EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour series and the Nintendo Wii just seem to go together like, well, Tiger Woods and PGA Tour wins. The game, due for release in mid-March, will certainly be one of the most content-rich versions of the game out there, with 18 confirmed courses and more than 35 PGA golfers to choose from (as well as the ability to create your own virtual duffer using the game's powerful creation features). Beyond that, the game will play unlike any other Tiger Woods game before it, taking advantage of the Wii's unique controls to create a golf game that feels much like the real thing. In this first developer diary for Tiger 07 for the Wii, EA producer Wesley Culver gives us the lowdown on the swing mechanics in the game.
All About the Swing
By Wesley Culver
From the first official announcement of the Nintendo Wii console and the capabilities of its unique gameplay controls, we began developing a Wii-specific version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, which was a no-brainer. Our number one priority during development was the swing. It was great to have such a clear focus, but it didn't mean that defining how the swing works would be a piece of cake.
Early on in the project, we figured out that in addition to the Wii Remote's infrared "direct pointing device" the controller has the ability to pick up acceleration on a few different axes and rotational orientation. With a natural golf swing in mind, we started with an acceleration-based swing because it made the most sense.
We took a layered approach when implementing the swing into the game. The first step would be to get a basic swing in the game so we could have a "tee to green experience" and then build other functionality on top. After a number of iterations, we arrived at a basic swing that felt good.
The next layer was to add the ability to "shot shape" using the Wii Remote. Rather than presetting the option to perform a draw (right to left ball flight) or fade (left to right ball flight), we wanted to keep players engaged with the Wii Remote. The most intuitive control scheme for shot shaping was mapping it to the rotational orientation, or tilt, of the Wii Remote. If you tilt the controller counterclockwise, your ball will go to the left (thus, a draw). If you tilt it clockwise, it yields the opposite (fade) effect.
The more advanced shot-shaping mechanic is something that is intuitive to use and difficult to master. You may find that you'll have a tendency to hit the ball to the right or left depending on your natural swing. Personally, I have a horrible tendency to slice the ball while playing real golf, and it translates over in our game as a natural fade.
Other gameplay mechanics that needed to be redesigned for the Wii were our midair spin control, power boost, and aiming features. While the ball is in the air, you can select the direction of spin on the Wii Remote's directional pad and shake the controller to add spin. To get more power on your shot, you simply need to swing harder. A nice and easy full swing will get you 100 percent power, but if you give it some extra juice, you can get up to 110 percent power. Aiming is a piece of cake because you can use either the directional pad to adjust your target area or you can even grab and drag it around using the Wii Remote.
All in all, our goal was to make the swing very accessible and intuitive to use. Anyone, from a casual gamer who has never picked up a golf club to the hardcore gamer and golfer, will be able to pick up the Wii Remote and have a great golfing experience with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07.