Two new-gen tennis games in one year? You could say that tennis fans have had a grand slam of choice in recent months. Tennis World Tour is brought to you by Breakpoint Games, and we spoke to Etienne Jacquemain – lead game designer – to see what they’re bringing to the court.
Tennis World Tour is a new tennis sim that has put its own spin (literally and figuratively) on the genre in many ways; the most noticeable of which being its injury system. In the game’s career mode, gamers will need to choose which tournaments to participate in, in order to avoid injuring their players.
“We wanted to make sure that the game was a real simulation, true to the sport of tennis itself,” Etienne Jacquemain tells us. “Even though arcade tennis games are fun, we wanted to emphasise all of the techniques and mental strength this sport requires from the players.
“We conducted a lot of different motion capture sessions on real courts, with French professional players such as Maxime Teixeira and Guillaume Ruffin, in order to ensure the final quality of our animations.
“But we wanted to go further, working on the small details that you need to take into account as a pro player. For instance, each court surface will have an impact on gameplay, the ball being faster on grass or on timber courts. In the career mode, you will have to master your form along a full season and choose wisely between different tournaments in order to rest and avoid injuries, just as a real player would do.”
This is thanks to the attention to detail Breakpoint have placed on the depiction of player behaviour in-game.
“We know that these pro players travel a lot, and sometimes have to skip specific tournaments because they don’t have time for it or they want to preserve their stamina and strength for the next upcoming tournament. This is what Roger Federer did with Roland Garros for instance: skipping the clay tournaments will help him to get in a better shape when Wimbledon will start.” Jacquemain clearly knows his tennis.
“So, when your own avatar has to travel from one country to another that is very far away, the jetlag and travel fatigue will impact your general level of stamina; you won’t start your next match with a complete stamina bar. Unless, of course, if the player chooses to rest before getting into another tournament. It’s very important to keep an eye on your general stamina, as a low stamina level would lead your avatar to injuries, [stopping] you from playing other matches. This concept seemed very important to us, as it adds another layer to the career mode. It’s not just about winning tennis matches, it’s about doing what a real pro tennis player does.”
In addition to the injury system, the devs wanted to set aside their game from the competition even further, and have decided to implement a skill card system.
“Before each match, you will be able to create a deck of five cards that will grant bonuses,” says Jacquemain, adding that this will have more of an impact on the game than some may think. “These cards trigger under specific conditions, such as scoring an ace during the final set or serving for the break. You can design it to either increase the strengths of your avatar (serve, forehand, backhand, etc.) or balance it by compensating for the avatar’s weak points.”
One of the turning points of a good tennis game is its roster, and Jacquemain assures us that Tennis World Tour’s roster will be quite comprehensive.
“We worked on having a roster that would be representative of the pro circuits as they are: a mix of different talents and playstyle. We have more than 30 different players in the game. Confirmed players such as Angelique Kerber, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka – but also young players, whether they are already stepping into the Top 10 like Zverev or soon-to-be players like Hyeon Chung or Kyrgios. And we even got the opportunity to include legends, with John McEnroe and Andre Agassi.”
Those looking to carve their own path with a career can expect full customisation, from face shape to height and even type of serve.
“You will start by creating your very own player in the career mode. It goes from choosing the face of your player among a selection of pre-rendered possibilities to your height, body type, forehand and backhand, service type, etc. On top of this, we really want players to be able to have their own playstyles and characteristics. Which is why, every time you level up, you will earn points that you can spend in different archetypes such as serve and volley, defence and offence. And of course, there is the skill cards system that adds to the level of customisation. With all that combined, you will be able to define a playstyle that looks nothing like the other players’.”
This also extends to cosmetic upgrades. “Last but not least, when playing the career mode or online games, you will earn credits that you can spend to buy t-shirts, shorts, shoes… but also new racquets, chords, grip, anti-vibrators, things like that.”
As for post-launch, the dev team is committed to increasing the female roster, and adding a bunch of new equipment.
“We are also aiming at including more officially licensed content, such as equipment (new racquets, shoes or outfits) and tournaments or stadiums. We will also add new game modes such as the doubles after the launch. This one is very specific, as the gameplay is very different from the standard 1v1 tennis games. We can’t just duplicate players on courts and let them play, and for these reasons we are taking the necessary time to have a mode that is balanced and functional. The game won’t just be fun to play on Day One: we hope to entertain players for a very long time.”