The Ball is one of the most promising looking games coming out this month, I took a quick look at it recently and then had a chat with Sjoerd De Jong, Project Lead at Teotl Studios. Read below for more talk about The Ball and the latest trailer for the game.
The Reticule – The retail release of The Ball is obviously an extension of what came with the mod, what differences are there between the mod and final version of the game?
Sjoerd De Jong – Large parts of the mod have been remade, polished, or extended. When we made the mod we were under a lot of time pressure. We had to get a new episode of the game done every couple of months to make our milestones for the Make Something Unreal contest, so we never really had the chance to polish and improve the content of previous milestones. For the commercial version of the game we’ve gone over all our content again, and improved, remade, and extended it greatly. The commercial game is basically the game as we have always had it mind.
TR – How important to you as a team was the Make Something Unreal competition?
SDJ – Very important. It allowed us to test out our innovative design ‘in the wild’, and its reception subsequently gave us the confidence to continue. Furthermore the prize money allowed us to start up our company without too many headache. We couldn’t have done this without the Make Something Unreal contest and Epic Games.
TR – How important do you think the competition is to the wider mod scene?
SDJ – I think it is quite important. The modding scene is a lot smaller nowadays than it used to be, and might even be on the brink of extinction. I think that for the modding scene every bit of stimulation is worth gold.
TR – What did you think of the Unreal 3 Engine as a development tool?
SDJ – It is definitely the best engine out there in my opinion. Could we have build our game with another engine? Sure, but not in so little time! The strength of Unreal Engine 3 is in its speed, and the amount of control and flexibility its tools give to the designer.
TR – Where did you come up with the concept for the Ball itself?
SDJ – The game was designed to fit our team, skills, budget, and available time. When I designed the game it was important for me to find a concept that would be plausible, that would have a reasonable chance to make it to the end. A lot of mod teams and indie studios come up with grand designs and then try to pull it off with insufficient resources, only to find out a few months later that they can’t make it. We did the opposite. Start small, keep it very focused, and extend as you go. For example, when we were prototyping the game we did not have a character modeler and we did not have an animator, so we asked ourselves the question “What kind of game can we do without these kind of people?”, and what we came up with was a ball as the protagonist. It required no animations, and it was easy to model. The majority of the decisions that we made during the first and decisive half a year of development were based on that philosophy. And it paid off. We have been able to spend a lot of time on polishing and improving the game, rather then having been trying to make the impossible to possible.
TR – Do you have any plans for introducing a multiplayer component at a later date?
SDJ – Nope. Integrating multiplayer into our game would be far from easy. We’d have to replicate the physics of the Ball over the network, which would be difficult and require a rewrite of the game. It is not something that we can add easily. We do have some nice ideas for multiplayer, but at the moment it is not something we are able to implement.
You can now pre-order The Ball on Steam with 10% and an exclusive in-game character for Killing Floor. You can watch the new trailer for the game below.