Sega's upcoming arcade-style soccer game for the GameCube, Soccer Slam, is a departure from the company's previous sports games. An engaging mix of over-the-top character design and solid gameplay, the game is shaping up to be a fresh entry in Sega's software catalog. We talked with Lorne Asuncion, the project manager for Soccer Slam at Visual Concepts, to find out more about the game.
GameSpot: Where did the idea for Soccer Slam come from?
Lorne Asuncion: Here at Visual Concepts, all our sports games have been simulation-related. We wanted to move in a different direction and looked into creating an arcade-style, extreme game, and we came up with Sega Soccer Slam. We saw that there are a lot of extreme football, basketball, and hockey games on the market, and we wanted to do something that no other company had done. With plenty of work and time on the design, we finally went with a three-on-three soccer game. At first, we were toying with a five-on-five or four-on-four game, but we found that a three-on-three game is more competitive, a lot faster, and more exciting. As we went on, more ideas came along, like having different personalities for the characters representing the different countries that we implemented. The further and further we moved into this project, the more we knew that we had a special game on our hands.
GS: How long has the game been in development, and how has working on the GameCube hardware been?
LA: Design and all, this game has been in development for less than a year and a half. Working on the GameCube is pretty much straightforward. Nintendo was extremely helpful when we had any technical questions on the hardware, which made development very smooth. Overall, we really enjoy developing on the GameCube and believe the platform to be much more powerful than people think it is.
GS: How large is the development team?
LA: From the programmers, to the artists, all the way to the testers and the motion-capture talent, we had about 85 to 90 people working on it. However, the core team was obviously much smaller than that.
GS: Will the game engine be used in other GameCube games?
LA: Because all our other sports games at Visual Concepts, like the NFL 2K and NBA 2K series, have their own engines to work with, it's hard to determine if this engine will be used in other GameCube games. If everything worked out, where we had the perfect concept and perfect design to use this engine for another game, then we would definitely look into it. We believe the engine is extremely powerful and flexible, so we will most likely continue to use it.
GS: Does the game support progressive scan?
LA: Yes, this game does support progressive scan, and it looks fantastic with it. Those who have it on their television will not be disappointed.
GS: Why soccer instead of another sport?
LA: We wanted to find a sport that we could toy with and succeed in. Soccer was perfect because it's a sport that we have not focused on and it's the most popular sport in the world. Plus, there is not a big market in arcade-style soccer games, so we figured, "Why not start one?"
GS: How many different goal-celebration sequences are there for each player?
LA: There are lots of different goal-celebration sequences in this game! And on top of this, we have some more generic ones that any player can use, so this adds up to many more. These sequences look really good and add a lot to the game.
GS: How many hidden teams are there?
LA: We can't divulge everything about the game just yet--we need to make people work for some things. But, I will tell you one thing: The user will be able to unlock six team-specific stadiums to add to the default stadiums by winning the Continental Cup in the quest mode. By doing this, we can reward the user for playing so well.
GS: Will there be a sequel? If so, what sorts of ideas are you hoping to incorporate into the game?
LA: We are always looking to do another version of a game, no matter what we are working on. If this happens, we would like to add more teams, more stadiums, and more moves to the game. We like the depth that the quest mode provides, but can definitely improve on that. Those are the basic ideas that we want to add, and we have a few more up our sleeve to implement.
GS: Will other sports be receiving similar treatment in the future?
LA: Moving this idea to different sports is always a possibility. We are going to watch how this game does, but we could always have something up our sleeves. I would love for us to explore other sports, because working on the game of soccer to this extremity was a blast.
GS: Will characters from the game be used in future games?
LA: Yes, we are definitely planning to use these characters and hopefully new ones in future games. I think our characters such as El Diablo and Duke have enough personality and attitude that they will be popular for a long time to come.
GS: Will Soccer Slam be the start of an alternative arcade line of sports games?
LA: I'm confident that the consumers will embrace this game like the other extreme-type games because this is truly a one-of-a-kind, fast-and-furious, smash-mouth experience, and I guarantee that the user will not put his or her controller down for hours! As to a new line of titles, anything is possible. Visual Concepts is never stagnant.
GS: What is the next game the Soccer Slam team will be working on?
LA: The team is currently working on improving what we have in the game right now. With the basic game down, there are definitely improvements that we can add to make this game even a little better than what we have. We have a lot more in store to add and want to showcase that in the near future. Thank you very much for all your support. We hope that you will enjoy Sega Soccer Slam like we have.
Thanks to Lorne for his time.