Speedball 2 is the longed-for sequel to the Amiga classic, transforming the futuristic game setting with the help of state-of-the-art technology into a high-speed online sports spectacle. Offering international leagues, a large-scale ranking system and a virtual marketplace, Speedball 2 pulls all the registers of modern multiplayer gaming action. Fully customisable characters from cyborg to amazon, dynamic sports battles, and continuous community support will convince sports simulation enthusiasts, action fans, and e-sports cracks likewise.
Q: Would you please be so kind to give us a short introduction of yourself and explain your function in the development process of Speedball 2?
MM: I was one of the founding members of The Bitmap Brothers. I first started in the games industry in the early 80ies. Today I am still programming as well as doing management and game design. I was recently awarded an honorary master's degree in technology by UEL (University of East London ) for contributions to the games industry.
Q: Where are the Bitmap Brothers situated?
MM: I now live and work in Northampton UK working in conjuction with John M. Phillips and Mark Coleman - long standing members of the Bitmap Brothers.
Q: For a longer time, players didn’t hear from you and the Bitmap Brothers. What projects were you involved in for the meantime?
MM: For the past few years I have been involved with Empire Interactive working on Taito Legends 1 & 2, Double Dragon for Xbox 360 Live Arcade and Ford Racing Full Blown for Sega coin-op. At the same time I have been dealing with the licensing of the Bitmap Brothers portfolio.
Q: Which other companies are involved in the production process of the game?
MM: French studio Kylotonn Entertainment is developing Speedball 2 and is involved as co-producer. Together we are working with some highly competitive middleware partners. The artificial intelligence of Speedball 2 comes from SpirOps, which already has been used for Splinter Cell - Double Agent. Motion Capturing is being done by ATOPOS and for multiplayer connectivity we are implementing RakNet Network Middleware from Rakkarsoft.
Q: On which other games did your team work before? Are there any “dinosaurs of the gaming industry” involved?
MM: As you might know, the Bitmap Brothers created longterm classics like Xenon Megablast, The Chaos Engine, Gods, Cadaver, Magic Pockets and Z. Kylotonn is renowned for their Action-Shooters Iron Storm and the Bet on Soldier Trilogy. For Speedball 2 they have built up a team encompassing new members, which partly worked formerly for Ubisoft and Wanadoo.
Q: Could you please explain the game principle and structure?
MM: Speedball 2 was originally released to much acclaim in 1990 on many formats. It is a fast-paced futuristic sports game where two teams compete in a variety of Knockout, Cup and League tournaments. As you progress through the game you can train up your players to fine-tune their abilities. The game also incorporates a management mode.
Q: Why did you like the idea of creating a remake of SB2?
MM: I get lots of emails every week via the Bitmap web site (www.bitmapbrothers. co.uk) and everyone wants to play Speedball 2 as it’s the best futuristic sports game ever made (and the only one really).
Q: When did you start to work for Speedball 2?
MM: We began to create the new concept and its game design in summer 2006.
Q: For which type of player will the game be interesting? What do you think is the target group?
MM: There is a broad range of suitable players. From old fans of Speedball 2, who remember it from the Amiga/Atari ST days to people who nowadays enjoy football games and anyone else who likes fast-paced competition. Speedball 2 is a game that’s easy to start and great fun to play with your mates at home or on the internet.
Q: Experienced players remember Speedball 2 as a breathtaking action sportsgame. What can they expect of the remake? Apart from modern technological opportunities and graphics, will there be substantial changes in the gameplay of Speedball 2?
MM: It will have that same feeling with all the action of the original. The main addition will be the online play. The gameplay will have the same instant playability as in the original.
Q: What are your plans to make the game more interesting for younger players, who are not aware of the original game?
MM: Partly there's the word of mouth from the old fans of Speedball 2, but of course we are targeting new players with special marketing measures, too. A graphical newsletter informs players about important development milestones since late2006 (subscription on www.speedball2.com). A complete portal website will go online soon. We are heading for the integration of new media like YouTube, Myspace, blogs, streams and podcasts into our campaign. Players will be able to download windows-, iPod and winamp-skins as well as sending Speedball 2 e-cards to their friends. Moreover we are going to provide mobile phone kits with ice-cream ringtone and Speedball 2 themes. To get in touch with the vital multiplayer community we are in talks with the major league networks.
Q: What are your plans to motivate players in the long run? Especially online?
The online modes of Speedball 2 will come into its own with players from around the world competing instantly. We plan to hold a world cup with the best players from each country as well as international leagues. The new Speedball 2 is projected to be a massive multiplayer-game with an advanced online-community and ranking system. Our unique game-centre is going to be the core information and communication platform for Speedball 2. To play online, players connect to Speedball2.com, where they not only read the latest news in their message board, but they see a list of friends connected and the list of public games created. They can directly get in touch with their buddys and send an invitation to a player or a clan. On a marketplace within Speedball2.com players will be able to customize their characters and acquire features like special armour, items and weaponry or purchase cool merchandising and fan articles.
Q: How is the multiplayer mode going to be integrated in terms of middleware and servers technology ?
MM: New Speedball 2 will use a classic “Client – Server” architecture. Kylotonn has chosen middleware RakNet for low level network code. Every packet uses UDP.
Q: What kind of core technologies do you use for the realization of Speedball2 in terms of 3D engine, graphics and effects?
MM: Kylotonn uses its own 3D engine, called KT Engine, which has been updated during a year in order to integrate state-of-the-art technologies such as bumps, image post process and high dynamic lightening (HDRI, Dynamic soft shadows, etc…)
Q: TV-Shows are tending to present more and more real-life action. Do you think some kind of postmodern gladiator show like Speedball 2 will ever develop in a nearby future?
MM: Just watch this space.
More articles about Speedball 2