Rocket League Documentary (Part 1)
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Rocket League Documentary (Part 1)

February 25, 2020


When I started working with unreal I realized wow you know all the stuff that you need to make games are here it was a big shortcut and for a team that was the small as ours, just a handful of people that was really the only path I mean I kind of came out of the community of modding on 2003 and UT99 so that’s really where that whole team was built He and I were really into like snowboarding games and skiing games and stuff where you do flips and things like that so we want to do it with cars of course.
That makes sense. Everything was on fire nobody was sleeping for a week But at the same time it was super exciting because so many people were playing the game The reason we went for PlayStation Plus was a budget issue. We didn’t have any money to spend, our budget for marketing and PR was practically nothing. We just knew from years of working on these big games like gears and like XCOM and all that we know how to take it that last 10% of polish that we didn’t know how to before Yes! Video Games! They allow us to do things we could only otherwise dream off like hunt bandits on the Wild West or score the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl or raid dead people’s tombs. But to be completely honest I don’t think many of us actually go to sleep at night and dream about doing this. I mean don’t get me wrong this is this is pretty awesome actually but us gamers are picky bunch with so many experiences out there for us to choose from it’s hard for strange new ideas to grab our attention But what if you stumbled across this idea what if you thought it would make an amazing game how long would you work on it to try and convince the rest of the world? Today on Noclip’s look into the story of Rocket League we explain how Unreal Tournament 2004 mode evolved into a global sporting videogame sensation. And how it took almost a decade for any of us to notice. I think I was like six years old. My dad brought home a TI99 4a and a book about how to type in computer programs and I started typing them in and playing You know they would always have games in the back so that’s what i wanted to type in then I started learning how you can change things there was a little sprite of a guy was like dancing back and forth and i’m printing the code and looking at it and could see the array of zeros and ones that would make up his pixels so I remember that sort of “Ah ha!” moment when I’m like how i can change this and i can turn him into a dog or another kind of character. It was awesome Long story short i dropped out of college started an Internet company doing web hosting and it did pretty well because I mean everything was booming at the time. But my real passion was in games and i used the sort of success of that company to start hiring people and building a game studio based on modding existing games When I started working with Unreal I realized all the stuff that you need to make a game is already here it was a big shortcut and for a team that was as small as ours – you a handful of people – that was really the only path I knew that Epic was interested in having vehicles in their game i was really a big fan of Halo at the time T thought mixing vehicles with a first person shooter was the greatest thing ever I’m like why couldn’t i do this to UT it’s a smaller chunk of something as opposed to us trying to make up a whole new game so basically made a game mode it was codenamed ‘vehicle mod’ we basically did the same vehicles that Halo had original five vehicles Showed it to them at the next GDC and they were blown away they’re like “oh my god this is great” we want you to come and and work on this with us I basically worked out of Epic which was great because i got that inside scoop on what Epic was doing and learned all about how the real game companies do it “The rules of engagement have changed!” “Vehicular warfare!” “Aerial combat” “Unreal Tournament 2004” I mean I kind of came out of the community of modding on 2003 and UT99 And they kind of just brought in a bunch of community members because they were adding both Onslaught and Assault I just happened to get put on Onslaught and have worked closely with Dave ever since it was overwhelming at first getting there the first week and causing some big bugs and having Cliffy B come and give you a stern talking-to really kicks you in the ass It ballooned into a much larger team as I got there. A lot of people from Epic a lot of people in the community that they hired to come into work on it. And it was an amazing time because we were we were kind of siloed off from the rest of Epic in a lot of ways we were in a one great big room we called it the UT2004 war room. There wasn’t a huge amount of deadline pressure we were all just just coming up with the coolest things we could and throwing them into the game as fast as we could Interviewer – “So how did you come up with the “mode of Onslaught because with vehicles” “in a game you can kind of go in any direction” You know I was inspired by Planetside actually. I knew I wanted vehicle in the game but i wanted a more interesting game type and I like this idea of territory control. They had this cool idea that you couldn’t take over a territory until you’d taken over the previous territory so you have this kind of moving battlefront and that’s where I came up with node system. So you have to capture one node and destroy its power core before you could possibly attack the next one. Interviewer – “What was the name of the car with the blades out the side?” Oh the Scorpion? *laughs*
I don’t remember whose idea it was to make those blades but that was pretty awesome just “kah-ching” and then you mow people down My favorite was the Manta because you could crush people you could fly over them and then we put this force in that would just smash down That’s one of the things I think I really enjoyed about UT was there really weren’t any rules. You could do almost anything Frostbite for Onslaught was the first map that I actually made. I was putting jumps and things all over the place like I love to ski and that was a snowy map so I just wanted to put little ski jumps everywhere, little kickers Dave was obsessed with SSX Tricky I played a lot more of the Amped snowboarding games or Tony Hawk 1 & 2. I love those so much just the expression of doing whatever you want He and i were really into snowboarding games and skiing games and stuff when you do flips and things like that so we wanted to do it with cars of course That makes sense. And one of the things that we did in that mode was we were coming up with cool mutators and one of the mutaters was a map called ONS Tricky it was just a big obstacle course it looked look like a monster truck rally with a big stadium and dirt ramps and stuff like that. So we did the typical snowboarding thing where you press a button in the car leans down in a way. And then you let go and the longer you held it the higher it flies up in the air. And then we made this complicated system for the mouse and keyboard so that you could flip and you could roll and you can try to get trick points or whatever And we thought that was fun. It wasn’t super popular in the game but we had a lot of fun with it. Onslaught was really a proving ground for me. It was my big break and my big sort of “oh I proved that “I can do this and make something really popular” Dave and his team had learned a lot at Epic. They shipped the defining mode of
Unreal Tournament 2004 And they developed their skills in things like vehicles, physics and networking. Plus there were some of the only people in the world who knew how to use Unreal’s new engine. So he had an idea to spin-off his team and create a new studio that would help other studios create games in Unreal engine while using the profits from those contracts to develop original work I couldn’t hire people in the industry because they were like “Who’s Psyonix?” I’d say “No I made Onslaught!” They’d say “That’s pretty awesome but I’m gonna go work for a really cool company So I hired interns I started in October 2006 about 10 years ago I was brought in with a round of interns 2007. Right after I graduated college so about 10 years ago. It’s really 10 years ago because i was interned in 2006 but full-time 2007 I ran a competitive internship and said “Look I know” “everything about Unreal Eengine 3” “It’s coming out it’s gonna be big” “I’m big friends with Epic Games they’re giving” “me contract work we’re going to get” “new licensees will come in because” “Epic doesn’t outsource expertise” “and we do and we’re the only ones who know this” I made two rules. I said we’re always going to keep the company stable we always need to have work coming in it’s kind of our base. But we always have to have somebody working on original content. You go one way or the other and it can be pretty dangerous if you go to total, like, we want everybody constantly burning the candle and making money come in you’re never gonna be able to make your dream game and if you just focus on your dream game well you know i’d seen so many other studios try this and you make your dream game but you usually need two or three shots at that and you blow all your money and then you’re out of business so I’m like let’s do a hybrid you know always stay stable but we always have somebody working on it and i’d seen other studios try this as well and they it’s too tempting and they pulled their people off of it but you can’t do that You have to keep people on that and the game that we kept it on was this trick game This trick mechanic with the vehicles that we pulled from our work at Epi We didn’t know what the game was. We just knew it involved cars that can jump and trick around We started experimenting with
lots of tracks and things like obstacle courses. “Get through this level as quickly as possible” and collect these pickups or something Cars that can shoot, so we tried a battle game we tried…. Capture the flag
Cops and robbers mode We tried an obstacle course course that was really difficult to get through and there was one point where it had a grappling hook I mean some crazy stuff. We ended up with kind of that zany mode that we called a “Crash Course” for a while and then we used the name Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars because the game was so crazy the tricky part was the maps we had them playing on were almost like Swiss cheese And so just trying to keep them on the map like navigate the map and then also predict. Because you had to hit other players off the map so trying to get them to just predict where other players are going while also not driving off the map themselves that was pretty challenging. Interviewer – “It sounds like some
sort of car-based American Gladiators?” Just about yeah! But at the same time we were still working on all of the contract work and you know working a lot for Epic. We worked on Gears of War We worked on UT3. A spattering of other titles Lots of really cool stuff The cars felt great they leapt and spun like skiers the physics were great too they were predictable yet felt realistic the game was just missing one crucial element One of the guys, it with Adam Beckwith,
the brother of Ben Beckwith with who came with me from Epic He suggested that we throw a ball in there My brother Adam and I championed that at first because we loved “Deathball” we loved the physics, sport, and individual player aspect of the sport So we were like “Oh we can try it.” It might make a cool side-mode And then I don’t think for the next two weeks we got any work done because we were just playing this game and we were in the middle of Xbox greenlight actually and they had just greenlighted the game after much negotiation and were like “Uhhh, we want to change everything” And PlayStation at the time was actually being really open with their platform. You had to have a publisher to go on Xbox and we had that whole mountain to climb and the publishers were looking at our game saying “I don’t get it at all”
and we weren’t making anything better by saying “Okay now it’s soccer with cars” So we thought with PlayStation we don’t have to answer to anybody we could just make our own thing and throw it on there so that’s how Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-powered Battle Cars came to be Interviewer – “Where you in the naming meeting?” I was, I don’t remember our collective insanity I think part of it was inspired by a Conan O’Brien bit where he was talking about embryonic rockabilly polka-dotted fighter pilots and I thought it was hilarious. So it’s actually my fault I said what about Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars? We didn’t really think about the fact that people wouldn’t be able to tell their friends about the game. Like “I like this game” “It’s called super something battle something” “and you’ll never find it is buried in” “the PSN store but it’s somewhere in there” Journalists didn’t really like it either because they had to type it so much So yeah we took some heat on that Psyonix had worked themselves to the bone to finish Battle Cars and in doing so had spread themselves rather thin they didn’t really have the capital to market the game all that well Now they had added a rather forward-thinking feature that allowed players to upload clips of the game directly to YouTube perhaps that would help spread news of the game perhaps it would have if the game wasn’t called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars. Not exactly SEO gold is it? A lot of things that sabotage the first game we felt like we were just technical inefficiencies that we could improve on We had always played the game on PCs so we’d always played this game with no input latency at 60 frames per second on a LAN connection which was dramatically different than what you got going on playstation 3 playing on listen servers over the internet like they’re actually very different games It did eventually make a
profit but only because we spent so little on it in the first place but it took two years for it to actually make all of its money back and that doesn’t pay payroll so we had to immediately go back and in fact it was a little bit of an emergency mode because i started to break a little bit of my rule It’s very hard to ship games. When they really comes down to “we got to get this out the door” it’s almost impossible not to be all hands on deck We pushed the company to the brink really at that time I think when you’re a little more of a veteran it hits you a little harder when something you make not “fails” but isn’t a huge success and at the time it was like our second thing we’ve done so it kind of felt like all of course we’ll just move on to other projects. We had the same feeling going into Rocket League where it’s like “this could be a big thing if people just get into it” and with the first game they just didn’t so much, except for our super hardcore fans We had to take some
projects pretty quickly afterwards that maybe we’re not the most ideal terms and were really rough on us We had to push a lot harder than we normally did. We did a few updates for Battle Cars but i decided to strongly focus on studio building at that point. I’m like “we needed a bigger “studio we need more expertise at what” “we’re doing. We’re going to come back to” “this game” and we always knew that We always knew we were coming back to it at some point We were really good at multiplayer and we really good vehicles so a lot of our work ended up being around that and as we grew we’d gotten a stronger and stronger reputation on the multiplayer side of things. So everybody who was doing UE3 game that had a multiplayer side… That’s why Mass Effect 3 came to us actually is a good example Mass Effect 3 was mostly just consulting and a little bit of work, and then others like Bulletstorm were like “Make our multiplayer mode” And then when Nosgoth came along that was a really big change for the studio it was a publisher saying “hey we want” “you to make this game” that was a big deal for the studio because it allowed us to expand a lot and build our art team in particular and become a really full featured studio that was at the same time we decided to reboot Battle Cars into to what became Rocket League It was sort of hard to talk ourselves into spending a bunch more money making the same thing again but it was always kind of like well our fans probably deserve an updated sequel at some point There was a very strong community around it We we’re talkin these guys and we knew them super well. You know guys like Kronovi who was playing under his his dad’s name at the time “Steve Bills”. Gibbs, all those guys were there from the beginning and we knew all of them and we just wanted to do right by ourselves we want to do right by them You want to give contract work your all especially just to keep the company going, but you always have these outlets for “this is how we would do it if we were in charge” the first game was all the same pieces I think if you go back and play it now you’ll see all the same things it just doesn’t feel as good and we just knew from years of working on these big games like Gears and XCOM and all that. We knew how to make something really good all of a sudden. We knew how to take it that last 10% of polish that we didn’t know how to before And we felt like that would
push it over the edge maybe… Psyonix had evolved from a scrappy Unreal Engine coding house to a confident studio capable of self-publishing their own games. But they still hadn’t have their hit what happened next would not only change the future of the studio forever but it would change the way we think about sports games forever too. In part two I talked to Psyonix about battle cars, melting servers and the terrifying feeling
of giving your game away for free See you then

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  1. Just 1 small error, Bioshock actually uses a modified unreal engine 2.5. I know myself thought it was unreal engine 3. Great episode.

  2. This is the first video of yours I've seen, and I'm only 1:48 in but I'm so excited already because you DIDN'T open your video game documentary with shallow depth of field rack focuses of someone at a computer while the voice over talks about their passion for video games.

  3. Dude, I am so happy to have found this channel. This reminds of the stuff I loved on TechTV way back in the day. Keep up the good work!

  4. I could watch a gaming vid while lounging on my bed, no hopping to the mouse to skip ads! Unreal, my man, what good memories!

  5. Christ. this psyonix company sounds like a bunch of fukkups. it's a miracle they didn't set the building on fire – seeing as their core thing to self sabotage. it's by luck that their hipster skateboarder i'm a unique special snowflake not some corporate sellout attitude didn't kill them.

    Giving the game a fucking stupid inbred dumb name (i'm a unique special snowflake not some corporate sellout), then not proper testing it (playing a game, intended to be successful on consoles, played over high lag networks……on high spec PCs on LAN with no input lag is 12th grade stupid shit)

  6. Dude THESE GUYS DID THE VEHICLES AND ONSLAUGHT FOR UT04?!

    Holy shit, man I loved that shit. I probably spent more time on Tricky doing stupid shit than playing the regular multiplayer stuff.

  7. man i remember playing that game… with the long title.. on ps3 with friends, but i forgot about it in a couple of weeks, so long time after that Rocket League came out and i just had a feeling of Dejavu. but i didn't know from what
    then i played it and remembered, wonder why that game wasn't so damn popular as Rocket League

  8. Just found out about Noclip and then immediately came to this video. I love this. All of this. This particular video, the concept of the behind-the-scenes documentary-style look into video games and the teams that make them, and I love the idea of Noclip. Please, keep doing what you're doing.

  9. It looks like there was going to be car customisation in Rocket League… what happened to that? I think being able to create your own vehicle design would be such a cool feature.

  10. Oh this is very interesting and got subtitles on spanish, why not :v, is interesting know RL history when i am a proplayer in this beautiful game

  11. Muchas gracias por pensar en la conunidad hispana al hacer los subtitulos, estos documentales son muy inspiradores para los aspirantes a desarolladores 😀

  12. Hey you viewer. Ya you lazy bum. You pay us. We make glorified commercials which we make money on, capiche ? Welcome to noclip bitches!

  13. Good channel. please meet the guys who made super meat boy, FEZ, and if you can (angry birds, candy crush)?
    Thank you again.

  14. I loved supersonic acrobatic rocket powered battle cars… that name always stuck with me. Me and my friend always played split screen. ''Twas good times.

  15. watching this for the third or fourth time, and im consistently impressed by your editing on all your documentaries. all the little details in pacing and framing add so much energy, interest, and support the overall narrative. it's exceptionally high quality filmmaking, even at a professional level.

    most documentaries feel the need to hold shots as long as possible, which enhances perceived objectivity, maintaining verisimilitude with blatant, simple continuity. yes, editing is a kind of lie, and documentaries don't want you to think they're lying, but they often insist on being honest about things utterly divorced from the subject, allowing a dedication to transparency in the film's construction to hinder the narrative that the film exists to convey. by blending the editing and narrative grammar of video essays with the documentary format, Noclip creates a much tighter paced, more engaging viewing experience, that supports the narrative of the documentary with the editing, rather than treating the editing as an obstacle between the story and the viewer.

  16. I had actually bought the first one back in the day and played tons with my little brother and a few of my friends who hated it but now they're playing RL.

  17. NoClip is such a great name for your channel. It's like you're no clipping into the behind the scenes of games. Very clever.

  18. Hey! I can see my house from there! 😂 Well not quite, I'm a bit further north, but I never realized these guys were in San Diego!

  19. thanks! great video, I am making a somewhat short documentary on Rocketleague myself for a school film class, wondering if you have any advice or tips on what points I should hit or how to make it easier for an outside viewer who doesn't have any knowledge on the game.

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