Sorry to startle my readers, but one day (not today though) I think it would be hilarious to become a virtual mini-golf themed blog.
Let me explain what kicked this all of first and then I’ll explain my half-baked half-joking plan.
I started playing a new virtual mini-golf game on my phone.
And it’s pretty good.
It’s called Golf Battle, and in terms of mini-golf games I would rate it somewhat highly.
When I talk about my criteria I’m really looking at a couple of things:
- Physics – This isn’t about whether it makes sense physically. This is about whether it makes sense in the context of the game. If the game is consistent with itself and all of the colliders are predictable then it is pretty good.
- Controls – This goes hand in hand with physics but needs to be addressed separately. The controls need to intuitively sync up with the physics. If you don’t know how hard you are going to hit the ball after playing for 15 minutes because the scale used isn’t good, then it doesn’t have good controls.
- Challenge and course complexity – Technically 2 different things, but they tie well together. If it is too easy then is it really worth playing in the long term? If it is too hard is it worth the frustration? A good game will have a variety of courses that address different ways of thinking about the course and the angles.
- Multiplayer – Can I be in a lobby with other human beings. This isn’t a strict requirement because a good mini-golf game can be single player, I just know that it is fun to play golf with my friends.
- Fun little customizations – This is just about being more than a standard white golf ball. Can I have a cool design or wear a sombrero?
Let’s talk about one of the best: Gmod Tower Mini-golf.
Gmod Tower Mini-golf had consistent physics – I knew where the ball was going to go and how hard it was going to hit walls and bounce, and how much force it would take to get up a slope or across a gorge.
Good controls – Tower Mini-golf had a power meter that literally had the words power on it. That is very concise. With this for example: I can remember that for this hole I went to the o in power and redo that same move every time.
Challenge and course complexity – 18 hole courses, every hole is unique and asks to solve a different problem. Most holes have some way of getting a hole in 1, and multiple holes have ways of getting albatrosses at the very least.
Multiplayer – Tower had a lobby full of people with voice chat and text chat all playing mini-golf together. There was also a scoreboard that shows who was doing the best for that game.
Fun little customizations – When I was talking about wearing a sombrero I was really just referencing this game.
Gmod tower is pretty much my perfect vision for an online mini-golf game.
Now let’s talk about Golf Battle.
In terms of physics it is solid I know what to expect most of the time I navigate the terrain. The only gripe I have is that jumping off of a ramp or something usually is hit or miss. They don’t feel like they scale properly with distance or power.
In terms of controls, there isn’t an option to zoom or move the camera up or down, only around the ball. Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going.
In terms of complexity and challenge, it feels like most of the holes are done in a set amount of moves, and no matter what strategy you come up with you might only be able to shave off a stroke. More on challenge in a little bit.
In terms of fun little customizations, this game is wonderful. There are so many colors of balls, and trail effects, and hole completion effects that the game looks great and lets you be an individual.
Now onto multiplayer. This game messes up… in some sense.
Unlike a lot of golf based video games, Golf Battle has taken the liberty of removing par, or the course set amount of moves it should take you to complete a hole if you know what you are doing. In a multiplayer game where you compete against each other it makes sense, and that is exactly what Golf Battle is.
The problem with this is that to enter a game, which is a 3 hole course, it costs some gold (in game currency) to enter. There are 6 players in a game and if you get the top 3 you get your money back. This is where the problem is.
As you play the game you gain experience points and the game starts assigning you to more experienced players. Since the complexity of the game doesn’t let you shave off more than 1 (if even that) for each hole, this means that for games against more experienced players the goal becomes who can play the perfect game the fastest, since speed is the tie breaker.
And this is how you lose all your gold. Even if you played a perfect game, you can lose all of your entrance money, because 3 other people also played the perfect game, but faster. The game will actually punish you even though you played the course without any missed strokes.
This is where Gmod Tower shined. It would reward you money based off of the course par, and not based on other players. But, it would still show you the scoreboard so you could see how well you fared against other players.
If Golf Battle had a system where you get your money back based on how well you did on the course, but then gave you money above and beyond that based on whether or not you were in the top 3 it would be a great system.
But because that is not the way the Golf Battle system is the game becomes unplayable after a couple of hours of playing.
And this all sparked my curiosity. There have got to be hundreds of virtual mini-golf games. I think it is finally time for me to try to play as many as I can. Although I can’t do it right now, I plan on some time in the future streaming and blogging about virtual mini-golf games.
When I do, this will becomes a mini-golf themed blog.