Welcome back to The Baseline, everyone! After we took you through our Marketing Team a few weeks ago, this week we’re going to introduce the Simulation team! We’re going to learn about them and how they develop the match engine for Tennis Manager 2021 and the upcoming Tennis Manager 2022.
A Day in the Life
With a handy place in the centre of our office, Bruno and Guillaume take the workload of the simulation team from day to day. The role of the senior simulation engineer is in being the caretaker for Tennis Manager’s match engine. This means that it’s the job of his team to ensure that the behaviour of the virtual players on-court is as reflective as possible of their statistics and attributes off-court.
Bruno and Guillaume’s role, like so many others’, is to push for the best in realism for the product. As time goes on, therefore, the look, movements and behaviours of the players will improve, getting more fluent and apparent.
Studio Head Antoine checks out the progress being made by Bruno in the match engine
What do the Simulation Team Concentrate on?
The two-man team also get some help from studio head Antoine. Together they work on a few specific physical and visual behaviours when improving the simulation. The work is therefore divided between improvements to the existing features present in TM21, alongside new movements and techniques prepared for TM22 onwards.
For example, the ball alone requires a great deal of different 3D work to manage how it impacts with the net. These collision physics depend upon the speed of the ball, its direction and any bounce or spin off of the surface. When it hits the net, this too needs to react to different velocities and trajectories for maximum realism.
Classified! Behind the scenes these scenarios are added with a variety of statistical likelihoods – how likely is a player to succeed or fail, when considering every shot and outside factor?
It extends to the racquet too, and how the ball reacts to being hit with different styles of shot. The direction of the ball needs to be reflected with each bounce, along with the spin attached to it by the chosen strike. Bruno and his team also account for the air density, the temperature, and of course the surface of the court: all factors which have a significant change on movement and reaction.
When it comes to the player, their own “behaviours” and movements must change according to these very same factors, which like every on-court session, are unique. Each individual match is designed to operate on its own set of factors, which all have an effect on the physics, and therefore how the game plays for you.
The angle of the shot, its style, the wind speed – all that and more dictate into the simulation where that ball is going to land.
How do they do it?
Bruno and Guillaume have their own set of tools that allows them not only to make the changes, but to observe them in a functional and productive way. For example, along with the standard programmes in Unity that allow them to work with the 3D engine, they have also made their own special simulators to easily track their physical and visual progress.
This means that, if they are looking for how a change will affect results over a long period, they can run a programme that simulates matches at a supreme speed (we’re talking around up to 5000x speed if they wanted), to see long-term effects. All the data can be put into these simulations and the results are accurate to them. Then, depending on those results, they can go about changing, tweaking, and doing all that is necessary to achieve full realism.
Guillaume, the newest member of the group, works with Blender to create the 3D animations that you see, before integrating them into Unity so that they are graphically sound and stable. Between Bruno and himself, they form our Simulation team!
Considering all the causes and effects of the simulation, its results are visible to the player under the 3D Analysis tab, where you can see the total outcome.
In the coming weeks, we’re going to introduce more members of the Rebound Team and what they get up to. However, for now, it’s until next week! --- Jeremy