Jon Hare is one of Europe’s best known game designers, with over 30 years in the industry and ten international #1 games to his name, including Sensible World of Soccer, Cannon Fodder and Wizball.
Founder of Tower Studios, Jon’s current projects include Sociable Soccer, launching towards the end of this year for PC, PS4, Xbox One, iOS and Android.
On 18 May, Jon Hare will take the stage at NG16 with his talk, “The Godfather of Football Games” and as a special treat, Nordic Game will host the second of three live Sociable Soccer tournaments (featuring an early demo version of the game) at the conference next month.
NG: What was the first game that really made you aware of games?
JH: The very first computer game I ever played was Pong, it would have been round about 1975 when I was nine years old. I don’t remember what machine it was on but I do remember it was in my primary school at a school fete, next to the “Bash the Rat” stall. At the time I found it more interesting and curious than anything else. Growing up in an era when there were no computer games, no internet, no mobile phones and even personal calculators were yet to really hit the market big time, meant that such machines were real curiosities. So I would definitely have been paying just as much attention to the controller and the display as I would to the game itself.
NG: Which game has made you most frustrated or angry?
JH: Oh so many to choose from. For enjoyable frustration at my inability to quite beat the machine it would be Mario Golf on the N64. I unlocked everything except the very last character for which I needed to win on the final course. I must have come second in the tournament about 30 times, often by just one stroke over a two-year period and still never beat it. For irritable frustration in my inability to play the game due to a personal defect it would be any multiplayer FPS as I have a terrible tendency to get shot in the back. For pure rage and anger, it would be mobile Scrabble against the top AI that just blatantly cheats the better you get, gives you seven letters like “OOOAAIY” and then plays a seven letter word like “OUZIPER”.
The Sociable Soccer: Live Early Access European Tour kicks off 30 April – 1 May in Blackpool at Play Expo, continues in Malmö on 18-20 May at NG16, and wraps-up in Warsaw 3-5 June at Pixel Heaven. Get all the details on Facebook here.
NG: Which game have you spent the most time on?
JH: Scrabble in various forms over the years – I have played it to death and like to take on the top AI. Hence my fury that the current top AI deliberately keeps my win ratio at around 35 per cent after hundreds of games. It just gets boring and as a designer, I hate these kind of mechanics… Anyone can make AI wipe the floor with a human, it’s “easy”. In any case Scrabble is my game, I hate to lose it in any form and have been playing since I was about seven years old, with wooden tiles of course.
NG: What game, genre or game mechanic would you like to see brought back the most?
JH: I think it is very sad that the text adventure in Monkey Island-style, where the graphics just followed the story, got totally superseded and replaced by action-adventures. It really gets to me when many console or PC gamers presume that every game you play features you third-person, in the centre of the screen with weapons close to hand running around and jumping. Text adventures place much more focus on the stories, the plot, the characters and the words and illustrated animations, even if they are created in 3D. In general, this gives a different and to my taste more enjoyable experience as a gamer and puts you in a totally different psychological place as a player. The problem with action-adventures is that after a while, jumping, running, shooting, stabbing, punching and picking up power-ups becomes repetitive, but the games structure is such that it demands these factors must continue to feature level after level after level. Whereas the text adventure creates an environment of non-time pressured pondering and experimentation, a mindset much closer to reading.
NG: What is the best detail you ever noticed in a game?
JH: The single best detail I ever noticed was the clicking sound of the scary blind zombie monsters in The Last of Us… Truly terrifying.
NG: Which game would do well in another media form?
JH: Limbo would look very good as a slightly left-field, summer holidays, kids’ cartoon in a series of five minute episodes.
Ready to play ball? Jon Hare – games designer extraordinaire – another great reason to join us for Nordic Game 2016, 18-20 May in Malmö, Sweden. Register today!