Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Work in Progress – Season Mode.

When Canadian Football 2017 was launched, it included a lone play mode. While a great many people wondered why someone would release a sports title with no season mode, the reason came down to something very simple – resources. Building even the most basic season mode can take many weeks and given the resources available for this title, the decision was made to add some features after launch.
While there have already been a couple of features added to game via updates, the first scheduled post launch feature to be added to the game is Season Mode.

Season Mode should not be confused with Franchise Mode. Season Mode allows you to select from one of the existing teams, play that team through the schedule, and advance through the playoffs. It’s possible to review team and player statistics but there’s no draft, there’s no salary cap, or trades. And unlike Franchise Mode that retains stats over many seasons, Season Mode resets all stats at the beginning of a new season.

At the time of this writing, Season Mode in Canadian Football 2017 has been in full development for only a few days but already it’s possible to access a league schedule, select and play league games, accumulate team and player statistics, and generate division ratings.

For the sake of development quarters are only 3 minutes long and games are set to start in the 4th quarter. The purpose to simply generate stats and results to gain access to and make sure the spreadsheets are loading data. The artwork is not final and what you see here is intended to allow for the coding of the backend systems. Front end graphics will come later in the process.

There is no announced date for when this new feature will be included in an update, but we’ll obviously keep you posted on that one.
WORK IN PROGRESS – This screen shot shows the Season Mode landing page. From here you have access to  the league schedule and you are able to view the standings in 2 divisions. You can also change league settings until the first game is played. You would need to reset your league if you wish to change settings.

WORK IN PROGRESS – This is the team statistics page. At this point in the league schedule, only two games have been played (so only 4 teams have statistics).


WORK IN PROGRESS – This is the player statistics page. You have access to Passing, Rushing, Receiving, Defense, and kicking categories.

Thank you

Modifying Files.

Hi everyone.

Over the past several days we’ve had a few people reach out to us asking for help modifying game files. While we’re glad that people are having fun with the game, we cannot help you modify it.

While some files are open source, they are for your own personal use and you edit them at your own risks. Making changes to these files is unsupported by Canuck and we do not endorse or encourage anyone to use 3rd party trademarks. We certainly cannot help you make those changes. Not only would that put us in a bad position, but we also need to focus on improving the game and adding new features.

We would also ask that you not send us screen shots of the game that show non-shipping content.

Thanks for your understanding.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Canadian Football 2017 –

Canadian Football 2017 –
Content Update Summary

Issues Address

A number of items brought up post launch have been address in this content update. Some items are platform specific and are as noted.
The game's passing was generally considered to difficult and we've addressed that by;

  • Simplifying the algorithm used to determine a catch. A receiver’s odds to catch a pass is now based purely on a user configurable slider. This slider can be found on the Game Settings screen.

  • Reworking the passing button system.
  1. (All Platforms) Improved on screen instruction. Although the game has always provided multiple help screens prior to entering the active game play, players required the ability to go back and look at those instructions. We’ve added these screens to the game’s updated pause screen.
  2. (All Platforms) We’ve also added more on-screen instructions during game play to help guide the player through the process of kicking and passing.
  3. (All Platforms) Pause Screen. Players were exploiting the pause screen. This has been addressed.
  4. (All Platforms) Pause Screen. Added the ability to pause the game without needing to press the XBox Home button and bring up the HUD.
  5. (All Platforms) Fixed an issue with not being able to cycle through defenders on kick returns.
  6. (All Platforms) Fixed a crash bug if the player pressed a button on the controller during a pass that was not assigned to a receiver.
  7. (All Platforms) Fixed an issue where, given specific ball placement on the field prior to the start of a play, certain players could get ‘stuck’ while moving past the goal post.
  8. (All Platforms) On-field players no longer to continue to process the previous play’s animations coming out of their huddle.
  9. (All Platforms) Fixed an issue that saw, under very specific conditions, the wrong team kicking off to start the second half of the game.
  10. (XBox One) Fixed an issue with the engagement screen that would sometimes cause the controller used to engage to not be the controller with control.
  11. (XBox One) Fixed an issue with the Play Selection screen not picking up on a change in controller if the user paused the game while on that screen, then changed controllers via disconnection of one, and reconnection of another. The controller would change for the player, but the screen was still listening to the old controller.
  12. (All Platforms) Fixed an issue with the Play Selection screen when pausing the game while selecting a kickoff play. While on the Kickoff Play Select screen it was possible to pause the game, exit pause, hit the (B) button and be allowed to select a standard offensive play.
  13. (XBox One) Fixed an occasional crash bug progressing from the engagement screen / main menu to the team select screen.
  14. (All Platforms) Player Settings are now bound to a specific title update. This will require a player to re-choose their novice player settings (by simply picking yes or no) after the update is applied, but it prevents the game from loading out of date data for that particular version of the title.
  15.  (All Platforms) Fixed an issue that would incorrectly start the quarter clock after a time out was called.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Past - The Present - The Future

It’s been a bit over a week now since the launch of Canuck Play’s first title, Canadian football 2017 for the XBox and PC Desktop. Like any other game, or movie, or TV show, there have been both positive and negative reviews. We get daily tweets, emails, and Facebook posts telling us, not only how much fun people are having with the game, but also how they’d like to see it improved going forward. We listen to all of it so please keep that feedback coming. We evaluate everything and try to address the suggestions that we can.

The Past

During its development and especially this past month, Canuck Play, and this project in particular, has had a great deal of media exposure. Radio and TV interviews from coast to coast and from outside the country, as well as local and national newspapers, have given us a shout out. Thanks again to all those that took the time to speak with us, and everyone that listened in or read the stories.

The 2 most common questions asked have been;
  1. What was the impetus for doing a project like this? This is probably a story for another day.
  2. Why is there no professional license attached? This is something I’d like to speak about here.
Let’s jump inside a blue Police box and go back in time to April of 2016. That’s when, after several weeks of trying, we had an opportunity to sit down and try to present our plan and ideas for bringing a licensed Canadian football title to market. Part (but not all) of our proposal included;
  1. Microsoft as a publishing partner covering costs of most hardware and software. This included XBox development kits (which are themselves worth a few thousand dollars) and the same publishing agreement as large game studios.
  2. We had the Peterborough Innovation Cluster providing us office space and administrative services – free of charge. They are also specialist in funding services.
  3. We had a proposed development budget that comprised of $500,000 private funding which was to be combined with various dollar matching* digital start up grants such as the Bell Digital Media Fund, OMDC, and other job creation grants. There were also tax incentives such as SHRED available. Tax incentives come later in the project but are still accounted for on the budget. This meant the total proposed development budget was pushing up towards the $1 million mark.
  4. We also had a playable prototype – the same prototype that was used as part of the pitch to Microsoft. So we were more than just people with an idea, we had something to show.
  5. People extremely passionate and knowledgeable about sport.
*A dollar matching grant means that, for every $1 you wish to receive, you need to already have that $1 in the bank. Some of these grants are stackable - you can use money from one grant to dollar match towards a second. But all have minimum amounts you can apply for.

In summary, our proposal was backed by two solid partners covering major portions of expense and a budget that was in-line with expected returns for a Canadian football video game. It’s important to keep in mind that a Canadian football video game, licensed or not, is not going to generate a million in sales. It’s just not. It’s a smaller sport only played inside a small market country. Even a fully licensed title, at best, is a break even opportunity – at best. A small budget and a small team building it for the passion rather than the dollars, along with supportive partners, is really the only viable way to bring something of this kind to market.

What we discovered during our one brief face-to-face meeting was that our definition of what a Partnership could be did not line up with what other’s wanted a Partnership to be.

With that the project suffered a rather large set back. As an unlicense title the project lost about 95% of its private funding (only our own money was left in the pot). Without private funding, we no longer had access to the dollar matching grants. Compounding the loss of up front funding we were no longer able attract any additional sponsors. “Half time brought to you by XYZ!” was no longer something we could do.

Beyond monetary setbacks, the lack of a license also meant we ran into challenges attracting the attention of others in the Canadian football community such as the Player’s Union, Football Canada, Canadian Football Hall of Fame, or even the national broadcast partner. For whatever reasons, many never returned our calls or emails.

The end result of all this being the whole project fell to two people. The funding to create upwards of 6 new full time positions in the city simply went away. Here is where most sane people would have said “$&#@ it!” and walked away from the project. But my partner Sheryl and I are a bit crazy and thankfully, we were not quite on our own.

We still had the support of Microsoft and the Peterborough Innovation Cluster, and an opportunity that was never going to come again. No established game development studio in the country has ever shown, even the slightest, interest in a Canadian football game project. So if there were ever the chance, this was it, we could not waste the opportunity of having those two partners on side.

Sheryl and I went back to the drawing board and reworked what we thought we could do with just our own private money and 18 months to deliver. It meant facing a hard truth; it meant that this was no longer going to be a game with bleeding edge AAA visuals and 50 play modes playable on every game platform known to man. It became, at that point, the very definition of “An Indie Game Project”. It would be a game with what we termed ‘functional visuals’, one play mode, and a goal to lay ground work. If an aspect of the project couldn’t be done in-house by us, it had to be set aside for later. If adding a feature meant time away from the core, that feature would be set aside for later. Start small, start basic, and start to grow.

The majority of our personal funding went towards a motion capture system to allow us to bring animation into the title - the game currently has around 200 unique animations. The rest was used to cover basic expenses through development.

The Present

Scoot forward in time 18 months and Canadian football 2017 releases on two platforms. Everyone, especially us here at Canuck Play, acknowledges the game had some bumps coming out of the box. It’s the sort of thing that happens when you have a small team missing critical partners. I am however happy to say that the vast majority of those bumps have been ironed out. Since the game’s release we’ve already reworked the passing mechanics based on player feedback as well as addressed other items that were discovered post release. With these updates the player feedback on our Facebook page has been overwhelmingly positive. When a commenter writes “Everything they’re doing is perfect.” we try not to argue that point.

Updating and improving the title will continue to be an ongoing process. The plan for this title, at least since April 2016, has been to release a foundation and iterate. And iterate. And iterate. While large studios work on a yearly cycle, we’re currently planning on a monthly iteration cycle.

The Future

There is good news. With the revenue generated from just the first week of sales, we have been able to reinvest funds back into the title and I’m happy to say we have hired a very talented 3D modelling agency to work with us - something we had lost the ablity to do earlier. Our first task is to bring the game’s various on-field player models from 1st generation visuals to Next Generation visuals. We will be replacing the existing 2 variations of player model with between 6 and 8 variations, each unique to their position, with the aim to be 1st in class and compare directly to any player model visual produced by any studio – any – studio. This contract has just been signed and work just started, so we’re a few months away from them making their debut, but it’s important that you to know what is coming down the pipe because it’s your support that is allowing us to do it.

Along with new visuals, we will be investigating new features. We have been approached by an eSports company with the idea of adding an eSports tournament mode to the game. And given the great fun everyone had during the title’s Launch Event tournament, this is something we’re looking into. We’re also looking at adding a basic season mode.
And there’s more good news. I’m also happy to announce today that Microsoft has approved our proposal for Canadian Football 2018 – tentatively scheduled for the June/July 2018 period. 

The Razor for 2018 is ‘Full Customization on All Platforms’. While this is technically a fairly trivial thing to do, there are legal questions around what can and cannot be done. Canuck is subject to Canadian laws for ‘User Generated Content’ (UGC) which differ greatly from American law. Just because company XYZ in the US can do something, doesn’t mean we can. We’re currently working with a legal firm in Canada that specializes in video game law to determine what’s possible. Obviously we’ll keep you posted about that along the way.

Thank you again for your continue support of this project. 
David Winter 
President and Co-founder