As promised, TRF is the exclusive place for all updates surrounding HB Studios' up and coming game, Rugby 2012. I put a series of questions to the HB guys and they have replied in record time and provided us with some fascinating answers that will build speculation and debunk some myths! Many thanks to Glen and Alastair for taking the time out to answer these questions. Dan: So, on behalf of the rugby community, thank you for announcing a new rugby game! You must be excited about the new project? Glen Gavin [Producer]: You’re Welcome J. Rugby has always been a big part of HB Studios and has allowed us to branch out and work on a variety of games in the past few years since Rugby 2008. For myself this will be the first time I have worked on a Rugby title since Rugby 2006 so I am very excited to be back working on it again. Alastair Jarvis [Studio Head]: I think it’s safe to say we are all thrilled to be working on Rugby. It hardly seems like 4 years have passed since we were in pre-production on Rugby 08, but looking around the studio, a lot has changed since then. As Glen says, we’ve been working on a wide variety of titles, all the while looking forward to the right moment to start the development of a new Rugby game. Dan: A lot of people think the announcement of Rugby 2012 has come out of the blue but if course, it won’t have done so at your end. Obviously you are in the early stages of development at the moment. What size a team do you have working on the game? AJ: We’ve been looking forward to moving Rugby onto the PS3 and Xbox 360 for years now. Between Rugby 2004 and Rugby 08, we learned a lot about the Rugby games market. If I asked you which of our Rugby titles sold the best and which sold the least, I bet you’d be surprised at the answer. It’s clear that the focus of the world is on Rugby during a World Cup year and consequently it makes sense to release in 2011. GG: I am the Producer on the project, and Matt Lane is Game Designer. You will see us both on these forums from time to time. Dan: There have been some automatic assumptions on The Rugby Forum and on various gaming websites that EA Sports are going to be your publishers and have heavy involvement in the making of Rugby 2012. Are you in a position where you can confirm or deny this? AJ: Yeah, folks have been quick to make assumptions – I’ve even seen one report of a Project Natal Haka simulator, though to be fair the article did come out on April 1<sup>st</sup>. Rugby 2012 is being developed independently by HB Studios and, though we obviously continue to work with EA on a number of projects and have great relationships with many of the talented folks at EA Sports, EA aren’t funding the development of this game – which is a departure from how the game’s been made in past years. Dan: If that isn’t the case, are you able to tell us yet who the publisher is going to be? If not, are you close to being able to make an announcement? AJ: Once we have announcements in this area, TRF will be the place to read about and discuss them. Dan: A big point of discussion amongst the community so far is that of licensing. Can you give us further information about any licensing that you are pursuing? AJ: What I will say is that this is another area which is different this time out. In the past, EA have handled all of the licensing for our Rugby games, but this year HB are dealing with this aspect of the game. It’s an aspect of the process that I’ll look forward to talking about in the future, but it’s not something I’ll get specific about just yet. Dan: The ideas, reasonable or otherwise, have been flowing on the forum in the past week! Have you seen anything yet that has caught your eye and is something you’re considering? What sort of criteria, if any, do you have when selecting an idea from the community? AJ: There’s been much discussion about the size of budgets etc. It’s important for folks to know that the fact that FIFA outsells Rugby by something like 20-1 has a real impact on what we do relative to the FIFA team. This isn’t to say that we can’t make a great Rugby title for the PS3 and 360, it just means we have to be clever about how we prioritize the features we put in the plan. Make no mistake, the feature wishlist at HB is considerably larger than what you’d compile from the forum – and I think you’d be happy to know how much the two lists would have in common – but the Pre-Production phase of the project is where the team will prioritize that wishlist and whittle it down to a feature set that can be delivered within the timescale available to us with the team that is afforded by the production budget. This year, we want see that the voice of the community is included in this process. GG: Often the simplest suggestions can have the biggest pay-off. So perhaps that is what we look for the most, small suggestions for how to improve the game with a big pay-off. AJ: It’s inevitable that some of the ideas are going to seem simple enough, but when given the scrutiny they need to go from idea to implementation within the game, they most often fall down along the following lines: a.) They aren’t fun/accessible game mechanics. b.) They’re are prohibitively expensive to implement from a feature size, a technical or a licensing perspective. c.) They are logically flawed or have consequences in other parts of the game. Clearly it’s difficult for forum members to anticipate whether their ideas will run up against these problems, but there have been posts that have made very constructive contributions. I remember one post from a couple of years back that offered a very detailed and thoughtful suggestion on how a revised design of the breakdown could look. It was an excellent post and was definitely looked at and considered here as we were prototyping changes to this area of the game during pre-production of Rugby 08. Dan: TRF is well known throughout the gaming world for the selection of modifications for previous games. Would HB consider using the technical expertise in place on TRF as part of the Rugby 2012 project? Can the community do anything to help in general on a technical basis? AJ: We’re always impressed by the talent in the modding community and we value their input as well. Clearly a pressing question for a large number of Rugby Forum members is whether we’re planning a PC version of the game. We frankly haven’t decided yet. Our focus will be on the 360 and PS3 versions as we sell far more versions of our games for consoles than we do for PC. Piracy is definitely a concern for us and features heavily in our discussions about the PC version – there is nothing more dispiriting as game developers than dedicating so much blood sweat and tears to a project, only to see torrents showing up within 24 hours of the game’s release. GG: Perhaps if there are some stats junkies out there we might come calling in the future so that we can ensure that the players in our database are as accurate as possible. There are a lot of quality players out there and we want to make sure we reflect that. AJ: Yeah, there are definitely other sports games who do a great job of including their communities to ensure the player databases are as accurate as possible, and in fact have entire departments devoted to coordinating this effort. While we can’t devote a department to this, there’s definitely a perspective that comes from following your club day in and day out in your corner of the globe that we’d love to see represented in our game. Dan: Do you have any particular messages or requests to ask of the community at this time? GG: Keep supporting our game, we have wanted to communicate with you guys for a long time now and we are glad to finally have the chance to do so. Keep the feature ideas coming. We will definitely try to incorporate as much as we can. AJ: I’m really pleased we’re associated with The Rugby Forum this year – you guys are part of what makes this such great experience for us – to see honest feedback from the people who are passionate about our games. I think you’d be surprised and pleased by how closely the threads have been followed over the years. Personally, I’m still waiting for a contender from the Northern Hemisphere to take on Gay-Guy so that a World Champion can be crowned. Again, many thanks to HB for taking the time to answer my questions, asked on behalf of you, the rugby community.