12:44 PM - March 3, 2011 by Steve_OS
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My name is Jean-Karl Tupin-Bron, Game Designer on Top Spin 4. Please read my most recent developer diaries: King of the Court, My Player, and Career Mode. Now that the demo has been released, it's time to talk about other non-demo features: notably, online.
Since the very first iteration of the franchise, Top Spin has always delivered a strong multiplayer element. We’ve always felt it was very exciting for players to take their created players, which they have developed and progressed through a career, and challenge other users to see how their player stacks up against the competition, compare play styles, and really see who the best is. In Top Spin 4, users have the ability to challenge each other in our main online ranked mode, the World Tour. Today we’re going to look at this game mode in further detail.
The World is Mine
The World Tour is an online ranked mode which is only available for created players. Bring your character in the World Tour and try to climb up the rankings to become #1. Of course, the My Player feature (Player Creator, Player Development and Coaches) works perfectly here: You still earn XPs, increase your tennis strategy levels, and unlock coaches within this game mode. It’s totally possible to completely develop your created player from 0 to level 20 in the World Tour.
There are two versions of the World Tour: one for male characters and one for female characters. Rankings are not mixed, even if some events happen to be but more on events in a moment. The World Tour is based on one-week seasons and, each Monday at 0:00 GMT, a new season begins. At this time every week, leaderboards are reset (rankings are based on the amount of points users earned during the season) and the World Tour male and female champions are crowned. Note: In addition to the weekly seasons, a lifetime ranking is also stored and provides users with an overall yearly outlook of their created player. So stay focused on the deadline and try to earn as many points as you can before the end of each season.
There are three kinds of events in World Tour: Sparring Partner Training, Quick Matches (called Direct Matches on PlayStation 3) and Tournaments. By playing these different events, you can earn XPs and season points which allow you to follow your double objective to develop your character and climb up the rankings.
The most important events in the World Tour are tournament matches. Each season, there are seven tournaments to play: four major tournaments (which are two round tournaments), two master tournaments (three rounds) and one Grand Slam (four rounds). Tournaments are based on a single elimination format: if you lose a match in a tournament, you can’t play in that tournament anymore because each tournament can only be played once per season. This means that if you have played all your tournament matches, you’ll have to wait for the beginning of the next season to get new tournaments to play. As simple as that…
Playing tournaments is the best way to earn a lot of points for your ranking because these matches are worth the most. If you want to progress quickly up the leaderboard, try to perform well in tournaments because the better you finish in these, the more points you earn. In terms of settings: tournament matches are non-mixed and the format used for these events is 2 sets of 3 games (if needed, the third set is played in super tie-break).
Quick Matches are mixed matches with no elimination constraint: you can play as many Quick Matches as you want during a season! However, the rewards for Quick Matches are smaller than for tournaments (because they are unlimited). No need to tell you that playing these events is probably the best way to grab more points when all your tournament matches have been played for a season… The Quick Match format is one set of three games, so they are shorter than tournament matches.
The last category of available events in World Tour is Sparring Partner Training. These events work the same as the training we described in the Developer Diary about Career mode. Sparring Partner Training is a match versus an AI player (you can choose the play style and difficulty level). During these training matches, some special objectives pop up. If you complete them in the allotted time, you earn bonus XP. Sparring Partner Training in World Tour is a perfect way to train without stress where you can play offline matches within the online game mode. You don’t have anything to lose: just train and you can gain a lot of XPs.
A Living Online World
As you can see, there are lots of events to play in World Tour and there is always a match for you whenever you connect. To make things easier on the players, we have implemented several features to ensure it’s easy to get information on all players in the World Tour but also to make finding matches quick and easy.
First of all, we provide a lot of information to you about all the other users. The news bar, scrolling at the bottom of your screen, gives you news about the leaders (latest results, new leaders, etc.) and your friends (statistics, results, etc.). And if you want to know more about other users, you can check info about any player, male or female, who has played at least one match in the history of World Tour. You can also check any World Tour ranking: season ranking, previous season ranking, lifetime ranking, continental ranking, etc.
We also implemented some features to allow users to find each other easily. To shorten the periods between two matches, we added some visual indicators to see precisely where the other players are. For instance, when you are choosing your next event, icons tell you where there are already players waiting for a match. Thanks to these icons, users trying to play the same event (same tournament, same round) will be gathered more easily. And then, when users are all waiting in the same lobby for their next match, our new matchmaking system will find the best matches for any of them. These features correspond to one of our most important mottos for the World Tour: “Less waiting and better balanced matches”.
So, the wait is almost over! Create a player and join us in World Tour. There are always opponents and events for you…
See you online!
- Jean-Karl Tupin-Bron