Over the last six months, GamingNexus has been bringing an increased amount of news and reviews that relate to the iPhone and iPod Touch as a gaming platform. One thing we haven't touched on has been an interview from someone in the iPhone/Touch development world to help us understand what goes on behind the scenes to bring a game to reality. However, that is no more, as Isaac Feldman, Associate Producer at EA Mobile has taken the time to answer our questions about the recently released Tiger Woods PGA Tour for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Can you introduce yourself to the readers and explain your role with EA and Tiger Woods PGA Tour for iPhone and iPod Touch?
Isaac Feldman, Associate Producer at EA Mobile.
Is Tiger Woods PGA Tour for the iPhone a port from another version or was it built from the ground up specifically for the iPhone/iPod Touch?
EA: Tiger Woods PGA Tour for the iPhone used certain framework elements from other handheld versions, but by no means would it be fair to call it a port. All graphical assets and game play mechanics were built with the goal of giving a unique iPhone experience while maintaining the key features that fans of the franchise expect.
Can gamers expect Tiger Woods PGA Tour to follow the console/handheld schedule of a new yearly title, or will there be incremental updates released?
We are always looking for ways to allow fans of the franchise to continue enjoying their experience while looking forward to new things.
With the initial release of Tiger Woods on the iPhone/iPod Touch, what is EA’s estimation of the amount of processing and GPU power that the game is tapping into on the device and how much room is there for improvements and refinements?
e really wanted to give the player something special with our game. Much effort was put into ensuring that we really pushed the boundaries as far as player models and courses are concerned while not negatively impacting the frame rate or game mechanics. That being said, we will always be looking for new ways to push the platform in the future.
What advantages in the development process do the touch controls of the iPhone and other mobile devices provide over the button and analog stick scheme? Conversely, what challenges do the touch controls present over the traditional controls?
The touch controls provide the player with a very different experience that allows us to convey something unique and enjoyable. They get to touch the screen and immediately make a difference in game. They touch the screen, they see something happen. The speed of their finger swipe is visually represented on screen as the swing of their club in real time. Removing a button based controller from the equation is just one less step between what the player wants to do and the action on screen.It appears that the controls and options have been simplified somewhat for the iPhone. What were some features and functionality that did not make it into the initial iPhone version that could be coming in future versions?
Controls in a touch based game can be tricky. If you over simplify them you risk cutting the difficulty of the game at its core, which in turn could make its replay value shorter. On the other hand if you make it too difficult, you risk completely shutting out a frustrated player. We attempted to hit a comfortable middle ground with our touch controls, most notably the swing mechanic. Our goal was to make a touch swing and putt system that was generally accessible to new players while leaving lots of room to grow in future game play. Easy to pick up but a challenge to master. We don’t feel in the end we really cut anything from the experience. The player is getting a full featured Tiger Woods PGA Tour experience that they can take with them anywhere. We will always be looking for new ways to expand upon that experience in the future.
Graphically, the game looks a bit challenged compared to other current handheld versions with comparable processing power and screen resolution (i.e. PSP and DS). What areas would the development team like to improve upon the most for future releases?
The response to the visual quality of our application has been extremely positive from the public, and we feel that we’ve got a game that stands out amongst more conventional handheld gaming devices. But as said before, we will always be looking for new and innovative ways to push the platform.
It appears that microtransactions were left out of the initial version of Tiger Woods for iPhone despite having a prominent role in many EA games. With the iPhone 3.0 OS introducing those capabilities in-game, can players expect to see that option added in some time in the future to add more courses, better equipment or different PGA and LPGA players?
At the time of release, microtransactions were not an option. Now that Apple has introduced the new 3.0 OS that includes this capability, we are looking into the many features that the new OS supports.
Are there plans to have the mobile Tiger Woods PGA Tour (and specifically the iPhone version) utilize online capabilities in the future? Would this be done on a local basis using Bluetooth (added in 3.0 OS) and/or connecting to dedicated EA servers via WiFi or data connection?
Speaking for Tiger Woods PGA Tour iPhone specifically, these features are something that we are definitely looking into for the near future.
Do the titles have to be developed with specs that are only capable of being ran on the weakest product in the device family (original iPhone/iPod Touch or a specific iPhone OS version), or is it developed for the latest products (iPhone 3G s and iPhone 3.0 OS) with backwards capabilities for lesser versions?
We strive to create an equally enjoyable product across multiple devices.
Are there any other details about Tiger Woods PGA Tour or other EA titles coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch that you would like to share with the readers?
Not at this time :)
We would like to thank Isaac for taking the time to answer our questions.