Sidhe's Rugby Challenge

Sidhe's Rugby Challenge

Rugby. If apple pie is the quintessential American icon, for us Kiwis there can be no other candidate than the much-loved winter sport. Our All Blacks are damn near indomitable at the game, typically winning every competition they enter - except for one. That particular competition, the World Cup, is coming around again and, for the first time since 1987 (coincidentally, the last time we won it), it’s being held right here in Aotearoa.

What’s also happening in New Zealand, for the very first time, is the development of a new Rugby game. You heard that right - not Rugby League, Rugby. Wellington’s Sidhe is taking the helm of a brand new Rugby game, developed in the same city as the mighty Lions and Hurricanes franchises are based.

Published by HES, Rugby Challenge (announced for “Consoles” and PC - no further detail is available, which gets us excited by the possibilities...) will be timed to release in conjunction with the World Cup itself, right about the time interest in playing a game based on the sport will be at its peak.

With NZGamer.com and Sidhe so close you could almost thrown a stone between the two, it’s only natural we jumped on an opportunity to have a chat to Mario and take a walk around the floor as the team studiously beaver away constructing the game.

Sidhe first starting working on the game in late 2009, which will result in an almost two year development phase by the time it comes out next year. Leveraging experiences earned developing the Rugby League franchise (all but Rugby League Live were developed at the Studio), Mario’s team have rebuilt lots of their tech and created new, Rugby-specific tech to handle the specific requirements of the code. In particular, animation technologies have been massively revamped in an attempt to dial the realism of all game motions up to 11.

Graphical technology too has been significantly reworked, with modern techniques (post effects, etc) leveraged to improve not only the visuals but to also improve the way in which the game is presented, with on-field guidance as to what is currently going on in the game. Sidhe’s visual direction is very much to draw players into the experience like never before - a difficult goal to be sure but the kind of stuff they’re talking about gives you confidence they may just achieve exactly that.


Mike Clephane hard at work on one of the detailed stadiums, this one in Nelson

While what we saw was very early (still pre-alpha), it’s quite clear that Sidhe intend to push the boundaries of what they’ve done before. It’s already shaping up very nicely, with beautifully modelled players and incredibly detailed stadia promising to lift the presentation of the sport. There are going to be “hundreds” of hand-modelled player likenesses too, rather than the handful (or less!) that other titles have provided in the past.

One of the most important inclusions, in my opinion, is online multiplayer. I’m not sure about you but I’ve longed to tackle some of my loud-mouthed friends from across the Tasman and prove once and for all that we’re not just the world champions at Rugby League (sorry, had to slip that in there) but that we can also take out the Green & Gold in Union, too. Oddly missing from all previous Rugby games, Sidhe’s title will finally enable players around the world to ruck & maul online. Exactly what modes will be on offer are, as you can imagine, still under wraps.

Some of the stuff he would talk about included full licenses for all the important down-under competitions, like the All Blacks, ITM and Super Rugby franchises. As much fun as non-licensed games can be, sports gamers generally prefer to have their favorite teams and players out of the box so it’s reassuring to see the teams and competitions we care about are there right out of the box. Without going into detail, Mario did mention that this isn’t the end of the license announcements - so if you’ve got your heart set on a team or competition that hasn’t been mentioned yet, don’t panic - there’s more to come.

Commentary is no easy thing to get right, which challenges around keeping it dynamic, on topic and not sounding like a robot being near the top of the list. Sidhe is stepping up their internal tech here, too, opting for multiple commentators rather than the standard (and much easier to implement) single talker seen in their Rugby League games. Who they are, though, is yet to be disclosed...

There’s a bunch of other stuff in the press release, like a franchise mode and extensive customization options. We didn’t get to see either of this in action although it’s fair to imagine they’ll leverage learning gleaned during production of similar modes in their earlier sports games. Mario also hinted that there’s more to discuss about the title, with more modes and features - some of which will surprise people when they’re announced.

As the game is still a while away from completion, there are still a lot of unknowns about the title. One of the questions we most want answered is exactly what Mario meant when he mentioned they’re looking to do some stuff that’s new to sports games in general, not just Rugby games. A bit of new thinking could be just the ticket - but what exactly could he be alluding to? Feel free to make some guesses in the comments, maybe we could rustle up a prize for the best one...

Disclaimer: I have previously been employed by Sidhe in the capacity of a producer, working on titles in the Rugby League franchise (amongst others). For that reason I’ll never be directly involved in any critical appraisal of a Sidhe title, as although I know I wouldn’t let it bias my opinion, I also know that you don’t know me as well as I know myself! I did, however, visit the studio and discuss this title with Mario as I believe that this sort of preview content is not any form of critical appraisal and is therefore not something for which any real bias could affect. Due to my previous experience working on oval-ball sports games, I’m also uniquely equipped to make assessments on how well the development is going. Your feedback on my involvement in this article is more than welcome - feel free to drop me a line on editor@nzgamer.com if you would like to discuss it.




 

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Comments Comments (17)

 
Ninja-15
Posted by Ninja-15
On Monday 15 Nov 2010 9:48 AM
2
I'll definitely be pre-ordering this game along with Rugby 2012.

Can't wait for some screenshots and more info about gameplay and licenses.

Hopefully they get Grant Nisbett for commentary.

I don't think the "Rugby Challenge" is a very good name as it reminds of that atrocious game "Rugby League Challenge" on PSP.
 
 
 
iTry
Posted by iTry
On Monday 15 Nov 2010 10:43 AM
1
If they want it to be a major success, they have to include maybe Australian equivalent of ITM cup - No one that's outside of NZ has never heard of the ITM cup or the teams.
 
 
 
iTry
Posted by iTry
On Monday 15 Nov 2010 10:44 AM
-
EDIT: Just read the other article on this, it says there'll be other teams and competitions - so ignore my previous comment.
 
 
 
Posted by Gazza22
On Monday 15 Nov 2010 7:35 PM
1
Comment has been removed.
Good call on the 7's man. DLC perhaps?
I imagine getting the 15 man code as perfect as possible would be at the top of the list for Sidhe. Simply only having 7 players on the field with the same mechanics working in the background wouldn't really work as the codes are very different.

I'm personally hoping for a better passing mechanic then what we have seen with previous games. I'm also hoping that the rucks are not down to luck either as seen in Rugby 06/08

The last thing on my wish-list would be a system that takes into account the pace of players, the ability of players and the physique of players to determine the animation and type of collision the players have in the tackle. EA hasn't even really mastered this yet, despite it being aspect that greatly affects the realism of the game. I don't want to see Someone like Any Ellis putting a massive hit on say someone like Ma'a Nonu. That's all.

So glad to see Kiwis finally behind the game they play in heaven!
 
 
 
Posted by Gazza22
On Monday 15 Nov 2010 7:40 PM
1
Oh and my picks for commentary would be Nisbit and TJ. But why not chuck the Wainui Counsellor Ken Laben in there. He really knows his sh*t.

If you want the lols. There's always Murray Mexted and Stu Wilson.
 
 
 
Oliver
Posted by Oliver
On Monday 15 Nov 2010 8:43 PM
2
15 November 2010, 07:40 PM Reply to Gazza22
Oh and my picks for commentary would be Nisbit and TJ. But why not chuck the Wainui Counsellor Ken Laben in there. He really knows his sh*t.

If you want the lols. There's always Murray Mexted and Stu Wilson.
Just not Hamish f**king McKay.
 
 
 
Moneyshot
Posted by Moneyshot
On Tuesday 16 Nov 2010 4:01 PM
-1
These Rugby games "apart from a certain PS1 game with a giant number 11 winger in it" are always so bad just like ever cricket game ever made.. no US no decent dosh.
The mauls and rucks are terrible and so are the screen layout.
Please just use the maddens game system and tweak it to suit.
 
 
 
Moneyshot
Posted by Moneyshot
On Tuesday 16 Nov 2010 4:02 PM
-
15 November 2010, 08:43 PM Reply to Oliver
Just not Hamish f**king McKay.
God he is an ass hat.
 
 
 
thejuror84
Posted by thejuror84
On Tuesday 16 Nov 2010 4:46 PM
-
Responsive JLR gameplay with updated graphics and animations and necessary improvements= Win

Stiff RL3 gameplay with enhancements and bells and whistles= Lose

Sidhe moving away from RL series and adding there own vision, even if budget constrained = acceptable
 
 
 
Sam
Posted by Sam
On Wednesday 17 Nov 2010 6:49 AM
-
Looks pretty sweet wonder if this or the EA version will be better
 
 
 
Rambobrando
Posted by Rambobrando
On Wednesday 17 Nov 2010 2:25 PM
1
Excellent! this game sounds very good. its about time someone has brought out anew rugby game and this one seems already to exceed my expectations. what i really would like to see is a superstar mode sort of thing like in madden, jjust be an individual player and work on specific skills and such now that would be awesome. classic team such as the 1995 nz world cup squad with jonah in his peak, every super15 team have thier best classic team from their past such as the highlanders team of 2002 (Bar the rebels of course). i think create a player needs to be way better than ea sports one, with things like play more positions, BETTER FACES, compression clothing, strapping tape, tatoos incl. maori of course, and for goodness sake some black headgear! in ea sports the closest they got to black was dark green c'mon the most used headgear in the world is black.better attributes and abilities like interceptor and compusure. and definatley the option of charging down kicks. i do like the 7s idea i have wondered that myself for a while. create a team and comp aswell.
 
 
 
Posted by temungbean
On Friday 19 Nov 2010 3:21 AM
1
Including the ITM cup would be a big selling point for me. Super Rugby is good and all, but being able to play as your local provincial team would be awesome. I could bring Bay of Plenty back to their former glory of winning the inaugural national competition.
 
 
 
mholman
Posted by mholman
On Tuesday 23 Nov 2010 3:08 PM
-
I have been waiting for ages for a rugby game to come out on PS3 was not impressed at all with the league one that has just come out.

And with out a ps2 have not been able to play a rugby game in ages.
From the sounds of the review seems like they getting the visual side of it sweet as which as lacked in previous games where the crowd just looks like box's lol.

Hopefully they get the playing side of it sweet and gameplay is fun and you can pull of some fast moves like seen in the Ireland All Blacks match in the weekend.
 
 
 
mholman
Posted by mholman
On Tuesday 23 Nov 2010 3:09 PM
-
19 November 2010, 03:21 AM Reply to temungbean
Including the ITM cup would be a big selling point for me. Super Rugby is good and all, but being able to play as your local provincial team would be awesome. I could bring Bay of Plenty back to their former glory of winning the inaugural national competition.
I would be trying to lift Otago of the bottom lol
 
 
 
mholman
Posted by mholman
On Tuesday 23 Nov 2010 3:10 PM
-
Another good thing they could add would be a franchise system to buy sell and trade players to be able to build up a dream team in the ITM cup super 14 etc
 
 
 
NgatiDread
Posted by NgatiDread
On Thursday 2 Dec 2010 10:44 AM
-
mmmm yes as a rugby union & league gaming fan from way back...(remember ET's Rugby League on Amiga, Rugby 95 on Sega and of course JLR on PS1)...I always get the warm fuzzies when any new info on Rugby titles become available.

The 3 most important aspects for the title to be succesful IMO

1. Customisation: (ET's RL made in the early 90's could customise every aspect of the game player names, jerseys, competitions, rules etc)

2. Response time: (EA Rugby lost out here big time, pass and ball gets thrown a sec later) when I press the button I want instant reaction.

3. Loading Times: Nobody wants to wait 5mins for a game to load eg JLR, EA Rugby also the ability to skip cut scenes, action is what we want especially if we're going to live on the game, those cut scenes become tiresome pretty quick. The modern game of rugby is played at a high intensity and pace, this needs to be reflected in the new game.

Great read here Alan look forward to hearing more.
 
 
 
raid
Posted by raid
On Friday 8 Apr 2011 10:10 AM
1
lets hope gameplay is better than the rugbyleague series