Today I’m immensely happy to announce that Dino Dini’s Kick Off Revival, a brand new instalment of my classic football simulation series is coming exclusively to PS4 and PS Vita in 2016.
For those of you who might not recognise me, allow me to introduce myself. I was a geek from a young child, and happened to be just the right age when home computers became a thing. I taught myself to program, and wanted to make games like those in the arcades.
I sold my first game when I was 14 or so, in 1980. In 1988 I started work on Kick Off on Amiga and ST home computers. After release, they reached the top of the charts and won at industry awards such as the 1990 Golden Joytsick “16 bit Game of the Year”. It was banned from the magazine offices because people were playing it too much!
However, the industry started to become unfriendly towards small developers and individuals like me during the 1990’s, and so I went into the industry in other ways, working with companies in the US, the UK and Italy. Eventually, I went in to teaching game development which is what I have been doing for the past eight years in the Netherlands.
I never really stopped wanting to continue the story. I watched as some competitors with big budgets and licenses took over the market, and I was sad because they forgot the lessons I had taught them.
As one person, I had managed to beat large companies in sales figures without having licenses and gigantic budgets. I did this by focusing on what is the most important part of games: gameplay, and I am very good at that.
I was not the only one who could do this – there were many others – but the industry focused on graphical realism and high production values. The indie spirit has no place in that world: big budgets and their associated risks can become ruthless masters that wreck many a good game design concept.
Recently indie game development has made a comeback. Perhaps one of the most important things about the story of Minecraft and Notch is that the industry can no longer pretend that huge budgets, big teams and massive marketing budgets really mean very much at all. How can we think that with a straight face, when a bedroom programmer created something with zero budget that eventually sold for over three billion dollars?
As I saw that the industry was beginning to change and embrace the indie spirit again, I knew I had to try one more time. Talent is being valued once again and this is a wonderful thing.
The revival started when Shahid Ahmad, Director of Strategic Content at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, took an interest in my story and, to my pleasant surprise, offered to send me a PS Vita development kit. At first the challenge was finding the time to work on a prototype in my spare time. Eventually I was able to show a demo, and Sony offered to help me get the game made. Now I am working on it full time.
So, what can you expect from the new Kick Off? The important things will not change. The ball is not stuck to your feet; you can shoot the way you want; aiming and swerving the ball will be 100% under your control.
The game is going to be in 3D, but only because it is actually easier to make games like that these days. I may offer different camera views, but the default views will be the classic top down approach of Kick Off 2 and GOAL!, perhaps with small adjustments.
The spirit will be that of the old games, but designed with the modern hardware in mind. This is particularly true of the controllers. 25 years ago home computers used an eight-direction joystick with one button. These were digital, not analogue. You could only aim in eight directions. The new game will make full use of the analogue controls, and the gameplay is tuned to work with these. The effect is that the feel and the spirit of the original game is retained, but the possibilities for precision and skill are vastly improved.
If you like to know more about the development of the game you can follow me on Twitter @dndn1011.