Developer Q&A: HB Studios talk about The Golf Club on PS4
First cut, back 9, gallery, tee box, long irons, bunkers, dog leg left. These are just a sampling of very common terms thrown around everyday at golf courses around the world. The Golf Club is coming to PS4 very soon, August soon, and its course creation tools will have you singing these phrases effortlessly in no time at all.
I’m a moderate-to-huge fan of golf video games, having played every iteration of Mario Golf and nearly every annualization of Tiger Woods PGA Tour. The Golf Club had me excited for simply being the first golf game on PS4. But after getting the chance to throw a bunch of questions at HB Studios and reading what they had to say…well, you take a look and tell me what you think.
The following is an interview with Anthony Kyne, Producer of The Golf Club, and Alan Bunker, COO of HB Studios. They took precious time out of their busy days and I thank them for that. Please show your appreciation by leaving a comment down below.
Q: How did HB Studios arrive at the idea of making The Golf Club?
Alan: We had just started developing the next version of Tiger, when the project got cancelled. The team consisted of plenty of golf enthusiasts, so we took this as an opportunity to look at the golf game space, and look at what we wanted to do, as an independent developer and group of sports fans, and what we thought the people at home really wanted to play. With a blank page, we were able to come up with some core pillars, which resulted in the course designer feature, having minimal loading time between holes, lots of social integration, that kind of thing. We felt there was a demand for something different and, with the launch of the new hardware, this lent itself to making The Golf Club the way we wanted to make it.
Q: What makes The Golf Club so unique and how would you say it competes with other big franchises in golf gaming?
Anthony: I think the fact that we give the users the ability to simply generate and create their own courses within the Greg Norman Course Designer and then publish them so anyone in the world can play that course is pretty unique. It gives the players the ability to basically play an infinite amount of courses.
Alan: I think what we’ve also successfully done is capture the feel of golf and made the challenge of the game based around skill and judgment, just like the real game. A player can’t ‘boost’ their way to better rounds, they have to be better players/golfers and learn a course’s features and dynamics in order to improve their scores.
Q: I would say it’s a huge deal being the first golf game on PS4. Need For Speed Rivals got a break from Drive Club to be the first driving game on the platform. Has this detail played a role in designing The Golf Club at all?
Anthony: I don’t think it’s affected the design process really. We knew what game we wanted to make and we’ve exceeded that a little, but I think that was more to do with pushing boundaries during development and realizing we were making a great game. Being first to market is just a bonus really and hopefully something that can get us a few more sales.
Alan: It’s certainly a big plus to be first to market when establishing a new Intellectual Property and when making a push to own a particular space. Ultimately, it’s all about the final quality of the game, though, and not necessarily being first.
Q: In the most recent press release it was mentioned that The Golf Club had formed a partnership with Greg Norman, and now the golf course designer mode is named after him and his golf course design company. What sparked this partnership and how will it benefit the gamer?
Alan: Discussions with the Greg Norman team started some months ago. We’d explored some licensing and branding opportunities, but they have to be in keeping with the game, and we have to treat any such partnerships sensitively and respectfully toward both the game’s values and any partners we work with. The great thing about the Greg Norman arrangement is it’s not about straightforward commercials; this is a partnership where we further enhance the game’s course designer to allow Greg Norman’s design team to improve their workflow, commercials and experience with their clients and, in turn, we are able to work closely with one of the best real-world golf design companies and have an endorsement from one of the world’s most successful and most liked professional golfers of recent years.
We are already adding some really cool features to the Greg Norman Course Designer, as a direct result of some of the really exciting work we’re doing for the Greg Norman Golf Course Design company. And we are talking about new ideas and initiatives on how the two companies might continue to work together which will benefit the golf gaming fan in the future. More on this in the weeks to come!
Q: As a download-only game on PSN later this summer, how big (or small) of a hard drive footprint will the main game leave? How is cloud storage being used?
Anthony: It’s about 1GB. We store all published user created courses in the cloud, they’re just small packets of instructions. These instructions are fed into the Course Generation tool to create the courses. It’s a great way to do it, as it keeps network traffic very minimal – normally under a couple of hundred kb’s per course.
Q: Will it be possible to play The Golf Club offline after it’s been initially installed? To what extent? (Our troops would like to know.)
Anthony: Yes, but golf is a very social game and we are trying to recreate that in The Golf Club. There’s plenty to do offline, you can create or generate an infinite amount of courses and play them locally with friends in 3 different game modes. But a lot of the sharing of courses and Tournaments won’t be available, obviously. As well as other users scorecards, so no ghost ball or online play. But I think that would be expected.
Q: Is it planned to have the PlayStation 4 version of The Golf Club be “on par” with all other versions (XBO & PC)? Will there be any unique features for the PS4 version such as PlayStation Move motion controller support?
Anthony: Definitely. We want people’s experience of the game to be identical no matter what platform they’re using. Obviously performance and resolution is slightly different depending on the platform but as an experience it should be equal across the board.
We will be doing platform specific tournaments, this means PS4 users only competing against other PS4 users, but nothing more than that.
Q: Can we hope to play The Golf Club cross-platform against PC and Xbox One gamers from PS4 and vice versa?
Anthony: Yes. On release we will be sharing user created content across all platforms. So PS4 users will be able to play courses made by PC users. Which means on day of release PS4 players will have over 3000 built courses to choose to play. It’s amazing when you think about it!
Moving forward from there we want to be able to have users compete against users from other platforms ghost balls, the only problem we have is how to display those users within the game. We’re going to have to be a little creative, but I’m sure we’ll think of something.
Q: Can you share with the PSNStores readers exactly when we can expect The Golf Club to arrive on the PlayStation Network for PS4 and what the price will be?
Alan: We’re in the certification process at the moment, so we’re very close to launch. We can’t give a specific launch date although we’ll likely announce that the same time we announce the price. On the question of pricing, though, I will say that I think everyone will be pleased with our retail price, and will see it as very fair and reasonable given the scope and quality of the game.