MC2 – The Story – Soccer with at least 3 balls

Early March 2018… It was time for me to create a new mode. Brawl is cool and all, but I wanted to try my hand at a proper sport. And since I’ve been playing Rocket League more than I should recently… might as well go with Soccer (or as it’s properly called, Football, but I don’t want to get into that argument now!)

1. ART

So I began by creating an arena. For those who have played Rocket League extensively, you will know that it feels like the goals have some kind of “attraction” force when the ball is right on the edge of going in. It may very well not be the case that this force exists, but at least it feels like it does. I decided that I would have the opposite instead, without cheating physics. So I created a small slope in front of each goal that would naturally push the ball away from the goal. Well, my initial implementation of this idea was really bad. The slope was quite steep, so it was really difficult to score, it turns out. After quite a bit of playtesting I opted to lower the slope substantially, so it now has a very small angle. Here is the most recent design of the Soccer arena:

And here’s how it looks like in game:

Quick note: the colours on the ground are spot lights i put in the four semi-cardinal points (NE, NW, SW, SE).

OK, so the lower slope created an interesting dynamic, where the ball can linger near the goal for quite a long time, which leads to emotional situations. It seems OK for now, but the mode needs a lot more testing to confirm this.

2. DESIGN

MC2 supports 2, 3, and 4 players. For 2 and 4 it would be easy. I would simply have 2 teams. For 4 players I decided that the warm colours (Red and Yellow) would be the “Hot Team”, whereas the cold colours (Green and Blue) would be the “Cool Team”. But 3 players was complex… So I decided to try a crazy thing. I’m going to make one of the players be the ball, for a period of time. This player’s goal is to avoid being scored in either goal.

Quite a bit of testing went into the 3 player version of Soccer with my own kids. I’m not going to break the lid wide open on all of the design quirks for now, so you guys will have to try this mode yourselves!

Another thing that’s very important to me in design is the “quirk“. In simple terms, what does a game of mine do that others don’t? Well, it’s possible for players to throw themselves into either goal, just as if they were a ball too. However, I’ve made this relatively easy and cheap thing to do somewhat unrewarding. Scoring oneself into a goal is worth 1 point, and leads to a 5 second timeout, whereas scoring the ball is worth 3 points, and leads to a 2 second window where all players can throw themselves into either goal to score extra points. I’m curious to see this playtested more in future to see how people like this mechanic.

Here “ENCORE! +4” indicates that Yellow scored the ball for 3 point, plus himself (+1 point), for a total of 4.

3. CODE

There would be a lot to say here. I expected this mode to largely use the same concepts as Brawl, and to some extent this is true, however, all sorts of extra complications appeared. From the issue of the 3 player-ball hybrid, to the timer, to overtime as a concept, to displaying the scores and the time, to figuring out which goal the ball was hit into, or the player for that matter. I’m not going to go into details, because it would be information overload, however, what I will say is that this mode forced me to essentially rewrite my GameManager singleton. This now has a massive switch(gameType){} in it that allows me to manage how each mode behaves independently.

In short, making Soccer was a lot more work than I had originally anticipated, and it was a bit of a nightmare to QA as well, considering all of the possibilities and combinations! Hopefully it’s going to be fun though.

– Mike

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