With the future of video-game golf at EA Sports in flux, “The Golf Club,” a new game from Canada’s HB Studios, may more than fill the void. The new game would allow players to “build the course of their dreams” and then exchange their creations with other users.
A video-game developer is teeing up a new simulated-golf product that would allow virtual golfers to create their own courses and then exchange what they’ve built with other users, reports Polygon, a video-game website.
The future of video-game golf had been put in flux when EA Sports, developer of the Tiger Woods game franchise that has long dominated the segment, parted ways with Woods last October, and it was then reported that new versions of what had been known as the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series might be canceled, Polygon reported.
But now, Polygon reported, Lunenberg, Canada-based HB Studios, a development contractor for Electronic Arts, parent of EA Sports, for more than a decade has announced The Golf Club as its first original video-game title in three years.
HB Studios was planning to work with EA Sports on the next version of the PGA Tour series, Polygon reported, but after it became apparent that the series would either be delayed, or canceled all together, and that EA Sports will now apparently concentrate on creating a new PGA Tour title for mobile devices and next-generation consoles, the Canadian company decided that it still wanted to make its own golf game. HB Studios is now conducting closed beta testing of The Golf Club, which is on track to be released this spring on all platforms, Polygon reported.
Peter Garcin, an Executive Producer with HB Studios, told the website that many of the ideas being built into the new game are new to mainstream sports games—and chief among those are the concepts of “social sharing of user-generated content, with a basis in a robust course-creation tool.”
In announcing the game at the end of January, Polygon reported, HB Studios said that the “bedrock” of The Golf Club will be “a course- creation setup that the studio promises will be simple enough to use with a controller, and deep enough to allow players to build the course of their dreams.”
Users will be able to “produce a playable course almost instantly,” Polygon reported, “just by providing a few parameters like the natural setting and time of day.”
From there, the website said, players will be able to change elements like the width of fairways, the size of greens and the number of bunkers, and even go deeper if desired to “tinker with everything,” through features that will allow them to alter terrain or add natural features such as rivers and trees.
Users will also be able to design a course entirely from scratch, Polygon said, with Garcin promising that the technology will ensure that “computer-generated course layouts are just as fun as hand-designed courses.”
“It’s one thing to just generate some landscape and chuck some holes down,” Garcin told Polygon. “But it’s another thing to generate it in a way that it seems like it’s actually fun to play and is based on real-world construction.”
HB Studios’ game developers have already tried recreating real-life courses using the in-game tools, Garcin told Polygon, and have been able to approximate those existing layouts pretty well.
“You can pretty much create any course that you want, and any sort of aspect of that course, using the editor—or you can get very, very close,” he said.
Users of The Golf Club will also be able to upload and download each others’ courses—a feature that HB hopes will provide “endless replayability.” The developers are facilitating this feature, Polygon reported, by devising a way to keep file sizes down. Instead of downloading all the assets for a course, players will just download a relatively small piece of data that gives their game the instructions to generate that course locally in the course creator, and then make the same custom edits that the original designer did.
By including a course creator in The Golf Club and allowing for infinite sharing of custom courses, Polygon noted, HB Studios will sidestep the traditional basis for simulation sports games—real-life leagues, brands and athletes—and therefore also avoid the need for costly licensing deals.
Garcin believes that licensed content isn’t as important for a golf title as it is for a baseball or football game, Polygon reported, because golf video-game players tend to have an attachment to their created golfers instead of real ones.
HB Studios is also building an expansive suite of multiplayer functionality into The Golf Club, Polygon reported, including the ability to play with friends even when they’re offline, by competing against “ghost” balls. The game will also create rivalries by matching players of similar skill levels.
Comments posted to Polygon’s report about The Golf Club included:
“I’d like to give this a try. I’ve not played a golf game since the mid- 00s and I’ve not enjoyed one since Mario Golf 64.”
“My dad will love this.”
“This game looks great, and I don’t think it’s only because of the beautiful landscapes, but also because it isn’t riddled with ads and brands everywhere and doesn’t include a poorly rendered audience standing off to the side in every screenshot. The impression I get from the screenshots is that these courses were made just for me and me alone to enjoy and there’s no one else around, unless you want them there via multiplayer matches, to disturb that. No pressure to make the perfect shot. No time limit to get out of the way of the next player. Just me on my own private expanse of nature, doing as I please.”
“I have absolutely no interest in golf games…[but] I’m probably going to buy this.”