Welcome to the first in our series of developer blogs, where each month our developers will give insight into the game design of Tennis Clash, sneak peeks at future features, and retroactive discussion on other aspects of the game. This month, we’re taking a look at the introduction of Omar and the Dubai court!
How did the initial concept for Omar and Dubai come about? Was the plan always to release a character and a new court at the same time?
Originally the concept for them started out as part of the roadmap for all of the possible characters and arenas we could have in the long term. That was back when we were in Alpha.
One of the key aspects of Tennis Clash is that we are always striving for diversity in gender and ethnicity. Having a broad range of characters coming from assorted countries and backgrounds was a good place to start. Also, we focused on places where we understand that Tennis, as a sport, is strong and has iconic locations that we can use to reinforce the themes of a court. But given our release plan, Omar and Dubai were pushed for a later release.
And yes! Tennis Clash’s strategy is to always match a character with an arena whenever possible.
Was there any inspiration used in the creation of Omar and Dubai?
Great question! There were two phases that we went through in their creation.
Both of them were initially focused on the visual splendor of Dubai. When we got to finally work on them in terms of production we figured out that the initial designs were not aligned with the TC’s current Art Direction and visual appeal, so we decided to update the concepts.
Apart from his name (which was Mohammed), Omar didn’t change that much. We made sure that his art style matched the other characters and his clothes were adapted for a more believable sports feeling.
We developed his personality much further though. He’s an introverted genius, always thinking about tactics, calculating the ball trajectory, the angle of his racket, etc. A master strategist and a perfectionist. It’s not necessarily about the competition, his goal is to be able to perfectly execute his moves and reactions, just the way he imagined prior to the match.
Dubai was much more focused on the wealthy and the traditional aspects of the city. Then, for the release version, we decided to shift that a little bit and put much more emphasis on the modern side of Dubai. So the main concept behind Dubai is that of the stadium as a grand beautiful oasis. A place where you can look forward to being in, a true jewel in the middle of the desert. The inspiration was mostly based on their modern architecture and rounded shapes that resemble sand dunes, palm trees, and water in order to give them a very organic feeling of the environment all around the city of Dubai.
Dubai has lots of small details that really bring the arena to life. Was this the most ambitious arena to create and were there any obstacles that had to be overcome?
From the Artistic conception side, it was definitely one of the most demanding, with the Halloween Arena still the most challenging one to conceive.
Not only did we have a strong theme on our hands but we strived to push the graphical capabilities of the engine and shaders in order to create a beautiful, organic, and believable place given the ponds, golden details, reflections, etc. Another important aspect to point out was that it performs quite well given the complex shaders needed to achieve things like believable water.
From a player experience standpoint, we carefully choose each element/prop/asset, how it’s positioned, and how it looks to provide not only the optimum gameplay experience but also provide an inspiring view for the player when not actively playing the game, such as celebration shots, home screen, tour selection, etc.
Can you talk about how many people and departments are involved with creating new characters and tours, and if there were any logistical challenges involved due to remote work?
More than 14 professionals from different disciplines are directly involved in the creation of a new arena and a new character. The product department is responsible for defining the feature’s needs; the art department interprets the definitions and creates the visuals; the engineering department is responsible for integrating the content and making it work in the game, and QA is responsible for testing.
The art department is the one that has the most people involved; artists from different disciplines are involved in the process, such as concept artists, character artists, riggers, animators, environment artists, visual and motion designers.
To keep the production of the Dubai arena on track with the team working remotely we had daily meetings where each person updates on the progress of their tasks, plus a weekly sync meeting where we discussed the feature’s progression in detail.
Can you talk more about the reasoning to create a new tour and a new character?
The idea of bringing Omar and Dubai to Tennis Clash was driven by three factors: expand TC’s set of courts and characters, introduce new content for our players, and improve the matchmaking in the middle game.
In the product team, we saw an opportunity to expand our set of courts and characters, therefore creating a more diverse and inclusive gameplay environment. There are few things more iconic than Dubai itself with all its riches and glamour, and our newest middle-eastern character. We also understood there was another opportunity to release new content and keep the game fresh and new not only for advanced players but also all players that will unlock Dubai during their lifetime in the game.
The final reason refers to matchmaking. The addition of Omar and Dubai enabled us to rearrange the trophy distribution of lower tours which helped with the matchmaking in the mid-game, especially from tour 5 to tour 7. Therefore, the creation of Omar and Dubai seemed obvious and necessary so we keep the game engaging and fun for all players.
How have you found the reception to Omar? Did we have anything else along with the launch?
Omar’s reception was great! We had an exclusive offer during the launch in which the character was unlocked at level 5 with an exclusive skin, which was something we had never seen before in Tennis. The player’s reception was very nice and we observed each day more and more people playing with Omar.
Finally, we also launched the Arabic language with the launch of the new tour and character, which enabled Arabic speakers to have their game in their native language – another way for Tennis to be more inclusive!
What new things can we expect to see in the game in the future?
Well, that is a very exciting question! I can’t say much so I won’t spoil what’s next to come, however, I can say that we want to deepen the social aspect of the game, so players can have a lot of fun with their friends, make new ones, and become experts when it comes to gameplay.
On that note, stay tuned to our social media channels and in-game communication channels to be updated with the latest news and enjoy all the content we have planned for you!