16 questions by the KOA - 16 answers by Dino Dini

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16 questions by the KOA - 16 answers by Dino Dini

Postby alkis21 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 8:47 pm

When Dino Dini joined the Kick Off Association for a brief period, we were still using the old forum. When we moved here, he was (naturally) bombarded with questions about Kick Off. I had gathered all the Q&A back in the day and I recently read them again while browsing through my old files. I decided to post them here as many members had not joined the KOA yet and it's an interesting read. Sorry, I didn't note who asked which question.

1) What did you code your games in? C and assembler or what? Did you code it on an Amiga (if so, what model) or another platform for the Amiga (if so, why)?

The games were in fact coded on an atari ST. A home made link cable over the parallel port was used to down load and run the code. I wrote a small shell program that ran on the Amiga to read the data on the parallel port, and this was written on the Amiga. But once the cable was working I rarely ever actually developed on the Amiga itself.

All my games up until 1995 were written in pure assembler. Because of the special arrangements I used, I never had a debugger - instead I would use print statements that worked over the cable. I have never really got into the debugger thing that much as I always found print statements more effective, although these days I frequently use the VC++ debugger, since it only occasionally crashes (whatever you do, don't try to debug between GetDC and ReleaseDC calls in directX. It will hang your system). I generally try to avoid needing to use a debugger through good code architecture and lots of asserts.

2) How much time did you use on the first KO game?

15 Months on the first version on the ST.

3) What other games had you made before KO?

Asside from the quicky trivia trove conversion for ANCO, I wrote:

Several games published in the Acron Atom Magic Book (Timedata I think)
Letteroids (Acorn Atom) (published with a name change, can't remember what it was called)
Astrotracker (BBC micro) (published by BeeBug)
The Quest (BBC micro) (published by Oak SOftware Ltd)
A game who's name escapes me (BBC Micro) (published by Oak SOftware Ltd) - a kind of cross between Asteroids and Defender
Unpublished Atari 400/800 game (completed game was sat on by the Silica Shop, Sidcup, Kent) - a kind of galaxians clone

4) Were all the extra data disks Anco's idea to get more money, did you feel that you missed something on KO or a combo?

The idea behind the expansion disks was to make more money. In fact I wish I had been more on the ball in the business sense and had exploited the game more than I did. If I had done so, I would not have allowed others (such as Sensible Software) to exploit it.

5) Do you know/remember the salestatisics from the diff. KO games (including data disks)?

Not really. KO2 sold something over 200,000 copies and GOAL! sold 60,000 on the first day. Asside from that I don't have the figures.

6) What games did you work on while in CA for that z-wing company or whatever it's called. And what did you do after that? And what is with all the domains you created?

I worked on the "Three Lions" for PSX. I a monumental blunder it was published under different names in different countries - but in the UK is was called that. After that I went to some other companies, and stayed the longest at 3DO. Now I am back here, I am glad for the experience, but it was not a happy time. I realized that I am and always will be an entrepreneur at heart. So now I am building my own development company. Those domains can be thought of as ".com fever". I thought they would be useful. In the end only a couple of them were.

7) Do you pronounce your name as Deeno or Dino as in Dinosaur (no pun intended)?

The correct Italian pronounciation is "Deen-oh" the "oh" being as in the word "dog". However, it is generally pronounced (by me included) "Deen-ow" the ow being as in the word "low". It is never pronouced "Dyno" as in Dinosaur. Sometimes I receive letter's addressed to Dean O'Deanee, but that's just plain perverse.

8) Did you plan on making PM2 (or whatever the new name would be), if so why didn't you?

Yes I did, and it did not happen because Microprose cancelled the soccer game I was doing for them, compensating me and stating that they were moving out of sports games. That's when I went to the US.

9) Did you make any other games for EA?

I have never made any games for EA. I did nearly interview to work on the Sims in 1997 though.

10) Why did you decide on an overhead view? Did Microprose Soccer give you the idea?

I was not influenced by Microprose Soccer - the reason for using an overhead view was technical. I wanted to have a full size pitch, not the toy-size pitches of other games at the time. The ST and Amiga were something like 100 times less powerful than systems today - for a full size pitch, I had to keep it simple - and simple means top down. It was not completely overhead though - it was angled slightly so that you would get some better sense of space. Completely top down also makes it hard to see the goal mouth

Actually the top down part was agonizing. Other games were coming out that had side on views - I remember looking at one with Steve. I remember a comment from one of Anil's staff "Oh not a top down view". Heh. I just said to myself, I want the game fast, I want it on a full sized pitch. Has to be an overhead view to do that.

11) Kick Off was the first football game in which the ball was not glued on the players's feet. How did you come up with that?

This came about because I am fanatical about simulation. Even though I was never an expert on football, I am very observant and good at breaking things down into their component parts. The development process started with me wanting to *simulate* football, down to the physics of it. I am a kind of a nut about simulations - it gives me a kick when I simulate anything from air friction to referee behavior to negotiations to how the ball bounces off the post. Nothing gives me more pleasure in game development. Any way, this is how I developed the game:

1. The first thing I made was the pitch. Logical really. Decided to make it full size, decided how much of the pitch you could see at any one time, what the viewing angle should be, the size the sprites and so on.

2. Next I made the ball. The ball is an entity in its own right. It behaves like a real ball in a lot of ways - it bounces with varying degrees of elasticity (bounce height), it has air and ground friction, it falls under gravity. So I could see the height I added the shadow. A ball should be a ball and always a ball. Apart from when the ball is carried, it is always a free entity. You can see where this is leading....

3. Next I made a single player. Naturally not wanting to cheat my simulation of a ball, I made the player dribble by bumping into the ball and knocking it forward. Ground friction will allow the player to catch up naturally. It is the same as what happens in real life.

4. After this came much struggling with trying to make it playable. Some people said I made it too hard to dribble. It is hard, but so is dribbling in football. The key thing to remember is that when you dribble you can't manipulate the ball if it has moved out of your reach. This is what makes football so exciting and why it is hard to score goals in the real game. If the ball sticks to the foot, then you might as well carry the ball in your hands. This is such a fundamental part of the mechanics of football I did not want to compromise it.

12) What are your thoughts on Goal!?

Goal was in many *technical* ways superior to Kickoff 2. However it was not the same game. There are many people who say GOAL! is the best game (and have put up websites for it). The thing is that when I was faced with doing a sequel to Kick Off 2, I felt bad about the idea of just packaging together another version of the game with a few bits and pieces stuck on. I wanted to take the game further, to a new level. Perhaps this was not the right thing to do, I don't know. One thing is for sure, those who learned to play Kick Off 2 and became expert at it did not want or need a new game.

You can see this is a very hard problem to solve. Do I simply make more versions of the game, pretty much the same, until I am accused of just ripping the customers off, or do I try to add more value? I think, in retrospect, I went too far. The best solution was somewhere in the middle.

I do not regret leaving ANCO. I had to break away, the relationship between myself and Anil Gupta had got too strained. The direction that GOAL! took had nothing to do with my changing publisher. ANCO have been living off the Kickoff and Player-Manager brands for the last 10 years, and that's just the way it goes in business. I remember Anil telling me how he would use the money to set up a school in India for poor children. That is a worthy cause, and I hope his plans have worked out.

13) What platforms have you developed on?

1. 1978 Tried to build my own
2. 1979 Acorn System 1 (added home build video card and a keyboard)
3. 1980 Acorn Atom
4. 1981 BBC Micro
5. 1982 Atari 800
6. 1986 Atari ST
7. 1989 Commodore Amiga
8. 1993 Sega Magedrive
8. 1995 PC
9. 1996 Playstation
10. 2000 Playstation 2

14) What is your favorite football team?

I don't really support any particular team. I am a fan of Nick Hornby though

15) There was some kind of a dispute back in the day when a magazine quoted Steve Screech as the creator of Kick Off. What's your take on this?

I have said Steve made some one the graphics in the game. However I decided how large the sprites where to be and their viewing angle . As for Goal!, the sprites are the same width. All I did was change the angle slightly to make the players appear taller. The scale was not changed from Kickoff 2 to GOAL!, although perhaps better use was made of the available sprite width. Also, for GOAL! certain animations were double width (like horizontal slide tackles for instance).

I do not mind giving credit where it is due, and I did not do the graphics in Kickoff or Kickoff 2. They were not all done by Steve either. Nor did I do the sound effects, or other graphics in those games. However I did all the engineering (apart from one low level disk driver module), and the design. I hope that settles that for good now.

16) How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?

It is not the number of roads walked that makes the man or woman - it is not even how well a road is walked. To be a true man or woman you must always leave behind a better road than you found, and always be eager to walk further.
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Re: 16 questions by the KOA - 16 answers by Dino Dini

Postby Steve Camber » Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:25 pm

Great find Alkis, I had forgotten this lot!

Slightly concerned about the no-debugger usage in question 1. :shock:
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Re: 16 questions by the KOA - 16 answers by Dino Dini

Postby manicx » Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:56 pm

OMG! No debugger!!! No wonder a bug called PBD existed in the game!
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Re: 16 questions by the KOA - 16 answers by Dino Dini

Postby gdh82 » Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:48 pm

First time reader here so thanks for posting, Alkis. Interesting to hear Dino describe his wish to simulate some of the complexity of real footy. This is a big part of what gives the gameplay it's depth and appeal imo. And his comments on keeping player and ball separate made me laugh....

Dino Dini wrote:If the ball sticks to the foot, then you might as well carry the ball in your hands.

:lol: :lol:
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Re: 16 questions by the KOA - 16 answers by Dino Dini

Postby durban » Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:47 am

Very interesting read....ahhh the good old days on the old forum ;)

Now can we repackage the questions and ask Mr Camber the same things ;)
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Re: 16 questions by the KOA - 16 answers by Dino Dini

Postby r.cross » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:38 am

Thanks for posting this - good read.

alkis21 wrote:Sometimes I receive letter's addressed to Dean O'Deanee, but that's just plain perverse.

That's just great :lol:
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Re: 16 questions by the KOA - 16 answers by Dino Dini

Postby jesper » Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:48 pm

Good stuff. Thanks Alkis :wink:
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Re: 16 questions by the KOA - 16 answers by Dino Dini

Postby Torchiador » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:03 pm

Thanks for posting this! really interesting!

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