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How did they do that ?

In producing what is one of the best sports simulations of recent times, Psygnosis have expanded the envelope in combining stunning visuals and realistic motion-captures animation with truly superlative gameplay. Maximum Checks out the « behind the scenes » story behind Adidas Power Soccer.

The power of Motion Capture combined with incredible gameplay

Adidas Power Soccer is the first title to be developed by the French division of Psygnosis with a team of eight experienced staff members. Although the game was intended to be simulation, his overall objective was to « create the most addictive and fun soccer game ever » - a most daunting task considering the wealth of stunning games of the genre already available.

Leseigneur's first consideration was the gameplay of the title above else. Surprisingly, the control system was designed first with the motion captured animation added latter. The intuitiveness of the system was the first concern for Kick Off fan: « Adidas Power Soccer was designed to be a perfect mix of both FIFA and Sensible Soccer, but we're closer to kick off in the terms of spirits of the game. » In all, he reckons about six month of development time was spent developing the controls of the game and then constantly refining them to get it just right.

Through the course of development, the emphasis was firmly on getting the gameplay mechanics right. Actua Soccer's main problem (the intrusive camera angles), was quickly disposed of in Adidas. Says Alexis Leseigneur : « We chose one camera angle for the gameplay (that's the side view) and we optimized it right from the beginning of the development. We chose the three others for their spectacular aspect (the virtual camera), their historic aspect (sky cam) or for their tactical use (the panning camera). »

Another difficulty to overcome was keeping up a smooth, controllable footballer while using motion capture. Seamlessly moving from one movement to another without creating a disjointed sense of motion was also problematic : « That's the big challenge in using motion-captured animations in a simulation game... it's very difficult, but we did find a solution. »

Of particular note to UK gamers is the commentary, which is based around the vocal talents of Brian Moore. A vast record session took place with each of the commentators (there are different vocalists for different European territories, plus a choice of either male or female voices) and Psygnosis France recorded over a gigabyte of audio data which was compressed and stored on CD, taking up to 250 megabytes of space on the disc. For those of you interested, Brian sounds markedly more excited during the course of an Adidas match than he is when he is commentating for ITV...

The graphical capabilities are awesome

Once the basic outlines and gameplay were developed, work began on producing the what would eventually become one of the most graphically sunning systems of motion capture in sports simulation. In this regard, the system used by Psygnosis France are pretty similar to what has been done before with games like Actua Soccer, only to an even grander scale.

Psygnosis brought in three professional footballers from the French team FC Cercle de Dijon to perform for motion capture duties, under the auspices of Bertrand Legoff's team using their « Actisystem » appartus. This system managed to produce some incredibly lifelike results - not surprising really as eight cameras in all were used to simultaneously record the action. The motion capture data was recorded on Silicon Graphics workstations using an application called SoftImage SuperFluo, after which Psygnosis France used their own programming skills to port over and compress the data for use in their Playstation 3D engine.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the motion capture (along with the super-realistic animation) is the sheer range of movements included in the game. In all, over 120 motion-captured animations made their way into the final code and this includes plenty of the motion not directly connected with the basic game. This is what makes Adidas stands out of the crowd as players shuffle about regaining their footing after a shot and limp about for a while as they recover from injuries. It really is most impressive to behold.

Also credited by Psygnosis for their help during production are the likes of Canal+ Sport, l'Equipe and France Football, whose input helped make the game look, play and move in a super-authentic fashion.

Of player and polygons

Although a pretty powerful piece of 3D rendering hardware, the Playstation isn't a all-powerful in the area of graphic processing, especially as precious processing time is eaten up with such matters as control systems and artificial intelligence.

The maximum number of polygons on an individual player tallies up to an impressive 300 - each of them texture mapped. Obviously, there's a potential 22 players on-pitch, this is going to cause the Playstation some serious problems in keeping the speed up - particularly when there's a graphically excellent polygon-intensive stadium to draw as well.

Psygnosis opted for a most ingenious system. Basically, the programmers have created three different 3D models for each player. When viewed at close range, the full-on 300 poly model is used to portray maximum detail. When the view is an intermediate distance away from the camera (and thus when there are more players on-screen), the Playstation makes use of a less complex, 200 polygons envelope. For views such as the pan camera, which can show just about every moving player in the game on-screen simultaneously, an even more stripped down to 100 polygons model is used. Because of the range of the players are away from the camera point, the Playstation owner is happily oblivious to the compromise in quality.

The overall impression of the game if most impressive indeed...


Main Programmer : Alexis Leseigneur
Programmer : Philippe Souchet
Software Engineer : Jean-Michel "Nirgal" Vourgère
3D Graphic Artist : Jean-Chrysostome "Grabo" Lepercque
2D Graphic Artist : Franck-Noël Lapierre
Musician: Michel Winogradoff
Junior Producer : Jean-Baptiste Bolcato
Producer : Dominique Biehler

Note: If you have any question about this game, please contact Psygnosis online tech suport.

Adidas Power Soccer is a creation of Psygnosis (c) 1996 All rights reserved
All photographs are reproduced with the kind permission of Psygnosis.