Saturday, 1 July 2017

Canadian Football 17 & “The Waggle”

Fans of Canadian football know it well... ‘The Waggle’. It’s a rather generically used term to describe backfield motion towards the line of scrimmage before the snap of the ball. If all the offensive players are on the same page, the Quarterback snaps the ball just as receivers are hitting the line of scrimmage at full running stride.

Athletes arriving in Canada and playing the sport for the first time often claim this is one of the most difficult aspects to get used to. It’s unique to Canada’s game and takes a lot of practice to get right.

So how does this work in Canadian Football 2017? 

We’ve addressed this by having the additional step of requiring the player to put the offense in motion via a button press, and then having a second button press to snap the ball.
Once the offense has lined up in their initial formation positions, you would press the (B) button on the controller and start the players motion. As receivers get up towards the line of scrimmage, you then need to snap the ball with the (A) button. If you time it right, receivers are in full stride crossing the line of scrimmage. If you mistime it, one of the receivers will be over the neutral zone and off side.
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! --- That’s way too complicated! I keep getting called for going offside!

Yes, we understand. Novice players and those simply not used to the rule have given us feedback about this and we’ve added an option to enable ‘Snap On Waggle’.
While you the player still start the motion, enabling the ‘Snap On Waggle’ will put the snap of the ball into the hands of the computer. You can still manually snap the ball before that if you wish, but it’s not something you would have to do.

When you start your very first game of Canadian football 2017, you will be asked if you would like to play as a novice player, if you say yes, then the Snap On Waggle option is switched on, and the 20 second play clock is switched off. This allows you to play the game with slightly adjusted rules until you’re comfortable with 3 down football. These and other settings can be changed at any time prior to kick-off via the game settings screen.

The Waggle is a unique and challenging part of Canadian football and we think it will provide gamers with an new challenge. But we also understand there are new players out there that would rather not deal with that right from the start. Hopefully this solution will accommodate both sides.


Canadian Football 2017 and the PS4

Arguably the 2nd most common question Canuck Play is asked about the forthcoming Canadian football title, besides ‘Is there a license?’ is – ‘where’s the PS4 version?’ – or at least, some variation of that question. The answer to that is not all that complicated but given that it’s asked so often I thought it best to create a formal explanation of how we arrived where we are, and what we’re going to try for in the future.

This game project’s kickoff occurred in December of 2015 when a former co-worker suggested I contact Microsoft regarding a new program they established to help independent development studios get on the XBox One console. Sheryl Loucks, my partner in all things, and I put together and submitted a business plan shortly after. This plan included a pitch as to why a Canadian football game would be unique in the market, what our proposed budget would be (one that included a pro license and one without), and a prototype. The prototype was something I’d had kicking around for a while and wasn’t really doing anything with, but it existed and it was enough to pique Microsoft’s interest. Within about 30 days we’d signed a publishing agreement as well as a developer agreement which meant Microsoft covered the cost of development kits and software licensing (so they didn’t give us cash, but we didn’t have to spend any on those items either, so it worked out to be the same thing). 

It was also around this time that we became clients of the Peterborough Innovation cluster and they have been extremely helpful in covering additional costs such as a small amount of office space, and giving us access to various services.

When April 2016 rolled around and it was obvious there was no movement on the pro license we went back to Microsoft and explained that our budget had essentially been cut by about 99%. They seemed un-phased and agreed that Canuck would just have to take the long way and they were happy to continue to support the project.
So we were covered on the XBox One and we knew the PC was not going to be a problem, so that left only Sony and the PS4. We had reached out to Sony at roughly the same time as we started discussions with Microsoft, but it took until well into June 2016 before we had any replies to any of our enquiries. When we did get a reply their biggest concern was lack of budget and no license. After some back and forth we did eventually sign a publishing agreement in October of 2016. So yes, a really big step, but we’re not quite there yet.
Unfortunately Sony does not have an equivalent to the Independent Developer program. While there are many independent game studios creating content for the PS4, there was at the time (or even now as far as we know) no supportive program. So costs of development kits and any associated software licenses come out of our pocket. PS4 development hardware is very, very expensive. So we have an agreement in place, but it’s up to us to do everything else.

We also ran into a problem of time. There’s just never enough of it.

Every console game must conform to specific platform requirements. This is normally things like making sure the game has achievements and unlockables, any user profile management is dealt with properly and consistently, naming conventions are met (no PS4 button icons showing up on an XBox for example), and various other needs are taken care of. And because each platform uses a completely different way of doing these same things, you have to create a completely different code stream to deal with each platform. Unfortunately, given the late date we got the ball rolling with the Sony agreement, we just simply did not have enough physical time to build for both platforms. Not with the resources we were left with when our license dependent funding wasn’t there any longer.

So where does that leave things. Well, right now the plan is to get the XBox One and PC platforms out the door. They’re the priority. Once that’s done, and there’s some revenue coming in, we can go back and look at the PS4. At the absolute earliest we are looking at some time in the late fall for a PS4 edition, but even that is something that shouldn’t be taken as written in stone.

So the short form of this long answer is Yes, we absolutely agree that the game needs to be on as many platforms as possible. And we’re going to try and do that, it’s just going to take some work from us and support from you.