fhoneill wrote:I agree. You can see in big budget sports titles now that the physics engine is one of the primary selling points right down to the fact that it is something that they highlight in previews as being one of the 'key features'. Very few games though have struck the right balance with the physics engine thus far which allows the game to have the realistic physics but also to feature gameplay that doesn't feel like the AI is cheating.
As for optical authenticity then it's easy to see the profound effect it has by looking at how well the EA Sports series of games sells. Never under estimate the power behind allowing the game to play something that feels 'authentic'. Opening the door to the community is a fantastic way of getting around the need for licenses etc and also allows the work of creating new content to be spread amongst many people as opposed to being on the shoulders of one developer. If I was to be critical of one aspect of Tennis Elbow I'd highlight the menus as being something that feels very dated. Absolutely nothing wrong with them but there are better ways to present the information which I'm sure we shall see in future.
Where I would disagree though is that things like 3D stadiums are not necessary. If you want authenticity and the full immersive experience then I believe you have to go to that level. They are not difficult to create but they do offer up a better feeling than the 3D player models on a 2D background experience. There is nothing wrong with the latter of course but I was merely talking about 'stepping up' in future.
One thing I have been impressed with in terms of presentation is the little cutscenes that Top Spin 4 introduced. They can be repetitive and some people may not like them but in terms of presentation they add that little touch of almost TV like quality to the game. Of course they are no requirement to create a fantastic tennis game but a nice addition to improve the atmosphere and feel of the experience.
3D stadiums are not easy because they are memory hogs and a lot of work. In TE, they are simple and you have nearly the same feeling on every surface. For example in PES, a team of 6 developer (and they are pros) needed six month to create an authentic football stadium incl. crowd, lights, shadows etc. (which means 100k+ development cost as well) . It's impossible to realise this by one person for a tennis game, and much less for a modder who spend his leisure time for it.