In the late 90’s Camelot Software Planning made a big switch from Shining Force to developing golf games. Their first game was Hot Shots Golf. Shortly afterwards, Camelot moved on to pioneering the Mario Golf series. Camelot is known as a veteran when it comes to developing button controlled golf games, but motion controlled games like We Love Golf! are a new frontier. I got a chance to ask Hiroyuki and Shugo Takahashi, the founding brothers of Camelot Software Planning, about the transition.
Camelot has quite a history with golf games. How has the experience developing Mario Golf and Hot Shots Golf been implemented in We Love Golf?
WLG! will be our 7th golf game title. There are so many lessons we’ve learned from developing sports games. When we first developed Mario Golf on the Nintendo 64 and GameBoy Color, we were very satisfied with the products. Yet, developing Mario Tennis 64 struck us with new ideas and regrets on some of the stuff we did previously. We poured all that into WLG!. What we learned on handling Wii controls has especially helped a lot for this new title.
Tell us how Camelot developed the Wii remote motions? How challenging was the task?
We considered the Wii remote motion as a very important feature for WLG!. Not only had there been other golf games around, but they had already implemented the remote motion feature. We appreciated the concept and the target of the existing titles, and their success in the market. We took them into consideration and seriously thought of what we could offer to go beyond those titles. We analyzed the relationship between characteristics of those games and the market, and the nature of what we would create, and the market. Our analysis concluded that their target audience is “beginner users.” On the other hand, our title represented the users for a little more hardcore market.
Having understood where we fall in the market, we identified our challenge as the need to nail down the accuracy of swing motions depending on strength and range. We worked hard to realize an ideal pairing of the characteristics of casual and serious golf games: A casual game that allows anyone to casually enjoy golf, and a serious athletic game that requires the players to control the ball like Tiger Woods. The concept was very challenging, but we have accomplished our objective, overcome the hurdle, and produced the best result.
How come Camelot didn't add a standard control scheme as an option? Do you still think there is room for button controlled golf games?
It’s not that we believe in a remote motion game being the next-gen golf games. We are fully aware of accessibility and adaptability of button controlled games. However, we simply decided to develop a Wii Ware game with a focus on remote motion controllability, and our efforts resulted in the best golf game we have ever made.
What do you think separates We Love Golf from the other family friendly golf series on the Wii, like Super Swing Golf Pangya?
WLG! differentiates itself from those earlier titles in target audience and gameplay. As a late release title, overall requirements are naturally set higher than those for the earlier ones, and we have met them. Major differences are probably in terms of concept and design of the game. Most of the previous golf game titles are targeted for beginner gamers.
Did Camelot tweak or adjust the controls from the Japanese release?
We have adjusted the swing speed of both regular and star characters.
Why did Camelot add online play in the Western release of We Love Golf?
We originally had in our mind the importance of online ability for next-gen console games. Over several years, we researched online games and how we could deploy online features. Since the online modes are very popular in the West, we decided to add online features for release the overseas version.
How does the new online mode work?
The online mode features one-on-one play, and there will be two modes. One of the modes lets the player select an opponent from a friends list, and the other mode allows the user to play against a player from a global list. Both modes match two players, so that wait time will be minimized. The system allows for matching players based on their skill levels so players can play against someone at a similar level.
Will golfers in North America be able to challenge players in Europe?
Sure, of course.
North America voted on the extra costumes and picked Ken and Morrigan outfits. If you had a chance to choose the two extra Capcom costumes, which would you pick?
The selection seems good. Personally, I have other favorites like Viewtiful Joe among others, but his recognition is much lower compared to Capcom’s other characters.
Are there any plans for a re-release of We Love Golf in Japan with the extra features found in the Western release?
Unfortunately, that’s not in our plan.
What's next for Camelot?
That’s one of the most frequently asked questions. We have released fewer titles lately due to lack of resources. Some of the core members left the company, and that made it impossible for us to work on any major titles. In the meantime, we put our focus on developing talents to establish a solid team. We succeeded both in building a team and producing console software. We are now fully staffed and prepared to develop any title, leveraging the experience from completing the new title. We are working on a next title as well as another one after that. We hope to be able to bring you more information in the near future.
Images courtesy of Capcom.