EA Sports pretty much has a lock on the video game golf market with its popular and high-quality Tiger Woods series. In our first of a series of question-and-answer sessions with the game's developers, we'll be discussing the 2005 update to the GameFace system, which lets you customize your golfer to a truly impressive extent. Producer Dave Woldman and lead engineer Jim Brooks fill us in on all the details.
GameSpot: GameFace was great last year, but you've essentially rebuilt the new GameFace II from the ground up. Why change a good thing? Technologically, what has changed?
Dave Woldman: In Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004, we feel we set the standard in character creation, giving those who play the game the ability to create themselves with a high degree of accuracy. However, one area we really wanted to improve was in the level of overall detail in the face. To accomplish this we introduced texture compositing to allow you to blend facial detail in the character. In Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004, we gave the users the ability to simply choose a skin texture (rugged, blemished, and so on), but in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005, through texture blending, the user will have total control of how they look. They will be able to add and blend all the elements of a face to make it unique and add real character.
Additionally, to allow you to create anyone from ages 8 to 80, we introduced bone scaling in the product, allowing you to set the height, weight, and build of your created character.
Jim Brooks: We kept the core ideas of GameFace and just expanded them. The changes we made this year allowed an exponential increase in the variety of characters the user could create.
Technologically, we added an entirely new face creation system where the user can overlay several textures onto the face, as well as blend between different ages, skin colors, and skin tones. Additionally, we added height scaling and a bunch of other new sliders.
GS: Obviously, last year's introduction of GameFace was impressive. What's new this time around? How detailed can gamers get this year?
DW: Our goal in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 was to allow you to build anyone, of any age, of any race to 90 to 95 percent accuracy. We feel we have achieved this goal. The industry-leading GameFace technology just got a whole lot deeper, with more control and freedom to let you express your creative vision from a youthful prodigy to a grizzled veteran. Using the new texture blending and bone scaling, GameFace II provides nearly infinite combinations of facial proportions and features, fully customizable body physique and tone, and a host of new equipment and accessories to adorn your created player
GS: Beyond physical characteristics, how can I personalize myself and my game?
DW: GameFace II allows you to add your personal touch to your character like never before. Create and place both logos on your apparel and tattoos on your character. Everything you see in game on your character can be customized, from your swing to the way you react to your shot.
GS: Are there new items available in the Pro Shop?
DW: This year the number of items available to the player has more than doubled. Sponsors like Oakley, Never Compromise, True Temper, Grafalloy, Dunlop, and Cobra have been added to increase the variety and type of equipment and apparel available. In addition, the entire lineup of sponsored equipment and apparel has been updated to the new 2005 lineup. We've included a sorting and search function to allow the player to quickly find whatever he or she is looking for.
GS: What is your favorite addition to GameFace II, and how would you integrate it into your character?
DW: My favorite addition to GameFace II is the new texture blending. Using the texture blending, I have been able to create myself in the game to a degree I've never seen before in gaming.
JB: My favorite addition is the aging of the characters. Now you can really create anything from a teenager to a senior citizen, and they will both look extremely realistic.
DW: Stay tuned for more information on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005. With a new career mode called legends pursuit and the ability to alter the courses with tiger proofing, you won't want to miss the upcoming stories in the series. If you've never played Tiger Woods PGA Tour before we challenge you to give it a try. We always claim to be "all the golf for golfers and all the game for gamers."
GS: Thanks, guys.