Jon Hare on all things Sociable Soccer

Posted by Av Kandola on

In the early 90's the competition between the Kick Off and Sensible Soccer series was huge, with both offering fast, fun and addictive gameplay in both single player and local multiplayer. The games played fantastically and concentrated on the most important thing, fun gameplay with realistic gameplay.

Staff at Games Connection still enjoy a lunch time kick about on the SNES and Amiga versions of Sensible Soccer and have even started up a league table. As with most retro and football gaming fans we have dreamt of Sensible Soccer and Kick Off remakes or sequels for many years but never expected it.

So it was a great surprise when the spiritual successor to Sensible Soccer was announced by the legendary Jon Hare, who is one of the original founders and directors of one of the biggest software houses in the late 80's and 90's, Sensible Software. Sociable Soccer was announced in November 2015 for PC, Xbox One & PS4. 

'Sociable Soccer will bring fast paced, arcade style football games up to date with endless friendly matches, over 30 single player trophies to win, DIY competitions for up to 8 player controlled teams on a single machine, an online multiplayer mode, personalised player avatars and clan based online leagues'

We managed to track down the extremely busy Jon Hare and asked him a few questions on this much anticipated game.

 

Q. Why has it taken so long for a new Sensible Soccer successor to be announced?

A. Codemasters have owned Sensible Soccer since 1999 when myself and my business partner Chris Yates sold Sensible Software to them. For the last 5 years I have mostly been involved in making mobile games and smaller digitally downloadable games but I have always had my eye on producing a new football game, 2 months ago I met the perfect team to deliver this with and shortly after that Sociable Soccer was born.

Q. How is the Kickstarter campaign going?

A. Actually we have just closed our kickstarter, even though it had the most backers of any live video game campaign at the time. We have had such good publisher interest in the game that we feel our interest is best focussed in this direction. However we are really happy with all of the support that the kickstarter community has given to the game over the last couple of weeks.

Q. We were excited here at Games Connection when the announcement was first made, what kind of response have you had from fans and media?

A. Both have been amazingly positive. Fans are keen to see the new game and we have had over 30,000 news pieces about the game in 13 languages all over Europe.

Q. It's been over 20 years since the original Sensible Soccer launched and the football genre has since evolved, how will you cope with this in developing Sociable Soccer?  

A. The secret of a football game is in it’s playability, style and attention to detail, we have already started to capture some of this in the early versions of the game kicking around the development office.

We are trying to angle it in a different way to FIFA and PES. Our focus is on a whole host of single player and local multiplayer tournaments that Sensible Soccer players will be familiar with and a rather more modern online multiplayer mode that uses natural clans of football fans from all over the World to compete against each other in club, national and fantasy leagues.

Q. What audience will Sociable Soccer be aimed at?

A. It is aimed at several different audiences sports game fans, arcade gaming fans, retro gaming fans, e-sports fans, quite a broad demographic of players

Q. How many of the original Sensible Soccer developers are working on this title?

A. Currently only me, the rest of the core team are an amazing set of guys from Finland, who have worked at companies like Remedy, Digital Chocolate, Mountain Sheep and Next Games, check out their collective back catalogue if you don’t recognize some of the names. We will also be growing the team out with a whole lot of other people as development continues, so there may be room for some old Sensible guys yet. We are also in touch with several Sensible Soccer world champions who will be helping us out with the testing of the game, just to ensure that the magic is definitely in place.

Q. What new features are you working on for this title?

A. There will be approximately 400 club teams and 200 national teams, 30 preset competitions such as English League, Spanish Cup, Asian Nations Cup etc and ability to play friendlies and make your own DIY Cups and leagues for up to 24 teams, all of these game modes will be playable in single player and local multiplayer format. New features include each player having his own profile that allies him to the club of his choice, the country of his choice and a fantasy team, (these are a bit like Custom Teams from Sensible Soccer). Each player will also model a 3D player avatar in his own likeness. In Online muitiplayer mode you can play with your club, country or fantasy team in a series of ladder leagues against the fans of other clubs and counties, the leagues will feature a number of divisions and  weekly promotion and relegation so competition will be fierce.

Your player avatar will always feature in your fantasy team alongside the avatars of other members of the same clan. If you play well with your club then your player avatar will also be called up to play for your club alongside the pros. If your player avatar does well for your club then he may also get the call up for the national squad. So the game has tons of game modes

Q. Will Sociable Soccer offer the instant pick up and play, fast and fun gameplay like its predecessors?

A. Absolutely, it is already playing very well and it will only be getting better... we are going to offer a variety of cameras and control sets to make the game accessible to fans of other football games, but not at the expense of the overhead view and single button control that will be predominant throughout the games creation.

Q. Do you play FIFA or PES?, if so what do you make of the current football games? 

A. FIFA and PES are both good games, but they are only going in one direction, which is to become more and more TV realistic. This predictability and sameness leaves a great big gap open for a new football game like Sociable Soccer to fill. We will be focussing on arcade style super quick play, a light-hearted humorous feel, lots of international teams and competitions, play on your own, together with your friends or online, gameplay for the sports connoisseur, for the obsessive football fans who want to see their play avatar become a legend for their club and for non-sports fans who are attracted by the fast paced action and fantasy leagues. In short we see that modern football games either take themselves too seriously, or are too cartoony, we hope to strike a happy medium.  

 

 


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