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We talked to Matthias Otto who worked on Spinshot Party - a foosball simulation game achieved with CRYENGINE - for the past two years.
Hi, my name is Matthias Otto but in these circles everyone calls me Matto! I am Principal level designer at Crytek and recently also a very little independent publisher and developer. My level design career got kicked off in 2004 when Crytek released Farcry. A game that shipped with Sandbox, an editor that was intuitive and easy to use. I was buildings maps and mods until I released my last Farcry Mod called Matto4 in 2007. I was like 16/17 years old back then and during that process, I had no idea what job I would do in the future. Finally an E-mail arrived from Crytek, offering me an apprentice ship as media designer. This was a fantastic moment solving my issues not knowing what I would do and giving me a big boost in confidence. So 2008 I started at Crytek and was involved in many different games beginning with Crysis 2. I have learned a ton in that time and expanded my knowledge into visual scripting. At some point I was very good at prototyping mechanics which for example led to the VR game The Climb. Nowadays I’m on Hunt: Showdown creating unique compounds for the game.
In summer 2021 I was sitting with friends eating pancakes brainstorming about what little game mechanics I could prototype using multiple gamepads and a single PC screen. During covid I got tired of online games and I was looking for better times in the future where everyone can meetup again and play games in front of a TV like Gang Beasts or Mario party. And then suddenly foosball popped up in the discussion and my brain started working how to control foosball with gamepads. And there it was, a simple mechanic: Use the analog stick to push the rod back and forth and the trigger to spin the Rod. I think I had a first working prototype within a week. And when I was trying and playing that for the first time, I thought this is fun and showed it to other people. It was nice feedback I got from friends and colleagues that was inspiring and encouraging me to continue the development!
I like finishing a project. So my goal was to turn the prototype into a game that’s polished enough that I would feel comfortable releasing. I certainly did not aim for perfection, if I would aim for that I would never be finished. So it’s important to say “good is enough”. I knew what parts of the game I could do by myself and where I would need help. Crytek supported me in this process. I got help and support from various disciplines which I cannot thank enough. Talented artists created the unique looking tables, menu visuals, logo concepts and sounds. Those contributions were inspiring and kept me motivated to finally spend lots of my free time to finish the game.
I think most fun was the scripting and crafting of the initial prototype. That moment when I tested the core game mechanic the first time was a great feeling. But I must say I also enjoyed creating high resolution images for the Steam shop, creating and cutting the trailer or tweaking the logo or creating achievements. Those were things I have not really done before and it was fun learning it in the process if making them. And I have to say, it was a great feeling to see my own game pop up in my own Steam library in the end!
The best thing about the game are the simple and easy to learn controls. Yet I’m aware that controlling the rods properly is not easy at all. If you want to trap the ball, move it to the right position to then kick it into the goal, or do like 45° shots, it’s challenging. If you want to be good at the game you need to learn using the controller in a new way like playing an FPS game with a gamepad for the first time. But the good thing is you can also just wildly spin around the mannequins and something cool will happen in any case, so if your opponent isn't much more skilled than you, the game is still fun to play. So there is something for everyone, and the game is fun right from the start. Easy to learn, hard to master, I would say.
The most important thing in game development is passion. Passion is what keeps you moving and motivated. You should believe in the game idea you are trying to build. And be realistic in what you or your team can achieve. If you have challenges that you don’t exactly know how to tackle, look at them early in the process and use them as stepping stones towardsa a more rounded experience. If you leave the tough parts for later, you risk them becoming roadblocks in your way.
The game is now available on Steam https://store.steampowered.com/app/2310130/Spinshot_Party/
Thanks Matto, for your time and insights! If YOU want more game design tipps and tricks from this and other seasoned developers, check out our Breeze Tutorial Series on YouTube!
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