We R Football is our second first-person football game, but our first exclusively for mobile. Our previous football title, ‘I AM PLAYR’ was, at one point, the biggest Unity game on Facebook and was played by over 20 million users. I AM PLAYR seamlessly fused high quality video story telling with a 3D match engine made entirely within Unity and running in the webplayer.
With the change in gamer habits, we wanted to bring the action of I AM PLAYR to a mobile audience. We tested this out, releasing a companion mobile app for I AM PLAYR. This app featured training exercises which allowed players to earn rewards and fitness for the full web version of the game.
Finding Our Philosophy
We received a lot of feedback from the companion app. One of the most consistent topics that came up was that people wanted to play the full matchday on their mobile devices, which validated our desire to bring our style of football to mobile. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to bring a full mobile version of I AM PLAYR to mobile as the amount of video content within the game would place a huge challenge to player’s ability to play on the move and could consume a large amount of users mobile data. We wanted to bring a different footballing experience to mobile, instead of a literal interpretation of football. For the on pitch action side we decided on playing a sped up 90-minute match as we wanted 3 minutes of intensity and the ability to take hold of all of your players scoring chances rather than just being limited to one player
We decided that we wanted to make a game specifically for mobile consumption that used mobile devices as an advantage and not as a restriction. We needed to consider the differences in player behaviour between PC and mobile users. We decided that where I AM PLAYR was a linear story based game, We R Football needed to be a more perpetual experience as due to the nature of mobile gaming players would play more frequently, but in shorter sessions. We wanted We R Football to be a continuous experience that doesn’t end, and just like football is full of highs and lows. The chance for the player to be fully immersed into the playing side of football was important, whilst also experiencing swashbuckling promotions to the top of the ladder, glorious cups wins and even the chance of relegation was key to capture
A feature that we did want to stick with from I Am Playr was the art style. This similar look gave a familiar feel for players that migrated over to this release were used to. One of our main objectives was to enable the player to be able to create a team that they care about, and this can be done through customisation. A club can currently alter their name, kit, badge and even their player names as many times as they want. This is pretty a neat feature to have, as the more aspects that the user can personalise, the more in-tune they’ll feel with the team that they have built.
Another early choice that had to be made was about the multiplayer system. We wanted people to be able to play a match whenever they felt like it without having to wait ages for an opponent, but also didn’t want to cut-out the chance of never encountering a physical opponent that could affect the scoreline. So we created both! A single player can jump into a game whenever they wish to. The system takes a club in the same ladder or cup and pairs them up together. The owner of the opposing team is then notified of the result upon their next login. A Challenge match pits two squads against each other with the ability to have one user play the first leg, and the second takes control of the last leg of the tie – ultimately facing off with a “highest score wins” rule.
Along the way there were some real head-scratching decisions that required careful deliberation. We knew that it was significant to keep the app size as small as possible, but without compromising in quality. With the game first and foremost being a mobile release, all users know that device space is precious, so a hefty app size wouldn’t have been an ideal download. With us creating a second football venture, we had to work quite hard to ensure that any asset reuse from I Am Playr was fully enhanced, refined and optimized, while maintaining a minor compression rate that delivers a solid overall performance.
The team really wanted to add match replays as this is a big part of football. So, we entrusted the help of Unity’s Everyplay to bring this opportunity to players that wish to save their cracking goals and even commentate on their team’s performances, upload and share it. Having the replay option was important, so being able to write it in and for it to be reliable straight off the bat was great to see, and it’s certainly a positive function to have.
Match Chance System and Unity Integration
The Match Chance system could be considered as the most vital part of the game, as this is where the player makes the difference to their team’s fortunes. Bringing the whole of the action sequence of the Match Chances fully into Unity was something that we needed to migrate to quickly, and by using the Unity Editor as a tool chain this allowed us to edit the Match Chances speedily and get them in the game on a more frequent basis. Not only is Unity used for our development, but we also rely on it for editing and distribution through Unity Cloud Build, and monitoring many aspects of production with Unity Analytics. We R Football also has the help of Unity Ads for healing tired squad members. We really liked the Unity User Interface and we were already familiar with this previously, so it was an obvious choice to continue on with the Unity ecosystem when building this new release. Our investment in a productive tool chain within Unity has paid dividends as we can turn around a new scenario very quickly. If we see a great goal in Sunday's game we can have it live in our game within hours.
As for the gameplay, we wanted the player to feel that they not only get to pick and play as their captain, but the result is also in their hands by playing as all of the superstars that get a chance on goal. In a first-person view, with the ball at their feet, the most natural process felt like it had to be a kick experience with a swipe to the path of the goal, rather than a joy pad interaction with an on-screen display. The player can then concentrate on the goal, rather than a floating d-pad on-screen. With the swipe in full-swing, this allows them to do so much with such an effective mechanic. We effectively came across a system that allowed a 1-touch input that takes the velocity and curl along with the speed and accuracy of the swipe into account, acting as diagram of power and accuracy needed for the shot. When the game first soft-launched we had 100 Match Chances. Now, a huge library of up to 200 different scenarios are playable, with new Match Chances added each week based on real-life goals.
What does the future hold? Well, we’ve focused solely on mobile since release, but it would be fantastic to develop it onto additional platforms. Down the line we aiming to add a whole new level to the management side of the game. We are working to add injuries, substitutions, more tactics and further depth to the transfer market.