I was just thinking about some possible improvements to the sprites stroking techniques...(IF you are still open to suggestions, and they can still be implemented.) Please don't take offense, as you have already been doing and continue to do such an incredibly wonderful job with the game.
I think you may have mentioned once that you have somebody helping you out sometimes with the artwork. I was wondering if they are also "tennis players" because I notice some small things in technique that maybe could be touched up a bit. TTennisfan suggested that the forehand should be improved. I'm not sure what improvements he was alluding to because he didn't offer any suggestions, but since he brought it up, I have one or two that I've been thinking about....just sort of " fine tuning...
) Here goes:
1) On the forehand, at the precise moment when the racquet hand is coming forward to strike the ball, the wrist and racquet should be in a more laid-back position with more of the palm of the hand BEHIND the handle in a more semi-western grip for topspin. I've noticed in some of the other competitors games that most of them have addressed this issue. As it is now, when looking at YOUR forehand in slo-mo or freeze frame at this precise moment in the stroke the wrist is actually ON TOP of the handle/grip in a somewhat compromised position, more like a CONTINENTAL grip. Also in YOUR stroke, once the backswing is concluded and the forward part of the swing begins, the forearm and wrist move forward as ONE UNIT with this grip into the strike position, which doesn't realistically allow for any wrist flexibility ( which in real tennis is one of the primary factors in increasing racquet-head speed.) In reality, if you were to really strike the ball HARD this way, you would really tear up your wrist/forearm tendons
. John McEnroe is the ONLY pro player that I know of who still hits the ball with a continental grip (and compared to todays pros, he virtually pushes/shovels the ball with no pace.) Check out ANY of today's pros and up-coming juniors for that matter, men OR women, in the milliseconds before the racquet actually strikes the ball.
2) Today's modern forehand follow-through more often finishes AROUND THE BODY, not above the shoulder as a rule, moreso resembling a "windshield wiper" type of stroke, necessary for imparting extreme topspin...think Henin, Federer, Nadal (when he's not finishing above his head
.) This technique would seem to fit in precisely in TE because the vast majority of the strokes ARE topspin strikes, with the exception of the slice forehand...
3) The forehand backswing should be initiated with a more-or-less closed racquet face rather than open and STAY relatively closed throughout until just before ball contact...
4) I noticed also on the one-hand backhand in freeze frame that the palm of the hand is again ON TOP rather than BEHIND the handle in a more eastern grip which would be more conducive to hitting flat or heavily topped backhands...(again, the continental grip is necessary for the slice backhand, which is fine in the TE sprites sliced backhand stroke)
Listen Manu, I know and appreciate (as I'm quite sure others do) all of your constant tweaks, tunings and improvements in the game and while I remember that you already used some of my previous forehand suggestions, I'm really not trying to be a nuisance. Heck, actually DURING the swing at full speed these things are hardly noticeable (except for the follow through) but at least one other person noticed it.... perhaps others have also but were either hesitant/reluctant to mention it or either more concerned with the actual gameplay. (as I told you before, I'm more of a "technique" guy
At least I'm trying to offer more SPECIFIC, not general, but constructive criticisms/improvements...just to add a touch more realism to an already great game. I don't know how difficult it is to make these improvements/changes, as I'm surely no 3D expert, but as I said earlier, I'm wondering if they pertain more to the artwork than to the 3D engine itself..
P.s. I hope you're still considering, as you once said, about copying Federer's backhand from the videos that you have; that would be AWESOME!!! Regardless of what the pundits say, I STILL think it's one of the best one-handers on the tour (even if he struggles against Nadal with it....but then again, WHO DOESN'T?!