- Designing for the Needs of the Coin-Op Market
- Going Online All the Time in Real Time
- Restructuring the Tournament System
- Introducing Player Customizations and Other Options
- Offering a Helping Hand
- Animating the Golfer with Motion Capture Technology
- Making the Game a Little More Interesting with Hole-N-Win
- Selling the Idea Back Home
Going Online All the Time in Real Time
Even before they began their semiformal meetings in that hotel suite, Jim and Larry had a general idea of the direction they wanted to take with their game. Society was changing. Consumers were no longer passive recipients of media and entertainment. People knew what they wanted and they wanted it now. They had the Internet, TiVo, streaming audio and video, and pay per view. Technology was driving the evolution of an always-on, on-demand culture, and Golden Tee needed to ride that wave.
Larry and Jim took notice and envisioned a version of Golden Tee that would provide more immediate gratification, a game that would be online all the time in real time. Players from across the nation and around the world would be able to compete with one another any time of the day or night for glory or for prizes on virtual golf courses that spanned the globe.
Jim and Larry weren’t too sure what always on meant exactly or how it would play out in the game. They were uncertain whether the technology would cooperate. But they were convinced that they could achieve some degree of a constant connectivity; at least something that was more constant, more immediate—more live—than what they had in Golden Tee Fore!.
The vision of an always-on connection opened the door for a host of other features. If the game were live, then it could support an entirely new tournament system. Leaderboards could be updated after every hole. Tournaments could open and close hourly instead of over the course of days or weeks. Players could pay by credit, debit, or gift card. They could store their winnings in player accounts and pay for games out of their accounts. They could personalize their golfers and equip them with special clubs and golf balls. Being online all the time opened an entire new world of possibilities.
Figure 3.2 From a single seed of an always-on connection sprouts a host of innovative features.
The vision of an always-on connection opened the door for a host of other features, including credit card payments and golfer customization.
After deciding to place Golden Tee online all the time, Jim and Larry decided to take the players online all the time as well by stripping away opportunities to play offline. Previous versions offered players a choice—they could play a basic version offline alone or with up to three other players, or online in league or tournament play. Early on, Larry and Jim toyed with the idea of developing separate online and offline versions of Golden Tee, but when wireless service became so globally accessible, they dropped the idea. They decided that players would be involved in the online world whether or not they knew about it, whether or not they cared about it, in the hope that players would eventually see the value in it.