What most impresses Craig Penner, a gameplay designer on EA Sports PGA Tour game, isn’t the butter-like rendering of the middle of the fairway, or the slight harassment of the first cut lining it, or even the anything-goes tangle of the second cut. It’s when things get really hairy. Like, close-to-the-rope or ask-for-relief bad, almost out of bounds.
From an article in Polygon by Owen S. Good.
“The Country Club comes to mind,” Penner said, of the course in Brookline, Massachusetts, scene of the 2022 U.S. Open. “We have certain areas that are kind of mixed rough — heavy rough and dirt together. It’s kind of uneven terrain. And the artists mapped in the terrain to that. It’s all over the place, because you’re going through these different materials, which actually makes it true to real life.
“But then it has this interesting effect of giving you a situation where you don’t really know, until you get up to your ball, if it’s a good lie or a bad lie,” Penner said.
EA Sports PGA Tour, launching March 24 on PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X, will include 30 courses at launch, the most ever on the disc in an EA Sports golf video game, with more hinted as live-service updates. All but two of those are real-life courses, and for each of them, EA Tiburon developers flew drones and aircraft, and deployed lidar scanning from the air and on the ground, to map the terrain and get even the most subtle nuances of their greens true to life.
They’ve done this before; for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12, designers spent 10 days with state-of-the-art scanning equipment to bring Augusta National Golf Course into a video game for the first time — a process that often required the closure of several holes to club members. A decade later, the technology is more accurate, more compact, and a lot less intrusive, producer Ben Ramsour said.
In other words, no real-life tee times were harmed in the making of this video game.
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