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Old 26 June 2004, 02:34   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: UK
Age: 39
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Dino Dini Interview In Retro Gamer

This thread is probably on a one-way road to Flameland; if so, I apologise!

In issue 4 of Retro Gamer (a UK magazine dedicated to retrogaming), there is an interview with Dino Dini. It's been mentioned on numerous other forums since the issue game out. I couldn't keep going without talking about it.

It's essentially an excuse to raise Kick Off to the heights of heaven, whilst putting down other football games. Here's the full interview, along with some highlights and comments from me. There's also a handy SelfMythologiserCounter? which measures the level of self-mythologising throughout the interview.

RG: Did any particular football game have an influence on Kick Off?
DD: I did not play other football games, so no other football games had an influence.
Good way to start. It means that any suggestion that Kick Off was inspired by anything else can be countered with "I lived and coded in a vacuum, thus the genius originated with me".
SelfMythologiserCounter: 80/100

RG: Why do you feel Kick Off worked so well? Was it a straightforward case of gameplay over graphics?
I would not say "over graphics". I mean, better graphics would not have hurt. But at the end of the day, it was the quality of the gameplay.

RG: Were you happy tweaking and improving Kick Off, with add-on disks and sequels, or was there pressure from Anco to turn the game into a franchise?
DD: It already was a franchise, and Anco exploited it in all manner of ways for which I got no reward. I wanted to create a new game that improved upon Kick Off by adding more depth and removing some of the shortcoming of the original game. This eventually became Goal!

RG: What are your opinions on Sensible Soccer? Did you feel slightly aggrieved when you first saw it, or did you take it as a compliment?
DD: I was annoyed because the developer had already its share of success in other well made products, and it decided to invade my patch.
Sensible Software invaded Kick Off's patch by doing a football game... which they had already done years before in the form of MicroProse Soccer. Right. Of course, Dino also said once "Then Sensible Software released a game with many, many features directly copied from my games, such as overhead view, aftertouch, and most important of all, the unattached ball which was always the most significant trademark of my work". Even though Sensible created an overhead football game previously, they actually copied the most basic gameplay element of an overhead view from Dino's games. *Cough*

I took it as both a compliment and a kick in the teeth. It undermined my plan to move football gaming on to the next level. In undermining my efforts, Sensible Soccer perhaps allowed FIFA to take hold. The lack of football games with real playability today can perhaps be blamed in part upon this. Of course had I got Goal! out before Sensible Soccer, things might well be very different now.
Sensible Soccer's success was an accident of fate apparently. Nothing to do with it being a highly playable Amiga game then. How football gaming history might have been different!
SelfMythologiserCounter: 140/100

But we learn from our mistakes, although my biggest mistake has always been to take things too seriously.
Heh. I think it's rubbed off on the Kick Off fanatics too.
SelfMythologiserCounter: 90/100

RG: When developing Goal!, did you set out to try and surpass Sensible Soccer?
DD: No, because Sensible Soccer was already inferior to Kick Off. The success it has was due to the fact that, as a simplified game, it appealed to those who had never got to grips with Kick Off. What I did attempt to do with Goal! was create a game with a better learning curve so that fewer people would stumble at the first hurdle. Sensible Soccer had a head start in learning from what I had done - in doing Kick Off I had to start completely from scratch. This is why I say that, in this sense, I am also the father of Sensible Soccer.
It's time to drag out the old argument that if you didn't like something, it must be because you don't understand it or aren't good enough for it. Gameplay is an abstract thing; the simplification is not of Sensible Soccer's gameplay, but of gameplay itself.

As for the paternal analogy, well it's hard to know what to say.
SelfMythologiserCounter: 150/100

RG: How did programming the Atari ST compare to the Amiga? Did you have to make any compromises when porting your games?
DD: The Amiga was much more powerful than the ST, but Kick Off was originally written for ST, and then ported to Amiga.

RG: Goal! was released on the Megadrive as Dino Dini's Soccer. How easy was it to convert the game to a console?
DD: There were several challenges, but the result was excellent. The core engine was converted in seven weeks; the rest of the development time was spent dealing with the front end, which was a real pain.

RG: Did you feel like a superstar seeing your name above the title?
No, but it felt good to have my name on something as concrete as that.
That sounds suspiciously like a glimmer of humility!
SelfMythologiserCounter: 80/100

RG: What are your opinions of the Kick Off and Player Manager sequels that have appeared since you parted company with Anco?
DD: I have not played any of them. From what I hear they are by and large terrible.

RG: Did you play any of the recent football games lke FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer?
DD: Yes, for research purposes, not because I enjoy them.
Well, at least they didn't rip off Kick Off! Or did they? Eh?

RG: Right, so you're working on a football game at the moment?
DD: Yes, but it is all secret.

RG: Finally, the inevitable football question. Which national team do you support, and who do you think will win Euro 2004?
DD: I support Italy and England, depending on my mood. If I am in the mood for a horror-suspense I watch Italy. If I am in the mood for a comedy-farce, I watch England. I think Italy will win, but I will be just as happy if England do.

So, there it is. Don't misunderstand me; both Kick Off 2 and Sensible Soccer have their unique places in gaming history. It's the attitude of the Kick Off group that infuriates me. At their worst, they display fundamental flaws in logic, make general comments (usually based on opinion or conjecture) and assume that they are plain facts, make wild statements without any evidence and offer a completely biased version of things. At their best, they grudgingly admit Sensible Soccer to be okay, but that the next step after graduation is Kick Off 2.

I'm passionate about gaming and its past. I hate to see it being twisted and abused in this way. If I want to say anything here in particular here, it's that there are at least some of us unwilling to let this sort of disrespect for gaming history pass.
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