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Indie developed sports games

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MojopinStudios, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. MojopinStudios

    MojopinStudios

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    I am currently working on a sports game but it has struck me, after a lot of searching, that there isn't a lot of sports games developed by indies. Am I looking in the wrong places? Does anyone know any small developers working on, or completed, sports games? Bonus points if they are developed in Unity!
     
    jp122 likes this.
  2. BFGames

    BFGames

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    Ryiah likes this.
  3. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    The barrier of entry on making a decent team sports game is really high. The biggest hurdle getting good team AI working, which can take years to perfect (which as a release cycle is not feasible for most indies)

    But as to single player games/events such as skiing etc.. yes there don't seem to be many games.
     
    Martin_H and Ryiah like this.
  4. banreaxe

    banreaxe

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    i remember a certain cricket game that got a lot of attention awhile back, but not for anything good, and i dont recall how "indie" they actually were.

    i think most don't bother going after the big name sports like hockey, football, soccer, basketball etc, as the aaa ones out are pretty unbeatable.

    would be nice to see more simple versions come out ala mario type sports games, where the point isn't to be as realistic and accurate as possible, but to actually be fun.

    not necessarily indie, but look back at the explosion of skateboard/snowboard/bmx/ other x-treme type sports. im sure there's an untapped market just waiting, for some newer type or variation of sport, like parkour, long boarding etc.
     
    Ryiah likes this.
  5. Heu

    Heu

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    Theres tons of indie racing games, if you consider racing in the sports category. Other than that there hasn't been "legit" sports simulations, but if you look in Desura ( which mostly contains indie developers ) there are some indie sports games http://www.desura.com/games/browse?filter=t&style=18

    As banreaxe stated about a cricket game, not sure if its the same one he's talking about. http://store.steampowered.com/app/25500/


    I agree with this, there's no possible way to beat an AAA sports game (2K Sports, EA Sports, Football Manager, etc), and that I would definitely love to see more mario-type sports, games which aren't so serious and realistic.
     
    Ryiah likes this.
  6. kMak

    kMak

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    I'm currently working on a 2D semi-arcade jump shooting basketball game. I know there's a ton of them on the market right now, but I'm trying something new other than the same ones with floating basketballs and boring shot mechanics. Right now it's just me working in my free time and a paid artist.

    What sport are you working on?
     
  7. Ocid

    Ocid

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    Take a look at Frozen Endzone being made by Mode7.
     
  8. derkoi

    derkoi

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    I've just released a fishing game
     
  9. darkhog

    darkhog

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    It's bit old game, but I believe Matchball Tennis was released by indie company,

    //edit:
    And now it has player in Poland as well. Seriously though, you should go to mobile with it. Seems like perfect game to play when you're on a train or in bus.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2014
  10. casimps1

    casimps1

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    MogoTXT has put out a few indie sports games including the now infamous (well, in Ouya circles at least) - Gridiron Thunder for Ouya.

    I think the biggest hurdle to developing indie sports games now is that the overwhelming majority of people that play sports games want to play with real-life players and teams, and licensing to do that is easily out of most indie devs' budget. Or in some cases, simply impossible because the league has signed some kind of exclusive licensing agreement with a particular developer.

    The demand for non-licensed sports games is almost non-existent, sadly. Which really is a shame, because I have fond memories of some great non-licensed sports games from the late 80s and 90s: High Impact Football, Arch Rivals, Super Baseball 2020, Bases Loaded, Super Sidekicks. I'd love to see some more of those kinds of games released today.
     
  11. BFGames

    BFGames

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    Hehe, well the multiplayer part is the focus, and mobile connections needs to be better before it can handle a game like that well enough.
     
  12. CGPepper

    CGPepper

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    I believe that Big Win series were indie and made an insane amount of profit
     
  13. Claudio84

    Claudio84

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  14. Scott_Easley

    Scott_Easley

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    You are right, the AI is the thing -- we are a small indie studio developing a mobile basketball simulation game in Unity 3.5.7, and spent a lot of time making a modular system that would accommodate the managing and leveling of several characters and still make the game fluid and fun. Come by and check us out:

    Wildstyle Basketball

     
  15. BigToe

    BigToe

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    I've done a couple of American football games in Unity. I started with a simpler flick game called Pocket Passer QB and eventually did a much, much more complicated game called GameTime Football. I'm currently working on GameTime 2.

    All games are exhausting to make but the AI, movement and balance on a sports game is really challenging and fairly difficult to get right. I think its a pretty tall barrier especially when you are competing for users against the likes of EA and Madden.

    That's why my next game is Flappy Something.

     
    mremus likes this.
  16. mremus

    mremus

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    Great stuff! Had fun playing this on my tablet.
    I am looking at developing an American football simulation using some of the "canned" (3D model, rigged, animated) football player packages that are out in the Unity asset store and on sites like Turbosquid. I anticipate my plays and player actions will be fairly scripted. Would you advise I use Mecanim to facilitate getting a given play with accompanying player and referee actions setup and coordinated or use some other method. I am going to post this in the Unity animation forum to get additional input.
     
  17. BigToe

    BigToe

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    I'm not exactly sure if that would work best. If the game is scripted and you are looking to just show a player running a route without interactive gameplay I think that would be OK. If you are hoping to have dynamic gameplay with your players reacting to other players, adjusting to catching the ball and such you need to take a different approach. You will have to get into steering behaviors and some AI along with all the calculations to determine where players are supposed to be and when they are supposed to be there.

    I did use Mecanim for blending animation states, but the overall transforming of position and rotation was done through waypoints and steering behaviors that factored in players abilities. For the routes, those are just broken down into waypoints that the players try to get to with a variety of braking factors depending on the points.

    All the players AI is done using Finite State Machines depending on the circumstance of the game/play.

    I don't think that's going to be a ton of help, but maybe it will point you in the right direction.
     
  18. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Megafooty!
     
  19. greggtwep16

    greggtwep16

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    Thanks to everyone that has shared links, I, like the OP have always been interested in sports (both as a gamer and a developer). If you know of any other games keep the links coming.

    My initial learning game is winding down development (1 or 2 updates left in the coming months) and then I'll be moving on to the next idea (basketball game). I always love to see various indie takes on sports. I'd agree that the full team sports games is a bit far fetched for an indie because of the AI involved like previously mentioned but also the large animation work required that has to be infused with physics in most sports to make it look right. Couple that with market expectations (madden, nba, nhl, etc) and its not very indie approachable in the traditional sense. Most that have worked don't really even attempt direct competition (flick soccer, homerun battle, ice rage, backbreaker football, etc) and instead mostly take the team out of team sports to make it a fun experience (and they are still fun).

    That being said I think there are more of these unique indie "sports" games that will probably succeed (obviously I hope to be one of them) but your traditional team sports games is a tough nut to crack for an indie. At least for me I view the animations as a tougher thing to overcome than the AI but I'm a developer so obviously I'm biased.
     
  20. mremus

    mremus

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    Thank you for the reply. Your comments are a great help. Since the project I am getting involved in is more of a training app and not so much a dynamic game. If I go with the scenario where the play is 100% scripted then I will be animating/choreographing each of the 22 players plus referees. Doable, but based on your comments, I might want to consider scripting the players involved in what the program is focused on demoing (like a pass play with particular routes) and run the rest of the players (linemen executing blocks, etc) in some sort of dynamic mode. It may be simpler and more cost effective time and money-wise to just script all of them but not sure at the moment. Have to give it some thought and if you have a moment and want to add anything to this I would appreciate it.
     
  21. peterpunk

    peterpunk

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  22. adslitw

    adslitw

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  23. LeftyTwoGuns

    LeftyTwoGuns

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    A sports game is going to be a bit more difficult to develop than a 2D platformer or FPS, etc. They would require very accurate character controllers, physics, animation, and AI. Which is kinda hard to pull off with a limited budget and limited experience. Games like Madden, Fifa, Forza, NBA 2K, etc. are actually very complex games. I'd say the best bet is sticking with something a little more arcadey, rather than simulator. Simulators just require the kinds of resources that won't be available to small time developers
     
  24. sb944

    sb944

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    Thanks for these links, I'm new to games, new to unity, new to 3D, but am at least an experienced C# developer. I'm making an Aussie Rules game, but will try to take some inspiration from some of the games in this list, and the authors of them.

    I may even hit people up for advice if that's OK.
     
  25. Riderfan

    Riderfan

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    I quite litterally today posted a link to a video showing our in-development Canadian football title being developed in Unity only to be told that it had been deleted because apparently the general discussion forum is the wrong forum to be talking about in-development games made with unity.

    But at anyrate, yes, we're about 1/2 through development of our full fledged Canadian football title... you can see information at the following;


    (might want to skip to about the 3:00 mark to skip past me talking).

    www.facebook.com/canuckplay

    and a tweet with 20 second game play footage - https://twitter.com/CanuckGS/status/774592837178560514

    You don't see a lot of sports games becuase sports games are, at least in my opinon, the most difficult games to make of any genre. They may not always have the most bleeding edge graphics, but the AI code that needs to be written to make on-screen players look and feel the same as the players you watch in real life every weekend is enourmous.

    And just FYI, there's only 2 full time people on this title.

    thanks
    David
     
    sb944, greggtwep16 and Ryiah like this.
  26. sb944

    sb944

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    Thanks Riderfan, some great inspiration in your project, it looks amazing already. A quick question, when it comes to Xbox One, I'm guessing you can throw all the resources you like at it, but what are the major limitions/thoughts around building for mobile platforms? The question goes for anyone really.
     
  27. Andy-Touch

    Andy-Touch

    A Moon Shaped Bool Unity Technologies

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  28. Riderfan

    Riderfan

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    Not really being studio that spends a lot of time on mobile, that's probably not the best question for me to answer. At one point, several months ago, I took a build and made it execute on an Android (because Android is free to develop for) and while it ran, I had to switch off most physics, remove several shaders, play with the lowest detail stadium that's in the game, and turn off the spectators. The UI was completely unusable becuase it was designed around a control pad, not a touch screen (which I knew going into the excerise and was besides the point). But it did run so that says something.

    I did a very quick and unscientific check for mobile football titles on iOS and Android and there's something around 14 million downloads of the combined 15 or so games that make even the smallest remote connection to the sport. So there's certainly a market for "sport type" games on mobile but I think it's a different type of game experience completely. There's really only a single "football simualtion game" on the mobile market, and that's Madden (obviously. And it's US football, not Canadian so a different market anyway). I didn't spend any time looking at soccer or hockey or any other type of sport so your results for your sport may vary.

    Making a 'sports simulation game' of any sport, where you're trying to represent something close to something you watch on TV, is a massive undertaking (I think of myself as pretty crazy to try and do it with only 2 people). I personally do not think that a mobile device is the best platform to play those sorts of games, but also, the market is so bogged down with 'sport related micro games' that it's just too easily gets lost in the shuffle.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016
  29. aer0ace

    aer0ace

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    I'm so looking forward to Super Blood Hockey! I think it's being developed by one guy.
     
  30. sb944

    sb944

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    I have been lurking on an Aussie Rules forum, I think even if you know nothing about Aussie Rules or the games mentioned, this is well worth a read:
    https://www.bigfooty.com/forum/threads/what-do-we-want-in-afl-live-3.1134027/

    As a quick background, the game they are talking about was a fully licensed, full stadiums, player lists, TV like full gameplay simulation, with quite a lot of behind the scenes gameplay too. It was written by a studio of about 20 people. In theory it was the best sports game ever made, but in practice seen as sub par, I think mainly due to too many glitches in game play and animations. The behind the scenes stuff also, while being very comprehensive, didn't really carry any weight while playing, so felt like a waste of time.

    But reading through that thread, it's amazing how differently fans see the game flaws, and their tips on V3:
    * Just improving the amount of comps/grounds they play
    * Just improve the stats and behind the scenes play
    * Just improve in game play/feel
    * I want team and comp editors
    * Just improve graphics
    etc.

    So, would I as a game maker go for just amazing gameplay, or will 3/4 of those people call my game rubbish because I don't have a team editor or in depth stats? Do I focus on behind the scenes, or will people not play it if it's not an amazing TV like experience? etc etc. It might be fair to say pick the thing that comes up most often first, which I'm pretty sure was solid gameplay/feel.

    And the final thing I get out of this, is your game, no matter how big or small, has to have a living target. By that I mean, you have to give it extra extra effort in one particular area, and that becomes it's heart. As an example, I've played amazing 3D sports games with no behind the scenes, and loved them, and I've played a game with a tonne of behind the scenes, and 2D graphics and loved that. But in both cases, they built their strength up so well, that you could forgive their weakness in other areas. A game like AFL Live 2 did everything OK, but nothing great, and the result is a poorly reviewed game by most people.

    Also, here is another interesting article about funding an AFL vs FIFA:
    http://www.foxsports.com.au/afl/soc...e/news-story/be2c14a5da20bb32ff9e04576a73b8e7
     
  31. Riderfan

    Riderfan

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    These are sports games, by their very nature, you're not going to please everyone. If you focus on on-field/pitch play you'll tick off the people that want an in-depth career mode and just want to number crunch. If you spend your time building a world class player career progression system, you'll tick off those who want to run around on the field (which I believe is the majority). You will get people tell you that the game is garbage if it doesn't have 100% perfect animations and some people will tell you that the game is unplayable if you can't go into replay mode and move the camera off the field to look at the back of the hotdog stand.

    For Canadian Football 17, the goal is to just build a game that we consider fun. Our budget simply doesn't allow for AAA visuals or the development of 15 different modes of play. We're going to shoot for what we're simply calling AA visuals and a core traditional game play with a much lower price point. If the game is accepted then we've commited to building on that. We're very happy that Microsoft understands this and is supporting the project.

    Keep in mind that pretty much every large studio AAA sports title on the market today has at least a decade of development and release itterations behind it. Madden has gone through about 30 years of itterative development (I discount 'rewriting the game for new platforms' because they didn't have to reinvent the game logic or general foundation classes - some of their code dates back to the SEGA Genisis). You can't go into this with the goal of knocking off the top dog in your first release. Sports titles don't work that way, they're too hard to make.

    Come up with a plan for a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and stick to that. Don't let yourself get (essentially) bullied into adding features that take away the resources you need to build a solid MVP. And that will happen, the vocal minority will scream at you from their roof tops because you've decided not to add feature XYZ even though it would take as long to build as the core game. Be prepared to take a lot of heat and abuse. Again, these are sports titles, it's the nature of the beast (and another reason I think a lot of development houses shy away from them).

    I have no knowledge of how the AFL league office works, but as a general rule pro leagues shy away from licensing to small indie developers, or at lest they shy away from developers that don't have a strong backround with these sorts of titles. (I personally have 20+ years experience building sports games for studios both very large and very small, and yet still couldn't get a license because Canuck Play is considered too small for them). Build a business plan that does not include a license and make sure you can work with in that (build a game, be profitable, rinse and repeat). But definately speak to the league office (likely their Digital Media person looks after things like video games) and see what their expectations are. Starting the dialogue is important and hey, they may surprise you and decide to help out in some way.

    Anyway, just my $0.05 CAD (we don't have pennies any more). Your results may vary.
     
    aliababua and GarBenjamin like this.
  32. goat

    goat

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    Actually there are quite a few. The rules are clear and what you need to model is clear.
     
  33. sb944

    sb944

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    Thanks Riderfan, I have had some time to process some of these ideas, and have some thoughts when it comes to my game.

    Firstly, I don't have any intention in licensing this. The options would be AFL, then the next level down VFL/WAFL/SANFL, etc. The drop is dramatic, from 7 million attendances a year to 200K. So while AFL is way beyond my reach, WAFL/etc don't have enough reach to make it worth trying to pay for licensing. However, I do have contacts in the WAFL, so may at least try to have a discussion. I'll also try to have one with the AFL, but doubt they will have the time of day for me. So, with an unlicensed game, I see I have a few main options:
    • Fake it. Treat it like it is AFL, and teams are like AFL teams, crowds, stadiums, etc but not include anything I could get sued over. If you really want to fake it, you can even allow user changeable data, probably these days just allow a team listing download/upload, and let fans sort out an unofficial AFL league for your game (for interests sake, there is an unofficial 2016 team listing for an old AFL manager game)
    • Make a legends sort of game. This wouldn't need AFL licensing, because these players don't have AFL contracts anymore. I'd probably still need to avoid team names though, so perhaps create a fake state based legends league. The heart of this would be one of nostalgia, so I'd probably go a real retro feel with the stadiums, crowds, etc, even if a few of the legends retired in 2010. Another spin on this, is to just pick two legends (yes I've already picked them), and attach their actual names to the game. This would be less about trying to license players, and more about going into a marketing/profit share with a couple of high profile commentators/ex legend players.
    • Go completely the opposite to an AFL league, and instead go a grass roots league. Absolutely no licensing concerns with this, and the heart of the game comes from constructing the grass roots feel from the smaller grounds, smaller crowds, kids mucking around behind the goals etc. It's not as sexy as AFL and big crowds, and that could be a turn off for some, but it is something everyone that has ever played the game will relate to, and hopefully have some fond memories.
    • Go completely the opposite of real life gameplay and go silly gameplay, like NBA jam, or perhaps a futuristic robot game, I'm thinking Speedball (look it up, very old but fun game). This might help eliminate some of the more difficult AI aspects/getting the realistic physics, but would likely add to the immediate fun people get while playing.

    Out of those, I've made a choice, but until I'm at the point of no return, my mind could still be changed.

    As for my intentions for an MVP, it is a sort of mobile mini-game at this stage, but is also 3D, decent AI, and essentially 1/3rd of a full gameplay game. The reason to not just go the full gameplay is I'm going to make the controls mobile friendly, which will be too static for a full game play I'd think, also the AI can be left at player level, not trying to write team strategies etc. Initial release is likely a free download, which will include the ability to play a game, and to play against another player online, with very little behind the scenes, and perhaps just daily/weekly leaderboards etc, to keep people coming back. If all is going well with that, I'd also plan a paid season/league edition for a few dollars, where you can play a full season, with finals, and a bit of list management, etc. I'd probably plan to have the free one released, then finish off the behind the scenes stuff for the league edition while the first one is out there and being played.

    I've thought hard about my financial/self goals in this project. It's not impossible to make money from this app, but I'll admit the odds are way against me. So why even do it? This might sound silly to some, but I think it's for the history of it. Up until now, there have been very few Aussie Rules games made in total, and still no stand out highlight, with arguably the best AFL game made so far only getting between 4 and 6 out of 10 by review sites. Also, while my career pays me well, there is little I can point to and say "kids, your dad did that." So my aim is to be noticed as someone who put a title high up on that list to some, and hopefully to a few the best game on that list.
     
    aliababua likes this.
  34. twingames

    twingames

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    i like this game, do you have some news? you release this game?
     
  35. aliababua

    aliababua

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    Agree, 100%.
     
  36. aliababua

    aliababua

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    Agree, 100%. Make "your own Legend's League".
     
  37. goat

    goat

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    Well I've seen a lot of sports games made by indies and they are like the overabundance of zombie and war games so I really hope you enjoy programming the genre because the money isn't likely to follow.

    If you actually like the game you are programming though it should be fun for you.
     
  38. Laabu19

    Laabu19

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    It really depends on what kind of game you're looking to develop. I'm a huge hockey fan, I remember playing a game called East Side Hockey Manager, it was a free NHL simulator, but for whatever reason the folks who used to work on it eventually sold it and it kind of went downhill.

    I had an idea of developing a new NHL simulator, I know for a fact that if designed well, there would be a following, the problem is such project is really time consuming, and if you want to make money, I'm not sure what kind of conflict you would have using actual team logos, player names and what not.
     
  39. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    There is one recently released on Steam, I think its still in Early Access
     
  40. Laabu19

    Laabu19

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    I'm not a huge fan of the new EHM, the classic one was the best, it was a windows forms application build in VB I think :D

    Now that I think of it, I don't think Unity would be a good solution for such project.