Golf Story was one of the Switch’s largest hits on the eShop in 2017. To find out more, Nintendo Australia decided to interview Sidebar Games, the developers of Golf Story. Their team consists of only 2 Australians which is pretty small for a game this huge!
Check out the entire Q&A below:
Golf and RPGs is an interesting mix in a video game. What inspired you to combine the two?
I’m very partial to story modes, especially in games where they don’t belong (such as sports or karting games). There’s always a yearning to get outside the course in these kinds of games and see what else is happening. Probably because it is so rare. I also like golf games, so a golf RPG was always a dream game.
Do you have a history of playing Nintendo games? What were your feelings about making a game for a Nintendo console?
Yes, I’ve played pretty much all the Nintendo games, so that was a big reason I was excited about making something for Nintendo Switch. I thought that Nintendo fans would be the best audience for us since they might have similar interests to me.
What makes the experience of playing Golf Story on Nintendo Switch unique?
HD Rumble is a unique thing that only exists on the Nintendo Switch, so we really wanted to do something weird with it. We used it for everything from menus to dialogue, and even a wincing sound when somebody gets hit with a ball.
Something people might not notice is that each surface has a different feel to it. When the ball bounces on a wooden bridge there’s a hard, short rumble that feels like wood. But landing in the rough feels a lot softer. Then there are bunkers which have a sinking feeling. I thought that was really cool, and it’s interesting how much you can do with it.
Sidebar Games is based in Queensland, Australia. How did working in the Sunshine State influence the world and dialogue that you created within the game?
I probably shouldn’t answer this question too honestly, but I guess you could say Queensland is well represented in the game. Wellworn Grove is my reality so I didn’t have to stretch my imagination far when coming up with things for that course.
Last year we showcased Golf Story at PAX 2017 as part of Nintendo AUNZ’s local Nindies line-up for Nintendo Switch. What are your favourite aspects of exhibiting at events like PAX?
Seeing the game in the real world is quite strange when it has only existed on your computer up until that point. It feels strangely personal having somebody else play it. It’s good when you can get some feedback when you’re finishing the game because that’s when you dislike it the most, and it’s hard to understand how anybody could enjoy it.
There’s a fair share of true-blue Aussie slang sprinkled throughout Golf Story. What are some of your favourite examples of Aussie vernacular that made the final cut?
Being Australian, I can’t distinguish between normal and Aussie vernaculars, so I probably forgot the best examples. When a crocodile catches a ball in its mouth, somebody usually says crikey, which I find to be really clever for some reason. I made sure not to use it in any other places to get the full effect.
The music for the game resonates some breezy holiday vibes, and the sound effects are satisfyingly aesthetic. Tell us about the composition of the soundtrack.
The soundtrack was made by Joel Steudler. We started with the main theme (the one used in the trailers). I wanted the trailer to get the game across as a grand adventure rather than making it seem like a sports game. The song did exactly that, but a real respect for golf seemed to come through in it as well, and it was beautiful.
The rest of the songs were made in the same way. I just gave a brief description of the area and Joel made the song. Each course has a different set of instruments so they ended up with a very unique and bold sound. When I got the song for Tidy Park and there were bagpipes, I knew that we were on the same page.
Golf Story packs drama, humour and charm into a quirky pixel RPG. Are there any particular games that inspired the art direction and mechanics?
The golfing for the most part is similar to other golf games, with more control due to having to hit small targets in many of the challenges.
We used the story mode idea from the Mario Golf games on Game Boy, but I also had an agenda to shoehorn all of the jokes and scenes into it that I could think of. So it ended up with its own character too.
Do you have any expert tips to help new players improve their swing in Golf Story?
Player stats make a big difference to how easy it is to swing the club. If your swing is accurate and straight, you’ll have a much easier time. Extra distance probably won’t help you as much as consistent swings in this game since you’ll be doing challenges a lot which don’t usually have you hitting that far.
What’s your personal favourite side-quest in the game? Why?
In the snow area, you’re supposed to be rescuing people trapped in ice by hitting fiery golf balls at them, but you can also hit the balls at snowmen to melt them.
If you go and track them all down and melt each one, there’s a cutscene where a woman chastises you for ruining Christmas. It’s a bit sad, because the snowmen were melted with the best of intentions by the player and they were probably expecting a reward. But I feel like it still counts as a reward for trying something different.
I would have put more stuff like that in, given more time.
The pixel people that players encounter in Golf Story exude some pretty high-res sass! What did the character development process look like? Any nods to people you know IRL?
The characters themselves aren’t really based on anybody, but lots of lines came from things real people would say.
I also came up with good ideas for lines when arguing with or disparaging people. Something that went straight in the game is “You’re always working, where do you find the time to not get anything done?”.
A lot of lines were thought of before there was a place to put them.