TGC Retrospective : Greg Norman Course Designer and Hoodoo Hills Remastered by Dr. Yeti
Flashback- April 2014. While browsing the steam store, I came across a game that had just hit early access. “The Golf Club” a simulation style golf game, focused on replicating the feel of real golf, no power-ups, bonuses or stat progression. Just the type of golf game I was looking for. As I watched the video, I was immediately impressed.
“I’m going to get this once it comes out” I thought.
Then, the introductory video showed me something that has grabbed me and won’t let go. The course designer. Design, play and share your OWN design. YES! For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a game with a golf course designer that was easy to use. This was just what I wanted.
“I must buy this game NOW” I said to myself, as I typed my credit card info into the form. Early access or not, this is exciting. I want to design my own courses, based on the surroundings of where I live.
I immediately hoped into the designer and started messing around. In early access, the course design tools were simple, somewhat lacking some features and left a lot to be desired, but it was still a very powerful and flexible tool. Shaping terrain, modifying greens and bunkers, routing your holes; all of it was a few button pushes away. I was in love. While learning the tools I created a few courses in the early themes. The community loved them. It was fun, albeit a bit limited. After the first few courses I made were published, I could sense my creativity dwindling by the end of the third course. The “3 click” hole routing was limiting, and the initial themes lost their luster to me.
A few months into early access, HB Studios published it’s first big updates to the game. In the course designer specifically, they introduced the desert theme and a variety of new terrain brushes and tools. Once I saw what could be done with some of these brushes, I started experimenting with dramatic sculpting. Mountains, valleys, hoodoos… The desert theme was what I needed, to design courses similar to where I live.
Using these newly acquired tools and the desert theme, I made and originally published Hoodoo Hills GC in early access v0.9. I was quite pleased with how it turned out and it was well received by the community at the time, but little did I know that these first rounds of updates to the GNCD were only the beginning.
The next big update HB released included the links theme, and the most important update to the designer in my opinion. Surfaces… This immediately provided unlimited options for your hole routing, no longer were we constrained to the “3 waypoints”, or at the mercy of using the “red brush” to do hole routing. At this point I almost wished I hadn’t released Hoodoo Hills GC, it immediately became “obsolete” in my mind. It needed work, and it needed to be redone.
I determined right away that I needed to go back, and redo Hoodoo Hills. When I started remastering Hoodoo Hills, it was a slow process as I was working on other projects and trying to master my skills with surfaces, sculpting and sight lines before fully investing back into Hoodoo. The original Hoodoo Hills was where I learned my terrain sculpting skills, but Mount Yeti Royal was the course where I learned the surfacing tools on. Later on, The Happy Yeti Golf Resort was all about learning and mastering planting. As these courses came out, I continued to refine Hoodoo Hills, my baby.
Hoodoo Hills Remastered was almost ready to be re-released, I had a few more passes to make and I was ready to publish. HB then teased an upcoming update. Cart paths, fences, additional objects in the GNCD, global plants, new backdrops and weather options… I had to implement these into my baby. So, back to the GNCD I went. Adding cart paths, fences and having full control over the surfaces was such a game changer. These really brought a realistic feel to a completely unrealistic golf setting.
A few passes later, and Hoodoo Hills Remastered was ready. It had evolved alongside the Greg Norman Course Designer, as the GNCD updated its toolset, Hoodoo Hills would receive the benefits in some way.
The differences between the original and the remastered were staggering. First, note how clean and crisp many of the edges and lines are in “Remastered” vs. the original. Cliffs and rocks look much sharper thanks to the new terrain brushes that were added. The fences and cart paths add a feeling of depth and draws players further down the hole. The terrain is so much smoother and the green sculpting is much more refined.
The strip of unresolvable “rough” from the tee box to the fairways are gone. I no longer had to ‘cover up’ problem areas with rocks or shrubs. The new plants and shrubs from the global catalog look amazing in the lighting, and the new “weather” settings allow for some truly mesmerizing visual effects. Basically, most of the limitations in the “early access” designer have been resolved, and new tools have been added that surprised even me.
OK, it’s ready. Publish…
Wait! I should probably add a lighthouse somewhere… OK, now it’s ready.
I’ve logged nearly 1,500 hours in this game, 1,000 of which have probably been spent in the designer. Almost 2 years after my initial purchase, nothing is more satisfying to me than designing something fun to play in the GNCD. The designer has come a long way since the beginning, it has evolved so much that it is hard to believe what we were able to do back then, and what we are able to make now.
Thanks HB! Keep on updating, and I’ll keep on designing!