Foosball 2012 soon.

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