How have you taken advantage of the unique features of the DS?
From day one, our objective with Tiger Woods PGA Tour for the Nintendo DS has been to leverage the unique features of this hardware. We made the decision very early on that our entire front-end and back-end gameplay experience should be playable using the touch screen.
We're happy to report that you can make your menu selections, aim your shot, choose your clubs and shot type, and even execute your swing without touching a single button. Looking at the dual screen functionality, we knew the layout would afford us some additional luxuries not available in the console version and we wanted to take advantage of that.
You can quickly and easily move your shot indicator around a 2D map of the hole you're playing, while the second screen moves the camera around a 3D view of the world to give you a different and useful perspective on your planned shot. The heads-up display on the primary 3D screen doesn't crowd the view of your golfer and we've taken some clutter out of the 2D map by creating a feature we call the Pocket Caddy. Your caddy can slide in and out of your 2D touch-screen view and will provide you with tips on how to attack each hole, in addition to mechanisms for changing your clubs and/or shot type, and viewing your opponent's shot location.
Were many different designs of the stylus swing system tried out before the final one was settled on?
Yep, we went through a number of different designs when developing the swing system. Ultimately we used consumer research to back a final decision. I think our design stands up as one of the best uses of the touch screen thus far on the platform.
Which way do the development team swing - D-pad or stylus?
Stylus every time. It's simply the most fun way to play and the touch technology is what the DS is all about.
Would you say that developing for the DS requires much more work than developing for GBA?
I think every platform has different challenges when you're developing for them for the first time. DS poses both challenges and opportunities when compared to GBA in terms of graphics and hardware functionality.
Because of the new possibilities that the unique features of the DS offers, was the development process more challenging creatively and consequently more enjoyable?
Yes, definitely. A new platform is always challenging but at the same time rewarding and exciting. And, in saying this, I'm really pleased with the 3D output that we're achieving on DS. A signature element of the franchise is its rich and vibrant course environments.
With the 3D output of the DS, we're able to bring real-life courses such as Pebble Beach and St Andrews to life like never before on a handheld. As I attempted to pitch my way out of a six foot-high bunker on the Old Course the other day, I realised how this display immerses you more in the gameplay experience than before.
Also, our multiplayer took some time to come together but the final experience is 100% authentic to the game of golf, easy to use and, most importantly, efficient. We will support play for up to four users in a local wireless setting, which is great for a sport that makes heavy use of the foursome gameplay mechanic. It's a very simple process to detect other users in your area, set up your game type (we support three different forms of play) and compete head-to-head.
We've also implemented the ability to complete holes simultaneously so that you don't need to wait after every single shot for your slower opponents.
Is the DS development team also responsible for the PSP version? How does developing for the two handhelds compare?
Yes, as mentioned previously, Team Fusion heads up handheld development at EA with a primary focus on DS and PSP.
Which do you prefer - the DS or PSP version of Tiger Woods?
They are both really interesting - but they are completely different machines, aimed at different consumers, for a different experience.
The Nintendo DS, having two screens, one of which is touch-sensitive, allows our developers to craft unique gameplay elements that will give players an entirely new way of gaming. It is really exciting to be able to experiment in this way.
The PSP, on the other hand, with its huge screen and 16:9 aspect ratio and WiFi functionality allows us to push the envelope graphically and introduce players to new ways of challenging each other using WiFi. I can't really champion one over the other - that's for the consumer and your readers to decide.