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The Grand Vision for Golden Tee LIVE

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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

When Larry and Jim tell the story of how they arrived at their grand vision for Golden Tee LIVE, they come off sounding more like mystics than game designers. Every few years, they take a pilgrimage to a local hotel where they rent a suite for the afternoon, order room service, and commune with the muses of coin-op. They surround themselves with pads of paper, pens, a whiteboard, some dry erase markers, and a couple laptops, and they knock around ideas. They hold these idea sessions once a week over the course of several weeks until they come up with a unified vision for the game. And then they descend from the mountain not with stone tablets, but with a couple scraps of paper that contain a few kernels of thought that will ultimately drive the development of the next version of the most successful coin-op video game in the industry.

Unfortunately for posterity, Jim and Larry have few recollections of those meetings and far fewer notes. The doodles, the schematics, the record of who said what and which one of them came up with the idea for a particular feature have been reduced to a smudge on a dry eraser, and they don’t even know where that ended up.

Why? Because all that doesn’t really matter to them. What does matter is what’s recorded on those couple scraps of paper, what they brought back to their colleagues at Incredible Technologies: the creative seeds from which the future Golden Tee LIVE would sprout.

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 The vision for Golden Tee LIVE.

The coin-op market is more like the movie industry than like the home-console market. People are paying for an entertainment experience. They’re not investing in the latest technology.

Designing for the Needs of the Coin-Op Market

The unique nature of the coin-op video game market wields a great deal of influence over Larry and Jim’s vision for Golden Tee. The coin-op market is fundamentally different from the home console video game market. The economics—the business models for the two industries—are entirely different. With home consoles, players buy the hardware. They have a vested interest in the equipment. When players shell out $300 for a new console or $2,000 dollars for a new computer, they want to see the technology whirl in front of them. In the home market, the bells and whistles are important.

In a coin-operated environment, people are paying for the game experience, for the entertainment value they receive for their four or five dollars. They’re not purchasing the hardware or the game. They want something that’s visually appealing, but they don’t expect to be wowed by the technology. They just want a game that’s fun to play with their buddies.

Larry and Jim have a feel for how much money players are willing to pay for a round of Golden Tee golf, and they design the best game they can possibly deliver at that price. If a feature has the potential of increasing the entertainment value for the player enough to make it worth the cost of developing and implementing it in the game, it gets in the game. If it doesn’t show that potential, they scrap it.

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