If you love Football and grew up in the 1990s there is a good chance that you were a fan of Kick Off, which was around before the game became sensible or commercialised. We caught up with legendary developer Dino Dini to find out more about his upcoming revival of the classic franchise.
Hello Dino, Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into developing games?
From an early age I was into technology, playing around with electronics at the age of five. I wanted to make games that seemed alive. When I first saw video games, I did not just want to play them, I wanted to make them. My parents bought be an Acorn System 1 when I was 13, and I started spending all my spare time making games and performing experiments with technology.
You’ve been out of game development for some time, what was the motivation for you returning to make Kick Off Revival?
Making video game is what I was born to do. Since the mid 90’s I have tried to find a way of making that possible, but the industry made it very hard for indie developers to earn a living. This has changed now and it has become possible again to earn a living making video games as an independent developer. So, the way I look at it is that I am just carrying on from where I left off 20 years ago.
Kick Off was a huge part on many gamers lives in the early 1990s, but many gamers may not know that your ties had long been severed with the franchise. Is this you reclaiming what was rightfully yours? What did you make of those Kick Off games that you weren’t involved with?
I reached the top of the industry as a nobody, then I became a nobody again, because I was unable to capitalise on what had happened. What did I do? I had problems with Anco, and I had to leave – and they kept the Kick Off name, which was a disaster. It’s like I’d written a best-selling book, and then was unable to continue my best-selling series. It just doesn’t happen to authors! But it happened to me.
Many versions of Kick Off were done outside of my control, in some cases with my source code used without permission. I never even looked at these versions. The only true versions were ST, Amiga and the Megadrive, as well as the PC conversion of GOAL! by Chris Sawyer. Everything else I do not trust as being a faithful reproduction of my designs.
Kick Off Revival is very much a reimagining of that classic experience, and it looks and plays just as remembered – including that single button mechanic. Was this essential to your vision?
I almost made it two buttons and two sticks, but this was just the voices of detractors from the 1990’s confusing me, which is another story. I was trying to fix problems with my game that were not actually there. I realised my mistake at the 2015 Kick Off 2 World Cup in Dublin.
I decided to go back to the purity of the original design, realising that it was not a limitation, but a crucial identity forming constraint. The important things will be retained: The ball is not stuck to your feet; you can shoot the way you want; aiming and swerving the ball will be 100% under your control.
The game is going to be in 3D, but only because it is actually easier to make games like that these days. I may offer different camera views, but the default views will be the classic top down approach of Kick Off 2 and GOAL!, perhaps with small adjustments.
The spirit will be that of the old games, but designed with the modern hardware in mind.
It’s easy to pick up and play because you only use one the left joystick and one button to control gameplay. But it’s also hard to master. I wanted to keep that.
For those that have never played one of the classic Kick Off titles before, how would you describe the game?
Many people who have seen Dino Dini’s Kick Off Revival have spontaneously mentioned Rocket League. Dino Dini’s Kick Off Revival is a fast paced football (soccer) game where you need fast reactions, precise touches and control in order to beat you opponent and the goalkeeper. It is not about the glitz and glamour of football; it’s about you and the field being able to score when it matters. It is a sport in itself.
What game modes can players expect to experience from the start?
Practice mode, player vs AI, local PvP and Netplay. Other features are planned but may not be available from day 1.
When we spoke at EGX you indicated plans to offer additional content post launch. Can you share and ideas on what could be added to the game?
It is likely that we will follow a similar path that Kick Off took.. With the game being improved over time, but with the feedback of the fans and players.
Will you be offering cross buy or even cross play with the PS4 version?
That would be nice!
What do you make of the Vita as a system, and what inspired you to make Kick Off Revival for the Vita?
The Vita is a very nice system. And I am aiming to make the experience very similar between PS4 and Vita. I started on the Vita because Shahid (Kamal) at Sony sent me a kit, which is how Revival began.
Are there any games that stand out to you on the Vita?
I can’t really comment on that as I have not had time to play any!
Jeff Minter reimagined his classic Tempest series for the Vita in the form of TXK, but Atari’s lawyers cried foul and the game is no longer available. Is there any risk of this with Kick Off Revival?
This is Dino Dini’s Kick Off.
Our final question is a tough one, there are two Vita models available, the OLED and the Slim. Which do you think is best?
I have not tried both out, so I cannot comment.
We would like to thank both Dino for his time and Anne from The Digital Lounge for making this possible. Are you looking forward to Kick Off Revival? It is out NOW on the PS4, with a Vita release due later this year.
This article first appeared in the June issue of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Look out for more exclusive and magazine first content in the magazine soon!
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