The "Tiger Woods PGA Tour" franchise has been one of the longest running franchises in EA's history and this year's game fulfills dreams the series has had since its inception.
In an exclusive interview with Examiner.com today, "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14" lead designer Mike DeVault took the time to talk about what gamers can expect from the latest installment in the franchise.
Licences have limited the franchise's involvement of certain players and courses that belong to the PGA Tour, but this year, all four majors and a handful of golfing legends have made the cut.
DeVault talked about their reaction when they found out they could implement such concepts, like this year's "Legends of the Majors" feature.
"It’s been on our wish list for a while now. We got all the major tournament licenses as well. As long it was all coming together, we thought let’s strike while the iron is hot," DeVault said.
He then continued by saying just because certain licenses haven't been available over previous years, doesn't mean they have been limited by what they could do in the game.
"As a designer, the licensing topics never feel like a limitation.
"Most of the limitation comes down to time, what you need and can get into the game. With that said, there’s not many limitations we face because of the talented team we have," DeVault said.
For any individual who has played the "Tiger Woods PGA Tour" franchise before, they know how important the courses are to the overall feel and experience of the game.
DeVault agreed by saying the courses have one of the biggest and most important roles in the game.
"I think they play a huge role in the game. It’s one of the primary factors that can change the most year to year. It keeps the game fresh for people. The environments can vary so much. Each year we try to include new courses.
"We have a lot of data that we collect, and we know which ones are the most popular. We definitely try to go back each year and pick which courses are most popular and have strong visual appeal.
"Augusta was the most popular one we’ve done. This year we have the 1934 version of Augusta as well. It’s the course as it was when it was first opened. We changed the physics, the clothing and the crowd to make it authentic for the time period," DeVault said.
Another new feature coming to this year's "Tiger Woods" is the inclusion of the LPGA and a handful of the game's top female golfers.
DeVault said one of the goals the franchise has been trying to accomplish is the inclusion of all people, and not just one demographic of consumers.
"Our goal with this game is to make it accessible to everyone. We want the game to be equally as fun for both males and females.
"We’re really excited to put the LPGA in the career mode. It’s a fun change of pace. This has been on the list and it felt right to do it this year.
"The game focuses more on tournaments this year. Knowing that we were going with tournaments as a feel throughout the game, we thought it was a good fit to have the LPGA Tour included.
"Annika Sorenstam has been in the game in years past, but she’s not in it this year," DeVault said.
Most people enjoy playing golf during the day, but many wonder what it would be like to experience the sport at night time, and with this year's game, gamers will have that opportunity.
DeVault described some of the differences people will be able to see when they play during the night, versus the daytime.
"When you play at night, you get the environmental differences, with the lighting and the full moon.
"You also get a glow in the dark golf ball. When you hit your shot, gamers can see the trajectory of your shot a lot more.
"The main reason everyone likes to play at night is it is something new. It’s mainly golfing under the moonlight. We also have the live time of day feature that cycles through the early morning, to the late afternoon, into nighttime," DeVault said.
So in other words, the location where players are at can have the weather be exactly set to how the conditions currently are at that course.
Anyone remember the Phoenix Open this year? It snowed there, and so had gamers been playing at that course during the time it was snowing, they would have experienced the exact same frosty conditions.
As any gaming developer will tell you, community feedback is crucial to a game's progress and advancement, and "Tiger Woods'" community is one of the most involved in gaming.
DeVault talked about the role their gaming community plays, and how one of the former members of the community was so helpful that he earned a full-time position with the "Tiger Woods" developing team.
"We definitely have a lot of ideas we carry year to year. Most of our ideas come from our community. The people that play the game are really active. We make a bunch of lists with the most popular features and ideas, then we choose the best ones.
"I can tell you that for this year, one of our gameplay designers has an entire notebook of feedback from the community that has what they want to see in the game. When you start to dig into the features of the game, fan feedback really helps push things one way or the other.
"Having those major tournament licenses in there, that’s something that comes from us.
"A lot of online tournaments and features come from our community, and so much so that one of our designers is a former community member, Justin Patel. He’s the guy who is still very active in the community as well," DeVault said.
As most of you may assume, having a game with the star of the sport's name as part of the title, means you get to take feedback from the person himself.
DeVault talked about the experiences he has had during the time he's worked with golfing pro Tiger Woods.
"Anything Tiger tells us, we document it heavily. Last year, we changed the swing mechanic around; when we spent a day with him.
"He gave us a lot of feedback for what to change.
"We work with all the golfers on their swing to make sure all of their swing styles are in the game. It’s like having Michael Jordan help you with your jump shot," DeVault said.
For those who did not know, the game's demo is out now and gives players a great preview of some of the gameplay people can expect.
"The demo touches on all of the major features we put in the game. The tournament presentation is shown off as well as the LPGA gameplay.
"It’s all in there.
"We’ve never had an online tournament be playable in the demo, so we’re excited about that," DeVault said.
To finish things up, DeVault described his biggest hopes for this year's game and what is the most important outcome for him.
"I just hope everyone really enjoys all of the new features we put in. For us as people who have designed the game and have spent the whole year working on it. At the end of the day, it’s about customer satisfaction," DeVault said.