**Behind each great game is a great team – and as we develop Bassmaster® Fishing
2022, we want to lift the lid on what we’re up to, and how we’re getting on. **
So, we recently had a chat with our Executive Producer, Ben Gunstone to give us
an update on how Bassmaster® Fishing 2022 is coming along. Ben is new to the
team at Dovetail Games and is a hobbyist angler. Ben has 25 years of experience
in the games industry, starting off at Nintendo, then working on multiple sports
games, and eventually moving his way through the industry on lots of great
titles, including: Virtua Tennis, Magic: The Gathering, Carmageddon, and many
So, how is development on Bassmaster® Fishing 2022 coming along?
We are sleeves up, heads down. Everyone is super focused on making sure that we
try and get all the features in that we have been trying to get in. We are at
that stage now where there are multiple different focuses on the game. So, at
the moment we are working on multiplayer and getting that working, we're also
tackling the career mode, so the single-player structure is in and working.
We're making sure that the fishing gameplay experience is both different, fun,
and better than previous games. It’s really important that the core of the game
is based around the high-octane sport of bass fishing.
We're making a sports game and the sport just happens to be fishing, we want the
competitive element to be in there from the get-go, as you’d find in any bass
fishing real-life tournament. We saw that at the Sabine River event 40,000
people went to see that live. Last year’s Bassmaster® Elite series in New York
drew in 7.2 million viewers.
What are the challenges with game development?
I've told anyone that I’ve made a game for that give me enough time and money
and I can make anything, I mean literally anything. Effectively development is a
classic triangle of time, cost, and quality, and if you pull on one it pulls on
the others. If you increase the quality of something it will take more time, or
if you reduce the time it's going to reduce the cost, but it also reduces the
quality at the same time. They are all intrinsically linked together, and that
compromise is finding that balance between those three points continually. You
balance and make decisions on that triangle all the way through development and
those decisions have more pressure and more consequences the closer you get
towards the end, because you’re running out of time!
Every game is the sum of the compromises you've had to make to get it out the
door. You can take that as a negative or a positive, I think every single game
I've ever worked on everyone has wild and wonderful dreams at the start of it.
The best part of making a game is the first month when you are just deep in
design, and you just come up with all these great ideas and it is just such fun.
Then you spend the next number of months or years, depending how big the game
is, slowly whittling that down until you find the core experience that you
really want, that grips players and provides that enjoyment we all hope to
achieve from a game.
A lot of work is going into the multiplayer side of the game, can you tell us
First up, it’s all completely new! We used to use a peer-to-peer system which is
a multi-player system where when you set up a game, you become the host on your
console or pc, and you invite players to join you.
This meant that you were the host, data goes backwards and forwards. Then we
have something called ‘host migration’, so if you dropped out, another connected
player would turn into the host but when everyone quits, that session ends.
Bassmaster® Fishing 2022 will have a dedicated server system, so there will
always be a server. So, no one will be the host, everyone connects as a client
to the dedicated server. That means we can control what hardware it is running
on for starters, we can tune that hardware to meet the requirements that we need
and balance that against the cost.
The advantages are we'll be having a lot more players. We've tested so far up to
59 players, we intend to see where that limit lies, it might be higher than
that, it might be lower than that. We just need to balance that against all
sorts of different options, so there’s the cost of how much it takes the
hardware to allow 50 to 60 players onto a server at one time, versus the
playability and corresponding performance as well – we also need to ask
questions like: ‘will 60 players on one of our lakes feel crowded?’ We have not
got to testing that, but it’s on our to do list!
How is the single player part of the game progressing?
We are working on that right now because it’s really important alongside the
multiplayer that the single-player career mode feels solid. It needs to feel
like you can progress through the Bassmaster® tournament series up to and
including the weigh-in celebration sequence that you see at the end of an Elite
series and the Classic in the stadium. We are recreating both of those and I’ve
got a team working on it right now. I can't show you any screenshots because the
animation’s a bit wonky at the moment, we have got one guy without a head, and
great big, long arms wandering around the scene, but yeah, it will look lovely
by the time it’s finished.
How has it been working from home for the team?
It has both positive and negative effects on the team, and potentially the game
as well. The positives are that it gives people the opportunity to be able to
get their head down in a comfortable environment and remove themselves from
office distractions. Not having a commute means you can use that time usefully;
I don't necessarily mean do more work. I go to the gym in the morning twice a
week which I’d never have had the time to do beforehand and that makes me feel
better, it makes me feel more energized and it’s a far better way to start the
day off than sat in a car in traffic.
The flip side of that is with creative meetings that are online, they become a
little bit more stilted. As soon as you have more than three people in an online
meeting you must be very careful about who's talking, everyone's quite used to
it now too so if someone else is talking, you stay quiet and let them do the
Let’s say you’re designing a new feature. You want that spontaneity, and you
want that creativity that comes from bouncing ideas off of each other, which
doesn’t necessarily happen in online meetings. You might find that some people
feel like they don't have an opportunity to talk because someone else is
talking, they don't feel comfortable in interjecting because of you online
meeting rules. It makes me wonder what could have happened to the design of a
specific feature if we were actually sat in a room together, versus sat in our
own rooms at home during the meeting online.
Overall, I think it’s a positive thing that allows Dovetail to have access to a
more diverse pool of people to employ. I’m saying that personally because I
would never have applied for this job if it didn't have the opportunity to work
from home. I think I found a great job working for a great company who supported
me and I’m supporting them.
Thank you, Ben, for this first insight into what’s going on behind the scenes at
Bassmaster® Fishing 2022. We’ll be inviting him back soon to provide you with an
update on our progress as we get closer to release!
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