Brian Lara / Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 - Interview with Codemasters
Cricket Web have conducted an interview with Codemasters asking their Web Editor and Liaison Manager a series of questions following the release of the game.
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BLIC & RPIC went to the top of charts in both England in Australia on the initial release of the game. Despite the fans around the cricketing online community feeling the game was a let down, what was the general feeling you got from the wider cricketing community?
The 2007 game was another huge success for us, and from the feedback I received from our mailbox, and from other forums, the wider community enjoyed the game.
Personally, I tested how the game was for the average fan quite simply, by seeing how my brother-in-law and his mates, all casual Xbox 360 gamers and part-time cricket supporters, viewed the game. And they really enjoyed the game and are still playing it over Live, after enjoying BLIC05 and BLC99 as well.
So while there were comments from the hardcore (and we continue to listen to all areas of our community to maintain good relations and assess game feedback), there has to be some perspective added from the wider gamer base looking for great, playable sports entertainment titles.
What was the most pleasing feature you think was included in the game? What stands BLIC/RPIC 2007 apart from the competition?
This year’s game was notable because it tied in well with the ICC Cricket World Cup and I think that helped make the game more legitimate to a new generation of fans. Being able to play as World Cup champions (or minnows, as I enjoy doing!) was a really rewarding idea that hopefully helped broaden out awareness of the competition.
And I think that ties in with the BLIC’s main asset – the accessibility of the game. A lot of people don’t like the term ‘pick up and play’, but it’s part of the strength of BLIC and has been since the series inception in 1995 and, given the positioning of competitive titles, it does appeal to the widest gamer base.
And that obviously leads on to the next question…
In regard to the AI that continues to be the biggest headache concerning fans of the game. What do you feel can be done to provide more of a “simulation” type experience rather than an “arcade” type style experience?
We’re always walking that fine line between ‘arcade’ and ‘simulation’ in my opinion – we get that in a lot of our games – Colin McRae DiRT for example has had blisteringly-good reviews but witness the official forum comments from those who measure against simulation and you’d think it had been savaged!
It’s always the way – make it too arcade-y and it rightly belittles the purists, make it too much like a simulation and we disenfranchise a whole raft of sports fans that just enjoy cricket for the fun of the sport. Accessibility has to be a key of the game, but that doesn’t mean we want it as easy as pie throughout the game’s difficulty levels, so we try and hone the gameplay so it doesn’t infuriate the hardcore.
The much talked about patch that never came – are you able to clear up the situation for everyone into the reason why it wasn’t released/considered? Many fans also felt the game was not 100% finished upon release, with bugs and features such as the Classic Matches from the 2005 version not being included. Was too much focus put on ensuring it was released around World Cup time?
First off, apologies again for the patch situation – it was frustrating for a lot of gamers and forum members and we tried our hardest to get an upgrade out there but it wasn’t to be. It was definitely considered and the company did quite a lot of work putting a patch through its paces.
In the end we simply ran out of time and resource to implement it successfully though, which was very disappointing, but it’s something we (Codemasters) have to accept and then move on to tell the fans and gamers honestly, and as soon as we can, that we can’t do one.
However, there were fixes that we had implemented in the preliminary patch that couldn’t be added as it would affect the AI in other ways.
Regarding the classic matches; they were never going to be included as the licensing surrounding them was an absolute nightmare. It would have been difficult at best, and suicidal at worst to include that mode given the minefield that is sportsperson image rights.
Do you think Codemasters would consider going down the Microsoft route of releasing public betas of games in the future, much like what was done with Halo?
Betas work best for large, roaming games such MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) such as World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, that type of thing (your example, Halo, also has a large playing area). Cricket on the other hand focuses on an area 22 yards by 10 foot
But more seriously, external beta testing tends to be for game environment rather than the AI, something Codemasters has traditionally preferred to keep in-house.
However, looking forward, we would be keen to add to our in-house cricket knowledge and have further input cricketing fans as part of the dev and testing teams, so they’ll know the precise differences in certain bowling methods, powerplays in ODIs, batting strategies.
Are there already plans for another version of BLIC? Is there likely to be a Wii version considered? Where do you see BLIC going for the next release?
We certainly have designs for a new version for release in the medium-term future – can’t say when at the moment but we’ll firm up a position later in the year I’d guess.
I’d hope it’ll move to Nintendo Wii – we’ve all seen the WiiWantCricket site and videos, for example – but I’m not involved in that decision so I can’t say yes or no (personally I think it’s just a pity Wii came to the fore a bit too late in the day for BLIC07 or we would have jumped at the chance to develop the game for it).
Furthermore I guess our cricket title would be moving fully to next generation though, and hopefully there’ll be a Playstation 3 version available alongside the PC and Xbox 360 games.
And finally, don’t forget that the PSP version of the game is coming out in the next couple of months, featuring a lot of new content and modes – if you fancy a game of cricket on the train, in the car or on the toilet, it’s perfect.
Thanks for the taking the time to talk to Cricket Web – we appreciate it
Cheers, and hopefully I’ll be able to let everyone know more on future releases of BLIC soon!