Hear Hear Tennis

 

Concept

Hear Hear Tennis started as a sound only game, and although it is still attended to be played that way visuals have been added in order to improve the spectacle of watching other people play.
The game premise is relatively simple, a player hits the ball [some time passes], the ball bounces [the same time passes], there is a short window of opportunity when the ball can be hit again by the other player.
Each player can strike the ball at three different strengths, which vary the amount of time between ball passes and bounces.
Additionally the game will speed up after every hit, this is to make sure that firstly there the game is slow enough for people to play but each point will not last forever.
Other than that the game scores in the same way as tennis.
Here’s a quick example of play.

Developing the Idea

When I first envisioned the game, I imagined it being built into a small box, with a speaker either end and three buttons for each player to determine the strength of the hit. During development, it was suggested I could try using wiimotes, which I had some laying around.
After some play in Unity and editing some existing script (https://github.com/Flafla2/Unity-Wiimote) I got the wiimotes reading into the game. Even with a very basic implementation of the wiimote controls the game started to feel like more fun.
The addition of the wiimotes, also increased the need for some visual aspects. There would need to be a clear way to see that they were connected or if not connect could be connected. This lead to having to design and create menus, which is by far one of least favourite things to do when developing a game. Getting the game working and playable was about 25% of the work, the rest was making menus and making the game understandable to anyone who isn’t me or wouldn’t have me around to explain it.

Keeping the Sound

I was keen to keep to the idea of a sound based game, so most actions in game are supported by noises or speech. This includes the menus, scores, and guidance on when you’ve hit the ball, or swung to early or late.
I tend to use fromtexttospeech.com as a quick way to add speech to my games, as I don’t have the set up or voice for doing voice work.
I also used some additional sounds from freesound.org .
Finally I added an in-built exhibition mode, that would all the game more easily to be shown at an exhibition. This has a number of features that allow showing the game in a public space to be easier.
  • There is no way to quit to desktop from the main menu
  • The users cannot change any of the settings.
  • The game will reset if left idle for a certain amount of time.

Final Thoughts

This game was a relatively quick turn around, it took around a month working on it when I had spare time outside of work and other life commitments. The game appears enjoyable, but due to currently only working with mac and wiimotes is going to be a pretty niche experience unless I can find places to personally show it. One of the more frustrating things that happened towards the end of development was realising that one of the 1-2 Switch games for the Nintendo Switch was incredibly similar (they used table tennis) but the mechanics seem more-or-less identical. It’s such a simple idea that it’s not too surprising that it has been done before. However, judging by the videos I ended up watching of it, the rhythms of the games feel slightly different. Overall, I learnt a lot of new things from the project and it will be interesting to see what other wiimote games can be made.

Download Hear Hear Tennis (currently mac only)

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