Hehe, I remember buying EA Sports Cricket 1997 and the score displayed on the back on the case was 18/8, the game turned out OK though.Originally Posted by James
Hehe, I remember buying EA Sports Cricket 1997 and the score displayed on the back on the case was 18/8, the game turned out OK though.Originally Posted by James
If it was Southern Hemisphere notation I'd begin to worry...Originally Posted by Adamc
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Member of ESAS, JMAS, DMAS, FRAS and RTDAS
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An Interview with Brian Lara Main Game Designer
No not that one... Prepare to be bowled over as Brian Lara Cricket walks to the crease in our exclusive Q&A
17:36 Cricket, lovely cricket. One of those games you either love or hate, apparently, but of course, we love the real thing more than life itself. Yet you could be forgiven for thinking that everyone loves a spot of virtual cricket, given the success of the original Brian Lara Cricket series.
A huge smash when it was released ten years ago, and a conqueror of pretty much every format in the intervening time unto this current generation, Brian Lara seemed to reach out and transcend traditional prejudices against the game and has proved to be one of the most popular and fondly remembered sporting series of all time.
Well now the batman is back as Codemasters revive big bad Brian in the form of Brian Lara International Cricket, a thoroughly modern version of the old classic which is heading to PS2, Xbox and PC in the middle of this glorious Ashes summer. You may even have read yesterday's intriguing news that the International Cricket Council is backing the latest version of the game.
No slouches at wielding the old willow and bowling a spot of nippy away swing ourselves, we tracked down Brian Lara International Cricket's chief game designer Justin Forrest and subjected him to a few teasing deliveries outside off stump to find out the latest on the game.
Admirably, he played them all with the very straightest of bats. Here's what he had to say.
Brian Lara's Cricket is a much loved series but we haven't seen a version for a long time. Why did you decide to bring it back now?
Justin Forrest: A difficult question to answer. After the release of the original PSone and PC versions of Brian Lara Cricket, Codemasters shifted focus somewhat and broadened its scope in games development and publishing. This coincided with the original Brian Lara cricket designer leaving the company, and I suppose that Brian Lara Cricket just moved off the radar somewhat. Fortunately, they found me ... A game designer with a passion for sport who has played cricket at semi-pro level. I was able to take up the mantle and produce the design for the long awaited sequel.
The original Brian Lara games seemed to reach out way beyond a traditional cricketing audience. Why do you think that was? What was the appeal?
Justin Forrest: I think the key was the ease with which the player could pick up a controller and smash the ball around the park. It was always pretty intuitive, and that's one of the keys to making a game accessible to a wider audience. There was always enough simulation within the title to ensure that the hardcore got to enjoy the nuances of the sport, and when combined with simple pick up and play you end up with a very balanced and appealing game.
What are the major advances you're bringing to the series?
Justin Forrest: This is a very difficult question to answer without going on for hours as a huge amount has been done to improve the game in so many areas. Gameplay was what made the original so enjoyable and that focus has definitely remained the same throughout this development. I always enjoyed the batting in Brian Lara Cricket, but found the bowling and fielding very restrictive and essentially pretty tedious. A great deal of time has been spent in remodelling the bowling and fielding systems, and I feel that we now have the first cricket title where the three key skills of batting, bowling, and fielding are all fun, rather than a simple reliance on one facet of cricket. I could go on for some time here, but I'll give a few examples of what we've done to improve on the last version of the game. Please note that this is by no means a definitive list.
I'll start with the batting. The batsman has a huge array of shots at his disposal and this is applicable to the various skill levels that the game character has. Gone are the days where you see a tail ender, coming in at 11 and playing a glorious cover drive on one knee for four. We have individual animation sets for each level of batsman, and this impacts on gameplay as well as being a huge visual improvement. Work has also been done to refine the controls, which now allow intentional lofted shots (rather than just a slog button), and subtle deflections in addition to the normal defensive shots (giving the defensive shot button new attacking characteristics.) The animations themselves were all motion captured and link into one another so you won't see the animation snapping evident in all previous cricket titles.
The bowling system has also had a major overhaul. In the original, the player would pick a pitch point for the ball before the bowler started his run-up. A marker would jiggle about maniacally and the resultant pitch point would in general be pretty random. Once the pitch point was selected, the user could go and make a cup of tea, as the bowler would run up and deliver the ball without any further control input required. Those days are long gone. As well as having all the various bowler types in-game, wides, no-balls, speed of delivery, movement off the pitch, and swing aftertouch are all being user controlled and very simple to use. The key was to allow the user to move the pitch marker around the pitch whilst the bowler was running up. This suddenly made bowling an interesting part of a cricket game. And when you add the 'special balls' into the equation (including surprise bouncers) and a whole host of animations where the batsman gets hit you suddenly have a whole new area of the gameplay to enjoy.
I should stress that the fundamentals of fun gameplay have been retained, but the game itself required a serious overhaul to move forward and has been completely re-designed from scratch.
Can you tell us about the new game engine?
Justin Forrest: Well, just about everything has changed in the game engine since the last rendition of Brian Lara Cricket. A few areas that are worthy of note are the number and fluidity of animations used in the game which has probably risen (in terms of numbers) from around 100 to around 850. Detail has obviously improved greatly and the poly throughput currently surpasses all competition by a large margin. There are also some areas that have radically improved, but produce subtle changes that add to the overall reality and nuances of the game (e.g. changes in the time of day, the dynamic way the pitch degrades over time through where feet land, and the manner in which the ball degrades over time both visually and technically, allowing for increased spin, reduced bounce, and extra swing at certain key points in the match.)
In the regular game what kind of modes and challenges will players get to play?
Justin Forrest: The first thing I should say here is that there are plenty of different modes and challenges in this game. Fully customisable One Day Internationals and Test Matches are obviously incorporated into the game, but for the lovers of a quick fix of smashing the ball around, the new 'Double Wicket' game has been added. This allows the users to select 2 players each, and play a game from 2 overs to 10 overs in length. The user also has the ability to select the penalty for when a batsman is out, which can be set to penalty runs if they wish. This is almost the complete opposite to a Test Match where the user can play the full 5 days in varied weather, pitch, and outfield conditions for the real sim experience.
Tournaments include the official ICC World Cup and ICC Champion's Trophy, World Tour, World XI Series (including teams like the Asian XI etc), and custom cups and leagues. The Challenges include Classic Matches, World XI Challenge (where you have to beat the World XI with all teams), and a special unlockable challenge that appears upon completion of the World XI Challenge.
There is also the facility to create your own player, set his basic abilities (e.g. specialist batsman, bowler, or all-rounder), set his skills, select his kit (all fully licensed real world kit), bat weight, specialist skills etc etc. Improving your Career Player involves scoring runs, taking wickets, taking catches and running people out, and reaching key milestones and breaking records.
All of this is supplemented with an in-depth Practice area and comprehensive 'unlock and reward' system. The 'Nets' section that allows you to practice with certain batsmen against certain bowlers and vice versa (e.g. practice with Andrew Flintoff against Brett Lee), whilst selecting the pitch type, weather conditions, ball type and age etc. Break records, hit key milestones and complete the various tournaments and challenges and unlock trophies, players, modes, and pictures from the history of cricket.
To what degree can you customise your field settings and how important is this tactically?
Justin Forrest: There are a multitude of preset fields that the user can choose from, so if you can't be bothered to move your fielders around, the presets are a perfect way to change tactics quickly and efficiently. The user also has the ability to place fielders in any legal position on the field to create custom field settings. This includes every field position you could think of, including some rarer fielding positions such as fly-slip and long-stop. Changing the field obviously has a big impact on the tactics of the game, and this applies to the way in which the AI works as well. If you are bowling with a new ball in a test match with a fast bowler, you may want to bowl to an offside field with 4 slips and a gully. This will obviously increase you chances of getting edges and taking wickets. The risk is that you bowl a poor line and the ball gets hit through the leg side for 4. This is one of the risk/reward systems that is integral to the sport and also plays a significant part of tactical gameplay in Brian Lara International Cricket.
How accurately do your virtual players reflect their real-life counterparts?
Justin Forrest: Each player has been accurately rated by Wisden to give them the trademark characteristics associated with their real life counterpart. This includes ratings for speed ranges, bowling arm, stock ball, special deliveries, fitness, ability to swing the ball, spin the ball etc etc. The same applies to the batsman, who is rated in defence, lofting the ball, offside play, leg side play, front foot shots, back foot shots, temperament, and so on. This also applies to fielding and team ratings. These factors are all used to re-create believable playing traits in each player and team for both human controlled and CPU controlled players.
Can you tell us a little more on BLC's historical mode, scenario challenges and classic teams?
Justin Forrest: The historical mode includes Classic Matches from some of the most exciting moments in the history of the game. A good example of this would be the first 'Ashes' test at the Oval in 1882. This was a match where England (including the great W.G. Grace) needed just 85 runs to win in the final innings. There was one Australian, the great 'Demon Bowler' Fred Spofforth who tore through the England batting line-up to secure victory for Australia. This led to the famous obituary notice being published in the 'Sporting Times' which read 'In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at the Oval on 29th August 1882, deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. R.I.P. N.B. - The body will be cremated, and the Ashes taken to Australia.' As a gameplayer, you will be taken back in cricketing history in an attempt to beat the Australians and change the result of the match. There are two challenges for every Classic Match scenario, which involve playing from either side. Each successful completion of a challenge results in a unique reward associated with that historical match.
Multiplayer has always been one of the series strengths, what multiplayer modes and challenges will this version of BLC bring to the party?
Justin Forrest: Multiplayer has been an area that has had a great deal of time devoted to it. Any mode can be played with a minimum of two players (even the Classic Matches) where both players play on the same team. 4 players can play any exhibition match and may be drawn against each other in pairs in the tournaments. Quickplay 'Double Wicket' one off matches and tournaments have also been designed specifically for multiplayer to allow for quick matches (minimum 2 overs) for up to 16 players. This is a really good addition to cricket multiplay as it allows many individuals to get involved in a vastly shorter version of cricket than in other cricket games.
Commentary is always important in sports games, how's it been working with Jonathan Agnew, David Gower and Ian Bishop? What do they bring to the party?
Justin Forrest: It's been fascinating dealing with these cricket personalities as they all have individual and incredibly knowledgeable views on cricket. The scripts were obviously discussed in great detail and the commentators added their own flavour by paraphrasing and re-writing certain areas to ensure that their own personality was stamped on the game. The scripts went down very well, and Jonathan Agnew commented that the questions and answers that were added to the commentary added a new coaching dimension to the game. Overall, the personalities involved in the commentary add a great deal of authenticity to the gaming experience, and from my perspective (as a cricket fan) meeting some of my boyhood heroes was a great experience. One of the perks of the job, I suppose.
Has the batman himself, Brian Lara had any involvement in this latest version?
Justin Forrest: It's difficult to involve someone like Brian Lara in the minutiae of the game when he is a professional sportsman, lives in the West Indies, is one of the greatest batsmen of his generation, and is also the captain of an International Cricket team. He's a very busy guy. He has given advice on the batting animations that are used, but it's his batting style that has been the most useful from a design perspective, with great effort being used to ensure that when Lara is batting in the game, certain trademark shots that define his batting style are seen or played. Other cricket professionals have also been involved in the game development, including MCC trained coaches, Wisden, and ex-England Internationals, who have all influenced and improved the realism of certain key areas of the game.
Is there much difference between the console versions?
Justin Forrest: All three versions are written on a unilateral basis, so share most traits between them equally. There are some minor differences between the PS2 and Xbox versions with the Xbox version using higher res textures. There are very few differences in the controls between the two console versions, with continuity between versions apart from where there are differences in the button placement for the console controllers.
Would you consider bringing the series into the handheld arena with PSP or DS? Imagine a DS touchscreen version!
Justin Forrest: All focus is currently on the PS2, XBox, and PC versions at the moment. We are currently discussing the possibility of moving to handheld, but this is certainly not the main focus at the moment.
Who's going to win the Ashes this summer?
Justin Forrest: Probably the trickiest question to answer of the lot. There is no doubt that England have the strongest test team that they've had for years, and must have a chance as a consequence. There are some real finds from the last series in South Africa that will give England fans a certain degree of confidence: Andrew Strauss, Matthew Hoggard, and Kevin Pieterson being three key performers. Three players producing is in my opinion not going to be enough, and for England to beat Australia it's going to mean that all the big players will have to perform as a team, and not let off for a moment. I still think that the Australian batting line-up have the edge in terms of experience and depth, but the relative strengths of the bowling will probably play a larger role.
When you have the experience of McGrath, the speed and controlled aggression of Gillespie, and the guile of Warne, you have a seriously potent bowling attack. Harmison, Hoggard, Flintoff, and Giles are going to have to be right on top of their game. If they are, it's going to be a mouth-watering contest.
In conclusion, if I'm being totally honest, my heart says England, my head says Australia. What is absolutely certain is that for the first time in a very long period, England actually have a chance of winning back the Ashes. It won't be easy, and it's going to take something really special, but there's a chance - and that's something we haven't had for years!
The original link is below:
Last edited by zifajee; 17-03-2005 at 10:21 PM.
Thanks for that.
GO THE BLACK CAPS!!!
Top read that. Can't wait for it to come out
i'm interested to see how the commentary works? the game sounds awesome but
I'm # 1, So Why Try Harder
wow normally i steer clear from sport games but this sounds pretty cool.
this indeed sounds VERY Good have to say very impressive
Ja sounds good
Also, I know that it is being developed, but it had Ricky Ponting with a Kookaburra Diablo....
and you can get Kookaburra etc bats for Cricket 2004.
But who will want to play cricket 2004 when this comes out?
"If seaguls live by the sea, why dont bagals live by the bay?"
who plays Cricket 2004 anyway tis a crap game
Used to be crap game. It's almost playable these days with all the patches that have been made. Certainly no thanks to EA though.Originally Posted by kwek
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