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Free Realms Developer Blog

In Free Realms, players are free to do or be anything: Fight like a ninja, cook a tasty meal, raise a pet, battle goblins, set out on epic quests or connect with friends through a safe, social networking site. www.FreeRealms.com

Author: FreeRealms

Soccer Tricks and Moves

Posted by FreeRealms Monday September 28 2009 at 3:57PM
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Well, we’re just about in the final stretch here at Free Realms headquarters, polishing the final touches of the new Soccer Star job and arcade style mini game. It’s been both an insightful and genuinely fun experience contributing to the new game update. As is the case with creating any new game, soccer has gone through an iterative process that began to really take shape in the last couple months. The biggest challenge was creating accessible soccer gameplay using a mouse and keyboard! Typically this control mapping is found on an arcade or a console style controller which forced us to really focus on how to make Free Realms soccer just as intuitive and fun on a PC.

Thankfully we were able to identify a solid control scheme midway through the development process by gathering data from our in house Usability Lab testing. Watching the different groups of kids get hands on with the game gave us immediate feedback on how to make the soccer controls more user friendly. The A.I. (artificial intelligence) balance was achieved by viewing these play sessions as well.

Overall kids in the focus test groups had a blast playing as a Soccer Star once they got a grasp on the functionality, not to mention the punctuating particle effects really pushed the squash and stretch principals for a nice layer of novelty. This also has a suggestive nature to the Stephen Chow – Shaolin Soccer film; fans of that movie will be sure to get a kick out of Free Realms Soccer. I’ll never forget the nine to twelve age group who were yelling in sheer excitement every time they executed a goal or slide tackle! There was hardly a moment of silence throughout that particular session but, it was reassuring to see the fun factor was in fact present at that point in development.

As a designer coming over from the combat team, the soccer quest line was my first quest progression implementation for the over world. This presented many challenges as I had to learn how the flow and dependencies of the tools affected the many aspects of the core game. Whereas the framework in combat is very much self contained in a bubble or instance which doesn’t have an overlapping presence on Free Realms proper. This was one those sink or swim moments, but luckily my development teammates were always on hand to provide support during any moments of uncertainty.

I’m really looking forward to reading and seeing the reactions of players once soccer launches. I actually found myself getting a bit carried away while fixing a bug the other night. The game got so competitive and came down to the wire that I actually yelled at the opposing team “Ha! I Knocked you down and scored! What are you gonna about it, huh?” Enjoy…

Chris Molina
Game Designer
Free Realms
 

www.FreeRealms.com

SPORTING STYLE

Posted by FreeRealms Friday September 18 2009 at 6:26PM
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Keeping in shape can be hard when a majority of your time is spent working or going to school. Forget a work out buddy. Get a whole team! Well, at least that's what I did! Playing soccer with the SOE soccer team has made it really easy for me to keep in shape because I feel like people are relying on me to be there. Not only has it prepared me physically, but it prepared me mentally for the creation of the Soccer Star job that will be introduced in the upcoming Free Realms game update, Goal Time!

I'm sure you've heard quite a bit about the new job and its arcade-like soccer game. It's been an interesting project for me as a designer because it's the first job that is related to a sport. Lots of pressure, but I think it has turned out quite well. We've really tried to take all the aspects of soccer that make you feel like a team come to life.

As you progress through the quest line, I hope you feel like you're improving and getting challenged by the higher tier teams. I tried to play off the rivalry between teams and how much competition can drive that. There's a bit of a story throughout the quest line and I could go on and on about the lore behind the job, but I'd rather not spoil it! Hopefully, you will be able to play through it and tell me what the story is!

Now, I know what you really can't wait for is the awesome gear that will be available. What kind of soccer player would you be without your cleats? Oh, and don't forget your shin guards! Safety is key.

Throughout the quest line, you'll receive two full outfits. These outfits include a bandana, jersey, shorts, cleats, and shin guards. You can also buy gear from the market place, and merchants just outside the soccer field! On top of that, you can spend tickets in the vault to get gear. There are some really neat designs on the outfits with plenty of color options! So sport your jersey with pride.

When I'm picking gear, I'm always worried about the stats. Sometimes, I have to pick gear that isn't really my style just so that I have the best gear. In Free Realms soccer, you won't have to choose looks over stats or vice versa! All your stats will be on accessories and shards, including some super cool kick animations! This means that you can pick whatever appearance you like best without having to give up any awesome stats.

I bet you want to know what kind of stats you'll be able to get! Well, there are five stats in soccer: kick power, footwork, speed, toughness, and tackle power. Most of them are self explanatory, but footwork and speed can be a little confusing, so I thought I'd give you a little heads up. Footwork is your speed when you have the ball, and speed is your speed without the ball.

One more thing! Don't forget to dodge and charge up your kicks. Dodging will let you avoid getting tackled. Charging up your kicks will not only allow you to kick that soccer ball into the goal, it will also let you do some fancy kick animations.

With all that cleared up, I think you're ready for the kick off! Hopefully, you'll have more stamina than me. I'm always asking, "When's halftime?"
 

Margaret Krohn, Game Designer, Free Realms

GOAL TIME!

Posted by FreeRealms Friday September 11 2009 at 3:13PM
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I have a love hate relationship with the sport of soccer. When I was a child around age six I begged my parents to let me play soccer in the local league. When I received my jersey and shin guards I was incredibly excited. My team's name was the Mavericks and our colors were dark blue and gold. My coach assigned me to play goalie and I had been practicing hard. I knew that practice would pay off, so while I was riding in the car to my very first soccer game I had no doubt that this was going to be a day of personal glory. Sadly, I was wrong.

It was the end of the last quarter. The score was 0-0. The end of the game and my oranges and juice box were just moments away. Down the field ran this kid on the other team, tripping over the ball and generally looking clumsy. I knew he was no match for my goalie skills. I deftly stopped the ball when he took his shot. My team had only one minute to return the ball to the other end of the field and score.

I held the ball in my hands. I dropped the ball to kick it. I kicked the ball as hard as I possibly could. And instead of flying down the field towards the other team's goal it flew backwards... Over my head... Directly into my team's goal, he goal that I was meant to protect. I was baffled! Bewildered! And sad beyond words. The score was now 1-0, them. I stood there in shock and embarrassment. I had just handed the game over the other team.

The next week at practice the coach taught me how to throw the ball down the field instead of kicking it. That wasn't quite as much fun, so I decided to sign up for tee-ball instead. This ended my love for playing soccer in real life and began my new love of playing soccer in video games!

I've always loved soccer video games, so I was super excited when we decided to add soccer in Free Realms. The soccer field outside of Snowhill has been part of the game since far before launch, taunting me with prospect of slide tackles and super kicks. Now, all the soccer fans out there won’t have to wait much longer, they can soon jump right in and start a match, when our next update, GOAL TIME goes live!

We've added an all new job, the Soccer Star, complete with 20 levels of progression. In the quest line you will defeat rival teams with your superior skills. You can earn new gear that makes you a better player as you level up. You can enhance your kick power, speed and various other stats.

 

Charging your shots is definitely what sets apart the pro's from the amateurs. When you shoot the ball, hold down the spacebar and watch your kick meter charge. When it's full, shoot the ball and watch your awesome super kicks overwhelm the opponent's goalie. Soccer also features 3 players vs. 3 players lobbies. Join up and challenge your friends to a game for bragging rights and leaderboards.

Soccer is a really fun addition to Free Realms and I think it all soccer lovers out there will have a great time reaching their GOOOALLLLL!!!!! of being a level 20 Soccer Star.

Luke Sigmund
Systems Design Lead
Free Realms