DEV DIARY - THE GOLF CLUB TOURS AND TOURNAMENTS
Development Diary: Jordan Ault, Game Designer
For The Golf Club, Tours and Tournament were features that came about more organically than you might think. They may seem like prerequisite for any golf game, but it wasn’t until well into the development cycle that they were solidified as key elements of the game. We knew that we wanted these features in the initial release, but we had two issues during planning. One: We were unsure how long it would take us to get the core of The Golf Club up and running. Solid gameplay, asynchronous online, and, of course, the course generator were at the top of our list to nail down first. Two: It wasn’t 100% obvious how Tour and Tournament modes would fit into a game built around User Generated Content (UGC). Traditionally these modes rely on licensed courses and real-world events; The Golf Club didn’t.
When passing the first hurdle we were fortunate that HB Studios was overflowing with talented, creative people. In no-time we were up and running with a solid game. We were building courses, playing rounds on them and—most importantly when working through our next task—we were playing online together.
Now that we had the key pillars of the game realized it was time to bring Tours and Tournaments into the picture, but we still had to figure out how they fit into the UGC ecosystem of The Golf Club. During our online play the sense of competition was strong, but not just for the gameplay; course designing was also a competitive space. Everybody wanted their course to be the one we played on, but playing single-course competitions meant that the creator of the course had a distinct advantage over the others. This is when we realized that our definition of a Tour; what it means to The Golf Club; was under our noses this whole time. We wanted our competitions to span multiple courses—multiple course designers—and the Tours feature is what would provide this for us.
Tours are The Golf Club’s version of a playlist. You can pick your favourite courses — whether they’re yours or from another designer — and order them into your own Tour. Once you’re happy with a Tour, you can name it and publish it to the server for all to play. Players can search for Tours, then play, rate and favourite them just like user-created courses. Each Tour keeps track of its own unique leaderboard listing with the best aggregate scores posted to it.
Tours were a great first step in quenching our thirst for competition. It probably would’ve been enough if it were only going to be us playing The Golf Club, but we realized something – once The Golf Club launches there will be many people other than us playing the game and posting scores to the Tours we create. We wanted to be able to continue our personal, discrete competitions; and of course others would want the same too. This problem meshed perfectly with the problem of solving how to design Tournaments for The Golf Club.
A Tournament is a fixed-duration, single-entry-per-person instance of a Tour. Pick the Tour you want the Tournament to take place within, choose duration, and whether it will be an Open, Friends Only or Invitational affair. Once the Tournament is published it is available for all eligible players to compete in. When the Tournament’s time-frame has expired all scores are aggregated onto that Tournament’s leaderboard—just like a Tour—but these scores are locked to the Tournament instance. Anybody viewing the leaderboard can sort by best aggregate score, or by points — earned by ranking well in each Event within the Tour.
Once we realized we had the capacity for Tours and Tournaments we were excited to design features that would fit the design pillars of The Golf Club. Now that we’re through that stage we’re eager to get them done and in the hands of our Beta testers. It’s all about sharing what you’ve built with others and interacting with that community.
A Culture of Community
In the centre of the studio — just above where The Golf Club team is situated — is a mezzanine with some seating, and a TV. From that TV beams The Golf Club, from open-to-close (and sometimes beyond). Usually you’ll see Anthony up there checking out the latest build, trying gameplay tweaks or cursing for having missed par thus ruining his chance of besting Jim’s seemingly-impossible score again but it’s really for everybody. HB Studios employs about 70 people with only small portion working on The Golf Club. That central space is a way that the rest of our colleagues can be more involved in The Golf Club on their own time. In the same way Tours and Tournaments are for players to be a part of The Golf Club’s competitive community on their own time. They are the mezzanine of The Golf Club.