For this version I have begun giving the other players some AI, however it’s very basic for now.
For the AI player, if he detects that the ball is available he will run towards it. Once he collects it he will make a pass to you. I have also added the player velocity to the calculation so the space pass works even if you are moving. Of course, if you change direction after your team mate has passed the ball it will miss it’s target. This was the same in the original Football Superstars game as you cannot predict what another player’s change of direction might be, obviously. If you are in possession he doesn’t know what to do so he just runs in circles!
I also updated the goalkeeper so that he can detect the ball coming. He will now make a dive to one side or the other based on where in his detection zone the ball is. It’s not very accurate and needs modifying, but it suffices for now. The diving animations are taken from Mixamo.
This means I can now play a one-two with my team mate to score a goal, with the goalkeeper making a diving attempt to save it. He can’t actually save it yet but it looks good! I used the Unity Physics Raycast functionality on the goalmouth so that a target now appears for your player when you are aiming towards the goal. This gives you a better idea of where your shot is going when shooting.
You can see it all in action in the latest video below.
For this version I have added something that was in the original Football Superstars game – Space Passing. This allowed you to target a team mate and use the spacebar to pass the ball directly to his feet, even if he was running.
To get this to work you have to resort to some mathematics. You know the start position of the ball and you can also get the position of the target player.
My maths sucks, so I researched the required formula online and created a method in Unity (I’m using the C# scripting language) to make this calculation which is called whenever you hit the spacebar in the game.
For the moment, the receiving player is static. However, he will return the ball to you after about 1 second. This version doesn’t take your velocity into account so you need to be static when receiving the ball. However, the AI will locate you if you even if you have moved and return the ball to your feet.
The ball still uses the Unity physics engine, but the required velocity and angle to reach the target is pre-calculated. Once the receiving player detects the ball at his feet he will capture it and control it to stop it going any further.
For this version, I loaded the Mixamo football character into Blender and created some new football kit textures for him using Gimp. I also created a goalkeeper version and gave him a goalkeeping idle animation taken from Mixamo.
I now have two teams on the pitch. None of them have been programmed to do anything yet, but they’re there and have the same animation capabilities as the main player.
Some notes on the camera and controls. The third-person camera distance can be zoomed in and out using the mouse scroll wheel. You can rotate around you character by holding the right mouse button. The left button kicks the ball. Once kicked, the ball is under the control of the built in Unity physics engine. An amount of force is added to the ball’s rigidbody based on the vertical camera angle.
Football Superstars was a third-person football MMO which largely flew under the radar, which is a shame for such an excellent and unique football game. It ran continuously from around 2008 – 2020, undergoing a change of ownership around 2014. It is easily my most played game ever with Steam showing around 6000 hours of play and I also played many hours outside of Steam. It was originally developed by Monumental and published by CyberSports (now defunct). The IP is now owned by Coli Games who ran the game from 2014 and who are now reportedly developing a new version using Unity. Coli Games also developed a spin-off browser-based game called Striker Superstars which has also now been shut down.
Once Football Superstars died, my thoughts turned to how challenging it would be to develop a similar game using a modern game engine such as Unity or Unreal. I am much more familiar with Unity than Unreal so I opted for the former.
To make it a little different from the original Football Superstars I decided to base the game on the lesser-known football variation called Futsal, though the engine should be able to adapt to any style of football. It will also be offline only as creating an online game is whole different ball game (pun intended). I will also just be using free assets and tools to create the basics of the game, though I will certainly need to create some basic models and textures myself. These can always be updated later if the game works as intended.
The first stage was to establish the basic technology of a footballer controlling the ball. I created a Futsal Arena in Blender and imported it into Unity. The footballer is a free football character taken from the excellent Mixamo website. This is also the source of the idle, running and kicking animations. I modified the running animation slightly for dribbling using Blender’s animation tools.
I thought I’d lost this diary forever, but thanks to the Web Archive I’ve managed to recover most of it. Some of the images and files are gone, but I’ve put back what I managed to recover from the archives. Also, some of the old links no longer exist, but I’ve changed them to point to archived versions that appear around the correct time in the Web Archive.
I created two versions of this game, one runs in a small window, whilst the other runs fullscreen. Both have issues: The windowed version runs too slowly and the full screen version runs around full speed but the sound does not work.
You can download the full BlitzPlussource code for both versions of this game at the bottom of this page. If you would like to compile your own version of the game from source, BlitzPlus is now available as a free download from their website
Here are a couple of screenshots from the finished game.
Another blog I thought I’d lost forever but managed to recover using the Wayback Machine Web Archive. I built this arcade machine from scratch back in 2003. Unfortunately, I no longer have any of the pictures of the work in progress but I still have a few of the finished product!
Sadly, this cabinet no longer exists as I had to dismantle it when I moved to smaller premises. I did, however, keep all of the important parts and they now live inside a cocktail style arcade machine which I built around 2008. It has a proper Wells-Gardner arcade monitor inside it which connects to the internal PC through an ArcadeVGA graphics card. I also added a couple of Pac-Man style 4-way joysticks and some extra buttons to get the genuine feel of those 1980’s vertical arcade games.
I finally finished my MAME cabinet in summer 2005; two and a half years in total! Actually, it was great fun building it and I would recommend anyone who enjoys MAME to have a go! It really does enhance the arcade experience.
To sum up the final construction: I bought a nice quality MAME logo marquee from MAME Marquees in the USA for $22.80 (including postage to the UK). It is backlit with a couple of fluorescents I had left over from the under-cupboard lighting in the kitchen and sandwiched between two pieces of plexiglass. It’s held in place by the marquee retainer and I think it gives the cabinet a very professional look so was worth the money. I simply nailed the marquee retainer in place which seems to work fine and it also allows me to remove it if necessary without too much effort.
I also installed a couple of old PC speakers I had lying about. I stripped them out of their casings and screwed them face down to the bottom section just behind the marquee. I drilled several holes in the MDF just below them so that the sound comes through nice and loud.
Anyway, here are some pictures of the finished cabinet. I’m very proud of it and play on it a lot!
My Marquee retainer arrived from Happ Controls. I’m not quite sure how to fix it on yet, but until I get my marquee sign made I’m not going to worry about it too much.
I also ordered some spare buttons and a replacement switch for one of my joysticks as one of them had lost the little lever. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently configuring the computer and I’m fairly pleased with it now. I have tried several front ends over the course of this projects and initially I wanted everything to run from DOS. However, after hours and hours of frustration (mainly with AdvanceMAME) I have given in and I’m now running under Windows 98. Fortunately, I’ve got rid of the Windows boot up logo and replaced it with a nicely animated MAME one and I’ve also got it booting straight into my frontend. I’ve finally settled for MameWah as a frontend since it proved to be the easiest to get working with my TV setup. You can also easily shut down Windows from within the frontend. I highly recommend it!
Now that’s all working nicely, my next task is to drill some holes in the plexiglass I bought to cover the control panel. Well, that’s tomorrow taken care of!
I bought some Plexiglass the other day from B&Q. After making some careful measurements I marked out the required shapes on the Plexiglass using a felt-tip pen. I knew that cutting this stuff without breaking it was going to be a challenge, but it had to be done!
Fortunately, I only need straight edges so I decided to use the scoring technique to cut/break the Plexiglass. First, I scored along my marked lines using a Stanley knife and a straight edge. Gradually I increased the depth of the cut by repeated scoring. I found you need to score very deeply before trying to break it along the edge. The first one I tried decided to split in the wrong place, but fortunately didn’t damage any bits I actually needed! I scored much deeper after that, almost cutting right through.
Once I got the technique going it was okay and I now have a piece for the Marquee, monitor cover and control panel
After much web searching and thinking about what to use as a bezel I eventually decided to make my own. I based my design on the tutorial from Dens Gameroom.
However, since I didn’t have an existing bezel that I could use as a template, I drew my own design based on the pictures shown. I used a piece of black card mounting board that I bought in an art shop for £3.50. I found that I couldn’t create the one piece shape shown in Dens Gameroom as the piece of card wasn’t big enough (this is for a 21 inch television), so I had to create it in 2 pieces.
I also judged the angles required and tried them out with paper cutouts first to get an idea what varying angles produced. Once I was happy I scaled the drawing up to fit my TV. This basically meant setting the inside edges to fit the 21 inch screen and scaling the rest in proportion. I’m quite happy with the finished result…