I AM PLAYR: A New Chapter In Interactive Soccer Games
Editor’s note: Approximately three weeks ago, EPL Talk Pro subscribers received an invitation to join the beta version of a revolutionary new interactive soccer game entitled I AM PLAYR as well as this first look at the game (see below). If you’d like to join EPL Talk Pro, sign up today for exclusive content, contests, audio documentaries, videos and more.
First person and interactive, I AM PLAYR allows users to witness first hand exactly what it’s like to be a young, up and coming footballer working your way up through the ranks at River Park F.C.
Training, match day and extra-curricular activities are all interspersed with real life live footage provided by professional actors who make you feel as if you’re actually in the changing room getting the hair dryer treatment at halftime. But beware, when brash playmaker Billy Laidlaw asks you to join him at the club after your first match, you better be ready to make a quick decision to accept his invitation or head home for some much needed recovery.
Take a look at the official trailer to see exactly what I AM PLAYR is all about:
I recently got the opportunity to spend a few days with the beta version for I AM PLAYR before it’s official release on Facebook to provide EPL Talk Pro subscribers with an early and exclusive look at the game. While any final judgements on my end will be held until the final version of the game is completed, the beta version, without a doubt, proves there’s plenty of potential surrounding this well thought out and expertly designed game.
More SIMS than FIFA 2011 or Pro Evo, I AM PLAYR will still appeal to a wide audience largely because of it’s accessibility through the social media monster we’re all on, which of course is Facebook. Scheduled to launch officially very soon, I AM PLAYR looks poised to grow and be enjoyed by many football fans across the globe.
My personal prediction is that it’ll be huge. Because of the superiority that Facebook enjoys as the social media king, I AM PLAYR will have the ability to reach millions of football fans in various parts of the world in a short time while positive word of mouth, “likes”, and a flawless launch (if they can see one through) will set the game down the path to online dominance.
After all, I AM PLAYR looks to be the first of its kind while a site as incredibly popular as Facebook will provide the game the folks over at We R Interactive have created with the perfect platform for a viral existence.
“He’s got everything, this boy. Pace, power,…..”
Players begin the game by actually signing their first professional contract at fictional River Park F.C. It’s a contract so detailed and extensive, players quickly learn the exact amount of money they’ll be earning each week. Appearance and goal bonuses are included in the pay packet which tends to widen the eyes of the new player hoping to break into the first team and make a splash.
Veteran striker Danny Deans will be your strike partner and role model, but the Gaffer has high hopes that your goal tally will soon replace the older Deans’ and that you’ll not be the first flop he’s signed since he’s been in charge. A word of caution: disappoint him and risk suffering his wrath in front of the whole team in the changing room.
“Real football, real decisions”
Players get the opportunity to make their very own decisions when playing I AM PLAYR. From which football boots to wear, to which training drills to spend the most time on, and even to which girls to chat up via text. All the decisions you’ll make in the lead up to match day will ultimately affect your performance when you take the pitch on Saturday.
For the first time in a game that I’m aware of, players get to experience exactly what it’s like to be an English footballer. For now at least, it seems as if the brains behind I AM PLAYR have left no stone unturned.
As far as actual game play is concerned, I AM PLAYR won’t be for the gamer who thrives in a FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer for console environment. Matches are simulated by scrolling text before the player gets one or two chances to score an equalizer or a match winner when a ball is played to him. Simply stated, as a player you have little more to do in an actual match than take one to two shots on goal.
The draw and the variable that will set I AM PLAYR apart from other games is the first person simulation and decision making which will affect the game play. Match simulation, even with your contribution as a striker, takes little more than a few minutes to complete. Then, it’s off to another week of training and decision making.
“Who is PLAYR? We are, you are”
There are no second chances in I AM PLAYR, just regret and points dropped. Fail to train effectively, suffer the consequences on match day. Go out for a late night instead of rest and recovery time, miss a sitter to win away.
While the final version of the game still looks to be a few weeks or more away, the beta version itself holds enough substance in it to prove the folks behind it know what they’re doing.
Be one of the first to get involved with I AM PLAYR on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/iamplayr
Editor’s note: As a member of EPL Talk Pro, you can join the free beta version of I AM PLAYR now. Visit the I AM PLAYR app page on Facebook, click the ‘like’ button and then click on the ‘Go to App’ button and you’re in!
And here’s an exclusive interview with We R Interactive co-founder Tom Thirlwall:
Jesse: Does We R Interactive have any future plans of launching an iPhone and or iPad application for the game?
Tom: We have an application in development at the moment… We want to make sure we play to the strengths of different devices, so we’re thinking through where and how people will play the game, and tweaking the browser version to make sure we give people a great mobile experience. With I AM PLAYR we’ve tried to build a game that people can jump in and play quickly for an immediate fix, at the same time as building their expectation for the next big match. That guiding design principle translates to mobile devices very well.
Jesse: I AM PLAYR’s beta version looks to be incredibly well thought out, well designed and well planned. Just how much time and resources went into getting an early idea to a beta version and then that beta to a final game that looks poised for success?
Tom: The Beta version took around 9 months to design and build, which is pretty quick… That’s largely down to the the team we’ve assembled. We have people with a lot of experience working on both leading video games, like Championship Manager, and online dramas and they’ve all jumped at the chance to bring those two entertainment forms together in a meaningful way. A passion and knowledge for football helps too, as we put authenticity at the heart of PLAYR.
Jesse: Having only played the beta version, I’m concerned about some of the difficulty of the controls in the training mode. Will there be any additional changes and or tweaks to the beta version as it pertains to actual game play before the final version is launched?
Tom: We tweak the game continually in response to additional features and user feedback. Looking at the training mode alone we’ve implemented many changes already. Some, such as extending the number of drills from 30 to 45 are obvious. Others, such as tweaks to ball physics or goalkeeper difficulty may go unnoticed, but will shape a better experience over time. We’re always looking for that sweet spot in balancing difficulty. Players need to feel like they’ve achieved something when they complete a drill, without becoming frustrated with the challenge. I should also mention that the Beta version represents about 10% of the planned features, so the game will evolve each month as we add more and more…
Jesse: We all know that Facebook is a massive success and likely a perfect platform for I AM PLAYR to launch from. Speak just briefly about the relationship between We R Interactive and Facebook. Are there any special licenses or permission needed to launch a game as ambitious as I AM PLAYR on Facebook?
Tom: Facebook offers a great way for people to share good content, and our hope is that I AM PLAYR raises the bar in terms of the level of quality people expect when they think about Facebook games.
No special permissions are required to build games on Facebook and the democratisation of content that this allows is tremendously healthy. Facebook, I believe, shares that view and have been very responsive and supportive when we’ve had technical questions.
Jesse: With the eventual success of I AM PLAYR pending, are there any future plans to expand the game into versions for PC and Mac or game consoles like PS3 or XBOX?
Tom: Not currently, and that would only ever happen if the rhythm of the game were to work in the living room. We are deliberately not FIFA or Pro Evolution. They’re great games that people play for several hours at a time. Whatever platforms we look at, we’ll always consider the device, its control method and where and how the game is played before we make any firm decisions. The games industry is littered with bad conversions to different formats, so it’s only a step we’d take if a particular console had a great fit with our game design.
Jesse: I AM PLAYR looks to be much more SIMS than FIFA or Pro Evo. What deciding factors went into this decision making process?
Tom: That’s not a conscious decision, but I’m pleased with the comparison. We set out to put players in the boots of a professional footballer. We wanted to give people a taste of a life that many of us would like to experience. To do that, we had to create an authentic 1st person football game for the first time ever, but we also had to offer a glimpse of life beyond the pitch. Everything you do in the game has consequences, and in that respect it’s far more similar to The Sims than previous football games. Building a game with meaningful consequences is difficult, but it was vital to capturing the authenticity we’re looking for, so it was an easy design decision to make.
Jesse: There’s definitely an extensive cast of actors involved with I AM PLAYR and even a few well known pundits involved. Can you give readers any ideas about who else may be involved in the game? Are there any surprise guests you can hint at?
Tom: That would spoil the surprise! But let’s just say that as PLAYR becomes recognised, a couple of England’s finest players take notice…
Editor’s note: If you’d like to join EPL Talk Pro, sign up today for exclusive content, contests, audio documentaries, videos and more.