How do you amp up an already adrenaline-fueled gaming genre like racing? If the legendary Burnout franchise taught us anything, it’s that the often the straightforward street racing genre could be transformed into an almost overwhelmingly exhilarating experience when combined with copious amounts of carnage and seemingly endless style points. Who knew?
Well, many of the folks who brought the long-running Burnout franchise into the world have been working hard to master that transformation again - this time within the mostly mundane sport of golf. While many would point to the intricate details, exciting finishes and honorable history of golf as reasons enough to appreciate the activity, many others simply find it boring - until now.
Dangerous Golf by Three Fields Entertainment takes the best elements of the Burnout franchise and combines them with the essentials of golf to deliver a memorable gaming experience that brings a bit of welcomed chaos to the often overly organized sport. Even better, the game, which was released in early June, has just received a new update that transforms the experience dramatically. More than just a mulligan on the game’s initial offering, the free update delivers direct changes to the areas fans have requested the most, such as pacing, presentation and controls.
I caught up with Lead Designer Chris Roberts to discuss the initial game concept and the impact of the all-new update on the recently revamped title.
Q: For those that are unfamiliar with Dangerous Golf, can you please explain what the project is all about?
Dangerous Golf is no ordinary game of golf. It’s all about humorous and naughty destruction and pulling off outrageous trick shots to score big and compete against your friends. It lets you smash up toilets, make a big mess in the kitchen, destroy priceless antiques and even wreck a gas station. This is golf played way off the fairway and every hole is a puzzle for the player to solve as they attempt to destroy as much as they can and still sink the ball in the hole.
Q: Where did the initial concept for Dangerous Golf come from?
We got together and talked about hardware, we talked about what we enjoyed doing and what we wanted to try and do. We thought about where technology and hardware were going and what do we think the future looks like? We looked at SIGGRAPH, and at the latest engine technology. Ultimately, we decided that we wanted to go back to what inspired us in our early days at Criterion - making games that are fast and fun with exciting technology.
The decision to make a golf game was, in part, inspired by a movie that we watched on Netflix called The Short Game, a documentary that follows seven-year-old golfers as they prepare for and compete in tournaments. We also ran across the Dude Perfect YouTube channel, a collection of videos featuring the same friends making absurd, almost impossible trick shots with a basketball.
The spectacle of a tournament packed with diminutive golfers and those amazing trick shots gave us an idea. Trick shots are fun and we like mini-golfing with friends so combining those things with our love for breaking stuff gave birth to Dangerous Golf.
Q: The title released in early June, but a new update has brought the game to all-new levels of accessibility and fun. Specifically, players can get back into the action much quicker now thanks to fast restarts. Please explain.
Dangerous Golf has always been about playful destructiveness, but now it's far easier to approach every hole in a more experimental manner. You can take a risk on an unusual tee-off. You can hit hard and hope, knowing that you're only seconds away from a do-over.
This new feature initially was incredibly complicated to implement. Dangerous Golf's levels are crammed with physics objects. Hundreds and thousands of them - ketchup to splat on walls, paint tins to upend, glass to break, vases and statues to shatter. Because of this, restarts in the game as it originally released took between 25 and 30 seconds as every single one of those objects had to be un-smashed and put back together again. The traditional way to reset a level is to simply scrap everything and reload it from the disk. This process takes too long, so what we do now is more like sending in the cleaners - every object is returned to its original state and its original position. As a result, our restarts now take around two seconds and at no loss of level complexity.
Q: The update also addresses playability by adjusting the controls. What can you tell us about the new approach?
We wanted to allow people with varied skill sets and game experience to enjoy playing Dangerous Golf, so we’ve introduced the option to play with a more immediately accessible set of controls. We have really listened to players and one of the many other features we’ve improved on is providing complete freedom to select where they hit the ball to from the tee.
The original controls are still available in the game, but we now also allow the player to control elements of the game, such as the all important Smashbreaker, with one control stick rather than two. We have also added button prompts and audio cues to allow the player to drop into buckets more easily. The overall effect of our update is that the game is now much more accessible and easier to enjoy for players of every level.
Q: Causing more destruction and, perhaps more importantly, seeing that destruction unfold are two other aspects of the update. Please let our readers know more about the increased action and all-new follow cameras.
One of the major additions is the new Smashwave feature that gives plays one last blast of destruction before they attempt to putt the ball into the hole. As with everything we do there is an element of risk and reward to the Smashwave. The player can get a lot of extra points with Smashwave, but they still have got to putt the ball and run the risk of bringing a huge piece of furniture down into the playing field, making the putt more of a challenge. It is great, however, for clearing debris if the player doesn’t have a clear view of the flag during a putt.
We have also added two new follow cameras for teeing off and putting. The Tee Off follow camera allows you to more closely follow the ball into the action while the Danger Time feature allows the player to put the game into slow motion and admire the destruction. More advanced players can plan ahead for where they want to fire their Smashbreaker. The Tee Off follow camera chases your putt and shows off your amazing trickshot attempts at close range. Both of these cameras are optional and can be turned on and off in the settings screen.
Q: Obviously, Burnout fans will be particularly fond of the update’s inclusion of Ted Stryker to narrate the new tutorial video. How did that come about?
We are a tiny team of 11 people and completely self-funded so we just asked Stryker, who was our in-game DJ for Burnout 3, if he could spare some time. To our shock he kindly agreed and did an amazing job that really elevates our tutorial video. The video itself provides a great introduction to playing Dangerous Golf and is worth a watch even for experienced players.
Q: How has Unreal Engine 4 allowed your team to bring its vision for Dangerous Golf into reality?
Using Unreal Engine 4 is a huge boost for us as a small developer of just 11 people. We get access to world class rendering and physics which means we can spend all our engineering effort on making a great game. The Unreal editor is an incredibly powerful tool that allows everyone on the team to try out ideas quickly. It allowed us to build thousands of versions of Dangerous Golf over the course of development, each one an improvement on the last, until we had delivered on our vision.
Q: Finally, where can people go to learn more about Dangerous Golf?